Mesopotamia: Land Between Two Rivers

Mesopotamia: Land Between Two Rivers
Hot & Dry
Very Harsh
Intense Rainstorms
Temperatures often
above 100 degrees
• Would be a desert if
not for the rivers.
• Student Handout:
The Fertile Crescent
• Present day Iraq
• Eastern part of the Fertile
• Greek word that means “between
two rivers”
• It refers to the Tigris & the
Euphrates Rivers.
• The northern part was referred to
as Akkad and the southern part
was Sumer.
• These two rivers flow into the
Persian Gulf.
• Irrigation (series of canals) made
farming possible in this dry land.
• One of the world’s earliest
civilizations that existed between
5000-539 B.C.E.
• Many floods, which carried great
amount of silt allowed the soil to
be constantly replenished.
• People were attracted to Mesopotamia Area because of
the natural levees that occurred along the Euphrates
• Natural levees are embankments produced by the
sediment that builds up after thousands of years of
• The levee surface slopes gently downward away from
the river.
• Aside from protection, the silt and sediment was fertile,
easily drained, planted, irrigated and cultivated.
Nomads to farmers: Levees
Increased cultivated land… Increase
in food production, therefore,
population increased.
• It was in this region that humans first abandoned
their nomadic lifestyle and built permanent
• Mesopotamia was not a single civilization or
• It was an area that was composed of several
independent city-states, each with its own
religion, laws, language and government.
The Sumerians
The Sumerians
• The first group to inhabit Mesopotamia.
The Sumerians
• 4000 B.C.E.
• They lived in southern Mesopotamia in a
number of independent city-states.
• Each consisted of a small city and its
surrounding area.
• The rulers of these city-states constantly
were at war with one another.
The Sumerians
• They used money, which
made individuals wealthy.
• The head of the military
would become King.
• War leaders evolved into
hereditary rulers.
The Royal Standard of
• In the center of each city was a temple that housed the city’s
• A ziggurat was a step pyramid that was a religious temple.
• They were polytheistic, which means they believed in many
• They believed that the gods controlled every aspect of nature
and everyday life
• It was vital to obey the gods and keep them happy with daily
offerings or the gods would send wars, floods, & diseases to
punish the people.
• The priest was the only one allowed in ziggurats; therefore, he
was very important.
Ziggurat at Ur
 Temple
 “Mountain of
the Gods”
• The earliest writing was based on pictograms, which were
used to communicate information about taxes and crops.
• Ancient Sumerian record keepers marked pictographic
symbols in soft pieces of clay with a pointed reed. The clay
tablets were then baked to make them hard.
• Overtime, writing was changed into a script called cuneiform.
• Cuneiform means wedged shaped, because the marks in the
clay were wedges.
• Not everyone learned to read and write. The ones that were
picked by the gods were called scribes. Boys that were
chosen to become scribes (professional writers) began to
study at the age of 8. They finished when they were 20 years
Sumerian Scribes
“Tablet House”
Deciphering Cuneiform
Sumerian Inventions
• Watch the following
video, and create a list of
the inventions that began
in Summer that are still in
use today.
• Cuneiform
• The wheel, which was first
used for pottery and then
the 1st wheeled vehicles.
• They developed a number
system based on the unit
60. They divided the hour
into 60 minutes and the
circle into 360 degrees.
They also developed basic
algebra and geometry.
• The water clock.
• The 12 month calendar
• The plow
• The Sailboat
Royal Tombs of Ur
• From 1922 to 1934, an archaeologist named C. Leonard Woolley
excavated the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur
• City famed in Bible as the home of patriarch Abraham
• Many great discoveries such as extravagant jewelry of gold, cups of
gold and silver, bowls of alabaster, and extraordinary objects of art
and culture
• Opened the world's eyes to the full glory of ancient Sumerian
Great Death Pit
• Found at Ur was a mass grave containing the bodies of 6 guards
and 68 court ladies (servants of kings and queens)
• servants walked down into the grave in a great funeral procession
• they drank a poisoned drink and fell asleep never to wake again,
choosing to accompany the kings and queens in the afterlife
Board Game From Ur
Musical Instrument
Mesopotamian Harp
The Akkadians
The Akkadians
• They were from the Arabian Peninsula.
