Ancient Mesopotamia Timeline

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Ancient Mesopotamia
(10500 BC-539 BC)


  1. Early Mesopotamian Civilization (10500-3500 BC)
    1. First Farmers
      • 10500-8000 BC: the Natufians, groups of sedentary hunter-gatherers in the western fertile crescent, developed a way of life that revolutionized the world; they lived in permanent 100 person villages (such as Nahal Oren), built wooden huts with stone foundations, harvested wild grains with flint sickles, and used grinding stones to process their harvests. Their cities included the city of Jericho. They lived in semi-subterranean, semi-circle houses.
      • 9000 BC: settlements (such as Karim Shahir) in the Zagros Mountains, in the northern portions of the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys, began farming; they domesticated dogs and, instead of harvesting wild grains, domesticated barley, emmer, wheat, and vegetables.
      • 8000-6000 BC: Kiffian culture
      • 7000 BC: ancient Mesopotamians ("between the rivers") developed the first large populated permanent settlements (such as Jarmo and Jericho); they lived in mud brick multi-room houses with mud ovens, used pottery, traded with other villages in the fertile crescent, and domesticated goats, sheep, and pigs.
      • 6000 BC: the Hassuna cultures lived in organized villages with a social courtyard containing a religious shrine, surrounded by mud brick houses, and around the villages were five foot thick walls with community grain or water storage towers; they introduced irrigation for farming, canals for trade, decorated pottery, and lead or copper beads.
      • 5500 BC: the Halafian cultures were the first to specialize labor and have cobblestone roads; they were the first to use the potter's wheel and the Kiln to make pottery with brilliantly colored realistic pictures and shapes.
    2. Ubaidian Cities
      • 4000-3200 BC: the Ubaidian cultures made pottery decorated with wave patterns using the potter's wheel; they established many farming settlements including Eridu, Uruk, Adab, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur.  They lived in lower Mesopotamia.
      • the Ubaidian settlements emerged as small village communities in the foothills surrounding great river valleys; because they lived close to each other the control over water streams, harvest, and domestication became easier to control and caused increased food production.
      • as food production increased it was able to supply larger communities and the villages grew into cities, civilization (from Latin civitas "city") first emerged; cities were the foundation of civilization because with them came other civilizing elements including religious cults, political systems, written language, and monumental architecture.
      • 4500-2500 BC: Tenerians culture, colonized the region in present Niger
      • 4000 BC: Syrian and Arabian nomads raided southern Mesopotamia, they were eventually absorbed into the Ubadian population.
    3. Jemdet Nasr Period (Early Sumerians)
      • 3500 BC: the Sumerians, a nomadic people from the Armenian Plateau northeast of Mesopotamia, migrated into Mesopotamia and intermingled with the population; they brought with them horse-drawn chariots (because they invented the wheel) and metallurgy used to make copper helmets and spears.
      • under the Sumerians the old cities developed into city-states, governed by a theocratic assembly of priests and, because priests knew what the gods "wanted," they were very influential to the city-states; religion was also important in architecture because the most important building in each city-state was the ziggurat, the temple (or home) of the patron god of that city-state.
      • the Sumerian city-states were in constant competition with each other, even if by war; despite wars, the governments of the city-states generally maintained friendly relations because, they as aristocrats, held a special bond as the elite of a people who shared a common religion, language, and culture.
      • 3200 BC: a writing system was developed in order to keep administrative records; it was called cuneiform and was made up of pictograms (pictures) describing objects and ideograms describing ideas or actions.


