Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Marshes of the Cradle

Paradise Lost?
What should--or can--be done about "the environmental crime of the century"?
by Christopher Reed
(from Harvard Magazine)

Five thousand years ago in the Mesopotamian marshes, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in southern Iraq, the Sumerians began history. They devised an irrigation system and built an agrarian society, banding together the children of hunter-gatherers in the world's first cities—Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Lagash, Larsa—on the edge of the marshes. From their cradle of civilization, the Sumerians brought forth writing (as well as the wheel, maybe, and much else fundamental) and carved into clay tablets the epic of Gilgamesh, which describes the Flood. Here, many say, was the Garden of Eden (although the latest scientific thinking suggests it was at a spot now at the bottom of the Persian Gulf).