Part 1: Reading Passage

Agricultural Technologies

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Agricultural Technologies

Farming was a big part of life in the Mesopotamian region, as it is located in the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Many important innovations were developed to make farming easier, however, they also impacted trade and transportation as well. Two important technological improvements were the invention of the plow and the wheel.

The plow made it easier to break up the soil for planting. Plows were made of iron and were pulled by oxen. They were used for turning the soil, to prepare it for planting. Before the plow was invented, farmers used animal horns or pointed sticks to poke holes in the earth. Then they would plant seeds in the holes. This was a very slow way to farm. By using these new tools farmers could not only do more work, but they could also work faster.
Wheels allowed for quicker and easier transportation. Before the invention of the wheel, people had to carry their goods, or use animals to carry their loads. The wheel made the use of carts possible. This allowed traders to carry more goods and supplies while moving faster along trade routes.

As was true with many early civilizations, religion played an important role in the everyday life of ancient Mesopotamians. The Mesopotamians believed in polytheism; they worshipped many gods. Each god or goddess was responsible for a specific part of nature or daily life, such as fresh water, healing, or farming. Although gods were shared across Mesopotamia, it was believed that gods lived in a certain city-state. The citizens of that city-state believed the god that lived there protected the city.

To honor their gods and goddesses and ensure their presence in and protection of the city, Mesopotamians built large religious monuments called ziggurats. Each ziggurat was dedicated to a specific god. Because of their importance, ziggurats were often built in the city of city-states.
Ziggurats look similar to the Egyptian pyramids, but the sides of ziggurats have series of steps, rather than the smooth face of pyramids. Mesopotamians believed that the gods would use these steps to come down to Earth from the top of the ziggurat.
The Mesopotamians believed that all of the land and everything on it belonged to the gods. Therefore, they believed that everything they did was for the gods and that the product of their work belonged to the gods as well.

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