As city-states all over Mesopotamia kept growing in area and population, conflict among them increased. City-states competed with one another to control fertile land and water sources. Soon people were fighting wars to conquer, or take over, the lands of others.
Causes and Effects of Conflict
Most wars among early agricultural societies such as those in Mesopotamia were fought to protect farmland and water rights. A Sumerian saying warned of how unstable ownership was: "You can go and carry off the enemy's land; the enemy comes and carries off your land."
The land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was flat. No natural boundaries such as mountains separated one city-state from another. Without natural boundaries, city-states put up pillars to mark their borders. When one city-state moved or destroyed another city-state's pillars, it "violated both the decree [orders] of the gods and the word given by man to man." Such acts often led to war.
As more disagreements about land and water arose, more wars were fought. The need for weapons resulted in new technology. Craftworkers created new inventions such as war chariots. A war chariot was a light, two-wheeled cart pulled by horses. From a fast-moving war chariot, a soldier could speed by and throw spears or shoot arrows at an enemy who was on foot. The new war technologies meant that more people died in battle.
What was the major cause of wars among the people of Mesopotamia?