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MESOPOTAMIA THE FERTILE CRESCENT • Mesopotamia (the land between 2 rivers), is a valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. • These rivers often overflow and leave silt, which makes the soil rich for an agricultural society. • The SUMERIANS developed the first Mesopotamian civilization. ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA • Ancient Mesopotamia covered three general areas: – Assyria – Akkad – Sumer • Several different ethnicities lived in these areas. • Mesopotamian civilization involved many peoples. • The Sumerians developed the first Mesopotamian civilization. THE SUMERIANS • By 3,000 B.C.E. the Sumerians had formed a number of city-states centered around cities such as Ur and Uruk • These states controlled the surrounding countryside politically and economically. • City-states were the basic political unit of the Sumerian Civilization. GOVERNMENT: • WHAT IS AN EMPIRE? • The Akkadians lived north of the Sumerian city-states. • They were considered Semitic people because they spoke a Semitic language. • Around 2340 B.C.E. the leader of the Akkadians, Sargon, conquered the Sumerian city-states and set up the world’s first empire. • The temple (most important building) was built on top of a massive stepped tower called a ziggurat. • Sumerians believed gods and goddesses owned and ruled the cities. • In the beginning, the Sumerian state was a theocracy (a government ruled by divine authority). SOCIETY & RELIGION • three classes; – Nobles- included the royal family, royal officials, priests and their families. – Commoners worked for large estates as farmers, merchants, fishers, and craftspeople. – Slaves worked on large building projects, wove cloth, and worked the farms of the nobles. ANCIENT BELIEFS • Due to the harsh physical environment and famines, Mesopotamians believed that the world was controlled by destructive supernatural forces and gods. SOCIAL HIERARCHY • Priest and priestesses were important figures politically as well as religiously. • Ruling power passed from the hands of kings, who traced their authority back to the gods. POLYTHEISM • Like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians were polytheistic because they believed in many gods and goddesses. • 3,000 gods have been identified through archaeology and anthropology. ECONOMY • The Sumerian economy was agricultural, but manufacturing of metalwork and trade of wheat were also important. • The Sumerians are credited with the invention of the wheel around 3,000 B.C.E. and this greatly facilitated trade. SYSTEMATIC FARMING • Developing consistent agriculture required controlling the water supply. • People in Mesopotamia developed a system of drainage ditches and irrigation works. • Careful farming methods resulted in large food supplies and made possible significant population growth and the emergence of civilization in Mesopotamia. MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS • SUMERIAN ARCHITECTURE • The Sumerians built largely with mud bricks, they built their homes on top of mounds to protect them from floods. • Using them they invented the arch and the dome and built some of the largest brick buildings in the world. CUNEIFORM • The Sumerians were important inventors. They created a system of writing called cuneiform (wedgeshaped). They used a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped markings on clay tablets. Writing was for record keeping, teaching, and law. REED STYLUS SCRIBES • A new class of people who wrote and made copies were called scribes. • Like in Egypt, being a scribe was the key to a successful career for an upperclass Mesopotamian boy. • Writing also passed on cultural knowledge from generation to generation, sometimes in new ways. LITERATURE • The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most important piece of Mesopotamian literature, teaches the lesson that only gods are immortal. Gilgamesh is wise and strong, a being who is part human and part god. • Gilgamesh befriends a hairy beast named Enkidu. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh feels the pain of his friend’s death, and he searches for the secret of immortality. He fails. TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION • The Sumerians invented important technologies, such as the wagon wheel. • In mathematics they invented a number system based on 60, and they made advances in applying geometry to engineering. • In astronomy, the Sumerians charted the constellations using their number system of 60. OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS: •Sundial •potter‘s wheel •1st to make bronze out of copper and tin, creating finely crafted metalworks SECOND EMPIRE: BABYLONIA • The rise and fall of empires is an important part of history. • In 1792 B.C.E. Hammurabi of Babylon, a city-state south of Akkad, established a new empire over much of both Akkad and Sumer. MAJOR CONTRIBUTION: FIRST SYSTEM OF WRITTEN LAW • The Code of Hammurabi is one of the world’s most important early systems of law. • It calls for harsh punishments against criminals. • The principle of retaliation; “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” is fundamental in Hammurabi’s code. THE LAW • Hammurabi’s code punished public officials who failed in their duties or were corrupt. • It also had consumer protection provisions, for example, holding builders responsible for the quality of their