• They were Semitic people. They spoke Semitic
language related to languages similar to Arabic &
• They formed their own country called Akkad.
• Sargon I conquered the Sumerians in about 2500 B.C.E.
He united Akkad & Sumer into a nation called the
Kingdom of Sumer.
• They adopted much of the Sumerian Culture. They had
many clashes with the Sumerians.
Sargon of Akkad unified:
The World’s First Empire
• Student Handout:
The Sumerians
The Babylonians
The Babylonians
• Review Movie and questions:
The Babylonians
• Henry Rawlinson of England helped find the key to understanding the
Babylonian Language.
• About 1790 B.C.E. King Hammurabi conquered city-states in the TigrisEuphrates valley and formed the Babylonian Empire
• Adapted and built upon the Sumerian Culture.
• Recorded their laws and customs in the Code of Hammurabi, which was
the 1st major collection of laws.
• Believed in astrology and recorded data later essential to astronomy.
They also made horoscopes.
• Scribes became leading citizens, as they were educated.
• Practices polytheism.
Marduk = God of Earth
Anu = God of Heavens
• Developed a 12 month calendar with 354 days.
• Student Handout:
Babylonian Math
Babylonian Numbers
The Code of Hammurabi
• The 282 laws were engraved in stone and placed in a public location
for everyone to see.
• Hammurabi required that people be responsible for their actions.
• Some of Hammurabi’s laws were based on the principle “An eye of
an eye, a tooth for a tooth” This means that whoever commits an
injury should be punished in the same manner as that injury.
• An example, would be if a son slapped his father, the son’s hand
would be cut off.
• The code did distinguish between classes of people. A person’s
punishment would depend on who was wronged.
• Consequences for crimes depended on rank in society (ie. only fines
for nobility)
Hammurabi’s [r. 1792-1750 B. C. E.]
Hammurabi, the Judge
Code of Hammurabi
(First two minutes)
• Student Handout:
The Code of
Below are situations Hammurabi faced. Decide what you think to be a fair way to
deal with the problem.
What should be done to the carpenter
who builds a house that falls and kills
the owner?
What should be done about a wife
who ignores her duties and belittles
her husband?
What should be done when a "sister
of god" (or nun) enters the wine shop
for a drink?
What should be done if a son is
adopted and then the birth-parents
want him back?
What happens if a man is unable to
pay his debts?
What should happen to a boy who
slaps his father?
What happens to the wine seller who
fails to arrest bad characters gathered
at her shop?
How is the truth determined when
one man brings an accusation
What should be done to the
carpenter who builds a house that
falls and kills the owner?
• Code 229
• If a builder builds a
house for a man and
does not make its
construction sound,
and the house which
he has built collapses
and causes the death
of the owner of the
house, the builder
shall be put to death.
What should be done when a
"sister of god" (or nun) enters the
wine shop for a drink?
• Code 110
• If a "sister of god"
(nun) who is not living
in a convent opens a
wine shop or enters a
wine shop for a drink,
they shall burn that
What happens to the wine seller
who fails to arrest bad characters
gathered at her shop?
• Code 108
• If bad characters
gather in the house of
a wine seller and she
does not arrest those
characters and bring
them to the palace,
that wine seller shall
be put to death.
What happens if a man is unable to
pay his debts?
• Code 117
• If a man be in debt and is
unable to pay his
creditors, he shall sell his
wife, son, or daughter, or
bind them over to service.
For three years they shall
work in the houses of
their purchaser or master;
in the fourth year they
shall be given their
What should be done about a wife who ignores her
duties and belittles her husband?
• Code 143
• If the woman has not
been careful but has
gadded about,
neglecting her house
and belittling her
husband, they shall
throw that woman into
the water
What should be done if a son is adopted and then
the birth-parents want him back?
