A%20very%20different%20story%20developed%20in%20southwestern%20Asia,%20another%20cradle%20of%20early%20civilization - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Title: A%20very%20different%20story%20developed%20in%20southwestern%20Asia,%20another%20cradle%20of%20early%20civilization

Sumerian Land
  • A very different story developed in southwestern
    Asia, another cradle of early civilization
  • Unlike Egypt, this area was not geographically
  • Wave upon wave
    of invaders
    crisscrossed the

Sumerian Land
  • A strip of fertile land
    begins at the Isthmus
    of Suez and arc through Southwest Asia to
    the Persian Gulf
  • This area is so well suited to farming that it is
    known as the Fertile Crescent
  • 4000BC to 5000BC, Neolithic farmers began to
    build an identifiable civilization
  • The society was built around the controlled
    flood waters and irrigation

Important Rivers
  • The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are major
    geographical features of the Fertile Crescent
  • They begin in the hills of what is now Turkey and
    flow southeast
  • At one point the two rivers lie within 30 miles
    of each other
  • This area was known as the Tigris-Euphrates
  • It has been known by many names,
    including Mesopotamia

Tigris and Euphrates
  • Both the Tigris and Euphrates overflow often
  • People built canals and dikes to bring water to
    their fields
  • Unlike the Nile, the flooding of the Tigris and
    Euphrates cannot be easily predicted
  • Early people of the valley
    viewed nature and the gods
    as harsh and unpredictable

Fertile Crescent
  • As with the Nile valley, the Fertile
    Crescent was surrounded by dry lands and
  • Tribes and wandering herders often invaded the
    valley, conquered it, and established empires
  • Over time, these invaders grew weaker and new
    waves of invaders conquered them
  • This pattern makes the history of the Fertile
    Crescent a story of repeated migration and

  • As the Tigris and Euphrates
    flow to the Persian Gulf,
    they carry rich soil
  • Neolithic people settled in this area, called
    Sumer, and grew crops
  • Over time, they created what we call the Sumerian
  • We do not know much about the origins of
  • Probably nomadic people who migrated to Sumer

Sumerian Writing
  • By 3000BC, these people used metal and had
    developed a kind of writing called pictographs,
    or picture writing
  • One of the earliest known forms of writing
  • Sumerians wrote by pressing marks into clay
  • Writers used a wedge-shaped tool called a stylus
  • As a result, most signs were wedge shapes
  • Today we call Sumerian writing cuneiform, from
    the Latin word wedge, cuneus
  • Sumerians had about 600 cuneiform signs

Sumerian Architecture
  • The Sumerians may also have invented several
    important architectural designs
  • The arch, a curved structure over an opening, is
    one of the strongest forms in building
  • By combining several
    arches, the Sumerians
    built rounded roofs in the
    shape of domes or vaults

Sumerian Ziggurats
  • The most striking Sumerian
    buildings were the temples,
    known as ziggurats
  • Ziggurats were made of baked bricks placed in
  • Each could be up to 150 feet high
  • The top served as a
    shrine to a Sumerian

Sumerian Science
  • The Sumerians may have
    been the first people to
    develop and use the wheel
  • In mathematics, they used
    a system of numbers based
    on 60
  • Like a compass or a watch
  • They also created a lunar
    calendar in which they
    added a month every few years

Sumerian Society
  • Early in their history, Sumerians developed a
    form of community called the city-state
  • It included a town a city and the
    surrounding land controlled by it
  • Major Sumerian city-
    states, such as Ur, Erech,
    and Kish, had thousands
    of residents

Sumerian Society
  • Kings, high priests, and nobles were at the
    top of Sumerian society
  • Followed by lower priests, merchants, and
  • Below them were peasant farmers
  • Then slaves who had been kidnapped from other
    regions or captured in war

Sumerian Government
  • The many Sumerian city-states rarely united under
    a single government
  • The people believed much of the land in each
    city-state belonged to one or more gods
  • Priests were important figures
  • As city-states competed for water and land, war
    leaders became more important than Priests
  • Eventually these leaders ruled as kings

Sumerian Farming and Trade
  • Most Sumerians farmed
  • Farmers grew dates, grains, and vegetables, and
    raised domestic animals
  • They also grew flax for linen and wove woolen
  • They grew enough food that other people could
    work as artisans and traders

Sumerian Education
  • The Sumerians considered education very important
  • Only upper class boys, and no girls, attended
  • Students learned to write and spell by copying
    religious books and songs
  • They also studied
    drawing and arithmetic

Sumerian Religion
  • The Sumerians practiced
  • Their gods were identified with forces of nature
    and heavenly bodies
  • Such as the sun and the moon
  • Important gods included
  • An (lord of heaven)
  • Enlil (god of air and storm)
  • Nanna (god of the moon and
    guardian of Ur)

Sumerian Religion
  • Sumerians buried food and tool with their dead
    but did not imagine the afterlife in detail
  • They believed in a shadowy lower world
  • They did not believe in
    rewards and punishments
    after death
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