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 Detailed Timeline of Iraq History
Ancient Mesopotamia  >>  Assyrian Empire (2000-605 BC)

Ancient Mesopotamia (Pre-2000 BC)
Early Civilizations Among World's Most Advanced

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Ancient Mesopotamia

Jarmo Settlement (7090-4950 BC): The world’s first agricultural community, consisting of a permanent settlement of about 150 people. Jarmo is also one of the oldest sites where pottery has been found.

Ancient Mesopotamian CivilizationsSamarra Culture (5500-4800 BC): Samarra Culture was one of the first civilizations to become proficient in the use of irrigation techniques to sustain a larger group of inhabitants in a concentrated area. This elevated them into being an extraordinarily organized society for the time period, distinguished by their advanced pottery designs which were exported throughout the region via trade. Samarra Culture was a precursor to the famed Mesopotamia civilization, comprised of some of the world’s earliest and most advanced societies and nations.

(Timeline Continued Below)

Ubaid Culture (5300-4000 BC): The first settlement in the floodplains (land between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) in Southern Mesopotamia. The Ubaids established a trading connection with the Samarra culture to the northeast. Advanced irrigation techniques were pioneered in order to flourish in the arid climate of the south. Ubaid Culture came to an end as climate continued to become drier, making settlement in the region too harsh for human habitation. Ubaid would become predecessors to new tribes in surrounding areas, which would carry the legacy of a complex chieftain society characterized by a defined hierarchy, and even rudimentary democratic systems of rule.

Uruk Period (4000-3100 BC): The Uruk culture was likely infused by migrants from the heart of the Ubaid civilization in southern Mesopotamia, migrating north to escape harshly arid conditions in the south. The Uruk Period represents the beginning of city-states (urbanization) in Mesopotamia, characterized by large-scale complex cities with well-defined social structures. Cities grew to be about 10,000-20,000 in population. Advanced commercial trade was achieved by mass production of goods by the hands of those occupying the lower rungs of the hierarchal caste system. An early form of writing featuring pictographs was developed during this period.

Sumerian CivilizationSumerian Civilization (3100-1700 BC): Sumer evolved as a continuation of Uruk civilization. The transition to the Sumer civilization is marked by the dynastic period, with the beginning of the Sumer kings, who consolidated rule over the network of affiliated Sumer city-states throughout the alluvial plain in Southern Mesopotamia. Semantically, Sumer is a name given to this people by their ancestors, so the change in name did not accompany the transition from Uruk to Sumer. The written historical record of the Sumer Dynastic Period is well-attested by about 2700 BC, with oral tradition going back until at least 3100 BC. Each Sumer city had its own god/goddess (along with a temple devoted to each respective deity). A king or priest presided over each city government, and oversaw religious rites. Sumerian culture was advanced, as societal structure, technology and writing became increasingly sophisticated.

Article: Why Mesopotamia Was So Advanced.

Lagash EmpireSumerian-Lagash Empire (2500-2270 BC): Lagash was one of first verifiable empires in history of the world. King Eannatum of the Sumerian city-state of Lagash conquered all of Sumer. He then extended the empire to Elam (SW Iran) and Persian Gulf. Lagash commanded tribute from all subjects within its empire, which largely collapsed after Eannatum’s death. It lived on in a somewhat disjointed fashion, periodically being conquered by other Sumerian kings until 2270. - The World's Largest Maps Store!

Akkadian Empire (2270-2083 BC): Akkadians were a Semitic people that had long been based in Mesopotamia, in the city of Akkad. In 2270, Sargon became Akkadian Empireking of Akkad, and proceeded to elevate the city-state into an empire, by conquering vast amounts of territory, covering all of Mesopotamia, and stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the west to Elam (SW Iran) in the southeast. The Semitic Akkadian language became widely used as the official language, while literature (the written word) primarily remained Sumerian. Subsequent kings after Sargon maintained the scope of the empire, and the Akkadians continued the advanced ways of the Sumerians, including technology (agriculture in particular) and sophisticated political and economic organization. To this they added a more advanced and powerful military.

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Gutian DynastyGutian Dynasty – Mesopotamian “Dark Ages” (2083 – 1992 BC): The Akkadian Empire came to a quick collapse due to Guti invasions from the Zagros Mountains (mountain range along the east of Iraq/Iran border). The Guti were a barbaric people unaccustomed to the sophisticated ways of the Akkads/Sumers. They thoroughly defeated the Akkads, utterly destroying Akkad (center of their empire), but they did not maintain rule over the entirety of the Akkadian Empire. Many Sumerian city-states achieved independence, especially in the south. The Guti also lost control over the territories beyond the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. They ushered in a Dark Age era in Mesopotamia, resorting to rudimentary ruling style, and permitting the sophisticated canal system to fall into disorder, resulting in widespread famine, starvation and population contraction. This was compounded by a region-wide dry spell which plagued the entire region.

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Further Understanding Ancient Mesopotamia

Who Were "Semitic" People?

Origins of Semitic People - Arabian Peninsula: Groups from NE Africa settled the Arabian Peninsula between 12,000 and 4,000 BC during a prolonged wet period in what would later transform into a harsh desert.

Who Were Semitic PeopleAramaeans: They would never form a unified empire, but their Aramaic language became dominant throughout the near east beginning around 800 BC. It would remain the dominant language in the region for nearly 1500 years, until being displaced by the Arabic language in the 7th century due to Muslim conquests.
Assyrians: Assyrians would dominate Mesopotamia for the larger part of the period of time between about 2000 and 600 BC, extending their empires throughout West Asia. Since the collapse of their empire, they would remain a distinct nation, but forever subjected to foreign rule.
Akkadians: They would form their own great empire (2270-2083 BC), but would become intermixed with the native Mesopotamians, contributing to the bloodlines of modern Iraqis.
Arabs: Those Semitic people that remained on the Arabian Peninsula formed into various nomadic tribes that etched out their existence in the harsh desert conditions. They were the predecessors to Arabic people, who would start the Islamic movement much later in history, which would spread throughout Asia & N. Africa.

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Original Mesopotamians

Original Settlers of Euphrates-Tigris River Basin (Highlighted Area): The humans inhabiting this fertile flood basin at the end of the prehistoric/stone age period around 9000 BC constitute the Original Mesopotamians. It is this very group of people that would give rise to some of the world's earliest civilizations and empires. This fertile floodplain is isolated on all sides by harsh deserts and rugged mountain ranges, which prevented invasions from foreign tribes until the 3rd millennium BC. It is this original Mesopotamian people that served as the basis for the modern Iraqi population. This is in contrast to the original inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau to the east, who came to be dominated by Indo-Europeans from southern Russia, establishing the basis for modern Iranians. As the surrounding deserts became less of a barrier later in history, Mesopotamia would attract invading Semites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongols and Turks, all adding to the ancestral recipe that comprises modern Iraqis.

Semitic People: Became primary inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula by 4000 BC. Began to migrate into Mesopotamia toward the end of the 3rd millennium BC, contributing substantially to the genetic profile of Ancient Mesopotamians, and therefore a major base ingredient to modern Iraqi people.

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Next: Assyrian Empire (2000 - 605 BC)

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