Mesopotamia Map

Mesopotamia, “the land between rivers,” (modern day Iraq) is the birthplace of the earliest civilizations on the planet. For millennia, the great ancient Mesopotamian civilizations each had their time to flourish and leave their mark on history. First, in the fourth millennium B.C.E., it was the non-Semitic Sumerians, who built Uruk, one of the first urbanized cities. In the third millennium, the Semitic Akkadians would gain prominence, and though the Sumerians disappeared from the pages of history, the Semitic people preserved the Sumerians’ culture and literature for generations. In turn, the civilizations of the Babylonians and Assyrians (named after their capital Assur) would flourish in the second millennium, carrying on the rich cultural and literary traditions left behind by the Sumerians and Akkadians. Ultimately, these nations would birth some of the ancient world’s most bellicose empires, the Neo-Assyrian (centered at Nineveh) and Neo-Babylonian Empires, which dominated the early first millennium B.C.E. The Neo-Assyrians rose to power and conquered much of the ancient Near East (including Israel and most of Judah) with an army more advanced than any the world had ever seen. The Neo-Assyrian Empire began to fall due to internal conflict, and was eventually defeated by the Neo-Babylonians in spite of help from the Egyptian army at the famous battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.E. (Jer 46:1-2). Less than 100 years later, the Persians, whose capital was Susa, would defeat the Babylonians, and effectively put an end to the Mesopotamian dominance that marked so much of antiquity.