Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization Video Reaction Essay

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Michael Wood’s “Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization” offers fascinating insight into human civilization, through a narrative of the story of Iraq. Tracing Iraq from the cradle of civilization to its current state of devastation, Wood warns viewers to learn from the mistakes of the past instead of continuing to repeat them. In addition to its overarching message, “Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization” includes some incredible details about the cultural diversity within Iraq and how current customs reveal cultural continuity with the past. Some of the most amazing examples of diversity include the Mandean people, who have cultural practices that are vestiges of Christian times such as a wedding ceremony that includes a full-immersion baptism in a river they refer to as the “Jordan,” even though it is the Euphrates. There is also the Yazidi people, who worship Satan but are not what a European or American would call a Satan worshipper. Instead, they go into a small shrine painted with a serpent and leave offerings for Satan to maintain the balance between good and evil on the planet. These are only a few of the examples of cultural diversity within Iraq that many viewers watching this documentary will have heard nothing about. Unfortunately now, the world mainly knows of Iraq as a war-torn place.

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One of the purposes of this documentary is to show that as war-torn as it may be, Iraq still possesses great cultural treasures and archaeology. Another purpose is to warn viewers that the same type of destruction could easily befall us.

Wood presents keys to understanding history, local place names, too. For example, the name Iraq comes from a large cliff called al-Iraq. The familiar Garden of Eden is an ancient term of “edin,” referring to the fertile grasslands and alluvial plains around the meeting of the Tigris and Euphrates. The confluence of these two mighty rivers is also what gave rise to the name Mesopotamia: the Greek name for the area that literally translates to the land in the middle of two rivers. Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Sumer: these were the first civilizations on the planet. Irbil, a city most people have not heard of, is the oldest continually inhabited town in the world. Wood defines civilization by several features including continuity through time, pluralism and tolerance within an urban landscape, massive public works projects like irrigation and infrastructure, writing, and legal systems.….....

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Wood, M. (n.d.). Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization.

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