Top 10 Inventions and Achievements of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia civilization was a historical region with fertile land situated between Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers which is in modern-day Iraq and Kuwait. The word ‘Mesopotamia’ meaning ‘between two rivers’ in Greek.

The civilization started fostering significant innovations and inventions since an early age which became the building block for the later civilization.

The fertile soil and steady supply of freshwater made it possible to harvest and invent the agricultural products used until today.

Also, the curiosity and skilled mindset led to developing numerous other inventions which have a positive impact in today’s world as well.

The inventions include the concept of time, metallurgy, advanced mathematics and many more.

The Top 10 list of most significant inventions and discoveries are listed below with their details.

10. Cuneiform Writing: The first form of writing

 Cuneiform Writing: The first form of writing
Cuneiform inscription found on the south side of the Van Castle hill, in modern-day in eastern Turkey

The earliest writing of this civilization was Cuneiform writing. It was first developed by the Sumerians and was also known as Sumer- Akkadian Cuneiform.

The Sumerians took almost 12 years to learn it. The script was crafted mostly on the clay tablets with wedge-shaped marks. The symbols were made out of blunt reed.

At first, the writing was invented to record all the business. Ultimately the scope of it started spreading and was used for writing letters and religious rituals.

The writing style was first developed during 4th Millenium AC and started changing a bit by 2600 AC. By the end of the Millenium, all the symbols and signs were made different.

9. Currency: The first currency ever invented

The Shekel was the first unit of weight and currency invented by the Mesopotamia Civilization. It was discovered around c.3300 BC and is the first known form of currency in history.

Before the invention of the currency, people traded and carried out their business following the barter system. Despite its massive use, the barter system resulted in insufficiently. Then the importance of currency was discovered which led to the invention of Shekel. 

Shekels were in different forms such as gold, silver, and copper. They were equivalent to the standard weight of barley. 

During that period, a quasi-bank system was in function which kept barleys as the security deposit. People had to borrow barley in order to obtain barleys, like the way the loan system works now.

The economy then turned into a large-scale economy of that time which was developed based on commodity money.

8.  Wheels: The most significant invention

Axle is oldest wooden wheel yet discovered dating to Copper Age
Creative Common Copyright: Petar Milošević

Wheels are one of the most significant inventions of Mesopotamia Civilization for being used to shape the clay pots by the potters as art crafts. 

They were invented during 3200 BC almost 300 years before the invention of chariots. Ljubljana Marshes

The wheels were made out of solid wood disks cut from tree trunks. The size and weight were designed according to the demand of the potters.

Pottery and art crafts were very famous during that period so the scope of wheels started to expand.  The wheels started being fit with carts and used to move the wheel-carts.

The invention of wheels, out of all inventions, is taken as one of the most thoughtful inventions to date due to its importance. They were used by the wealthy groups for luxurious purposes as well as lower groups for irrigation, milling, and pottery making.

7. Astrology and Astronomy: Connection of fate and stars

The people of Mesopotamia Civilization believed to have a connection between human fate and the stars. They also had a belief that every bad and pleasant day was somehow affiliated to the star. 

With curiosity and faith, the Sumerians found out the way to study what was going beyond Earth. That is when the various constellations were invented.

Major concepts of Constellations included Leo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Taurus. They were the first discovery made by the Sumerians and the Babylonians and later handed over to the Greeks.

These constellations were used for forecasting and finding out the right time for harvesting, sowing crops, celestial events, and seasons making. The discovery also helped them to map the planetary movement.

Besides inventing the constellations, this civilization also gave the concept of both Astrology and Astronomy. Their significant formulas and methods made it possible to gather information outside Earth.

6. Developed advanced mathematics

Babylonian clay tablet with annotations

Mesopotamia is famous for the development of advanced mathematics, developed almost 5000 years ago. 

The simple form of mathematics developed around 2600 BCE and a complex system of metrology was developed around 3000 BCE. It was developed in Sumer by the Sumerians.

At first, a simple form of mathematics was invented. It was done to solve simple daily life problems such as counting where they started with counting sheep, crops, and exchanged goods.

