Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Between the Rivers: History of Ancient Mesopotamia Part 3

Between the Rivers covers some of the more "modern" periods in Mesopotamian history. We start around the time "famous" Babylonians (the guys who appear in the Bible) and we continue all the way up until the 2003 US capture of Baghdad. Its nearly 3000 years in 6 hours. However, the be fare, the last 1500 years are given a rather cursory coverage. At that time, Mesopotamia was not all that important. However, prior to them, we ha the Assyrians and Babylonians duking it out for supremacy. We had leaders that were clinging towards using the "hard-to-write" cuneiform, even though their scribes wanted to adopt an easier to use Aramaic. (The fact that the leader couldn't read or write didn't seem to make a difference.) Leaders would explore different methods of subjugating the conquered people. They may choose to install their own leader, use the existing leaders, or just exile everybody. If the vanquished crossed the victors, they could see their "nice" subjugation turn bad fast (see Jerusalem, fall of).

Babylon had some magnificently strong walls. Urbanization seemed to be going strong in the land between the rivers for millennia before they caught on in places like northern Europe. (What would have happened if the Vikings were transported back in time to Assyria or Babylonia?
Alexander the Great made his middle east appearance. He promptly got in trouble by seeing too Mesopotamian to the Greeks (and likely too Greek to the Mesopotamian) That was perhaps the beginning of the end of the unique culture. The later Muslim invasion pretty much finished it off. Now it became just a small part of the Ottoman empire until World War I. Then Iraq was formed, and archaeological history was stored in the national museum for a century. Then the US army came in and protected the oil ministry while the museum was looted.

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