|The Story of Mankind|
|by Hendrik Willem Van Loon|
|Relates the story of western civilization from earliest times through the beginning of the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the people and events that changed the course of history. Portrays in vivid prose the achievements of mankind in the areas of art and discovery, as well as the political forces leading to the modern nation-states. Richly illustrated with drawings by the author. Winner of the first Newbery Award in 1922, The Story of Mankind has introduced generations of children to the pageant of world history. Ages 10-14 |
MESOPOTAMIA—THE SECOND CENTRE OF EASTERN CIVILISATION
 I AM going to take you to the top of the highest pyramid
and I am going to ask that you imagine yourself possessed
of the eyes of a hawk. Way, way off, in the distance, far
beyond the yellow sands of the desert, you will see something
green and shimmering. It is a valley situated between two
rivers. It is the Paradise of the Old Testament. It is the
land of mystery and wonder which the Greeks called
Mesopotamia—the "country between the rivers."
The names of the two rivers are the Euphrates (which the
Babylonians called the Purattu) and the Tigris (which was
known as the Diklat). They begin their course amidst the
snows of the mountains of Armenia where Noah's Ark found
a resting place and slowly they flow through the southern
plain until they reach the muddy banks of the Persian gulf.
They perform a very useful service. They turn the arid
regions of western Asia into a fertile garden.
The valley of the Nile had attracted people because it had
offered them food upon fairly easy terms. The "land between
the rivers" was popular for the same reason. It was a
country full of promise and both the inhabitants of the northern
mountains and the tribes which roamed through the
southern deserts tried to claim this territory as their own and
most exclusive possession. The constant rivalry between the
 mountaineers and the desert-nomads led to endless warfare.
Only the strongest and the bravest could hope to survive and
that will explain why Mesopotamia became the home of a very
strong race of men who were capable of creating a civilisation
which was in every respect as important as that of Egypt.
MESOPOTAMIA, THE MELTING POT OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
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