Mesopotamia Mesopotamia Theme Comparing civilizations Lsn 2 ID SIG • Babylon


Theme: Comparing civilizations

            Lsn 2
               ID & SIG
• Babylon, Code of Hammurabi, cuneiform,
  Epic of Gilgamesch, lex talionis,
  metallurgy, temple communities, Tigris
  and Euphrates Rivers, wheel
• Greek for “land
  between the rivers”
  – Tigris and Euphrates
  – Modern-day Iraq
       Empires and Dominance
•   Sumer 3200-2350 B.C.
•   Babylonian 2350-1600 B.C.
•   Sargon of Akkad 2334-2315 B.C.
•   Hittite 1450-1200 B.C.
•   Assyrian 1000-612 B.C.
•   New Babylonian 605-550 B.C.
• Population growth
  was especially
  rapid in Sumer
   – By 3000 B. C.,
     the population of
     100,000 and
     Sumerians were
     the dominant
     people of
          Babylonian Empire
• Akkadians and Babylonians of northern
  Mesopotamia began to overshadow Sumerians
  – Sargon of Akkad defeated Sumerian city-states one
    by one
  – By 2000 B.C. Sargon’s empire collapsed from a
    combination of internal rebellion and external
• Babylonians dominated from about 2350 to 1600
  – Most prominent king was Hammurabi (1792 to 1750
           Assyrian Empire
• After the fall of the Babylonian Empire, the
  Assyrians gradually came to power,
  extending their authority to Mesopotamia,
  Syria, Palestine, much of Anatolia, and
  most of Egypt
• Preserved much from Mesopotamia
• Extremely unpopular rule
  – Couldn’t administer far-flung empire
  – Collapsed in 612 B.C.
           New Babylonian Empire
             (Chaldean Empire)
• 605 to 550 B.C.
• Known for its wealth
  and excess
• King Nebuchadnezzar
  ruled from 605 to 562
   – Built Hanging Gardens of
   – Captured Judah in 586,
     destroyed the great
     temple in Jerusalem, and
     forced many Hebrews
     into exile in Babylon.
    Characteristics of a Civilization
• Intensive agricultural techniques
• Specialization of labor
• Cities
• A social hierarchy
• Organized religion and education
• Development of complex forms of economic
• Development of new technologies
• Advanced development of the arts. (This can
  include writing.)

Sumerian sledge
• Tigris and Euphrates
  brought large
  volumes of water to
  an otherwise dry
• As early as 6000
  B.C., people began
  small scale irrigation
• Artificial irrigation
  increased food
  supplies which in turn
  supported a rapidly
  increasing population
                               Fertile Crescent
       • Tigris and
         irrigation allowed
         to grow barley,
         wheat, and peas
         Map of fields and
         irrigation canals near
         Nippur, Mesopotamia
         from cuneiform tablet, ca
         1300 B.C.

     Agriculture’s Impact
• Abundant harvests
  supported increased
• Semetic people (those who
  spoke Akkadian, Aramaic,
  Hebrew, and Phoenician)
  began to migrate to Sumer   specialization


Ur and Babylon
• Beginning around 4000 B.C., as populations
  increased in southern Mesopotamia, the
  Sumerians built the world’s first cities
• Unlike earlier villages, these cities were centers
  of political and military authority, and their
  jurisdiction extended into the surrounding
   – Economic centers where buyers and sellers
   – Cultural centers where priests maintained organized
     religion and scribes developed traditions of writing
     and formal education
• Mesopotamians had numerous, densely-
  populated city-states
• Built around 2100
  – Sometimes called
    the world’s first city
• Sumerian capital of
• Believed to have
  been surrounded
  by a moat
• Home of Abraham
  (Genesis Chapter

                      Leonard Woolley:
                      Archeologist who
                      excavated Ur in the
Ziggurat at Ur        1920s and 30s
     • Made a lavish
       showplace by
     • More than 2,100
     • 1,179 temples
     • Massive defensive
     • Hanging Gardens
     • Fell to Cyrus the
       Great in 539 B.C.

Mesopotamian potter’s
                        Engraving   Sumerian earrings
wheel from Uruk

• Abundant food supplies and
  cities as population centers
  allowed some people to perform     populations
  tasks not associated with
• People expanded into the areas
  of pottery, textile manufacture,
  woodworking, leather               specialization
  production, brick making,
  stonecutting, and masonry
Social Hierarchy
           Social Hierarchy
• Kings and nobles originally won their
  positions by community election based on
  valor and success as warriors
  – Soon royal status become hereditary
  – Nobles were mostly members of the royal
• Closely allied with the ruling elites were
  priests and priestesses, many who were
  younger relatives of the rulers
  – Lived in temple communities
           Social Hierarchy
• Free commoners worked mostly as
  peasant cultivators in the countryside on
  land owned by their families, although
  some worked in cities
• Dependent clients usually worked on
  agricultural estates owned by others
  – Both free commoners and dependent clients
    paid taxes to support the ruling classes,
    military, and temple communities
             Social Hierarchy
• Slaves came from:
  – Prisoners of war
  – Convicted criminals
  – Heavily indebted individuals who sold themselves into
    slavery to satisfy their obligations
• Patriarchal society
  – Authority over public and private affairs vested in
    adult men
  – Law recognized men as heads of households and
    had disproportionate punishments for men and
Religion and Education
           Religion and Education
• Polytheism
   – The ancient Mesopotamians worshipped hundreds of
     gods, each with his/her own name and sphere of
   – Every city had its own patron god or goddess, and there
     were also deities connected with various professions
     such as scribes and builders.
   – Individual people also had their own personal god who
     protected them and interceded for them with the great

