The Growth of City-States and Trade Article

        The Stone Age is not a civilization. Mesopotamia is a civilization. The reason the Stone Age isn’t and Mesopotamia is lies with the people and their ability to make progress. People of Mesopotamia were able to develop certain things that helped their civilization grow and prosper. City-States grew because of their ability to farm and to trade. Mesopotamia had many animals and plants that allowed them to farm successfully. The people did not have to hunt in order to stay alive and survive. These people, unlike the Stone Age people, were able to develop other methods that allowed them to not only survive, but thrive. One main aspect of Mesopotamian culture that was improved was farming methods. Irrigation was the major development in farming being so successful. As farming methods improved, people thrived and the population grew. The new and improved farming techniques meant that more people could farm, thus more food was being produced. As we will see later, the improvement of farming actually led to less people having to farm. As Mesopotamia continued to grow and prosper, new settlers arrived from northwestern and western part of the Fertile Crescent. As we have talked about, the Fertile Crescent is the name given to the area of Mesopotamia because the land is good for farming and also in the shape of a crescent. The villages scattered around Mesopotamia began to swell in size. As more people arrived, these villages turned into city-states. Some examples of city-states are Uruk, Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Umma, and Ur. Here in America, the term “city-state” may sound a little confusing. We have both cities and states in our country, but we don’t combine the two words. Sioux Falls is a city, South Dakota is a state. There is no such thing as a city-state in America. So, you may be asking, what is a city-state? How do we combine the two words? The answer is simple: A city-state is an individual unit, complete with its own form of government and traditions.  If we compare that to our world, Sioux Falls has their own government, called the city council and mayor, but Sioux Falls must also abide by the laws of the state government and the national government. In Mesopotamia, the city-states did not have to answer to a higher government hanging over their head. Since Mesopotamia is a region, and not a country, there is no one single power controlling all of it. These can and will lead to many problems in the area. With all these city-states growing in size, each will want more land, thus causing some serious conflicts.

        As was mentioned earlier, the fact that farming methods improved with irrigation actually resulted in less people having to farming. Farming methods and technique became so good that only a certain amount of people had to farm because they were able to not only grow enough food for the city-state, but also grow enough food to have extra left over. The people that did farm were able to produce a surplus of food, which means extra food. So, after all the people of the city-state got the amount of food they needed, there was extra food. Because of surplus food, not everyone had to farm anymore. As a result of surplus food, and as a result of improved farming techniques and as a result of surplus food, people could do other jobs such as government officials, religious leaders, artisans, and crafts people. This point is very important, because now, instead of everybody farming and having a city-state full of farmers only, now the city-states have a well rounded group of people. When there are many different things being done by people, the result is good for the city-state as opposed to everybody just farming. If everybody has to farm, there will be nobody to learn how to make crafts, nobody to make and repair tools, etc. The people that did not farm, especially the artisans, who made goods and tools, would trade their services for food. For example, if an artisan needed some wheat, they would trade a pot or a tool to a farmer for the amount of wheat that would make it a fair trade. Each side would win. The artisan would get their wheat, and the farmer would get a tool they needed. In Mesopotamia, people lacked certain things.  The people used trading to get the things they lacked such as copper, stone, and wood. In order to get these things, they would have to go someplace else than Mesopotamia to get them. Traders used boats to trade on the river. They would sail to foreign places and get the things they needed. The gateway to the wider world was the Persian Gulf. The traders would use this route to get to other places in the world. This was also a way to spread Mesopotamia culture to other parts of the world. When Mesopotamians would sail to other places, they would teach those people how Mesopotamians did things such as farming and trading. Trading on the river was also a way to bring other cultures into Mesopotamia and learn how other cultures do things.

        Don’t Forget:

-7,000 b.c. people arrive in Fertile Crescent

-3,500 b.c. first civilization in Fertile Crescent

-3,500 b.c. city-states of Mesopotamia rise up