Unit 2: Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent Mr. Davis Social Studies 7 The Fertile Crescent • Mesopotamia = “land between the rivers” • The Tigris River and the Euphrates River give Mesopotamia its name. • Located in present-day IRAQ • “Mesopotamia” means “between the rivers” in Greek. The Fertile Crescent • MESOPOTAMIA is part of a larger region called THE FERTILE CRESCENT, a large arc of rich, fertile farmland that extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. The Fertile Crescent Two Parts • Northern Mesopotamia = a plateau (flat area high above sea level) bordered to the north and east by mountains • Southern Mesopotamia = a flat coastal plain and river valley. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers both flowed through Southern Mesopotamia. The Rise of Civilization • Hunter-gatherers first settled in Mesopotamia about 12,000 years ago. • Silt deposits made it ideal for farming. • Crops = wheat, barley, other grains • Other food sources = Livestock, birds, fish • Plentiful food led to population growth, and villages formed. • This became the world’s first civilization. Farming and Cities • Flooding was a major problem in the beginning. • People built canals to control flooding and irrigate fields. • This led to a surplus in food supply. • Also used irrigation to water pastures for cattle and sheep to graze. Allowed for a variety of foods. Division of labor • With the surpluses, people were able to do other jobs— crafters, religious leaders, government workers. • Having people do different jobs allowed for more to get done. • Large projects helped people in government because they managed and organized people. • Cities grew between 4000 and 3000 BC (BCE). • Centers for trade, power bases for leaders • Political, Religious, Cultural, Economic centers of civilization The Rise of Sumer • Sumerians developed the first civilization in southern Mesopotamia—an advanced society in 3000 BC. Sumerian City-States • Most Sumerians were farmers in rural areas. • The centers of Sumerian societies were urban areas. • City-states were the basic political units of Sumer. Sumerian City-States • City-states often fought each other for more farmland. • Built up large armies and large thick walls for protection • By 3500 BC, a city-state known as Kish had become quite powerful. Over the next 1000 years, the citystates of Ur and Uruk fought for dominance. One of Uruk’s kings, Gilgamesh became a legendary figure in Sumerian folklore. Rise of the Akkadian Empire • Akkadians lived north of Sumer, but were not Sumerians (different culture). • Sargon was an Akkadian emperor that built a permanent army— launched a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms. • Sargon conquered all Sumer and built the first empire. Sumerian Religion • Played a key role in aspects of life • Polytheism – belief in many gods • Each city-state considered one god to be its special protector • Gods were very powerful and controlled all parts of life. • Priests performed religious ceremonies and interpreted wishes of the gods by making offerings. Sumerian Social Hierarchy KINGS PRIESTS TRADERS FARMERS & LABORERS SLAVES Men & Women in Sumer • Men held political power and made laws • Women took care of the home and children • Education was reserved mostly for men, but some upper-class women were educated as well. Cuneiform & Pictographs • Cuneiform is the early system of writing used by the Sumerians. • Sumerians wrote on clay tablets using a STYLUS. Scribes • Scribes are writers. • They were hired to keep records for the government or for the temple • Becoming a scribe was one way for Sumerians to move up in social class Sumerian students • Students went to school to learn how to read and write. • Just like today, some Sumerians did not like to go to school Sumerian students • Other subjects: history, law, grammar, and math • Epics were studied—long poems about heroes or gods The wheel • Used for carts and wagons • Potter’s wheel (used to spin and mold clay into useful items) The plow • Pulled by oxen, it was used to break up the hard clay soil to make it easier to plant crops. Other advancements • A clock that used falling water to tell time • Sewers under city streets • Make bronze to make tools and weapons stronger • Makeup • Glass jewelry Math • • • • Number system based on 60 Divided a circle into 360 degrees Developed a 12-month year (12 a factor of 60) Calculated areas of triangles and rectangles Science • Wrote long lists to record study of the natural world. • Studied numerous plants, animals, and minerals Medicine • Used ingredients from animals, plants, and minerals to make medicine. • Items in medicine included milk, turtle shells, figs, and salt. Sumerian homes • Rulers lived in palaces • Wealthy lived in 2-story homes with as many as a dozen rooms • Most lived in a one-story house with about 6 or 7 rooms around a courtyard • Used mud bricks as building blocks Ziggurats • A ziggurat is a pyramid-shaped temple tower that rose above each Sumerian city. Sumerian Sculpture • Statues of gods for the temples • Smaller sculptures made of ivory or wood • Created pottery items Jewelry • Made impressive works out of gold, silver, and imported gems. • Earrings were found in the region—shows they knew more advanced methods of jewelry-making Cylinder Seals • Stone cylinders that were engraved with designs. • When rolled over clay, it would leave behind its own distinct imprint • These seals were used to show ownership or to “sign” important documents Music • Kings and temples hired musicians to play on special occasions • Instruments: reed pipes, drums, tambourines, and stringed instruments called lyres. • Children learned songs in school • People sang hymns to gods and kings Babylon • Mesopotamian city that sat on the Euphrates River • By 1800 BC, had its own powerful government • Ruled by Hammurabi, who was a monarch— ruler of a kingdom/empire Hammurabi’s Code • A set of 282 laws that dealt with almost every aspect of daily life • Dealt with trade, loans, marriage, theft, injury, murder… • Specific crimes brought specific penalties • Social class mattered • After Hammurabi’s death, there were many invasions of the region. Invader: THE HITTITES • After Hammurabi’s death, there were many invasions of the region. • Strengths: mastered ironworking and created the chariot—a wheeled horse-drawn cart used in battle • Hittite rule did not last long, however. The Hittite king was killed by an assassin from a group known as the Kassites, who lived north of Babylon and would rule for 400 years. Invader: THE ASSYRIANS • Strengths: Strong army—every soldier knew his role. Iron weapons and chariots were used. • FIERCE in battle—before attacking, they looted villages and burned crops • Ruled from Nineveh and demanded heavy taxes. Anyone resisting was severely punished. • Kings appointed local leaders. Road network was built Invaders: THE CHALDEANS • Destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC • Ruled by Nebuchadnezzar, who rebuilt Babylon into a beautiful new city • Constructed the Hanging Gardens (one of the seven ancient wonders) • Admired Sumerian culture—studied language and built temples for gods • Accomplishments in astronomy, developed calendar, solved problems in geometry The Phoenicians • NOT invaders of the Fertile Crescent • Cedar trees were abundant resource—not many other resources b/c of mountains • TRADERS BY SEA! • Established colonies all across the Mediterranean for trade. CARTHAGE was the most famous • Traded silver, ivory, and slaves. • Developed an alphabet to keep track of records.