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Mesopotamia: “The Cradle of Civilization”. Earliest Civilization: the Fertile Crescent. Categorized as the earliest of all civilizations as people formed permanent settlements Mesopotamia is a Greek word that means “between the rivers”

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Mesopotamia: “The Cradle of Civilization”

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    1. Mesopotamia: “The Cradle of Civilization”

    2. Earliest Civilization: the Fertile Crescent • Categorized as the earliest of all civilizations as people formed permanent settlements • Mesopotamia is a Greek word that means “between the rivers” • Specifically, the area between the Tigris River and Euphrates River (present day Iraq) • Mesopotamia is not within the "Fertile crescent“, it is in the more desert area that the "Fertile crescent" arcs around

    3. Geographic Conditions • Little rainfall for crops • Hot and dry climate in the summers • Winters brought fierce windstorms leaving muddy river valleys • Springs brought catastrophic flooding of the rivers • Arid soil containing little minerals • No stone or timber resources

    4. Then why live in Mesopotamia? NATURAL LEVEES: embankments produced by build-up of sediment over thousands of years of flooding

    5. Natural Levee • create a high and safe flood plain • make irrigation and canal construction easy • provide protection • the surrounding swamps were full of fish & waterfowl • reeds provided food for sheep / goats • reeds also were used as building resources

    6. History of Mesopotamia • Over the centuries, many different people lived in this area creating a collection of independent states • Sumer- southern part (3500-2000 BCE) • Akkad- northern part (2340 – 2180 BCE) • Babylonia- these two regions were unified (1830-1500 BCE and 650-500 BCE) • Assyria- Assyrian Empire (1100 -612 BCE)

    7. Religion • Position of King was enhanced and supported by religion • Kingship believed to be created by gods and the king’s power was divinely ordained • Polytheistic religion consisting of over 3600 gods and demigods • Shows diversity of religion from different regions • Yet all of Mesopotamia shared the same religion and the same prominent gods gods were worshipped at huge temples called ziggurats • Prominent Mesopotamian gods • Enlil (supreme god & god of air) • Ishtar (goddess of fertility & life) • An (god of heaven) • Enki (god of water & underworld) • Shamash (god of sun and giver of law)

    8. Ziggurats • Important for gods to be honoured by religious ceremonies • Ceremonies performed by priests in sacred temples • Temples created from mud brick and placed on platforms due to constant flooding • Temples evolved to ziggurats-a stack of 1-7 platforms decreasing in size from bottom to top • Famous ziggurat was Tower of Babel (over 100m above ground and 91m base) Ziggurat of Ur -2000BCE

    9. Political structure an early form of democracy Frequent wars led to the emergence of warriors as leaders Eventual rise of monarchy Government

    10. Social Structure

    11. Sumerians • Established the social, economic and intellectual basisof Mesopotamia • First to develop writing in the form of cuneiform • Sumerians are credited to have invented the wheel • Became the first city of the world • However, the Sumerians were not successful in uniting lower Mesopotamia

    12. Akkadians • Leader: Sargon the Great • Sargon’s greatest achievement was the unification of lower Mesopotamia (after conquering Sumerians in 2331 BCE) • Established capital at Akkad • Spread Mesopotamian culture throughout Fertile Crescent • Yet dynasty established by Sargon was short-lived… Akkadians were conquered by the invading barbarians by 2200 BCE

    13. Babylonians • Babylonians reunited Mesopotamia in 1830 BCE • Used their central location to dominate trade and establish control over all of Mesopotamia • KING HAMMURABI – conquered Akkad and Assyria and gained control of north and south • Hammurabi’s Legacy: law code • YET AGAIN, Mesopotamia was not unified for long…

    14. Assyrians • 10th century BCE, Assyria emerged as dominant force • Assyrian reunited Mesopotamia and established the first true empire • Assyrian army was most feared due to their brutal, bloodthirsty & terrorizing tactics and use of iron weapons, battering rams, chariots • Assyrian Empire stretched from Persian Gulf north and West to Syria, Palestine and Egypt • However, states began to revolt and ONCE AGAIN, Assyrian Empire collapsed by late 7th century BCE • By 539 BCE, Mesopotamia part of the vast Persian Empire (led by Cyrus the Great) • Persian Empire dominated for 800 years until Alexander the Great

    15. Code of Hammurabi • Code of 282 laws inscribed on a stone pillar placed in the public hall for all to see • Hammurabi Stone depicts Hammurabi as receiving his authority from god Shamash • Set of divinely inspired laws; as well as societal laws • Punishments were designed to fit the crimes as people must be responsible for own actions • Hammurabi Code was an origin to the concept of “eye for an eye…” ie. If a son struck his father, the son’s hand would be cut off • Consequences for crimes depended on rank in society (ie. only fines for nobility)

    16. Development Of WRITING

    17. Writing • Greatest contribution of Mesopotamia to western civilization was the invention of writing • allowed the transmission of knowledge, the codification of laws, records to facilitate trade • First written communication was PICTOGRAMS • As society evolved, the first form of writing was developed called CUNEIFORM (meaning “wedge shaped”), dating to 3500 BCE • Cuneiform spread to Persia and Egypt and became the vehicle for the growth and spread of civilization and the exchange of ideas among cultures

    18. Cuneiform Writing

    19. Cuneiform:“Wedge-Shaped” Writing

    20. Deciphering Cuneiform

    21. Gilgamesh • Gilgamesh is an ancient story or epic written in Mesopotamia more than 4000 thousand years ago • Gilgamesh is the first known work of great literature and epic poem • Epic mentions a great flood • Gilgamesh parallels the Nippur Tablet, a six-columned tablet telling the story of the creation of humans and animals, the cities and their rulers, and the great floodANALYSIS • Gilgamesh and the Nippur tablet both parallel the story of Noah and the Ark (great flood) in the Old Testament of the Jewish and Christian holy books • Modern science argues an increase in the sea levels about 6,000 years ago (end of ice age) • the melting ice drained to the oceans causing the sea level to rise more than ten feet in one century

    22. Royal Tombs of Ur • From 1922 to 1934, an archaeologist named C. Leonard Woolley excavated the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur • City famed in Bible as the home of patriarch Abraham • many great discoveries such as extravagant jewelry of gold, cups of gold and silver, bowls of alabaster, and extraordinary objects of art and culture • opened the world's eyes to the full glory of ancient Sumerian culture Great Death Pit • Found at Ur was a mass grave containing the bodies of 6 guards and 68 court ladies (servants of kings and queens) • servants walked down into the grave in a great funeral procession • they drank a  poisoned  drink and fell asleep never to wake again, choosing to accompany the kings and queens in the afterlife

    23. Legacies of Mesopotamia Revolutionary innovations emerged in Mesopotamia such as: • codified laws • the concept of kinship and the city-state • the building of places of worship (ziggurats) • the birthplace of writing (cuneiform) • Invention of the wheel • Oldest written records of a story of creation date back to Mesopotamia • First civilization to make a prosperous living based on large scale agriculture