What countries did they live in?
Mesopotamia included the area that is now eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and most of Iraq.
What did their buildings look like?
They had buildings made of mud and clay with an opening on top because they hadn't made doors yet.
What did they eat?
Ordinary people in Mesopotamia ate better food than the poor people . Some workers were paid in food while others had to buy or trade for food.
In Mesopotamia they ate a meal three times a day, these meals were prepared outside in a small courtyard. The meals included a flatbread made of barley. They did not eat beef because it was too expensive. So they ate lots of vegetable soups or stews. They also drank lots of alcoholic beverages, mainly ale. They drank some cows' milk but they could not keep it long because it would spoil in the hot climate. People that lived near the river used spears and nets to catch fish. The fish were salted and stored to eat in the winter. People near the coast would hunt for turtle eggs and eat them. They ate in clay plates or on hard bread.
Food from other countries was enjoyed including bananas from India, wine from Syria. The King had fancier meals made with different spices. He also was the first to have the imported white cheese.
Recipes have been found on clay tablets.
What did they wear?
They mostly wore clothes made from wool; cotton and silk were introduced later.
What did their writing look like?
Mesopotamia writing was one of the first written languages. They wrote using pictograms. They used small drawings of simple pictures to communicate.
Writing began in Mesopotamia around 3500 BC. Scribes were people who learned to write. Clay tablets were used for recording information. Scribes kept track of sales and trades, tax payments, gifts for the gods, marriages, and deaths. There were many symbols that scribes had to learn. They used sharp tools to write with like a stylus. Later on, their writing was called cuneiform. Cuneiform has lots of triangles and wedge-shaped symbols.
What did they believe?
The Mesopotamians believed that the gods were beyond the reach of humans and that the gods considered them extremely insignificant. In comparison, the Egyptians thought that you could make sacrifices for gods and they would listen. The Egyptians also believed that there was a connection between humans and the gods, the pharaoh being the link, who was made divine by the god Horus. The Egyptians also thought that you could receive eternal life in the afterlife.
In the epic of Gilgamesh, the god Enlil decided to flood the earth and almost every other god took his side on this matter. The Egyptian god Amon would cause the Nile to flood, always at the same period of time, and they believed that if they praised him and made sacrifices for him, he would continue to flood the Nile.
Are some of them famous even today?
Yes, they are. For example, people such as Gilgamesh and king Hammurabi are still famous today. Also, many Egyptian kings, including King Tut(Tutankhamen) are still famous today.
What is left of them today?
There are many artifacts, including tablets in their language, ceramic pots, and many other daily objects.
When did the civilizations start and end?
The civilizations started around 5300 B.C. and ended either in the 6th century B.C. or 644 A.D.
- Papankek, John L. and John M. Fahey, Jr. (1995). Mesopatamia: The Mighty Kings. Time-Life Books.
- Service, Pamela F. (1999). Mesopotamia. Benchmark Books, New York.
- Jacobs, Heidi Hages, Michal LeVasseur, and Brenda Randolph (1998). The Ancient World. Prentice and Hall, Needham, Massachusetts.