The word 'Mesopotamia' is in origin a Greek name (mesos `middle' and 'potamos' - 'river' so `land between the rivers'). 'Mesopotamia' translated from Old Persian Miyanrudan means "the fertile cresent". The Aramaic name is Beth-Nahrain meaning "House of Two Rivers" and is a region of Southwest Asia.
Civilization developed in Mesopotamia simultaneously with Egypt and the two are often called the 'Fertile Crescent'. The Fertile Crescent is a rich food-growing area in a part of the world where most of the land is too dry for farming. The Fertile Crescent begins on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and curves around like a quarter moon to the Persian Gulf.
Mesopotamian art and architecture were produced by the diverse peoples who occupied the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from about 3500 to 539 BC. The earliest civilization of MESOPOTAMIA was created by Sumerian-speaking people, and although their Sumerian language was preserved, the original inhabitants eventually either died out or were absorbed into the population of SEMITES who moved into this area at various periods in history.
The first and most enduring architectural monument was the temple. This fact reflects a view of life in which human beings were meant to serve the gods, who were personified as powerful and capricious forces of nature. From the time of the earliest preserved cities, it is apparent that strong fortifications were necessary because the city-states of Mesopotamia were so often at war with each other.
Anu Ziggurat at Uruk is a characteristic example of Protoliterate temple architecture. The whitewashed outer walls of this small rectangular mudbrick structure are formed into the niches and buttresses that are a typical feature of all Mesopotamian temples. The temple stands on a ZIGGURAT, a tall artificial mountain formed from the remains of temples built and rebuilt on this site for centuries.