Timeline for Ancient Mesopotamia
Keep in mind that even scholars who have devoted whole lifetimes to identifying the chronology of Mesopotamia openly admit that the current timeline is only their best estimate based on what has been archaeologically confirmed. I am working off of the current academic model, and this a only a dumbed down version of the far more advanced, painstakingly curated works of career chronologists. As far as I am concerned, this is my attempt at generalizing thousands of years of Mesopotamian history… Mesopotamia for the laymen, or the casual scholar who perhaps does not have the time to devote to learning this for their self. I have done this in the name of macrohistorical holism; a decent understanding of Mesopotamian history is necessary for a decent understanding of religious evolution in the age of Aries.
AGES OF CANCER+GEMINI+TAURUS in Mesopotamia
13,050-7550 BCE: Early Natufian Domestication
Semi-sedentary Natufian settlements begin appearing in The Levant. Domestication of edible plants and dogs begins during this time, and the first semi-sedentary cultures emerge as a result.
8800-6500 BCE: Pre-Pottery Neolithic
The furtherance of Natufian culture, domestication of plants and animals, and the development of more permanent settlements in The Levant and “fertile crescent’ regions. The first human likeness were created in this time, as archaeologists have found crude statues depicting human forms. This is religiously significant, as human likenesses (outside of reflections) indicate an advanced level of ego development and self awareness in relation to any other species. (You might notice a trend, wherein the accuracy and ornateness of human likenesses increase, so does the collective ego, especially within the ruling classes).
6400-4500 BCE: Mid-Neolithic/Pottery Neolithic
A period of the Neolithic age defined by the advent of baked pottery, and the abundance of archaeological evidence supporting this, in the form of pottery fragments. During this time, farming, irrigation and general domestication practices were honed, and settlements began transitioning from semi-sedentary to fully permanent.
6000-3800 BCE: The Ubaid Period
This prehistoric period of Mesopotamian history is characterized by vast improvements in farming and herding, as well as the emergence of three cultural settlements: The Halaf Culture (6100-5100 BCE) in the north, the Sammaran Culture (5500-4800 BCE) in the middle, and the Ubaid Culture in the south (6500-3800 BCE). Evidence suggests these cultures developed and participated in class structure, inter-regional trade, and cultural diaspora. It is this during this period that we see the shift from the Neolithic age into the Bronze age.
3800-3100 BCE: The Uruk Period
It is during this period that humans truly undertake innovative domestication, including the advent of the canal, the plow, and the wheel. Civilizations with rudimentary centralized governments began popping up all over place (Uruk being the most notable), as humans mastered agricultural technologies, as well as metallurgy. This age is also the setting for the shift to prehistory to history, as the first writings appear in the form of cuneiform tablets. Of course nature was still the ultimate decider of a settlements success, but these technologies made domestication and record keeping so much easier than ever before. There is also evidence of Uruk cultural expansion, and trade with lands as far as Egypt, Indus Valley, and Annatolia.
AGE OF ARIES in Mesopotamia
2900-2350 BCE: The Early Dynastic Period
This period is characterized by the development of city-state monarchies led by kings who claimed their ‘divine right’ to these positions of power. These rulers would ‘protect’ their populations through appeasing the Gods and conducting diplomacy with other regional powers, as well as providing opportunities for their peoples on the ‘Palace-Temple’ economy model. The two main cultures in Mesopotamia at this time are Sumer in the south and Akkad in the north, and they both evolved in a similar fashion, first with the advent of monarchies and applicable diplomatic responsibilities, then with the development of the ‘Palace-Temple’ economy system to sustain it. (For the sake of ease and holism, the Early Assyrian Period (2500-2025 BCE) begins during the Early Dynastic Period, but it is referred to as “Akkad” during this time).
2350-2150 BCE: The Akkadian Period/Akkadian Empire
This is the first instance of an empire-like occurrence in Mesopotamia. Sargon of Akkad defeated Lugal-Zage-si of Sumeria and took his entire territory, effectively combining Akkad and Sumeria, placing the capital city in Agade. This period is hallmarked by bi-lingualism (as Sumerians spoke Sumer and Akkadians spine Akkadian, although Akkadian would become the primary language by the end of this period), cultural symbiosis within Mesopotamia, and even more foreign trade. Naram-Sin (2254-2218 BCE), grandson of Sargon of Akkad, was the first Mesopotamian ruler (documented, at least), to deify himself. This is believed to have angered the God Enlil, who cursed the empire’s capital city of Agade with famine, plague, and economic collapse, allowing for the empire’s fall to the nomadic Gutians, who controlled the region for the next 100 years.
2260-2110 BCE: Second Lagash Dynasty
A period of Sumerian independence from Akkadian and Gutian rule. The rulers of this time referred to themselves as “ensi” or governor, out of humility. There was golden age under Ensi Gudea (2144-2124 BCE).