• Code 185
• If a man takes in his
own home a young
boy as a son and
rears him, one may
not bring claim for
that adopted son.
What should happen to a boy who slaps his
• Code 195
• If a son strikes his
father, they shall cut
off his hand.
How is the truth determined when one man brings
an accusation against another
• Code 2
• If any one bring an accusation
against a man, and the
accused go to the river and
leap into the river, if he sink in
the river his accuser shall take
possession of his house. But if
the river prove that the
accused is not guilty, and he
escape unhurt, then he who
had brought the accusation
shall be put to death, while he
who leaped into the river shall
take possession of the house
that had belonged to his
The Epic of Gilgamesh
• A long, narrative
poem, The Epic of
Gilgamesh, is one of
the oldest works of
literature in the world
& Epic Poem.
• The poem tells of a
great flood that
covers the earth may
years earlier.
• The story details the
exploits of King
Gilgamesh and his
companion, Enkidu.
Gilgamesh Epic Tablet:
Flood Story
Epic of Gilgamesh:
The Chaldean Empire
The Chaldean Empire
• 612 B.C. – 538 B.C.
• Known as The Neo Babylonia Empire
• Suffering under the Assyrians, the city of Babylon finally rose
up against its hated enemy, the city of Nineveh, the capital of
the Assyrian empire, and burned it to the ground.
• Conquered the Phoenicians.
• Forced a large part of the Jewish population to relocate.
Numbering possibly up to 10,000, these Jewish deportees
were largely upper class people craftspeople. This deportation
marks the beginning of the Exile in Jewish history.
• Near one the ruler’s palaces were the famous Hanging
Gardens built by King Nebuchadnezzar II.
The Hittites
The Hittites
• 2000 B.C.
• Lived in Central Turkey
• Their culture was greatly influenced by the Babylonians
• They were the first to make iron tools and weapons, thus
credited with starting the Iron Age in Western Asia.
• There were many miles between the city-states and
many city-states maintained their own language and
• The city-states often fought among themselves until
Labarnas became king.
The Hittites
• Made peace with Ramses
II of Egypt in the 1st
Peace Treaty.
• Warlike People.
• One the earliest people to
ride horses.
• Their laws were
considered the fairest of
the time. Their law tried
to compensate the
person who was
Sophisticated Metallurgy
at Ur
• Student Handout:
The Hittites
The Assyrians
The Assyrians
• 100 BC. - 612 B.C.
• Named after its original capital Ashur.
• Were the first to outfit armies entirely with iron weapons.
And were the first to have a standing army (career =
• To besiege cities, they devised new military equipment:
moveable towers & battering rams. For 500 years they
terrorized the region, earning a lasting reputation as one of
the most warlike people in history..
• They used chariots, which allowed them to move quickly.
They had archers and a cavalry.
The Assyrians
• They terrorized their enemies by deliberately
employing cruelty & violence. They dammed the
rivers leading into Babylon. This deprived the
Babylonians of water.
• Women had to be veiled when they appeared in
• They divided their empire into provinces, which had
their own governor that was responsible to the king.
The governor reported directly back to the king
sending reports by messengers on horseback- the
first mail delivery system.
• Founded one the 1st libraries
• Student Handout:
The Assyrians
The Persians
The Persians
• In 539 B.C., Babylon fell to the Persian armies of Cyrus the
• Located in present-day Iran
• The Persians were tolerant of the people they conquered.
They respected the customs & religious traditions of the
diverse group in their empire.
• The real unification of the Persian Empire was accomplished
under the Persian emperor Darius, who ruled from 522–486
The Persians
• A skilled organizer, Darius
set up a government that
became a model for later
• He divided the Persian
Empire into provinces,
each headed by a
governor called a satrap.
• Each satrapy, or
province, had to pay
taxes based on its wealth
and resources.
