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THE FERTILE CRESCENT • Mesopotamia (the land between 2 rivers), is a valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. • These rivers often overflow and leave silt, which makes the soil rich for an agricultural society. • The SUMERIANS developed the first Mesopotamian civilization.
ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA • Ancient Mesopotamia covered three general areas: – Assyria – Akkad – Sumer • Several different ethnicities lived in these areas. • Mesopotamian civilization involved many peoples. • The Sumerians developed the first Mesopotamian civilization.
THE SUMERIANS • By 3, 000 B. C. E. the Sumerians had formed a number of city-states centered around cities such as Ur and Uruk • These states controlled the surrounding countryside politically and economically. • City-states were the basic political unit of the Sumerian Civilization.
• • GOVERNMENT: WHAT IS AN EMPIRE? The Akkadians lived north of the Sumerian city-states. They were considered Semitic people because they spoke a Semitic language. Around 2340 B. C. E. the leader of the Akkadians, Sargon, conquered the Sumerian city-states and set up the world’s first empire.
• The temple (most important building) was built on top of a massive stepped tower called a ziggurat. • Sumerians believed gods and goddesses owned and ruled the cities. • In the beginning, the Sumerian state was a theocracy (a government ruled by divine authority).
SOCIETY & RELIGION • three classes; – Nobles- included the royal family, royal officials, priests and their families. – Commoners worked for large estates as farmers, merchants, fishers, and craftspeople. – Slaves worked on large building projects, wove cloth, and worked the farms of the nobles.
ANCIENT BELIEFS • Due to the harsh physical environment and famines, Mesopotamians believed that the world was controlled by destructive supernatural forces and gods.
SOCIAL HIERARCHY • Priest and priestesses were important figures politically as well as religiously. • Ruling power passed from the hands of kings, who traced their authority back to the gods.
POLYTHEISM • Like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians were polytheistic because they believed in many gods and goddesses. • 3, 000 gods have been identified through archaeology and anthropology.
ECONOMY • The Sumerian economy was agricultural, but manufacturing of metalwork and trade of wheat were also important. • The Sumerians are credited with the invention of the wheel around 3, 000 B. C. E. and this greatly facilitated trade.
SYSTEMATIC FARMING • Developing consistent agriculture required controlling the water supply. • People in Mesopotamia developed a system of drainage ditches and irrigation works. • Careful farming methods resulted in large food supplies and made possible significant population growth and the emergence of civilization in Mesopotamia.
MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS • SUMERIAN ARCHITECTURE • The Sumerians built largely with mud bricks, they built their homes on top of mounds to protect them from floods. • Using them they invented the arch and the dome and built some of the largest brick buildings in the world.
CUNEIFORM • The Sumerians were important inventors. They created a system of writing called cuneiform (wedge-shaped). They used a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped markings on clay tablets. Writing was for record keeping, teaching, and law. REED STYLUS
SCRIBES • A new class of people who wrote and made copies were called scribes. • Like in Egypt, being a scribe was the key to a successful career for an upper-class Mesopotamian boy. • Writing also passed on cultural knowledge from generation to generation, sometimes in new ways.
LITERATURE • The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most important piece of Mesopotamian literature, teaches the lesson that only gods are immortal. Gilgamesh is wise and strong, a being who is part human and part god. • Gilgamesh befriends a hairy beast named Enkidu. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh feels the pain of his friend’s death, and he searches for the secret of immortality. He fails.
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION • The Sumerians invented important technologies, such as the wagon wheel. • In mathematics they invented a number system based on 60, and they made advances in applying geometry to engineering. • In astronomy, the Sumerians charted the constellations using their number system of 60.
OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS: • Sundial • potter‘s wheel • 1 st to make bronze out of copper and tin, creating finely crafted metalworks
SECOND EMPIRE: BABYLONIA • The rise and fall of empires is an important part of history. • In 1792 B. C. E. Hammurabi of Babylon, a city-state south of Akkad, established a new empire over much of both Akkad and Sumer.
MAJOR CONTRIBUTION: FIRST SYSTEM OF WRITTEN LAW • The Code of Hammurabi is one of the world’s most important early systems of law. • It calls for harsh punishments against criminals. • The principle of retaliation; “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, ” is fundamental in Hammurabi’s code.
• • THE LAW Hammurabi’s code punished public officials who failed in their duties or were corrupt. It also had consumer protection provisions, for example, holding builders responsible for the quality of their work. If a building collapsed and killed anyone other than a slave, the builder was executed. Damages had to be paid to people injured.
