As Mesopotamia literally means the "land between rivers," its history and culture are substantially related to the ebb and flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In this regard, by 5000 B.C., communities in Mesopotamia had spread and settled to the rich alluvial plain of the region.Due to the favorable topographic and geographic characteristics of Mesopotamia, people were able to shift their means of subsistence from hunting-gathering to agriculture during the Holocene epoch, i.e. 10,000 radiocarbon years ago (Rietvelt). Since the soil was conducive for farming, people opted to build new settlements within this region and planted various crops as a means of living. However, as Professor Gunter Garbecht of the Technical University of Braun Schweiz in West Germany notes:"First the floods of the Tigris and Euphrates were very erratic and occurred at the wrong time, the period April-June being too late for the summer crops and too early for the winter crops" (Goldsmith and Hildyard)This means that the riverbeds of Tigris and Euphrates rise and fall with the seasons and often changed their course unpredictably.To address this problem, the farmers of Mesopotamia were prompted to develop irrigation agriculture to efficiently utilize the waters of Tigris and Euphrates, which were their primary water source.For instance, small communities made use of shaduf, a long pole on a pivot with a bucket suspended from one end of the pole and a counterweight at the other end, which made lifting a heavy
water bucket of water from the rivers less taxing.