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Ancient Mesopotamia. DAILY LIFE IN mESOPOTAMIA ( starting with Sumer ) . The area was an abundant source of water, fish, game, grain and fruits

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why did people decide to settle in mesopotamia

The area was an abundant source of water, fish, game, grain and fruits

  • The Euphrates and Tigris rivers provided fertile land for people to begin farming grains and vegetables (so there was no more need to travel to your food source when you could just grow it by yourself)
  • This also led to the domestication of animals – cattle, goats, sheep, etc.
Why did people decide to settle in Mesopotamia?
why was the ability to farm so important

The land closest to the rivers was the most fertile, so the closer you were to the water, the more wealthy you were  the formation of social classes

  • More readily available food sources  an increase in population
  • Farming was very successful on the fertile land, so that freed up other people to do other jobs like becoming craftsmen, merchants, and labourers
  • Eventually villages or towns became self-sufficient (able to take care of themselves) so city-states were formed  this “urbanization” meant that religion, law, art, literature and science became important to daily life.
Why was the ability to farm so important?
create a venn diagram comparing sumerian daily life vs your daily life
Create A Venn Diagram comparing Sumerian Daily Life vs. Your Daily Life

Things that are the same

about the two lifestyles

what was most important to the people of sumer

Farming – barley, flax, dates and sesame seeds were the main crops

  • Religion – people were able to come together and practice their faith and the role of priests became very significant
  • Economy – Barley was used as a method of payment because it was so valuable
  • Family – family structure went from being large clans to smaller families like we have today
What was most important to the people of Sumer?
mesopotamian families

Familes were patriarchal – Father’s were the head of the family, and property and power was passed down from fathers to sons.

  • Boys’s usually learned the trade their father worked in, or were trained in a new trade.
  • Girl’s stayed home and learned how to cook, care for the home, and take care of younger children with their mothers.
  • One of the greatest sins was for a child to defy their parents.
  • Girls went from being their father’s daughter to their husband’s wife at a very young age.
  • Marriages were pre-arranged by parents and a dowry was provided to the groom’s family.
Mesopotamian Families
how would this work today

Partner up with your “husband” or “wife”

Pair up with another partner group

Imagine you are arranging the marriage of your children

Negotiate a dowry using modern day gifts

How would this work today?
what were mesopotamian homes like

Lower class homes were more like small shacks made with bundled reeds

  • Middle class homes included small rooms on the main floor surrounding a small courtyard in the middle, and an uncovered upper level - people generally slept on the rooftops due to the local climate
  • These homes were built very close together (shared walls between homes), with hand-made mud bricks, and with little ventilation
  • Mud bricks were used because other materials were not available and because they kept homes cool inside
  • Upper class homes were larger, adorned in decorations, and even had balconies.
What were Mesopotamian homes like?
what did sumerians wear

They learned how to use the resources around them (wool and flax) to make clothes and they began weaving cloth

  • Men wore skirt-like garments tied at the waist and their jewellery including necklaces and earrings. They were either clean shaven or had long hair and beards.
  • Women wore anything from just a shawl wrapped around them to full-length dresses with their right arm and shoulder uncovered. They wore their hair long, but it was usually braided. They also wore jewellery, and the wealthier women put on headdresses when entertaining guests.
  • The amount and level of decor of the clothing and jewellery varied depending on a person’s status.
What did Sumerians wear?
what was education like in mesopotamia

Only higher class boys were allowed to go to school. Boys of lower classes and girls learned their work through their parents.

  • Boys in school studied to become scribes which was a very prestigious job in Sumerian society.
  • Scribes were required to record transactions in business and law, and to write stories.
  • Their form of writing was called “cuneiform” and was written on heavy clay tablets.
What was education like in Mesopotamia?

In school, boys spent their mornings copying myths and epics, and their afternoons working on refining their writing skills.

  • Schools were called “edubba” and were run by a head teacher known as a “school father”, or “unmia”
  • The assistants to the school father were known as “big brothers” and they were in charge of preparing clay tablets, assisting the students as needed, and disciplining students.
  • Students were regularly humiliated or beaten with a stick when they made mistakes.
  • Scribing continued to be an important part of school, but over time other subjects were introduced in schools: math, law, biology, economics, astronomy, economics, agriculture and the Sumerian language.
online sources - The History Guide: Lecture 2 - Ancient Western Asia and the Civilization of Mesopotamia – Housing and Construction by Lauren Schreck - city image - clothing image

Online Sources