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Mesopotamian Civilization

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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., – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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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
  • Mesopotamia means land between two rivers

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
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6
Role of the Environment
  • Created in a region that agriculture is possible-
    IMPORTANCE?
  • Irrigation and drainage possible- HOW?
  • Forced people to work together and formed
    communities

7
Role of the Environment
  • Rivers supplied basics for existence
  • food
  • water
  • sanitation
  • Also provided for shelter
  • basics of building?

8
Role of the Environment
  • Problems with living near a river valley?
  • Destroyed by frequent floods that ravaged entire
    cities
  • restrained political development (Sumer was a
    geographical maze)
  • Communication amongst the various isolated cities
    was very difficult

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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

11
The Early Dynastic Period
  • ca. 3100 B.C.
  • the Sumerians
  • not the first inhabitants
  • arrived by sea ??

12
Sumerian language
  • unique
  • unrelated to any known language
  • but we cannot read it

13
Pre-Sumerian element
  • continues to survive
  • but dominated by Sumerians
  • until 2350 B.C., more or less

14
Political organization
  • city-states
  • ruled by kings
  • (lugals)
  • who fought more or less
    constantly
  • over land and
    water-rights

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16
Map of ancient Nippur
17
Political organization, cont
  • territorial acquisition by conquest

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19
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.

20
Sargon the Great King of Akkad
21
Third Dynasty of Ur
  • Sumerian renaissance
  • claim to be kings of Sumer and Akkad
  • influence on northern Tigris-Euphrates

22
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

23
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.

24
Sources of Information
  • archaeological remains
  • texts stone, metal, clay, tablets
  • cloths, art, etc.

25
Problems
  • evidence not equal for all times and all places
  • hard to interpret
  • but some things can be known

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27
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

28
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

29
The great ziggarut at the city of Ur ca.
1200only partially surviving
30
Ziggarut of king Ur-Nammu,
31
The ziggarut at Ur from a city wall
32
ziggurat of Choga Zambil, ca. 1250 B.C
33
The ziggarut at Ur
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Sculpture
  • crude and primitive
  • clay, not stone
  • metal sculpture and jewelry more
    sophisticated

38
Front-piece Harp
Gold lapis-lazuli wood
39
Cylinder Seal
40
Goat in a tree...
41
Lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Ur
Sacrificed and buried with the Queen at the time
of her death
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Clay tablets and Cuneiform
  • writing medium
  • religious texts to contracts
  • with written texts we enter History
  • documents as insights into peoples thoughts
  • as well as records

44
Cuneiform Writing
  • different from modern scripts
  • written on damp clay with a wedge-shaped stick
  • cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing)

45
Cuneiform, cont
  • evolved from use of simple symbols
  • eventually became conventionalized abstract
    shapes
  • used first for business, trade, records
  • literature came later....

46
Partial text of Hammurabis law code
47
Tokensfor games?
48
Game board with counters Ur
49
Bullae with tokens
50
flattened-out bulla a tablet
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52
Evolution of symbols from simple line drawings to
cuneiform
53
Fully developed cuneiforms tablet
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55
Agriculture, Bureaucracy and Social Class
  • 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.

56
Agriculture, cont
  • average crop 25 to 30 bushels per acre
  • land controlled by large, temple corporations

57
Bureaucracy
  • fundamental
  • necessary for urban living and for the temple
    corporation
  • and the civil government

58
Social Classes
  • freemen
  • priest, aristocrats and warriors, commoners
  • slaves

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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

61
Religion, cont
  • ancient religion (and modern) is contractual
  • Nippur was the religious center of Mesopotamia
  • major deities associate with major heavenly
    bodies
  • and with specific cities

62
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

63
Worshippers from the ziggarut at Ur
64
Goddess figure northern Mesopotamia fertility?
Or water goddess?
Skirt decorated with fish and stylized
water centerpiece in a fountain
65
Religion the afterlife
  • cold and dark
  • believed in ghosts of dead relatives
  • demons

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67
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.

