Science, Inventions, and Technology
History >> Ancient Mesopotamia
The civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia brought many important advances in the areas of science and technology.
Perhaps the most important advance made by the Mesopotamians was the invention of writing by the Sumerians. Go here to learn more about Sumerian writing. With the invention of writing came the first recorded laws called Hammurabi's Code as well as the first major piece of literature called the Epic Tale of Gilgamesh.
Although archeologists don't know for sure who invented the wheel, the oldest wheel discovered was found in Mesopotamia. It is likely the Sumer first used the wheel in making pottery in 3500BC and then used it for their chariots in around 3200 BC.
The Mesopotamians used a number system with the base 60 (like we use base 10). They divided time up by 60s including a 60 second minute and a 60 minute hour, which we still use today. They also divided up the circle into 360 degrees.
They had a wide knowledge of mathematics including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, quadratic and cubic equations, and fractions. This was important in keeping track of records as well as in some of their large building projects.
The Mesopotamians had formulas for figuring out the circumference and area for different geometric shapes like rectangles, circles, and triangles. Some evidence suggests that they even knew the Pythagorean Theorem long before Pythagoras wrote it down. They may have even discovered the number for pi in figuring the circumference of a circle.
Using their advanced math, the Mesopotamian astronomers were able to follow the movements of the stars, planets, and the Moon. One major achievement was the ability to predict the movements of several planets. This took logic, mathematics, and a scientific process.
By studying the phases of the Moon, the Mesopotamians created the first calendar. It had 12 lunar months and was the predecessor for both the Jewish and Greek calendars.
The Babylonians made several advances in medicine. They used logic and recorded medical history to be able to diagnose and treat illnesses with various creams and pills.
The Mesopotamians made many technological discoveries. They were the first to use the potter's wheel to make better pottery, they used irrigation to get water to their crops, they used bronze metal (and later iron metal) to make strong tools and weapons, and used looms to weave cloth from wool.
Interesting Facts About Mesopotamian Technology
- The Walls of Babylon were once considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There were actually two massive walls that surrounded the entire city. Archeologists estimate that the walls were over 50 miles long with each wall being around 23 feet wide and 35 feet tall. There were also massive towers at intervals along the wall that may have been hundreds of feet tall.
- The Mesopotamians may have invented the simple machine called the Archimedes' Screw. This would have helped to raise water to the heights needed for the plants in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
- The Assyrians developed glasswork as well as glazes for pottery and art to help it last longer.
- Eighteen different canals have been found that brought water to the Assyrian Empire capital of Nineveh.
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History >> Ancient Mesopotamia