Ancient mesopotamia
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Ancient Mesopotamia. Chapter 3. Geography of Mesopotamia Chapter 3 Lesson 1. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are in southwest Asia. Starting in present day Turkey and Kurdistan, flowing through Iraq and into the Persian Gulf. The land is flat , with small scrubby plants.

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Ancient Mesopotamia

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Ancient mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia

Chapter 3

Geography of mesopotamia chapter 3 lesson 1

Geography of MesopotamiaChapter 3 Lesson 1

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are in southwest Asia.

Starting in present day Turkey and Kurdistan, flowing through Iraq and into the Persian Gulf.

The land is flat, with small scrubby plants.

Map of mesopotamia

Map of Mesopotamia

Fertile soil

Fertile Soil

Rain and melting snow in the mountains cause the rivers to swell.

As the water flows down the mountain it picks up soil.

When the river reaches the plains, water overflowed onto the floodplain.

Floodplain-the flat land bordering the banks.

The fine soil deposits by rivers is called silt.

Semiarid climate

Semiarid Climate

Usually less than 10 inches of rain fell annually.

The summers were hot.

Although it was dry, crops were still grown due to the rivers and the fertile soil.

By 4000 B.C. farming villages spread across the land.

Floods and drought

Floods and Drought

Floods could occur as early as April or as late as June.

Drought-a period when not enough rain and snow fall.

Drought is a constant danger in a semiarid region.

As a result, irrigation was vital to survival.

Problems from flooding:

- silt clogging canals

- dams unable to hold back

excess flood water

Finding resources

Finding Resources

Mesopotamians lacked resources, what do you think they may have done?

They did not build with wood or stone, Mesopotamians used mud for bricks and plaster.

However, mud buildings crumbled easily and often needed repair.

There were no natural barriers such as mountains, so attack was always a worry.

Consequently, Mesopotamians built mud walls around their villages.

Finding resources continued

Finding Resources Continued

Mesopotamians obtained stone, wood, and metal from outside their own land.

They traded for these items because they had a surplus of grain.

Surplus-more than what is needed.

The first civilization chapter 3 lesson 2

The First CivilizationChapter 3 Lesson 2

  • How did Civilization develop in the region of Sumer?

  • The rise of agriculture enabled people to settle in villages.

  • Villages became cities.

Ancient mesopotamia

  • As cities became more complex, the changes that led to more complexity are what we think of when we hear the word civilization.

  • Civilization-changes over a period of time that led to a more complex society.



  • Most historians think Sumer was the first civilization.

  • 3300 B.C.

  • Located in southern Mesopotamia.

Traits of a civilization

Traits of a Civilization

  • 1. Advanced cities:

    • Farmers needed a place to store and trade their surplus (grain).

    • Large temples (ziggurats) were places where people could pray

    • Many different types of work

Traits of a civilization1

Traits of a Civilization

  • 2. Specialized Workers:

    • Surpluses allowed people to do other types of work besides farming

    • Specializing in work means the quality of work improves

    • Cities became crowded, people learned to cooperate

    • Priests took on the job of organizing the city

Traits of a civilization2

Traits of a Civilization

  • 3. Complex Institutions

    • Religion andgovernment became institutions over time

    • Institution: a group of people who have a specific purpose

    • What are some institutions today?

      • Schools

      • Military

Traits of a civilization3

Traits of a Civilization

  • 4. Record Keeping

    • Rulers may want to keep track of food supplies

    • Record keeping usually involves writing

    • In Mesopotamia, they started by using counting sticks

    • They later invented the world’s first writing system

Traits of a civilization4

Traits of a Civilization

  • 5. Advanced Technology

    • Societies advance as people learn better ways to do things

    • What are some examples of Mesopotamia’s technology?

      • Irrigation

      • New tools of bronze

Sumerian city states

Sumerian City-states

  • Cities were centers for education, religion, and trade.

  • However, most people still lived in the countryside.

Sumer continued

Sumer continued

  • The combination of both a city and the countryside is called a city-state.

  • City-State: a community that included the nearby farmlands.

  • Each city-state ruled itself.

Sumer continued1

Sumer continued

  • By 3000 B.C. Sumer had at least 12 city-states.

