Ancient Mesopotamia- Geography of the Fertile Crescent

6th Grade Social Studies
Chapter 5 Lesson 1 in the World Text
Around 4000 BC
Egyptian farming
communities were
growing along the Nile
 Another civilization was
also developing in Western
▪ This area was later called the
Fertile Crescent because it
looks like a quarter moon.
The Fertile Crescent
covers the present-day
countries of Iraq, Syria,
Lebanon, and Israel.
Much of the land was
either rocky mountains
or desert.
 The 2 rivers, the Tigris
and the Euphrates,
made life in these areas
The region between
the Tigris and the
Euphrates is known as
 In Greek it means “land
between two rivers.”
 This area is now known
as Iraq.
Both the Tigris and the
Euphrates begin in the
Taurus Mountains,
located in Turkey.
The rivers rush down and
then reach the plateau,
located in present-day
northern Iraq.
 A plateau is an area of
elevated flatland.
 In southern Iraq the rivers
flow to lower land and
empty into the Persian
Early communities in Mesopotamia depended
on river deposits of silt.
 It made the region a good place for farming.
Mesopotamia’s yearly floods did NOT come as
regularly as those in Egypt.
 They often came at the wrong time for farmers.
 The rivers did not flood during planting season when
dry fields needed to be softened and prepared for new
 Instead, floods came just as crops were ready to be
Farmers had to protect their fields from flood
 They also had to keep them watered in the hot,
dry climate.
Southern Mesopotamia rarely received rain.
 Droughts, or long periods of dry weather, were a
constant threat to farmers and their crops.
Northern Mesopotamia usually had enough
rain, but the rocky earth had only pockets of
fertile soil.
 The flooding rivers did NOT leave behind as much
silt in the north.
Which area (Northern or Southern
Mesopotamia) had more fertile land?
 Southern Mesopotamia b/c there was more silt in
the south.
In the Fall farmers of
southern Mesopotamia
needed water to plant
and raise new crops.
 Unfortunately, Fall was
the time when the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers
were at their lowest.
Mesopotamia- Tigris River
Spring was harvest time; however, it was also
the time the rivers flooded.
The time the rivers flooded was such a problem
because it happened during the harvest.
 The perfect time would be the Fall since this is when
they were planting the crops and the fields were dry.
To solve these difficulties, ancient farmers
learned to build water-control and irrigation
Early farmers grew
many different crops.
 The areas MOST
important crops were
wheat and barley.
 Other crops included:
beans, onions, lettuce,
cucumbers, spice plants,
date palm, apple and
pomegranate trees.
farmers planted their
crops and trees along
canal banks.
 On the edges of village
farmland, you might
see shepherds caring
for sheep and goats.
 Sheep were especially
prized for their milk and
Mesopotamians also
valued cattle because
they were good work
animals and were used
for milk, leather, and
Water and soil brought by the Tigris and
Euphrates helped to make this civilization
The farmers figured out how to use the two
rivers to make the land more fertile.
As in some early cultures, the farmers of
Mesopotamia produced surplus crops.
 These surpluses allowed for specialization, which
in turn led to the growth of towns and cities.
Mesopotamia is the region between the Tigris
and Euphrates Rivers.
 It is divided into a rugged plateau to the north and
fertile plains to the south.
Like the Nile River, the Tigris and Euphrates
flood each year.
 These floods brought water and silt to
Unlike those in Egypt, floods in Mesopotamia
were often destructive and badly timed for
Mesopotamian farmers used canal systems
to control dangerous flooding, making their
land productive.

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