Features of Mesopotamian Civilization


Mesopotamia is a Greek word that means between two rivers. It is a place surrounded by two rivers Euphrates and the Tigris rivers. This is the reason why the land of Mesopotamia is so rich in minerals and flourishing. In present times Mesopotamia comes under the Republics of Iraq. It is also called the grave of many civilizations. It is known for its rich literature, mathematics, City life, and astronomy. After 2000 BCE, its language was used as a communication medium in the eastern Mediterranean, northern Syria, and Turkey. Their writings are the greatest source of information that can be used to know more about the Mesopotamia civilization. The southern part which was urbanized was known as Sumer and Akkad. The significant civilizations that survived over Mesopotamia are Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian, and Babylonian.

GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Salient features of the Mesopotamian Civilization

  • The king's rule was there in Mesopotamia. They used to rule in the name of god. The king was the owner of the property of the state.

  • Priests used to influence administrative affairs. Governors were appointed to run the provincial government.

  • Hammurabi was king of Babylonia between 2123 to 2081 B.C. . He fortified Babylonia and built temples and palaces in it. He was a good administrator

Code of Law

  • The “code of law” introduced by Hammurabi is the oldest and most diverse and contains 282 laws in it. This code of law was inscribed on the black stone.

  • This code of law aims to provide equality to all and it was based on the idea of tit for tat.

  • The most Salient feature of it was that it gave women the right to inherit ancestral property.

  • Another important feature was that it gave harsh punishment to the rich people, who committed crimes.

Social Structure

  • The four sections of the society were the royals, priests, rich landlords, and slaves.

  • The royals and priests were the people of high status followed by landlords and traders.

  • The slaves were of the lowest status. It was legal to buy and sell them.

  • They practiced nature worshiping and believed that man should give all his to worshiping god and that will bring positivity to life. The temples were also used as a place for teaching.

Economic Activities

  • Most of them practiced agriculture, cattle rearing, and dairy. The most salient feature was that they developed artificial irrigation (shadoof). They used the two rivers Euphrates and the Tigris very smartly.

  • Agricultural products were grown in abundance and exported in exchange for wood, copper, tin, silver, shell, and gold.

  • They were the first ones to introduce that wheat can be grown as a crop. They also grow crops like barley, pulses, etc.

  • They were also the ones who discovered the ox-drawn plow.

  • They were also good at weaving, pottery, jewelry making, mining, etc.


  • The people of Mesopotamia were also great architects. Most of their buildings were built with mud and bricks.

  • The temple towers and hanging gardens are a few significant examples of their great architecture.

  • Arches, columns, domes, and vaults are the different forms of architecture introduced by the people of Mesopotamia.

  • They practised cuneiform writing which is writing on unbaked bricks with flat surfaces.

Science and Maths

  • They had a lot of information related to science and maths.

  • They were the first to use bills and receipts during business transactions. They used to keep all these records on clay tablets.

  • They were aware of different planets like Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, etc.

  • They had their calendar called the lunar calendar. They too had 12 months and 365 days according to their calendar.

  • The 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour that we use in our daily life to measure time, have been received from Mesopotamia.

  • They were also aware of the 360-degree angle and the circle consists of 360 degrees. This discovery also helped them to come up with the idea of the wheel.

  • They also had enough knowledge about medicine and this can be seen in the book called Materia Medica.

End of Mesopotamia Civilisation

  • Mesopotamia was one of the oldest civilizations but due to some reasons, it approached its end.

  • One of the most important reasons was that one of its two rivers, the Euphrates river, changed its original route.

  • So, the Tigris river was the only source of water left with them. This hampered their production of agriculture, which was their main economic activity.

  • The region which was served by the Euphrates river was already a desert and the shift in its route made this reason drier. Which worsened the lives of people.

  • Other than this the incapable rulers were also the reason for the decline of civilization. As they were not able to keep on hold on the administration.

  • The Persian invasion was another reason for the end of the Mesopotamia civilization. After the invasion (538 BCE), it became part of the Persian empire.

The Assyrian king, identified by his conical cap with a turban wrapped around it (so-called Polos), stands (under a parasol) in his royal chariot and raises his right arm in a greeting gesture.

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


Mesopotamia is a place that lies between two rivers Euphrates and the Tigris. Both these rivers were the reason for the sustainable life in this place. people of this region practiced agriculture. However, the people of southern Mesopotamia also practiced trading. This trading system survived due to the water transportation system. Most of its trade was made to get the wood, copper, tin, silver, gold, shell, and various stones from Turkey and Iran, or across the Gulf in exchange for its textiles and agricultural produce. They were also great architects and mathematicians. We still use many things that were initially introduced by them. This civilization came to its end when the Persians invaded it.


Q1. How can we say that the people of Mesopotamia believed in life after death?

We can say this because historians have found drinking vessels, ornaments, weapons, etc in the graves.

Q2. Explain the features of town planning in Mesopotamia.

The city had three important sections - the sacred areas, the walled city on a mound, and the outer town. Common people used to live in the walled city and the outer town areas.

Q3. What were Ziggurats?

The temple towers were called Ziggurats. They were located in the sacred areas of the city. They were constructed using sun-baked bricks. They were also utilized as schools, granaries, and trade centers

Q4. Write a short note on the religious belief of the people of Mesopotamia.

The people of Mesopotamia worshiped nature like the sun, moon, stars, rain, etc. The king was considered the chief priest and representative of God. They also believed in the idea of life after death

Q5. How was family life in Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia was a patriarchal society which means the eldest male member was considered the head of the family. Even when it was a patriarchal society women enjoyed many rights such as property rights.

Updated on: 18-Jan-2023

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