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date: 18 October 2019


  • Dominique Collon,
  • Joan Oates,
  • Harriet Crawford,
  • Anthony Green,
  • David Oates,
  • John M. Russell,
  • Michael Roaf,
  • E. J. Keall,
  • Pierre Amiet,
  • John Curtis,
  • Jane Moon
  •  and A. Nunn


Region of the ancient world corresponding roughly to modern Iraq, north-east Syria and parts of south-east Turkey. The name Mesopotamia (anc. Gr.: ‘between the rivers’) was coined by ancient Greek historians and originally applied to the land between the River Euphrates and its tributary the Khabur. It later came to mean the land between two of the great rivers of antiquity, the Tigris and the Euphrates, and by extension includes the surrounding regions. Modern political boundaries, however, do not reflect the fluctuating cultural patterns of antiquity, nor did the ancient inhabitants of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys have one name to describe the area, and the term Mesopotamian is therefore used in this article to define various cultures that grew up in the Land of the Twin Rivers. It was here and in Egypt, ancient that two of the earliest civilizations evolved.

This article covers the major art forms in Mesopotamia before the Islamic conquest (...

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E. Yar Shater, ed.: Encyclopedia Iranica (London, 1986)