Chapter 2 PowerPoint

Civilizations and Empires in
Southwest Asia
World History
Mr. Dunham
Civilization Arose in the
Fertile Crescent
Why is it important for people (especially
farmers) to settle near rivers & streams?
Farmers need their villages near water
because they need it for their crops.
The region between
the Tigris River and
the Euphrates River
is known as
One of the first
villages to emerge
was Sumer. The
villagers were called
Sumer was neither a city nor a country. Rather, it was a collection of
separate cities with a common way of life. They shared a common culture.
Historians believe that
Sumerians built the
world’s first
Right: Artistic view of
what Sumer might have
looked like.
What defines the term “Civilization?”
Five Traits that are Essential for a Civilization
1. The Growth of Cities
Not Just Population growth, but also a center of trade
emerges for a larger area. Farmers, Merchants, Traders
bring goods to market in the cities.
2. Specialized Workers
Workers became skilled in one particular job.
Ex. Artisans: Workers who made goods by hand.
Farmers were able to produce more than what was needed for
themselves. They had a surplus of crops and were able to
trade their extra goods for a different good or service. (An
end to subsistence farming.)
3. Record Keeping/Writing
Enables people to make records of data. Merchants needed
accounts of debts and payments.
The Sumerians created Cuneiform, which is a system of
writing with wedge-shaped symbols. (Around 3,000 B.C.)
Cuneiform Tablet
Imprints of the
signs, called
cuneiform, were
made by pressing a
wedge-shaped stylus
into wet clay.
Cuneiform Tablet & Tools
Cuneiform Translation Table
Five Traits Essential for a
Civilization Cont.
4. Advanced Technology
• The Sumerians were skilled in
science & technology.
– Ex. Invention of the wheel,
plow, sailboat.
– Use of bronze (mixture of
copper & tin).—”Bronze Age”
5. Complex Institutions
• Having an organizational
system to run a city. (This is a
key trait that is essential for a
– Government is an example of
a complex institution.
Fertile Crescent Disadvantages
Sumerian Solutions
1. Water ProblemsUnpredictability of floods and
water dries up quickly.
1. Sumerians created irrigation
2. Defense Problems- Very
flat land…there were no
natural defensive barriers to
prevent raids by nomads.
2. Sumerians built city walls with
mud bricks to discourage raids.
3. Limited Natural ResourcesLack of resources to create
tools. (Stone, Wood, Metal)
3. Sumerians created an
extensive trade network with the
surrounding people.
Sumerian Solutions are Still In Use Today!
Below: Irrigation
ditches are still used
today as a means of
getting water to crops.
Above: Mud brick homes are still built today
in the Middle East because of the lack of
Polytheism- A belief in many gods.
The Sumerians were polytheists. They believed that their gods were
a lot like them except they were immortal and all-powerful.
Anu- “God of Heaven”
Enlil- “God of Clouds & Air”
Ea- “God of Water & Floods.
Afterlife: Sumerians believed that their souls went to “the land of no
return,” a gloomy place between the earth’s crust & the ancient sea.
Who ruled Sumer?
Priests & Kings
Priests had power
because they “knew how
to please the gods” and
keep the city safe.
Sumerians began by
choosing a strong warrior
to lead them into battle.
These leaders eventually
became kings. Kings
became a hereditary
Priests & Kings
Artisans & Farmers
Slaves: By working obediently day &
night…they could hope to earn their
*Women had more
rights than women in
many later civilizations.
Sumer’s Downfall
For 1,000 years (3,0002,000 B.C.) the citystates of Sumer were at
war with one another.
All the fighting weakened
the city-states so much
that they could no longer
ward off attacks from
outsiders (nomads).
2,000 B.C. Nomadic
raiders swept through Ur,
leaving it in ruins, thus
ending the last of the
great city-states.
1930 aerial photograph of the ziggurat at Ur by Leonard Woolley.
Photograph of the ziggurat after partial restoration.
Drawing of original ziggurat design by Leonard Woolley.
Turning Point In History: “Hammurabi’s Code”
Around 2,000 B.C. a group of
nomadic warriors known as the
Amorites invaded
The Amorites established
Babylon as their capital city.
Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.)
was a powerful and influential
Babylon’s civilization was
becoming so complex that
there was a need for written
laws to help resolve disputes.
Hammurabi established a
collection of laws that became
known as “Hammurabi’s
Carving shows the sun god
Shamash giving the laws to
Purpose of Hammurabi’s Code
“To cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked & evil,
and to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak…to enlighten the
land and to further the welfare of the people.”
There are 282 specific laws.
88 Laws deal with marriage,
family, property.
3 Fundamental Principles:
1. Principle of Retaliation to
punish crimes. (Eye for an Eye)
2. Principle of Punishment
(Double Standards existed
between social classes).
3. Principle that the
Government had a
responsibility for what occurred
in society.
Around 1100 B.C. the Phoenicians
were the most powerful traders
around the Mediterranean Sea.
300 Phoenician cities sprouted up around
Africa’s Mediterranean Sea
The highly prized purple dye for which
the Phoenicians were renowned was
extracted from a gland of the murex
snail. Each snail yielded only a drop of
yellow liquid which darkened on
exposure to light. Processing required
slow simmering for about two
weeks. Up to 60,000 snails were needed
for each pound of dye.
Phoenician Contribution:
Around 900 B.C. the
Phoenicians developed a
writing system with 22
symbols (versus the 600
symbols in Cuneiform).
The alphabet is born!!
Jews & Monotheism
Monontheist: A person who worships one god.
The Jews were one of the smallest groups in the
ancient Fertile Crescent, but their influence on history
was far-reaching.
Moses & Ten Commandments
By the laws set forth to Moses, God demanded a high
standard of moral conduct from human beings. This
emphasis on justice , morality, and an individual relationship
with God set Judaism apart.
These ideas marked the birth of a set of religious traditions,
the impact of which has lasted for thousands of years.
Capable Kings:
Saul, David, Solomon – Their kingdom…Israel.
Iron Age Begins
Shift from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age
The Hittites (People
living in Asia Minor)
gradually learned the
complicated process
of smelting iron (this
takes place over the
1500 to 1200 B.C.).
Iron Age Continued…
Why make the change from Bronze to
Iron is a harder metal. An iron sword
could pierce through a bronze shield.
Iron is a more common metal. Easier for
people to obtain=cheaper too!
The development of Iron paved the way
for an “Age of Empires.”
Assyrian Empire Rises and Falls
(850-612 B.C.)
Iron Age enable the Assyrians to conquer and
rule a large empire.
Iron Swords and Iron Pointed Spears which made
for well equipped warriors.
The Assyrians were known for their military tactics
because they were the most disciplined army to
The Assyrians had shown that it was possible to
build an empire based on fear and harsh
Persian Empire (550 – 350 B.C.)
The Persian Empire was a giant empire that
arose in Southwest Asia that was built upon
tolerance and wise government. (Unlike the
In 550 B.C., Persian King Cyrus defeated
several neighboring kingdom to mark the
beginning of the Persian Empire.
In 11 years (550-539 B.C.) Cyrus conquered
all of the Fertile Crescent and most of Asia
Cyrus believed that when his army marched
into a defeated city, that there would be no
looting or destroying of any
Cyrus believed that it was wise leave local
customs and religions alone.
Above: King Cyrus
Cyrus the Great Video!!
Persian Empire Cont…
King Cyrus was killed in 530 B.C. and
then his son, Cambyses, took over for 8
years. Cambyses died of a wound
suffered by a sword.
Cambyses successor was Darius who
governed the fragile empire by using
absolute power.
Darius used two important tools to hold the empire
• Excellent Road System called the “Royal Road
• Standardized Coinage.—The whole empire
had a universal money system to trade with.
“The Royal Road”
•1,677 miles
•Took a caravan 3
months to travel this
What we covered recently?
5 Key traits that define “Civilization”
Rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent –
Hammurabi’s Code (Babylon)
Phoenecians – Alphabet
Jews – Monotheism
Assyrians – War Tactics (Use of Iron & Force)
Persians – Lasting Empire, “Royal Road”