Ancient Mesopotamian Climate

Mesopotamia climate depended on its location as it was situated between the two major rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The region was nearly 300 miles long and 150 miles wide and covered most of what is now known as Iraq. Large parts of Syria, Lebanon and Israel was part of Mesopotamia.

The rivers terminated at the Persian Gulf and the place was popularly known as the land between the rivers.

The seasons were hot and cold with summer temperatures exceeding 110F in some areas as well. Respite from the summer heat came with moderate rainfall. But floods dominated as the rivers encircled the land and caused immense damage to the properties.

Farmers took up flooding as a challenge and fine tuned their occupation accordingly. Agriculture prospered and people benefited from the economic development.

Vagaries of weather and regular flooding:

Farmers learnt to control the floods and grew some of the most valuable crops like flax, barley, wheat, fruits and vegetables that helped the economy progress. But the climate in Mesopotamia was hazardous with temperatures during the summer months ranging from 110 to 130F. Nearly eight months in a year was characterized by very dry conditions with the edges of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates turning muddy brown.

Rainfall occurs during the winter months and snow melts from the Zagros and Taurus mountains in spring leading to a spate of floods in the two rivers. In ancient times, the floods have played havoc in Mesopotamia and farmers got used to the vagaries of the weather and fine tuned their agricultural procedures.

The course of the two rivers has remained unchanged since the ancient times cutting into the limestone river beds.

In southern Mesopotamia, the situation is different. Sediment for the last thousand years has made the river banks soft leading to a change in direction as well as flooding. Compared to the Nile River, the Tigris and Euphrates were always known for bursting their banks.

Flooding has always been irregular in Mesopotamia compared to Egypt where the Nile is regarded as extremely benevolent. The difference was attributed to gods who were naturally feared in Mesopotamia.