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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Distinguishing Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations: Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes & Persians

Distinguishing Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations:
  Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes & Persians

  If you are like me, you are constantly confusing Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations.  It starts with the term "Mesopotamia" which is simply a geographic description of what we today call Iraq, but also describes peoples from present day locations like Syria, Iran and Turkey.  So first, there is no "Mesopotamian" Empire or people. Rather there are Empires that started in Mesopotamia and expanded.  The easiest way to keep them in order is chronologically, since they essentially succeed one another in dominating most of the surface area of the Middle East up until Alexander the Great conquered all of it in the 4th century BCE
Sumerians are typically called the "first" civilization because they left behind writing (which we can't read.)  Little is known about the ethnicity of Sumerians.  Many internet wackos speculate that the Sumerians were inspired by alien visitors, and wacky symbols left behind don't do much to squash those ideas.

Ethnicity:  ???
Language: Sumerian
Still Around: No.
Came From: Far southern Iraq
Time Period:  ??? BCE to 1700 BCE.

The Assyrian man headed flying lion is the most well known symbol.  The Assyrians were conquerors and held sway over the entire Middle East.  They are the reason that the Bible was written in Aramaic, because Aramaic was their language of Empire.  Assyrians still exist today as a minority and are spread over the world.

Ethnicity: Semitic
Language: Aramaic (Semitic)
Still Around: Yes, but scattered around the globe.
Came From: Northern Iraq
Time Period: 2500 BCE to 605 BCE
Babylonians came after the Assyrians but before the Persians.  They are best known for contributing Ishtar- the Goddess of the night to the larger Near East world- she would be called Aphrodite in  Greece.

Ethncitiy: Semitic
Language: Akkadian (Semitic)
Came From: Central Iraq
Time Period: 1900 BCE to 539 BCE

Ethnicity: Iranian (Indo-European)
Lanuage:  Persian (Indo European)
Came From: mountains of Iran
Time Period: 550 BC- 313 BC

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