The Mesopotamian culture, whose development was largely influenced by the abundance of food available, is well documented in history.The most widely grown crop in Mesopotamia was flax, which was used to make linseed oil, linen, textiles, nets, and a variety of other pharmaceutical items. The agriculture and trade of Mesopotamia depended heavily on flax.
ORIGINS OF AGRICULTURE
In the hill country of south-eastern Turkey, western Iran, and the Levant, agriculture gradually spread. This is probably because the area was home to a variety of plants and animals that are suitable for domestication and human consumption. In the year 11,300 BCE, fig trees were already being grown in what is now Jordan. Peas and lentils were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent and northern Egypt around 8000 BCE, wheat and goats in the Levant by 9000 BCE, and olive trees in the Eastern Mediterranean by 5000 BCE.
Hunter-gatherers who gathered grains would have needed to bring them back to their camp in order to separate the grain from the chaff, which is most likely why agriculture began. Unavoidably, some seeds will fall to the ground throughout this process. The following year, when people returned to the same location, grain plants would have grown there. As they were gathered once more, more seeds would have fallen. The inhabitants eventually became semi-nomads with seasonal communities, like the Natufian culture, which flourished between 12500 and 9500 BCE, as the number of cereals near the location rose.
Over time, some of these semi-nomadic people made the decision to live year-round in their farming communities and raise cereal crops, while others chose to remain nomads. The Middle East existed by 8500 BCE.was home to numerous permanent communities, most of whose residents were farmers. The revolution in agriculture had started. The expansion of human life, population growth, and the transformation of villages into cities as a result of greater food production from agriculture gave rise to the Mesopotamian civilizations.
DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE :
Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, agriculture first appeared. It allowed humans to settle in certain places and freed them from hunting and gathering, making it the third most significant human advancement after the mastery of fire and the invention of tools.
In what Harvard archaeologist Ofer Ban-Yosef refers to as the Levantine Corridor, which runs between Jericho in the Jordan Valley and Mureybet in the Euphrates Valley, the first agricultural activity is known to have taken place 11,500 years ago. Seeds from an uplands region, where the plants from the seeds grow naturally, were discovered in Mureybit, a site on the banks of the Euphrates, and they were dated to 11,500 years ago. As proof of agriculture, a profusion of seeds from plants that originated somewhere else were discovered close to human settlements. The Fertile Crescent, a region of territory that stretches from southern Turkey through Iraq and Syria to Israel and Lebanon, is the region most famously linked to early agriculture. Sites in northern Syria and Iraq have yielded wheat seeds that date back 10,000 years.
Another significant source of income for people was fishing. They were able to find good catch, which was a staple diet for the people of this civilisation, thanks to two significant rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. In the Mesopotamian civilization’s commercial sector, numerous more aquatic animals were employed.
A staple aliment for the people of this civilization were dates. It grew primarily in river marshes and provided fibers, fodder, wood, and nutrient-dense, wholesome food. This civilisation thrived primarily as a result of trade and commerce, which helped it become a significant player in the global agrarian trade. Despite the region’s dry, hot environment, the rivers Tigris and Euphrates helped to irrigate the soil along the river banks, enabling farmers to grow a range of crops that required fertile soil to grow.
The Mesopotamians soon had access to leeks, lentils, grains like wheat and barley, as well as vegetables like onions and potatoes that grew easily. It was frequently ingested. A staple aliment for the people of this civilization were dates. It grew primarily in river marshes and provided fibers, fodder, wood, and nutrient-dense, wholesome food. This civilization thrived primarily as a result of trade and commerce, which helped it become a dominant leader in the interregional exchange of agricultural goods. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables also thrived in addition to spices, which was a unique feature of Mesopotamian cuisine.
Grapes were produced in large quantities, and wine was frequently made from them. It was indigenous to the region. The region was also particularly rich in oil, which was utilized not only for food and cooking but also for the production of medications, perfume bases, and other items like lamp fuel and other things.
People still discover historical value about the growth of modern societies by studying the culture of these ancient civilizations because the area expanded primarily as a result of its agrarian base, which led to the civilization emerging as one of the most powerful in the world.
