Iraq: the cradle of civilization [Archives:2004/712/Education]

February 16 2004

By Dr. Bashar Ghazi Askar
[email protected]

Iraq is regarded as one of the ancient centers of the human civilization. Archaeological researchers and historians point to a flourishing culture in Iraq known as Mesopotamia that dates back to more than 6000 years ago. Deeply-rooted in the history, the ancient man lived in the caves of northern Iraq. Remains of the Shanidar caves reveal the significant development achieved by the ancient people of Iraq in contrast with their European, Asian and African contemporaries. Such qualitative development was reflected in their leaving the caves and settling near the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, practicing agriculture, rearing domesticate animals, and making pottery.
This turning from the caves, collecting food to producing it marked a change in the mainstream of the ancient Iraqi population. The epoch also culminated in the emergence of the first agricultural communities known at that time which developed significantly through a limited period of time known as the Modern Stone age.
This development of the ancient Iraqi man is attributed to two main factors: environment and man. Thus location, climate, terrain and water resources played a vital role in directing man's cultural activities. The fact is that Iraq was distinguished for its rich natural resources and its strategic location as a land bridge linking all parts of the old world. The effects of its geographical location was also evident in its climate for it had got the mountainous, desert, plateau, and plains watered by its two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, all of which provided it with a geopolitical advantage so as to be a pivotal center of the world.
The importance of the two rivers and their tributaries and branches were evident in the historical shift from the primitive period to the early modern civilization. For this reason, the early agricultural settlements emerged on the banks of the two great rivers. It is these two great rivers that had an invaluable role in the field of irrigation and transport and in shaping the civilization in those days. Inhabitants of the northern as well as the southern regions contributed to the growth of the civilization with their unrivaled inventions. It is believed that the ancient Iraqis were the ones who invented writing and led humanity to the early historical age around 4000 year BC.
These settlements grew into small cities that witnessed the first forms of authority known in those days as ruling dynasties. This marked the age of the Summerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians and led to the growth of the cities such as Kish, Uruk, and Ur, Lagash. All these factors contributed to substantial human activity in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.