Mesopotamian Civilization Chapter 1 Section 2 Mesopotamian Civilization Civilizations: are complex societies with cities, governments, art, religion, class divisions, and a writing system. Rivers were important because they made for good farming conditions. They also made it easy for people to travel and trade. Governments were formed because someone had to make plans and decisions for the common good. Mesopotamia is a flat plain bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Floods were frequent and unpredictable. Farmers learned to control the rivers with dams and channels. They used the rivers for irrigation, which is a way of watering crops. Mesopotamian Civilization Sumer: located in the southern region. Sumerian cities were city-states, with their own government. Sumerian cities often fought one another. For protection, the city-states had surrounding walls. Sumerians were polytheistic: believed in many gods. Each city-state had a ziggurat, or grand temple, to honor the gods. Most Sumerians were farmers, but some were artisans, or skilled workers. Others were merchants and traders. Sumerian city-states had three classes: Upper: kings, priests, and government officials Middle: Artisans, merchants, fishers, and farmers. Lower: Slaves Discussion Question What effect did irrigation have on the people of Mesopotamia? Irrigation allowed farmers to grow plenty of food. More food meant more people could be fed, so the population grew. This led to specialization of jobs, which led to trading. A Skilled People Mesopotamia has been called the “cradle of civilization” because of the influence of Sumerian ideas on other areas. Writing helps people keep records and pass on ideas. Sumerians developed a writing called cuneiform. Only a few people, called scribes, learned to write. The Sumerians also produced the oldest known story, the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Sumerians also invented new technology such as the wagon wheel, the sailboat, and the plow. The Sumerians developed many mathematical ideas, including geometry, a number system based on 60, and a 12-month calendar. Discussion Question Why did the Sumerians study the skies? The locations of the planets and stars guided the Sumerians’ farming and festivals. Sargon & Hammurabi Sargon: King of the Akkadians Conquered all of Mesopotamia Set up the world’s first empire Empire: is a group of many different lands under one rules. After Sargon, another group of people became powerful. They built the city of Babylon on the Euphrates River. Hammurabi: King of Babylon Conquered lands north and south of Babylon to create the Babylonian Empire. Code of Hammurabi: collection of laws covering crimes, farming, business activities, and marriage and family. Many punishments in the code were cruel, but the code was an important step in the development of a justice system. Discussion Question What were some of the benefits of living in Hammurabi’s empire? What were some of the drawbacks? Benefits: Living in a large, powerful empire helped keep enemies from taking over the land. Hammurabi’s code helped keep people from committing crimes against one another. Drawbacks: Hammurabi’s code had cruel punishments People were governed by one person, Hammurabi, instead of living in a representative government.