Mesopotamian Civilization

Chapter 1
Section 2
Mesopotamian Civilization
 Civilizations: are complex societies with cities,
governments, art, religion, class divisions, and a writing
 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
Mesopotamian Civilization
 Sumer: located in the southern region.
 Sumerian cities were city-states, with their own
 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
 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
 More food meant more people could be fed,
so the population grew.
 This led to specialization of jobs, which led to
A Skilled People
 Mesopotamia has been called the “cradle of civilization”
because of the influence of Sumerian ideas on other
 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
 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
 People were governed by one person, Hammurabi, instead
of living in a representative government.