Political Structure of Sumer
led the military, administered trade,
judged disputes, and engaged in the
most important religious ceremonies.
ruled through a series of bureaucrats
who surveyed land, assigned fields, and
distributed crops after harvest.
claimed authority was based on “divine
claimed the monarch was a
representative of the gods and worthy of
Social Structure of Mesopotamia
•The Emergence of a
• (“patri” = father)
Specialization of work led to increasing
complexity in the economy.
Artisan class develops.
Barter system in which goods are
exchanged at bazaars.
No “money” is exchanged.
•Powerful gods resembled humans.
•Gods controlled natural forces and were
associated with astronomical bodies, such
as the sun.
•The gods were creator gods; as a group,
they had created the world and the people in
•Believed gods regretted creation of humans
and made a flood.
•Stone tablets kept records of
•Early writings were actually
pictures done with a reed on
• Eventually, the Sumerians
converted to a short-hand
called cuneiform, or "wedge-
shaped“ in Latin.
• The oldest literary work, The
Epic of Gilgamesh, is a product
of the Sumerians
calendars, which they divided
into twelve months based on
the cycle of the moon.
•This interest in measuring
long periods of time led the
Sumerians to develop a
complicated knowledge of
Developments of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamian empires, 1800-
The First Empire:
•The Akkadians came from the Arabic
•The Akkadians migrated north into
the Sumerian city-states
•In 2340 BC, the military leader,
Sargon, conquered Sumer and built
•It was the largest empire humans
great Akkadian had ever seen up until
•It later became the city of Babylon,
which was the commercial and
cultural center of the middle east for
almost two thousand years.
Hammurabi’s •Around 1900 B.C.E. the
Amorites (Old Babylonians)
Code gained control of most of
•A Babylonian monarch
named Hammurabi came up
with a system of laws.
•a law of exact revenge or lex
talionis: "an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, a life for a
•Sumerian law recognized
class distinctions; under
Sumerian law, everyone was
• Harming a priest or noble
person was a far more serious
crime than harming a slave or
Sources from the Past:
Hammurabi’s Law on Family Relationships
“If the wife of a seignior has been caught while lying with
another man, they shall bind them and throw them into the
water. If the husband of the woman wishes to spare his wife,
then the king in turn may spare his subject.”
- Hammurabi’s Law
The Later Mesopotamian
Empires: The Assyrians
The Assyrians were Semitic
people living in the northern
reaches of Mesopotamia.
The army was the largest
standing army ever seen in the
Middle East or Mediterranean.
Technological innovation in
weaponry: iron swords, lances,
metal armor, and battering rams
They are remembered for their
brutality, use of exile and harsh
Later Influences in Religion
The Early Hebrews
Settlement in Palestine
The Early Jewish
Hear the story.
Migrations to the East
Migrations to the
Migrations to the West