Mesopotamia

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Five Minute Writing
Assignment
• Why did the first civilizations emerge
near rivers and river valleys?
• 1. Offered rich soils for agriculture
• 2. Tended to be located in places
that could offer protection from
nomadic invaders
Five Minute Writing Assignment
• List three forms of technology found in River
Valley civilizations and how they changed
life for their citizens.
• Wheel – moving heavy objects
• Plow- prepare soil for better plant growth
• Irrigation system- system to provide constant
water source.
• System of writing- record keeping,
communication
Discussion Question:
• What is the difference
between the Copper,
Bronze and Iron Ages?
Unit 2 : Early Civilizations
Copyright © Clara Kim 2007. All rights reserved.
The Fertile Crescent
• Arc of land
between the
Persian Gulf
and the
Mediterranean
Sea in
Southwest Asia
One land…Two Rivers
• Mesopotamia means =
“land between the rivers”
– Tigris River and
Euphrates River
• Both rivers flooded once
a year and left thick bed
of silt.
– Silt: rich, new soil
farmers could plant
and harvest enormous
quantities of wheat
and barley
Political
Power of the Priests
• Sumer’s earliest
governments were
controlled by temple priests
– Farmers believed they
needed blessings for
success of their crops
– Priests were the middle
man for the Gods
– Priests demanded portion
of farmer crops as tax
Political
• Later followed
Hereditary rulers: ?
when the power is
passed down to
family members
Sargon
Economy/Commerce
• Did early civilizations use a
barter economy or a
monetary economy?
Barter
• Increasing agricultural
surplus (better tools, plows,
irrigation)
• Increasing trade along
rivers – traded with Egypt
• Specialization of labor
Religion
• Polytheistic: Belief in
Many Gods (3,000!!!)
• Gods could be angered
at any moment and to
keep them happy (?)
Sumerians:
– Built impressive
ziggurats or temples to
sacrifice food, wine and
animals
MORE
ZIGGURATS!!!
Sumerian Society
Kings and Priests
Wealthy merchants
Ordinary Sumerian people
Slaves
Rights of Women
• Could hold property
• Join lower ranks of
priesthood
• There were few women
scribes. Why?
• Could women go to
school?
– Scholars think that girls
were not allowed to
attend schools
Language/Literature
Epic of Gilgamesh
• Myths and legends
recorded in this long
poem
• Story of a legendary
Mesopotamian king.
• One of the earliest
works of literature in
the world
“Gilgamesh, whither
are you wandering?
Life, which you look
for, you will never
find.
For when the gods
created man, they
let
Death be his share,
and withheld life
In their own hands”
Achievements
Science and Technology
• Invented the wheel, the
sail, the plow
• First to use bronze.
• Developed system of
writing
• Built irrigation systems,
buildings, surveyed
flooded fields.
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