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Unit 2 –Mesopotamia River Valley Civilizations

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1 Unit 2 –Mesopotamia River Valley Civilizations
Essential Questions: What is the interaction between individuals in various civilizations and their environment? In what ways does geography influence culture? This Babylonian map includes some of the most important cities and regions of Mesopotamia. It was made around 600 B.C. and comes from the city of Sippar. It is very different from the kind of maps we are used to looking at as some of the names seem to be in the wrong place. In fact this map is more interested in the mysterious lands believed to exist beyond the sea where gods, heroes, animals and monsters lived.

2 Development of Complex Civilization
Farming Villages Cities City-States Empires

3 Key Traits of Civilizations
Key Terms: Mesopotamia - “the land between the rivers” (specifically, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). Fertile Crescent – the “C” shaped area of land with soil that was good for farming. The Cradle of Civilization – refers to the idea that this region was the birthplace of complex human societies


5 Terrain



8 For Reference Modern Political Map

9 Map Questions (Use maps from Chapter 2)
Civilization Geography How might location influence the development of a civilizations? Compare all the maps in Chapter 2. What trends do you notice in the development of civilizations? Review: Why did early civilizations develop around rivers? What other geographic features, other than rivers, might influence the development of early civilizations? (how?) What are some benefits of these geographic features? What are some drawbacks?

10 Mesopotamian Geography (3,300 BCE)
Located in the modern-day Middle East Situated between two rivers (Tigris & Euphrates) “Mesopotamia” = “Land between the two rivers” Rivers flooded frequently Cons Unpredictable and violent Constant fear of flooding leads to need for flood control Pros Provided the flood plain with silt to create good land for farming. Irrigation used to expand territory of arable land. Rivers = opportunities for transportation

11 Mesopotamian Geography (Continued)
Natural Resources Well suited to produce grain Lacked trees (wood), stone (relied on clay) Natural Barriers Very few natural barriers, with exception of deserts. Cultural Diffusion Mesopotamia becomes "The Crossroads of the World." A center of trade and ideas Trade networks created that spread from Egypt to India. Leads to the development of the wheel. Mesopotamia became a prime area for invasion and foreign conquest.

12 Understanding City-States
Objective: Students will understand and communicate how conquest brought new Empires and Ideas to the Middle East.

13 Elements of a City-State
Define: The city and it’s surrounding area (mainly farm land) Elements/ Key Features Individual homes – similar to Catal Huyuk structure. Key Buildings: City’s Bazaar The Temple (Ziggurat) Defensives  natural/ or man made +Walls – basic mud bricks Farming areas surrounding cities - Organized w/ networks of irrigation ditches

14 City-States City-States: Shared Language, Culture, Trade

15 Sumer – City State


17 2.1: City States of Ancient Sumer
Trade developed along the rivers. Geography Influences Fertile Crescent Civilization Villagers worked together to stop floods and provide irrigation. City-States Sumerian oral narratives are written down. City-States of Ancient Sumer Polytheism Invent Writing Babylonians use Sumerian learning, create calendars, develop basic Algebra & Geometry. Lasting Legacy of Sumer Sumerian Civilization Takes Shape Distinct Social Hierarchy Newcomers adapt cuneiform.

18 Sumerians First civilization in Mesopotamia
Laid the foundation for future civilizations to copy. First to invent and use: writing (cuneiform), base 60 number system, study of stars. Symbolic communication to… Cuneiform (glyphs) (“wedge-shaped”)

19 Unique Characteristics of Sumerian Geography
Two rivers that were unpredictable, but necessary to water crops. Lacked resources such as wood, stone, metal. Hot, dry, very little rainfall. Had an abundance of grain. No natural barriers to keep people out.

20 Sumerian Religion Polytheism = worship of many gods
How might geography influence the religious beliefs of the Sumerians? Polytheism = worship of many gods Worshiped nature gods: water, thunder, sky. Believed gods had human qualities and emotions, jealousy, anger, love, hate. Also believed gods thought humans were a mistake. Believed the gods sought to punish humans with plague, disaster, war, …

21 Lasting Legacy of Sumer
Sumerian oral narratives are written down (ie: Gilgamesh) Culture & technology become the basis for other cultures in the region ie: Babylonians use Sumerian learning & build on it to create calendars, basic algebra, and geometry Cultural Diffusion in Mesopotamia = adaption of cuneiform across the region Other cultures can now create a written record

22 What Evidence can we use to study Mesopotamian Cultures?
Artifacts - Fossils Written Records Written Stories

23 The Stele of the Vultures is a monument from the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2350 BC) in Mesopotamia celebrating a victory of the city-state of Lagash over its neighbor Umma.

