|Cylinder Seal, Old Babylonian Period, c.1800 BCE,hematite. The king makes an animal offering toShamash. This seal was probably made in a workshop at Sippar.|
Historically, the ancient city states of Mesopotamia in the fertile crescent are most cited by Western and Middle Eastern scholars as the cradle of civilization. The convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers produced rich fertile soil and a supply of water for irrigation. The civilizations that emerged around these rivers are among the earliest known non-nomadic agrarian societies. Because Ubaid, Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylon civilizations all emerged around the Tigris-Euphrates, the theory that Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization is widely accepted.
The Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer emerges in the Ubaid period (6500-3800 BC) and Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC), culminating in the mid-3rd millennium before giving rise to the Akkadian Empire in the 24th century BC. This is often identified as the first empire in history.
Eridu was the oldest Sumerian site, settled during the proto-civilized Ubaid period. Situated several miles southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of earlytemple-cities, in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, with the earliest of these settlements dating to around 5000 BC. By the 4th millennium BC in Nippur — in connection with a sort ofziggurat and shrine — a conduit built of bricks in the form of an arch. Sumerian inscriptions written on clay also appear in Nippur. By 4000 BC an ancient Elamite city of Susa, inMesopotamia, also seems to emerge from earlier villages. Whilst the Elamites originally had their own script, from an early age they adapted the Sumerian cuneiform script to their own language. The earliest recognizable cuneiform dates to no later than about 3500 BC. Other villages that began to spring up around this time in the Ancient Near East (Middle East) were greatly impacted and shifted rapidly from a proto-civilized to a fully civilized state (e.g. Ebla, Mari and Assur).
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq