Cities in Mesopotamia
The following are raw research notes on the development of cities in Ancient Mesopotamia.
Summer meant a lot of marshy lands which needed to be drained. In the southern sections crops were grown in abundance which would have led to increasing urban populations. (5C)" Several important cultural advances occurred roughly contemporaneously with the appearance of these new urban communities; (1C) the communal response to natural challenges, (2C) the invention of writing, (3C) the development of metallurgy, both of bronze and of gold and silver, and (4C) general technological improvements." (pg. 26) (5C)"Other technological improvements appear at about the same time as writing and bronze. For instance, the plow replaced the hoe as the major implement for planting, and the wheel possible pulleys, cogs, and potters wheels." (pg. 30) (5C)"But by the early fourth millennium the ‘Urban civilization' has made considerable progress. The first known model of sailing vessel was found in an Urbaid level at Eridu. It is possible but not certain that plows drawn by animals had already come into use. Metallurgy and the wheel may, however, have been introduced only in the succeeding Utuk period." (pg. 34) (5C)Cities in this area had three parts, (1) the inner city with temples of the gods and the palace of the ruler, (2) suburbs with crops and farm animals to support the local populations, and (3) commercial area normally near the harbor for trading and where foreigners would come. (5C)The temples were very important in this early culture. Much of the social, economic and political activities of the cities would center around the temple area. Temples in the cities were called ziggurats, which comes from a word meaning summit or mountain top. The temples were built on the top of step pyramids. (5C)"The fame of the two largest cities of Mesopotamia, Babylon and Nineveh, was based, until a century or two ago, mainly, on the Old Testament and on Herodotus." (pg. 3) (7C)Babylon was the largest city in this area covering 2500 acres. Nineveh was next with 1,850. In comparison, Athens was only 550 acres at the time of Themistocles.(7C)Most of what we know comes from governmental tablets which have survived. There are very few remnants of individuals or private writings which shed light on the everyday living in Mesopotamia. (7C)
"Houses were jumbled together, forming an irregular mass broken at intervals by open spaces in front of a temple or governmental building. Streets were narrow, winding and unpaved and lacked adequate drainage. They became the chief repositories of refuse thrown from the houses, with the result that excavations at Ur reveal a continual rising of the street level due to the accumulation of refuse, so much so that many houses whose doorways were left below the street level had to be equipped with higher entrances." (pg. 6)(1C)