Chapter Two: Mesopotamia

Chapter Two: Mesopotamia
Journal Entry for 8/24/2010
Explain some of the reasons why the
early civilizations grew near rivers.
I. Geography
A. “The Fertile Crescent”
1. Mesopotamia: the land between the rivers
2. Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
3. Persian Gulf
4. The swampy/fertile land attracted nomadic
B. Problems:
-Unpredictable weather
--No natural barriers
---Materials were scarce
II. The Sumerians
A. People of Sumer
1. One of the 1st civilizations
2. Nomadic people settled in area (5000BC)
3. Developed cities
a. Place of worship
b. Grew into commercial and govt.
B. City Life:
1. Specialized workers:
a. Abundant food supply allowed for people to
specialize in different jobs
b. Artisans: skilled workers to make goods by
c. Scribes: professional record keepers
2. System of writing
a. Needed for record keeping (taxes/trade)
b. Began as pictographs and evolved into
wedge-shaped characters known as
c. History starts with the Sumerians
d. Epic of Gilgamesh
e. Need for schools
3. Religion
a. Polytheism: worship of many gods/goddesses
b. gods had superhuman qualities and ruled over
c. Ziggurats
1. stepped pyramids
2. worship of gods
d. gods caused floods, etc. (negative view)
e. Epic of Gilgamesh
-epic story of the hero Gilgamesh
4. Science and Technology
a. Monument building
b. Wheel and brick
1. greater speed of trade
2. military uses (roads/city walls)
c. Irrigation system
1. increased agricultural production
2. population boost
d. Bronze working
e. Developed the first calendar
III. Empire Builders
A. Akkadians (2350 B.C.)
1. King Sargon of Akkad
2. Conquered city states of Sumer, unified
Mesopotamia, and created the 1st known
3. Short lived empire (large area in which
several people and nations are under the
control of one ruler) that stretched to the
Mediterranean Sea
4. Spread Sumerian culture/achievements
B. The Babylonians
1. In 2000 B.C., nomadic warriors that settled in Babylon
2. Hammurabi
(1795 BCE)
a. 1st King of Babylon (Babylonian Empire)
b. Conquered and officially ended the Sumerian Empire
c. Best known for his code of laws known as the Code of
1. written on a stele or stone slabs
2. placed in public places
3. Harsh penalties
4. “Innocent until proven guilty” idea
C. Hittites
a. eastern Mediterranean
b. Known for use of chariot and
iron weapons in war
c. Sacked Babylon and brought
an end Babylonian rule (1595
Hittite Chariot
D. Assyrians
1. People of Northern Mesopotamia Empire
2. Subjugated (enslaved) peoples of the region
3. Gained independence and built empire with
forced deportations of conquered peoples
(1170-612 BC)
4. Overthrown by Babylonians
Assyrian Military
E. Nebuchadnezzar
“The Great Conqueror”
1. Restored Babylonian rule (created the last
Babylonian Empire)
2. Rebuilt canals, temples, etc.
3. Best known for his Hanging Gardens of
Babylon (7 wonders of the world)
4. In 539 BC, the Babylonians fell to the
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
IV. Decline of Mesopotamia
1. Multiple invasions and occupations
2. Persian indifference
--didn’t care about old customs, etc.
3. Environmental problems
V. Indus River Civilization
A. Geography