work. • If a building collapsed and killed anyone other than a slave, the builder was executed. • Damages had to be paid to people injured. FAMILY LAW • The largest group of laws in the code covered marriage and the family. • Parents arranged marriages, and the bride and groom had to sign a marriage contract to be officially married. PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY • Hammurabi’s code expresses the patriarchal nature of Mesopotamian society. • Women had fewer privileges and rights than men. • The code enforced obedience of children to parents. • For example, a father could cut off the hand of a son who had hit him. THE ASSYRIANS • The Assyrians of the upper Tigris River formed the Assyrian Empire by 700 B.C.E. ASSYRIAN EMPIRE: GOVERNMENT • A king with absolute power ruled the Assyrian Empire. They encouraged a well ordered society – it was organized well with local officials directly responsible to the king. – They developed an efficient communication system in order to administer their empire by setting up a network of posts with horses carrying messages that took only one week to reach anywhere in the empire. Why were the Assyrians so successful at conquering others? • They glorified the military and were known for their military prowess. • Their military power came from using iron and a large, well-disciplined army of infantry, cavalry, and archers, often on chariots. • They also used terror to subdue people; they were known for committing atrocities on their captives. SOCIETY & RELIGION: • Riches from trade & war paid for splendid palaces • Women were confined in secluded quarters and had to be veiled when they appeared in public. MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS: • Learned to extract iron from ore • Created state of the art weapons • Nineveh held one of the ancient world’s largest libraries The Empire Crumbles • The cruelty displayed by the Assyrians had earned them many enemies. • In 612 B.C.E., combined army of Medes, Chaldeans, and others rammed open the city’s gates and burned and leveled Nineveh. • The fire glazed the tablets in the library, which preserved them for archaeologists to study centuries later. Rebirth of Babylon under the Chaldeans • After the Assyrian Empire collapsed, the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar made Babylonia the leading state of western Asia. • Babylon became one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. • Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Jerusalem, destroys their temple, and enslaves the Jews. • Babylonia did not last long; the Persians conquered it in 539 B.C.E. PERSIA – 539 B.C.E. • The Persians were a nomadic, IndoEuropean people living in what is today southwest Iran. • One family unified the different groups. • One member, Cyrus, ruled from 559 to 530 B.C.E. • He captured Babylon, treating his new subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. GOVERNMENT: • Cyrus captured Babylon, treating his new subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem (he had a reputation for mercy this caused everyone to accept him as a ruler). • The Persians based their empire on tolerance and diplomacy. • Cyrus’ son Darius (extended the empire into India and Europe) created the largest empire the world had ever known. SATRAP • Darius strengthened the Persian government by dividing the empire into 20 provinces, called satrapies. • A satrap was the governor of the province responsible for collecting taxes, handling legal matters, and recruiting soldiers. ROYAL ROAD (contribution) • The Persians established a communication system using horses and regular posts known as the Royal Road, from Lydia to the empire’s capital at Susa. • They built hundreds of miles of roads. – used barter then coins – 1st coins made of electrum, an alloy, or natural mix, the image on the coin showed its value. THE IMMORTALS • Much of the Persian power was due to its military. • The empire had a standing army from the entire empire. • At its core was an elite group called the Immortals because anyone who was killed was immediately replaced. • The Immortals were made up of ten thousand each of cavalry and infantry. PERSIAN DECLINE • The Persian Empire declined for a set of reasons common to the decline of empires. • The kings became more isolated at court and lived lives of tremendous luxury. • They levied high taxes that weakened the people’s loyalty. POWER STRUGGLE • Factions were struggling for control of the throne. • Of the nine rulers after Darius, six were murdered in plots. • These bloody struggles weakened the Persian monarchy and Alexander the Great conquered Persia during the 330s B.C.E. ZOROASTRIANISM • Zoroaster taught monotheism (belief in one god). • The universe was permeated by the good of the supreme god Ahuramazda, who brought all into being and an evil spirit named Ariman. • People have a free will to choose between the two but eventually, good will triumph over evil. • In the last judgment at the end of the world, good and evil will separate. • The good will go to a happy eternal life, and the evil to damnation. Contributions: • The most original Persian cultural contribution was its religion of Zoroastrianism (the first monotheistic religion) • Persian tradition says that Zoroaster was born in 660 B.C.E. • He had visions that caused him to be declared a prophet. • His teachings were written in the sacred book of Zoroastrianism, the Zend Avesta.