Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Early Societies
Mesopotamian Society
• Land between the rivers
• Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
• Modern day Iraq
• Irrigation system
• Defensive walls
• Kings ruled in cooperation
with nobles
Sumer: First Major
Mesopotamian Civilization
Sumerian City States
• Center of political and military authority
• Economic center
• Cultural center
• Educational center
• By 3000 BCE, Ur, Erech, and Kish were the major
city-states of the first civilization of Sumer
• Developed form of writing known as cuneiform.
• Introduction of the wheel
• 12 month calendar and math system based on units
of sixty – helped develop arches and columns.
• Polytheistic; each city state had its own god that was
worshipped by its people. Plus common gods.
Ziggurats: stepped pyramids associated
with Sumerian cities
• 1700 BCE – Sumerian king Akkad was overrun by
the Babylonians.
• King Hammurabi developed an extensive code of
laws that dealt with every part of daily life:
• Code of Hammurabi: begins the “rule of law”
Code of Hammurabi
Mesopotamia changes hands
• 1500 BCE – Hittites dominated the region. They
became a military superpower.
• Assyrians used iron to defeat the Hittites. Then they
established their capital at Nineveh and built an
empire that swept across the entire Fertile Crescent.
• Assyrians were defeated by the Medes and
Chaldeans. Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt
Babylon, but were taken over by the Persian Empire.
Persian Empire
Height of Persian Empire was around 500 BCE
To improve transportation and communication across the
vast empire, Persia built a series of long roads. The longest was
the Great Royal Road. 1,600 miles from the Persian Gulf to the
Aegean Sea.
Lydians, Phoenicians, and
• Societies existed within the Persian Empire.
• Lydians came up with the concept of using coined
• Phoenicians developed an alphabet system with 22
letters, much less complex than cuneiform.
• Hebrews were the first Jews, known for their
monotheistic beliefs and establishment of Israel.