  1. Sumer and the Sumerians(3500-2004 BC)
    1. Kish Dynasty
      • 2900 BC: because the city-states were at constant war, they needed a strong military leader to oversee war and large building projects; they began to replace theocracies with hereditary monarchies and according to ancient tablets, "the kingship came down from heaven."
      • 2800 BC: Etana became the first Sumerian monarch and established the Kish dynasty; he put northern Mesopotamia under his control, built the first monumental building as his palace, and called himself king of the "four quarters of the world"; Meskiaggasher established the Uruk dynasty and controlled most of the south.
      • 2800-2670 BC: the Kish dynasty established a powerful kingship and because it was situated at a critical spot on the Euphrates river it controlled irrigation flow to the southern city-states and thus kept the Uruk dynasty, in the south, under control.
    2. Uruk Dynasty
      • 2750 BC: Enmerkar succeeded his father Meskiaggasher as king of Uruk; he and his general Lugalbanda (who also succeeded Enmerkar as king) conquered Aratta, a city in northeastern Mesopotamia and marked the decreasing power of Kish in the north; their deeds formed the basis of the Lugalbanda Epic.
      • 2700 BC: Gilgamesh, grandson of Enmerkar, became king of Uruk; he constructed the brick walls around Uruk and his deeds formed the basis of the Gilgamesh Epic; Enmebaragesi became king of Kish, he ordered the construction of the Temple of Enlil at Nippur, which became the spiritual center of Sumer, and he led victorious campaigns against Elam.
      • 2670 BC: Mesanepada established the Ur dynasty; he defeated Agga, king of Kish, which ended the Kish dynasty, and put the Uruk and Ur dynasties simultaneously in power.
    3. Ur Dynasty and Lagash Dynasty
      • 2670-2370 BC: the Uruk dynasty became weak from constant attacks in the north which only strengthened the power of the Ur dynasty in the south.
      • 2525 BC: Lugalannemudu of Adab, a city in the north, united northern Sumer under his control; his power quickly passed to Mesilim, king of Kish; these conquests by the northern city-states ended the Uruk dynasty and put the Ur dynasty in complete power.
      • 2425 BC: Eannatum established the Lagash dynasty; he united Sumer under his control, called himself king of Kish, and conquered much neighboring territory.
      • 2370 BC: Urukagina of became king of Lagash; he enacted many social reforms and during his reign Lugalzagesi, king of Umma, defeated him and took control of Sumer, which went into a state of civil strife.
    4. Akkad Dynasty
      • 2350 BC: Sargon I, a Kish general, usurped and became king of Kish; he defeated Lugalzagesi and took control of Sumer, built his capital at Akkad and established the Akkadian dynasty, he centralized trade, made his daughter priestess of Ur, repaired the irrigation systems, and created the first professional army of 5400 men.
      • 2250 BC: Manituu, son of Sargon I, became king of Akkad; he defeated "32 cities in Iran," the Elamites, and the many other city-states which tested his military strength.
      • 2230 BC: Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon I, became king of Akkad; he extended the empire to "the four quarters of the world" and was the first king to deify himself.
    5. Gutian Rule and 3rd Ur Dynasty
      • 2218 BC: the Gutians, a group of nomadic peoples east of Mesopotamia, swept through Mesopotamia, destroyed Akkad, and conquered Sumer; in the ancient writings Curse of Akkad, Naram-Sin angered the god Enlil, who made the Gutians attack.
      • 2144 BC: Gudea became king of Lagash; despite Gutian rule of Sumer he took control of southern Mesopotamia, encouraged literature, and initiated religious constructions; after his death he was deified and many magnificent statues were produced in his honor.
      • 2120 BC: Utuhegal became king of Uruk; he and his general, Ur-Nammu, defeated the Gutians and drove them from Sumer; Utuhegal rewarded Ur-Nammu by making him governor of Ur.
      • 2113 BC: Ur-Nammu established the 3rd Ur dynasty and declared himself king of Sumer and Akkad; he defeated Utuhegal, king of Uruk, and Nammahani, king of Lagash, united Sumer under his rule, constructed many temples, and established the first code of laws which emphasized the king's duty to protect the people against injustice.
      • 2095 BC: Shulgi succeeded his father Ur-Nammu as king of Ur; during his reign their was a drastic water shortage, he reorganized irrigation systems and encouraged economic records on clay tablets.


