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Where did alphabet letters come from?

By | 2017-10-02T10:25:04+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

The first alphabet letters Each of the letters of the early Canaanite alphabet was the first sound of the most ordinary words in their language. The letter was a picture of that word's meaning. Often you can still recognize that picture in our letters today. And the order of their letters is mostly unchanged today, [...]

West Asian sewage – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-16T12:48:38+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A sewer from ancient Urartu (800s BC, now in eastern Turkey) As early as 800 BC, people in West Asia were digging ditches that led from their houses through the city streets to rivers to carry away their waste and drain off stormwater that flooded the streets when it rained (There were much earlier sewage drains in Harappan [...]

West Asian numbers – Ancient Mesopotamia

By | 2017-09-16T12:39:12+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Neolithic counting tokens The earliest way of writing down numbers was to carve notches in tally sticks, and this method spread from Africa all over Europe and Asia. But by about 9000 BC, people in West Asia began to use a different method of counting. Instead of tally sticks, people made clay tokens in different shapes. The shapes meant different [...]

Babylonian math problem – West Asian science

By | 2017-09-16T12:10:30+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A real Babylonian math problem on a clay tablet This is a real math problem assigned to Babylonian kids in Iraq about 1900 BC. See if you can do it! Here's the problem: Suppose you have two equilateral triangles, one inside the other. Can you figure out the area of the space between the two triangles? [...]

West Asian mathematics – history of math

By | 2017-09-16T12:05:41+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Sumerian multiplication table (2700 BC) Once people in West Asia figured out how to write down numbers, about 3500 BC, they quickly began to want to use cuneiform to write down other mathematical ideas. The earliest example of this that we have is from about 2700 BC. It shows a multiplication table to help people figure out the area of a space by multiplying width [...]

West Asian science – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-15T23:16:03+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

The constellation Orion From the Stone Age through the Islamic empires, great scientific discoveries have streamed out of West Asia. West Asia is one of the places where farming got started, and maybe the sailboat. The Sumerians developed the world's earliest system of writing, including the first way to write down numbers. They invented the wheel, using it as a pottery [...]

Hanging Gardens of Babylon – West Asian science

By | 2017-09-15T22:53:47+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Assurbanipal in the garden (see his enemy's head hanging in the tree?) Nobody knows for sure when or where the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built. But they were already famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in the Hellenistic period, about 200 BC. The most likely explanation is that the gardens [...]

Zoroastrianism – Iran – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T21:10:54+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

An Iranian fire sacrifice Around 1000 BC (probably), about the same time that people in India were writing the Rig Veda, a man named Zoroaster (also called Zarathustra) was a priest in a small temple in the eastern part of West Asia, in an area with a lot of small kingdoms and no major power. Zoroaster believed that he heard [...]

Who is Tammuz? Mesopotamia – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T21:06:15+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Tammuz (probably) with grain growing from his shoulders Tammuz (or Dumuzi) was a West Asian god who personified growing food, like Persephone in Greece or Osiris in Egypt. Like Osiris, Tammuz was male. The Sumerians worshipped Tammuz as early as 2600 BC - and probably much earlier - and so did all the other people of West Asia, including the Jews (the Bible warns [...]

What is Nowruz? Zoroastrians – West Asian holidays

By | 2017-09-15T21:02:31+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Persepolis may have been built in the 500s BC as a place to celebrate Nowruz. Zoroastrianism became much more popular suddenly when the Persian kings became Zoroastrians around 550 BC. Soon after that, Zoroastrian worshippers began to celebrate the first day of spring as an important holiday. That was the first day of their New Year. Nowruz is [...]