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FIRST CIVILIZATIONS China Middle East Central America Egypt India Peru.

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Presentation on theme: "FIRST CIVILIZATIONS China Middle East Central America Egypt India Peru."— Presentation transcript:

1 FIRST CIVILIZATIONS China Middle East Central America Egypt India Peru

2 DEFINITION Large urban settlements (ie., cities)
Varied and complex social structure Highly organized government Complex religious belief system presided over by professional priests Writing system

3 MESOPOTAMIA Means “Land Between Two Rivers” Tigris on the northwest
Euphrates on the southeast Southern most region of Mesopotamia was called “Sumer” Characterized by small, Neolithic farming villages until 3500 BC Mesopotamia Sumer

Population explosion around 3500 BC caused the eventual appearance of twelve city-states in the region Uruk, Ur, Lagash, Nippur, Kish, Eridu, etc. City-state includes large, urban center, surrounded by walls, as well as surrounding countryside Each had their own ruler, army, patron god, and set of laws Like tiny independent countries

5 CUNEIFORM WRITING Means “wedge-shaped”
“Written” on clay tablets with wooden stylus Thousands of different characters which evolved over time. Most stood for objects but others represented abstract concepts Very difficult to master—took years and years of specialized training. Cuneiform writing was therefore not “democratic”—only a small elite had mastered and used it Motivation for inventing this system was the need to keep commercial records

Brick architecture Bronze tools and weapons Engaged in trade with places as far away as Africa and Asia First money First schools (trained scribes and priests) First Literature Epic poem Wisdom literature Medicinal drugs Accurate lunar calendar


8 Akkad was inhabited by a people who had migrated there from Arabia around 5000 BC. Lived a Neolithic lifestyle and had some trade contacts with Sumer AKKAD Around 2300 BC they were united under the rule of a warrior-chieftain named Sargon, who then led them in a successful invasion of Sumer—he took over all the city-states there in a little over a year Using Sumer as his power base, he then conquered rest of Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East—creating world’s first empire

9 CULTURAL MISSIONARY Once he had taken over Sumer, Sargon and his people absorbed Sumerian civilization and became civilized themselves They then spread their adopted culture into new Middle Eastern regions when they conquered new territory Sargon was thus an unintentional cultural missionary Spread achievements of the Sumerians into new regions

10 POLITICAL EVOLUTION Sargon’s empire collapsed a few decades after his death in 2130 BC In the aftermath, the Sumerian city-state of Ur briefly dominated the region

11 OLD BABYLONIAN EMPIRE Ur’s dominance came to an end when the city-state of Babylon seized control over most of the region Around 1800 BC City-state controlled by the Amorites Tribe from Arabia that had moved into Mesopotamia earlier Most famous ruler was Hammurabi Created the “Old Babylonian Empire”

12 SUMERIAN LEGACY During the centuries that followed, the Old Babylonian Empire would also collapse, setting a pattern of rising and falling empires that would characterize the region for the next 3000 years The original city-states of Sumer would be incorporated into these empires and in the process, the Sumerian language and the Sumerians themselves would blend into the various new groups who settled in Mesopotamia But the cultural legacy that had created would endure to provide the foundation for a Mesopotamian civilization that would dominate the Middle East for the next 3000 years

13 RELIGION Mesopotamians were polytheistic
Believed in numerous gods and goddesses, each with a special function Gods were often cruel, vindictive, petty, and unpredictable So Mesopotamians went to great lengths to keep them appeased Mespotamian God: Marduk

14 ZIGGURAT Never made an important decision without first consulting the gods Through priests who consulted the stars or engaged in augury Built huge temple in center of city for patron god Called a Ziggurat Believed that god actually lived in it Also served as economic center, since ziggurat priests controlled all the land in city-state and administered it in the god’s name

15 MESOPOTAMIAN RULERS Mesopotamian rulers were never priests
Although they needed the support of priests to stay in power They served as military leaders and political administrators Part of administrative responsibility was to enforce the law