    Enki, god of water
        Religion and Education
• Kings often portrayed as offspring of gods or
  gods themselves
• Priests intervened with the gods to ensure good
  fortune for their communities
   – In exchange, priests and priestesses lived in temple
     communities and received offerings of food, drink,
     and clothing from the city inhabitants
   – Temples also generated income and work
• Epic of Gilgamesh taught there is no afterlife
   – Death is dark, dank, and inert

• Ziggurats were huge
  stepped structures
  with a temple on top
  – Built in honor of the
    city’s god (other gods
    might have smaller
  – Intended to reach
    nearer to the heavens
                              Tower of Babel
            Code of Hammurabi
• Hammurabi (King of
  Babylonian Empire from 1792
  to 1750 B.C.) maintained
  control of empire by a code of
• Claimed the gods had chosen
  him “to promote the welfare of
  the people,… to cause justice
  to prevail in the land, to
  destroy the wicked and evil,
  [so] that the strong might not
  oppress the weak, to rise like
  the sun over the people, and
  to light up the land.”
        Code of Hammurabi
• High standards of behavior and stern
  punishments for violators
• Death penalty for murder, theft, fraud,
  false accusations, sheltering of runaway
  slaves, failure to obey royal orders,
  adultery, and incest
• Civil laws regulating prices, wages,
  commercial dealings, marital relationships,
  and the conditions of slavery
         Code of Hammurabi
• Relied on lex talionis– the law of retaliation
  – Offenders suffered punishments resembling
    their violations
     • If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye
       shall be put out. [ An eye for an eye ]
     • If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be
       broken. (197)
     • If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth
       shall be knocked out. [ A tooth for a tooth ] (200)
Economic Exchange
           Economic Exchange
• Trade occurred by ship and
  donkey caravan
• Sumerians traded woolen textiles,
  leather goods, sesame oil, and
  jewelry with India for copper,
  ivory, pearls, and semi-precious
• Babylonians imported silver from
  Anatolia, cedar wood from
  Lebanon, copper from Arabia,
  gold from Egypt, tin from Persia,
  lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, and
  semiprecious stones from India       Cylinder seals were used to
                                       record a contract, record, or
• Barter was the main form of
  commerce until silver became         official receipt. By affixing a
  popular around 1750 B.C.             seal to a tablet, the user
                                       validated its contents.
New Technologies
• Metallurgy ranks among the most
  important aspects of technology and
• Metallurgy evolved from copper to bronze
  and by 1000 B.C., Mesopotamians were
  working with iron as well
• Important implications for agriculture and
                 The Wheel
• First use of wheels
  probably occurred
  about 3500 B.C.
• Sumerians were
  building wheeled
  carts by 3000 B.C.
• The wheel increased
  the mobility of society
  and allowed heavy         Chariot model,
                            discovered in the Royal
  loads to be moved         tomb of Ur in Sumer
  over great distances      around 6000 BC
Development of the Wheel
                  Art and Writing

                    Dragon of Marduk

Gudea of Lagash
                                       Winged Guardian
          Art and Writing
• Cuneiform
• Epic of Gilgamesch
• Hanging Gardens of Babylon
• Latin for “wedge-shaped”
  – Beginning around 2900 B. C., Sumerians developed a
    flexible writing system that combined pictographs and
    other symbols
  – Scribes used a reed stylus to impress symbols on wet
    clay leaving lines and wedge-shaped marks
• Babylonians, Assyrians, and others later
  adapted the Sumerians’ script to their own
  languages and cuneiform writing continued for
  three thousand years
Cuneiform Examples
            Epic of Gilgamesh
• Classic example of Mesopotamian literature
• Began in the Sumerian city-states, but the entire
  epic represents the work of compilers during the
  days of the Babylonian empire
• Originally written on 12 clay tablets in cuneiform
• Recounts experiences of Gilgamesh and Enkidu
   – Gilgamesh was the legendary king of Uruk, ca. 3000
     B.C., and Enkidu was a wild-man, raised by animals
     that became the friend of Gilgamesh after they fought.
           Epic of Gilgamesh
• Principle vehicle for
  reflection on moral
   – Friendship
   – Relations between
     humans and the gods
   – The meaning of life
     and death
    Hanging Gardens of Babylon
• One of the “Seven
  Wonders of the
• Built by King
  Nebuchadnezzar II
  around 600 B.C. on
  top of stone arches
  23 meters above
  ground and watered
  from the Euphrates
  by a complicated
  mechanical system.
• Series of terraces
  filled with plants.
• Egypt