Mesopotamia was the world’s first civilization–the first time people settled down to live together in one place. They didn’t have to rely only on hunting and gathering to get food because they knew how to farm and could save up food for the winter. Since they had so much extra time now (the time they used to spend hunting animals and gathering plants), this allowed them to begin creating objects and ideas to help them live a little easier.
This slideshow will demonstrate some of Mesopotamia’s most important inventions and achievements. Some of them may surprise you! You’ve used at least one of them already today. You can click the play button to watch the slideshow, or you can use the thumbnails at the bottom to change the picture when you are ready. The biggest achievement of ancient Mesopotamia was the development of a system of writing. They developed cuneiform writing and were very advanced in a literary sense given the time period. Mesopotamia also had early advancements in the ideas of creating a legal system with their code of laws called the Hammurabi. It should also be noted that Mesopotamia was the first civilization to begin using irrigation practices for their agriculture. His civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia brought many important advances in the areas of science and technology.
Perhaps the most important advance made by the Mesopotamians was the invention of writing by the Sumerians. Go here to learn more about Sumerian writing. With the invention of writing came the first recorded laws called Hammurabi’s Code as well as the first major piece of literature called the Epic Tale of Gilgamesh.
Although archeologists don’t know for sure who invented the wheel, the oldest wheel discovered was found in Mesopotamia. It is likely the Sumer first used the wheel in making pottery in 3500BC and then used it for their chariots in around 3200 BC.
The Mesopotamians used a number system with the base 60 (like we use base 10). They divided time up by 60s including a 60 second minute and a 60 minute hour, which we still use today. They also divided up the circle into 360 degrees.
They had a wide knowledge of mathematics including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, quadratic and cubic equations, and fractions. This was important in keeping track of records as well as in some of their large building projects.
The Mesopotamians had formulas for figuring out the circumference and area for different geometric shapes like rectangles, circles, and triangles. Some evidence suggests that they even knew the Pythagorean Theorem long before Pythagoras wrote it down. They may have even discovered the number for pi in figuring the circumference of a circle.
Using their advanced math, the Mesopotamian astronomers were able to follow the movements of the stars, planets, and the Moon. One major achievement was the ability to predict the movements of several planets. This took logic, mathematics, and a scientific process.
By studying the phases of the Moon, the Mesopotamians created the first calendar. It had 12 lunar months and was the predecessor for both the Jewish and Greek calendars.
The Babylonians made several advances in medicine. They used logic and recorded medical history to be able to diagnose and treat illnesses with various creams and pills.
The Mesopotamians made many technological discoveries. They were the first to use the potter’s wheel to make better pottery, they used irrigation to get water to their crops, they used bronze metal (and later iron metal) to make strong tools and weapons, and used looms to weave cloth from wool.
Interesting Facts about Mesopotamian Technology
•The Walls of Babylon were once considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There were actually two massive walls that surrounded the entire city. Archeologists estimate that the walls were over 50 miles long with each wall being around 23 feet wide and 35 feet tall. There were also massive towers at intervals along the wall that may have been hundreds of feet tall.
•The Mesopotamians may have invented the simple machine called the Archimedes Screw. This would have helped to raise water to the heights needed for the plants in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
•The Assyrians developed glasswork as well as glazes for pottery and art to help it last longer.
•Eighteen different canals have been found that brought water to the Assyrian Empire capital of Nineveh. Through the development of writing, mathematics, metalworking, detailed law codes, and the wheel, Mesopotamians have shown their ingenuity with many different achievements. The world as we know it could not survive without writing. I am writing right now in order to do this paper, and the economy and so much of our lives is dependent on writing.
Although it goes hand-in-hand with writing, mathematics is also a very important achievement of the Mesopotamians. Mesopotamians based their math system on sixty, but it is just as important and influential regardless. Metal work is another great achievement of the Mesopotamians; it improved warfare, made better tools, and is very important in life today also. Law codes, although mostly used as a guideline, helped to keep the peace and gave a true sense of authority and respect for the king. The wheel was one of the most influential inventions of all time, despite its simplistic origins as a potter’s wheel and then later a solid way of pulling a cart easier. Writing is by far the most important achievement of Mesopotamian society. Developing from writing on clay “envelopes” as a way of keeping business records, writing was first used as a counting method. Later on, Sumerians, who were the first to develop a writing system, realized that it would be easier to simply write these notes on clay rather than on the round “envelope.” The writing system that began to emerge is called Cuneiform and pushing a reed into a clay tablet produced these Cuneiform symbols. However, before the Cuneiform we know today developed, pictograms were used to represent several different sounds or words. These pictograms gradually became more abstract over time, and developed into a system of triangular shapes and lines. Writing promoted a person’s social status, if you knew…
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