“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
Mesopotamia is the valley located between the two great rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. These rivers rest within the Fertile Crescent, the arc of land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. We have come to think of this area as the Cradle of Civilization, the genesis from which modern societies emerged. The soil was enriched by the layers of silt material that flowed from the Tigris and Euphrates. Beginning around 4000 B.C., urban societies began to flourish along their banks. The people learned to cultivate and draw sustenance from the land. The cities of Eridu, Ur and Urak thrived, as their inhabitants learned to reroute the water through canals in order to irrigate land at a distance.
Sumerian mythology has a strong connection to water. One of the seven gods who decree, Enki, was the deity of water, seawater, and lake-water. He was also the god of intelligence and creation. Originally confined to Eridu, his name spread and soon he was referred to in writing by the number 40, known to be the sacred number. The precise meaning of his name is unknown however some believe that it comes from a west-Semitic root that has the meaning of “spring” or “running water” or “the house of water.” Sumerians believed that it was Enki who helped humanity survive the “Deluge.”
Today, this once fertile land is suffering desertification and soil salination from thousands of years of agricultural activities. The marshland fragile ecosystem is rapidly being destroyed. Climate change, and man-made canals, dykes and dams have taken a toll. Time is of the essence.
“In the advanced industrial countries of the northern hemisphere water resources are so abundant that they are more or less taken for granted. In the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East the picture is very different. Almost all Middle Eastern countries are short of water.”