Google+ Facebook Twitter Twitter

Mesopotamia as the cradle of civilisation

From suppositories made of oak galls to sacrificing birds and taking opium, Stephen Mortlock looks back over the medical history of Mesopotamia.

More than 6000 years ago, before the Greeks excelled in science and philosophy, civilisations were already flourishing in Mesopotamia – an area located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which flow down from the Taurus Mountains in Southern Turkey into the Persian Gulf. The climate of the region was semi-arid with a vast desert in the north, giving way to a 5800 square mile region of marshes, lagoons, mud flats and reed banks in the south. In ancient times, oak, pistachio, and ash forests covered the mountains and foothills with Alhagi maurorum (camelthorn) and Prosopis cineraria growing among them. Various reeds and the narrow-leaved cattail were abundant, and the giant mardi reed was used as a versatile construction material. The euphrates poplar (Populus euphratica) and a species of willow (Salix babylonica) grew in small belts beside the rivers and canals, the poplar providing strong timber for construction and boat building, as well as handles for tools. This region was rich in predatory wildlife with Asiatic lions (extinct in the region since 1918), sand cats, hyenas, panthers, owls, falcons, leopards, and crocodiles, while elephant, gazelles, giraffes, onagers (wild asses), wild boars, wild goats and roe deer grazed on the rich plant life. Bactrian camels and water buffaloes were domesticated to become beasts of burden.

Click here to read the full article

Image Credit | Alamy 

Related Articles