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Seven ways Mesopotamia changed the world


Seven ways Mesopotamia changed the world
 The phrase ‘the foundations of civilisation’ is often used while talking about Mesopotamia. But what exactly does this mean? Is civilization simply people living together, or does it involve more? Agriculture had emerged by 8000 BCE, and art was produced for thousands of years before Mesopotamia rose. However, Mesopotamia took these aspects of human culture and transformed them into civilization as we know it today.

Seven ways Mesopotamia changed the world, Mesopotamian money,
Brought together by a common goal – to find food – the Mesopotamians developed some of the earliest writing known to man, borne out of necessity to record accounts and crop yields. However, it later developed to represent more abstract ideas. As people were gathered together, spiritual practices were also refi ned, and the population began to share a common belief system. With this established, the priests, who claimed to be able to communicate with the gods, took their place at the top of the social hierarchy, and slowly a class system developed.
This emphasis on religion inspired moral codes, which led to formal rules and, in turn, punishment for those who disobeyed. A steady food supply meant the Mesopotamians could pursue other aspects of life, such as technology and science. They made ground-breaking advancements in the areas of mathematics and medicine. However, this social structure also revealed the darker aspects of humanity, such as war, slavery and expansion, and with so many people gathered together, diseases spread rapidly. As the civilisation developed, it inevitably had an infl uence on other cultures. It is believed that Babylonian astronomy infl uenced Greece, India and even China. The early Mesopotamian codes of laws also had a profound effect on lawmaking in the Near East, and the introduction of taxes and a standing army infl uenced countries worldwide. In fact, historians are still exploring the huge impact that Mesopotamia had on the ancient world, and the world we live in today.
The creation of writing
Writing began in Mesopotamia towards the end of the 4th millennium BCE as a way to record crucial information about crops and taxes in pictorial form. These early tablets developed into a script, which bears close resemblance to writing today. This system of writing is commonly known as cuneiform and comprised of wedge shaped marks in clay. Gradually the number of characters used in cuneiform decreased from 1,000 to around 400, which ensured more clarity in the script. By 2500 BCE cuneiform was advanced enough to portray emotions such as fear and hope.
Seven ways Mesopotamia changed the world, Mesopotamian money,
Mesopotamian money
Mesopotamians used silver rings thousands of years before the fi rst coins were made. In around 2500 BCE a ‘shekel’ of silver became the currency of Mesopotamia, with one month of labour being worth one shekel, and a slave worth between ten and 20. Prior to this, clay tokens in a variety of sizes and shapes were used for trade and barter. There were at least 16 different types of these tokens that represented various things, such as rope, sheep’s milk, perfume and honey.
The basis of time The Mesopotamians were trailblazers in their concept of time. They were the first in recorded history to use a base 60 numerical system that led to our 60-second minutes and 60-minute hours. Many believe that this helped the Babylonians make such impressive advances in mathematics, as 60 has many divisors. They also used a lunar calendar, which comprised 12 lunar months, at an average of 29.5 days each. This left the Mesopotamians short by around 11 days a year, so they added seven months in each 19-year period to keep the seasons aligned.
A wheely late invention
The wheel was actually invented at a surprisingly late point of human history, with the oldest example from Mesopotamia dating to 3500 BCE, in the Bronze Age. It is likely that the wheel was developed individually by different cultures around the same time. Evidence shows that Mesopotamians used this invention for pottery fi rst, before adapting the design for transport with chariots. Wheels did offer advantages to transportation, but they took a great deal of time to make as smooth as possible, so sledges were still commonly used alongside the wheel.