  1. Babylonia (2004-1225 BC)
    1. Isin Dynasty and Larsa Dynasty
      • 2004 BC: the Elamites, a group of nomadic peoples in the north, invaded Sumer; they destroyed Ur, captured Ibbi-Sin, the king of Ur, ended the 3rd Ur Dynasty, and sent Sumer into civil strife; regular imports of tin from Britain began to go throughout Europe and the Middle East, making the use of bronze to make tools and weapons possible.
      • 1900 BC: the Amorites, a group of nomadic peoples from Syria encouraged by the internal strife, invaded and conquered Sumer; they intermingled with the Sumerians and obtained many high positions, including becoming kings of cities, the most powerful being the Isin dynasty.
      • 1894: Sumu-abum, an Amorite, conquered a small portion of land in middle Mesopotamia; he built up the small village of Babylon and there ruled as king.
      • 1823 BC: Rim-Sin, an Amorite, became king of Larsa; he conquered Isin, ending its reign of power, and united Sumer under the rule of the Larsa dynasty.
    2. Babylon Dynasty and Kassite Dynasty
      • 1792 BC: Hammurabi, an Amorite, became king of Babylon; he defeated Rim-Sin, conquered Mesopotamia, and established the Babylon Dynasty; he oversaw navigation, irrigation, agriculture, tax collection, construction, cleared block rivers, punished dishonest officials, reformed the calendar, and codified the Sumerian laws in the Code of Hammurabi with its primary idea, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
      • 1750 BC: Samsu-iluna succeeded his father Hammurabi as king of Babylon; he defeated the first invasion of Babylonia by the Kassites, a group of nomadic peoples from the east.
      • 1595 BC: the Hittites swept through Babylonia, took prisoners, and looted wealth; they brought with them the use of iron, which was used to make spears and battle axes; the Kassites proceeded the Hittites, conquered Babylonia, and established the Kassite dynasty.
      • 1570 BC: Agum, a Kassite, became king of Babylonia; he reconquered lost lands and extended his control over all Mesopotamia.


  1. Decline of Ancient Messopotamia (1225-539 BC)
    1. Assyrian Rule
      • 1225 BC: Tukulti-Ninurta I, king of Assyria in northern Mesopotamia, captured Babylon and extended his rule through northern Mesopotamia; although the Kassite dynasty continued to rule, it was only nominal.
      • 1140 BC: Shutruk-Nahhunte I, king of Elam, captured Babylon; he ended the Kassite dynasty and placed his son Shilhak-Inshushinak on the throne; he encouraged sculpture and literature.
      • 1125 BC: Nebuchadnezzar I became king of Isin; he defeated Shutruk-Nahhunte and united Babylonia under his rule.
      • 1115 BC: Tiglath-pileser I became king of Assyria; he defeated Nebuchadnezzar and reclaimed control of Babylonia, assuming it into the Assyrian Empire.
      • 1000 BC: groups of nomadic peoples, mostly the Aramaeans and Chaldeans, began raiding Babylonia continuously; the Assyrians conquered began to conquer these groups one by one.
      • 705 or 722 BC: Sennacherib became king of Assyria; he captured and destroyed Babylon, tortured and beheaded prisoners, and enslaved women and children.
    2. Chaldean Dynasty
      • 626 BC: Naabopolassar, a Chaldean, proclaimed himself king of Babylonia and established the Chaldean dynasty; he conquered the Assyrians with the help of his allies, the Medes, the Scythians, and the Cimmerians.
      • 605 BC: Nebuchadnezzar II succeeded his father Naabopolassar as king of Babylonia; he conquered all of Mesopotamia, defeated Egyptian invasions, destroyed Jerusalem (586 BC), and  rebuilt the city of Babylon as his capital (including the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the seven ancient wonders).
      • 556 BC: Nabonidus, one of Nebuchadnezzar II's governors, became king of Babylonia; he angered the priestly class of Babylon and sent the empire into a state of civil wars.
      • 539 BC: Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, conquered Babylonia; he added Babylonia into the Persian Empire and ended the Chaldean Dynasty.


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