The first major civilization in Mesopotamia was in a region called Sumer. This same region is now located in Iraq.

The Sumerians were able to settle and prosper because they learned how to irrigate the land. By bringing water to the fields, they turned Mesopotamia into a prime agricultural region.


From the beginning, people realized Mesopotamia could be an excellent area for farming. But for this to come true Mesopotamia would have to learn to control the yearly floods and find ways to bring water to their crops.

The Mesopotamians developed what is probably the world's first irrigation system. They dug trenches through the river banks in order to bring water to the fields where they would grow their crops. And to protect the fields from floods, they built dykes. The Mesopotamians thus altered their physical environment to make better use of it.

The picture below shows what a Sumerian irrigation system may have looked like.