Top 10 Most Influential Inventions from Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is known as the cradle of civilization. It was the origin of agriculture where farming and irrigation was widespread, which made the region prosperous for civilization development. The lack of materials in the region was a major incentive for mesopotamians to think outside the box, thus creating some of the most important technologies we still have today. Sumer is considered one of the earliest civilizations along with Ancient Egypt that contributed significant discoveries, including laws and governance. Here, this list shows Mesopotamia's most significant inventions.
The Top Ten
1 Writing

The ancient Sumerians invented the cuneiform script, which is the oldest form of writing in the world and one of the most important inventions to Sumerian civilization. The average Sumerian used the script to write religious stories, folklore, or document business activities.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest epic currently existing, was written in cuneiform and played a major role in religion and literature. This form of writing was long used until the alphabetic script became widely preferred. It was eventually forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 19th century, with some texts deciphered.

At that point, it was realized that the script was important for understanding history and culture since it was an effective medium for communication and documenting information.

2 The Wheel

Since most inventions were inspired by aspects of nature, the wheel was unique. Hence, the wheel is considered one of the most important inventions as it marked a watershed moment that changed the course of human history. Although the exact invention of the wheel is uncertain, the Sumerians are widely believed to have invented it around 3500 BC. Initially, it was mostly used as potter's wheels.

Regardless, it made transportation much easier without having to carry heavy items by hand. The ability to carry heavy loads over long distances had a huge impact on society and countless mechanical uses. Without it, important modern inventions such as the car, train, and plane wouldn't exist.

3 Mathematics

While people used simple methods of mathematics, the Sumerians invented a more complex method called base 60. Because it is considered a composite number, the number 60 is very flexible and consists of twelve factors, making it especially useful for measuring things such as time and angles. This is why the measurement of time originated from this complex system, which is widely used today.

Base 60 was also used to make calculating small and large numbers easier. Additionally, the Sumer civilization was one of the first to use geometry and to invent a model similar to the Pythagorean Theorem before the Greeks.

4 Soap

Soap is one of the most fundamental objects for basic hygiene. Although soap-like materials were first made in Babylon, the making of soap was recorded in 2500 BC on a Sumerian tablet in Girsu. In the past, soap was made by mixing various fats, salts, wood ash, and/or oils, but at that time it was made using oils and wood ash.

Surprisingly, the soap wasn't used for hygienic purposes. Instead, it was mostly used for washing wool and fibers.

5 Beer

It's hard to pinpoint the exact year and location where beer was invented. The Chinese may be among the first, based on archaeological evidence, but the first recipe of beer is more credited to the Sumerians. Barley beer was evidently produced in Mesopotamia, as shown in a poem praising Ninkasi, the goddess of beer.

Beer played a major role in the average Mesopotamian's diet, was enjoyed at festivals, and was even used to pay workers, as myth and literature show.

6 Board Games

The Game of Twenty Squares is the oldest board game, believed to have been made over 4,600 years ago. It is also the very first strategy and race game to be invented. Composed of two sets of seven pieces, the goal was to move all pieces to the end by rolling dice, which indicate how many spaces a player could move in that turn. If a player's piece landed on another player's piece in the middle of the board, that piece would be captured. Players had to rely on luck to win.

It was one of the most popular leisure activities in the region, so popular that the game even spread to Sri Lanka and Crete.

7 Astronomy

Surprisingly, Western astronomy originated from Mesopotamia. They used mathematics to track the positions of the stars, planets, and the moon. MUL.APIN is a compendium that documents the rising and setting of the constellations.

The Mesopotamians were also one of the first peoples to create a lunisolar calendar consisting of twelve lunar months. Astrology played a major role in astronomy due to the culture's religious connections with the gods and stars.

8 Sailboat

Mesopotamian civilizations resided near two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. To trade with other cities and states, they constructed sailboats using wood and papyrus, with the sails made of linen. The sailboat was used to navigate rivers.

It also played a role in military power since the sides were raised for archers to shoot their targets more accurately.

9 Copper

The use of copper stretches back to 9000 BC in the Middle East, but the Mesopotamians made full use of the material over 5000 years ago. With the mass production of copper, it was used to create various weapons such as spears, as well as tools and objects like chisels, jugs, and vessels.

It also accelerated the growth of certain cities in Sumer, Uruk, and other regions.

10 Bricks

Making bricks was a favored activity among the Mesopotamians and remains one of the most used building materials in the Middle East today. They made molds out of clay and water, which were then left out in the sun to harden and used for building projects. Bricks were an excellent substitute for stone, considering that stone was a limited material back then.

The Contenders
11 Law Code

The Sumerians were the first to invent a law code, which is a collection of laws written in an organized manner. The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest surviving law code today. Here are examples of the laws written in the code:

1. If a man commits murder, that man must be killed.
2. If a man commits robbery, he will be killed.
3. If a man commits kidnapping, he is to be imprisoned and pay 15 shekels of silver.
4. If a slave marries a slave, and that slave is freed, he does not leave the household.

12 Cartography

Although many artifacts have been discovered, few of them revolve around delineating city plans with precision. Some of the ancient maps traced back to Mesopotamia were in the form of clay tablets, with the oldest being created over 2300 BC.

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