What does "steeped in" mean here in this context?

The heart of Asia is where civilisation was born. In ancient Mesopotamia along the banks of the mighty Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and steeped in the Indus Valley stood the very first towns and cities known to mankind.

Edit: It's from "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World-Illustrated Edition" by Peter Frankopan. It's the simpler version that targets older children.

  • 3
    That's a very unusual usage. I'd venture to say that that author intended "deep" in the valley or simply "in the center of" the valley, rather than something like "permeated with the essence that is the valley." May 15, 2019 at 17:02
  • It seems like a rather poor sentence. Mesopotamia is not in the "heart of Asia". May 15, 2019 at 17:58
  • Perhaps it's an attempt at 'peppered along' (itself too informal to use here). May 15, 2019 at 18:03
  • What’s the source of the quote?
    – Laurel
    May 15, 2019 at 18:06
  • I googled some of the sentence and only found this question. May 15, 2019 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


Maybe they left off Civilization from "the Indus Valley?"


This sentence is poorly written and does not use the phrase steeped in properly. To be steeped in something means to be surrounded or influenced by a quality or characteristic. I've never seen a usage where something was described as steeped in a place.

Ignoring the first clause, the sentence reads, "Steeped in the Indus Valley stood the very first towns and cities known to mankind." You can't even put any valid quality there like history or culture and have the sentence read properly - "Steeped in culture stood the very first towns and cities known to mankind" is still rather awkward.

This just doesn't seem like very good writing, as they also call Mesopotamia the "heart of Asia", even though it's thousands of miles away from what most people would call the Heart of Asia, closer to Afghanistan.

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