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In ancient times the land area now known as modern Iraq was almost equivalent to Mesopotamia, the land between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates (in Arabic, the Dijla and Furat, respectively), the Mesopotamian plain was called the Fertile Crescent. This region is known as the Cradle of Civilization. It was the birthplace of the varied civilizations that moved us from prehistory to history.
An advanced civilization flourished in this region long before that of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, for it was here in about 4000BC that the Sumerian culture flourished. The civilized life that emerged at Sumer was shaped by two conflicting factors: the unpredictability of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which at any time could unleash devastating floods that wiped out entire peoples, and the extreme richness of the river valleys, caused by centuries-old deposits of soil. Thus, while the river valleys of southern Mesopotamia attracted migrations of neighboring peoples and made possible, for the first time in history, the growing of surplus food, the volatility of the rivers necessitated a form of collective management to protect the marshy, low-lying land from flooding. As surplus production increased and as collective management became more advanced, a process of urbanization evolved and Sumerian civilization took root. The people of the Tigris and the Euphrates basin, the ancient Sumerians, using the fertile land and the abundant water supply of the area, developed sophisticated irrigation systems and created what was probably the first cereal agriculture as well as the earliest writing, cuneiform, a way of arranging impression stamped on clay by the wedge-like section of chopped-off reed stylus into wet clay. Through writing, the Sumerians were able to pass on complex agricultural techniques to successive generations. This led to marked improvements in agricultural production.
Land was cultivated for the first time, early calendars were used and the first written alphabet was invented here. Its bountiful land, fresh waters, and varying climate contributed to the creation of deep-rooted civilization that had fostered humanity from its affluent fountain since thousand of years. Sumerian states were believed to be under the rule of a local god or goddess, and a bureaucratic system of the priesthood arose to oversee the ritualistic and complex religion. High Priests represented the gods on earth, one of their jobs being to discern the divine will. A favorite method of divination was reading sheep or goat entrails. The priests ruled from their ziggurats, high rising temples of sunbaked brick with outside staircases leading to the shrine on top. The Sumerian gods personified local elements and natural forces. The Sumerians worshiped anu, the supreme god of heaven, Enlil, god of water, and Ea, god of magic and creator of man. The Sumerians held the belief that a sacred ritual marriage between the ruler and Inanna, goddess of love and fertility brought rich harvests.
Eventually, the Sumerians would have to battle another peoples, the Akkadians, who migrated up from the Arabian Peninsula. The Akkadians were a Semitic people. Semitic languages include Hebrew, Arabic, Assyrian, and Babylonian. When the two peoples clashed, the Sumerians gradually lost control over the city-states they had so brilliantly created and fell under the hegemony of the Akkadian kingdom, which was based in Akkad (Sumerian Agade). This great capital of the largest empire humans had ever seen up until that point that was later to become Babylon, which was the commercial and cultural center of the Middle East for almost two thousand years.
In 2340 BC, the great Akkadian military leader, Sargon, conquered Sumer
and built an Akkadian empire stretching over most of the Sumerian city-states
and extending as far away as Lebanon. Sargon based his empire in the city
of Akkad, which became the basis of the name of his people.
Mesopotamia is the suspected spot known as the "Garden of Eden".Ur of the Chaldees, and that's where Abraham came from, (that's just north of the traditional site of the Garden of Eden, about twenty-five miles northeast of Eridu, at present Mughair), was a great and famous Sumerian city, dating from this time. Predating the Babylonian by about 2,000 years, was Noah, who lived in Fara, 100 miles southeast of Babylon (from Bab-ili, meaning "Gate of God"). The early Assyrians, some of the earliest people there, were known to be warriors, so the first wars were fought there, and the land has been full of wars ever since. The Assyrians were in the northern part of Mesopotamia and the Babylonians more in the middle and southern part.
(Source: History of Iraq, Saleh home achilles)