Mesopotamia. The First Civilization. Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia. Geography of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia means “land between the 2 rivers”—Tigris & Euphrates
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Mesopotamia The First Civilization
Geography of Mesopotamia • Mesopotamia means “land between the 2 rivers”—Tigris & Euphrates • “Fertile Crescent” refers to the area of rich soil created by the flooding of the Tigris & Euphrates • BUT…river flooding was very irregular, region became very dry because of surrounding deserts, few natural resources, not easy area to defend against invasion
The First Civilization • Sumer was 1st civilization; composed of many city-states • Sumerians overcame harshness of dry season by building irrigation ditches to allow for farming • Built many city-states with large walls for protection and began to trade to increase resources
Sumerian Writing • Sumerians were the 1st to develop writing, called cuneiform. Wedge-shaped letters were written into wet clay and dried
Sumerian Way of Life • Sumerians were polytheistic (worshiped many gods) & believed the gods were powerful, immortal, and that there was no joy in the afterlife • Built ziggurats (temples) to worship the gods
Sumerian Social Classes • Priests were early government leaders, but successful military commanders eventually became kings, sharing power with priests • Social status: • 1st king & priest • 2nd merchants • 3rd workers • 4th slaves
Sumerian Women • Sumer was a patriarchal society (men were superior to women) • Women had many rights, could hold jobs as priests and shopkeepers, but could not attend school • "Pay heed to the word of your mother as though it were the word of a god."
End of the Sumerians • Sumer survived for 2,000 years, but the last 1,000 consisted of many battles between their own city-states • Eventually, Sumer was overtaken by invaders
Sumerians • First civilization • Developed irrigation, city-states with high walls, trade, cuneiform • Polytheistic, built ziggurats
Babylonians • Created first empire in Mesopotamia • Developed Hammurabi’s Code—first written set of laws
Hammurabi’s Code Hammurabi’s prologue explains the purpose of the code: “to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, and to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak . . . To enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people.”
282 specific laws. • The code uses the principal of “eye for an eye” to punish crimes. • Different punishments for rich and poor, men and women.
Hebrews (Jews) • Monotheistic, led to oppression in Egypt • Led by Moses to (Canaan) Israel; given 10 Commandments • Ethical Monotheism - be kind (their emphasis on proper conduct – God punishes the wicked and greedy)
Phoenicians • Traders, excellent sailors • Created trading colonies throughout Mediterranean Sea • First alphabet—simplified cuneiform to 22 letters
Phoenicians • Phoenician colonies: • Carthage • Sicily • Corsica • Sardinia • What is the Phoenicians’ most lasting contribution?
Assyrians • Mighty fighters; greatest army • Organized, used iron weapons (no mercy!!!) • First library (in the city of Nineveh – 25,000 clay tablets).
Chaldeans • Created Hanging Gardens • Zodiac calendar—stars could predict human destiny • Developed 4-week month based on phases of moon • Last Mesopotamian empire
Persians • 1st Foreign empire, conquered Mesopotamia and Egypt; • Tolerant—allowed conquered areas to keep local customs & religion • Developed first roads, standard coins, standard weights & measures • Zoroaster—prophet who wrote about heaven & hell; you could choose your path based on how you lived your life; different from Sumerian’s view of dull afterlife