By: April Carson
The ancient Mesopotamians were renowned for their achievements in science and technology. They developed a highly sophisticated level of mathematics and studied geometry, astronomy, and astrology. They also used complex methods to achieve precise measurements of time and distance.
The long-acclaimed cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia—the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—saw a transformation from nomadic tribes to settled communities around 6000 BC. As they began farming and taming animals, these populations evolved into townships which eventually developed into cities and empires.
Throughout history, numerous remarkable civilizations would dwell in this area and leave behind a lasting legacy - the Sumerians who inhabited southern Mesopotamia, the Akkadians and Babylonians of the central region, and Assyrians from the northern part.
As these civilizations flourished, so did their knowledge and understanding of the world. The Mesopotamians developed calculations as well as some form of writing known as cuneiform. With the help of this, they were able to record events, share information and stories, and keep track of accounts such as taxes and weights.
The development of Writing and the Requirement for Scribes: A Historical Necessity
The widespread adoption of writing among the ancient Mesopotamians had a profound impact on their society, as it enabled them to record and share their knowledge and understanding of the world. Writing was a necessity for keeping records, tracking taxes, and other governmental duties. However, writing was too difficult for the average person to learn and so scribes were employed by the government and other institutions to do the writing for them.
Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, is historically renowned as the birthplace of written language: a milestone that dates back to an incredible 3400 BC. The Sumerians developed their system of writing by creating cuneiform symbols from the impressions left in wet clay tablets.
From their humble beginnings as simple accounting marks, these scratches and wedge-shaped symbols evolved to enable the writing down of anything that comes to mind. As a result, they have become powerful tools for recording events from all aspects of life.
The invention of cuneiform writing ushered in a new era for the Sumerians and their Mesopotamian successors, as they could start to document every detail imaginable - from business transactions, inventories, and palace decrees to religious hymns, poems, and tales. In turn, this newfound knowledge allowed them to build a complex civilization with some of the most impressive engineering feats and inventions of the ancient world.
Perhaps the most important contribution was their development of mathematics, which enabled them to calculate distances and areas that they had previously only been able to estimate. Their expertise in working with metals - copper, gold, and silver - made them the first to produce coins and helped create a standardized system of trade and exchange.
Mesopotamian Education and Schools
The Mesopotamians placed great value on education, and it was believed that knowledge should be shared by all. As a result, they developed a system of schools to provide instruction in the art of writing, mathematics, astronomy, and religion. All students were required to learn a combination of reading and writing skills as well as arithmetic and geometry. The scribes were the most highly educated members of society, and they wrote down various kinds of records such as laws, contracts, treaties, and other documents.
As Mesopotamian temples began to sprout up throughout the land, they quickly established schools to teach young boys how to become scribes and priests. In the beginning, these establishments were connected only with temples; however as time passed and their presence spread through society, secular schools overpoweringly took over.
For much of history, boys were the only ones allowed access to educational opportunities in ancient Mesopotamia - an injustice that has been fervently denounced by many people only recently.
Writing and reading were taught in schools run by experienced scribes, but the exorbitant tuition fees made attending these educational institutions only possible for affluent families. This created a divide between those with money who could afford to send their children to school and those without the necessary funds who had no such opportunity.
Mesopotamians also created libraries in their cities and palaces. These facilities were open to people from all social classes, allowing anyone who wanted to learn access to a wide variety of literature. Libraries were public spaces where citizens could go for information, entertainment, and education. They served as places for scholarly debates by high officials, priests, and scribes, and even served as courts of law.
Established Educational Procedures and Concepts
The Mesopotamians developed a formal education system that encompassed all aspects of life. They valued learning and knowledge, believing individuals needed to lead successful lives. Schools existed in every city, with instruction specializing in areas such as mathematics, writing, geography, and history.
In ancient Mesopotamian society, education was centered around literacy, encompassing such formidable tasks as the mastering of cuneiform writing. The elite also learned reading, writing, mathematics, and astronomy. Professional scribes were highly respected in society, as they were the guardians of knowledge to pass on to others.
Becoming a skilled scribe took approximately twelve years of training. Few Sumerians, however, were literate due to cuneiform's complexity; literacy in Mesopotamia would remain low for centuries—not just during ancient Sumer’s existence.
Although only available to the affluent and well-off, aspiring scribes still had to devote tremendous effort to mastering their craft. Through repeated practice, oral memorization of various texts, reading extensively, and copying exemplary models provided by teachers; pupils were able to master the necessary skills for success as a scribe.
Honoring the Educational Heritage of Ancient Mesopotamia
The educational legacy of ancient Mesopotamian civilization has been an immense source of knowledge and inspiration. Its society embraced the idea that a combination of practical skills, religious training, and mastery of language was essential to success in life. The crucial role it played in the development of language and literature is undeniable. Through its libraries, schools, academies, and universities, Mesopotamian society valued the importance of learning.
Education and professional training were given the utmost importance in Mesopotamian society due to the pivotal roles played by various professions. In turn, those who had aced their education and acquired top-notch skills in certain fields were held with tremendous respect and power within their communities. Scholars, doctors, and engineers were highly prized as experts in their fields.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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