Civilizations of Mesopotamia

Problem of the Day
A statement has had all its vowels removed.
Replace them and find the statement.
Problem of the Day
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
The Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent vs. Mesopotamia
• Fertile Crescent is a fertile area in the Middle
East that stretches from the Persian Gulf to the
Mediterranean Sea.
– Shaped like a crescent moon
• Mesopotamia is a region within the Fertile
– The Land Between the Rivers
– Tigris & Euphrates Rivers made it possible for
farming due to flooding
Why Were People Drawn to This
1. Rich soil
2. Life-giving rivers
Clay for building
Strong reeds to make boats
Fertile soil left behind from the floods
What Challenges Did People Face
in Mesopotamia?
1. Unpredictable floods destroyed crops,
homes & people
2. Some areas were marshy and unsuitable
for farming because of over-flooding
Why is the Region Known as the
Cradle of Civilization?
• It is the birth of civilization.
Rock- a- bye
The Many People of Mesopotamia
1. Sumerians (3000 B.C. - 1800 B.C.)
2. Babylonians (1800 B.C. - 1200 B.C.)
3. Assyrians (1200 B.C. - 539 B.C.)
4. Persians (539 B.C. - 330 B.C.)
• Sumer was never united under one ruler
– Independent city-states
– Results in their downfall…why?
• Sumerians were great inventors
– The wheel (around 3500 BCE)
– Invention of cuneiform writing
– The Plow
– The Sailboat
• First Writing system
– Cuneiform
– Clay tablets with reed for a stylus
• Earliest literature
– World’s oldest poetry
– The Epic of Gilgamesh
I am the great king
the handout about
my epic tale!
Sumerian Religion
• Polytheism- belief in many gods
– Sumerians believed in polytheistic,
anthropomorphic deities
• Each city-state had its own patron god
• Ziggurats – massive, stepped-pyramids used
as temples by Sumerian priests
– Existed long before the Egyptian pyramids
Main Sumerian Deities
• An: God of heaven
• Enlil: God of the air
• Enki: God of freshwater, male fertility, and
• Inanna: Goddess of love, female fertility and
• Ki: Goddess of the earth.
• Nanna: God of the moon
• Ninurta: God of war, agriculture
• Utu: God of the sun
Religions have attempted to build their sanctuaries on prominent
heights. Since no such natural heights were available in the flat
flood plains of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), ancient priests and
kings determined to build ziggurats, square or rectangular
artificial stepped temple platforms. Functionally, temples were
placed on raised platforms to give them prominence over other
buildings in a city, and to allow more people to watch the services
performed at the temple. Symbolically, however, the ziggurat
represents the cosmic mountain on which the gods dwell. The
priests ascent up the stairway to the temple at the top of the
ziggurat represents the ascent to heaven. The great ziggurat at
Khorsabad, for example, had seven different stages; each was
painted a different color and represented the five known planets,
the moon, and the sun.
The mud-brick core of the
ziggurat was covered with baked
Each baked brick measured
about 12 x 12 x 3 in and
weighed up to 33lbs. About
720,000 baked bricks would
have been needed in building
the first stage of the ziggurat.
This brick was stamped with the
name and title of Ur-Nammu,
the king who ordered the
ziggurat built. Most bricks used
to build the ziggurat were
stamped. Somebody had the job
of stamping the damp bricks.
Why Did Sumer Fall?
• Its wealth lead to fighting over…
– Land
– Use of river water
The First Empire
• Akkad was a Sumerian citystate.
• King Sargon I of Akkad
conquered Sumer and
united the city-states.
• Eventually dissolved into
independent city-states
until Babylonia took control.
was the
capital of
• Babylonia’s most powerful and memorable
king rules from 1792 to 1750 B.C.E.
– Reorganizing the tax system for easier
collection of taxes
– Repaired the irrigation canals to increase
– Establishes a written code of laws ( more to
follow at a later date)
• “So That the Strong Should
Not Harm the Weak”
someone “got
my nose”?
The End of Babylonia ( for now)
• The decline began with the death of
• Fell to the Hittites in 1600s B.C.E.
The Babylonians
• Began as empire around 1890s BCE when citystates were united.
