Setting the stage: environment and landscape in Mesopotamia

It’s been a while! I’m starting again on converting my class lectures to Historicity posts. Since history begins in Mesopotamia, I will too, by discussing the physical setting of the earliest civilizations. Here’s a map to consult along the way.

The earliest instance of the emergence of complex societies that we would call “civilization” occurred in southern Mesopotamia—aka Iraq south of the river bends at modern Baghdad. Because all ancient civilizations, including that in Mesopotamia, were shaped in so many ways by the geographies and environments in which they arose, I’ll begin by describing the major components of the physical landscapes of the different regions of the Near East.