16 HAMMURABI’S CODE One of earliest written law codes
Women were legally subservient to men Women and children were completely under the power of the male head of the family Based on legal principle of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” Therefore very brutal in terms of punishments Degree of inequality built into the code Status affected punishment

17 MESOPOTAMIAN SCIENCE Devised multiplication and division tables and formulas for finding cube and cube root Measured circles by dividing them into 360 degrees Developed science of astronomy Carefully observed and recorded positions of planets and stars

Believed illness was caused by demons entering the body of afflicted person Devised a number of ways to drive the demon out and thus “cure” the patient Chants and magic spells Also believed that horrible tasting concoctions would drive the demon out Some had some real medicinal value

19 THE NILE RIVER Key to civilization in ancient Egypt was Nile River
Abundant and reliable source of water for agriculture Flooded every year Leaving behind a rich layer of silt which fertilized crops

In 2900 BC, a tribal chieftain from southern Egypt united all the villages along the Nile under his rule Zoser Began period known as the “Old Kingdom” BC Old Kingdom endured for 800 years until civil wars and economic burden of building and maintaining pyramids destroyed prosperity and unity Plunged region into anarchy

21 MIDDLE KINGDOM Around 2000 BC, strong rulers emerged who restored united rule and order Created Middle Kingdom BC Cultural life and economic prosperity revived For first time, trade links established with outside world Palestine, Syria, and Crete

22 HYKSOS INVASION Entered Egypt around 1800 BC
Took control of northern Egypt and held it for 100 years Shattered unity and ended Middle Kingdom “Warrior-pharoah” Ahmose I drove Hyksos out around 1600 BC Restored unity to Nile valley Started New Kingdom BC

23 RELIGION Egyptians were also polytheistic Gods took various forms:
Animals Crocodiles and cats Forces of nature Nile River Half human/half animal

24 PHARAOH Believed pharaoh was a god
At first he was seen as the human incarnation of Horus Later also associated with Amon-Re and Osiris All-powerful But he was expected to use his power to care for his people His laws and commands were supposed to preserve ma’at (harmony and justice) Often portrayed as a shepherd Protecting his people

25 AFTERLIFE Pyramids, mummification, and tomb art all related to strong belief in the afterlife Writing system (hieroglyphics) was invented to preserve prayers for the dead on tomb walls At first, it was believed that only pharaoh and his family could achieve afterlife In time, access to afterlife became more “democratic” as upper class and then commoners claimed that they too could enter it Afterlife was viewed to contain the same pleasures that people enjoyed on earth but without the pain


27 SCIENCE Demonstrated amazing engineering skills in building the pyramids Invented an effective system of mathematics Developed accurate 365-day solar calendar Doctors still believed demons caused illness but they could nonetheless correctly diagnose a large number of illnesses Also understood that unclean conditions caused infection Had some knowledge of anatomy

28 NEW KINGDOM Ahmose I’s war of liberation again Hyksos l gave rise to an intense militarism Led to creation of an empire with the conquest of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria Conquests changed Egypt Greatly enriched country Led to creation of professional army Increased power of priests Accelerated commercial and cultural contacts with other regions

29 HATSHEPSUT Females prohibited from being pharaoh
She nonetheless dressed like a man and ruled New Kingdom for 20 years Ruled through her weak son Very warlike and aggressive

30 AKHENATON Tried to replace traditional Egyptian polytheism with the worship of a single god, Aton Represented by symbol of the sun monotheism Even built new capital devoted exclusively to Aton and ordered all statues and temples to old gods destroyed Even made it a capital crime to worship old gods in any manner

31 FAILURE Akhenaton’s attempt to impose monotheistic on a traditionally polytheistic people was resisted by both the masses and priests He died under mysterious circumstances in 1353 BC Most likely murdered by his wife, Nefertiti Replaced by his nephew, Tutankhamon, who restored traditional polytheistic religion and tried to obliterate all references to Akhenaton and his god