• Located 60 miles south of Baghdad
• Babylonians built:
– Great walled cities teeming with life
– Roads allow caravans to travel the empire
– Vast public buildings
• The palace at Mari ( 350 –room palace with pipes to drain
– Comfortable houses for all people
Babylonian Empire
Started as city by the Euphrates River in 1900 BCE
Babylon--capital of Babylonian Empire
Under King Hammurabi conquered all of the
surrounding cities (including Sumer) to make it the
Fertile Crescent’s 1st united empire in 1787 BCE.
Empire-- an area of many territories and peoples
that is controlled by one government
Babylonian Culture
Very similar to Sumerian culture
Adopted their religion, literature, inventions, & practices
Became wealthy via trade & agriculture
Trade required them to build roads & bazaars
bazaar--outdoor market place for trading goods
caravan--a group of travelers (Why travel together?)
Hammurabi’s Code--first known, written set of laws,
created by King of Babylon during his reign (1792-1750)
Created a useful system of mathematics & astronomy
Math based on numbers from 1-60
Does this sound familiar?
Allowed them to calculate areas of geometric shapes
Why would this be important for building an empire?
The End of Babylon
•All their wealth couldn’t save
them from conquest…
•They fell to another, growing
The Assyrian Empire
•Civilization on upper
Tigris River in an open
•Frequently attacked by
•Developed standing
army (soldiers who
The Assyrian Army
•Fierce & cruel warriors
•Weapons made of iron
(rather than bopper or bronze)
•Created forts & government
to administer conquered cities
•First mail service to
communicate between cities
in empire
•Other Advancements:
•Trained Horses & Chariots
•Archers & Stone Slings
•Battering Rams
The Softer Side of the
They created a great library with clay tablets from
Sumer & Babylon.
By 650 BCE, Empire stretched from The Nile River
to the Persian Gulf! (See map on p. 39 in textbook.)
Captured enemies (murdering or enslaving them),
plundered & looted cities, & demanded taxes
(tributes) from the vanquished.
The Assyrians were widely hated.
Several revolt attempts
Medes & Chaldeans overthrew them in 612 BCE.
Babylon’s Back, Baby!
What city rose out of the ashes of Nineveh?
The Chaldeans made the city of Babylon their
new capital.
This time around their most important king was
Nebuchadnezzar II
Ruled from 605-562 BCE
Babylon grew strong under him
More Babylonian
Center of Math & Science
Astronomy so accurate could calculate length of
year to within minutes of modern methods!
Started domesticating honey bees (Why?)
Reasons to Remember
Huge wall surrounding the
Beautifully decorated
Towers for guards
4-Horse Chariot-wide
Famous Gate of Ishtar
Reasons to Remember
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Built by Nebuchadnezzar
Beautifully decorated
Roof-top tropical gardens
In the middle of the desert
1 of 7 Wonders of the
Ancient World
Why? Let’s find out...
This Time Babylon Falls &
Stays Down
•Nebuchadnezzar is
succeeded by his son in
562 BCE, but he’s
assassinated just three
years later.
•Within a few years, new
empire invades
The Persian Empire
(539-330 BCE)
The Persian Empire
Located east of Fertile Crescent (modern-day Iran &
People were Indo-Europeans called Aryans (source
of Iran’s name)
Started in 550 BCE by Persian province ruler named
Cyrus the Great (350-330 BCE)
United Medes & Persians into a strong army and
later a kingdom
The Persian Empire
Army of archers & cavalrymen conquered most of
ancient world (See map on p. 39)
Unlike Assyrians, they were benevolent:
Freed Jews
Treated conquered fairly & kindly (did force
Allowed them to maintain culture
Ruling the Biggest Empire
Emperor Darius I (522-486
BCE) set up system to
organize the empire:
Divided into 20 provinces
Each managed by governors
Judges & Tax Collectors
Surprise inspectors
Well paved roads which led to
international trade
complex structure of government offices needed to
govern a vast empire or nation (negative
the official religion of the Persian Empire
had one supreme god who made world, sun, moon &
What is this kind of religion called?
The Persian Empire Lasted
until Alexander the Great conquered it in 330 BCE

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