bab_scroll.gif Ancient Babylonia - Geography

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Where is Mesopotamia?

Babylonia was situated in the area known as Mesopotamia (Greek for "between the rivers"). Mesopotamia was in the Near East in roughly the same geographical position as modern Iraq. Two great rivers flowed through this land: the Tigris and the Euphrates. Along these two rivers were many great trading cities such as Ur and Babylon on the Euphrates.

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Tigris and Euphrates

Babylonia rests on a flat plain with the two large rivers flowing through it, the Tigris and Euphrates. Their course runs from Anatolia and Syria to the Persian Gulf. Mountains surround the East and North sides of the plain, the Zagros chain and Kurdistan, and the Syrian and Arabian deserts guard the west and south.

Climate

In the summertime the climate is hot and dry, and the winter is cold and wet. In the spring the Tigris and Euphrates rivers overflow their banks, flooding great portions of the plain. Lots of water and proper control enabled man in ancient times to produce abundant crops, mostly barley and sesame, with abundant grazing land in the lush meadows for the cattle, sheep and goats.

As the hot dry south wind came faithfully the date palm was cultivated and its fruit was ripened. The abundant clay was formed into bricks to build houses and monumental structures, and also provided clay tablets for writing purposes.

In order to acquire precious metals, stones and sturdy timber the inhabitants engaged in foreign trade. The vast resource of petroleum was all but useless to ancient man. Today the physical features of the region along with its climate are similar to how it was in the ancient world, and the Arabs who live there still live in a manner very similar to their ancient predecessors.

Ideal for Trade

Because Babylon was situated on the river Euphrates it was an ideal place for trade. To the north they could trade up the river to Syria and beyond and could act as a staging post with the cities of Sumer to the south. When Babylon became important, people would have wanted to live there because of the economic benefits it would give being in a large city with lots of merchants and tradesmen passing through. An important city like Babylon would also give a greater degree of security to its inhabitants.

In Babylonia and in all of southern Mesopotamia there is lots of clay which people could bake and make into bricks with which to build houses. This helped the development of civilization in the area.

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Ancient Babylonia

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