Society in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean 3500 BCE

SSWH1 The student will analyze the origins, structures, and
interactions of complex societies in the ancient Eastern
Mediterranean from 3500 BCE to 500 BCE.
a. Describe the development of Mesopotamian societies; include
the religious, cultural, economic, and political facets of society,
with attention to Hammurabi’s law code.
b. Describe the relationship of religion and political authority in
Ancient Egypt.
Early River Valley Civilizations
• Flooding of Tigris and Euphrates unpredictable
• No natural barriers
• Limited natural resources for making tools or
• Flooding of the Nile predictable
• Nile an easy transportation link between Egypt’s
• Deserts were natural barriers
• Indus flooding unpredictable
• Monsoon winds
• Mountains, deserts were natural barriers
• Huang He flooding unpredictable
• Mountains, deserts natural barriers
• Geographically isolated from other ancient
A well-watered and fertile area,
the fertile crescent arcs across the
northern part of the Syrian desert. It is
bordered on the west by the Mediterranean
and on the east by the Euphrates and Tigris
rivers, and includes all or parts of Israel, the
West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
From antiquity this region was the site of
sophisticated settlements.
The valley between the Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers was known as Mesopotamia to the
ancient Greeks.
Means “land between the rivers”
At the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent
A region with little rain, but rich soil due to
flooding in the late spring
Irrigation and drainage ditches made it
possible to grow crops on a regular basis
3 general areas Assyria, Akkad, and Sumer
Created the first Mesopotamian civilization
By 3000 BC established a number of
independent cities in Southern
Mesopotamia including Ur, Uruk and
As cities expanded they formed city-states,
the basic unit of Sumerian civilization.
Most prominent building in a Sumerian city
was the temple.
The temple was often built atop a massive
stepped tower called a ziggurat.
Believed the gods and goddesses ruled the cities
Due to the importance of religion in their
government, they were a theocracy- a
government by divine authority
Eventually the ruling power passed into
the hands of worldly figures or kings
Believed kings derived their power from
the gods
Army, government, priests, and
priestesses all aided the kings in their
Based chiefly on farming
The people of Mesopotamia were well
known for their metalwork
Invention of the wheel led to wheeled
3 major social groups: Nobles, commoners,
and slaves
90% were farmers (commoners)
Slaves belonged to palace officials and
were used in building projects
By 1792 BC leadership
came from Babylon, a
city-state south of
Akkad, where
Hammurabi came to
He gained control of
Sumer and Akkad and
created a new
Mesopotamian kingdom.
Hammurabi is remembered for his law code,
a collection of 282 laws.
The most complete of ancient law codes
Based on a system of strict justice
Penalties were severe and varied according
to the social class
Retaliation – an eye for an eye was a
fundamental part of this system
The largest category of laws focused on
marriage and the family.
Marriages were arranged by the parents
Without a contract, no one was considered
legally married
Society was patriarchal- dominated by men;
women had far fewer privileges and rights
Fathers ruled the children and their wives
To the Mesopotamians, powerful spiritual
beings – gods and goddesses- permeated all
aspects of the universe.
Approximately 3000 gods and goddesses
Polytheistic- Believed in many gods
Humans were inferior to the gods and could
never be sure what the gods might do to help
or hurt them.
The Nile is a unique river, beginning in the
heart of Africa and coursing northward for more
than 4000 miles.
It is the longest river in the world.
The Nile Delta is called Lower Egypt; the land
upstream, to the south, is called Upper Egypt.
To the ancient Egyptians, the most important
feature was the yearly flooding.
The fertile land the Egyptians called the “Black
Blessed by natural barriers, the regularity of
the Nile floods created a feeling of security.
Religion also provided a sense of security.
The ancient Egyptians had no word for religion.
Religious ideas were an inseparable part of
their world order.
Polytheistic- Were divided into two groups sun
gods and land gods
3 Major Periods: Old Kingdom, Middle
Kingdom, and the New Kingdom
These were periods of long term stability
The history of Egypt begins around 3100 BCE
when Menes united the villages of Upper
(southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt into a
single kingdom and created the first dynasty.
Dynasty - a family of rulers whose right to rule
is passed on within the family.
Lasted from around 2700 to 2200 BCE
Was an age of prosperity and splendor
The most common title for Egyptian monarchs
was pharaoh meaning “great house” or
Kingship was a divine authority in Ancient
A breakdown in royal power could only mean
that citizens were offending the gods and
weakening the world order .
Lasted from about 2050 to 1652 BCE
Egyptians later portrayed the Middle Kingdom
as a Golden Age – an age of stability.
Egypt began a period of expansion during this
One feature was a new concern of the pharaohs
for the people. He was portrayed as the
shepherd who provided for his people.
The Middle Kingdom came to an end when the
pharaohs were overthrown by a foreign group,
the Hyksos
A new dynasty used the new weapons and drove
out the Hyksos, establishing the New Kingdom
in 1567 BCE.
The New Kingdom lasted until 1085 BCE.
Egypt created an empire and became the most
powerful state in Southwest Asia.
Massive wealth boosted the power of the New
Kingdom Pharaohs
God-King (Pharaoh)
Upper Class of Nobles and Priests
Merchants, Artisans, Scribes, and Tax
Collectors (The Middle Class)
Peasants – the largest number of people in
Egypt simply worked the land
Nile River
Lower Egypt
Upper Egypt

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