Early Civilization:
The Fertile Crescent
On your desk…
• Each of you has a piece of paper folded in half.
• When I tell you, I would like to you read the
directions on the paper and do exactly what it
says. Please remain QUIET!
– Group A will go first
– Group B will go second
• When I say STOP, you must STOP!
• What happened on the left side of the room?
• What happened on the right side of the
• What was your reaction of the group that you
were NOT a part of?
vs. Civilization
• Why do civilizations emerge?
• What is the key component of a civilization
based on your observations?
• Order – It is the rule of law or proper
• Chaos – It is a state of utter confusion.
Think on it…
• Come up with your own definition of a
civilization…write it down!
Our Definition
Civilization Defined:
• The stage of cultural development
marked by urbanization, advanced
techniques of agriculture and
technology, material, scientific, and
artistic progress, expanded population,
and complex social organization that
have developed to manage problems of
order, security and efficiency.
The First Civilizations
• 3500BC – development of the wheel and
axle allows trade to expand from
seafaring vessels to land as well
– Result: spread of culture and prosperity
• 2900BC – Bronze Age results in the
development of durable, long lasting
– Weapons, helmets, shields, etc.
Civilization over Chaos
• Hunting-gathering
eclipsed by agriculture
– No more nomadic
– Farming = harder work,
but with higher yield and
no food shortages
– Need for irrigation
– Family size increases
• Emergence of:
– Artisans & craftsmen
– Cities
– Trade
– Social Classes
Social Classes
Priests, nobles,
Artisans, small traders,
Story Time!
• In the “Education” folder, tap the
icon that says “Student”
• The app will prompt you to enter a
room number:
– Enter:
Ancient Mesopotamia
• What does Mesopotamia literally mean?
– The Land Between the Rivers
• Why was this a perfect place for the 1st
1. Fertile Crescent - large arc of fertile land in the
Middle East due to rich soil
2. Tigris & Euphrates Rivers made it possible for
farming due to flooding
What Challenges Did People Face
in Mesopotamia?
1. Unpredictable floods destroyed crops,
homes & people
2. Some areas were marshy and unsuitable
for farming because of over-flooding
The Many People of Mesopotamia
1. Sumerians (3000 B.C. - 1800 B.C.)
2. Babylonians (1800 B.C. - 1200 B.C.)
3. Assyrians (1200 B.C. - 539 B.C.)
4. Persians (539 B.C. - 330 B.C.)
• How was Sumer governed?
Sumer was never united under one ruler
Independent city-states
Largest city was Ur
Results in their downfall…why?
• Sumerians were great inventors
– The wheel (around 3500 BCE)
– Invention of cuneiform writing
– Developed a sexagesimal (base 60) place-value number
• Earliest literature
– World’s oldest poetry
– The Epic of Gilgamesh
• Stage one: Early men placed rollers beneath
heavy objects so that they could be moved
• Stage two: Early men began to place runners
under a heavy load, which they discovered
would make it easier for the load to drag. This
was the invention of the sledge.
• Stage three: Men began to combine the roller
and the sledge. As the sledge moved forward
over the first roller, a second roller was placed
under the front end to carry the load when it
moved off the first roller. A model of a sledge
with such rollers is in the Smithsonian
Stage four: Soon, men discovered that the rollers
which carried the sledge became grooved with
use. These deep grooves actually allowed the
sledge to advance a greater distance before the
next roller was needed to come on!
Stage five: The rollers were changed into wheels.
In the process of doing so, wood between the
grooves of the roller were cut away to form an
axle and wooden pegs were fastened to the
runners on each side of the axle. When the
wheels turn, the axle turned too in the space
between the pegs. The first wooden cart was
thus made.
Stage six: A slight improvement was made to the
cart. This time, instead of using pegs to join the
wheels to the axle, holes for the axle were drilled
through the frame of the cart. Axle and wheels
were now made separately.
I am the great king
the handout about
my epic tale!
Sumerian Religion
• Polytheistic, anthropomorphic deities
• Each city-state had its own patron god
• Ziggurats
– Massive, stepped-pyramids used as temples by
Sumerian priests
– Existed long before the Egyptian pyramids
Main Sumerian Deities
• An: God of heaven
• Enlil: God of the air
• Enki: God of freshwater, male fertility, and
• Inanna: Goddess of love, female fertility and
• Ki: Goddess of the earth.
