Akkad of Mesopotamia
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Tigris River
Mesopotamia Timeline
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History in Brief
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Decline Of Mesopotamia
Fertile Crescent
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Mesopotamia Wheels
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Mesopotamian History
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Sargon of Mesopotamia
Slavery in Mesopotamia
Invention of Wheel
Trade In Mesopotamia
Egypt Similarities
Babylon City State
Crops Taken
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Mesopotamia Geography
Gilgamesh Poem
Houses in Mesopotamia
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Irrigation System
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Persia Relation
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Ancient Mesopotamian Ships, Boats for River Transportation

Mesopotamia means "land between two rivers." The rivers are called the Tigris and Euphrates. Mesopotamians built boats to use for trading in distant places and to collect food from the rivers. Modern Iraqi boats still are built very much like this Mesopotamian boat used 4,500 years ago.

Ancient Mesopotamian Ships, Boats for River Transportation

Caption-Ancient Mesopotamia Tigris River

Both the earliest civilizations, the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian, make extensive use of boats for transport on the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris.

Ancient Mesopotamian Ships

It is possible that the boat designs and techniques used in the third millennium are no longer present in traditional boats of present-day Iraq and those of oceangoing vessels sailing in the modern day Arabian Gulf. Based on iconographic evidence, it seems that Mesopotamian riverboats had flat bottoms and high curving ends, with a stem often ending in an elaborate design.

Ancient Mesopotamian Ships, Boats for River Transportation

Caption- Mesopotamian River Boats

Cultic vessels imitated the shape of a papyri form vessel. The riverine vessels in practical use described in texts, such as AO 5673, most probably had square ends. The use of bitumen might have allowed the Mesopotamian shipwrights to build hulls in which water tightness (before the application of a bitumen layer) was not the primary concern.

Mesopotamian Reed Boats

Lack of shipbuilding timber in Mesopotamia was a contributory factor to reed boat construction. There is a long tradition of Mesopotamian boats built of wood.

Ancient Mesopotamian Ships, Boats for River Transportation

From the clay tablets we know that Dilmun shipwrights imported wood for their ships; the merchants stamped the scals recording such transactions.

Sargon of Mesopotamian

Interestingly, one of the myths of the Mesopotamian Sargon the Great of Akkad was that as an infant he floated in a bitumen-coated reed basket down the Euphrates River.

Ancient Mesopotamian Ships, Boats

Caption-Sargon of Mesopotamian

In the cities, long docks were built along the sides of the rivers so that ships could easily dock and unload the goods they had to trade. Ships brought food, drinks, clothes, jewelry, wine, and other goods up and down the rivers.

Mesopotamia Boat Facts

Boats were used to transport goods from southern Mesopotamia to the Gulf. These boats were probably larger and stronger than river boats. Some were made of bundles of reeds and others of wood covered with bitumen. Babylonian merchants travelled with their goods to places like Dilmun.

Mesopotamian boats

Representations of Mesopotamian boats are found on seals, in reliefs, and as models. Usually these lack definitive details that would enable fuller understanding of the involved technologies. Resultant studies such as Quall's Boats of Mesopotamia Before 2000 B.C., and de Grave's The Ships of the Ancient Near East (c. 2000-500 B.C.), contribute only to our theoretical understanding of Mesopotamian vessels.


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