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 The Fertile Crescent Study Guide Geography of the Fertile Crescent Main Idea 1:The rivers of Southwest Asia supported the growth of civilization. -­‐The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is known as Mesopotamia. -­‐Mesopotamia is part of the Fertile Crescent, a large arc of rich, or fertile, farmland. -­‐The Fertile Crescent extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. -­‐Mesopotamia was first settled by hunter-­‐gatherers more than 12,000 years ago. -­‐The first farm settlements formed in Mesopotamia about 7000 BC. -­‐Yearly floods brought silt, a mixture of rich soil and tiny rocks, to the land. Fertile silt made the land ideal for farming. -­‐Farmers grew wheat, barley, and other types of grain. -­‐Livestock, birds, and fish were also good sources of food. Main Idea 2:New farming techniques led to the growth of cities. -­‐Fertile soil did not mean easy farming. -­‐Region received little rain. -­‐Flooding could destroy crops, kill livestock, and wash away homes. -­‐Farmers knew they needed ways to control the rivers’ flow. Farming and Cities Controlling Water •Used irrigation, a way of supplying water to an area of land –Dug out large storage basins to collect rain –Dug canals, human-­‐made waterways, to connect the basins to irrigation ditches •Built up the rivers’ banks to prevent flooding Food Surpluses •Irrigation increased amount farmers could grow. •Produced food surplus, or more than they needed •Fewer needed to farm •New occupations developed. •Division of labor– each worker specialized in a particular task or job •Developed laws and government Appearance of Cities •Settlements grew both in size and complexity. •Developed cities between 4000 and 3000 BC •Society still based on agriculture •Cities became important trading centers and power bases for government. Cities were the political, religious, cultural, and economic center The Rise of Sumer Main Idea 1: -­‐The Sumerians created the world’s first advanced society. -­‐No one knows where the Sumerians came from. -­‐By 3000 BC several hundred thousand had settled in a part of Mesopotamia they called Sumer. -­‐They developed an advanced society and the world’s first civilization. -­‐Most Sumerians were farmers. -­‐Society centers were the urban, or city, areas. -­‐The basic political unit of Sumer was the city-­‐state, which consisted of a central city and all the countryside around it, combining the rural and urban parts. -­‐Fought each other to gain more farmland -­‐Built strong armies and thick walls around cities Rise of the Akkadian Empire and Sargon -­‐ Another society, the Akkadian, developed just north of Sumer, and for many years they lived in peace. -­‐ In 2300s BC Sargon sought to extend Akkadian territory. -­‐ Built new capital of Akkad on the Euphrates River -­‐ Launched a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms -­‐ First ruler with a permanent army -­‐ Defeated all the city-­‐states of Sumer and conquered northern Mesopotamia -­‐ Established world’s first empire, or land with different territories and peoples under a single rule End of the Akkadian Empire 2200s BC: hostile tribes from the east captured Akkad 2100s BC: Ur rebuilt and conquered Mesopotamia Political stability restored Sumerians again the most powerful civilization in the region Main Idea 2: Religion played a major role in Sumerian society. •Religion played a role in nearly every aspect of Sumerian life. •Sumerians practiced polytheism, the worship of many gods. •Sumerians believed that their gods had enormous powers. •Every Sumerian had to serve and worship the gods. •Priests, people who performed or led religious ceremonies, had great status in Sumer. •Priests made offerings to the gods in temples, special buildings where priests performed their religious ceremonies. Sumerian Social Order -­‐Kings of Sumer claimed that they had been chosen by the gods to rule. -­‐Priests were just below kings in Sumer’s social hierarchy, the division of society by rank or class. -­‐Next were Sumer’s skilled craftspeople, merchants, and traders. Trade had a great impact on Sumerian society. -­‐Below traders, farmers and laborers made up the large working class. -­‐Slaves were at the bottom of the social order. Men and Women in Sumer Men -­‐Held political power -­‐Made laws -­‐Were educated Women -­‐Took care of home and children -­‐Some in upper-­‐class were educated -­‐Some educated women were priestesses and helped shape Sumerian culture. -­‐One priestess, a daughter of Sargon, Enheduanna, was the first known female writer in history. Sumerian Achievements Main Idea 1:The Sumerians invented the world’s first writing system. -­‐Sumerians developed cuneiform, the world’s first