Cradle of Civilization
Tigris and Euphrates River Valley
• Fertile Crescent
• Not many, if any natural barriers
• Unpredictable flooding
• Over the course of several thousand years,
several successive civilizations occupied the
same general area
• Mesopotamia literally means “Land between 2
Cultural Diffusion
• With each passing civilization, ideas were
shared (or taken when conquered), then
modified and improved upon
• Through this diffusion, a number of
achievements were made
Achievements (by ruling group)
• Sumerians
– City-State Political Organization
• Similar cultures, but each ruled itself
– Smelting of Metals (Bronze and Iron Age)
• First to use bronze
Invented the Wheel, Sail, and Plow
Ziggurats – enormous, religious pyramid type buildings
Cuneiform writing
Organized land development and irrigation canals
Numerical system in base 60
• Ex. 60 minutes in an hour; 360 degrees in a circle
Sumerians (continued)
• 4500 B.C. people were settling in the region,
then in 3500 B.C. the Sumerians settled there
and became the dominant group
Sumerian Literature
• Epic of Gilgamesh
– Early Literature – Story of a young ruler and his
quest for immortality
– Many note the similarities between this and
Ecclesiastes in the Bible
– Gilgamesh learns lessons similar to the ideals of
Hammurabi’s Code
Decline of Sumer
• Sumerian city-states were weakened due to
fighting one another
• Conquered by Sargon the Akkadian from the
North in 2350 B.C.
• This created the first empire (more than one
previously independent nation or people
coming under the same control)
Hammurabi’s Code
• Around 2000 B.C. Amorites take
over Mesopotamia, and set up at
• Hammurabi rules from 1792 B.C. to
1750 B.C. (this is the height of their
• He created the code, which is the
first set of laws to be written down
– Uniform laws for all
– Idea the government has duty to
begin c. 1200 BC – ends c. 146 BC
• Alphabet
– Developed writing system that had one character for one
– Trading partners picked it up
– The word alphabet comes from their first 2 letters (aleph
and beth)
– Makes learning easier for everyone around the world that
encountered it
• Trading Empire
– Excellent ship builders and seafarers
– Some evidence shows that they traded for tin with those on
the southern coast of Britain
– Other evidence suggests they may have traveled all the way
around Africa
first established c. 2200 BC.c. 859 BC firmly established and thriving; ends c. 608
BC—had many different eras
From the Tigris to Central Egypt
• Communication
– Multi-level to keep rulers informed of goings on
• Chariots
• Military Organization
– Developed through constantly being attacked (no
natural barriers)
• Empire Building and Organization
begins c. 540 BC – ends c. 331BC
• Tolerant Empire – did not destroy cities they
– Allowed local customs to remain in place
– Allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem c. 538 BC (had been
exiled earlier by Babylonians)
• Roads (empire wide communication system)
– Ran from Persia to Anatolia (1677 miles)
• Structure of Government
– Divided the vast empire into 20 provinces, governed by a
• Standing Army
• Standardized coined money
• Monotheistic Religion
• Torah/Law of Moses and the Prophets
– Begins c. 2000-1500BC