Mesopotamia and Egypt - Tarleton State University

Report
FIRST CIVILIZATIONS
China
Middle East
Central America
Egypt
India
Peru
DEFINITION
• Large urban settlements (ie., cities)
• Varied and complex social structure
• Highly organized government
• Complex religious belief system presided over by professional
priests
• Writing system
MESOPOTAMIA
Mesopotamia
Sumer
• Means “Land Between Two
Rivers”
– Tigris on the northwest
– Euphrates on the
southeast
• Southern most region of
Mesopotamia was called
“Sumer”
– Characterized by small,
Neolithic farming
villages until 3500 BC
RISE OF SUMERIAN CIVILIZATION
• Population explosion
around 3500 BC caused the
eventual appearance of
twelve city-states in the
region
– Uruk, Ur, Lagash,
Nippur, Kish, Eridu, etc.
• City-state includes large,
urban center, surrounded
by walls, as well as
surrounding countryside
– Each had their own
ruler, army, patron god,
and set of laws
– Like tiny independent
countries
CUNEIFORM WRITING
Means “wedge-shaped”
“Written” on clay tablets with wooden stylus
Thousands of different characters which
evolved over time. Most stood for objects but
others represented abstract concepts
Very difficult to master—took years and years
of specialized training. Cuneiform writing was
therefore not “democratic”—only a small elite
had mastered and used it
Motivation for inventing this system was the
need to keep commercial records
OTHER SUMERIAN ACHIEVEMENTS
• Brick architecture
• Bronze tools and weapons
• Engaged in trade with places as
far away as Africa and Asia
• First money
• First schools (trained scribes and
priests)
• First Literature
– Epic poem
– Wisdom literature
• Medicinal drugs
• Accurate lunar calendar
GILGAMESH
Akkad was inhabited by a
people who had migrated
there from Arabia around 5000
BC. Lived a Neolithic lifestyle
and had some trade contacts
with Sumer
AKKAD
Around 2300 BC they were
united under the rule of a
Using
Sumer as his power
warrior-chieftain
named
base,
hewho
thenthen
conquered
Sargon,
led them
rest
Mesopotamia
andof
in aof
successful
invasion
the
Mediterranean
coast
Sumer—he
took over
all of
the
the
Middle East—creating
city-states
there in a little
world’s
first
empire
over
a year
CULTURAL MISSIONARY
• Once he had taken over Sumer, Sargon
and his people absorbed Sumerian
civilization and became civilized
themselves
– They then spread their adopted
culture into new Middle Eastern
regions when they conquered new
territory
– Sargon was thus an unintentional
cultural missionary
• Spread achievements of the
Sumerians into new regions
POLITICAL EVOLUTION
• Sargon’s empire
collapsed a few
decades after his death
in 2130 BC
– In the aftermath, the
Sumerian city-state
of Ur briefly
dominated the
region
OLD BABYLONIAN EMPIRE
• Ur’s dominance came to an end when the city-state of Babylon
seized control over most of the region
– Around 1800 BC
– City-state controlled by the Amorites
• Tribe from Arabia that had moved into Mesopotamia earlier
– Most famous ruler was Hammurabi
– Created the “Old Babylonian Empire”
SUMERIAN LEGACY
• During the centuries that followed, the Old Babylonian
Empire would also collapse, setting a pattern of rising and
falling empires that would characterize the region for the
next 3000 years
– The original city-states of Sumer would be incorporated
into these empires and in the process, the Sumerian
language and the Sumerians themselves would blend
into the various new groups who settled in
Mesopotamia
• But the cultural legacy that had created would
endure to provide the foundation for a
Mesopotamian civilization that would dominate the
Middle East for the next 3000 years
RELIGION
Mespotamian God: Marduk
• Mesopotamians were
polytheistic
– Believed in numerous
gods and goddesses,
each with a special
function
• Gods were often cruel,
vindictive, petty, and
unpredictable
– So Mesopotamians
went to great lengths to
keep them appeased
ZIGGURAT
• Never made an important decision without first consulting the gods
– Through priests who consulted the stars or engaged in augury
• Built huge temple in center of city for patron god
– Called a Ziggurat
– Believed that god actually lived in it
– Also served as economic center, since ziggurat priests controlled
all the land in city-state and administered it in the god’s name
MESOPOTAMIAN RULERS
• Mesopotamian rulers
were never priests
– Although they needed
the support of priests
to stay in power
• They served as military
leaders and political
administrators
– Part of administrative
responsibility was to
enforce the law
HAMMURABI’S CODE
