Mesopotamia Cultures Contribution to the Western Civilization

Western civilization traces its origin from the cultures of the ancient Near East.

This is where the people of Egypt and Mesopotamia developed some organized communities and institutions which can be associated with civilization. [1]The Romans and Greeks played a big role in the development of the Western civilization, the two societies borrowed heavily from the people who lived in the Near East. They were influenced and nurtured by the Mesopotamia societies who lived in this area of the Near East. The Romans and the Greeks served as the transmitters of the culture from the Near East to the other parts of Europe. Dowling,M 2007)[2]The Mesopotamia and Egypt started to build cities at around 3000 BC.They developing writing as a method through which they were to keep records.

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The same cultures build monumental structures for their gods and as a way to preserve their cultures. (Kramwel, S 1969 45)The cultures had a political ,social ,military and a religious system which dealt with the basic problems that human being experienced .Human  civilization is thought to have began in this area where two society are credited with the ancient civilization.Western civilization is based on the first sophisticated cultures which were found in Mesopotamia.

It had so many elements of the culture from the Mesopotamia region, this proves the fact that Mesopotamia cultures contributed greatly towards the Western civilization.Mesopotamia was the first society to have a full system of social order. It had a government, cities and a culture that characterized what is found in western societies save for the little modifications and influences from the other cultures from different parts of the world. Many architectural structures in the Western societies have their origin from the cultures that existed in this region between rivers Tigris and Euphrates.[3]The first people to occupy this area were the Sumerians.

These people displayed all the characteristics of an advancing civilization. They had cities such as Ur; Eridu and Uruk.The cities were governed by a system which was theocratic in nature. The government controlled the economic activities that took place here.

Therefore the semblance of the government appeared in this culture for the first time, it developed over time to be what it is today. The Western societies government systems were a modification of the structures that existed during the Mesopotamia civilization. It was the function of the government to ensure that there was order in the society. In this culture the government was charged with the role of ensuring that people followed the laid down laws. In the western civilization we had the forces which were structured in the same manner as the law and order maintenance forces. (Feverstein, G 2001 134)In the Mesopotamia society there was a set of hierarchy which consisted of the nobles, common people and slaves, each class of the people had a role to play with the nobles as the rulers of the society and occupiers of the highest class in the whole societies.

The kingdoms in the western civilization were designed in the same manners where we had the kings and queens together with their families and close relatives making the royal family, there were the commoners and at the bottom of the ladder there were the slaves who were mainly the servants for the royal families and other rich families.[4]As the war broke out in the Mesopotamia region, the Akkadians took over where they introduced and developed the city states and a complete law system. The city states had a government of their own and laws that were made by the council of selected people who represented the rest of the society. The Western societies later emerged with a complete system where we had states or empires which were mostly ruled by the kings and queens, these empires were structured in the same way as the city states that were common in the Mesopotamia region. The rules and laws that were made by the king and his council borrowed heavily from the cultures in the Mesopotamia.

The Roman Empire is one of the best examples that had structures resembling the government systems that existed in Mesopotamia. This later spread out the other regions in Europe where several city states were formed in the same systems that were found in the Roman empire which had great influence from the cultures from the near East. (Feverstein, G 2001 154)Mesopotamia cultures did not just leave a government system ,they left other characteristics which were picked by other societies and later spread far and wide where their influence is still felt up to this time.

The Sumerians people are believed to be the first people to have conceived the art of writing. This art is believed to have been discovered as a result of a need that emerged in this society. When people started to produce crops, there was surplus which they sold to those who did not have. There was a need of keeping proper records for the produce from the farms.

This led to the discovery of a form of writing which helped in the further improvement of agriculture. The scribes formed a very important part of the society in this ancient civilization. The kept records and helped in drafting documents for the government, they were respected people in the society as they helped preserve the culture of the Mesopotamia people. The writing systems spread to other parts of the world going through modifications in the Western Europe region to produce what we have today. Mesopotamia cultures are credited with contributing such an important elements to different cultures around the world.

Though there were other forms of writings in the different parts of the world especially in China, this near east ancient civilization is believed to have played a part in the introduction of form writing and keeping of records which was common in western civilization.[5]Calendar represents time; it has been used in different parts of the world to plan for the various activities. People use calendars to plan the activities undertaken in a given time.

They plan to plant in a given period of the year, harvest their crops when the time comes, hold festivals in a given time and offer sacrifices to their gods in an appointed time. The calendar gives the specific dates when these activities should be taken. This important record was discovered in the Near East region by the Mesopotamia people. It spread to the other parts of the world through the Romans and Greek civilization. In the Western civilization, the calendar formed an integral part of the lives as it was used to date various periods of the history. Using the records which were developed in the Mesopotamia regions, the western societies were able to document events that took place in different parts of the world at a given part. (Stein, R ,1976 25)Another discovery by the Mesopotamia people that transformed the western societies is the wheel. The agriculture societies of the Near East mostly used water from the river to grow their crops.

The irrigation system which had solved the food shortage problem in the western societies had its origin in Mesopotamia. Use of irrigation was made possible through the invention of a wheel where it was used to propel a structure which drew water from the rivers. Through this method the farmers in Mesopotamia were able to get water for consumption as well as for the cultivation purposes. The invention of the wheel played an important role in advancement of agriculture in this area.

They were able to cultivate different crops which required water throughout the year using the new discovery; this partly solved the food shortages in this area. Through making the simple machines the people in the Mesopotamia civilization were able to utilize the water in the two rivers to their benefit. They did not rely heavily on the rains. They were able to produce crops all year around using simple machines which were propelled by the wheel. This discovery was embraced by the other cultures especially the Romans and the Greeks who later modified it to form carts which were had wheels as the propelling gadget. The cart and wheel were used as a means of transport in the ancient Roman civilization. The Western civilization played a role in the further modification of this invention later giving rise to the cars and bicycles which were developed during the industrial revolution in Western Europe. Mesopotamia cultures are credited for the invention and development of the wheel, a gadget that transformed the lives of people as the modification of this discovery in the western civilization gave rise to the means of movement that are found in the present world.

Through their simple discovery, Mesopotamia people helped in changing the transport industry through bringing efficient means which people can use to make their work easier.[6]The Mesopotamia cultures began to use metal tools making a big step towards technology. The use of these tools was embraced by the other cultures that developed them gradually to produce the tools we have presently. The Western societies are credited with the modification of these discoveries which had their initial origin from the Near East region. (Stein, R ,1976 103)The Mesopotamia people are closely related with introduction of mathematics, geometry and astronomy some of the most important aspects of the Western civilization. The field of science was embraced by the western societies moving it to the next level where several discoveries were made by the Western scientist in the course of time.

These discoveries came to change the course of the world history.The core of the western civilization truly rests with the Mesopotamia cultures which shaped the course of the world history. The western societies have benefited from the countless aspects from this ancient civilization from the Near East. Right from the government system, society order, architectural structures, and technology this society would not be what it is today were it not from the contribution from the Mesopotamia cultures through the assimilation process of the Greek and Romans civilizations.

Author: Kathleen Bishop


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