Animals in Ancient Mesopotamia

Popularly referred to as “the land between the rivers” Mesopotamia is indeed the pride of ancient civilization. Its convenient location between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates made it one of the most fertile lands in the region. Indeed a good reason for any civilization to flourish.


Precisely the reason why more than just one civilization mushroomed on these lands! Animals were widely used to help out with basic chores like transportation. Here is a bit about Mesopotamia animals.

Horses: You will be amazes to know that the horse has been used as a domestic animal in Mesopotamia from about 4000 BCE. The emergence of horses as popular domestic animals was over a long period of time but once they became known men became practically addicted to these beasts.

Be it horses pulling carts or war chariots; they became one of the most useful beasts in the entire civilization. Horse breeding emerged as one of the most profitable businesses of all times in this era.

Onagers: More popularly referred to as wild donkeys, these beasts of burden primarily helped with pulling cart loads of supplies. The common problem with domesticating these beasts was there resistance to agree being bred. The solution that the masses took out was to breed them with domesticated donkeys which would result is somewhat a sturdy mule.

The animal was very useful and apart from carrying load could also be ridden as and when required. But once the horses took over the riding part these beasts were meant for being beasts of burden. Breeding these animals was rather expensive and thus they were rare in nature.

Oxen: These were the simplest yet the strongest cart pullers in Mesopotamia. Initially the drivers controlled these sturdy beasts by pulling ropes tied around there horns. However with time the invention of yoke made it easier on the part of these drivers. A couple of oxen were generally used to carry heavier weights.

Apart from these other domestic animals were sheep, goats and cow the milk of who was found very useful in domestic life. Sheep and goats were also important for the wool and hair respectively. Meat was also required for the elites and the requirements were met by beef, sheep, poultry and goat.