• Nanna: God of the moon
• Ninurta: God of war, agriculture
• Utu: God of the sun
Religions have attempted to build their sanctuaries on prominent
heights. Since no such natural heights were available in the flat
flood plains of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), ancient priests and
kings determined to build ziggurats, square or rectangular
artificial stepped temple platforms. Functionally, temples were
placed on raised platforms to give them prominence over other
buildings in a city, and to allow more people to watch the services
performed at the temple. Symbolically, however, the ziggurat
represents the cosmic mountain on which the gods dwell. The
priests ascent up the stairway to the temple at the top of the
ziggurat represents the ascent to heaven. The great ziggurat at
Khorsabad, for example, had seven different stages; each was
painted a different color and represented the five known planets,
the moon, and the sun.
The mud-brick core of the
ziggurat was covered with
baked bricks.
Each baked brick measured
about 12 x 12 x 3 in and
weighed up to 33lbs. About
720,000 baked bricks would
have been needed in building
the first stage of the ziggurat.
This brick was stamped with
the name and title of UrNammu, the king who ordered
the ziggurat built. Most bricks
used to build the ziggurat were
stamped. Somebody had the
job of stamping the damp
Each ziggurat was part of a temple
complex that included a courtyard, storage
rooms, bathrooms, and living quarters,
around which a city was built
iPad Reading Quiz
• Use the “Student Socrative” app and login
– 915540
1. What was your name?
2. How was Assyria’s method of expansion very
different from those of other civilizations?
3. Describe the Assyrians in your own words.
4. What led to the downfall of the Assyrians?
5. How did the Persians treat the people they
6. What religion did the Persians practice?
The Babylonians
• King Hammurabi creates the Babylonian
empire by defeating city-states in Sumer
• Babylonians built or developed:
– Great walled cities
– Roads allow caravans (groups of travelers) to
converge on Babylon and its bazaars (markets)
– First book of codified laws (Hammurabi’s
• “So That the Strong Should
Not Harm the Weak”
someone “got
my nose”?
The Babylonians
• Astronomy & Astrology
– First to recognize that astronomical phenomena are
periodic and apply mathematics to their predictions
– Babylonian observations of celestial phenomena
are recorded in the series of cuneiform tablets
known as the Enûma Anu Enlil.
• Series of 70 tablets dealing with Babylonian astrology
• Collection of omens, estimated to number between 6500
and 7000
The shelves of a tablet library excavated at Sippar in southern
The Assyrians
• Defeat the Babylonians around 1500BC
• Very skilled warriors
– Develop the battering ram
– Used slings and armored chariots
– First civilization to have a standing army
• Capital located at Nineveh
– Great library and record holdings
• Eventually overcome in 612BC
– Who defeated them?
– The Medes & Chaldeans
• Babylon rises again
Assyrian Warriors
Assyrian Battering Ram
Assyrian Battering Ram
Second Rise of Babylon
• Nebuchadnezzar II rebuilt the city of
– Constructed canals, aqueducts, temples and
– The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
– Once again, Babylon became a center for
learning and science
• New Babylonian Empire falls to the Persians
in 539 BC
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
• Built: Around 600 BC
• Function: Royal Gardens
• Destroyed: Earthquake, 2nd Century BC
– Only wonder whose archaeological remains
cannot be verified.
• Built to cheer up Nebuchadnezzar's
homesick wife, Amyitis of Medes who was
depressed and missed her homeland
Rock, paper,
Nebuchadnezzar II
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Video
The Ishtar Gate
• The eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon.
• It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of
King Nebuchadnezzar II
• The roof and doors of the gate were of cedar
• The whole gate was covered in lapis lazuli
glazed bricks which would have rendered the
façade with a jewel-like shine
• Cyrus the Great unified the nomadic people
– Becomes the largest empire in Mesopotamia
– Defeat the Babylonians, Assyrians, Jews, Phoenicians
and Syrians, and the Greeks in modern Turkey
– Sometimes called Achaemenid Empire
• Practiced Zoroastrianism – monotheistic
– Worshipped only ONE god
• Developed a bureaucratic government
– A government that is run by bureaus (or departments)
staffed with nonelected officials
– 20 provinces called satrapies
• Highly tolerant society
• Religion based on the teachings of Zoroaster
• All good comes from the god named Ahura
• All evil comes from the spirit named Angra
• Holy text is called the Mathra-Spenta ("Holy
• “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds”
Ahura Mazda
kind of
Angra Mainyu