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Mesopotamia Lesson for Kids: Facts & Geography

Instructor: Susan Mendes

Susan has taught students in Kindergarten through eighth grade and has a master's degree in educational leadership.

Learn about the history of Mesopotamia, a region of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Discover its rise and fall of power and its contributions to society today.

Mesopotamia

The country Iraq is frequently mentioned in the news today. What do you think of when you hear Iraq? What if I told you the area that is now Iraq is known as the birthplace of civilization'? In fact, it was in Iraq that the first cities in the world were established, people learned to read and write, and empires and governments were first created! This land in Iraq was then known as Mesopotamia.

Geography

There is no country today called Mesopotamia. The name Mesopotamia refers to an area of land over 7,000 years ago. Today, it is the land that includes mostly Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but also parts of Turkey and Syria. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were very important for the early settlers of Mesopotamia because they allowed them to easily access fresh water in order to farm.

The northern part of Mesopotamia was mostly hills and plains and was also full of good, fertile soil for farming. The early people of Mesopotamia used this land not only for farming but also for natural resources such as timber, metal, and stone. In contrast, southern Mesopotamia was very flat and did not contain many natural resources. This was an ideal area for the early settlers to build cities and trade with bordering people and lands.

Civilizations and Empires

As the early people of Mesopotamia learned how to grow and water crops, more and more people began to settle and build their lives in Mesopotamia. As a result, small towns began to expand and eventually became cities that were often under control of an empire. Here are the most successful civilizations and empires of Mesopotamia:

1. Sumer- This was the first civilization in Mesopotamia and the people were known as Sumerians. The Sumerians were the first to invent a writing system, which included pictures and became known as cuneiform (pronounced q-nih-form). They were also the first to create a structured government system of city-states. This means that Mesopotamia was broken into small parts, each ruled by their own king. This is considered the first human civilization.

Cuneiform
Cuneiform

2. Akkadian- The Akkadians conquered Sumer and created the first empire and unified government, meaning all of Mesopotamia was ruled under one king instead of multiple city-states.

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