Chapter 3: Mesopotamia & the Fertile Crescent

“The FerTile CresCenT”
Land Between Two Rivers
Section 1
1. Sumer ancient Sumer’s city-states
(3000 B.C. - 1800 B.C.)
2. Babylonia Babylonian Empire
( 1800 B.C. - 1200 B.C.)
3. Assyria Assyrian Empire
(1200 B.C. - 539 B.C.)
1. What two rivers
run through the
Fertile Crescent?
Tigris & Euphrates
2. What body of
water do the two
rivers flow into?
Persian Gulf
3. In what present
day country is
“land in between the rivers”
Why was this a perfect place for the 1st civilization?
1. Fertile Crescent - large arc of fertile land in
the Middle East
2. Tigris & Euphrates Rivers made it possible for
farming because they deposited silt in the area.
3. Cattle, pigs, goats & sheep were accessible
1. Unpredictable floods destroyed
crops, homes & people
2. Some areas were marshy and
unsuitable for farming
3. This land was vulnerable to
attack and invasion
Farming & Cities
Controlling Water
Food Surplus
• Used irrigation to
solve their problems.
• Built canals canals to
water their fields and
levees at the river
banks to help control
• Irrigation increased
amount of food
farmers were able to
grow = surplus.
• Fewer people now
needed to farm, so
they were free to do
other jobs = division
of labor.
Appearance of Cities
• Having people available to work on
different jobs, meant that society could
accomplish more large projects like
building cities.
• Settlements gradually developed into
cities between 4000 – 3000 BC.
The invention of Agriculture changed
the way people lived.
• Agriculture (Farming)
• Growth of Cities
• Division of Labor
• Trade
• Make, sell or barter (trade) goods
• Trade helped expand cities
• Development of money over time
Section 2
The earliest known people of the
Fertile Crescent were the
Sumerians. They lived in
southern Mesopotamia in a
number of independent citystates.
City States
Each consisted of a small city
and its surrounding area. The
rulers of these city-states
constantly warred with one
another for control of land and
water. For protection, people
turned to courageous and
resourceful war leaders.
Dominant city-states: Kish, Uruk,
The ruler was responsible for maintaining the city walls and the
irrigation systems. He led armies in war and enforced the laws.
The ruler also had religious duties. He was seen as the chief
servant of the gods and led ceremonies designed to please them.
Rise of the Akkadian Empire
• These people were not Sumerian. They spoke a
different language. Akkadians lived North of
Sumer and were at peace with Sumer for many
• Peace broken by Sargon in 2300s B.C. He was
the 1st ruler to have a permanent army, and
used them to conquer all of the Sumerian citystates and all Northern Mesopotamia,
establishing the world’s 1st empire that stretched
from the Persian Gulf – Mediterranean Sea.
• Built new capital on the Euphrates River called
Akkad (modern-day Baghdad).
• He ruled for
about 50 years.
• A century after
his death, it
could not be
kept safe from
• Eventually,
rebuilt Ur and
conquered the
rest of
• Sumerians were polytheistic, worshipping
many gods. These gods were thought to
control every aspect of life, especially the
forces of nature.
• Each city-state had its own special god or
goddess to whom people prayed and offered
sacrifices of animals, grain, and wine.
Ziggurats were pyramid-temples that
soared toward the heavens. Their
sloping sides had wide steps that
were sometimes planted with trees
and shrubs. On top of each ziggurat
stood a shrine to the chief god or
goddess of the city.
The Class System
– Highest class: the ruling family, leading officials, priests.
– Middle class: merchants, artisans, and scribes.
– Lower class: majority of people who were peasant
farmers. Some had their own land, but most worked land
belonging to the king or temples.
– Sumerians also owned slaves. Most slaves had been
captured in war. Some had sold themselves into slavery to
pay their debts. But once they paid the debt, their masters
had to set them free.
Men & Women in Sumer
• Men held political power & made laws.
• Women took care of the home and
• Education reserved for men, but some
women from the upper-classes were
educated as well.
• Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon, was the
1st known female writer in history. She
wrote hynms to a goddess.
Section 3
By 3200 B.C., the Sumerians had invented the earliest known
form of writing called cuneiform.
The Sumerians employed a sharp-pointed instrument- called a
stylus - to inscribe wedge-shaped characters on soft clay
tablets, which were then hardened by baking.
• Scribes were society’s record keepers and served the
needs of the temple, royal government and businesses.
• Most scribes were children of government officials,
priests and wealthy merchants.
• Scribe school lasted from sunrise to sunset.
• There were 600 different characters to memorize
• Scribes read out loud to audiences since most people
could not read.
A long, narrative Sumerian poem,
The Epic of Gilgamesh, is one of
the oldest works of literature in
the world. This epic is a collection
of stories about a hero named
Gilgamesh. In one of these
Gilgamesh travels the world in
search of eternal life. On his
journey, he meets the sole
survivor of a great flood that
destroyed the world.
Sumerian Achievements
• Invention of writing – Cuneiform
• Literature – Epic of Gilgamesh
• Technical Advances: Invented the wheel,
wheeled vehicles like carts, potter’s wheel,
the plow, a clock using water, first to build
sewers under cities, bronze
tools/weapons, makeup, and glass
Math & Science
• Invented a math system based on the number
• Divided a circle into 360 degrees.
• Divided the year into 12 months.
• Calculated areas of triangles & rectangles.
• Made scientific tables that listed names of
thousands of animals, plants, & minerals.
• Used animals, plants, & minerals to make
• Documented their medical knowledge listing
treatments according to symptoms & body parts.
• Built palaces,
2 and 1 story
• Built Ziggurats
as temples.
• Beautiful sculptures & pottery.
• Jewlery
• Most famous for cylinder seals.
• Musicians played instruments.
Section 4
hammurabi’s Code
• Hammurabi was the king of the
city-state of Babylon. About
1800BC, Hammurabi conquered
the nearby city-states and
created the kingdom of
• The Code of Hammurabi were
laws engraved in stone and
placed in a public location.
Hammurabi required that people
be responsible for their actions.
• Some of Hammurabi’s laws were
based on the principle “An eye
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”