• One of earliest written law codes
• Women were legally subservient to men
• Women and children were completely under
the power of the male head of the family
• Based on legal principle of “eye for an eye,
tooth for a tooth”
– Therefore very brutal in terms of
punishments
• Degree of inequality built into the code
– Status affected punishment
MESOPOTAMIAN SCIENCE
• Devised multiplication and
division tables and
formulas for finding cube
and cube root
• Measured circles by
dividing them into 360
degrees
• Developed science of
astronomy
– Carefully observed and
recorded positions of
planets and stars
MESOPOTAMIAN MEDICINE
• Believed illness was caused by
demons entering the body of
afflicted person
– Devised a number of ways to
drive the demon out and thus
“cure” the patient
• Chants and magic spells
• Also believed that horrible
tasting concoctions would drive
the demon out
– Some had some real
medicinal value
THE NILE RIVER
• Key to civilization in
ancient Egypt was Nile
River
– Abundant and
reliable source of
water for agriculture
– Flooded every year
• Leaving behind a
rich layer of silt
which fertilized
crops
BIRTH OF THE OLD KINGDOM
• In 2900 BC, a tribal chieftain from
southern Egypt united all the
villages along the Nile under his rule
– Zoser
– Began period known as the “Old
Kingdom”
• 2900-2100 BC
• Old Kingdom endured for 800 years
until civil wars and economic burden
of building and maintaining
pyramids destroyed prosperity and
unity
– Plunged region into anarchy
MIDDLE KINGDOM
• Around 2000 BC, strong rulers
emerged who restored united
rule and order
– Created Middle Kingdom
• 2000-1800 BC
• Cultural life and economic
prosperity revived
• For first time, trade links
established with outside world
– Palestine, Syria, and Crete
HYKSOS INVASION
• Entered Egypt around 1800 BC
• Took control of northern Egypt
and held it for 100 years
– Shattered unity and ended
Middle Kingdom
• “Warrior-pharoah” Ahmose I
drove Hyksos out around 1600
BC
– Restored unity to Nile valley
– Started New Kingdom
• 1600-1100 BC
RELIGION
• Egyptians were also
polytheistic
– Gods took various
forms:
• Animals
– Crocodiles and
cats
• Forces of nature
– Nile River
• Half human/half
animal
PHARAOH
• Believed pharaoh was a god
– At first he was seen as the human
incarnation of Horus
– Later also associated with AmonRe and Osiris
• All-powerful
– But he was expected to use his
power to care for his people
• His laws and commands were
supposed to preserve ma’at
(harmony and justice)
• Often portrayed as a shepherd
– Protecting his people
AFTERLIFE
• Pyramids, mummification, and tomb art
all related to strong belief in the afterlife
– Writing system (hieroglyphics) was
invented to preserve prayers for the
dead on tomb walls
• At first, it was believed that only pharaoh
and his family could achieve afterlife
– In time, access to afterlife became
more “democratic” as upper class and
then commoners claimed that they too
could enter it
• Afterlife was viewed to contain the same
pleasures that people enjoyed on earth
but without the pain
MUMMIES
SCIENCE
• Demonstrated amazing engineering skills
in building the pyramids
• Invented an effective system of
mathematics
• Developed accurate 365-day solar
calendar
• Doctors still believed demons caused
illness but they could nonetheless
correctly diagnose a large number of
illnesses
– Also understood that unclean
conditions caused infection
– Had some knowledge of anatomy
NEW KINGDOM
• Ahmose I’s war of liberation again
Hyksos l gave rise to an intense
militarism
– Led to creation of an empire
with the conquest of Palestine,
Lebanon, and Syria
• Conquests changed Egypt
– Greatly enriched country
– Led to creation of professional
army
– Increased power of priests
– Accelerated commercial and
cultural contacts with other
regions
HATSHEPSUT
• Females prohibited
from being pharaoh
• She nonetheless
dressed like a man and
ruled New Kingdom for
20 years
– Ruled through her
weak son
• Very warlike and
aggressive
AKHENATON
• Tried to replace traditional Egyptian
polytheism with the worship of a
single god, Aton
– Represented by symbol of the
sun
– monotheism
• Even built new capital devoted
exclusively to Aton and ordered all
statues and temples to old gods
destroyed
– Even made it a capital crime to
worship old gods in any manner
FAILURE
Akhenaton’s attempt to impose monotheistic on a
traditionally polytheistic people was resisted by
both the masses and priests
He died under mysterious circumstances in 1353 BC
Most likely murdered by his wife, Nefertiti