  • The most popular were Kish, Ur, and Nippur.

  • Ur was the hometown to Abraham, an important figure in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Sumer continued2

Sumer continued

  • Sumerian cities had narrow winding streets, much different than today’s cities.

  • Walls with gates to let people in and out protected the city.

  • Houses were built out of mud walls several feet thick.

  • Narrow tunnels led through the walls to the outside, so fresh air could get in.

Sumer continued3

Sumer continued

  • A house consisted of a several rooms surrounding a courtyard.

  • The courtyard was covered with palms, which protected the people from the sun and allowed a place for cooking.

Sumer continued4

Sumer continued

  • The Ziggurat: City Center

    • The largest and most important building was the ziggurat.

    • Ziggurat: the religious building, temple or shrine.

    • They were first build in 2200 B.C.

    • They functioned as a city hall because priests ran the irrigation system.

    • Priests also controlled the surplus of grain.

    • The priests ended up controlling most of the wealth.

Changes in leadership

Changes in Leadership

The Sumerians believed in many gods and goddesses.

- A belief in many gods and goddesses is called polytheism.

Sumerians believed that four main gods created the world and ruled over it.

- The gods of the sky, wind, foothills, and fresh water.

Sumerians believed their gods looked and acted like people.

New leaders in sumer

New Leaders in Sumer

  • Around 3,000 B.C., as city-states became richer, other groups of people began to attack them to take their wealth.

  • The people of the city-states often asked a powerful man to rule them and protect the city.

  • At first, these leaders led the city-states only during wars.

  • Eventually, the leaders took control of the cities full-time.

    • They maintained the canals, managed the surplus grain, and acted as judges.

  • In time, this new type of ruler became a king, who is the highest-ranked leader of a group of people.

  • The area a king ruled was called a kingdom.

    • Sumer became a kingdom under one king by 2375 B.C.

Life in sumer chapter 3 lesson 3

Life in Sumer - Chapter 3 Lesson 3

Social Classes: The king and priest were at the top of the upper classes, the upper classes also included landowners, government officials, and rich merchants.

The in-between class consisted of all free people.

The lower class consisted of the slaves.



  • Most slaves were taken as prisoners of war.

  • If parents died prematurely, the children might have become slaves.

  • Slaves had some rights, they could conduct business and borrow money.

  • Slaves could also buy their freedom.

The role of women

The Role of Women

  • Women’s social positions varied widely.

  • Women could own land and work as merchants and artisans.

  • However, their main role was to raise the children.

Sumerian science and technology

Sumerian Science and Technology

  • Early inventions included the plow and the wheel.

  • A special kind of wheel, the potter’s wheel enabled Sumerians to make pottery much quicker.

  • Bronze, a mixture of copper and tin was used to make sharper tools that lasted longer.

Sumerian science and technology1

Sumerian Science and Technology

  • The Sumerians number system was based on the number 60.

  • They understood geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles and squares.

The creation of written language

The Creation of Written Language

Picture Writing

  • First, Sumerians used clay tokens that had an image of a product.

  • The symbols were known as pictographs.

  • Pictographs, which means picture writing was eventually put on tablets not tokens.



  • At first, pictographs showed actual objects, later they stood for ideas.

  • Pictographs eventually stood for sounds.

  • This enabled them to be able to write more.

  • Sumerians used a sharpened reed called a stylus for writing.

  • Over time, they converted to wedge shapes made entirely of symbols called cuneiform.

Cuneiform continued

Cuneiform Continued

  • The Sumerian language contained over 600 different symbols.

  • Therefore, few people were able to read and write.

  • People who specialized in writing were called scribes.

Written history

Written History

  • At first, records were used for business dealings, but eventually writing was used to retell wars, floods, and the reigns of kings.

Ancient mesopotamia

Who was Gilgamesh?

  • The legend of Gilgamesh is the oldest known literary writing.

  • The story was written in cuneiform on clay tablets around 2000 B.C.

  • Gilgamesh was an actual name of a king in Sumer, but the account of his life is mythical.

Ancient mesopotamia

  • The tablets, although in poor condition, still exist.

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh shows the values and qualities that were important to this culture.

  • An Epic is a long narrative poem that focuses on the adventures and achievements of a heroic person.

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