The ancient Mesopotamian civilization emerged around 3500 BC in the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, known as the Fertile Crescent. This area encompassed modern-day Iraq, along with parts of Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, and Iran.

Mesopotamians built their homes and other structures primarily out of sun-dried mud bricks, known as adobe. Adobe is an ancient building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous organic material like straw or horse hair. Here is a brief overview of how Mesopotamians constructed their adobe homes:

Gathering Raw Materials

The core ingredients for adobe were readily available in Mesopotamia. The alluvial soil deposited by the flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers contained the sand and clay needed for the mud bricks. Straw leftover from growing barley or other crops provided the fibrous binder. And of course, the rivers themselves and irrigation channels provided an ample water source.

To collect the clay and sand, workers would dig pits by the river banks or in areas known to have good deposits. The excavated soil would be mixed with water to dissolve lumps of clay and remove impurities.

For the straw, workers harvested and threshed leftover barley or wheat stalks from the previous growing season. The straw would be chopped into short lengths to mix with the clay.

Making the Adobe Bricks

Adobe brick production was a major industry in ancient Mesopotamian cities. Thousands of bricks were needed to build a typical home.

To make each brick, a worker would pour a measure of the prepared clay-sand-straw mixture into a wooden mold, similar to a modern cement brick mold. The worker would press down firmly on the mixture to compact it tightly in the mold.

The molded brick was then tipped out of the mold and left to dry for several days near the brickworks. Workers had to periodically flip the drying bricks to ensure even drying on all sides.

Once dried, the bricks were stacked and carted off via donkey or river barge to the construction site. Mesopotamians left the bricks sun-baked rather than firing them in a kiln, resulting in the adobeconsistency.

Building the Homes

Mesopotamian houses were typically one story and centered around an open courtyard. This courtyard provided light and airflow through the home.

The standard building technique involved layering courses of adobe bricks to make the walls, with reeds inserted in between some courses to bind them together. The bricks were set in mud mortar for stability.

For added durability, the exteriors of important buildings were often coated in clay plaster, which protected against wind and rain erosion. The interiors were also plastered and painted with colorful murals and decorations.

The flat mud roofs were constructed with palm logs laid perpendicular to the walls and overlaid with packed mud and clay. The roofs sloped slightly toward drainage spouts that ejected rainwater into the central courtyards.

Overall, adobe provided an affordable, naturally insulating, and readily available building method well-suited to the hot, arid climate of ancient Mesopotamia. The civilization successfully constructed not just homes, but palaces, temples, and entire cities from sun-dried bricks.

In summary, while ancient Mesopotamians did not have electrical wiring, they developed sophisticated techniques for constructing durable adobe homes using local materials. The adobe brick and mud mortar building method was used in the region for thousands of years.