CTP Blizzard Bag Mesopotamia Reading and Questions
Name: __________________________________ Date: ____________ Block: _________
Geography of Mesopotamia
Directions: First, read all of the questions. Next, carefully read the passage and think about your answers. You will need to use your brain, since the answers are not word-for-word in the reading. Last, answer the questions using complete sentences.
Around 8,500 B.C., in various places around the ancient world, people began to stop hunting and gathering for food. Instead, they settled down in different areas, usually around a source of water, that could help to provide food through agriculture. More than 5,000 years ago, the world’s first large towns and cities were built in a region called Mesopotamia. Most of this area was located in what is now the country of Iraq. The Mesopotamians were actually many different groups of people that lived in this area over thousands of years. These groups of people made up some of the worlds first civilizations. In addition to being the first place where cities sprang up, Mesopotamia was also one of the places where people first mastered farming. Because so many important things first happened in Mesopotamia, it has been called the “Cradle of Civilization.” Ancient Mesopotamia was part of the Fertile Crescent. This area included all of the land north of the Persian Gulf, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, parts of Egypt, and what are today the countries of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The word Mesopotamia comes from the Greek language, and means “the land between the Rivers.” In the Northern part of Mesopotamia, there are rivers and streams that are fed from the mountains. In addition, there is a rainy season that helps water the soil. While the southern region is much hotter and dryer, the two large rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates, allow irrigation. The land between the rivers was filled with wildlife and edible vegetation making it an attractive area for early man to move in to. Once they figured out how to grow crops there, civilization soon followed. The Tigris and Euphrates important sources of water in ancient times. The Mesopotamians needed to transport the river water to the fields of their farms. The solution to this problem was irrigation. Irrigation is the process of bringing water from rivers or lakes to fields by constructing canals, pumps and dams. Basically, these ingenious farmers found an effective way to bring the water from the Tigris and Euphrates to their crops. With irrigation, large amounts of food could be grown and large populations grew. Each year, rain and melting snow in nearby mountains caused the two rivers to flood their banks. After the floods, a fine, rich mud called silt would be left behind on the farmland. The silt helped crops grow better in the farmland of the Fertile Crescent. Early settlers used wooden plows to soften the land for planting crops. They grew a wide variety of crops including wheat, barley, onions, and dates. With so many crops, early settlers had plenty of food.
Questions: answer on a separate piece of paper
1. What do you think the word ‘fertile’ means? How do you know?
2. In the last paragraph, what does ‘rich’ mean in this context?
3. Why was the invention of irrigation important to Mesopotamians?
4. Mesopotamia is sometimes called the “cradle of civilization.” Why do you think people use this phrase?
5. Why do people call this area of the world the “Fertile Crescent?”