32 THE END Egypt plagued by invasions by nomads from the Lybian Desert and the so-called “Sea-Peoples” after the death of Akhenaton Also became involved in a war with the Hittites over Syria and Palestine war was a draw but it dramatically weakened both empires As a result of these problems, Egypt declined and abandoned its empire period of greatness was over by 1100 BC

33 POWER VACUUM Collapse of New Kingdom, Hittite, and other empires at approximately the same time created a temporary power vacuum in the Middle East Allowed several small states to establish themselves and prosper for a while One was the Kingdom of Israel

34 THE PHOENCIANS Set up string of city-states along Mediterranean coast of Middle East Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Berytus Sent merchant expeditions throughout the Mediterranean Basin Spreading Middle Eastern civilization to new areas Established trading posts in these new regions Some evolved into prosperous and powerful city-states, ie., Carthage

35 PHOENCIAN ALPHABET Simplified cuneiform writing system by reducing it down to 29 symbols Each standing for a sound Motivated by their desire to simplify their record-keeping Made literacy more “democratic” by opening up the opportunity for writing to people who otherwise did not have the time and money to master cuneiform writing Would be adopted and modified by both the Greeks and Romans Direct ancestor of our alphabet

36 ASSYRIANS Assyrians were originally a tribe from Arabia who settled in northern Mesopotamia around 1100 BC Extremely aggressive Conquered all of Middle East and Egypt by 900 BC

37 NASTY GUYS Assyrians terrorized subjects into obedience
Routinely employed brutal terror: mass executions, mass mutilations, torture, and massive destruction of farmland and cities Policy worked for a long time but it planted deep and intense resentments in the hearts of their subjects Remained outwardly obedient while waiting for Assyrians to weaken in order to get revenge

38 THE END Two Assyrian subject peoples allied together, rose up and annihilated the Assyrians in 626 BC Medes (from Iran) Chaldeans (lived in and around the old city-state of Babylon) Assyrian capital of Nineveh was leveled and Assyrian power was permanently destroyed

39 CHALDEAN EMPIRE Chaldeans then created empire, headquartered in Babylon Called the “New Babylonian Empire” Reached its peak during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Turned Babylon into most magnificent city in the ancient world Hanging Gardens Ishtar Gate


41 BABYLON Hanging Gardens Ishtar Gate

42 PERSIANS Chaldean Empire weakened after Nebuchadnezzar’s death and was over-run by the Persians Indo-European people, originally from southern Russia Led by Cyrus the Great Created largest empire in the world up until that time


44 PERSIAN ACHIEVEMENTS Provided unity to the Middle East for 200 years
Developed efficient administrative system Satraphies Built numerous roads Created “pony express” type postal system Tolerated different religions and customs

45 ZOROASTERIANISM Founded by Zoroaster
Taught that there were two gods who been battling each other since the beginning of time One was the God of Light and Goodness, Ahrura Mazda Other was God of Darkness and Evil, Ahriman Human beings had to pick a side in this struggle, and they did so through their actions

46 DAY OF JUDGMENT Ahrura-Mazda will eventually win the struggle
And this victory will inaugurate a “Day of Judgment” All people who supported Ahrura-Mazda will be rewarded and all those who supported Ahriman punished Zoroasterianism stressed ethical behavior before all else Influenced such later ethically-based religions as Christianity and Islam

47 SUMMARY Middle Eastern civilizations demonstrated enormous creativity and intelligence Built magnificent cities, organized governments, performed sophisticated mathematics, built massive public monuments, engaged in international trade, established schools, advanced the level of technology, and invented writing But these civilizations also introduced negative aspects Inequality, slavery, and the routine use of war to obtain political goals Introduction and development of civilization was a mixed blessing Brought amazing benefits but also introduced problems that remain unresolved today

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