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Ancient Civilizations


Ancient Civilizations Ancient World History Mr. Reams ASSYRIANS After 800 B.C. the Semitic-speaking Assyrians from northern Mesopotamia embarked on a policy of expansion. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ancient Civilizations

Ancient Civilizations
  • Ancient World History
  • Mr. Reams

(No Transcript)
  • After 800 B.C. the Semitic-speaking Assyrians
    from northern Mesopotamia embarked on a policy of
    expansion. Having learned from the Hittites, the
    Assyrians were the first to outfit armies
    entirely with iron weapons.
  • To besiege cities, they devised new military
    equipment - moveable towers and battering rams.
    For 500 years they terrorized the region, earning
    a lasting reputation as one of the most warlike
    people in history.
  • Assyrian Bull

Assyrian Brutality
  • The Assyrians terrorized their enemies by
    deliberately employing cruelty and violence. They
    also employed terror in ruling their subject
    peoples - ruthlessly suppressing rebellions and
    deporting rebellious populations from their
    homelands. Assyrian rulers even boasted of their
    brutal treatment of the peoples they conquered.

  • Despite their brutality, Assyrian rulers
    encouraged a well-ordered society with their
    capital at Nineveh. They were the first rulers
  • to develop extensive laws regulating life within
    the royal household. Riches from trade and war
    loot paid for the splendid palaces in
    well-planned cities. The women of the palace,
    though, were confined in secluded quarters and
    had to be veiled when they appeared in public.

Other Assyrian Contributions
  • 1. Government. The Assyrians a) divided their
    empire into provinces, each administered by a
    governor responsible to the all-powerful king,
    and b) built military roads to move troops
    quickly to any part of the empire.

The Library
  • At Nineveh, King Assurbanipal founded one of the
    first libraries. He ordered his scribes to
    collect cuneiform tablets from all over the
    Fertile Crescent. Those tablets have given modern
    scholars a wealth of information about the
    ancient Middle East.

The End of Assyrian Days
  • In 612 B.C., shortly after Assurbanipal's death,
    neighboring people joined forces to crush the
    once-dreaded Assyrian armies. King Nebuchadnezzar
    revived the power of Babylon and created a new
    Babylonian Empire referred to as the Chaldean

  • From 1200 to 800 B.C. the Semitic-speaking
    Phoenicians lived and prospered on the
    Mediterranean coast north of Palestine.
  • Chief cities Tyre and Sidon.
  • They gained fame as sailors and traders. They
    occupied a string of cities along the
    Mediterranean coast, in what is today Lebanon and

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Phoenicians (cont.)

  • Contributions to Civilization Manufacturing and
    trade. The coastal land, though narrow, was
    fertile and supported farming. Still, the
    resourceful Phoenicians became best known for
    manufacturing and trade.
  • They made glass from coastal sand.
  • From a tiny sea snail, they produced a widely
    admired purple dye, called "Tyrian purple" after
    the city of Tyre, which became their trademark.
    It became the favorite color of royalty.

Phoenicians (cont)
  • Phoenicians also used papyrus from Egypt to make
    scrolls, or rolls of paper, for books.
  • The words Bible and bibliography come from the
    Phoenician city of Byblos.
  • Phoenicians traded with people all around the
    Mediterranean Sea. To promote trade, they set up
    colonies from North Africa to Sicily and Spain.

  • Missionaries of Civilization. Due to their
    sailing skills, the Phoenicians served as
    missionaries of civilization, bringing eastern
    Mediterranean products and culture to less
    advanced peoples. A few Phoenician traders braved
    the stormy Atlantic and sailed as far as England.
    There, they exchanged goods from the
    Mediterranean for tin.
  • About 600 B.C., one Phoenician expedition may
    have sailed down the Red Sea and then followed
    the African coast around the southern tip. That
    historic voyage was forgotten for centuries. (In
    the late 1400's, Europeans claimed to be the
    first to round the southern tip of Africa.)

  • The Alphabet. As merchants, the Phoenicians
    needed a simple alphabet to ease the burden of
    keeping records. They therefore replaced the
    cumbersome cuneiform alphabet of 550 characters
    with a phonetic alphabet, based on distinct
    sounds, consisting of 22 letters. After further
    alterations by the Greeks and Romans, this
    alphabet became the one we use today!

