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Mesopotamian Civilization

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Title: Mesopotamian Civilization


1
Mesopotamian Civilization
  • Primary Phase lower Tigris-Euphrates river
    valley
  • Persian gulf to modern Baghdad
  • habitable area app. 10,000 sq... miles
  • bottom 1/3 of the river valley

2
Mesopotamia 3 parts
  • Sumer
  • Akkad
  • Sumer and Akkad eventually form Babylon
  • Earliest human occupation
  • ca. 7000-6000 B.C.
  • archaeologists detect several different phases
  • settlement from north to south, downriver

3
Mesopotamia
4
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5
Proto-literate Period
  • ca. 3500-3100 B.C.
  • most characteristics of Mesopotamia have
    developed
  • towns and cities
  • rudimentary system of writing and metal
    technology
  • temple architecture

6
The Early Dynastic Period
  • ca. 3100 B.C.
  • the Sumerians
  • not the first inhabitants
  • arrived by sea ??

7
Sumerian language
  • unique
  • unrelated to any known language
  • but we cannot read it

8
Pre-Sumerian element
  • Semites?
  • continues to survive
  • but dominated by Sumerians
  • until 2350 B.C., more or less

9
Political organization
  • city-states
  • ruled by kings
  • (lugals)
  • who fought more or less
    constantly
  • over land and
    water-rights

10
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11
Political organization, cont
  • territorial acquisition by conquest
  • gradual incorporation and civilizing of Semites
  • ca. 2350 B.C., Semites become dominant

12
Map of ancient Nippur
13
Sargon of Akkad
  • name means True King
  • first empire in history
  • first personality in history
  • legendary figures
  • Miracle birth, evil king, baby-in-a basket, found
    eventually becomes the leader of his people
  • The original story from which all others are
    copied
  • dynasty ruled until 2200 B.C.

14
Sargon the Great King of Akkad
15
Third Dynasty of Ur
  • Sumerian renaissance
  • claim to be kings of Sumer and Akkad
  • influence on northern Tigris-Euphrates

16
Ur III , cont
  • provinces, with royal governors
  • moved regularly
  • kings claim to be divine, unlike earlier kings
  • Ur-Nammu most significant
  • built a great city and issued a code of laws

17
Collapse of Ur III
  • civilization over 1,000 years old
  • but much of what developed survives into modern
    times
  • math, time-keeping, beer (!!!), astronomy,
    astrology, medicine, etc.

18
Sources of Information
  • archaeological remains
  • texts stone, metal, clay, tablets
  • cloths, art, etc.
  • remember our archaeological lesson ?

19
Problems
  • evidence not equal for all times and all places
  • hard to interpret
  • but some things can be known

20
Architecture
  • lack stone and wood
  • use sun-dried brick
  • resulting in a somewhat ruined state of things
  • focal point of the city the Temple complex
  • successive temples built on the same holy spot

21
Architecture, cont
  • the temple form ziggurat
  • a sort of step-temple
  • usually seven layers,
  • with a shrine on top
  • a magic mountain
  • a landing place for the god/goddess

22
The great ziggarut at the city of Ur ca.
1200…only partially surviving
23
Ziggarut of king Ur-Nammu,
24
The ziggarut at Ur from a city wall
25
ziggurat of Choga Zambil, ca. 1250 B.C
26
The ziggarut at Ur
For an extra 2 points on the first test, tell me
the first year in which this photo could have
been taken. First person only. Think like an
historian...
27
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28
Sculpture
  • crude and primitive
  • clay, not stone
  • metal sculpture and jewelry more
    sophisticated

29
Front-piece Harp
Gold lapis-lazuli wood
30
Cylinder Seal
31
Goat in a tree...
32
Lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Ur
Sacrificed and buried with the Queen at the time
of her death
33
Clay tablets
  • writing medium
  • religious texts to contracts
  • with written texts we enter History
  • documents as insights into peoples thoughts
  • as well as records

34
Cuneiform Writing
  • different from modern scripts
  • written on damp clay with a wedge-shaped stick
  • cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing)

35
Cuneiform, cont
  • evolved from use of simple symbols
  • rebus theory
  • eventually became conventionalized abstract
    shapes
  • used first for business, trade, records
  • literature came later....

36
Partial text of Hammurabis law code
37
Tokens…for games?
38
Game board with counters Ur
39
Bullae with tokens token shapes pressed into the
outside of each
40
flattened-out bulla a tablet
41
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42
A rebus

-)
--more
43
What does this one say?
Two extra points on the first test for the first
person to figure it out….
44
Evolution of symbols from simple line drawings to
cuniform
45
Fully developed cuniform tablet
46
Agriculture
  • grain, mostly barley, planted in the fall
  • land prepared by hand tools and intensive labor
  • irrigated by complex system
  • harvest in the spring
  • the whole community helps with planting,
    harvesting, etc.

