Portal:Mesopotamia

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Introduction

Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia. Shown are Washukanni, Nineveh, Hatra, Assur, Nuzi, Palmyra, Mari, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Nippur, Isin, Lagash, Uruk, Charax Spasinu and Ur, from north to south.

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

Selected article

Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III (Akkadian: Tukultī-apil-Ešarra, "my trust is in the son of Eshara", reigned 745 – 727 BC) is considered the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He is considered to be one of the most successful military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the ancient Assyrians before his death. A former governor of Kalhu, he seized the throne on 13 Iyyar, 745 BC, in the midst of a civil war during which the royal family was killed.

Upon ascending the throne, Tiglath-Pileser instituted reforms to several sectors of the Assyrian state, which arguably revived Assyria's hegemony over the Near East. He curtailed the powers of the high officials, often by appointed eunuchs as governors to remove provincial dynastic threats, and reducing the size of provinces. He expanded the army by incorporating large numbers of conquered people in it, with native Assyrians comprising the cavalry and chariotry. This also allowed it to campaign year-round rather than seasonally, and he used it to conquer the entire middle east. Unlike previous Assyrian rulers, his heirs were able to maintain his empire.

Did you know

...the etymology of Babylon derives from the Aramaic term, which in turn comes from the Akkadian Babel , which passed into Greek as Babylon , meaning "the Door of God"; "door" in Arabic and Aramaic, and "God" in Aramaic and other Semitic languages?
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Ishtar Gate
Credit: Richtor Norton

Nebuchadrezzar II's gate to Babylon, ca. 575 BC (Pergamonmuseum)

Key topic

Sumerian inscription
...The Sumerian language was the language of ancient Sumer, spoken in Southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. It was gradually replaced by Akkadian as a spoken language in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, but continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the first century AD. Then, it was forgotten until the 19th century, when Assyriologists began deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions and excavated tablets left by these speakers. Sumerian is a language isolate.

The Sumerian language is the earliest known written language. It first appeared as numerical records, with symbols added to represents the things counted, which then developed into a logographic script representing the whole language, not just accounting objects. The logographic symbols were then generalized using a wedge-shaped stylus to impress the shapes into wet clay, giving rise to the name cuneiform, meaning "wedge-shape". These distinctive wedge shapes were imitated even in carved inscriptions. By ca. 2600 BC, the large set of logographic signs had been simplified into a syllabary of several hundred signs, allowing texts from this point on to be deciphered by modern Assyriologists.

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