• Special officials, “the
eyes and ears of the
king,” visited each
province to check on the
The Persians
• Like Hammurabi, Darius
adapted laws from the
people he conquered and
drew up a single code of
laws for the empire.
• By setting up a single
Persian coinage, Darius
created economic links.
• Zoroaster guided
religious beliefs and also
helped unify the empire.
He rejected the old
Persian gods. Instead,
he taught that a single
wise god, Ahura Mazda,
ruled the world.
The Phoenicians
The Phoenicians
• 1200-800 B.C.
• Prospered on the Mediterranean coast north of
• Their chief cities were Tyre & Sidon
• They gained fame as sailors & traders
• They made glass from coastal sand.
• From a tiny sea snail, they produced a widely admired
purple dye, called Tyrian purple. This became their
trademark and the favourite colour of royalty.
The Phoenicians
• The words Bible &
Bibliography come from the
Phoenician city of Byblos.
• Due to their sailing skills,
the Phoenicians brought
Mediterranean products and
culture to other civilizations
in the area.
• Replaced the cuneiform
alphabet of 550 characters
with a phonetic alphabet,
based on distinct sounds,
consisting of 22 letters.
The Hebrews (Israelites)
The Hebrews (Israelites)
• They recorded events and laws
in the Torah their most sacred
• To the Hebrews, history and
religion were interconnected.
• According to The Old
Testament,, the male leader of
the Hebrews was Abraham
(2000 B.C.).
• Abraham changed people’s
belief in many gods to one God
called Yahweh.
The Hebrews (Israelites)
• According to the Torah, the Hebrews had lived near
Ur in Mesopotamia. About 2000 B.C., they migrated,
herding their flocks of sheep and goats into a region
known as Canaan (later called Palestine).
• Abraham’s grandson was Jacob, who was known as
Israel and that is where the term Israelites comes
• The Book of Genesis tells that around 1800 B.C. a
famine in Canaan forced many Hebrews to migrate to
Egypt (led by Jacob’s son Joseph). There, they were
eventually enslaved.
• In time, Moses, the adopted son of the pharaoh’s
daughter, led the Hebrews in their escape, or exodus,
from Egypt.
The Hebrews (Israelites)
• For 40 years, the Hebrews wandered in the Sinai Peninsula.
After Moses died, they entered Canaan and defeated the people
there, claiming for themselves the land they believed God had
promised them.
• By 1000 B.C., the Hebrews had set up the kingdom of Israel.
Among the most skillful rulers of Israel were David, Saul and
• Saul was the 1st king of the Israelites.
• According to Hebrew tradition, David was
a humble shepherd who defeated a huge
Philistine warrior, Goliath. Later, David
became a strong, shrewd king who united
the feuding Hebrew tribes under a single
The Hebrews (Israelites)
• David’s son Solomon, turned Jerusalem
into an impressive capital. He built a
splendid temple dedicated to God, as well
as an enormous palace for himself. King
Solomon won praise for his wisdom and
understanding. He also tried to increase
Israel’s influence by negotiating with
powerful empires in Egypt and
• The kingdom of Israel paid a heavy price
for Solomon’s ambitions. His building
projects required such heavy taxes and
so much forced labour that revolts
erupted soon after his death about 930
• The kingdom then split into Israel in the
north and Judah in the south.
The Hebrews (Israelites)
• Weakened by this division,
the Hebrews could not fight
off invading armies. During
their captivity, the Hebrews
became known as the
• In time, Hebrew beliefs
evolved into the religion we
know today as Judaism.
• The Ten Commandments:
Laws set out both religious
duties toward God and rules
for moral conduct toward
other people.
The Lydians
The Lydians
• 8th Century B.C. to 546 B.C.
• Known for their coins (made of gold and
silver), which became the first monetary
system in the ancient world.
• Great traders that sparked a commercial
• Croesus, the king, was thought to
be the richest king in the ancient world.
• Student Handout:
Crossword Puzzle
Name the Kingdom
• Mesopotamia
Civilizations: Meosopiatmia.