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The Fertile Crescent
Chapter 2, Section 3
The Legacy of Mesopotamia
• In this section you will
• Learn about the importance of
Hammurabi’s Code.
• Find out how the art of writing
developed in Mesopotamia.
Key Terms
• code – an organized list of laws and rules
• Hammurabi – the king of Babylon from
about 1792 to 1750 B.C.; creator of the
Babylon Empire
• cuneiform – groups of wedges and lines
used to write several languages of the
Fertile Crescent
Hammurabi’s Code
• King Hammurabi of Babylon set down rules
for everyone in his empire to follow.
• His code was based on the concept, “an eye
for an eye.”
• A person who accidentally broke a law was
considered to be guilty.
• Doctors often got into trouble, because
sometimes their patients died, even if it
wasn’t their fault.
Reading Check
• What was Hammurabi’s Code?
• Hammurabi’s Code was a set of
written laws created by the
Babylonian ruler Hammurabi.
These laws set down rules for the
people in his empire to follow and
helped settle conflicts.
The Art of Writing
• Writing developed in Mesopotamia in 3500
• The Sumerians trained scribes to record
sales and trades, tax payments, gifts for the
gods, marriages, and deaths.
• The people of ancient Mesopotamia
inscribed their writing on clay tablets.
• Archaeologists have discovered and
translated many of these clay tablets.
Sumerians began
writing by forming
Over time, they
combined pictures and
symbols, and
eventually began
using wedges and
These wedges and
lines became known
as cuneiform.
As writing
changed from
pictures into
Reading Check
• When, where, and how did writing first
• Writing first developed in
Mesopotamia around 3100 B.C.
• At first, people drew symbols that
represented exact objects.
• Eventually, these symbols developed
into groups of wedges and lines that
looked less like what they represented.
Section 3 Assessment
1.(a) Recall
What was Hammurabi’s Code and
what was its purpose in ancient Babylonia?
A written set of laws followed by
Babylonians; to prevent people from
breaking the rules and to punish them if
they did.
(b) Analyze
What does the expression “an eye for an
eye” mean in relation to the laws in
Hammurabi’s Code?
That the punishment equaled the crime.
(c) Apply Information
Hammurabi’s Code was fair in some
ways and unfair in other ways. Explain.
Fair – laws were made to help people
settle conflicts; unfair – laws were applied
unequally depending on the victims class.
2.(a) Describe
What were some uses of writing in Sumer?
To keep records, create references, and
record personal messages.
(b) Contrast
How do the early forms and methods of
writing differ from the way we write today?
Today we write with letters instead of
symbols; we use pens, pencils, paper, and
computers instead of sharp tools and clay
(c) Draw Inferences
Why was the development of writing an
important step in human history?
It allowed us to clearly state laws and
keep records.
The Importance of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of
civilization” because all civilization started there.
Mesopotamia means “the land between two
rivers.” Many societies developed between the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The first cities developed in Mesopotamia.
Farming led to surpluses of food, and was
possible in this fertile region.
Great rulers built empires by conquering other