World History




an ancient name for the land that lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; the “cradle of civilization”.


a part of the world that does not have definite boundaries but is different or separate from other parts in some way.

Tigris River

the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq and empties itself into the Persian Gulf.

Euphrates River

the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land between the Rivers").


an ancient region in southern Mesopotamia that contained a number of independent cities and city-states; the world’s first civilization.


an ancient wedge-shaped script used in Mesopotamia and Persia; the oldest writing system in the world.


someone employed to make written copies of documents and manuscripts, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of printing.

Located in the modern country of Iraq, Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” because it is here that civilization first began around 3500 BC, a date considered the beginning of Ancient Times. Mesopotamia is a region, not a country, within the larger region of the Middle East. Regions are the basic units of geography. A region is an area of the earth with consistent cultural or physical characteristics. Regions may be large like the Middle East, or they may be smaller like Mesopotamia.

Tigris River

Mesopotamia lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; the name Mesopotamia means “between the waters” in Greek. Here farmers learned to build irrigation systems that turned the dry valley into a prosperous center of agriculture supporting many people. This is an early example of how humans can change the natural environment. As settlements in southern Mesopotamia grew into busy cities, this area called Sumer became the world’s first civilization. The Sumerians built walled cities and developed the earliest-known writing called cuneiform, in which scribes (record-keepers) carved symbols onto wet clay tablets that were later dried. The Sumerians are credited with writing the world’s oldest story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, about the life of a Sumerian king. The Sumerian number system was based on 12, which explains why we have 60-minute hours, 24-hour days, 12-month years, and 360-degree circles.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.