Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of King Sargon II,
ca. 721-705 B.C.
Sin Temple, Khorsabad
Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1932
OIM A11810.271, A11810.272
bricks with rosettes pictured at the top left were excavated by the Oriental
Institute in 1932. They once formed part of the decoration of a temple
façade at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Khorsabad. The drawing
on the bottom left is an artist's rendering of what part of that façade
looked like when it was first exposed by French archaeologists in the
mid-1800s. The rosettes formed the border for a design that included the
fig tree and seeder plow shown here.
The seeder plow, invented by the Mesopotamians, was a major technological
achievement. It revolutionized agriculture by carrying out the tasks of
seeding and ploughing simultaneously. Seed was dropped down the middle
funnel into the furrow that the plow created. The ancient Mesopotamians
believed that the god Enlil created the seeder plow and that the image
of the plow could also be seen in the stars. They discovered that by observing
the movements of celestial bodies they could measure time, which was key
for planting crops and for holding religious festivals. Their astronomical
observations still aid today's scientists.
The ancient Mesopotamians were a highly inventive people who created many
innovations. They not only invented the seeder plow, but also developed
writing, irrigation and sanitation techniques, the "Pythagorean theorem,"
the concept of zero, glass, and the arch, column, and dome. They revolutionized
transportation around 3500 B.C. by inventing the wheel and were among
the first to harness the wind as an energy source by using the sail.