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The geography of Mesopotamia is such that agriculture is possible only with irrigation and good drainage, a fact which has had a profound effect on the evolution of Mesopotamian civilization. The need for irrigation led the Sumerians and later the Akkadians to build their cities along the Tigris and Euphrates and the branches of these rivers. Some major cities, such as Ur and Uruk, took root on tributaries of the Euphrates, while others, notably Lagash, were built on branches of the Tigris. The rivers provided the further benefits of fish (used both for food and fertilizer), reeds and clay (for building materials).

With irrigation the food supply in Mesopotamia was quite rich with the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys forming the northeastern portion of the Fertile Crescent, which also included the Jordan River valley & that of the Nile. Although land nearer to the rivers was fertile and good for crops, portions of land farther from the water were dry and largely uninhabitable. This is why the development of irrigation was very important for settlers of Mesopotamia. Other Mesopotamian innovations include the control of water by dams and the use of aqueducts. Early settlers of fertile land in Mesopotamia used wooden plows to soften the soil before planting crops such as barley, onions, grapes, turnips and apples. Mesopotamian settlers were some of the first people to make beer and wine.

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Mesopotamian agriculture depended upon irrigation systems from the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

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Q: What did the agriculture of mesopotamia depend on?
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