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Chapter 2:
Ancient River Valley Civilizations
4 Regions!
•
•
•
•
City-States in Mesopotamia
Egypt & Nile River
Indus Valley
China
Common Characteristics ??
• Water!!
– Deserts of river cultures short on resources
– River Valley Civilizations
• Opportunity to adapt environment
• Suitable for domesticated plants/animals
• Relatively stable (a bit hot) climate
GEOGRAPHY influenced the
development of river valley civilizations.
Mesopotamia
The Fertile Crescent
Mesopotamia – Fertile Crescent
• Sumer – The
Earliest of the River
Valley Civilizations
• Sumerian
Civilization grew up
along the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers in
what is now Kuwait.
Sumerians: City-States
• City-State: a city and it’s surrounding land
becomes an independent political unit
• Priests were rulers, then came WAR
• Cultural diffusion: spreading of a new idea or
product from one culture to another
Sumerian Culture
• Polytheism: belief in many gods
• Class structures
• INVENTIONS!
Sumerians invented:
•
•
•
•
•
Wheel, sail, plow
Bronze!
Brick technology
Arches, ramps and pyramids (ziggurat)
First writing system, called….
Ziggurat – Holy Mountain
Click on the pictures for more information on ziggurats.
Babylon
Empire: a political unit where peoples or
countries are controlled by a single ruler
Babylon – 2000BCE
First know written law code
“Rule of Law”
Hammurabi’s Code - 1792 BCE
Code of Hammurabi
#175: If a man has struck the cheek of a man
who is superior to him, he shall be beaten 60
times with an oxtail whip in the assembly.
#205: If a man has struck the cheek of
a member of the aristocracy, they
shall cut off his ear.
Early River Valley Civilizations
Environment
Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus River
Valley
China
• Flooding of Tigris and Euphrates unpredictable
• No natural barriers
• Limited natural resources for making tools or buildings
EGYPT
“The Gift of the Nile”
Hieroglyphics
Pyramids
Geometry
Advances in medicine and surgery
Nile
River
Sahara
Desert
Egypt
Favorable Geography
• Benefits of Nile
–Rich soil
–Water
–Transportation
• Natural Boundaries
Egyptian History
• Early gov’ts to control Nile
• Eventually combined:
–Lower Egypt (north)
–Upper Egypt (south)
• Old Kingdom
–3,100-2,200 BC
–Pyramids built as tombs
Egyptian History
• New Kingdom
– 1,570-1100 BC
– The Empire
– Ramses II
– Tutankhamen
Egyptian Life & Culture
• Pharaoh: god-kings, rulers of the Old
Kingdom
• Privileged aristocracy
– Pharaoh & his family
– Nobles
– Priests
• Unprivileged masses
– Peasants
– Slaves
– FLEXIBLE CLASS STRUCTURE!
Egyptian Life
• Economic activities
–Depended chiefly on agriculture
–Glassblowing
–Imported timber and
copper
• Religious beliefs
–Polytheistic
–Mummification
Egyptian Contributions
• Math
– Surveyed land
• Art
– Huge stone statues
– Carved/painted various scenes
• Architecture & engineering
– Pyramids and temples
– Dams and irrigation canals
Egyptian Contributions
• Hieroglyphs on papyrus
– “sacred writing” or pictures to
Represent ideas and sounds
• Science
– Solar-year calendar (365 days)
– Prepared mummies
– Recognized/Treated diseases
Early River Valley Civilizations
Environment
Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus River
Valley
China
• Flooding of Tigris and Euphrates unpredictable
• No natural barriers
• Limited natural resources for making tools or buildings
• Flooding of the Nile predictable
• Nile an easy transportation link between Egypt’s villages
• Deserts were natural barriers
Indus Valley
Geography of South Asia
• Indus &
Ganges Rivers
• Monsoons:
seasonal winds
• Wet & dry
seasons
Indus River Valley
2500 BC – 1500 BC
Harappan culture
Trade
Well planned cities
Grid pattern
Modern plumbing
Built on mud brick platforms
Protected against seasonal floods
Larger cities
Houses built of baked brick
Smaller towns
Houses built of sun-dried mud brick
What we DON’T know:
• Language?? Huh?
• Religion??
• Where did they go?
Aryan Migration
Early River Valley Civilizations
Environment
Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus River
Valley
China
• Flooding of Tigris and Euphrates unpredictable
• No natural barriers
• Limited natural resources for making tools or buildings
• Flooding of the Nile predictable
• Nile an easy transportation link between Egypt’s villages
• Deserts were natural barriers
• Indus flooding unpredictable
• Monsoon winds
• Mountains, deserts were natural barriers
China
River Dynasties
Geography of China
• Isolation
• 2 major river
systems
• Loess: yellowish silt
deposited by Huang
He River
• 1887 CE flood killed
approx 1 million
people
Shang China
1600 BCE – 1027 BCE
Written records
Palaces with protection!
Class structures!
Origins of Chinese Culture
Written language vs. Spoken language
FAMILY
Family & Ancestors
Class Structure
Zhou China
1122 BC – 256 BC
Bronze, jade, silver, gold
Mandate of Heaven
Power to rule came from heaven
Power could be lost and passed on to
Another family
Dynastic Cycle
Feudalism in China
Coined money leads to:
- Roads
- Canals
- TRADE
Now they have IRON!
- Weapons
- Farm tools
Feudalism in China
Feudalism: nobles are
granted use of lands that
legally belong to the king
King owes the nobles
protection
FIGHTING!
Early River Valley Civilizations
Environment
Mesopotamia
Egypt
Indus River
Valley
China
• Flooding of Tigris and Euphrates unpredictable
• No natural barriers
• Limited natural resources for making tools or buildings
• Flooding of the Nile predictable
• Nile an easy transportation link between Egypt’s villages
• Deserts were natural barriers
• Indus flooding unpredictable
• Monsoon winds
• Mountains, deserts were natural barriers
• Huang He flooding unpredictable
• Mountains, deserts natural barriers
• Geographically isolated from other ancient civilizations