A Comparison ofAncient Civilizations Egypt, Greece, Rome
EGYPT The NILE RIVER , the longest river in the world (6,650 kilometers or 4,132 miles), flows north from the heart of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. Its flood plain was a magnet for life -- human, plant and animal. Humans were drawn there because they could grow crops and settle into permanent villages.
Bounded on the south, east and west by an impenetrable desert, and on the north by the sea, ANCIENT EGYPT was protected from outside influences, which allowed it to evolve in its own unique way. EGYPT
EGYPT For centuries, THENILE RIVER FLOODED THE VALLEY, enriching the land with a thick layer of alluvial soil. Flooding occurred from July to September as the result of tropical rains. The river attained its highest level in October, then began to recede to its lowest point sometime between April and June.
EGYPT TRANSPORTATION: The Nile River was the highway that joined the country together. Up until the nineteenth century, travel by land was virtually unknown.
GREECE Located in southeastern Europe, Greece is defined by a series of mountains and surrounded on all sides except the north by water.
GREECE Ancient Greek View of the World
The Mediterranean Sea moderates Greece's climate, cooling the air in summer and providing warmth in the winter months. Summers are generally hot and dry. Winters are moderate and rainy in coastal regions and cold and snowy in mountainous areas. GREECE
Numerous MOUNTAIN RANGES, which crisscross the peninsula, hampered internal communications and led to the development of independent city-states. • Numerous ISLANDS and the indented coastlines of the Greek peninsula and of Asia Minor stimulated a seagoing trade. • The ROCKY SOIL and limited natural resources encouraged the Greeks to establish colonies abroad. GREECE
ROME • Modern scholars believe that in the 8th century B.C., the inhabitants of some small Latin settlements on hills in the Tiber valley united and established a common meeting place, the FORUM, around which the city of Rome grew. FORUM
Ancient Egypt achieved stability through the co-operation of all levels of the population. EGYPT • The PHAROAH was at the top of the social hierarchy. • Next to him, the most powerful officers were the VIZIERS, the executive heads of the bureaucracy. • Under them were the HIGH PRIESTS, followed by ROYAL OVERSEERS (administrators) who ensured that the 42 DISTRICT GOVERNORS carried out the pharaoh's orders. • At the bottom of the hierarchy were the SCRIBES, ARTISANS, FARMERS, and LABORERS.
EGYPT To reinforce their image as powerful divine rulers, the PHARAOHS represented themselves in writings and sculptured reliefs on temple walls. They often DEPICTED THEMSELVES AS WARRIORS who single-handedly killed scores of enemies and slaughtered a whole pride of lions.
GREECE ThePOLIS(city-state) consisted of a city and its surrounding plains and valleys. The nucleus of the polis was the elevated, fortified site called the ACROPOLIS where people could take refuge from attack. With the revival of commerce, a TRADING CENTER developed below the acropolis.
Four major TYPES OF GOVERNMENT evolved in ancient Greece: • Monarchy (rule of a king) limited by an aristocratic council and a popular assembly. • Oligarchy (rule of the few) arising when the aristocratic council ousted the king and abolished the assembly. • Tyranny(rule by one who ruled without legal authority) riding to power on the discontent of the lower classes. • Democracy(rule of the people), the outstanding political achievement of the Greeks. GREECE
ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY • DIRECT PARTICIPATION was the key to Athenian DEMOCRACY. In the Assembly, every male citizen was not only entitled to attend as often as he pleased but also had the right to DEBATE, offer AMENDMENTS, and vote on PROPOSALS. Every man had a say in whether to declare WAR or stay in PEACE. Basically any thing that required a government decision, all male citizens were allowed to participate in. GREECE
Although DEMOCRACY was an outstanding achievement, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of the inhabitants of Athens were not recognized citizens. • WOMEN, SLAVES, and RESIDENT ALIENS were DENIED CITIZENSHIP. These groups had no standing in the law courts. (If a woman sought the protection of the law, she had to ask a citizen to plead for her in court.) GREECE
ROME THE ROMAN MONARCHY to 509 B.C. According to tradition, early Rome was ruled byKINGS elected by the people. • The king's executive power was conferred by a POPULAR ASSEMBLY made up of all arms-bearing citizens. • The king turned for advice to a council of nobles, called the SENATE. • Each senator had lifelong tenure and the members of this group and their families constituted the PATRICIAN class. • The other class of Romans, the PLEBEIANS (commoners) included small farmers, artisans, and many clients (dependents of patrician landowners). In return for a livelihood, the clients gave their patrician patrons political support in the ASSEMBLY
ROME ROMAN SENATE
ROME EARLY REPUBLIC 509-133 B.C. • In 509 B.C., according to tradition, the PATRICIANS expelled the last Etruscan king and established a REPUBLIC. • The power to rule was transferred to two new officials called CONSULS. • Elected annually from the patrician class, the consul exercised their power in the interests of that class.
