Chapter 1 The First Civilizations

Chapter 1
The First Civilizations
Section 2
Mesopotamia Civilization
Bell Ringer
Mesopotamia- Fertile Crescent
Mesopotamia’s 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, easy travel and trade.
Governments were formed because someone
had to make plans and decisions for the common
Mesopotamia Civilization
Mesopotamia is the flat plain between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. It is Greek for “land between two
Floods in Mesopotamia were frequent and
Farmers learned to control the rivers with dams and
They also used the rivers to irrigate, or water,
their crops.
Mesopotamia Civilization
Many cities formed in a southern region of
Mesopotamia known as Sumer.
Sumerian cities were city-states, with their own
Sumerian cities often fought each other.
To protect themselves, the city-states built
walls around themselves.
Mesopotamia Civilization
Sumerians believed in many gods. (polytheism)
Each city-state had a
ziggurat, or grand
temple, to honor the
Mesopotamia Civilization
Most Sumerians were farmers, but some were artisans, or
skilled workers.
Others were merchants and traders.
Sumerian city-states had 3 social classes1.) upper class consisted of kings, priests, and
government officials.
2.) middle class consisted of artisans,
merchants, fishers, and farmers.
3.) lower class consisted of slaves.
Mesopotamia Civilization
Review Questions
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.
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
Sumerians developed a writing system called
Only a few people, called scribes, learned to
A Skilled People
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.
Review Questions
Why did Sumerians study the skies?
The locations of the planets and stars
guided the Sumerians’ farming and
Sargon and Hammurabi
Sargon, the king of the Arkadians, conquered all of
Mesopotamia and set up the world’s first empire.
An empire is a group of many different lands
under one ruler.
After Sargon, another group of people became
They built the city of Babylon on the Euphrates
Sargon and Hammurabi
The Babylonian king, Hammurabi, conquered lands
north and south of Babylon to create the Babylonian
The Code of Hammurabi was a 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.
Timeline of Events
Review Questions
What were some of the benefits of living in
Hammurabi’s empire? What were some of the
Benefits: Living in a large, powerful empire helps
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.
Review Questions
What is civilization?
A complex society with cities, an
organized government, art, religion, a
system of writing, and class divisions.
Review Questions
What was the Code of
A set of laws that the Babylonian leader
Hammurabi established for his empire.