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Mesopotamia – Egypt – Indus Valley Shang – Olmec - Chavin

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Presentation on theme: "Mesopotamia – Egypt – Indus Valley Shang – Olmec - Chavin"— Presentation transcript:

1 Mesopotamia – Egypt – Indus Valley Shang – Olmec - Chavin
Religion Mesopotamia – Egypt – Indus Valley Shang – Olmec - Chavin

2 Common Themes Reflect relationship with environment
Tigris & Euphrates were chaotic  Mesopotamians feared gods Nile flooded regularly & gave life to Egypt  Egyptians saw benevolent gods Dictate all aspects of society Combined religion and state Example: Pharaoh is political and religious leader of Egypt (divine kingship) Laws incorporate religious beliefs Elites used religion to bolster power Religion displayed in artwork

3 Mesopotamia Polytheistic
Believed humans were created as co-laborers with their gods to hold of forces of chaos & keep community running smoothly Tigris & Euphrates Rivers flooded irregularly  believed universe was chaotic  fearful of their gods Also required sacrifices from bread and beer to ducks! Each city had a patron god or goddess with its own temple Gods had human characteristics & were social with each other Divination important (symbols in nature) Believed in afterlife

4 Egypt Peaceful relationship with their gods
Nile flooded regularly, fertilizing soil & giving life to Egyptians = universe is predictable & benevolent But, must keep disorder at bay by pleasing gods (maat - order) Pharaohs believed to be gods on Earth Afterlife heavily influenced daily life Most important gods Ra/Re - Sun God Isis – Health, Marriage, & Love God of the Dead – Osiris Not much is known about religious practices of common people Gods neither all-knowing or all-powerful Almost a requirement of polytheism Associated with one or more species of animal

5 Indus Valley Little known about religious or social institutions
Some evidence linking to later Indian cultures System of hereditary occupational groups Priests predominant in social hierarchy Bathing tanks like those in later Hindu temples Depictions of gods and sacred animals on seal stones Cult of mother-goddess Familiar with yoga & meditation

6 Shang China Much evidence reconstructed from oracle bones
Supreme god Di resides in sky & unleashes power of storms Distant Unconcerned with fate of humans Cannot be approached directly Belief in afterlife Dead spirits survive in same supernatural sphere as Di and other gods of nature Elaborate burial tombs of royal family Often tombs included other people  those related to king or lord by blood or service expected to continue relationship in afterlife Ancestral spirits mirror social hierarchy on earth Can intervene in human affairs Ancestor worship vital Ruler has direct access to more recent ancestors, who can intercede with Di Ruler is crucial link between heaven and earth Zhou China BCE  Mandate of Heaven Prerogative of Heaven, the chief deity, to grant power to the ruler of China and to take away that power if the ruler failed to be just

7 Mesoamerica No direct account of Olmec religious beliefs, so archaeologists rely on: Typological of iconography & art Comparison to later, better documented cultures of Mesoamerica Comparison to modern-day Native American cultures Religious activities performed by rulers, full-time priests, and shamans Deities gave legitimacy to rulers Jaguar-god prominent Polytheistic Urban centers featured ritual displays that reinforced authority of elites Draw people in from countryside Awed by displays of power Shamans directed planning of ceremonial centers aligned with the stars

8 Aegean Civilizations Mycenaean iconography similar to that of Minoan Crete Mother Goddess Previously believed to be identical Burial rituals important BUT, Mycenaean art does not include illustrations of male gods Deciphering of texts reveals differences in Mycenaean religion 12-God Pantheon Cult of other deities Mycenaeans likely adopted from the Minoan cult only elements that did not oppose their own religious traditions

9 Primary Sources DIRECTIONS: While working with these primary sources, look for ways religion and the state intermingled in ancient civilizations as well as common themes across space. 10 Commandments / Decalogue Set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship Fundamental to Judaism (And later Christianity) Appear in Hebrew Bible in books of Exodus and Deuteronomy Include instructions to worship God and prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, dishonesty, and adultery Hammurabi’s Code Well-preserved Babylonian law code of ancient Mesopotamia, dating to 1772BCE 282 Laws with scaled punishments “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” Punishment dependent on social class of victim & perpetrator Nearly half of the laws deal with matters of contract (wages, transactions, etc.) A third addresses issues of household & family (inheritance, divorce, paternity, sexual behavior) Some provisions address military service One nearly complete example survives on a diorite stele, written in Akkadian, on display in the Louvre

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