Great Ziggurat of Ur

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Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Province, Iraq; 2000 BCE, rebuilt 600 BCE

The idea of agriculture first took root in a land between two rivers which the Greeks called Mesopotamia. Crop cultivation seems to have been invented independently in various places, including China, but it was in the regions defined by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – part of modern Iraq – and then in the areas bordering the Nile, that the ancient hydraulic civilizations irrigated the land, planted crops, and established a way of life that started to produce cities.

Ur was the largest city in the world, with an estimated population of 65,000, when work on the ...

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