City states in mesopotamia

City states in mesopotamia
Geography of the fertile crescent
• Southwest Asia
• Desert climate; between the Persian gulf and Mediterranean sea
• Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow toward Persian gulf
• Plain in between them known as Mesopotamia “land between rivers”
• Scholars call it fertile crescent
• Silt left behind after flood (thick bed of mud; good soil for farming)
Environmental challenges and solutions
• Three disadvantages for the fertile crescent:
- Flooding was unpredictable
- Open plain left them exposed to enemies
- Limited resources (stone, wood, and metal)
• Solutions
- Irrigation (ditches that carried water to their fields)
- City walls for defense (mud bricks)
- Trade for resources
Sumerians create city states
• City state – like an independent country,
• By 3000 B.C.E, Sumerians built several city-states (Uruk, Kish,
Lagash, Umma and Ur)
• Ziggurat (temple) at each city-states center; priests asked for well
being from gods
• Polytheistic beliefs (many gods)
Ziggurats were built by the Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians,
and Assyrians for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a
temple complex which included other buildings.
Political Roles (State Building)
• Earliest Sumerian government was controlled by priests
• Military leaders at times became monarchs witch became
• Several city states came under the rule of dynasties
• Trade with the surrounding regions allowed cultural diffusion to
take place (spreading one culture to another)
• Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature in the
world. A legendary king Gilgamesh had unsuccessful quest for
immortality (common in ancient literature)
Sumerian Culture
Social classes emerged in Sumerian society
-Priests and kings at the top
-Wealthy merchants
-Majority of Sumerians in fields and workshops
-slaves (could earn freedom by working hard)
Gender Roles
-Sumerian women could pursue most city jobs; own property; become
Sumerian Culture Continued…
• Sumerians developed first writing system – Cuneiform
• Little mention about female scribes (writers), suggests they
couldn’t go to school, read or write.
• Still, women had more rights than in other civilizations
First Empire Builders
• From 3000 to 2000 B.C.E, Sumerian city-states at frequent war with
each other
• The Akkadians, under Sargon, took advantage of this and invaded
• The Akkadians kept many aspects of Sumerian culture and helped
spread it within the region
• Sargon eventually created an empire (uniting several nations or
previously independent states under one ruler)
• After 200 years, the Amorites invade and establish their capital at
• King Hammurabi established his code of laws (232 specific laws;
principle of retaliation; eye for an eye) p. 32
Quick Review
• Fertile crescent
• Silt
• Irrigation
• City-state
• Dynasty
• Cultural diffusion
• Polytheism
• Empire
• Hammurabi
Pyramids on the Nile
Geography of Egypt
• For a long time, Egyptians lived isolated
in the lower part of the Nile
• Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a God
due to its yearly flooding
• Cataracts (rapids) did not allow boats to
pass into the southern region of Egypt
• But, prevailing winds allowed travel
between upper and lower Egypt
• Still, deserts on both sides acted as
natural barriers
Egypt Unites into a kingdom
• Menes – united all of Egypt
• Egyptian kings were gods, came to be called pharaohs
• Pharaohs ruled both religion and government (Theocracy)
• Egyptians believed he bore the responsibility for the kingdoms
Religion and Culture
• Egyptians believed in an afterlife, also that they would be judged for
their deeds when they died.
• All classes planned for their burials,
• Kings and queens built massive tombs, such as the pyramids
• Egyptians preserved a dead person’s body by mummification
(embalming and drying corpse to prevent from decaying)
• Items were placed in tombs… p 37
• Writing system known as hieroglyphics “sacred carving”, written on
The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus
The Edwin Smith Papyrus, the world's oldest
surviving surgical text, was written in Egyptian
hieratic script around the 17th century BCE, but
probably based on material from a thousand
years earlier. The papyrus is a textbook on
trauma surgery, and describes anatomical
observations and the examination, diagnosis,
treatment, and prognosis of numerous injuries in
exquisite detail.
Planned Cities on the Indus
The First Indian civilization built well planned cities on the banks of the
Indus River
Geography of South Asia
Wall of mountains separates South Asia from rest of Eurasia
- Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Himalayas
- Geographers refer to the region as the Indian Subcontinent
- Mountains rest along the Indus and Ganges rivers
- Floods along the Indus were unpredictable, river changed course at
- People of Indus valley had to deal with wet and dry seasons brought
upon by monsoons (seasonal winds)
Civilization on the Indus
• Historians have not deciphered the Indus system of writing
• Most evidence comes from artifacts, and digs
• Many scholars believe settlement began through migration by sea
from Africa into southern India, and northern migration through
Khyber Pass
• Around 2500 B.C.E, settlements arose. The largest cities were
Kalibangan, Mohenjo-Daro, and Harappa
• Indus referred to as Harappan civilization due to many discoveries
• City planning (grid system) and plumbing, p. 43 ; citadels (fortified
• Buildings made of oven-baked bricks cut in standard sizes
Culture and Trade
• Uniform housing (social divisions not great)
• Clay and wooden toys suggest prosperous society (nonessential
• Few weapons found, (limited warfare?)
• Artifacts show links to modern Hindu culture (early rep of Shiva,
major Indian God), fertility images, and the worship of cattle
• Stamps and seals made of carved stone (long distance trade; some
seals found in Sumer and vice versa)
Mysterious End to Indus Valley Culture
• Around 1750 B.C.E, quality of buildings declined
• Historians debate why the civilization declined
- no more fertile lands as river changed course
- Overgrazing
- Natural disaster or attack from enemies
River Dynasties in China
Early rulers introduced idea about government and society that shaped
Chinese civilization
Geography of China
• Chinas first civilization arose along the Huang He, “yellow river”
• The river deposited huge amounts of dusty yellowish silt (loess, or
fertile soil)
• Floods could help or hurt early farmers
• Chinas geographic isolation made farmers supply their own goods
rather than rely on trade
• Still not completely isolated; invasions from the west and south
occurred repeatedly
Civilization in Shang Times
• Shang Dynasty, 1532 to 1027 B.C.E, first family of Chinese rulers to
leave written records
• Kings built elaborate palaces and tombs
• Most important city was Anyang (capital of Shang Dynasty)
• Elites lived in wood framed houses, clay and straw walls
• Peasants lived in smaller houses
Chinese Culture
• Respect for ones parents most important
• Patriarchy
• Women treated as inferior (obey father, husband and later their sons)
• Bearing sons improved women's status
• Chinese believed spirits of ancestors could bring good fortune or
disaster to families
• Every family paid respect to the father’s ancestors and made
sacrifices in their honor
Zhou Bring New Idea
• 1027 B.C.E, Zhou overthrew the Shang and established their dynasty
• Much of the culture remained with a few changes
• Mandate of Heaven – justified the overthrow of the shang (and later
dynasties), bad rulers lost divine approval p. 50
• Dynastic cycle describes the pattern of the rise, decline and fall of
• Zhou introduced Feudalism to control their lands (political system
which lords or nobles are given land that belong to the king in return
for loyalty and / or military service (much like Japan and Europe)
Decline of the Zhou
• Gradually, lords grew stronger and towns grew into cities
• Local lords became less dependent on the Zhou ruler
• Local lords began to fight with one another for more territory
• The later years of Zhou rule are called “warring states era”
• It would take a new dynasty, the Qin dynasty, 3rd century B.C.E,
to restore stability to china

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