Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Light That Did Not Fail

Conner Lewis, World History 4 10/16/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Ancient Mesopotamia: A Light That Did Not Fail
Article by E A. Speiser
Published By The National Geographic Society
Publishing Date: January, 1951

Mesopotamia, The Multicolored Light the Hardly Faltered
Mesopotamia was a melting pot for many cultures, and this helped it greatly in its road to success. Many cultures, for example the Sumerians, migrated into Mesopotamia and decided to settle down within the area because of the highly fertile lands and rich culture already in place. While the Sumerians migrated peacefully, as far as we can tell, many cultures came through conquest of Mesopotamia and decided to settle down in the area due to the rich and enticing culture which had developed in the area. Many of these conquerors, such as the Kassites, came from the mountains in the north, which is present day Iran. All of these people added to the diversity of the civilization developing within Mesopotamia. 
Mesopotamian ideals and beliefs still live on into modern day society, and many of these beliefs are the foundation of modern governments and communities. One of the most important ideals to survive is that of democracy, which appeared in part due to the belief that the kings of Mesopotamia were mortal men, prone to the same mistakes as commoners. Due to this belief, and to the belief that Nature was a dangerous and precarious being, kings relied on the word of councils to advise them on matters. This assembly grew in power due to kings relying more and more upon them until they acted as the parliamentary government of the state. This new council was that of a parliamentary democracy in which a group of people voted and decided upon matters of the state. Another belief that survives until today was that of equality. Equality stemmed similarly from the way of democracy, through the belief that all humans were mortal men under the command of the gods. This belief meant that under the eyes of the gods and nature and king and commoner were equal. From this stemmed the belief in personal security. This came about because laws were rules laid out by the gods, and applied to all people. This means that nobody was above the law, and that personal property was encouraged. Since Mesopotamian people were protected by the gods to own their property, nobody could take it legally.
People in Mesopotamia built mounds atop the covered ruins of old settlements for several reasons. One reason is that by tracing the layout of the old town, the inhabitants believed they could receive the blessings of the gods worshiped by the old settlement. Another reason is that by building atop the mound of a destroyed city, the new settlement was much more defensible. Now that it acquired higher ground it could more easily defend itself from outside invasions. The final reason is that by building atop another settlement, the new settlement acquired the prestige and influence of the old state. The influence of the old settlement tended to remain centered around its location, and most often times the new settlement would be a successor to the old, filling its place culturally.

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