Ancient mesopotamia the land between two rivers
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ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA- “THE LAND BETWEEN TWO RIVERS”. ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA- DEFINITIONS. CITY STATES- self-governing unit made up of a city and its surrounding villages and farmland. Monotheism: worshiping one god. “Mono” – means one Polytheism: worshiping many gods. “Poly” – means many.

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Ancient mesopotamia definitions

  • CITY STATES- self-governing unit made up of a city and its surrounding villages and farmland.

  • Monotheism: worshiping one god.

    • “Mono” – means one

  • Polytheism: worshiping many gods.

    • “Poly” – means many


  • Located between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

  • Present-day Iraq

Ancient mesopotamia geography


abundant amount of clay

easy tillable soil

water supply from Tigris-Euphrates Rivers


few natural resources

minimal protection from deserts and mountains


Basic facts
Basic Facts:

  • Settled around 3500 BCE

  • Divided into city-states ---WHY??

  • Region developed first forms of poly - and monotheism

  • Created one of the earliest forms of writing


  • What do you know about the social aspects of Mesopotamian society?

    • Social hierarchy: kings, priests, nobility, merchants, farmers, slaves

    • Slaves - POW

    • Women: unequal to men; men own and inherit land

City states

  • Always in constant conflict over water and land rights

  • Created walls for protection, with moats along the outside

  • Farms located along the outside of the city

Hammurabi s code
Hammurabi’s Code

  • Hammurabi - King of Babylon (r. 1792-1750 BCE)

  • 282 laws.

  • Based on equal retaliation.

  • Laws were varied for the wealthy and powerful.

Intellectual contributions
Intellectual Contributions:

  • Wheel

  • Time – 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute

  • 12 month lunar calendar

  • arch

  • ramp

Ancient mesopotamia the land between two rivers

  • Polytheistic; gods based on nature; vengeful

  • Ziggurats: pyramid site of the temple of the main gods.

    • Each city-state had their own gods and goddesses

    • Sun god – most important.

  • Life after death was an extension of life.

Ziggurat holy mountain
Ziggurat – Holy Mountain


  • Make, sell or barter goods.

  • Trade helped expansion.

  • Development of money will evolve over time.

  • POOR

  • Farmers

  • craftsman

  • RICH

  • government officials

  • religious leaders

  • traders

River valley civilizations egypt indus valley and shang china

River Valley Civilizations:Egypt, Indus Valley and Shang China

Unit 1

Foundations, 8000 BCE – 600 BCE

AP World History


  • To identify the major social, political, cultural and economic features of the Egyptian, Indus and Chinese early civilizations

  • To compare these features to those of all river valley civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and India)

  • To create a foundation upon which to study the Classical Civilizations (China, India, Greece, Rome)

Foundation and geography


3100 BCE – 343 BCE

Unified by King Menes

Nile River

Sahara Desert

Shang China

1750 – 1027 BCE

Yellow River (loess – fertile soil)

Isolated b/c of Gobi desert and Himalayan Mountains and Mongolian Plateau

Very Hot and Dry

Foundation and Geography

  • Indus Valley

    • 2500-1500 BCE

    • Current day northern India and Pakistan

    • Indus River – irregular; had to build flood barriers

    • Khyber Pass

Social aspects of river valley civilizations


Social structure similar to Mesopotamia

Tax collection heaviest on lower classes

Slaves – POW

Women had most rights here – own property, businesses, no formal education; informally involved in politics

Indus Valley

Unknown class structure b/c can’t read writing

Merchants at top of social structure

Female goddesses worshipped so women may be treated better than in China and Mesopotamia; several fertility goddess statutes found

Eventually gives way to caste system

Social Aspects of River Valley Civilizations

  • China

    • Low social mobility

    • Few slaves – not as many as M. or E. – WHY?

    • Peasants not much better than slaves

    • Palaces for the emperor; dependent on military to help run gov’t so they were given many gifts

    • Strong patriarchal – infanticide



Dynastic cycles

Kings are descendants or links to gods

King = priest

Isolated towns and villages

Centralized Government



Very strong army focused on expansion of territory and economy (gold, silver, etc) – given to Pharaoh as tribute

Slaves = POW

Priests and Nobles help P. manage empire = Bureaucracy

Dynastic Cycles

Few Female Rulers

Centralized Government


  • Indus Valley

    • No palaces found in ruins

    • Businessmen, Craftsmen and Farmers provided organization and justice for civilization

    • Unified; centralized government

    • Two major cities: Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro


  • Mesopotamians trade with India

  • Egyptians trade with Mesopotamia, Nubia and Kush

  • China stays isolated by geography and choice

  • Indus Valley – destroyed by natural disaster or invasion (Indo-Europeans)

  • Slavery – direct result of warfare

  • Interactions b/w Hebrews and Egyptians



Polytheistic, strong belief in afterlife; mummification

Hieroglyphics (Rosetta Stone)

Architecture – Pyramids; Sphinx; Valley of the Tombs; Imhotep

Strong collection of literature, songs, poetry

Egyptian Book of the Dead; Hymn to Aton


Math = created system of 10 and geometry


Knowledge of medicine – first heart surgeries


Polytheistic (nature goddess)

Public bathing pools

Unable to translate writing

Complex City Organization = grid formation

Advanced Drainage system

Indoor plumbing

Wheels for transportation

Bronze tools and weapons



  • Mandate of Heaven

  • Middle Kingdom

  • Worshipped ancestors and nature gods

  • Oracle bones – early form of writing; at least 2000 characters or symbols

  • Walled cities

  • Silk clothes; jade and bone jewelry


  • All civilizations dependent on agriculture for economic gain

  • Some specialization of labor b/c of surplus of food

    • Cloth, pottery, jewelry

    • Architects – Egypt

  • Egypt trades a great deal – Mediterranean World; Nubia and Kush (to South)

  • Merchants – looked down upon by Chinese

Questions write a response complete sentences
Questions –Write a response. Complete Sentences

  • How does geography play a role in the development of a civilization? Use examples from Egypt, Mesopotamia, India orChina to support your response

  • What are some things that are similar throughout all 4 (or most of the 4)? Why?

  • List one unique characteristic from each civilization.

  • Complete a SPICE chart for one River-Valley Civilization