Chapter 1 – Early Civilization

Early Mesopotamian and
Nile River Cultures
Anthropology -
The scientific study of the origin, the
behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural
development of humans.
Archaeology -
The systematic study of past human life
and culture by the recovery and examination of
remaining material evidence, such as graves, buildings,
tools, and pottery
History -
The branch of knowledge that records and
analyzes past events
“much of our understanding of early humans still relies on
considerable conjecture …”
Paleolithic Age (Old Stone)
1. Characteristics
a. hunting and gathering
b. lived in small bands
c. nomadic
d. began to refine use of tools
e. used fire and often lived in caves
2. Two important technological
innovations: use of tools and fire
Paleolithic Peoples: Example, San People of
Southern Africa – Rock Art depicting Hunting and
Spiritual Life
Neolithic Age (New Stone)
10,000 – 4,000 BCE – stone tools for
new uses: agriculture
“… The biggest change was the shift from hunting
animals and gathering plants for sustenance to
producing food by systematic agriculture.”
9000 BCE - Farming began in west Asia (Mesopotamia)
7000 BCE – Towns emerged
6000 BCE – Farming in Egypt
3000 BCE – cities and states in west Asia & Egypt
a. growing of crops
b. utilizing beasts of burden
c. domestication of animals
Permanent Settlements
Agricultural Development Led to Permanent
a. houses built for shelter and structures for
storing food
b. began to trade
c. began to specialize in certain crafts
d. divisions of labor developed
e. Technical developments between 4,000 – 3,000 BCE–
better tools – Asians discovered how to combine
copper and tin to create bronze – harder substance
than copper alone
Women’s Work
This rock painting from a cave in modern-day Algeria,
dating from around the fourth millennium BCE, shows
women harvesting grain.
© Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Early Complex Societies:
Mesopotamia and Egypt
Similarities? Documents to support your
Early Complex Societies:
Mesopotamia and Egypt
1. each developed in a river valley
urban focus
new political and military structures
new social structure based on economic power
distinct religious structure
development of writing
new and significant artistic and intellectual activity
Mesopotamia (The Fertile Crescent)
Location: Tigris & Euphrates Rivers
Link to PBS,
Iraq” – story
of Iraq’s
Wetlands –
(50 minutes)
City States of Mesopotamia
Settlement of various city-states in
Mesopotamia (“between the rivers”)
Independent at times, sometimes united
under same ruler
Sumerian cities (Eridu, Ur, Uruk, Lagesh)
Buildings of mud-brick, arch & dome
structures and Ziggurats
Produced woolen textiles, pottery, and
Ziggurat and Royal Tombs at Ur …
Link to video, “Royal Tombs of Ur”
(7 minutes)
Video on Bull-headed Lyre at Penn Museum
Website for Exhibit, “Iraq’s Ancient Past”
Religious development reflected economic
and social development
– polytheistic – many gods, related to
agriculture, nature, and kings
– gods ruled the cities
– theocracy – priesthood, division of labor
– kingship was divine – examples:
Gilgamesh, Hammurabi
United Sumeria (1792-1750 BCE)
Well-disciplined army
Assimilated conquered cultures
Built temples and defensive walls
Irrigation canals
Encouraged trade
Code of Hammurabi – What does the Code
tell us about Mesopotamian society and
Hammurabi’s Code Stele in Louvre
Museum, Paris
Hammurabi Code Stele
Solid basalt (rock)
block inscribed with
code of laws
(in Akkadian language)
Hammurabi Receiving Code of
Laws from Gods
Carved top of stele
Ishtar Gate (from Babylon)
now in Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Ishtar Gate Lion
Ishtar Gate Dragon
Earliest Preserved Writing System
Earliest Writing –
Cuneiform – wedgeshaped writing (from
 Written in fired clay
 Accounting
 Of what?
Current Archaeology
Assur – Assyrian/Babylonian city in
northern Mesopotamia (current-day Iraq)
 Cuneiform was developed there
 Temples found – but many more thought
 Only recently safe to resume
archaeological work
 But threatened by construction of a dam
across the Tigris River
Assur Site
Video on
Problems in
Iraq (4 min.)