  • The Persians created an empire, the largest yet
    seen in the ancient world, extending 3,000 miles.
    The empire flourished for 200 years. Persia is
    located in present-day Iran.

  • In 539 B.C., Babylon fell to the Persian armies
    of Cyrus the Great. Cyrus and his successors went
    on to conquer the largest empire yet seen. The
    Persians eventually controlled a wide sweep of
    territory from Asia Minor to India, including
    what is today Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan,
    and Pakistan.

  • In general, the Persians were tolerant of the
    people they conquered. They respected the customs
    and religious traditions of the diverse groups in
    their empire.

  • The real unification of the Persian empire was
    accomplished under the Persian emperor Darius,
    who ruled from 522 B.C. to 486 B.C. A skilled
    organizer, Darius set up a government that became
    a model for later rulers. He divided the Persian
    empire into provinces, each headed by a governor
    called a satrap. Each satrapy, or province, had
    to pay taxes based on its resources and wealth.
    Special officials, "the Eyes and Ears of the
    King," visited each province to check on the

  • Like Hammurabi, Darius adapted laws from the
    people he conquered and drew up a single code of
    laws for the empire.
  • To encourage unity, he had hundreds of miles of
    roads built or repaired. Roads made it easier to
    communicate with different parts of the empire.
  • Darius himself kept moving from one royal capital
    to another. In each, he celebrated important
    festivals and was seen by the people.

Persian Economy
  • To improve trade, Darius set up a common set of
    weights measures. He also encouraged the use of
    coins, which the Lydians of Asia Minor had first
    introduced. Most people continued to be part of
    the barter economy, exchanging one set of goods
    or services for another.
  • Coins, however, brought merchants and traders
    into an early form of a money economy, replacing
    barter with the exchange of money. By setting up
    a single Persian coinage, Darius created economic
    links among his far-flung subjects.

  • Religious beliefs put forward by the Persian
    thinker Zoroaster
  • (soh roh AS tuhr) also helped to unite the
    empire. Zoroaster lived about 600 B.C. He
    rejected the old Persian gods. Instead, he taught
    that a single wise god, Ahura Mazda, ruled the
    world. Zoroaster taught that
  • a) Ahura-Mazda was constantly fighting Ahriman,
    the spirit of darkness and evil.
  • b) Those supporting Ahura-Mazda by living
    virtuously will reach heaven those following
    Ahriman will be punished in hell.
  • c) Goodness will eventually prevail, and the
    world will achieve eternal peace.
  • Zoroaster's teachings form the basis of the
    Persian Bible, the Avesta or Zend-Avesta. Two
    later religions that emerged in the Middle East,
    Christianity and Islam, stressed similar ideas
    about heaven, hell, and a final judgement day.

  • The Hebrews were among the many peoples who
    occupied the Fertile Crescent. Living at the
    crossroad of civilization, they came into contact
    with many people and ideas. Over time, the
    Hebrews developed their own ideas, which
    reflected a blend of many traditions.
  • The early Hebrews came to believe that God was
    taking a hand in their history. As a result, they
    recorded events and laws in the Torah their most
    sacred text. Like many Mesopotamian peoples, the
    Hebrews told of a great flood that devastated the
    land. They believed that God had sent the flood
    to punish the wicked.

A nomadic people
  • According to the Torah, the Hebrews had lived
    near Ur in Mesopotamia. About 2000 B.C., they
    migrated, herding their flocks of sheep and goats
    into a region known as Canaan (later called
  • The Book of Genesis tells that around 1800 B.C. a
    famine in Canaan forced many Hebrews to migrate
    to Egypt. There, they were eventually enslaved.
    In time, Moses, the adopted son of the pharaoh's
    daughter, led the Hebrews in their escape, or
    exodus, from Egypt. For 40 years, the Hebrews
    wandered in the Sinai Peninsula. After Moses
    died, they entered Canaan and defeated the people
    there, claiming for themselves the land they
    believed God had promised them.

