Mesopotamia



   Although we like to imagine that Mesopotamia was a single, coherent culture passing from hand to hand, in fact the cultures of Mesopotamia were diverse and variegated. Even in the period of great empires, beginning with the Akkadians, Mesopotamia consisted of largely independent city-states with their own cults (often completely different religions), languages, kings, and administrations. So when we speak of Mesopotamia as dominated by one group or another, the traditions and governments of other groups thrived beneath this domination. These diverse city-states were always on the look-out for an opportunity for independence, and the history of the exchange of power is largely determined by the desire for independence seething below the surface.

   We'll begin our journey with the Sumerians, that mysterious people that, for some reason, began building cities in the southern areas of Mesopotamia around 3000 BC. The Sumerians would create a culture that would pass from people to people, religion to religion, and from language to language long after the Sumerians ceased to walk the sands of the area "between the rivers." At the end of each chapter is a title link to the next chapter and the next people—select the engraved title to move on to the next chapter; to review any chapter, go to "Mesopotamian Readings" on the contents page.

Richard Hooker



The Sumerians

Mesopotamia
World Cultures

World Cultures Home Page


1996, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-14-97