The History Of Ancient Mesopotamia

Isaac Newton said that “the only way I could see further was by standing upon the shoulders of greats.” It implied that we had made technological advances since ancient times, and then continued to improve them. Mesopotamia, with its abundance of resources, allowed for people to spend more time inventing new technology and less time hustling day after day to produce food. Mesopotamian technologies have been a foundation for modern technology. Sumerians are not the only ones who lived in Mesopotamia. Assyrians Babylonians Chaldeans were all there as well. In the modern age, technology evolves at an unimaginable rate. The technology of today will be the antiquity of tomorrow.

You can ask yourself if you cannot live without your car or a phone. We can find that both of these items have wheels. The hard disk of the phone contains disks. And the engine in the car has pistons. Many people are unaware that the wheel was invented. It is so common in our daily lives. The wheel also has a symbolic meaning of the circle life-death, which was regarded as a fundamental principle of Sumerian and Egyptian religious beliefs (Dawkins 50). Although they were all developed around the same period, the wheel was unlike any other primitive technology like writing or cultivating animals. Sumerians used the wheel to their advantage in everyday life. Archaeologists discovered ancient Incan toys which had wheels. But why didn’t they use the wheels properly?

In Mesopotamia, around 3500 BC, the first wheel was discovered in an archaeological dig during the Bronze Age. Sumerians created the wheel in order to produce more effective bronze weapons to aid them with hunting and combat (dhwty). Some historians claim that the invention of wheels wasn’t due to the rise of the Bronze Age, but rather because they needed more pottery. The structure included a wheel that spun (dhwty). This complex combination is a proof of both pottery and axing. Some historians believe that the wheel first appeared in Mesopotamia before spreading to other parts of the globe (dhwty). Others argue, on the other hand, that the invention of the wheel occurred in many places at once. For example: archaeological digs in Slovenia found a round wheel that was made around the same period as Sumerians.

The wheel eventually became the most popular way to transport people, but its use was limited by the lack of roads. Animals, on the other hand, could endure longer travel times and needed less maintenance. In Sumerian society, the wheel had many applications, including irrigation systems, mining, pottery, and farming. The wheel was unique in that it could be used for any purpose. It is regarded as humanity’s greatest achievement (dhwty) because of its versatility. Homo sapiens discovered that a circular shape made it easier to move heavy objects. Sumerians used circular logs to transport large objects (Snowden). Egyptians followed Sumerians and made chariots that had spoked wheel to reduce friction, making them more stable, like modern bicycles (Snowden). Egyptians handed their blueprints on to Celtic areas, British Isles. They then added iron layers, similar to horseshoes, onto the wheels in order to increase durability. The first chariot found with iron-spiked wheels was in Edinburgh, Scotland. The pneumatic tire was invented by Robert William Thomson, an American scientist in the 19th century. Thompson’s model had a plastic ring around the central wheel and became the universal car tires (Snowden).

Mesopotamia, which is the area between Euphrates River and tigris River, comes from Greek’meso,’ or the middle word. Sumerians thought the fertile land near these rivers to be a gift of the gods. The rivers would flood in the spring, washing crops into the Mediterranean Sea. Sumerian engineers saw the problem, and built irrigation channels to allow water to flow into their cities, farms and also as a safety measure for the city. The water was scarce, and the temperatures were rarely high enough to make farming impossible for eight consecutive months each year.

By irrigating the soil, farmers could now cultivate those previously risky areas. Sumerian Canals were built by machinery, not labor. Sumerians dug canals using a machine called swape, which was composed of gears with a large shovel. The laws that framed the canals required farmers maintain cleanliness and mud to enforce canals adjacent to theirs. In order to prevent flooding in the city, farmers were often instructed to dig new water channels. Armenia invaded Sumer in 714 BC and after seeing the canals that the natives maintained, they sent Sumerian engineers back to Armenia to build their canals. In 714 BC, Armenia invaded the Sumerian empire and saw the canals. They were impressed by how well the natives maintained them. They decided to send Sumerian engineers to Armenia so that they could build their own canals (Bhugra). The crops that the Sumerians produced in abundance included onions, garlic grapes wheat pomegranates. A farmer in 2000 BC came up with the idea of hittingching his ox to a stick, and letting it walk straight while he threw seeds into the diches that were formed. This was the birth of polwing.