system of writing -­‐They used sharp tools called styluses to make wedge-­‐shaped symbols on clay tablets. -­‐Earlier written communication had used pictographs, or picture symbols. -­‐Sumerian writers could combine multiple symbols to express more complex ideas. Uses of Writing -­‐First used to keep business records -­‐Scribes, or writers, were hired by people, government, and temples to keep track of items traded. -­‐Wrote works on history, law, grammar, and math -­‐Wrote stories, proverbs, songs, poems, and epics, long poems that tell the stories of heroes Main Idea 2:Advances and inventions changed Sumerian lives. •Wheel-­‐ Used for wheeled vehicles and a potter’s wheel to spin clay as a craftsperson shapes it into bowls Plow-­‐ •Pulled by oxen to prepare soil for planting Clock-­‐Used falling water to measure time Sewers-­‐ Built under city streets to carry waste away Bronze-­‐•Used to make strong tools and weapons. Makeup & Glass Jewelry-­‐•For personal ornamentation (decorating or styling) Math and Science •Developed math system based on the number 60 •Divided a circle into 360 degrees •Divided a year into 12 months •Calculated areas of rectangles and triangles •Studied the natural world •Wrote long lists of names of animals, plants, and minerals •Produced many healing drugs •Catalogued medical knowledge, listing treatments Main Idea 3: Many types of art developed in Sumer. Architecture: The science of building -­‐Most Sumerian rulers lived in large palaces. Other rich Sumerians had two-­‐story homes with as many as a dozen rooms -­‐Most people lived in smaller, one-­‐story houses. Six or seven rooms were arranged around a small courtyard. -­‐City centers were dominated by temples. Each city had a ziggurat, a pyramid-­‐
shaped temple. Other Arts Sculpture-­‐Statues of gods were created for temples. Small objects were also created out of ivory and rare woods. Jewelry-­‐Beautiful works were created with advanced methods using imported gold, silver, and gems. Cylinder Seals-­‐Cylinder seals were stone cylinders engraved with designs. When rolled over clay, the designs leave behind an imprint. They were used to show ownership of containers, to sign documents, and to decorate other clay objects. Music and Dance-­‐ Music and dance provided entertainment in marketplaces, homes, palaces, and temples. People sang and played instruments such as reed pipes, drums, tambourines, and harplike stringed instruments called lyres Later Peoples of the Fertile Crescent Main Idea 1: The Babylonians conquered Mesopotamia and created a code of law. Babylon was located on the Euphrates near what is now Baghdad, Iraq. It had once been Sumerian. -­‐By 1800 BC it was home to a powerful government of its own. -­‐In 1792 BC Hammurabi became Babylon’s king, and would become the city’s greatest ruler. -­‐His most important accomplishment was Hammurabi’s Code. -­‐Set of 282 laws that dealt with almost every part of daily life -­‐Some ideas in the Code are still found in laws today. -­‐Each crime brought a specific penalty. -­‐Different social classes required different penalties. -­‐Written down for all to see Main Idea 2:Invasions of Mesopotamia changed the region’s culture. Invasions of Mesopotamia •Several other civilizations developed in and around the Fertile Crescent. •Their armies battled for land. •Control of the region passed from one empire to another. Invasions of Mesopotamia Hittites and Kassites •Hittites built a strong kingdom in Asia Minor. •First to master ironworking •Skillfully used chariot, a wheeled, horse-­‐drawn cart used in battle •Captured Babylon around 1595 BC •Babylon was soon captured by the Kassites, people from the north, who ruled for almost 400 years. Assyrians •From northern Mesopotamia •Briefly gained control of Babylon in 1200s BC, but soon defeated. •About 900 BC began to conquer all of Fertile Crescent – Strong armies – Heavy taxes – Harsh laws – Ruled through local leaders Chaldeans •From Syrian desert •Led attack on the Assyrians and destroyed the empire in 612 BC •King Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt Babylon. •Admired ideas and culture of Sumerians •Babylon became a center for astronomy. •Created a calendar and solved complex problems of geometry Main Idea 3: The Phoenicians built a trading society in the eastern Mediterranean region. Phoenician Accomplishment -­‐ Wealthy trading society, based mostly on plentiful cedar lumber -­‐ Also traded silverwork, ivory carvings, and slaves -­‐ Made and sold beautiful glass items -­‐ Made purple dye from a type of shellfish -­‐ Dyed fabric with the purple dye and traded the cloth, which was popular with rich people -­‐ Developed one of the world’s first alphabets, a set of letters that can be combined to form words