The Fertile Crescent is a large geographic region in modern day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and the northern-easternmost part of Egypt, fed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which have supported numerous ancient civilizations. 

Map by National Geographic Kids
  • Idea for Use in Classroom

    Begin by having students find the following items on both the inset map and the larger map: the Euphrates River, the Tigris River, and the Persian Gulf. Have students hypothesize how these bodies of water might have contributed to the growth of civilization, and then introduce Mesopotamia as the birthplace of civilization. Next, have volunteers read aloud the text in the inset and the description under the map title, and then brainstorm a list of the key features of civilizations, such as irrigation and written language. Based on this information, ask them what they expect the map to show.

    Have students identify the nine archaeological sites depicted by arrows. Ask students to share anything they already know about these sites (they are most likely to recognize Babylon, Ur, and, perhaps, Nineveh). Have volunteers read each text block. Then assign small groups to each city to research other important contributions their city made to the world’s cultural heritage. Have each group present their findings.

    Use the map and research to discuss either how in each city people from different parts of the world came together, or how each city otherwise contributed to the world’s cultural heritage. Finally, have students cast secret ballots for the city they believe made the greatest contribution to world heritage, and then share their reasoning after ballots are tallied.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    archaeological Adjective

    having to do with the study of ancient people and cultures.

    Babylonia Noun

    (~1890 BCE to 539 BCE) political and cultural empire in southern Mesopotamia, what is today Iraq, roughly dating from the end of the Sumerian Empire to conquest by the Persians.

    cultural heritage Noun

    traditions and customs of a specific population.

    entrepôt Noun

    central location through which imports and exports pass

    Euphrates River Noun

    river in Southwest Asia (the Near East).

    florescence Noun

    process of developing or flowering

    metropolis Noun

    main city or region—usually with a large population

    semitic Adjective

    language group that includes Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Phoenician, and Akkadian

    Tigris River Noun

    river in Southwest Asia (the Near East).

    Encyclopedic Entry: Tigris River