47
Development of irrigation systems
48
Agriculture, cont
  • average crop 25 to 30 bushels per acre
  • land controlled by large, temple corporations

49
Bureaucracy
  • fundamental to efficiency
  • necessary for urban living and for the temple
    corporation
  • and the civil government

50
Social Classes
  • freemen
  • priest, aristocrats and warriors, commoners
  • slaves

51
Religion
  • polytheistic
  • hundreds of deities
  • each usually had a special function
  • but you could have your own, special god
  • to get lucky translates as to get a god
  • Ex. Yahweh as the god of Abraham

52
Religion, cont
  • ancient religion (and modern) is contractual
    quid pro quo
  • Nippur was the religious center of Mesopotamia
  • major deities associate with major heavenly
    bodies
  • and with specific cities

53
Religion, cont
  • gods and humans were similar
  • but gods were more powerful and immortal
  • gods were the masters
  • humans were the slaves
  • gods were ill-tempered, erratic, and very
    dangerous

54
Worshippers from the ziggarut at Ur
55
Goddess figure northern Mesopotamia fertility?
Or water goddess?
Skirt decorated with fish and stylized
water centerpiece in a fountain
56
Religion the afterlife
  • cold and dark
  • believed in ghosts of dead relatives
  • demons

57
Literature began in Sumer
  • priests began to try to explain the how and why
    of things
  • creation stories Enuma Elish and other stories
  • flood stories Utnapishtim (etc.)
  • practical works farmers almanacs
  • medicine, divination, astronomy, math, astrology,
    etc.

58
Literature, cont
  • Epic of Gilgamesh
  • the first piece of literature
  • dealing with comic questions
  • more later

59
Literacy
  • taught in temple schools
  • to scribes and priests
  • we do not know the percentage of literacy
  • probably fairly small

60
Ur III, collapse
  • assaults of peripherial peoples
  • internal localism
  • desires for independence

61
Hammurabi
  • most successful leader
  • king of the Amorites
  • a Semitic people
  • ruler of Babylon

62
Hammurabi, cont
  • sixth king of Babylon, of his line
  • 1800s B.C.
  • ruled for 43 years

63
Hammurabi, cont
  • capable administrator
  • legal reformer
  • (Hammurabis Law Code)
  • military leader

64
The Law Code
  • his most famous achievement
  • fusion of Sumerian and Semitic customs and usages
  • designed to render justice
  • that is, what a person deserved
  • what is appropriate to the circumstance

65
An example of columns (stelae), which were set up
in public places, on which were inscribed the
laws of Hammurabi. Hammurabi receiving the
law from the God Shamash, who lives on a
mountain. Predates the Moses story by over one
thousand years, and is probably the model for it.
66
His rule
  • to legitimize a revision of traditional theology
  • substitution of Babylonian Marduk
  • for the older Sumerian god Enlil
  • in a new version of the Enuma Elish
  • common practice in the ancient world
  • similar to later Old Testament stories
  • Yahweh assumes the place of El and of Baal

67
The Enuma Elish
  • describes the creation of the universe
  • in a system based on sevens
  • the first three generations gods of water,
    earth, sky
  • next three gods of moving things
  • finally Marduk make man so the gods can rest

68
The Enuma Elish, cont
  • corresponds with early Hebrew stories
  • with which you are more familiar
  • which are much later, derived from Sumerian
    models
  • creation based on a system of sevens
  • corresponding to the creation story in Genesis

69
Changes during the era of Hammurabi
  • development of agriculture
  • trade and commerce
  • private enterprise
  • private property

70
Changes, cont.
  • writing more widely adopted (cunieform)
  • algebra and astronomy were developed
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • the first tragic hero
  • earlier edition of many Genesis stories

71
Questions about Life
  • the Epic of Gilgamesh
  • containing everything from the original flood
    story
  • to the tree of life
  • stolen by a serpent

72
Gilgamesh and mythical animals
73
Mesopotamian Empires 1800-600 BCE
74
More books to read
  • The Cambridge Ancient History
  • J.N. Postgate. Early Mesopotamia Society and
    Economy at the Dawn of History
  • Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians Their History,
    Culture, and Character.
  • A. Leo Oppenheim. Ancient Mesopotamia Portrait
    of a Dead Civilizastion.
  • A. Bernard Knapp. The History and Culture of
    Ancient Western Asia and Egypt
  • Jean Bottero. Mesopotamia Writing, Reasoning,
    and the Gods
  • J.B. Pritchard. Ancient Near Eastern Texts
    Relating to the Old Testament
  • J.B. Pritchard. The Ancient Near East, 2 vols.,
    An anthology of Texts and Pictures

75
More good books to read
  • Robert M. Seltzer. Religions of Antiquity
  • Guy E. Swanson. The Birth of the Gods
  • Alexander Heidel. The Babylonian Genesis
  • Maureen Gallery Kovacs. The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Hans J. Nissen. The Early History of the Ancient
    Near East
  • Georges Roux. Ancient Iraq
  • Robert M. Seltzer. Religions of Antiquity
  • Ancient Religions bibliography online
  • www.etsu.edu/cas/history/religionbib.htm
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