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Furthermore, I suspect taht some of the ‘chicken scratch’ marginalia may be ink blots saying “Simon”, and that these were added in the middle of the 15th century, near the start of the VMs’ life. Putting all the wobbly factuality to one side, this VMs account would be woefully incomplete if it failed to mention the sheer intellectual romance of such a mystery-filled mega-object, the tragi-comedy of all the mad theories surrounding it, let alone the blood-spattered trail of ruined reputations and wasted lives dripping behind this inscrutable “Sphinx”.
For centuries, it has acted as a blank screen for numerous people to project their (often somewhat demented) historical / cryptological / novelistic fantasies onto, or if not that then an academic cliff to throw their hard-earned reputation over: yet recently there are signs that a few people are (at long last) starting to look at the VMs with (relatively) clear eyes. ) Arguably the biggest question to face up to is this: when people try to understand the VMs, ).
The name comes from a Greek word meaning “between rivers,” referring to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but the region can be broadly defined to include the area that is now eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and most of Iraq.
The region was the centre of a culture whose influence extended throughout the Middle East and as far as the Indus valley, Egypt, and the Mediterranean.
Mesopotamia, south of Al-Ramādī (about 70 miles, or 110 kilometres, west of Baghdad) on the Euphrates and the bend of the Tigris below Sāmarrāʾ (about 70 miles north-northwest of Baghdad), is flat alluvial land.
In Mesopotamia, agricultural products and those from stock breeding, fisheries, date palm cultivation, and reed industries—in short, grain, vegetables, meat, leather, wool, horn, fish, dates, and reed and plant-fibre products—were available in plenty and could easily be produced in excess of home requirements to be exported.
The date palm—virtually the national tree of Iraq—yields a Metal can only be obtained in the mountains, and the same is true of precious and semiprecious stones.
Consequently, southern Mesopotamia in particular was destined to be a land of trade from the start.
Since the ground is extremely fertile and, with irrigation and the necessary drainage, will produce in abundance, southern Mesopotamia became a land of plenty that could support a considerable population.
The cultural superiority of north Mesopotamia, which may have lasted until about 4000 , was finally overtaken by the south when the people there had responded to the challenge of their situation.
Questions as to what ancient Mesopotamian civilization did and did not accomplish, how it influenced its neighbours and successors, and what its legacy has transmitted are posed from the standpoint of modern civilization and are in part coloured by ethical overtones, so that the answers can only be relative.