Where does the idea of urban civilization, or the city itself, originate?
The name Mesopotamia was used by the ancient Greeks to describe land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It means literally “between the rivers” and largely corresponds to present-day Iraq. However, today the term has a broader interpretation, stretching to include parts of Syria and Turkey as well. The region, which incorporates the “fertile crescent,” is widely considered to be the cradle of human civilization.
Author and former journalist Paul Kriwaczek has observed that “ancient Mesopotamia acted as a kind of experimental laboratory for civilization.” It was into the rural environment of this region that the idea of civilization was born “in a single place, at a single time. From there and from then,” says Kriwaczek, “the concept spread at remarkable speed to conquer the world.”