TOOLS USED IN FARMING
During the Sumerian era, agriculture and irrigation both increased. These ingenious individuals created the plough, which turned the earth to prepare it for planting. With the aid of carts, farming techniques improved thanks to the wheel. Ingenious hydraulic engineering methods are also attributed to the Sumerians, who built dams, levees, drains, reservoirs, and canals to irrigate farmland, supply water to settlements, and assist manage floods. The development of city-states, which academics classify as a civilisation, was a result of the growth of agriculture brought about by better tools and technology. Farmers in ancient Mesopotamia employed standard farming implements like a sickle and plow. Around 6,000 B.C., the first farmers in Mesopotamia started cultivating crops with a crude stone plow drawn by oxen. Usually, a wooden shaft was used to support the stone plow.
Beam-ards, the name for the first stone plows used in Mesopotamia, cut a furrow in the ground without turning it. The majority of Mesopotamian civilisation was characterized by this design, and the seed plow was not created until 2,300 B.C. Similar in appearance to the beam-ard, the seed plow also had a funnel that dropped seeds into the furrow. Mesopotamia’s farming season got underway in late October and early November when the fields were plowed and seeds were sown. Between late April and the end of June, harvest would take place. The region grew a lot of peas, beans, and lentils. Apples, figs, pomegranates, and onions were among the additional fruits and vegetables that were planted.
WHY AGRICULTURE FLOURISHED ?
Many of the irrigation systems the Urartians built are still in use today. They were the experts of creating canals. The state often built and maintained the larger canals, while local communities or individual farmers were responsible for the smaller ones. Farmland that was irrigated was always in danger of becoming salinized, as is still the case today.
The soil in Babylonia and Assyria was prone to drying out, hardening, and cracking, especially in the flood plains. The plow was required in order to keep the soil arable. Plows were well-known and in widespread usage by 3000 BCE; several Assyrian rulers bragged of having created a brand-new, improved variety of the plow. Many times, fields were long and narrow, and their narrow edges often bordered canals.
USE OF IRRIGATION :
Agrarian irrigation was established by the Mesopotamians. The area’s first settlers drained the swampy parts and constructed canals across the dry areas to irrigate the land. Before the period of Mesopotamia, this had already been done in other areas. Mesopotamia was the location of the earliest irrigation culture because the irrigation system was constructed in accordance with a plan and maintenance of the system required an organized labor force. Small-scale irrigation systems were initially used, but as the government grew more powerful, they expanded into large-scale operations.
At first, Mesopotamia was dry in some places and swampy in others. In most areas, the weather was too hot and dry to support agricultural cultivation on its own. Researchers discovered 3,300-year-old plow furrows that still contained water jars, lying by small feeder canals near Ur in southern Iraq. The Sumerians started an extensive irrigation system. Along the Euphrates River, they constructed massive embankments, drained the marshes, and constructed irrigation ditches and canals. In addition to requiring a lot of organized effort to develop the system, maintaining it also needed a lot of labor. To ensure that everything went as planned, laws and the government were established to distribute water.
Mesopotamian agricultural seasons, gods, and farmer instructions :
The Farmer’s Instructions, a 111-line document written by the Sumerians, contains instructions on annual agricultural responsibilities addressed to a farmer’s son. D. T. Potts argued in 1997 that “The Farmer’s Instructions” and the agricultural cycle, as well as traditional, pre-mechanized agriculture in Iraq, share a number of similarities. In general, cultivated fields were harvested and threshed in the dry and hot spring and summer, following the comparatively rainy fall and winter. In contrast, fallow land was typically followed flooded and leached in spring and summer, and ploughed and sown in autumn and winter. The season of washing fallow land to rid the soil of salt and pollutants began on the Spring Equinox. The start of the harvest coincided with the Autumn Equinox. For cultivated fields, the harvest season began on the Spring Equinox, while the fallowing season began on the Autumn Equinox. These festivals were originally associated with the seasons of the year, as may be anticipated from an agricultural culture like the ancient Babylonians. The spring festival was the most significant.
