ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA

 

Appearing in what is now modern Iraq (Mesopotamia) around 3000 b.c. and using such developments and techniques as agriculture, permanent houses, pottery, weaving, organized massed labor power, buying/selling crops and good, calendars, mathematics, and writing in order to establish and organize urban (city) life, the *Sumerians built the world's first civilization.

 

*Fertile Crescent:  The area of early civilization in Middle East extending from southern Mesopotamia to southern Palestine north of Egypt and the Sinai peninsula.

 

*Neolithic:  New Stone Age, agricultural village life:  subsistence farming.

 


*civilization:  How should it be defined?  What technological and organizational innovations came with settled life?  "A relatively advanced state of culture in which city life and writing exist."

 

The division of labor:  Occupational specialization is necessary for civilization to exist (artisans, soldiers, administrators/government officials, priests). It requires a surplus of food to be supplied to non-farmers.

 

Mesopotamia:  The first civilization appears in what is now modern Iraq.  Origin of name: land between the rivers, Tigris and Euphrates.

 

Why did it appear here?

 


*Sumerians:  The people who created the first civilization.  (3000-2350 b.c.)

 

City-states:  Cities independent of each other until conquered.

 

*Cuneiform:  Wedge-shaped writing, uses stylus and clay tablets.

 

*Ziggurats:  Temples made of sun-dried bricks.  Why did these people build high places to worship the gods?

 

The Epic of *Gilgamesh:  The story of the Flood (Deluge) included.

 

Sargon the Great's conquest (c. 2350 b.c.):  Akkadian, Semitic language.

 

*Hammurabi's (c. 1792-1750 b.c.) law code:  Practical business/contract law.

*Assyria (1076-612 b.c.):  Warlike conquerors.  Capital:  Nineveh on Tigris.

 


*Babylon:  Capital city of Old Babylonia (c. 1900-1500 b.c.), and the later Chaldean Empire (Neo-Babylonia), 625-539 b.c.

 

Babylonian Captivity of the Jews: Yahweh punishes Jews for sins by foreign conquest: King Nebuchad-

nezzar (585 b.c., Jerusalem falls)

 

Persian Empire (539-331 b.c.):  The enemy of the Greeks.

 

*Zoroastrianism:  Dualistic religion, initially had no priest- hood or temples, but emphasized ethical behavior.  According to Zoroaster (born c. 660 b.c.), humanity had to choose sides between the (good) Creator, Ahura Mahzda, and the Evil one, Ahirman.