Chapter 2:First Civilizations: Africa and Asia Daniel Bentivenga

Chapter 2:First
Civilizations: Africa
and Asia
Daniel Bentivenga
Global 4th Quarter project
5/5/07 Period 1a
Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile
The Nile River is a fertile area where the Egyptians
were able to settle and farm.
The big deserts protected the Egyptians from
Two popular crops were wheat and flax, a plant whose
fibers were used for clothing.
The Nile flooded annually, soaking the land and
depositing rich soil.
Egypt was made up of Upper and Lower Egypt.
In 3100 B.C., King Menes united the two regions, using
the Nile as a highway for travel and trade.
Old Kingdom
► The
Old Kingdom lasted from 2700 B.C. to
2200 B.C.
► Egyptian rulers formed a strong centralized
► Pharaohs claimed divine support and thus
had absolute power.
► During this period, the pyramids at Giza
were built.
Middle Kingdom
 Lasted from 2050 B.C. to 1800 B.C.
 Though it was a turbulent time, rulers did
organize a drainage project, making a lot
of new fertile land.
 In 1700 B.C., the Hyksos overtook the
delta area.
 The Hyksos used horse-drawn war
chariots, which the Egyptians later
New Kingdom
After 100 years, the Egyptians drove the Hyksos out
and set up the New Kingdom.
Lasted from 1550 B.C. to 1100 B.C. This was an age
where Egypt reached from parts of Africa to western
Two of the most famous rulers were Hatshepsut and
Ramses II.
After Ramses II, Assyrians, Persians, and later
Greeks and Romans all wanted to add the Nile Valley
to a growing empire.
Section One Vocabulary
 Silt-
 Cataract- waterfall
 Delta- a triangular area of marshland formed
by deposits of silt at the mouth of some
 Dynasty- ruling family
 Pharaoh- Egyptian ruler
 Vizier- chief minister
Egyptian Civilization
Egyptians were polytheistic. They believed in the afterlife, where you will be judged as a sinner or
In society, the pharaoh was on top. High priests and priestesses were right below. Then came the
nobles, and finally a small class of merchants and artisans.
Most Egyptians were peasant farmers and slaves. Women enjoyed more equality than in most
ancient civilizations.
Egyptians used hieroglyphics, ideograms, and demotic in writing. The Rosetta Stone was
deciphered in the early 1800s to help learn the meanings of the symbols.
Egyptians made advances in medicine in medicine and science. They were able to diagnose
illnesses and perform surgical procedures. Some of their medicines are still used today.
Egyptian astronomers studied constellations and planets, developing a calendar that is very similar
to our modern one.
To survey land, geometry was used and engineering was required for huge building projects like
pyramids and irrigation systems.
Great structures like the Sphinx are from Egyptian architecture.
Folk tales were popular in Egyptian culture. One famous story is The Tale of Sinuhe.
Section Two Vocabulary
Mummification- the preservation of the dead.
 Hieroglyphics- picture writing
 Ideogram- picture that symbolized an idea or action.
 Demotic- a simple form of writing for everyday use.
 Papyrus- a plant that grows along the banks of the Nile.
 Decipher- decode.
City-States of Ancient Sumer
Sumer was founded in the area now known as the Middle East. At that time it was called
Mesopotamia, which means “between the rivers” in Greek. It was also called the Fertile Crescent
because it is a very fertile piece of land. It is between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
The rivers frequently flooded, devastating villages and crops. Villagers worked together to make
dikes to stop water and create irrigation to bring water to their fields.
The first Sumerian city emerged around 3200 B.C. The area lacked many natural resources, but
the cities still flourished.
There was a class system like Egypt. The ruling family was first, then high priests and leading
officials. A small middle class was made up of merchants, artisans, lesser priests, and scribes.
Peasants and slaves were the majority.
Women lost some power over time but still had legal rights.
Sumerians were polytheistic, and built pyramid-temples called ziggurats to the chief
god/goddess of the city-state.
Sumerians invented to first form of writing, cuneiform
They made basic algebra and geometry and made an accurate calendar from studies of the
Section Three Vocabulary
 Hierarchy-
system of ranks.
