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Ancient Civilizations
(Civilization Name)
Social
Structure
Economics
Culture:
Class system,
gender relations
Political
Structure
Govt
Interactions:
Humans and the
Environment
Religion, writing,
literature, art,
language,
technology, music,
and architecture
Use a whole sheet of paper to create this graphic organizer
(can also use a chart) for the following civilizations:
•
•
•
•
•
Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus Valley
Yellow River (China)
Olmec & Norte Chico (use two different colors)
Currency, trade
Rise of Civilization
4th Millennium BCE
• New discoveries transformed
permanent settlements into
civilizations
–
–
–
–
–
Bronze
Writing
Strong Govt’s
Religion
Language
• First civilization emerged
in Mesopotamia (modern
day Iraq) c. 3500 BCE
Location of Early Civilizations
What environmental conditions were
needed to develop the first civilizations?
Ancient Mesopotamia
Government
• Initially, priest-kings rule citystates
– Sumerians (c. 3500 BCE)
• City-states evolve into empires
– Acadians (c. 2334-2218 BCE)
• Land owning aristocracy
dominated
• Developed formal legal codes
Religion
• Believed in 3,000 gods
• Goal: Appease gods to
control nature
• Art and literature focus on
gods and religion
• Built ziggurats
Society
• Social stratification
– Hierarchy in class
• Slavery was common
– One could become a slave through war,
crime, or debt
– Slaves were used in temples, public
buildings, or private homes
• Patriarchal
– Plow based agriculture = need for strong
men
– Specialized labor – leaves women out of
positions
• Women could hold most occupations
– Laws support patriarchy
• Divorce, property rights, etc
• “Respectable” women forced to veil in
public
– Women symbolic of nature?
• Makes them a source to “dominate”
according to the argument of
civilizations attempt to dominate over
nature
Culture
• Hammurabi's Code
– First codification of laws
• Epic of Gilgamesh
– First known literary work
– Contains story of great flood
– Gives major insight into culture of
Mesopotamia
Economy
Science & Technology
• Inventions: wheel, sail,
and plow
• Bronze metallurgy
• 1st system of writing
– Cuneiform
• 1st number system
– Based on units of
10, 60, & 360
• Astronomy
Ancient Egypt
• Relatively isolated
• Nile flooded regularly,
predictably
– Provided rich soil, easy soil to
farm
– Civilization regulated
flooding, surveying
• Control the Nile; control
society
Government
• Formed by 3000 BCE
– Unified territorial state
• Unified for most of history
– Old (Early) Kingdom
– Middle Kingdom
– Late Kingdom
• Theocracy
– Pharaoh was a god-king
– Women could be pharaohs
• Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BCE)
Ramses II
Religion
• Thousands of gods
– Gods have animal and human
qualities
– Gods & goddesses
• Rulers viewed as god-kings
• Relatively egalitarian
• Believe in afterlife
– Heaven & Hell
• A good/bad after life
– Mummification
– Pyramids & Temples
Society
• Social Stratification
– Limited opportunity for
social mobility
• Slavery common
• Women have more rights
– Could own property,
propose marriage, and
demand a divorce
Culture
• Hieroglyphic writing on
papyrus
• Mathematics
– Geometry
• Calendar system
– 365 days (off by 6 hours)
• Medicine
• Architecture
– Showcase their math skills
Ancient India & China
Indus Valley Civilization:
Mohenjo-Daro & Harappa
Indus River Valley
• Cities emerge around 25002000 BCE
– Larger territory than other early
civs
• Culturally unified city-states
– Harappa and MohenjoDaro
• Extensive city-planning
– Unified:
• Weights, measures,
architecture, building styles
• Mysterious ending
– No signs of palaces, temples,
kings, tombs, or warriors
– Environmental degradation?
– Aryan invasion?
Indus River Valley
• Polytheistic religion
– Influenced Hinduism
• Undecipherable writing
system
• No standing army
– No weapons found at these
sites
• Advanced technology
–
–
–
–
Plumbing systems
The Great Bath
AC (kind of)
Cities in grid patterns
• Apartment style buildings
• “cookie cutter” 2 br houses
for workers
Ancient China
• Xia Dynasty
– Legendary…imaginary…
(aliens)
• Developed in isolation along
the Huang He (Yellow) River
• Shang dynasty emerged c.
1500 BCE
– Warlike kings & landed
aristocracy dominate
• Large division in class
– Cities surrounded by massive
earthen walls
Ancient China
• Chinese Society
– Family at center of society
• Extended-family structure
– Women were subordinate
• Chinese Culture
– Believed spirits of family ancestors
could bring good fortune or disaster
– Oracle bones (right)
• Wrote on them using pictographs
– Bronze & silk
Dynastic Cycle
Mandate of Heaven
Rulers are chosen to rule by heaven (Considered Son of Heaven) and will
continue to rule as long as heaven is pleased; if heaven is not pleased,
heaven will pass the mandate to another family
The Olmec
• Olmec emerge in Mesoamerica
c.1400-400 BCE
• Olmec zone is dense tropical forest
– High rainfall - over 300 cm/year
• Agricultural based
– Maize, beans, squash  The Triad
• Cities developed out of many
chiefdoms
– Become center for religious
ceremonies
• Elaborate temples, alters, pyramids,
and tombs
• May be responsible for the first
written language in Americas
(900 BCE)
Olmec Government &
Society
• Several city-states with common
culture
• Social Hierarchy
– Highest rank is that of the
chief
– Dominated by landed
aristocracy
– Laborers forced to build
temples, palaces, and
drainage canals
Olmec Religion
• Polytheistic
– Deities blended male &
female, animal & human
characteristics
• Feathered-serpent god (right)
– Shamans organized
religious life
• Religion led to development
of writing system and
calendar
Olmec Art
• Building of clay
pyramids and temple
mounds
• Particular sculptural style
– Jaguars
– Fine jade carving
– Colossal heads
Norte Chico
• 3000-1800 BCE in Peru
– Same as Mesop./Egypt
• Area consisted of 25+ urban centers
– Smaller cities
– No defensive walls
• Little sign of warfare
• Less economic specialization
• Based largely on fishing and trade
• Not a “grain-based” civ.
• Polytheistic
• Famous for monumental architecture and
weaving
– No evidence of any art or ceramics
• No evidence of writing
– Used quipu for record keeping (later adapted
by Inca)
Legacy of Ancient Civilizations
• Writing systems, religions, and technology was
influenced the development of new civilizations
and cultures
• Ancient civilizations decline by 1000 BCE
– Subject to nomadic invasions
• Political and cultural centers shift to new
geographical areas (except China)
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