Links to videos on current state of
ancient sites of Ur
Part One
Part Two
Nile River Societies
5500 BCE – 395 CE
Nile River
Nile River Delta
Egyptian Nile River Societies
Importance of the Nile River –
“The Gift of the Nile”
Predictable flooding, silting, fertilizing of
Transportation and trade
Nile Floods
Flood levels in Sudan,
Flooding in Egypt,
Current uses of Nile
Egyptian Kingdoms and Empire
Egypt protected from invasion by seas
and Sahara desert
Saharan Desert
Egyptian Kingdoms and Empire
Link to Timeline
Old Kingdom - divine kingship (pharaohs)
– ruled by ma’at – idea of truth & justice
– Only time when pharaohs were buried in
Middle Kingdom – Golden Age
– Stable in leadership
– Pharaohs, “shepherds,” but still divine
Spiritual Life
No word for “Religion” – part of everyday
life, beliefs, and actions
 Two groups of gods – sun and land –
– Similarities and differences from Paleolithic
Pyramids – burial places for pharaohs –
the largest are from Old Kingdom period
The Giza Pyramids were built as tombs for the fourth dynasty
kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure who ruled Egypt through 25892504 BCE. The largest is the Great Pyramid of Khufu, one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Egyptian Kingdoms & Empire
New Kingdom (1550-1085 BCE)
– Pharaohs buried in Valley of the Kings
– Kicked Hyksos conquerors out
– Egypt expanded through military conquest
– Most powerful state in Middle East
Amenhotep, a.k.a. Akhenaten
– tried to make Egypt monotheistic
Ramses II restored Kingdom of Egypt
Nubian Kingdoms on the
Middle and Upper Nile
Changing Relationships with Egyptian Kingdoms
and Empire
 Two areas were often linked through trade,
religion, and culture
 Dependent on Egypt at times
 Independent at times
 Ruled Egypt for a time
Source of luxury materials for Egypt: gold, ivory,
slaves, gems, elephants, lions, granite
Received manufactured goods back from Egypt
like linen cloth, glass, oils, wine & govt., religion
Nubian Kingdoms on the
Middle and Upper Nile
Nubian Kingdoms and Cities
2500 BCE to Roman Period
Kerma – large agricultural settlement on
Middle Nile – invaded by Egypt and
Napata – ruled Egypt during 25th dynasty
Kush – had own pharaonic rulers
Meroe – ruling city of Kush, further south,
away from Egyptian domination
Nubian Kingdoms and Cities
Large agricultural
settlement in Middle
Nile area
Conquered by
Egyptian Thutmoses
Kerma then
disappeared by
about 1580 BCE
The Western Deffufa (temple) of Kerma
made of mud bricks
Nubian/Kushite Sphinx of
Ruler, 690-664 BCE
History of “Palestinian Territory”
Also known as the Ancient Near East
Constant conflict from within and with neighboring
Hebrew People and Canaan – historical figures
1. Abraham
2. Exodus from Egypt (1700 BCE)
3. King Saul and King David
(1020-922 BCE)
4. Divided Kingdom – Israel and Judah
(922 – 587 BCE)
Problems in Ancient Palestine:
Location, Location, Location?
Map of Ancient Palestine
Israelites, Hebrew Peoples
Conquest of Hebrew People by Outside Invaders
1. Israel and the Assyrians
(722 BCE)
2. Judah and Babylon (Mesopotamians)
(587 BCE)
3. Exile of Hebrews in Babylon/Egypt
Return from Exile of the Hebrews
1. Cyrus the Persian
2. Darius the Persian
Flood Story Comparison –
Religious and Cultural Traditions
Discussion of Epic of Gilgamesh:
 Questions:
1. What can EofG tell us about
Mesopotamian society, in particular?
2. What does the epic tell us about life, in
general, in cultures of that time?
3. Similarities between EofG and other
stories? Why so similar, in your view?