Does Geography Determine Destiny?


Challenge: Build a Ziggurat

The land of Mesopotamia was fertile near the two rivers. Outside of that, however, the land was much too dry to grow many crops. As a result this area became home to many herders. Since agriculture is only possible near the rivers, due to the dry climate of Mesopotamia, people had to develop a system of irrigation to keep their farmland productive. This need had a major impact on the locations of the city-states of Ancient Mesopotamia.

Another result of the dry climate was the region had very few trees. As a result, wood couldn't be used as a building material. There was, however, plenty of mud. The Sumerians used this for building purposes including the building of ziggurats. Bricks made out of mud were easy to shape and could be left out in the sun to bake or become hard. Nearly every building and the walls that protected the city was made from these bricks.

This animation, created for the Melbourne Museum captures the look and feel of the ancient city of Ur. Many weeks of research with expert archaeologists meant that the accuracy of this video is based on the available knowledge of the area at the time.