Why did people settle in Mesopotamia?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Included in area of The Fertile Crescent and named "The Cradle of Civilization," Mesopotamia was a desired designation for people to settle due to its fertile, rich soils and nearby water sources, as well as its advancements in society. Mesopotamia was positioned between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in present-day Iraq, with the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf nearby. While the geographic features of the area also include vast dry, desert sections surrounded by mountain ranges, abundant oases exist in the area. Irrigation systems were easy to establish in Mesopotamia because of the rivers running through the region.

With the establishment of irrigation systems, organized labor systems, and abundant farming, Mesopotamia attracted people to settle in its borders. It became known as the cradle of civilization due to its successful urban sectors. Mesopotamia claims the distinction of forming the concept of the first city (or urban center) of the world. The area hosted diverse people from many different cultures, allowing for cultural diffusion to occur.

Mesopotamia also attracted many people due to its abundance of centers for learning. The area sponsored many temples and schools, in which people could pursue their intellectual queries on religion, astrology, law, reading and writing, as well as medicine. Mesopotamia claims the inventions of both writing and the wheel. Infrastructure (such as temples and homes) for settlers was also established in Mesopotamia through ziggurats and homes made from reeds or clay brick. Small cities emerged as people settled. Architecture became more advanced over time.

As Mesopotamia grew, there was also a myriad of lucrative jobs for travelers and settlers, including farming, weaving, fishing, healing, metalwork, teaching, and serving as a priest or a scribe. Additionally, this land was attractive to women, as they had unique rights and opportunities for that time and in that region: they could enter into contracts, own land and businesses, and divorce.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are reasons why people settled in Mesopotamia, even though it is hot and dry in this region. Mesopotamia means "the land between the rivers." The rivers referred to are the Tigris River and Euphrates River. One reason why people settled here is because the soil is very fertile. When snow melted in the mountains, there were yearly floods. The floods deposited silt, which made the land very fertile.

The Sumerians were the first people to settle in this region. Many cities developed along these rivers. Their civilization was very advanced. The people had a form of writing called cuneiform. They also used the wheel and the plow. There was an elaborate irrigation system. As a result, farming was successful, and the food supply was plentiful. This encouraged settlement and the development of many cities. They also had a common language and believed in many g—ds.

These factors helped lead to settlements developing in Mesopotamia.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team