68
Literature, cont
  • Epic of Gilgamesh
  • the first piece of literature
  • dealing with comic questions
  • more later

69
Literacy
  • taught in temple schools
  • to scribes and priests
  • we do not know the percentage of literacy
  • probably fairly small

70
Ur III, collapse
  • internal localism
  • desires for independence

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72
Hammurabi
  • most successful leader
  • king of the Amorites
  • a Semitic people
  • ruler of Babylon

73
Hammurabi, cont
  • sixth king of Babylon, of his line
  • ruled for 43 years

74
Hammurabi, cont
  • capable administrator
  • legal reformer
  • (Hammurabis Law Code)
  • military leader

75
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

76
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.
77
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

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79
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 made man so the gods can rest

80
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

81
Changes during the era of Hammurabi
  • development of agriculture
  • trade and commerce
  • private enterprise
  • private property

82
Changes, cont.
  • writing more widely adopted (cuneiform)
  • algebra and astronomy were developed
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • the first tragic hero
  • earlier edition of many Genesis stories

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84
Questions about Life
  • the Epic of Gilgamesh
  • containing everything from the original flood
    story
  • to the tree of life
  • stolen by a serpent

85
Gilgamesh and mythical animals
86
Mesopotamian Empires 1800-600 BCE
87
Sumerian Inventions
  • Wagon wheel
  • Potters wheel (shape containers)
  • Number system
  • 12 month calendar
  • Metal plow
  • Sail
  • Some of the earliest known maps
  • New architecture

88
Assyria develops a military machine and
establishes a well-organized administration.
NEXT
89
The Assyrian Empire
A Mighty Military Machine
Assyria Assyria uses military might to acquire
empire across Southwest Asia
The Rise of a Warrior People After invasions in
Mesopotamia, Assyrians develop warlike
behavior Assyrian king Sennacherib brutally
destroys enemies
Military Organization and Conquest Glorified
armies wear metal armor, copper helmets,
leather protection Use iron weapons,
engineering skill, and brute force to conquer
cities Kill, enslave, or banish captive peoples
to distant lands
90
The Empire Expands
Kings of Assyria Defeat Syria, Palestine,
Babylonia between 850 and 650 B.C.
Assyrian Rule Creates central authority over
local governors of dependent regions Collects
taxes and tribute from conquered lands
Assyrian Culture Rulers build great cities,
including capital at Nineveh Carved sculptures
of military campaigns and the lion hunt King
Ashurbanipal builds library of 20,000 tablets
Epic of Gilgamesh
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93
Rebirth of Babylon Under the Chaldeans
Early Warnings Empire spread thin, cruelty
earns many enemies, Ashurbanipal dies
Decline and Fall Army of Medes and Chaldeans
destroys Nineveh (612 B.C.) library survives
Rebirth of Babylon Under the Chaldeans Chaldeans
make Babylon capital of own empire King
Nebuchadnezzar builds legendary hanging gardens
of Babylon Builds tall ziggurats astronomers
make discoveries about solar system Chaldean
Empire falls to Persians they adopt Assyrian
inventions
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95
By governing with tolerance and wisdom, the
Persians establish a well-ordered empire that
lasts for 200 years.
96
The Persian Empire
The Rise of Persia
The Persian Homeland Persia (ancient Iran) has
fertile land and minerals Medes and Persians
rose to power there
Cyrus the Great Founds an Empire Starting in
550 B.C., Persian king Cyrus conquers
neighboring lands Governs with tolerance
toward conquered peoples Honors local customs,
including religious ones Allows Jews to return
to Israel to rebuild temple of Jerusalem
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Persian Rule
Cambyses and Darius Cyruss son, Cambyses,
conquers Egypt but rules unwisely Darius
seizes control, establishes stability expands
empire to India
Provinces and Satraps Darius divides empire
into 20 areas of local administration Appoints
satrapsgovernorsto rule each area Build
Royal Road to make communication within empire
easier Issues coins that can be used throughout
the empire
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100
The Persian Legacy
Zoroaster Persian thinker called Zoroaster
develops new religion
Zoroasters Teachings Life is a battleground
between good and evil One god will judge us by
how well we fight for good Zoroastrianism
influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Political Order Through tolerance and good
government, Persians bring political
order Preserve earlier cultures, find new ways
to live and rule
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102
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

103
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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