Some of the economic activities of Mesopotamia as a civilization were agriculture, livestock, crafts or trade. Economic activities are all actions carried out in a society, region or country with the objective of producing goods or offering services necessary for their livelihood and generating wealth. Each country, according to its geographical situation, climate and social characteristics, develops different economic activities.
Mesopotamia means “land between rivers” and, as its name implies, this area developed between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq and a part of Syria and Turkey.
There is evidence that man inhabited that area since 10,000 BC and throughout history different civilizations have settled; each adopted and adapted the practices established by their predecessors and contributed innovations.
Being a fertile valley watered by these two important rivers, it is expected that the main activity of ancient Mesopotamia was cultivation.
Main economic activities of Mesopotamia throughout history
One of the first peoples to settle in Mesopotamian lands was that of the Sumerians, around 4,000 BC.
The Akkadians arrived in the area from 3,000 BC, after strong disputes that ended up displacing the Sumerians.
Around the year 2237 BC the Amorites invaded the region, imposing their dominion over Sumerians and Akkadians, resulting in the rise of Babylon and also Assyria, further north.
After long disputes, by 1175 BC the Assyrians were left with control of Mesopotamia and extended their dominions to the territories of Egypt and Canaan.
They dominated such a vast territory thanks to their knowledge and skills in metalworking, which allowed them to be the first to make iron weapons against which there was no possible competition. Even so, later the Assyrians were dominated by the Medes.
By 539 BC, and after little more than a century of the leadership of the Chaldeans through Nebuchadnezzar, the Persians invaded the region, until, around 330 BC, the Greeks arrived, later the Roman Empire and finally the Empire. Muslim.
The most remarkable characteristic of Mesopotamia has to do with the fact that, thanks to the fertile conditions of its soils, the peoples left their long nomadic tradition and decided to settle in the place.
This radical change in the way of life of men up to that moment, gave rise to the construction of the first civilizations in history.
On the other hand, the first settlers of this region – the Sumerians – were the inventors of writing, which took an unprecedented leap in terms of advances in history.
These two characteristics – writing and sedentary life – were the foundation stones of the organization of work, the creation of trades and the need for communication, indispensable premises for the development of humanity.
It can be said then that the peoples of Mesopotamia were the first to have an economic activity as such, which was developing and growing according to the growth and development of society itself.
It is logical to think that throughout more than four thousand years of history, invasions and conquests of different peoples, the economic activities of the place have been modified. However, what is known about its economic system is quite homogeneous and persistent over time.
The economic activities of Mesopotamia were based on:
The organization of the Sumerian people took advantage of the benefits of the Mesopotamian plain to make irrigation systems and thus take advantage of the abundant water of the rivers and control floods.
In this way they managed to grow cereals such as barley, wheat, rye and sesame, as well as olive trees, date palms, grapes and some legumes.
One of the great contributions of Mesopotamian civilizations to the world was the introduction of the wheel and the plow to till the land, great inventions and techniques that are still used in the fields today.
It functioned as an activity contingent on agriculture, with raising pigs, goats and sheep. The herding of cattle was a practice devised by this great civilization.
The Sumerians made products woven from sheep’s wool, as well as wood carvings, tanned hides, and metal and ceramic objects.
This line could also include the fired clay tables on which the first writings of the world were engraved.
Basically, everything produced was for the consumption of the population itself; However, it is known that when surpluses began to exist, they maintained an intense commercial exchange with other peoples such as the Indian and the Egyptian, since they controlled both the sea and land routes to and from the Far East.
With the passage of time, barter was formalized and the use of currencies was incorporated in commercial transactions.
5- Metallurgy, cabinetmaking, goldsmithing
The inhabitants of Mesopotamia were skilled workers of copper and bronze, skills that they applied in the elaboration of very new weapons for the time, as well as tools for work.
Thanks to the exchange of their surplus grain and wool for precious stones from India, wood from Phenicia and Lebanon, metals from Anatolia and other raw materials that were not available in their area, an important industry developed around these materials. thanks to the development of tools, utensils, jewelry and crafts.
As herding became a daily activity in the region, the Babylonians were able to collect a large quantity of wool for trade and also for the manufacture of their own clothing.
It is known that the Babylonians were a very active civilization and that, in addition, they brought great advances such as controlled irrigation, plowing, herding and the manufacture of sailing boats. They also built dikes, dams, and canals.
Mesopotamia was the origin of civilization. It all started there many thousands of years ago. Its rich history and its legacies are worth knowing and studying in depth.
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- Mesopotamia. Recovered from Cienciasociales.galeon.com
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- Carlos G. Wagner (1999). History of the Near East. Editions University of Salamanca.