Farming in Mesopotamia
The following are raw research notes on the development of farming in Ancient Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia, as was Egypt, was blessed with yearly flooding from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Unlike Egypt, Mesopotamia was inundated with a large amount of silt. This silt was a constant cause of problems in the man made irrigation systems. The timing of the floods also hindered the Mesopotamians. The floods came in late spring or early summer from the melting of snows in the Turkish mountains. This was too late for the spring crop and two early for the autumn crops. (17F) In addition, in the area of Mesopotamia there was, right below the surface, a large concentration of salt deposits. This high saline content of the soil made farming in this area much more complex and difficult than was the case in Egypt. In addition, this area suffered from contestant political instability and wars. Any time the irrigation ditches were not able to be maintained, a large food shortage would ensue. (2F)
The area did not supply enough rainfall for crops so irrigation was needed from the river (2F)
"The development of these irrigation works was a remarkable achievement of mind and muscle. The fertile waters were controlled away from the cities and farms, more successfully perhaps than our army engineers now handle the Mississippi." (2F)
Babylon was destroyed, according to the author, due to neglect. By building a new capitol and not maintaining the irrigation canals the food supply dropped leading to the decline of the civilization. (2F)
"Even more important than fertility, however, were the almost level topography and the scant rainfall. The topsoil did not wash away as it does on sloping land, and minerals did not leach deep into the soil as they do under heavy rainfall. Hence, the fertility could be maintained indefinitely by the use of fairly simple soil-management practices." (pg. 41) (2F)
"The earliest metal sickles were direct descendents of the clay versions. Cast in Copper alloy or bronze, these angular sickles from Babylonia had spiked tangs for hafting. Bronze blades required working to maintain a sharp edge." (#26, pg 6)