Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Mesopotamia The region where these two rivers flow is called Mesopotamia (MEHS•uh•puh•TAY•mee•uh). The name means “land between the rivers.” This land is mostly flat with small, scrubby plants. The rivers provided water and means of travel. In ancient times, it was easier to travel by boat than over land. Boats can carry heavy loads, and river currents helped move boats that were traveling down river. Also, few roads existed.
Fertile Soil Almost every year, rain and melting snow in the mountains caused the rivers to swell. As the water flowed down the mountains, it picked up soil. When the rivers reached the plains, water overflowed onto the floodplain floodplain, the flat land bordering the banks. As the water spread over the floodplain, the soil it carried settled on the land. The fine soil deposited by rivers is called silt. The silt was fertile, which means it was good for growing crops. An Arid Climate Less than 10 inches of rain fell each year in southern Mesopotamia, and summers were hot. This type of climate is called arid. Although the region was dry, ancient people could still grow crops because of the rivers and the fertile soil. Farming villages were widespread across southern Mesopotamia by 3500 B.C.