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The Middle East: 8000 BCE-600 CE Unit 1 Section 2.

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1 The Middle East: 8000 BCE-600 CE Unit 1 Section 2

2 Key Terms City-State – A small independent state consisting of an urban center and the surrounding agricultural territory. A characteristic political form in early Mesopotamia, Archaic and Classical Greece, Phoenicia, and early Italy Cuneiform – A system of writing in which wedge-shaped symbols represented words or syllables. It originated in Mesopotamia and was used initially for Sumerian and Akkadian but later was adapted to represent other languages of western Asia. Because so many symbols had to be learned, literacy was confined to a relatively small group of administrators and scribes Hellenism/Hellenistic Age – Historians’ term for the era, usually dated 323-30 BCE, in which Greek culture spread across western Asia and northeastern Africa after the conquests of Alexander the Great. The period ended with the fall of the last major Hellenistic kingdom to Rome, but Greek cultural influence persisted until the spread of Islam in the 7 th Century CE Monotheism – Belief in the existence of a single divine entity. Some scholars cite the devotion of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten to Aten (sun-disk) and his suppression of traditional gods as the earliest instance. The Israelite worship of Yahweh developed into an exclusive belief in one god, and this concept passed into Christianity and Islam. Neo-Assyrian Empire – An empire extending from western Iran to Syria-Palestine, conquered by the Assyrians of northern Mesopotamia between the 10 th and 7 th Centuries BCE. They used force and terror and exploited the wealth and labor of their subjects. They also preserved and continued the cultural and scientific developments of Mesopotamian civilization

3 Early Civilization in Middle East 1 st domestication of plants and animals occurred in the Middle East around 8000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent Fertile Crescent: Persian Gulf through Iraq to the area around the border between Syria & Turkey Jericho, which is present-day Palestine, was settle around 8000 BCE Jericho & Çatal Hüyük provide archeologists with evidence of early settled communities – Mud-brick structures – Pottery – Metalworking – Long-distance trade – Religion – Agriculture-based economy

4 Links for understanding Çatal Hüyük _were_they_eating/seeds/ - what was grown in Çatal Hüyük _were_they_eating/seeds/ city/timeline/ - timeline of world history city/timeline/ city/tour_city/catal_house/ - explore a Çatal Hüyük house city/tour_city/catal_house/

5 Mesopotamia Geography of the land between Tigris & Euphrates allowed for the Agricultural Revolution but presented challenges – Rivers were important sources of irrigation and offered a means of transportation – Unpredictable flood patterns made farming difficult & often caused isolation of fields and towns To maximize the use of land – 4000 BCE first use of oxen drawn plows – Later construction of irrigation canals to supply water to fields – Crop rotation (leaving fields to lay fallow every other year so soil retained nutrients)


7 First Empire: Mesopotamia 3100 BCE Mesopotamia became the first complex civilization and empire Agricultural success lead to the emergence of the city-state – An urban center and the agricultural territory controlled by this city Specialization which included: farmers, craftspeople, religious leaders, political leaders, etc. Centers were the temple and the palace of the king Religion was organized by the state & was a large public affair – Large temples for the gods of elements which were prominent geographic challenges of the region – Temples were centrally located & tended by priests – Priests were prominent in both political and economic roles (priests were landowners)

8 Mesopotamia Kings Mesopotamian Kings – Viewed as gods’ representative on earth – Controlled the army – Provided protection – Built infrastructure – Maintained justice Example: Hammurabi 18 th Century BCE – Through military campaigns expanded Babylonian rule – Implemented famous Law Code – inscribed on steeles throughout empire Clear, often severe punishments for criminals - Mesopotamia video (music) Who are these kings & why are they significant?

9 Mesopotamian Economy Rise of city-states supported long-distance trade Barter system for most of Mesopotamian history Social divisions were rigid and enforced through the rights & privileges spelled out by Hammurabi’s code By the 2 nd millennium BCE guilds – professional organizations – emerged Free, landowning class: royals, high-ranking officials, warriors, priests & some merchants Farmers, who often were attached to an estate owned privately by the king or templeSlaves, working domestically; often prisoners of war, or people who could not pay debts (not a lot of slaves)

10 Mesopotamian Gender Roles As with the Neolithic Revolution in other regions – the role of women as humans shifted from hunter-gathers to agriculturalists women were expected to bear & raise children in growing families In Mesopotamia, women could own property, control their dowry, and engage in trade Some women did work outside the home but in specific industries at the lower rungs of society – often in textiles As the city-state emerged, women’s status deteriorated further with the rise of the middle class Marriage and divorce laws favored the husband & marriage was often used as way to create ties between families & bolster economic standing – women became nothing more than economic objects

11 Mesopotamian Technologies Development of writing most likely evolved from a system for documenting property – The recording of strokes and wedges on damp clay tablet – cuneiform First utilized by the Sumerians & in the Sumerian language but eventually to other languages in the region Though it spread through the region – the number of literate people remained small Domestication of Cattle and Donkeys provided important sources of power and transportation before the domestication of the camel in 1200 BCE – Horses domesticated by 2000 BCE were helpful in transportation but also provided an asset militarily with horsemen and charioteers revolutionized military strategy Bronze tools and weapons were made from imported ores Clay was utilized in making bricks & pottery which changed house construction A base 60 system in mathematics was also developed Mesopotamians began to formally study astronomy

12 The Decline/Transition of Mesopotamia In the 2 nd millennium BCE interaction with other regions increased, resulting in a cosmopolitan period Diplomatic & economic interaction benefited the elite of the societies involved – Peasants who were the majority of the people may have seen some improvements to their daily life By 1500 BCE was divided into 2 political and cultural zones – In the South, Babylonia held political dominance which was gained under Hammurabi 200 years earlier – In the North, Assyria imported ore and textiles appeared ready to expand its economic interests and conquer land Both regions increased their interaction with Egypt and the Hittites of Anatolia – for copper, silver and iron Around 1200 BCE many of the economic & political centers in the region declined as a result of conflict in Anatolia as well as the economic collapse of their intertwined economies For the next 300 years Mesopotamia experienced a period of isolation and poverty

13 The Neo-Assyrian Empire Assyrians rose again to establish what many historians consider the 1 st real empire - the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-612 BCE) – The ‘empire’ came from conquering & governing diverse peoples inhabiting far-off lands – The Assyrian homeland in northern Mesopotamia was temperate which allowed for large harvests to feed the growing population – The farmers of the north were used to defending their land from invaders so they were particularly prepared to become foot soldiers for the empire

14 Assyrian Expansion & Collapse Military success was assured because of professional soldiers armed with iron weapons and aided by cavalry and the machinery & techniques for besieging towns Expansion followed trade routes and thus immediate economic rewards In the neighboring kingdoms which were conquered had a tribute system put in place Assyrians treated conquered peoples harshly Policies were designed to benefit the imperial center – Use of terror & forced deportations effectively kept the conquered people in line and discouraged rebellion – Regional officials who swore allegiance & obedience to the king oversaw payment of tribute, enforced laws, build infrastructure & supplied the army in their region The system was effective in maintaining order and funneling wealth to the king but it also brought prosperity to much of the region & by 612 BCE the empire eroded from the hatred of the conquered people and the dwindling loyal base population

15 Israel About 2000 BCE the Israelites were gathering into settle communities and transforming the nature of religion Though the Israelites were small in population and inhabited a small region poor in natural resources – the location was strategically at the crossroads of important trade routes

16 Origins of Israelites Story of Israelites is documented in the Hebrew Bible Abraham, considered the father of the 3 monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) – Believed that there is only one god – Yahweh – Covenant with the Israelites & Yahweh agreed to make them his chosen people who promised them the land of Israel. In exchange, the Israelites would worship only Yahweh, as specified by the 10 Commandments – These beliefs in many ways isolated Jews from others, but they also instilled a strong sense of community & identity

17 Political/Economic/Social The Israelites reached their political and economic peak in the 10 th Century BCE under King Solomon – Constructed the 1 st temple to solidify the position of the Israelites and their religion relative to other ins the Middle East – Legitimized Judaism – Heightened the importance of priests The city of Jerusalem expanded and society became more stratified with the economic growth – Gaps between the rich & poor emerged – Marriage took on an economic significance – Women who were respected for their vital role in the early history of Israel were now unable to own property and marriage rights favored men Women could not inherit property Women could not initiate divorce Most women worked in the home and in agriculture

18 Conquest & Diaspora The Neo-Assyrian Empire conquered the region around 721 BCE – Much of the kingdom was destroyed and its people deported to the east This destruction & deportation were repeated in 587 BCE when the Neo-Babylonian Empire attacked Jerusalem Despite these upheavals, Judaism survived the dispersal of Jews from their homeland, known as the Diaspora – The strength of Jewish rituals, rules and beliefs sustained the community and identity

19 The Persian Empire Followed the Neo-Assyrian Empire Homeland in what is modern-day Iran One group, the Medes, took the lead in challenging the Assyrian Empire just prior to its collapse Around 550 BCE the Persians, led by Cyrus, put together an empire of staggering size – stretching from Greece to India and from the Caucasus Mountains to North Africa

20 The Persian Empire (continued) To administer such a huge territory Darius I created an organizational structure: – Divided the empire into 20 provinces – Each province was controlled by a satrap or governor – The satraps were usually related to the royal family – They oversaw the region, collected taxes & sent tributes to the king Though roads were well maintained and patrolled, information travelled slowly so those that were farther from the capital enjoyed some autonomy Darius, also known as the lawgiver, allowed people within the empire to live by their own traditions and rules


22 Zoroastrianism Persian empire under Darius were followers and practitioners of Zoroastrianism – A monotheistic religion which may have influenced Judaism Belief in one supreme god Notions of Heaven & Hell (realm of Angra Mainyu) Reward & Punishment Concept of Messiah – Ahura Mazda

23 Hellenistic Age & Roman Empire Ongoing conflict with the Greeks in the 5 th & 4 th Centuries BCE – Persian Empire eventually succumbed to the armies of Alexander the Great in 330 BCE The Greek Empire then controlled virtually the same territory as the Persians had and, after the death of Alexander, the next 300 years the region experienced the influence of Greek culture known as the Hellenistic Age The Hellenistic Age ended with the rise of the Roman Empire Roman rule extended through Anatolia and centered on the Mediterranean and by 6 CE had reached present-day Israel and Palestine The Roman Empire sat at the end of the Silk Road, which brought goods from as far away as China

24 Judaism and Christianity under Rome Polytheistic and pagan nature of Roman religion did not blend well with the tenets of Judaism – In this environment emerged Jesus & Christianity – Judaism & Christianity came from the same source & are ultimately linked Difference is that Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah & the incorporation of the New Testament – After Jesus’ crucifixion, Paul and other followers spread Christianity in spite of Roman opposition – Many early converts were women, slaves, or urban poor

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