Dogs in Ancient Persia

Dogs played a major role in religious rituals as recorded by Zoroastrian texts. Introduction Dogs have been an integral aspect of the human condition in virtually every world culture for thousands of years. Some of the greatest civilizations of the past have kept dogs as companions, for various chores, and featured dogs in their art,[…]

Truths Wrapped in Fiction: Ancient Mesopotamian Naru Literature

The myth, in time, became the reality. Introduction Originality in literary compositions in the ancient world did not carry the same weight and value as it does in the present day. In recent centuries, authors have been applauded for the creation of original works, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have been derided for plagiarism or[…]

Nebuchadnezzar: Warrior King, Rebuilder of Cities, and Musical Muse

Thousands of years after his rule, Nebuchadnezzar’s name lives on in his buildings and in ancient literature. Introduction Kanye West’s first operatic work, Nebuchadnezzar, has just premiered at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Set in the 6th century BCE, the opera is based on the biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar II, a powerful ruler and[…]

Ancient Persian Governors

Persian governors and the satrapy system established the paradigm recognizable in the present day of a central government. Introduction The Achaemenid Persian Empire functioned as well as it did because of the efficient bureaucracy established by its founder Cyrus the Great (r. c. 550-530 BCE) which was administered through the satrapy system. A Persian governor of[…]

Ancient Mesopotamia: ‘Between Two Rivers’

The ‘two rivers’ of the name referred to the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers and the land was known as ‘Al-Jazirah’. Introduction Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’) was an ancient region located in the eastern Mediterranean bounded in the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and in the southeast by the Arabian Plateau,[…]

A History of Ancient Persia

The Persians settled primarily across the Iranian plateau and were established by the 1st millennium BCE. Introduction Persia (roughly modern-day Iran) is among the oldest inhabited regions in the world. Archaeological sites in the country have established human habitation dating back 100,000 years to the Paleolithic Age with semi-permanent settlements (most likely for hunting parties)[…]

The Seleucid Empire of Hellenistic Mesopotamia, 312-63 BCE

Seleucus was arguably the most successful of Alexander’s successors with the creation of a multi-national empire. Introduction The Seleucid Empire (312-63 BCE) was the vast political entity established by Seleucus I Nicator (“Victor” or “Unconquered”, l. c. 358-281 BCE, r. 305-281 BCE), one of the generals of Alexander the Great, after Alexander’s death in 323[…]

Mesopotamian Effects on Israel during the Iron Age

Archaeology, epigraphy, and literature function in tandem in order to establish a more coherent account. Introduction The Iron Age in the traditional Ancient Near Eastern chronology ranges from somewhere around 1200 BCE to 333 BCE. It begins from the era when it was first thought iron came to be used up to the ascendency of[…]

Ancient Mesopotamian Science and Technology

The Sumerians first explored the practice of the scientific hypothesis. Introduction Mesopotamian science and technology developed during the Uruk Period (4100-2900 BCE) and Early Dynastic Period (2900-1750 BCE) of the Sumerian culture of southern Mesopotamia. The foundation of future Mesopotamian advances in scientific/technological progress was laid by the Sumerians who first explored the practice of[…]

The Early Dynastic Period in Ancient Mesopotamia

Examining the three Dynastic Periods from 2900 to 2334 BCE. Introduction The Early Dynastic Period of Mesopotamia is the modern-day archaeological term for the era in Mesopotamian history – 2900-2334 BCE – during which some of the most significant cultural advances were made including the rise of the cities, the development of writing, and the establishment[…]

The Sumerians of Ancient Mesopotamia

The Sumerians were responsible for many important innovations, inventions, and concepts taken for granted in the present day. Introduction The Sumerians were the people of southern Mesopotamia whose civilization flourished between c. 4100-1750 BCE. Their name comes from the region which is frequently – and incorrectly – referred to as a “country”. Sumer was never[…]

A Brief Introduction to the Art of Ancient Assyrian Kings

Explore the themes, symbolism, and narrative techniques used to decorate the palaces of ancient Assyria. Introduction From the 800s to the 600s B.C., the kings of Assyria built grand palaces in their capital cities, located in the land we know today as Iraq. Inside these palaces were some of the most remarkable works of sculpture[…]

The Mystery of the Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon

Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean king, is supposed to have had the gardens built in about 600 BC as a consolation to his Median wife. By Danielle A. Garza In 225 B.C.E., the Greek writer Philo of Byzantium wrote On The Seven Wonders, and this early literary work highlighted the greatest man-made entities at the time. Most of the seven ancient[…]

“There We Sat Down and Wept”: A History of Ancient Babylon

The city of Babylon was given hegemony over Mesopotamia by their sixth ruler, Hammurabi. Introduction Babylonia, named for the city of Babylon, was an ancient state in Mesopotamia (in modern Iraq), combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. Its capital was Babylon. The earliest mention of Babylon can be found in a tablet of the reign of Sargon of[…]

Tasty Ancient Recipes from Mesopotamia

The origins of Iraqi cuisine and continued popularity. Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning “between two rivers”) was an ancient region in the Near East, which corresponds roughly to present-day Iraq. Widely regarded as the “cradle of civilization,” Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any[…]

The Hurrians of Bronze Age Mesopotamia

By the late Bronze Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated into surrounding cultures in the Near East. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Hurrians (aka Hurri or Khurri) were a Bronze Age people who flourished across the Near East from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. Hurrian is also the name of the[…]

Ancient Mesopotamia: Inventing and Reinventing Our World

Discussing the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and understand their legacy in modern times. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Dr. Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator at the ROM, about the importance of these civilizations, and of how we can better assess and[…]

The King’s Feast: Power and Propaganda at the Neo-Assyrian Royal Table

The Assyrian king was the main promoter of big feasts and special events, during which he played the role of leader and benefactor of his country. Banqueting is a powerful means of communication. Throughout human history, men and women have always done their best to enjoy food as much as possible in social settings in[…]

An Overview of Ancient Mesopotamian Languages

Remaining examples include religious, mathematical, musical and astronomical texts. Key Points The principal languages of ancient Mesopotamia were Sumerian, Akkadian (i.e. Babylonian + Assyrian), Amorite, and – later – Aramaic.  They have come down to us in the “cuneiform” (i.e. wedge-shaped) script, deciphered by Henry Rawlinson and other scholars in the 1850s.  The subject which[…]

Between Gods and Animals: Becoming Human in the Gilgamesh Epic

In short, the new fragment reveals a vision of humanity as a process of maturation that unfolds between the animal and the divine. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian poem composed in ancient Iraq, millennia before Homer. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk. To curb his restless and destructive[…]

The Rise, Fall, and Transition of Empires in Ancient Mesopotamia

As western civilization emerged, power struggles and technological advancements gave birth to new empires and saw their falls as well. Origins The first civilization in human history was that of the Sumerians. This emerged in the mid-4th millennium BCE, with the appearance of the first cities on the Mesopotamian flood plain. This was a pivotal[…]

The Origin of Sumerians

Who were the Sumerians? Where did they originate? Who were the Sumerians? Where did they originate? For those who are not familiar with this remarkable, resourceful and intelligent people, who not only invented writing but also established the true mythological foundations of all main religions of the world, simply put, they taught us almost everything.[…]