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Mesopotamia. Aim: Why is Mesopotamia considered the birthplace of civilization?. Vocabulary. Mesopotamia = the land between 2 rivers Ziggurat = the religious temple used for worship Polytheistic = the belief in more than one God

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Aim: Why is Mesopotamia considered the birthplace of civilization?


Mesopotamia = the land between 2 rivers

Ziggurat = the religious temple used for worship

Polytheistic = the belief in more than one God

Cuneiform = the first form of writing system, developed by the Sumerians

mesopotamia the land between 2 rivers
Mesopotamia = the land between 2 rivers
  • Tigris River
  • Euphrates River
  • “Fertile Crescent”
the birthplace of civilization
The birthplace of civilization

Mesopotamia is often referred to as the birthplace of one of the greatest civilizations in human history

It is now the country of Iraq


Tigris River

Euphrates River

advantages of being near a river
Advantages of being near a river





Barrier to invaders

unpredictable flooding was a problem
Unpredictable flooding was a problem
  • The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flooded unpredictably, which was a MAJOR problem for the people living in Mesopotamia
  • People developed a negative outlook on life and death because of it
brief history of mesopotamia
Brief history of Mesopotamia

2. Akkadian Empire (2300BC– 2100BC)

  • King Sargon turned Mesopotamia into the AkkadianEmpire
  • Empire didn’t last very long after King Sargon died

3. Babylon (1900 BC – 500 BC)

  • King Hammurabi of Babylon conquered most of Mesopotamia – turned it into Babylon
  • Fell in 500 BC to King Cyrus of Persia

1. Sumer (4500BC – 2300BC)

  • In 2300 BC, Sumer was attacked by King Sargon of Akkad
characteristics of a civilization
Characteristics of a civilization



Organized religion

Job specialization

Social classes

Writing system


1 cities
1. Cities

Mesopotamia was made up of 12 city-states

Buildings were made out of sun-baked mud bricks

In the center of each city-state was a temple called a “ziggurat”

Each city-state was surrounded by a protective city wall

2 government laws
2. Government/Laws

Each Mesopotamian city-state had its own government

The leader of each city-state was a king

Different government officials worked for the king and were in charge of things like overseeing taxes, irrigation of farmland, and the building/maintenance of public buildings

government laws continued
Government/Laws (continued)
  • Code of Hammurabi: the world’s first written law code!
    • 300 laws carved onto a stone pillar
    • Displayed in public
    • Included civil and criminal laws
    • Punishments were specific to the crime – “AN EYE FOR AN EYE” (but they were also adjusted to social class, and the lower your status, the harsher the punishment!)
examples of hammurabi s code
Examples of Hammurabi’s Code:

If any one breaks into a house to steal, he shall be put to death and buried in front of that house.

If a son hits his father, his hands shall be cut off.

If a man breaks another man's bone, his bone shall be broken.

If a man knocks out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out.

If a builder of a house does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.

3 organized religion
3. Organized Religion

Mesopotamians were POLYTHEISTIC (they believed in many gods)

They worshiped these gods in temples called “ziggurats”

They kept their gods happy through ceremonies and offerings of food and other valuable objects

Like the rivers, they thought gods were hostile and unpredictable

NEGATIVE view of the afterlife – they believed in an “underworld” full of suffering, dust and thirst

4 job specialization
4. Job Specialization
  • Teacher
  • Scribe
  • Fisherman
  • Trader
  • Shepherd
  • Butcher
  • Carpenter
  • Soldier

Popular jobs in Mesopotamia included:

  • Farmer
  • Baker
  • Weaver
  • Potter
  • Musician
  • Leather maker
  • Accountant
  • Construction worker
5 social classes
5. Social Classes

4 social classes:

1. Priests and Royalty (Kings)

2. Wealthy Merchants

3. Ordinary Workers

4. Slaves

men vs women
Men vs. Women

Men and women were not equal:

- Women were allowed to own property and join the lower ranks of the priesthood

- Women were not allowed to attend school or learn how to read and write

6 writing system
6. Writing system

Sumerians developed one of the first writing systems: CUNEIFORM

7 science technology
7. Science/Technology

The Sumerians and their star charts gave us the 12 signs of the zodaic!

  • Sumerians were one of the first civilizations to record their observations of the stars
    • Created a 12-month lunar calendar based on the moon
science technology continued
Science/Technology (continued)
  • *We still use Sumerian math!
  • 60 degrees in a circle
  • 60 seconds in a minute
  • 60 minutes in an hour
  • Sumerians developed the earliest known number system! They divided space and time by units of 6

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