The Fertile Crescent which is known as the Cradle Of Civilization, is a wide flat plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers which flow from the mountains in present-day Turkey to the Persian Gulf.
This wide flat Plain is called the Cradle of Civilization because it is in this Fertile region that the earliest Civilizations in Ancient Mesopotamia and Upper Egypt began and expanded.
The Fertile Crescent & The Birth Of Civilization In Ancient Mesopotamia
The rise of Civilization in Ancient Mesopotamia explains why the Fertile Crescent has been called the Cradle of Civilization. The name Mesopotamia itself comes from a Greek and means “land between the rivers”.
The Fertile Crescent gave rise to Farming Communities amongst the Sumerians settled in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This would lead to the birth of Civilization in Ancient Mesopotamia in the land that became known as Sumer.
The reason Mesopotamia acted as a cradle of Civilization for the Sumerians is because of the fertile soil which made the Mesopotamian region good for planting crops and developing a society.
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers carried a fine, fertile soil called silt down from the surrounding mountains. Each year the rivers flooded and then carried the fertile silt across the Mesopotamian plain. When the floodwaters receded the silt settled into the soil and a layer of moist, fertile earth was left behind for planting.
The Sumerians were able to turn Mesopotamia into a productive farmland by developing two new agricultural techniques for growing food in this fertile soil, and it was this ability which allowed Civilization in Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent to flourish.
The first major invention of the first Sumerian Civilization in Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent was irrigation. The Sumerians of Mesopotamia built their Civilization with many miles of irrigation canals to carry water from the rivers to their fields during the long, hot, dry summer months because irrigation canals allowed them to plant crops far from the rivers.
The other technique which greatly enhanced the birth of Civilization in Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent was the Sumerian use of the plough. Before the invention of the plough Sumerians had to use digging sticks to poke holes in the ground and then drop seeds into the holes one by one which was a slow process.
As the agricultural techniques improved including the use of Ox-drawn ploughs, the Sumerians were able to produce a food surplus. With a dependable food supply the population began to increase, and by around 3000 BC the first City-States of the Mesopotamian Civilization in the Fertile Crescent emerged.
Eridu and Uruk were amongst the first Fertile Crescent Cities. Soon other cities such as Ur, Lagash, Sippar, Nippur, and Babylon emerged to become the first Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent Cities.
As Fertile Crescent Civilization Cities grew in size they became powerful City-States. Each Fertile Crescent Mesopotamian Civilization City-State had its own government, laws, and gods.
Each Mesopotamian City State was also a Center of trade in the Fertile Crescent.
Mesopotamia was rich in fertile soil and produced a surplus of food, yet it lacked wood, stone, and metals. Sumerian traders began to travel to far lands to find these resources and bring them back to their Fertile Crescent Cities.
Two advances made travel to far lands possible. The first was the development of wheeled carts. The second was the development of sailing ships. Both of these advancements meant that Sumerian traders could transport their surplus grain and wool over long distances within the Fertile Crescent.
The Mesopotamian Civilization City States could then bring back heavy resources such as lumber, metal, and precious stones. Wheeled carts and sailing ships also gave Sumerians access to products that were not produced in Mesopotamia.
The Fertile Crescent & The Nile Valley Culture Egyptian Civilization
The fertile crescent extends into the area of what was called Lower Egypt.
According to Egyptologist Dr Yosef Ben-Jochannan and Historian Cheikh Anta Diop, the rise of Civilization itself began in Upper Egypt which is in the East African Nile Valley going back to at least 5000 BC.
The Egyptian Civilization thus began with the establishment of what would become known as the African Nile Valley Culture which started in Upper Egypt in the East African Interior, and then subsequently extended to Lower Egypt in the region of the Fertile Crescent.
Historically, the earliest traces of modern Man coupled with Agriculture and Iron have been found in East Africa’s Great Lakes and Nile Valley Region.
Knowledge of Cereals, Animal Husbandry and Iron Smelting spread from this region into the African interior as people Migrated from this region all the way to the African Savannah.
As the Nile Valley Civilization extended to become a Unified Upper and Lower Egypt, the fertile Crescent played a role in the evolution and growth of the Egyptian Civilization by facilitating Crop Farming and Animal Husbandry based on irrigation in Lower Egypt.
The reliance on Agriculture led to a departure from a Nomadic lifestyle to a more settled lifestyle and the emergence of specialization.
New skills emerged amongst the Nile Valley Peoples such as Blacksmiths coupled with the blossoming of an early Barter trade economy and Religion all of which would form the basis of a new Civilization which would culminate in the High Civilization of a Unified Upper and Lower Egypt.
It is in this Unified Ancient Egypt, particularly in Lower Egypt, that the Fertile Crescent also played an important role as the Cradle of Civilization.
The Fertile Crescent is an important region that gave birth to Civilization in Ancient Mesopotamia and enhanced the expansion of the Nile Valley Culture Civilization in Lower Egypt.
The Mesopotamian and Egyptian Civilizations that were born in the Fertile Crescent are recognized for their important contributions to world culture which include:
- Writing and Literature
- The Concept of Time
- The Wheel
- Mathematics and Astronomy
- Animal Husbandry
- Astrology and the Zodiac
It is hard to imagine life today without these ideas and concepts that came out of the Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent.