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The Ancient Near East The Birth of Civilization and the Origins of Life in the Ancient Near East.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ancient Near East The Birth of Civilization and the Origins of Life in the Ancient Near East."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ancient Near East The Birth of Civilization and the Origins of Life in the Ancient Near East

2 I. The Birth of Civilization in Western Asia Cities vs. Villages Earliest cities emerge in Mesopotamia Importance of cooperation in irrigation Militarism produced rulers The role of religion

3 I. The Birth of Civilization (cont.) Standing in awe of the divine Religion organized society Temples were complex institutions Mesopotamia was “civilized” by 3200 B.C.E.

4 “Civilization”: The stage in human organization when governmental, social and economic institutions have developed sufficiently to manage the problems of order, security, and efficiency.

5 II. Mesopotamian Civilization

6 A. Ancient Sumer ( BC) Southwestern territory of the Valley Independent cities conquered by “Sargon the Great” around 2300 BCE Unpredictable Weather Conditions Evolution of view of the Sumerian gods

7 A. Ancient Sumer (cont.) Significance of Sumerian Temples Invention of the Wheel (around 3200 BCE) Invention of cuneiform writing Very Hard language to learn Earliest Sumerian literature --world’s oldest poetry

8 B. Old Babylonia ( BCE) Invasion of semitic language groups like the Amorites Most famous Amorite ruler = Hammurabi Hammurabi’s Code of Law -- “An Eye for an eye” -- “Let the Buyer Beware” Procedures in Amorite trials

9 B. Old Babylonia (cont) Some sense of justice Some sense of a “welfare state” The Epic of Gilgamesh Introduction of personal religion Major mathematical achievements Babylonian social life

10 C. “The Dark Age” ( BCE) Reasons for the fall of the Amorites Horse-drawn chariots challenge traditional ox- drawn chariots Invasion of the Hittites Kassite Occupation Prestige of Iron weapons and implements Assimilation of previous cultural accomplishments

11 D.The Assyrian Empire ( BCE) Semitic language group settling in the north Tigris area as early as 3000 BCE Became skilled in chariot warfare and began to conquer neighbors Reign of Sennacherib ( BCE)

12 D. The Assyrian Empire (cont) The Assyrian capital city: Nineveh Palace Library Assyrians known for brutality in warfare --only Mesopotamian civilization to submit to a queen Brutality of Assyrian art

13 D. The Assyrian Empire (cont) Assyrian brutality produced hatred and rebellions among subjugated peoples Sophisticated, far-sighted and effective military organization --invented concept of a corps of engineers The defeat of the Assyrians and the destruction of Nineveh

14 E. New Babylonia ( BCE) Medes and Chaldeans defeat the Assyrians in 612 BCE Most famous Babylonian ruler was Nebuchadnezzar The defeat of Belshazzar by the Persians in 539 BCE

15 E. New Babylonia (cont) The ancient city of Babylon The Ishtar Gate The Hanging Gardens Babylonian astronomical achievements Not “astrologers” Babylonian court astronomers and their diaries

16 III. Egyptian Civilization Picture of serenity and stability Long periods of peace Smiling Egyptian statuary Reasons for Egyptian stability Centrality of the Nile River --khed meaning “to go downstream” --khent meaning “to go upstream”

17 A. Political History Under the Pharoahs Divided into 6 Eras Archaic Period—1 st Pharoah Old Kingdom Period—Building of 1 st pyramid and era of royal absolutism First Intermediate Period—central authority disappeared

18 A. Political History (cont) Middle Kingdom Period— Golden Age of royal cooperation with middle class and democratization of religion --concept of “ma’at” Second Intermediate Period—Hyksos invasion New Kingdom Period— Era of Empire and the Exodus of the Israelites

19 B. Egyptian Religion Polytheism to Quasi- Monotheism back to Polytheism Significance of the Sun God “Amon-Re” and Osiris, the God of the Nile Pharoah was the representative of Amon on earth Cult of Osiris personified the life-giving power of the Nile

20 B. Egyptian Religion (cont) Mummification and the Hereafter Egyptian polytheism took many forms including the worship of animals Stress on ethics in Egyptian religion Amenhotep institutes the worship of Aton around 1375 BCE --Queen Nefertiti King Tut restores worship of old gods

21 C. Egyptian Intellectual Achievements Hieroglyphics Importance of the Papyrus Plant Experimentation in all sorts of literature Interested in practical science—calendar unrivalled until the time of Julius Caesar Medical Achievements Mathematical Achievements

22 D. The Splendor of Egyptian Art Sudden appearance of the Pyramids Pyramid of Khufu Reasons for the voluntary labor that built the pyramids Temple Building replaces Pyramid Building during the Middle Kingdom --Temple of Karnak

23 D. Egyptian Art (cont) Statues of Pharoahs were colossal in size Rigidity and impassiveness symbolized Egyptian love of stability Anatomical distortion was practiced Akhenaton’s naturalistic revolution in art --Famous bust of Nefertiti

24 E. Social and Economic Life in Ancient Egypt Class system in Ancient Egypt Huge gap between the rich and the poor Treatment of Women Economic system built on agriculture Trade flourished after 2000 BCE Early Egyptian factories Egyptian Business Innovations --invented deeds, contracts and wills --oldest known currency in history

25 IV. The Persian Empire (539 BCE on) Far-sighted Diplomats who allowed subjects to practice native customs and religions—Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem Persians gave the Ancient Near East political unity and cultural diversity The rule of Cyrus the Great

26 IV. The Persian Empire (cont) Later Rulers: Darius and son Xerxes Efficient administration of a huge empire Persian Road system Aramaic language Wealthy and Distant Royal Absolutism Early Persian Religion Introduction of Zoroastrianism (circa 600 BCE)


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