ROME PLEBEIAN STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS • For more than two centuries following the establishment of the Republic, the plebeians struggled for political and social equality. • Outright civil war was averted by the willingness of the patricians to compromise. • Much of the plebeians’ success in this struggle was also due to their tactics of collective action and to their having organized a corporate group within the state. • The unofficial body was known as the PLEBEIAN COUNCIL. • It was presided over by plebeian officials called TRIBUNES, whose job was to safeguard the interests of the plebeians and to negotiate with the consuls and the Senate.
ROME • The advancement of the PLEBEIANS during the early Republic took two main lines: the safeguarding of their FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS and the progressive enlargement of their share of POLITICAL POWER.
ROME FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS • Because the consuls often interpreted Rome's unwritten customary law to suit PATRICIAN INTERESTS, the plebeians demanded that it be written down. • As a result, about 450 B.C., the law was inscribed on twelve tablets of bronze and set up publicly in the Forum. • The LAW OF THE TWELVE TABLETS was the first landmark in the long history of Roman law.
ROME • The plebeians in time acquired other fundamental rights and safeguards: • They secured the right to APPEAL A DEATH SENTENCE imposed by a consul and to be retried before the popular assembly. • The tribunes gained a VETO POWER over any legislation or executive act that threatened the rights of the plebeians. • MARRIAGE between patricians and plebeians, prohibited by the Law of the Twelve Tablets, was legalized. • The enslavement of citizens for DEBT was abolished
ROME POLITICAL POWER • Little by little, the plebeian class acquired more power in the functioning of government. • In 367 B.C., ONE CONSULSHIP was reserved for the plebeians. • Before the end of the century, they were eligible to hold other important positions: PRAETOR (in charge of the law courts), QUAESTOR (treasurer), CENSOR (supervisor of public morals and state contracts). • Some plebeians succeeded in gaining entry to the SENATE. • The long struggle for equality ended in 287 B.C. when the PLEBEIAN COUNCIL was recognized as a constitutional body, henceforth known as the TRIBAL ASSEMBLY, with the right to PASS LAWS that were binding on all citizens. • The Roman Republic was now technically a democracy, although in actual practice a senatorial aristocracy of patricians and rich plebeians continued to control the state.
ROME POLITICAL THEORY AND LEGAL PRINCIPLES • Roman political thinkers contributed many governmental theories: • The SOCIAL CONTRACT theory (that government originated as a voluntary agreement among citizens). • The idea of POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY (that all power ultimately resides with the people). • The concept that LAW must be the basis for government.
EGYPT The flooding of the Nile rendered the narrow strip of land on either side of the river extremely fertile. INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE was practiced by the majority of the peasant population. who played a vital role within the country's STRICT HIERARHICAL SOCIETY. As the flood waters receded, SOWING and PLOWING began, using primitive wooden plows. In addition to such GRAINS as barley and emmer (a coarse wheat), a large variety of VEGETABLES were grown, including onions, garlic, leeks, beans, lentils, peas, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, and lettuce. There were also FRUITS such as dates, figs, pomegranates, melons and grapes, The abundance of flowers provided nectar for the bees to produce HONEY, which the Egyptians processed. FLAX was grown for making linen, and PAPYRUS was harvested to be converted into paper, ropes, mats, sandals and light skiffs.
EGYPT Reaping and scattering the seed Breaking the ground with plow and hoe Separating the grain from the chaff Although the land was worked by the PEASANTS, it was owned by the king, his officials and the temples. Farmers had to meet GRAIN QUOTAS, which were handed over to the owners as a form of taxation. They were allowed to keep a portion of the crops for their own benefit. If they did not produce the quantity expected, however, they were severely punished.
In mid-September, farmers blocked canals to retain the water for IRRIGATION. Still used today, the SHADUF is a mechanical irrigation device used to conduct water from the canals to the fields. One person can operate it by swinging the bucket of water from the canal to the field EGYPT
EGYPT LIVESTOCK was important to the Egyptian economy, supplying meat, milk, hides, and dung for cooking fuel. A variety of DOMESTICATED ANIMALS were raised, including cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and geese. Peasants probably enjoyed meat on special occasions.. DRAFT ANIMALS such as oxen increased agricultural productivity. HERDSMEN and SHEPHERDS lived a semi-nomadic life, pasturing their animals in the marshes of the Nile.
EGYPT Barley and emmer, were used to make BEER and BREAD, the main staples of the Egyptian diet. Grains were harvested and stored in GRANARIES until ready to be processed. The quantities harvested each season far exceeded the needs of the country, so much was exported to neighboring countries, providing a rich source of INCOME for the Egyptian treasury
EGYPT Grapes were processed into WINE for the noble class, but beer was the favorite drink of the common people. Food was served in POTTERY BOWLS, but NO UTENSILS were used for eating.
