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Introduction To Mesopotamian Mythology Mythology Mr. Henderson.

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1 Introduction To Mesopotamian Mythology Mythology Mr. Henderson

2 What is Mesopotamia? Mesopotamia is geographic area in the Middle East that was home to a number of early civilizations Mesopotamia (Greek for “between the rivers”) is located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is the modern-day country of Iraq. Mesopotamia makes up part of archaeologists call the Fertile Crescent.

3 The Fertile Crescent The fertile crescent was home to some of the earliest civilizations, ancient people who invented agriculture, writing, and architecture.

4 Brief History of Mesopotamia Before 9000 BC- evidence of hunter-gathering Neolithic society in the region. These hunters used flint and obsidian tools and weapons. c. 9000 BC- earliest farming settlement discovered. Around this time the earliest permanent settlement is made at Jericho. c. 8000 BC- large scale faming develops in Sumer, with wheat as the chief crop.

5 Brief History of Mesopotamia. c. 3300 BC- cuneiform writing system developed, writing preserved on clay tablets. c. 3000 BC- the first Ziggurat at Sialk is built in what is today central Iran. 1250 BC- Chogha Zanbil, the best preserved of the Ziggurats is built. It’s name means “basket hill”.

6 Ziggurats Stepped pyramids built by Sumerian, Akkadian, and Assyrian cultures starting in the fourth century BC. The last was complete around 450 BC. Served a religious purpose. They originally had a shrine on top, but none of these structures survive. Raised shrines defended against flood and helped to keep religious rites secret.

7 Ziggurat of Ur

8 Cuneiform Tablets Cuneiform was a pictographic writing system developed by the Sumerians in the second half of the 4 th century BC. The word “cuneiform” meaning “wedge- shaped” comes from the Latin (cuneus “wedge” + forma “shape”). It was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet (which was phonetic) and became extinct by the 2 nd century AD.

9 Cuneiform Tablets Cuneiform was written with sharpened reeds into wet clay, which was then baked. The Sumerians were the first to use cuneiform, but the writing was later adapted to other Mesopotamian cultures.

10 Early Mesopotamian Cultures The Sumerians were the earliest large agrarian culture to dominate the area. The Sumerians spoke a language that is unconnected to any other known language, this is called a language-isolate. The Sumerians were followed by the Akkadians (who may have been their conquerors). The Akkadians had their own language, but they borrowed heavily from Sumerian and continued to use it as a language for religious purposes.

11 Early Mesopotamian Culture The Akkadians spoke a Semitic language, the earliest know one, meaning it is related to Hebrew and Arabic. The Akkadians formed a vast empire with their capital, being a city called Akkad. The Akkadians built an extensive road system, that would not be equaled until the Roman Empire. The Akkadian Empire collapsed following several devastating years of drought. The exact location of the city of Akkad has never been discovered.

12 Early Mesopotamian Culture The Assyrians began as a part of the northern Akkadian culture, but eventually became independent. They were located in parts of what is now modern Syria and northern Iraq. They also spoke a Semitic language and were skilled architects and artists. The Assyrians eventually came into conflict with, and were conquered by, the Babylonians.

13 Early Mesopotamian Culture Like the Assyrians, the Babylonians began as a part of the Akkadian culture, but eventually became independent. They were located in what is now central Iraq. Because their territory lacked stone, they Babylonian baked clay into brick to build monumental structures. The Babylonians developed advanced mathematics and made advances in astronomy and medicine that would not be equaled until Greek civilization.

14 Later Mesopotamian Cultures After the fall of the old Babylonian Empire, a new power in the north, called the Neo-Assyrians or Aramaic civilization emerged. This culture spoke Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Phoenician. They used a variation of the Phoenician alphabet, which is the ancestor of modern Hebrew and Arabic script. This culture was eventually supplanted by the Neo- Babylonians, who are mentioned frequently in the Biblical Old Testament.

15 The Gate of Ishtar The Gate of ishtar was the gateway to the inner city of Babylon, built by Nebuchadnezzar II in 575 BC. It was built of glazed bricks with alternating rows of Mesopotamian dragons (mushussu) and aurochs (an extinct species of bull).

16 Mesopotamian Religion Polytheistic system with a pantheon of gods and goddess, each of whom represented a force of nature or natural law. Major dieties are: Anu- sky god and chief of the gods Anshar- father of Anu, another sky-god Kishar- goddess of the earth, mother of Anu Enlil- god of the air Enki- god of the water Ishtar- goddess of love Ereshkigal- goddess of the underworld

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