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Early Civilizations of the Middle East Chapter 25, Section 2.

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1 Early Civilizations of the Middle East Chapter 25, Section 2

2 Birth of Civilization  The first evidence of human civilization appeared in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys.  This fertile river valley had excellent farmland because of the flooding of the rivers.  The Greeks termed this area Mesopotamia which means “the land between the rivers.”  People began to settle down in this area as a result of the development of farming and the need for protection.

3 The Fertile Crescent

4 The Sumerians  Sumerian civilization emerged around the year 3500 B.C.E. in southern Mesopotamia.  Sumer is a Greek word meaning “southern.”  The Sumerians developed city-states with a priest-king as their leader.  The major Sumerian cities were located at Ur, Uruk, and Eridu.

5 Sumerian Accomplishments  The Sumerians developed several key advancements.  Ziggurat – huge mud-brick temples which were the focal point of Sumerian worship.  Cuneiform – the first written language that was created by pressing a reed into a clay tablet.  Wheels – the Sumerians were the first to create the wheel which they originally used to make pottery.  Number system based off of 60 (our modern units for a 60- second minute and 60-minute hour are derived from this)

6 Ziggurat

7 Cuneiform

8 Conflict in Mesopotamia  Due to the limited natural barriers for protection the civilizations of the Middle East faced constant threats from foreign powers.  Eventually the Sumerians are overthrown by a group called the Akkadians.  Under the rule of their king, Sargon I, the Akkadians created the first empire in history.  The Akkadians used their professional army to defeat their opponents and control their lands.

9 The Emergence of Order  Over time the chaos of Mesopotamia resulted in stronger central governments asserting their power.  One power, the Babylonians, developed the first code of laws.  This code of laws, known as Hammurabi’s code, were displayed in public for all to see.  One famous law from Hammurabi’s code was “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

10 Cultural Diffusion  The advancements made by the Mesopotamians were spread all throughout the ancient world.  The smelting of iron weapons was created by the Hittites who used this specialized technology to forge their empire.  The Phoenicians developed an alphabet with 22 characters for help in their business dealings. This alphabet was later adopted by the Greeks and is the ancestor of our modern alphabet.

11 Rise of the Persian Empire  By the year 500 B.C.E. most of Asia Minor was controlled by a group known as the Persians.  The Persian king Cyrus the Great used his military and political power to topple the Mesopotamian civilizations and create one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world.  The Persians divided their empire into provinces, each with its own satrap, or governor, to rule over.  The Persians treated the people they conquered kindly as long as they were loyal to the Persian king.

12 Persian Empire

13 Persian Developments  The Persians created a road network which connected the vast reaches of their empire.  Along the main highway, the Royal Road, the built relay stations where messengers could get new horses to continue their journey.  This relay system helped to vastly improve communication and governmental authority.  The Persians also created standard languages (Aramaic) and coinage for use throughout their empire.

14 Overthrow of the Persian Empire  The Persian Empire will eventually be conquered by a group called the Macedonians.  Their leader, Alexander the Great, invaded Persia to avenge the Persian invasions of Greece in 490 and 480/79 B.C.E.  Alexander annihilated the Persian armies sent to oppose him and was eventually crowned king of the Persian empire.

15 Hellenism  Alexander spread the concept of Hellenism throughout his newly-conquered empire.  Hellenism comes from the term Hellenes, which is what the Greeks called themselves.  Hellenism, therefore, is the spread of Greek culture throughout Alexander’s empire.  Under Hellenism Greek art, architecture, literature, technology, and ideas were integrated into the Middle East  This culture diffusion continued well after Alexander’s abrupt death in 323 B.C.E.

16 Roman Conquest  Eventually another Mediterranean civilization, Rome, conquered all the lands around the Mediterranean rim.  Under Roman rule trade flourished throughout the Middle East.  Roman rule also brought with it an extensive law system, road network, national security force, and economic stability.  By 395 C.E. the Roman Empire split into two halves, the Roman and Byzantine Empires.  The Byzantine Empire continued to ruler over parts of Asia Minor for the next 1000 years.

17 Roman Empire


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