EGYPT FISHING allowed the working class to add variety to its diet. The poor substituted fish for meat, which they could not afford. The Nile, the marshes of the delta and the Mediterranean Sea offered them a rich variety of species. FISHING METHODS included the use of a hook and line, harpoons, traps and nets. BIRDS, including geese and ducks, were also HUNTED in the marshes and papyrus thickets along the Nile. Small fishing boats called SKIFFS were made from PAPYRUS REEDS, which are naturally filled with air pockets, making them particularly buoyant. Skiffswere also used for hunting game in the Nile marshes.
GREECE The daily diet included CEREALS (like wheat and barley), GRAPES, and OLIVES -- commonly called the MEDITERRANEAN TRIAD. The Greeks typically made grapes into WINE and olives intoOLIVE OIL, so they would keep without refrigeration. Grains and cereals were commonly used for BREAD and PORRIDGE. Diets were supplemented with VEGETABLES and HERBS from kitchen gardens as well as BERRIES, and MUSHROOMS. The poor usually ateFISH, while oysters, sea urchins, octopus, and eels were considered DELICACIES and only eaten by the wealthy.
GREECE BREAD in ancient Greece was a very important part of the daily diet. At first all breads were prepared in the embers of a fire. Eventually the Greeks developed a bread OVEN that is similar in function to the ovens we use today. Because they required less wood or charcoal (which was expensive), these ovens made bread AVAILABLE TO ALMOST EVERYONE. The most common type of bread in Greece was called MAZA which was a flat bread made from barley flour. Most meals consisted of maza and some sort of accompaniment to the bread called OPSON. This might be vegetables, fish, olives, onions, garlic, fruit, and on a rare occasion, meat.
MEN did most of the hard, muscle power jobs such as PLOWING AND REAPING. The WOMENSOWED SEED, WEEDED THE FIELDS and TENDED THE HOUSEHOLD and CHILDREN. Women might also grow SMALL GARDENS around the house with vegetables and beans. Women might also bring in extra income for the farm with a CRAFT TRADE such as weaving that they might sell at a market. GREECE
GREECE Farmers had to give a SMALL PORTION of their crops to the gods as a SACRIFICE and to the city-state for TAXES. This left the farmers with just enough to feed their families. The land was divided very precisely. Each household in a polis was given a plot of land. This plot would be handed down to the children. If the farmer could not pay his land taxes; a WEALTHIER LAND OWNER COULD TAKE IT and pay the debt for the farmer. Many aristocrats built their wealth this way.
ROME • As a result of expansion, important social and economic problems faced Rome by the middle of the second century B.C. One of the most pressing problems was the DISAPPEARANCE OF THE SMALL LANDOWNER. Burdened by frequent military service, his farm buildings destroyed by war, and unable to compete with the cheap grain imported from the new Roman province of Sicily, the SMALL FARMER SOLD OUT and moved to Rome. Here he joined the unemployed, discontented PROLETARIAT.
ROME • Improved farming methods learned from the Greeks and Carthaginians encouraged RICHARISTOCRATS to buy more and more land and, abandoning the cultivation of grain, introduce LARGE-SCALE SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION of olive oil and wine, or of sheep and cattle. This trend was especially profitable because an abundance of cheap SLAVES from the conquered areas was available to work on the estates. These large slave plantations, called LATIFUNDIA, were now common in Italy, while small farms were the exception.
ROME • The land problem was further complicated by the government's earlier practice of LEASING part of the territory acquired in the conquest of the Italian peninsula to anyone willing to pay a percentage of the crop or animals raised on it. Only the patricians or wealthy plebeians could afford to lease large tracts of this PUBLIC LAND and in time they treated it as their own property. Plebeian protests had led to an attempt to limit the holdings of a single individual to 320 acres, but the law was never enforced.
EGYPT EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS: THE RAMP THEORYOne theory suggests that RAMPS were used to haul the STONE BLOCKS on WOODEN SLEDS up the side of the pyramids. The ramps were LUBRICATED WITH WATER to reduce friction when hauling the blocks. As few as 10 men were needed to drag a stone block up a ramp. may have been several ramps on each side of the pyramid at different levels, and a ramp may have been coiled around the pyramid as it grew in height. Once a stone block reached its desired level, wooden rockers may have been used to maneuver it into position.
EGYPT Ramp on pyramid
EGYPT Stone block on sled
EGYPT Pouring water to lubricate the ramp
EGYPT Rocking a block into position
EGYPT The pyramids were probably NOT BUILT BY SLAVES because slave labor was not widely used in Egypt at the time. PEASANT FARMERS, however, were required to spend a number of weeks working on construction projects. This provided the paid labor needed to build these gigantic structures. Since the fields were under water during the summer, wages earned in building the gigantic pyramids SUPPLEMENTED THE FAMILY'S INCOME.