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Serhiy Smirnov
10/29/15
Word Studies
Gale Virtual Reference Library Active Notes #3
MESOPOTAMIAN CIVILIZATION
Mesopotamia is the ancient land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It covers modern day Iraq and parts of Iran, Turkey,
Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Mesopotamian civilizations were the first in history to exist in well-populated and fixed settlements.
As settlements became larger and more organized, they progressed politically and socially into city-states. They developed
irrigation methods and invented the wheel and the plow. After they developed the first written language, economic transactions
and legal codes were kept. Mesopotamian literature was recorded. Great architectural structures were built. In time, empires,
kings, and innovative military establishments emerged. These advancements, along with scientific, mathematical, and communal
ceremonies, are the legacies of the great Mesopotamian civilizations.
Mesopotamia was the heartland of emerging nations and empires that would control the Near East for centuries. Mesopotamia is
a general name for a number of diverse ethnic groups that contributed to the culture of the region. The most well-known
Mesopotamian civilizations include the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. Other cultural groups may have been key players
on the Mesopotamian stage, but none was as influential as these groups.
The Sumerians captured the region beginning in the Early Dynastic period (ca. 2900 BC) and ending with the Third Dynasty of
Ur (ca. 2004 BC). Over these years, Sumerians developed the first writing system and created epic literature. They invented the
wheel, the plow, and the earliest known irrigation methods, enabling an otherwise unstable agricultural environment to prosper as
Sumerian settlements grew into the world's first political city-states. Under an Akkadian Empire (ca. 2334–2193 BC), this land of
independent city-states consumed the entire Mesopotamian.
Babylon was located in the southern part of modern Iraq, between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. At its cultural height (1900 BC
to 1595 BC), the Babylonian civilization unified its Mesopotamia region. Many adored Babylonian civilization because it was a
melting pot of many ethnic groups. Even the emperors and barbarians who battled for control of Babylon preferred assimilation
into its dynamic cultural heritage.
Assur lay to the north in the Upper Tigris Valley and around the ancient city of Nineveh. Assyrians were a fierce cultural group,
and the Assyrian empire reigned during a time of intense warfare. Assyrian control constantly expanded and receded in its quest
for complete domination of Mesopotamia. At one time, the empire had expanded from Egypt, far to the east, to Iran in the west.
At another time, Assyrian control receded to near extinction. The civilization reached its zenith from 910 BC to circa 610 BC but
would eventually fall to a renewed Babylonian military.
Mesopotamia Begins in Sumer
The first inhabitants of this Mesopotamian region settled in a broad range of foothills that surrounded the Mesopotamian plains
known as the Fertile Crescent. The region ran from central Palestine, north to Syria and eastern Asia Minor, and extending
eastward to northern Iraq and Iran. During the historic periods known as the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (ca. 9000–5800
BC), the people of the Fertile Crescent began to abandon a lifestyle where hunting and food gathering prevailed and entered a
period of food production. They settled into farming and herding communities. As they became skilled in animal husbandry and
farming, they were able to produce more food and the population in this region soared.Page 1584 | Top of Article Although the
villages in the Fertile Crescent became more sophisticated and sedentary, the people migrated southward, into the Mesopotamian
Plains, between 6000 and 5000 BC. Some families and clans may have migrated to escape excessive population and
overcrowding. Others may have left due to social or political discontent. Still other evidence suggests that a great flood may have
wiped out the shores surrounding the Black Sea and that many settlers may have been refugees of this huge natural disaster.
Serhiy Smirnov
10/29/15
Word Studies
The earliest Mesopotamians existed in a variable climate with a geography that included deserts, mountains, and river plains.
Although northern Mesopotamia had adequate rainfall for successful agriculture, the remaining regions required irrigation and
skilled control of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Southern Mesopotamian settlements may have begun using irrigation principles
as early as 5000 BC. Their ability to irrigate allowed growth in settlement populations, which then created a need for organized
communal work and complex hierarchical social structures.
