Wednesday, May 25, 2005
The river valley that lies between the Tigris and Euprhates is one of the most interesting and dynamic and oldest regions on Earth. It was one of the first two places (along with the Nile) to develop civilizations based on complex urban societies, a system of reading and writing, trade, advanced agriculture, and established government along with organised religion. Unlike the Nile valley, which mostly stayed under Egyptian rule for long stretches of time, Mesoptamia's ethinic and political boundaries were constantly changing. When the cities rose up and their people's lives improved, nearby nomads often wanted the riches. Pretty soon, there was constant war between the urban-dwellers and their mostly Semitic nomadic neighbors. There were several waves of Semites that often overthrew old kingdoms and set up their own. The ethnic make-up was constantly changing. After a while, most of the people became Semites, but politics were still changing. There were the Sumerians, the Babylonians, Assyrians, and still more. Outside influences were common. Soon, a new wave of Indo-European invaders came in. They set up the Medes and Persian empires in modern Iran. Eventually the Persian empire managed to conquer the area and hold it until Alexander the Great took it. This region is really one of the most interesting places to study.