 Ziggurat- a pyramid temple that
soared toward the heavens.
 Cuneiform- earliest form of writing.
Invaders, Traders, and
Empire Builders
In 2300 B.C., the ruler of Akkad, Sargon, invaded and conquered
Sumer. He built the first known empire, but it was short-lived.
In 1790 B.C., Hammurabi, king of Babylon, controlled much of
Mesopotamia. He created a remarkable set of laws called the Code of
The Hittites were strong because they made items out of iron ore,
which were stronger than bronze and copper.
The Assyrians were very militaristic. Babylon revived itself under the
king Nebuchadnezzar.
He fell to the Persian armies under Cyrus the Great. He was followed
by Darius, his son, who divided Persia into provinces.
It included areas from Asia Minor to India. The Persian was also the
first to have a uniform coinage system.
Persian thinker Zoroaster created a monotheistic religion that is
practiced today and is similar to Christianity and Islam.
The Phoenicians were a group of traders and merchants that had
colonies across the Mediterranean Sea and invented a 22-letter
alphabet that is similar to the one used today.
Section Four Vocabulary
Codify- arrange and set down in writing.
Criminal Law- offenses against others.
Civil Law- deals with private rights and matters.
Tolerance- acceptance.
Satrap- governor.
Barter Economy- exchanging one set of goods or services for
Money Economy- goods and services are paid for through the
exchange of some token of an agreed value.
Colony- territory settled and ruled by people from another land.
Alphabet- contains letters that represent spoken sounds.
The Roots of Judaism
 The Israelites were a nomadic people at first. Abraham migrated with
his family to Canaan.
The Egyptians enslaved them for 100s of years, then Moses helped
them escape to Canaan.
Kings David and Solomon built a capital at Jerusalem. The empire
divided into Judah and Israel. In 722 B.C., Israel fell to the Assyrians.
In 586 B.C., Babylonian armies captured Judah and enslaved them.
The Persians conquered Babylon, freeing the Israelites, who came to
be known as the Jews during the Babylonian captivity. They remained
under Persian rule, however.
They believe in one true God, and their religion is one of the major
monotheistic religions today.
Section Five Vocabulary
• Monotheistic- believing in one true God.
• Covenant- binding agreement.
• Patriarchal- fathers and husbands held great legal and moral
• Sabbath- holy day for rest and worship.
• Prophets- spiritual leaders.
• Ethics- moral standards of behavior.
• Diaspora- scattering of people.
Regents Question 1
1.One reason for the development of an early
civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates river valleys
was that
A. the location protected the people from land
B. periodic flooding left rich soil, which was ideal
for farming
C. these rivers provided a direct trade route
between Europe and Asia
D. these rivers flowed into the Mediterranean Sea
Regents Question 2
2. The early civilizations of the Nile River
Valley, Mesopotamia, and the Yellow River
Valley were similar because they were
A. industrialized societies
B. monotheistic
C. dependent on fertile land
D. dependent on each other for trade
Regents Question 3
3. One way in which the civilizations of the
Sumerians, the Phoenicians, and the Maya
were similar is that each
A. developed extensive writing systems
B. emphasized equality in education
C. established monotheistic religions
D. encouraged democratic participation in
Regents Question 4
4. “If a seignior (noble) has knocked out the tooth of a seignior of his
own rank, they shall knock out his tooth. But if he has knocked out
a commoner’s tooth, he shall pay one-third mina of silver.” -Code of
Which idea of Babylonian society does this portion of the
Hammurabi code of law reflect?
A. all men were equal under the law
B. fines were preferable to corporal punishment
C. divisions existed between social classes
D. violence was always punished with violence
Regents Question 5
5. The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia
and Egypt were similar in that both
A. developed along rivers
B. used the ziggurat form for their temples
C. established trade routes to China
D. used a hieroglyphic writing system
Answer Key
 Prentice Hall: World History Connections
to Today, by Elisabeth Gaynor Ellis and
Anthony Esler pages 24-47 Chapter 2