A year ago the world was bemused by three zeros. Those zeros won out, even as fear of practical confusions faded from our Y2K screens. We who live in a hurry were at least reminded of the long span of historical time. This New Year's we will consider another crucial millennium long ago, the one during which prehistory became history itself, and look back from the best-informed viewpoint of 2500 B.C.
Our drama's stage is Mesopotamia. Across gently sloping lands the waters of two parallel rivers--the Euphrates to the west, the Tigris to the east--drain out the flanking Zagros Mountains southward to join into one wide, reedy delta at the shores of the Persian Gulf. Well upstream of their junction lies a ruined city whose aerial photograph underpins what we say about it. Ancient, lively and unique, Uruk was a southern lowlands city on broad mudflats traversed by many green channels, taking vital water from the Euphrates through torrid summers and winters that occasionally knew frost.
This article was originally published with the title Information Technology, 2500 B.C..