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imports cotton goods direct from Manchester, sending her own buyers there to select the materials.
When the English have completed the irrigation plants they are constructing in Mesopotamia and trains are running on the Bagdad Railway, Basra will doubtless be as great a city as it was in the days when Sinbad the Sailor used to start on his remarkable voyages from this port.
OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES
Mesopotamia has other crops besides dates. For ages the Tigris-Euphrates basin has been a granary for the nations, and the wheat crop is a large one, even if the methods employed by the Arabs are crude and much of the land is not irrigated.
Products.-Barley, said to be the most ancient grain food known, is raised here. Nomad bands sometimes halt, raise a crop of barley, load it on camels and then resume their march. Herodotus, who lived over 400 years before Christ, wrote that this region contained the best grain land he had ever seen.
In the ninth century the cotton of northern Mesopotamia commanded the market of the world.
During our trip on the steppes we learned that the chief sources of wealth of the nomads were their flocks and herds. The Arab farmers also raise camels, mules, donkeys, horses, sheep, and goats. Thousands of camels and mules are produced, some of which are exported. Great caravans of these animals laden with bundles of hides and bales of wool pass down the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys to Mosul and Bagdad.
Fine red and yellow leathers are manufactured in these two cities. Wool and hides are among the chief exports of Mesopotamia.
Hidden wealth.—The best copper mine of southwest Asia is in the upper Tigris basin, and other deposits of that mineral exist in this region. The lakes of bitumen and asphalt will be a great help in the construction of the roads, irrigation plants, and oil works that engineers are planning to build in Mesopotamia. Rich oil deposits abound and companies have shipped thousands of tons of American pipe into the valley south of Bagdad. Well-drillers from our country are now at work boring for the fuel that will be very valuable in a region where coal costs two or three times as much as it does in the United States. Mesopotamia, with all its undeveloped resources, is surely a land of the future as well as of the past, and we shall soon hear of wonderful developments in this “land between the rivers." 1. Why is India competing with England for the wheat trade of
Mesopotamia? Will it be successful in the attempt? Why? 2. Make a list of the resources of Mesopotamia and the use to
which you think the material will be put as the country is developed.
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION IN LOWER MESOPOTAMIA
DID you ever try to imagine how the world looked in the day when there were only a few people and no houses, schools, churches, libraries, factories, stores, or other buildings? Have you ever tried to think how, step by step, man met his needs and how civilization developed?
GROWTH OF CITIES
An ancient writer gives a poetical description of this process in Genesis. He says, "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Gen. II. 1-4). These few sentences recount what perhaps took hundreds, or even thousands, of years to accomplish. There is little doubt, however, that civilization first began to develop in the fertile valley of the Tigris-Euphrates basin in just this manner.
Materials and construction.—These early peoples had to use the material at hand for their homes. There is no building stone in Babylonia, so from the beginnings of history until recently buildings have been made of sun-dried mud with the outside layer of harder kiln-dried bricks. The Bible says "slime had they for mortar," and we know there are large deposits of
asphalt in Mesopotamia which the ancients doubtless used for mortar.
The "city" of which the writer speaks was for protection, and the wall built around it inclosed the grain fields, pastures, and gardens, as well as the homes of the people. The “tower” was for worship, and was built upward, tier above tier, each one smaller than the one beneath it, until the top, which was the shrine, was reached. The rooms in the temples and palaces were long, but often narrow, for the width depended upon the length of the timbers the builders could obtain to support the roof. Palm and poplar trees were used for beams, and are so employed to-day in Mesopotamia. Both of these woods decay easily and do not bear exposure, so most of the ruins are roofless. In later times beams of cedar were used in the palaces. Windows were not known, the buildings being lighted from the roof. No ruins of private houses have been found. It is probable that many people dwelt in tents, as they do now in Bagdad, Mosul, and other cities of Mesopotamia. Abraham and Lot resided in tents (Gen. 13. 12), but Lot had his house as well as tents in Sodom.
The seat of the empire.-Fertile Babylonia, or Chaldea, was twice the home of the richest and most powerful nation of ancient times. The first nation was called the Chaldean and was conquered by the Assyrians, who lived in upper Mesopotamia. These in turn were destroyed by the later Chaldeans or Babylonians. The earlier empire is called Chaldea and the later one Babylonia by many writers. The term “Babylonia” is often used for both empires.
GREAT EMPIRES OF BABYLONIA About 4,000 years before Christ, Chaldea was made up of powerful rival cities that warred against each other. One of the most powerful of these cities was Ur, in later times the home of Abraham. The Bible says, “They went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan” (Gen. 11. 31). Records have been found to prove that Chaldea was governed by at least a hundred rulers before the time of Abraham.
A center of learning.—About B. C. 2400 Babylon, one of the powerful cities north of Ur, conquered all of Chaldea and spread rapidly over the rest of the great river basin. In 400 years it had conquered a large part of Elam (which is now Persia) and moved westward to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Babylonians were quick-witted, industrious, and very fond of literature and the arts. For several centuries Babylon led the world in styles for dress, as Paris does to-day. A peculiar writing called the cuneiform script was used, and the extensive literature of Babylonia was read by great numbers of people all over western Asia. Inscriptions were sometimes made on stone or bronze. Most of the writing was done on tablets of unbaked clay with a sharp wedge-like instrument called a stylus. There were several hundred signs used in this writing and various combinations of them make about twenty thousand characters now, known to scholars.
Scribes wrote legal documents and private letters. In Assyria women as well as men did this work and affixed the seal just as a notary public does in America. These scribes were numerous in ancient times, as they are now in some parts of the East.
Libraries of long ago.—Each of the large cities of Chaldea had its library, sometimes several of them. Most libraries were
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