Plowing was popularized by its simplicity and effectiveness. Ancient Egypt, after the Sumerians is the second civilization in mesopotamia to have made significant contributions to modern society. We can see the impact of Egyptians on our lives by looking in the mirror. Medicine has made a significant contribution to the modern world. Egyptian medical practices are so advanced that it took modern doctors centuries to disprove them. Their philosophy was based on their understanding that drugs can treat diseases, that massage has healing properties and that cleanliness is important (Joshua E.M.). Egyptians are the most successful when it comes to treating injuries. They know exactly what causes them and how best to treat them (Joshua). The diagnosis of diseases was much more difficult. People get sick because of a past sin, ghost or God. “The first doctor was a wizard, because the Egyptians believed that illness and disease was caused by a bad force entering the human body” (Joshua).

Each time, the Egyptians used a different method to treat disease. Aromatherapy or massages were used when a spirit/God entered the body to cure the illness and protect the patient. When the diagnosis was that an evil spirit was in the body and causing the illness, potions or spells would be used to remove the demon. The papyrus texts that describe medical techniques include all the details. The destruction of Ancient Egypt’s medical texts by fire and floods left very few. The Chester Beatty Papyrus, for example, describes cancer treatment using cannabis, which according to Herodotus is the oldest drug. It also describes diseases affecting the anorectal (anus and rectum).

The Ebers Papyrus describes cancer cases using new treatments that are not effective. It also mentions diabetes, depression, contraception, and other conditions (Joshua E.M.). Edwin Smith Papyrus was written in 1600 BC and describes surgical procedures on patients. Demotic magical papyrus is known as a “bible” for magic potions and magical spells. The Papyruses devoted themselves to one subject and attempted to cover all the possible treatments. The Heart Medical Papyrus deals with digestive and tract infections, while the London Medical Papyrus offers healing treatments for burns and injuries to the skin. A close link between medicine, religion and theology led doctors to be considered as priests to Per-Ankh. They practiced medicine in the “House of Life”. Every temple in Egypt included a separate building where people could go after worshiping the Gods to see a doctor. Imhotep, a Pharaoh Djoser official and medical practitioner who was crowned God for Medicine despite his human nature, was Imhotep. He was known for his secular medicine because he believed that diseases were not God’s punishments, but rather natural phenomena (Joshua)

Egyptians were also the first women doctors to be known. Merit-Ptah, the chief physician in the palace during 2700 BC was Egyptian. Egyptians tended to associate doctors and priests with women, and they were not surprised when a woman entered the profession. Many females migrated to Egypt to become doctors because of this situation. Agnodice, a woman from Athens in 400 BC who went to Egypt as a doctor because she was not respected by Athens’ medical community (Joshua E.M.). The first dental practice was in Egypt. However, archaeologists only discovered this by studying the teeth on mummies. It is unclear why such a mundane activity received so little interest from historians in that period. Hesyre is the first known dentist. People were already doing this before 4000 BC. All practitioners were concerned with relieving pain in their patients and used stimulants for relaxation. Honey, herbs cannabis, opium and cannabis were all documented ingredients.

The Egyptians performed surgical procedures on a regular basis. Their tables are still used by doctors today (Joshua, EM). The Egyptians knew that diet was important to health and changed their diet after every medical procedure. While we studied their papyruses, we didn’t ask how they were made or how they became the basis of our paper. Papyrus was once a natural plant growing in the Nile Delta. People didn’t cultivate it until 6500 BC, when they discovered its other uses. The majority of people will say that papyrus is used to make paper. However, Egyptians saw it differently. Papyrus was used in Egypt’s diet as an abundant crop. They used the fibers of the papyrus to make ropes, shoes, baskets, and boats. Papyrus, shaped like a blossom, was given to Gods at temples. The papyrus was the political symbol of northern Egypt. Papyrus’ value skyrocketed when craftsmen discovered they could make paper from the plant (Joshua EP). Papyrus was named after the Egyptian word for royalty, ‘papuro.’ This is because the papyrus plant was grown on land near the river.

