The Fertile Crescent is an area of land, shaped in a half circle, or crescent, that has two major rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, running through it. Neolithic farmers settled the area building towns that turned into great civilizations. The rivers were crucial to the settling of this area. They start in what is now Turkey and flow southeast to the Persian Gulf. The land between them is as narrow as 30 miles in one area and as wide as 250 miles in others, and is referred to as Mesopotamia – meaning “the land between to rivers“.
Ancient Mesopotamia was a lot like the Nile River Valley. Farmers depended on floods but they weren’t as predictable as the Nile’s. Mesopotamia was surrounded by dry lands and mountains. The land wasn’t as desolate as the ones surrounding Egypt so there were tribes of nomads who liked to invade, conquer and set up empires.
An ancient account from an ancient priest of Lagash survives and it says: “The invading herders have set fire to the crop lands. They have carried away the silver and precious stones. They have shed blood in the palace. They have removed the grain from the land, all of it was under cultivation”
Imagine how the constant threat of violence affected the people who lived in Mesopotamia.
They ended up building walls around their cities. In Egypt, the desert and sea kept them safe, most of the time, from invaders.
The Tigris and Euphrates carried super rich soil southeastward. So, the best farmland was in the southeast (lower) part Mesopotamia It eventually became known as Sumer, and the inhabitants as Sumerians.
Homeschool Education Review Questions:
1. What are the two major rivers of the Fertile Crescent?
2. What does Mesopotamia mean?
3. Why didn’t the Egyptians feel the need to build walls around their cities?