Mesopotamian Technology & Inventions

Instructor: Jessica Roberts

I have taught at the middle grades level for ten years and earned my MA in reading education in 2009.

Mesopotamia is considered a cradle of civilization, and the people of this society made advancements and innovations that still awe many today. The importance of these accomplishments cannot be understated because it greatly influenced others that came after.


Imagine this…you are living in a society of technological, medical, scientific, and agricultural advancements. Awesome innovations have been made that allow you to live, learn, and grow in a place of firsts that is a model for societies yet to come. Do you know where and when you are? It is Mesopotamia, 10,000 BC!

Mesopotamia--the 'land between the rivers'--was located in present-day Kuwait, Syria, Iraq, and parts of other Middle Eastern countries between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. To get a real feel for this ancient civilization we must do a little name-dropping. A few notable leaders of this society that you have probably read about in your history books include Ur-Nammu, Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabi, and Tiglath-Pileser. These great leaders created grand empires and accomplished much for Mesopotamia.

Under the leadership of these and other rulers, Mesopotamia thrived, and its people made many advancements in a number of fields, including medicine and science, technology, art and language, and agriculture.

Language and Art

The first written language in Mesopotamia was cuneiform. Cuneiform was made up of wedge-shaped, picture-like figures. Due to the intricacies of this complex form of writing, many in Mesopotamia were illiterate. A select few became scribes who recorded information for a living. This written language allowed the Mesopotamians to develop the first recorded laws, called Hammurabi Code. The Mesopotamian civilization also produced the first work of literature in the poem Epic Tale of Gilgamesh.

A block with cuneiform writing.

Much of the artwork in Mesopotamia was clay or stone sculptures. From 4000 BC to around 500 BC Mesopotamia created wonderful pieces of art, of which many depicted priests, worshippers, and animals. Every piece included great detail, and due to the durable materials that were used, a number of these works still survive thousands of years later!

Math, Astronomy, & Science

Many Mesopotamians were math whizzes. They had a broad knowledge of mathematics, which aided greatly in the building of their structures and their recordkeeping. These math geniuses even figured out various mathematical formulas, including area for geometric shapes and circumference of the circle. Their numeric system had a base of 60, which is the root of the 360-degree circle, 60-minute hour, and the 24-hour day.

Their advanced math knowledge allowed Mesopotamians to make strides in astronomy as well. They were able to successfully predict the movements of the planets and study the moon's phases. Armed with this knowledge, they created the first calendar, which had twelve months and two seasons--summer and winter.

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