2112-2004 BCE: Ur III/Neo-Sumerian Empire
Founded by Ur-Nammu (2112-2095 BCE) after he “liberated” Lagash and united most of southern Mesopotamia. Considered the last great Sumerian civilization, it is characterized by the standardization of currency, weight measurements, and architecture (especially that of temples and ziggurats), as well as provincial taxation. This period was rife was civil unrest in the fringe provinces, but also saw the rise of the merchant class. The fall of Ur III is attributed to multiple factors, but mainly civil unrest and revolt (from Elamites on the eastern front and Canaanites/Ammorites on the western front), until the city of Ur fell to the Elamites. Additionally, it is proposed that the Biblical patriarch Abraham was born in Ur sometime before it fell, but the year is not known. (The transition between the Early Assyrian Period (2500-2025 BCE) and the Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1378 BCE) occurs during the Ur III period).
2004-1595 BCE: Early Old and Old Babylonian Periods
This time is characterized by the rise of Ammorite leadership following the fall of Ur. This government was based in Babylon, and rivaled the size of the Akkadian empire. Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE) ruled during this period, and Babylon experienced a golden age under his rule, and for that of his successors. He successfully defended Babylon from Elamite attacks, as well as promoted the use of legal precedence and “lex talionis” within the Babylonian justice system.
→Late Bronze Age Mesopotamia: 1600-~1155 BCE (Pre-Collapse)
1600-1155 BCE: Kassite Babylonia
After the fall of Hammurabi’s Babylon, the city was taken by the Kassites. They controlled most southern Mesopotamia (Sumeria) until the Late Bronze Age Collapse.
1600-1178 BCE: Hatti
Hatti was the major power in southern Anatolia at the time of the Late Bronze Age. The people were known as “Hittites”, and they had regular border skirmishes with Mittani on the eastern borders, and with Egypt in the northern Levant.
1600-1200 BCE: Mittani
Mittani is the empire that formed inside of the power vacuum created in northern Mesopotamia/Syria after the fall of Babylon to the Kassites. Hittite forces had attempted to conquer this area, but failed, resulting in the establishment of Mittani. (The latter half of Mittani and the years following its deterioration coincide with the transition from the Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1378 BCE) to the Middle Assyrian Empire (1392-934 BCE).
1200-900 BCE: Late Bronze Age Collapse (Near East)
A number of factors (included but not limited to: plagues, famines, droughts,climate change, volcanic eruptions, decreased trade and diplomacy, economic collapse, decreased literacy, and attacks from mysterious and formidable “sea peoples”), caused the collapse of the Late Bronze Age through out all of Near East. Hatti fell completely as victim of the Greek Dark Ages (1100-800 BCE), Kassite Babylonia was conquered by Elam, and Mittani was dissolved until only the capital city, Assur, remained.
1047-930 BCE: Kingdom of Israel
Established during the Late Bronze Age Collapse, Israel is the holy state of early monotheism, and the Jews enjoyed unprecedented autonomy within the holy lands before splitting into two separate states: Israel and Judah (which included Jerusalem), and eventually being conquered again and subject to deportation and resettlement, first by the Neo-Assyrians, and then by the Chaldeans.
911-609 BCE: Neo-Assyrian Empire
The Neo-Assyrian Empire is the final manifestation of Assyrian dominance in Mesopotamia, and what a show of power it was. They ruled the provinces with an iron fist, (no pun intended, considering this is the beginning of the Near Eastern Iron Age), and terrorized and disoriented their subjects to prevent rebellion. The Canaanites of Israel and Judah were especially negatively impacted by this (as is described in the torah/bible). On a lighter note, we also see the first written fiction, The Epic of Gilgamesh, appear in the royal library of King Ashurbanipal (668-630 BCE). Deportation and resettlement was popular tactic for preventing rebellion, and while it worked for quite a long time,and worked so well that it inspired all subsequent empires, the provinces eventually revolted. Rebels from Mede, Canaan, and Babylon sacked the capital city of Nineveh (612 BC), and finished off the Assyrian forces at Harran (609 BCE).
626-539: Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire
This empire is characterized by economic growth and a renaissance of classical Sumerian culture. The most popular leader from this period is King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BCE), and Babylonians experienced a golden age under his rule. However, he was much less popular with Canaanites and Jewish peoples who he further displaced after conquering Judah and destroying the Temple of Solomon, (as is described in torah/bible). After they are conquered by the Persians, led by Cyprus the Great who reclaimed Babylon for the city patron God, Marduk, who had been denounced by the last Babylonian king. Babylon made several attempts to regain their independence, but failed. This is the last great Mesopotamian power. After this point, “Mesopotamia” no longer exists politically. The geographic region of Mesopotamia exists, but since the Chaldean Empire, it has been under the control of other forces. Mesopotamia does not exist after this point, for all intents and purposes, except for as a memory and legend. Babylon exists, but under outside rule, and will exist, I suppose, until the destruction detailed in The Book of Revelation comes to pass, if in fact it ever does. Mesopotamia does not even live to see the end of the age of Aries, or the start of the age of Pisces, except passively.
Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in The Cradle of Civilization, Amanda Podany, PhD. (Lecture series available on The Great Courses Plus).
Encyclopedia Britannica Website- britannica.com
History Channel Website- history.com