Mesopotamia (, from the "() between rivers"; (アラビア語:بلاد الرافدين) ''bilād ar-rāfidayn''; (ペルシア語:میانرودان) ''miyān rodān''; ''Beth Nahrain'' "land of rivers") is a name for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, roughly corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, including regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iranian-Iraqi borders.
Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization by the Western world, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian empires, all native to the territory of modern-day Iraq. In the Iron Age, it was controlled by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires.
The indigenous Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.
Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, it fell to the Sassanid Persians and remained under Persian rule until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire. A number of primarily neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene, Osroene, and Hatra.
Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. It has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, Mathematics, Astronomy and Agriculture." A modern Mesopotamian identity is espoused by the ethnically indigenous Mesopotamian and Eastern Aramaic speaking people, known as Assyrians and Chaldean Christians.
The regional toponym ''Mesopotamia'' comes from the ancient Greek root words μέσος (''meso'') "middle" and ποταμός (''potamia'') "river" and literally means "(Land) between rivers". It is used throughout the Greek Septuagint (ca. 250 BC) to translate the Hebrew equivalent ''Naharaim''. An even earlier Greek usage of the name ''Mesopotamia'' is evident from ''The Anabasis of Alexander'', which was written in the late 2nd century AD, but specifically refers to sources from the time of Alexander the Great. In the ''Anabasis'', Mesopotamia was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria. The Aramaic term ''biritum/birit narim'' corresponded to a similar geographical concept. Later, the term Mesopotamia was more generally applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but also almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey. The neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are also often included under the wider term Mesopotamia.
A further distinction is usually made between Northern or Upper Mesopotamia and Southern or Lower Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia, also known as the ''Jazira'', is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad.〔 Lower Mesopotamia consists of southern Iraq, Kuwait and parts of western Iran. In modern academic usage, the term Mesopotamia often also has a chronological connotation. It is usually used to designate the area until the Muslim conquests, with names like Syria, Jazirah, and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date.〔 It has been argued that these later euphemisms are Eurocentric terms attributed to the region in the midst of various 19th-century Western encroachments.〔〔Scheffler, Thomas; 2003. “ 'Fertile crescent', 'Orient', 'Middle East': the changing mental maps of Southeast Asia,” ''European Review of History'' 10/2: 253–272.〕
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