Replaced by his nephew, Tutankhamon,
who restored traditional polytheistic
religion and tried to obliterate all
references to Akhenaton and his god
THE END
Egypt plagued by invasions by
nomads from the Lybian Desert and
the so-called “Sea-Peoples” after
the death of Akhenaton
Also became involved in a war with
the Hittites over Syria and Palestine
war was a draw but it
dramatically weakened
both empires
As a result of these problems, Egypt
declined and abandoned its empire
period of greatness was over
by 1100 BC
POWER VACUUM
• Collapse of New Kingdom,
Hittite, and other empires
at approximately the same
time created a temporary
power vacuum in the
Middle East
– Allowed several small
states to establish
themselves and prosper
for a while
– One was the Kingdom of
Israel
THE PHOENCIANS
• Set up string of city-states along Mediterranean coast of Middle East
– Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Berytus
• Sent merchant expeditions throughout the Mediterranean Basin
– Spreading Middle Eastern civilization to new areas
– Established trading posts in these new regions
• Some evolved into prosperous and powerful city-states, ie.,
Carthage
PHOENCIAN ALPHABET
• Simplified cuneiform writing system by
reducing it down to 29 symbols
– Each standing for a sound
– Motivated by their desire to simplify
their record-keeping
• Made literacy more “democratic” by
opening up the opportunity for writing
to people who otherwise did not have
the time and money to master
cuneiform writing
• Would be adopted and modified by
both the Greeks and Romans
– Direct ancestor of our alphabet
ASSYRIANS
• Assyrians were
originally a tribe from
Arabia who settled in
northern Mesopotamia
around 1100 BC
– Extremely aggressive
– Conquered all of
Middle East and
Egypt by 900 BC
NASTY GUYS
• Assyrians terrorized subjects into
obedience
– Routinely employed brutal
terror: mass executions, mass
mutilations, torture, and
massive destruction of farmland
and cities
• Policy worked for a long time
but it planted deep and
intense resentments in the
hearts of their subjects
– Remained outwardly
obedient while waiting
for Assyrians to weaken in
order to get revenge
THE END
• Two Assyrian subject
peoples allied together,
rose up and annihilated the
Assyrians in 626 BC
– Medes (from Iran)
– Chaldeans (lived in and
around the old citystate of Babylon)
• Assyrian capital of Nineveh
was leveled and Assyrian
power was permanently
destroyed
CHALDEAN EMPIRE
• Chaldeans then created
empire, headquartered in
Babylon
– Called the “New Babylonian
Empire”
– Reached its peak during the
reign of Nebuchadnezzar
• Turned Babylon into
most magnificent city in
the ancient world
– Hanging Gardens
– Ishtar Gate
BABYLON
Ishtar Gate
Hanging Gardens
PERSIANS
• Chaldean Empire
weakened after
Nebuchadnezzar’s death
and was over-run by the
Persians
– Indo-European people,
originally from southern
Russia
– Led by Cyrus the Great
– Created largest empire
in the world up until
that time
PERSIAN EMPIRE
PERSIAN ACHIEVEMENTS
• Provided unity to the Middle East for 200 years
• Developed efficient administrative system
– Satraphies
• Built numerous roads
• Created “pony express” type postal system
• Tolerated different religions and customs
ZOROASTERIANISM
• Founded by Zoroaster
• Taught that there were two gods
who been battling each other
since the beginning of time
– One was the God of Light and
Goodness, Ahrura Mazda
– Other was God of Darkness
and Evil, Ahriman
• Human beings had to pick a side
in this struggle, and they did so
through their actions
DAY OF JUDGMENT
• Ahrura-Mazda will eventually win
the struggle
– And this victory will inaugurate
a “Day of Judgment”
• All people who supported
Ahrura-Mazda will be
rewarded and all those who
supported Ahriman
punished
• Zoroasterianism stressed ethical
behavior before all else
– Influenced such later ethicallybased religions as Christianity
and Islam
SUMMARY
• Middle Eastern civilizations demonstrated enormous creativity and
intelligence
– Built magnificent cities, organized governments, performed
sophisticated mathematics, built massive public monuments,
engaged in international trade, established schools, advanced
the level of technology, and invented writing
• But these civilizations also introduced negative aspects
– Inequality, slavery, and the routine use of war to obtain political
goals
• Introduction and development of civilization was a mixed blessing
– Brought amazing benefits but also introduced problems that
remain unresolved today

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