Philip Jones, Associate Curator, Near East Section, Penn Museum
""Ancient Mesopotamia and the Axial Age""
The first millennium BCE is often seen as an ""Axial Age"" - a crucial period in which all across Eurasia, in Greece, Israel, India and China, innovative thinkers re-conceptualized humanity's relationship to the cosmos in ways that continue to resonate today. From this perspective, first millennium BCE Mesopotamia can be seen as a ""Bronze Age Fossil"". However, Mesopotamia was not without its own evolutionary trajectory. Furthermore, unlike the so-called Axial Civilizations, it has left us copious primary documents speculating on the nature of the cosmos that pre-date the first millennium. What light, therefore, do changes between second and first millennium BCE Mesopotamia throw on Axial ""breakthroughs"" elsewhere?"