INTRODUCTION
   The Greek name Mesopotamia means “land between the rivers.” The Romans used this term for an area they controlled only briefly (between 115 and 117 A.D.)—the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, from the south Anatolian mountain ranges to the Persian Gulf. In modern usage the geographical definition is the same, but the historical context is wider and reaches much further back than the period of the Romans. It comprises the civilizations of Sumer and Akkad (third millennium B.C.) as well as the later Babylonian and Assyrian empires of the second and first millennia. Although the “history” of Mesopotamia in the strict sense of the term begins only with the inscriptions of Sumerian rulers around the 27th century B.C., the foundations for Mesopotamian civilization, especially the beginnings of irrigation and the emergence of large permanent settlements, were laid much earlier, in the fifth and fourth millennia. Archaeological research is the main source for these prehistoric periods, and it also plays a very important part in the process of understanding and interpreting later periods, complementing written evidence.
   See GEOGRAPHY, URBANIZATION, THE EMERGENCE OF STATES, NORTHERN MESOPOTAMIA, AFTER NEBUCHADNEZZAR, WRITING

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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