Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily Mesopotamian Culture Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein It is generally acknowledged that civilization and “cultural history” (by which we really mean written history) began in Mesopotamia about 5,000 years ago. The fertile valley of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was an appropriate place for people to congregate and build cities. With plenty of water and fertile land for agriculture, the area gave rise to what we have come to consider the first true “civilization.” It also had in plentitude one other necessary ingredient for those who wanted to stop in one place for a length of time: a source of water! In Western Civilization: A Brief History (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), Marvin Perry calls civilization a “creative act” on the part of human beings. The concept of civilization implies a complexity of political, economic, and social factors; it also implies more sophisticated agricultural and food storage techniques, mercantile activities, an organized religion and priesthood, architecture, manufacturing, a system of government, specialization of labor, and possibly most important, a system of writing and the development of literacy. With the beginning of literacy began the historic age of our ancestors—without the ability to write, there is no written history. But literacy may have been a mixed blessing, because the Sumerian culture, the first culture to develop writing, was the last culture to focus its worship primarily on a Great Mother Goddess.  Yes, there were goddesses in later cultures, but they often played a secondary role to the gods of the culture.  So at some point, just about the time of the development of writing, ancient cultures moved from being partnership societies to being dominated by the males of the cultures.