How Did Mesopotamia Become a Center of Trade?

Mesopotamia became a center of trade early in human history because its farmers mastered irrigation early, providing more crops than they needed to support the population. This allowed Mesopotamia to trade the surplus with neighbors. Its position between Europe and Asia also made it a prime trading hub.

In ancient times, Mesopotamia relied on trade for many important resources, including mineral wealth. The civilizations in the region had few natural resources to rely on, and only its great agricultural capacity allowed the population to flourish. Much of this trade occurred before the invention of coinage and was handled through complex barter transactions. The need to keep track of these transactions led to the development of writing for the purpose of record-keeping.

As other civilizations made their own advancements in agricultural technology, Mesopotamian empires maintained their power through trade. Sumerian temples became the first banks and credit institutions, and the Babylonians developed the first commercial banking system. This wealth funded great construction projects, such as the Great Ziggurat of Babylon, the structure that became the inspiration for the story of the Tower of Babel.

Ultimately, the wealth of the empires of Mesopotamia became great enough to inspire outsiders to wage war, and the region fell under the control of the Persians and the Romans before ultimately falling to Muslim conquerors in the seventh century A.D.