Early River Civilizations Mesopotamia and the Sumerians

Early River Civilizations
Mesopotamia and the Sumerians
World History
Mesopotamia- The land between the
The Tigris – Euphrates Rivers
Fertile soil
Good weather
The Zagros and Taurus Mountains, Syrian
Desert, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
Natural barriers to keep out intruders
Today this area is modern day Iraq, parts
of Turkey, and parts of Syria
Mesopotamia- Map
Mesopotamia- Map (current day)
Mesopotamia: Sumer
Sumer included the cities of Ur and Kish
The city state of Sumer grew as more
people began to settle in the fertile areas.
Population grew along the rivers.
The growth of the population encouraged
new technology:
Development of artificial lakes and ponds
Irrigation is the method of getting water to
specific areas of farmland through
drainage pipes or ditches.
An irrigated field:
Mesopotamia: Division of Labor and
Everyone had a job in Sumeria
Examples: bricklayers, canal builders, butchers,
Barter is the exchange of surplus food items for
materials that are needed.
Why don’t we use barter today?
Early Governments
 No central power control. No boundaries. Each
city is independent.
 Church ruled through priests.
 Government leaders in charge of irrigation
systems of canals as well as work crews,
appointed inspectors, and settled arguments.
 Surplus of grain kept in temples.
 Collection of taxes - grain, animals, farm
 Prayed, made sacrifices to please the gods.
 Spent lives serving the gods.
Sumerian Contributions: The first kings
Military leaders became kings. Why?
Conflict was over land boundaries and use
of water.
Defended the cities against invaders
Managed irrigation works, surplus grain,
chief judge in all arguments.
Kingship came down from heaven.
Important task: Oversee the building and
repair of temples. Ziggurats.
Sumerian Contributions: Religion
Polytheism: Believed in many gods, who
controlled everything in the peoples lives.
Gods were immortal and all powerful.
Believed gods would protect them as the
people served them.
Each city had its own god. Why?
People of Sumeria
 Social Classes (3)
 Highest class included: King, government officials, priests,
wealthy merchants and landowners.
 Middle class included: Farmers, fishermen, artisans
 Lowest class included: slaves, prisoners, people who did not
own land and children