The spring’s sun-god was shown as a young warrior who had overcome the winter’s storms. In cooperation with this god, the goddess of vegetation—Ishtar, known by a variety of names—brings forth fresh life in the fields and meadows. However, after a few months, the summer season starts to wane and storms and showers start to return. The young god’s death was attributed to the changing of the seasons; in one legend, he was abandoned by the goddess who had won his heart; in another, a wild boar killed him. An earlier Sumerian name for this god was Dumu-Zi, which was short for Dumu-Zi-Ab-zu and meant “the legitimate [or “loyal”] child of deep The reference appears to be to the sun emerging from the deep, which was meant to flow around and beneath the planet. The name was transferred to the Semites of Babylonia, from where it took the form Tammuz and expanded across and outside the boundaries of Semitic communities. With the name came the legend of the vigorous, young god who is killed and sentenced to a sojourn in the underworld before being freed and revived the following spring.
LAWS OF AGRICULTURE
In a nation like the Euphrates Valley, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, cultivating of land for the benefit of temples or for lay owners, with a return of a share of the fruits to the proprietors, was naturally one of the most prevalent economic transactions. Naturally, complications would arise from such transactions, and it is intriguing to see how the Code addresses them in light of the circumstances. Tenants are naturally required to pay the owner back if they negligently fail to produce a crop; as a guideline for compensation, the yield of the nearby fields is used. However, if he did not work the field, he is not excused. In a nation like the Euphrates Valley, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, cultivating of land for the benefit of temples or for lay owners, with a return of a share of the fruits to the proprietors, was naturally one of the most prevalent economic transactions. Naturally, complications would arise from such transactions, and it is intriguing to see how the Code addresses them in light of the circumstances. Tenants are naturally required to pay the owner back if they negligently fail to produce a crop; as a guideline for compensation, the yield of the nearby fields is used. However, if he did not work the field, he is not excused.
In the event of crop failure or natural disaster, the tenant is not liable; however, if the owner has already received his share and the harvest is destroyed by a storm or flood, the tenant is responsible for covering the associated loss. It is required that the original owner be paid first when subleasing the tilling of fields as partial payment for debt, and then the second lessee, who will get in kind the amount of his obligations plus the customary interest. As a result, the moral standard is identical to the one that governs first and second mortgages today.
The oldest surviving code of laws, the Code of Hammurabi, is attributed to the Babylonian monarch Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.). It comprises of 282 case laws with associated judicial processes and sanctions and is renowned for putting eye for an eye justice into writing. Numerous of the laws existed prior to the code’s inscription on the eight-foot-tall black diorite stone bearing them. for instance, Rules for
- Farmers and Shepherds (51–65).
- Farm Work 268-278: Hiring Livestock, Labor, and Boats
- 253-260: Farm Work
LIVESTOCK IN MESOPOTAMIA :
About 10,000 years ago, people living along the Tigris and Euphrates learnt how to domesticate animals. In southern Mesopotamia, sheep, goats, and cattle were the most common domesticated animals. Bulls were revered as holy idols, and cattle were given a great status. The cowherders were said to be protected by Nanna, the moon god. Cattle were used in agriculture and the transportation of goods as draft animals for plowing and hauling carts. Because cattle were too valuable to be slaughtered, neither meat nor dairy products were part of the typical diet. The main reason people maintained sheep and goats was for their hair and fleece, which were used to manufacture clothing and other textiles. Texts typically mention sheep and goat meat as a temple offering during sacrifices and sacrifices.
There were several herds and flocks, as Claude Hermann and Walter Johns noted in the Encyclopedia Britannica. A shepherd received the flocks on behalf of the owner and led them to pasture. The Code set a salary for him. He was in charge of all maintenance, had to breed them successfully, and had to restore the oxes and sheep one for the other. The owner was responsible for any losses caused by disease or wild animals, but any dishonest use of the flock had to be compensated for tenfold. The shepherd covered all losses brought on by his carelessness. He was required to pay damages if he allowed the flock to graze on a field of corn four times over; if he folded the corn when it should have been standing, he was required to pay damages twelve times again.