During these years, an immigrant group of settlers known as the Sumerians settled into the Mesopotamian region. Sumerians
were a very influential culture. Future peoples in this region preserved aspects of the Sumerian political and social customs as
well as Sumerian literature and artistic style. Sumerians created the first wheel and the plow. Their skilled irrigation methods
enabled an increase in food production. Sumerians rapidly turned agricultural communities into urban developments as they built
the first cities. Sumerians also developed the writing system that enabled nobles and rulers to record economic transactions and
legal decrees.
Sumerian city-states were independent of one another, and each was focused on controlling and supporting its farmlands and
villages. The earliest city-states developed by the Sumerians were originally organized around a temple and a priesthood
governed by an en ("high priest"). The en represented the local god and managed the temple lands that the people entrusted to
work on them. As societies grew more complex, an ensi ("governor") emerged to manage civic affairs such as law and order,
commerce, trade, and military efforts. In time, people would select a leader, called a lugal ("great man"), to rule during times of
war and peril. The lugal managed all civil, military, and religious functions of the city. The office of lugal seemed to emerge at a
time when defense walls were first constructed. As war became a constant threat, rulers became kings who would remain in
power for their lifetimes, passing rule onto their sons as successors to their thrones. As a state of dynasties took root, kings and
royal families emerged.
One of the most elaborate and impressive architectural structures of this time was the ziggurat, a multi-level platformed temple of
worship. The oldest ziggurat was unearthed in the city-state of Ur. C. Leonard Wooley was the archaeologist who discovered
most of what we know about this ancient city. He also uncovered ancient burial tombs that included not only the deceased but
also physical possessions and domestic servants. Experts believe that the burial tomb included everything that the Sumerians
believed would be needed for a comfortable afterlife.
By the second half of the third millennium, the Semitic-speaking people were a significant element in northern Mesopotamia,
also known as Akkad. The most notable kings of the time were Sargon of Akkad and his grandson, Narcum-Sin. They enslaved
Sumerian city-states and achieved control of the trade routes from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, achieving for the first
time a unified Mesopotamian region. Sumerian culture and cuneiform were retained, but Akkadian tongue became the dominant
language in Mesopotamia. The empire of Sargon and his grandson reigned for nearly a century. But the Akkadian empire would
then fall, leaving its legacy of imperialistic expansion.
The Third Dynasty of Ur came into power circa 2112 to 2004 BC. This Sumerian dynasty governed most of Mesopotamia and
southwestern Iran. Its founder, Ur-Nammu, wrote the oldest known collection of laws, intended to protect the economically and
politically weak. As this dynasty fell to pressure from the Amorites, another migration of Semites who originated west of the
Euphrates, central imperial control disappeared.
Serhiy Smirnov
10/29/15
Word Studies
Name: Serhiy Smirnov
LITERATURE REVIEW SHEET
Source # 3
Publication Date: N/A
Article Title: Mesopotamian Civilization
Author: Debra M. Lucas
Journal Title: N/A
Explain why this is a trustworthy source, appropriate for your current research.
This is a trustworthy source because as I said before in my previous review sheets, it’s from a
database and the information put on a database needs to be review first. This source is
appropriate for my current research
Write a paragraph summarizing the article or source.
Empires and kings emerged a bit later into the Mesopotamian civilization because a monarchy
doesn’t just happen immediately. Sumerians invented the earliest irrigation system which was
controlled by the government at a later point in time so that the citizens don’t waste any water.
The Babylonian civilization had a lot of ethnic groups living in it so it was quite diverse than
some other civilizations. The Assyrians took over many civilizations but they were ultimately
taken over by the Babylonian civilization because the Assyrians depleted all their resources from
conquering everything. Some geographical factors such as rivers might have influenced why
some regions were invaded and others were not. Even though the city-states of Mesopotamia
were independent from each other, there were still ruled over by one king. As war became more
common, kings passed down their rule to the next generation, but that’s not what Daily Life
Through History told me.
Write a few sentences explaining how this will help you work toward an answer to your
driving question.
This source will help me in answering my driving question because it’s relevant to my PEERS
component. This source contains a lot of information on politics and even goes into some other
PEERS components that connect to politics. This source also mentions some political effects on
civilization development like certain geographic area which influence where some civilizations
start from so it significant helps me in answering my driving question.