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Ancient Mesopotamia- Geography of the Fertile Crescent

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1 Ancient Mesopotamia- Geography of the Fertile Crescent
6th Grade Social Studies Chapter 5 Lesson 1 in the World Text Ancient Mesopotamia- Geography of the Fertile Crescent

2 The Big Picture Around 4000 BC Egyptian farming communities were growing along the Nile River. Another civilization was also developing in Western Asia. This area was later called the Fertile Crescent because it looks like a quarter moon. The Fertile Crescent covers the present-day countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.

3 The Big Picture Much of the land was either rocky mountains or desert.
The 2 rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, made life in these areas possible.

4 Between 2 Rivers The region between the Tigris and the Euphrates is known as Mesopotamia. In Greek it means “land between two rivers.” This area is now known as Iraq.

5 Between 2 Rivers- From Mountains to the Sea
Both the Tigris and the Euphrates begin in the Taurus Mountains, located in Turkey. The rivers rush down and then reach the plateau, located in present-day northern Iraq. A plateau is an area of elevated flatland. In southern Iraq the rivers flow to lower land and empty into the Persian Gulf.

6 Between 2 Rivers- Flood Early communities in Mesopotamia depended on river deposits of silt. It made the region a good place for farming. Mesopotamia’s yearly floods did NOT come as regularly as those in Egypt. They often came at the wrong time for farmers. The rivers did not flood during planting season when dry fields needed to be softened and prepared for new growth. Instead, floods came just as crops were ready to be harvested.

7 Between 2 Rivers- Flood Farmers had to protect their fields from flood damage. They also had to keep them watered in the hot, dry climate. Southern Mesopotamia rarely received rain. Droughts, or long periods of dry weather, were a constant threat to farmers and their crops.

8 Between 2 Rivers- Flood Northern Mesopotamia usually had enough rain, but the rocky earth had only pockets of fertile soil. The flooding rivers did NOT leave behind as much silt in the north. Which area (Northern or Southern Mesopotamia) had more fertile land? Explain. Southern Mesopotamia b/c there was more silt in the south.

9 From River to Field In the Fall farmers of southern Mesopotamia needed water to plant and raise new crops. Unfortunately, Fall was the time when the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were at their lowest. Mesopotamia- Tigris River

10 From River to Field Spring was harvest time; however, it was also the time the rivers flooded. The time the rivers flooded was such a problem because it happened during the harvest. The perfect time would be the Fall since this is when they were planting the crops and the fields were dry. To solve these difficulties, ancient farmers learned to build water-control and irrigation systems.

11 From River to Field- Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia
Early farmers grew many different crops. The areas MOST important crops were wheat and barley. Other crops included: beans, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, spice plants, date palm, apple and pomegranate trees.

12 From River to Field- Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamian farmers planted their crops and trees along canal banks. On the edges of village farmland, you might see shepherds caring for sheep and goats. Sheep were especially prized for their milk and wool.

13 From River to Field- Farming in Ancient Mesopotamia
Ancient Mesopotamians also valued cattle because they were good work animals and were used for milk, leather, and meat.

14 Why it Matters? Water and soil brought by the Tigris and Euphrates helped to make this civilization possible. The farmers figured out how to use the two rivers to make the land more fertile. As in some early cultures, the farmers of Mesopotamia produced surplus crops. These surpluses allowed for specialization, which in turn led to the growth of towns and cities.

15 Main Ideas Mesopotamia is the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It is divided into a rugged plateau to the north and fertile plains to the south. Like the Nile River, the Tigris and Euphrates flood each year. These floods brought water and silt to Mesopotamia.

16 Main Ideas Unlike those in Egypt, floods in Mesopotamia were often destructive and badly timed for farmers. Mesopotamian farmers used canal systems to control dangerous flooding, making their land productive.

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