FAMILY LAW • The largest group of laws in the code covered marriage and the family. • Parents arranged marriages, and the bride and groom had to sign a marriage contract to be officially married.
PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY • Hammurabi’s code expresses the patriarchal nature of Mesopotamian society. • Women had fewer privileges and rights than men. • The code enforced obedience of children to parents. • For example, a father could cut off the hand of a son who had hit him.
THE ASSYRIANS • The Assyrians of the upper Tigris River formed the Assyrian Empire by 700 B. C. E.
ASSYRIAN EMPIRE: GOVERNMENT • A king with absolute power ruled the Assyrian Empire. They encouraged a well ordered society – it was organized well with local officials directly responsible to the king. – They developed an efficient communication system in order to administer their empire by setting up a network of posts with horses carrying messages that took only one week to reach anywhere in the empire.
Why were the Assyrians so successful at conquering others? • They glorified the military and were known for their military prowess.
• Their military power came from using iron and a large, well-disciplined army of infantry, cavalry, and archers, often on chariots. • They also used terror to subdue people; they were known for committing atrocities on their captives.
SOCIETY & RELIGION: • Riches from trade & war paid for splendid palaces • Women were confined in secluded quarters and had to be veiled when they appeared in public. MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS: • Learned to extract iron from ore • Created state of the art weapons • Nineveh held one of the ancient world’s largest libraries
The Empire Crumbles • The cruelty displayed by the Assyrians had earned them many enemies. • In 612 B. C. E. , combined army of Medes, Chaldeans, and others rammed open the city’s gates and burned and leveled Nineveh. • The fire glazed the tablets in the library, which preserved them for archaeologists to study centuries later.
Rebirth of Babylon under the Chaldeans • After the Assyrian Empire collapsed, the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar made Babylonia the leading state of western Asia. • Babylon became one of the greatest cities of the ancient world.
• Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Jerusalem, destroys their temple, and enslaves the Jews. • Babylonia did not last long; the Persians conquered it in 539 B. C. E.
• • PERSIA – 539 B. C. E. The Persians were a nomadic, Indo. European people living in what is today southwest Iran. One family unified the different groups. One member, Cyrus, ruled from 559 to 530 B. C. E. He captured Babylon, treating his new subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
GOVERNMENT: • Cyrus captured Babylon, treating his new subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem (he had a reputation for mercy this caused everyone to accept him as a ruler). • The Persians based their empire on tolerance and diplomacy. • Cyrus’ son Darius (extended the empire into India and Europe) created the largest empire the world had ever known.
SATRAP • Darius strengthened the Persian government by dividing the empire into 20 provinces, called satrapies. • A satrap was the governor of the province responsible for collecting taxes, handling legal matters, and recruiting soldiers.
ROYAL ROAD (contribution) • The Persians established a communication system using horses and regular posts known as the Royal Road, from Lydia to the empire’s capital at Susa. • They built hundreds of miles of roads. – used barter then coins – 1 st coins made of electrum, an alloy, or natural mix, the image on the coin showed its value.
THE IMMORTALS • Much of the Persian power was due to its military. • The empire had a standing army from the entire empire. • At its core was an elite group called the Immortals because anyone who was killed was immediately replaced. • The Immortals were made up of ten thousand each of cavalry and infantry.
PERSIAN DECLINE • The Persian Empire declined for a set of reasons common to the decline of empires. • The kings became more isolated at court and lives of tremendous luxury. • They levied high taxes that weakened the people’s loyalty.
POWER STRUGGLE • Factions were struggling for control of the throne. • Of the nine rulers after Darius, six were murdered in plots. • These bloody struggles weakened the Persian monarchy and Alexander the Great conquered Persia during the 330 s B. C. E.
ZOROASTRIANISM • Zoroaster taught monotheism (belief in one god). • The universe was permeated by the good of the supreme god Ahuramazda, who brought all into being and an evil spirit named Ariman. • People have a free will to choose between the two but eventually, good will triumph over evil. • In the last judgment at the end of the world, good and evil will separate. • The good will go to a happy eternal life, and the evil to damnation.
Contributions: • The most original Persian cultural contribution was its religion of Zoroastrianism (the first monotheistic religion) • Persian tradition says that Zoroaster was born in 660 B. C. E. • He had visions that caused him to be declared a prophet. • His teachings were written in the sacred book of Zoroastrianism, the Zend Avesta.