The kingdom of Israel.
  • By 1000 B.C., the Hebrews had set up the kingdom
    of Israel. Among the most skillful rulers of
    Israel were David and Solomon. According to
    Hebrew tradition, David was a humble shepherd who
    defeated a huge Philistine warrior, Goliath.
    Later, David became a strong, shrewd king who
    united the feuding Hebrew tribes into a single
  • David's son, Solomon, turned Jerusalem into an
    impressive capital. He built a splendid temple
    dedicated to God, as well as an enormous palace
    for himself. King Solomon won praise for his
    wisdom and understanding. He also tried to
    increase Israel's influence by negotiating with
    powerful empires in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Division and Conquest
  • The kingdom of Israel paid heavy price for
    Solomon's ambitions. His building projects
    required such heavy taxes and so much forced
    labor that revolts erupted soon after his death
    about 930 B.C. The kingdom then split into Israel
    in the north and Judah in the south.
  • Weakened by this division, the Hebrews could not
    fight off invading armies. In 722 B.C., Israel
    fell to the Assyrians. In 586 B.C., the
    Babylonian armies captured Judah. King
    Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the great temple in
    Jerusalem and forced many Hebrews into exile in
    Babylon. During their captivity, the Hebrews
    became known as the Jews.
  • Years later, when the Persia ruler Cyrus
    conquered Babylon, he released the Jews from
    captivity. Many Jews returned to Palestine, where
    they rebuilt King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.
    Yet, like other small groups in the region, they
    continued to live under a series of foreign
    rulers, including Persians, Greeks, and Romans

Religious Beliefs
  • In time, Hebrew beliefs evolved into the religion
    we know today as Judaism. Judaism differed in
    fundamental ways from the beliefs of nearby

Belief in one true God.
  • Judaism was monotheistic, teaching a belief in
    one God. At the time, most other people
    worshipped many gods goddesses. A few religious
    leaders, like Zoroaster in Persia and the
    Egyptian ruler Akhenaton, believed in a powerful
    diety. However, their ideas did not have the
    world-wide impact that Hebrew beliefs did.
  • The ancient Hebrews prayed to God to save them
    from their enemies. Many other ancient people had
    also turned to particular gods or goddesses as
    their special protectors. But they thought of
    such gods as tied to certain places or people.
    The Hebrews believed in an all-knowing,
    all-powerful, male God who was present

A chosen people
  • Jews believed that God had made a covenant, or
    binding agreement, with Abraham. As a result,
    Jews considered themselves to be God's "chosen
    people." Moses later renewed this covenant. He
    told the Hebrews that God would lead them to
    Canaan, the "promised land," in exchange for
    their faithful obedience.

The Ten Commandments
  • At the heart of Judaism are the Ten Commandments,
    laws that Jews believed God gave them through
    Moses. The laws set out both religious duties
    toward God and rules for moral conduct toward
    other people.

Other Laws
  • The Torah set out many other laws. Some dealt
    with everday matters such as cleanliness and food
    preparation. Others were criminal laws. Like
    Hammurabi's Code, many Hebrew laws required an
    eye for an eye. At the same time, preachers
    called on leaders to enforce laws with justice
    and mercy.
  • Some laws were meant to protect women. The Ten
    Commandments, for example, made respect for
    mothers a basic law. Still, as in many other
    religions, most laws treated women as subordinate
    to men. The male head of a family owned his wife,
    or wives, and his children. A father could sell
    his daughters into marriage, and only a husband
    had the right to seek a divorce.
  • Early in Hebrew history, a few women leaders,
    such as the judge Deborah, won honor and respect.
    Later on, however, women were not allowed to
    participate in many religious ceremonies.

Justice and morality
  • Often in Jewish history, prophets, or spiritual
    leaders, emerged to interpret God's will. The
    prophets warned that failure to obey God's law
    would lead their people to disaster.
  • Prophets preached a strong code of ethics, or
    moral standards of behavior. They urged both
    personal morality and social justice, calling on
    the rich and powerful to protect the poor and
    weak. All people, they said, were equal before
    God. Unlike many ancient societies where the
    ruler was seen as a god, Jews saw their leaders
    as fully human and bound to obey God's law.

Scattering of a Civilization
  • Almost 2,000 years ago, many Jews were forced to
    leave their homeland in Palestine. This diaspora,
    or scattering of people, sent Jews to different
    parts of the world. Wherever they settled, Jews
    maintained their identity as a people by living
    in close-knit communities and obeying their
    religious laws and traditions. These traditions
    set Jews apart from other people. Yet they also
    helped them survive centuries of persecution.
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