Papyrus is a rare material, and the process for manufacturing it was also difficult. The Egyptians’ method of making papyrus was almost identical to ours today. The stems of the plant were cut into thin layers and pressed. As they dried, water would seep out. Papyrus was only processed by people who had experience. The technique of making papyrus was first taught on wood, and then ostraca. (JoshuaEP). The craftsmen also had to contend with the issue of the papyrus’ length. The papyrus found in Egypt was 20 meters long, or 100 and 10 pages of A4 modern paper (JoshuaEP).

They were not meant for everyday use but only for government records, spellings and medicals texts(Joshua EP). These were only used for medical texts, government records and spells (Joshua EP). When archaeologists were excavating Egyptian ruin, they found glass. This glass was unique. Researchers confirmed that egyptians didn’t make glass for the first time, but were credited with incorporating it in their culture and art (Sohn). Egyptians developed the formula which makes the glass clear enough to be used in art. Tuthmosis, after he expanded his military to the Middle East, introduced the glass vessels. Egyptian glass was the first material used to make beads and ornaments before Tuthmosis. Tuthmosis, the descendant Tuthmosis, was able to increase the production of glass due to the easy availability of materials. In those days, these artisans invented a technique called Faiencing. The Egyptian glass industry still uses this process today. Egyptians saw glass as more than just beads and vessels. The Egyptians saw new properties that they applied to engineering. Cold cutting is the best known. Cold cutting was invented by the Egyptians to accurately cut wood and stones. It is still used today to cut pipes (Egyptian Glass). Trading in the Mediterranean would not have been possible if the Egyptians had not mastered the art of producing clean glass. Egyptian glassmakers likely sent and sold their glass throughout the Mediterranean.

It was the only material that could be shaped by simply melting it. The glass could be remelted if there was a problem during transport, unlike clay, which is usually thrown away. Glass trade is favored by Artisans who receive the glass chunks. They have the freedom to manipulate the material without any limitations. Glass has had a major impact on our modern society, but we haven’t touched the surface. Glass was used to help us understand the micro- and macro-world using our 3-pound ‘jelly.’ (Dartnell 11). Aristotle was able to prove the roundness of the earth, Hippocrates became the father in medicine and Hipparchus was able to create the antikythera device (Dartnell 11,). Scientists used glass to observe things that were not visible with the naked eye. They found that lenses with inside curves made it easy to view objects at a distance, while lenses with outside curves were easier to see close-up objects. The new invention of using glass led to scientific revolution. Newton became father of physics and Galileo proved the geocentric theory of the church’s galaxy was incorrect. Copernicus expanded the realm of biology. (Dartnell l9).

Scientists lifted the darkness of middle ages by using blueprints from their predecessors. Before the Industrial Revolution, scientific research was only available to the rich. They used all their resources in order to impress each other at parties. Benjamin Franklin, credited for bringing science to the common people after his famous experiment that proved electricity was not God’s power but rather the source of light in mansions. Alessandro Volta’s invention of the battery allowed him to bring about that frightful event, electricity. It proved for once that science belongs to everyone. (Dartnell 36). It is a miracle that something so small as a piece glass from Egypt can have such a profound impact on the entire world. We can all see that our work is connected to our predecessors, regardless of where we are in society. The Sumerians invented the wheel, and I would not be able write on my computer. Without the Sumerians’ invention of the plowing technology that increased food yields, I might be going hungry. The Mesopotamian’s irrigation system is the reason we have bathrooms. The Egyptians invented medicine, which would have led to the death of more than half the world’s population. The Egyptians could have written on stone if they hadn’t invented paper. Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is a bridge that would have been a regular one without the glass. Ancient mesopotamian peoples were innovators, and the technologies they developed have improved the world.


  • spencerknight

    I'm Spencer Knight, a 29-year-old educational blogger and teacher. I write about a variety of topics related to education, from teaching strategies to student success stories. I hope to help others achieve their educational goals and help them develop a lifelong love of learning.



I'm Spencer Knight, a 29-year-old educational blogger and teacher. I write about a variety of topics related to education, from teaching strategies to student success stories. I hope to help others achieve their educational goals and help them develop a lifelong love of learning.

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