Mesopotamia

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Mesopotamia is a term of physical geography which is most useful in the study of the archaeology of the Middle East - apart from a brief period after the First World War when the territory was administered as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia, from 1920 to 1932. The British installed Faisal ibn Husayn, a Hashemite, to rule as King. The territory is now the Republic of Iraq, although of course the boundaries have shifted over the last 6,000 years or so.

The term Mesopotamia, which is derived from the Greek μέσο- (meso-) '[in the] middele', 'between' + ποταμός (potamos) 'river', refers to the great stretch of land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, largely in what is now Iraq. It was renowned for its fertility in the past, and is one of the most likely sites for the development of agriculture. Many early cultures, great cities and empires arose within ancient Mesopotamia, such as Sumer, Ur, Akkad and Babylon. This area is home to the development of cuneiform writing systems.

This term can be used in physical geography for any area largely defined by its lying between any two rivers, such as an area in Oxford between a river and a mill-race; and figuratively for anything that exists between two examples of one thing, as an area between the lungs can be called 'a little Mesopotamia' by doctors.
During the First World War, the British Army evolved the slang contraction Mespot to describe the unpopular (because of the climate) Mesopotamian front. This remained current through the 1930s and into the Second World War, but is now obsolete.