What Did the Mesopotamians Farm?

Ancient Mesopotamians raised livestock and farmed a number of crops, including onions, wheat, leeks, flax, lentils and barley. Thanks to their geographic location between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as knowledge of irrigation, theirs was the first civilization to truly develop agriculture. They saved seeds following each harvest and replanted with the use of cattle-pulling plows.

Although their primary crop was barley, Mesopotamians also planted and harvested grapes, dates, melons, apples and figs. Other vegetables they grew included eggplant, radishes and lettuce. The ancient farmers also grew millet, wheat, beans and sesame seeds.

With such a variety and abundance of crops, Mesopotamians often used grains, vegetables and fruits to barter with one another and with other nations. For instance, they traded crops for wood and stone in order to discontinue building their homes from reeds and begin building them of more durable materials.

There was very little rainfall in Mesopotamia, so early farmers created canals leading to a reservoir where water was stored and used to water crops as it was needed. The soil surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates was rich with silt from seasonal flooding, which also lent itself to successful farming. Mesopotamians raised cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.