Later the level of mathematics also went on advancing and then the next level of mathematics was developed. It included multiplication, division tables, table of square roots, cube roots, division problems, and bilateral exercises.

5. Chariot: An impactful weaponry

Mesopotamia is known for experimenting and inventing new things that had a long term scope. Chariot is one of its significant inventions which has its pleasant effect till today.

Chariots were first invented in Mesopotamia to maintain their safety. During that period, there used to be issues of claiming lands. So, the chariots were developed to maintain a claim on their lands.

The Chariots were made up of lightweight wood and skin. They were made in a manner of protecting the charioteer as well. 

They were developed during 3200 BC for the weaponry purpose and also used for the advancement of military and warfare. 

The use of chariots increased strength as well as speed during the times of battles with some outside invaders. They were also used as personal transportation by wealthy groups.

4. Ur- Nammu law code: Oldest law code surviving today 

Mesopotamia developed the oldest law code in history. The law was first made around c.2100 – 2050 BC. It was written in Sumerian Language on tablets.

The law code consisted of 40 paragraphs and had 57 codes altogether. Each code consisted of punishments assigned to every crime that takes place. Every crime such as rape, murder, kidnap, and adultery had sanctions and penalties accordingly.

For instance, there was a law of paying 15 shekels of silver along with imprisonment for the crime of kidnap. It was done so to bring peace and maintain a systematized culture in society.

The laws were credited to King Ur- Nammu of Ur and believed to have come through the will of gods.  

Besides the punishments and penalties, there was a provision to provide rights and privilege to the poor compared to wealthy classes.

3. Farming and agriculture

The farmers of ancient Mesopotamia cultivated many foods and vegetables from an early age. The major products were wheat, cucumber, barley, and rice.

Out of all these agricultural products, wheat and barley are considered to be the most important invention of its time and today. Other products besides these one include dates, beans, lettuce, grapes, sesame seeds, and onions.

The primary purpose of these products was to use it at home as food items, but with time they became the source for trading as well. Barley was also used in the form of currency in this civilization.

Apart from agricultural products, people of this civilization also domesticated various kinds of animals which include cows, sheep, and goats. They were used both for household use and for market purpose.

Plow was invented to cultivate land and the Mesopotamia learn to use it with domesticated animal. The Plow was used until 1892, John Frolich invented tractor.

2. Metal Fabrication / Metallurgy

People of this civilization were skilled and expert in almost every field of work. They were creative and always had something new to create.

Metal fabrication is one of the most skilled inventions of this civilization. They invented numerous varieties of metallic products which have importance and usefulness until today.

Various pots, food holders, and weapons were made out of metal fabrication which was used regularly. Copper was the first metal fabric discovered in this civilization.

Numerous other metal fabrications were invented which include bronze, gold, and the iron. The craft also began to be more complicated when they started making jugs, vessels, and jars.

1.  The invention of the concept of time

The most noteworthy invention of Mesopotamia has to be the invention of the concept of time. It was done almost 6000 years ago.

Numerous other civilizations tried the development of the concept of time, but the one invented by this civilization raised the bar. 

Firstly, the astronomical calculation with a base 60 system was inherited by the Babylonians from Sumerians. The number 60 was chosen at first as it was divisible by 6.

Later, every hour – minute – second, was given absolute value. For instance, 60 minutes equals 1 hour, and 60 seconds equals 1 minute. Also, the valuation of days-weeks-months-years was also done.

After the complete invention of time division, they moved on to the development of past, present, and future. All their inventions are being used and considered reliable until the present day as well.

Conclusion:

Due to the inventions and discoveries, Mesopotamia Civilization has raised its level and proved itself to be one of the most influential civilizations in the context of creation and skilled population.

Besides those mentioned above, there are numerous other inventions which also have significance and are taken as impactful inventions. Some of them are sailboat, plough, calendar, and copper fabrication.

The curiosity and creativity made it possible for the people of this civilization to invent and develop such significant creations. They have been useful and reliable since the time of their invention until today.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "Top 10 Inventions and Achievements of Mesopotamia," in HistoryTen, May 19, 2020, https://historyten.com/mesopotamia/top-inventions-and-achievements-of-mesopotamia/.
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