24 A fragment of the Stele of the Vultures showing vultures with severed human heads in their beaks and a fragment of cuneiform script

25 Ur-Nanshe: creating the foundation for a shrine; bottom, presiding over its dedication (Louvre)

26 Entemena's Silver Vase (Louvre)

27 What (other) Evidence can we use to study Mesopotamian Cultures?
Artifacts – Fossils Written Records Written Stories Art as cultural pieces

28 Marsh Arabs – The Ma’adan “dweller in the plains”
Using the Present to study the Past…




32 http://www. cbsnews. com/video/watch/

33 Mashoof

34 Bedouin or Sumerian or…

35 What Evidence can we use to study Mesopotamian Cultures?

36 Cultural Creations: The Epic of Gilgamesh
What is an Epic? Cultural Creations: The Epic of Gilgamesh

37 Gilgamesh Importance Problems with the story
World’s first literary endevour Adventure by the King of Uruk in Sumeria – approximately 2700 BC No single complete copy of the Epic exists Editors have translated several copies and merged them together to create a flowing, translated narrative.

38 - Questions - What was surprising about the fight with Humbaba?
What did the Sumerians believe the afterlife was like? How do you know? Why does Gilgamesh decide to journey to find Utnapishtim and his wife? Where do you think “the far away” is what makes you think so? In end what is the lesson to be learned from this story? What purpose did the dreams in the story serve? What does that tell us about the Sumerians?

39 Background on The Epic of Gilgamesh
Questions to Consider 1. What are some of the problems that can accompany historians' use of a text that has been reconstructed from several fragments and then translated and amended to provide a narrative that appears complete? 2. Does is matter whether or not there was a "real" historical Gilgamesh? Why or why not? 3. What are the limitations of or opportunities for historical study that our answers to these questions establish? The Epic as told by Patrick Stuart

40 How are the chief characteristics of civilization evident in ancient Mesopotamia?
What sources have we used already to study ancient societies? What other sources can we examine? Chief Characteristics of ancient Mesopotamian civilization:

41 City-State Structure Modeled after Ur…
Fields With irrigation network Roads (transportation network) City Walls (defensive position) Residential areas/ Market areas (bazaar) Barter economy Religious building *Ziggurat (“mountain of god”)

42 Ziggurat’s and Religious Beliefs
Separate walled area 3 tiered structure Top structure serves as area for sacrifices (offering to the gods) - a polytheistic religion (many gods) with anthropomorphic deities (human characteristics) representing cosmic and terrestrial forces in their world

43 Physical Reflections of Cultural Characteristics

44 Deciphering the Past Government Economy Society (structure) Religion

45 Northern Civilizations
Fringe of Civilization to the North Groups of People (tribes) who live in the mountains (Zagros and Taurus Mts.) Nomadic People – depended on hunting/ gathering & bit of farming Later conquered & incorporated into various empires Natural Resources – Ore (especially tin) Timber (cider, etc.) Rocks (quarries) Lacks… Food Poor farming land

46 Development of Megalithic Structure “large stone”
Bronze Age Megaliths Standing Stone structures built between 4000 BC and 1500 BC British Isles and northwestern France, Scandinavia, islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Malta Used as observatories to detect astronomical phenomena

47 Timeline Egyptians 6000 BC 2180208016401570 Hebrews 2000 BC –1650 –1300 1200 –1020* –  Sumerians 4000 BC BC Amorites (Old Babylon) 2000 BC BC *1792 – 1750 ( ) Hittites 1680BC BC Phoenicians  BC Assyrians 850 BC BC Chaldeans (New Babylon) 600 BC --539BC Persians 550BC BC *550 –

48 Egyptians 6000 BC 2180208016401570 Hebrews 2000 BC – –1300 1200 –1020* – 

49 Advancing Technology Stone Age (end of the stone age)
6000 BC BC Bronze Age 2800BC BC 1500BC BC (development of iron by the ___________) Iron Age 1200BC BC

50 Sumerians do a LOT of the ground work of building civilization
4000 BC BC The Sumerians create a pattern that many of the other civilizations will follow. - Rise  Internal conflict and  Invasion by next big civilization

51 Ancient Mesopotamia What are some unique features of the….
What Characteristics do many of the Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations have in common? What are some unique features of the….

52 Objective Students will understand and communicate how conquest brought new Empires and Ideas to the Middle East.

53 Ancient Mesopotamian Societies
Warfare As city-states began to grow, their spheres of influence overlapped, creating arguments between other city-states, especially over land and canals. These arguments were recorded in tablets several hundreds of years before any major war—the first recording of a war occurred around 3200 BC but they were not common until about 2500 BC. At this point, warfare was incorporated into the Mesopotamian political system, where a neutral city may act as an arbitrator for the two rival cities. This helped to form unions between cities, leading to regional states. When empires were created, they went to war with foreign countries. King Sargon, for example, conquered all the cities of Sumer, some cities in Mari, and then went to war with northern Syria.

54 Sumerians First civilization in Mesopotamia
Laid the foundation for future civilizations to copy. First to invent and use: writing (cuneiform), base 60 number system, study of stars.

55 Conquer Sumer by a ruler named Sargon in 2300 B.C.E.
Akkad Conquer Sumer by a ruler named Sargon in 2300 B.C.E. Appoints Local Rulers, allows for the expansion of his power. Builds the first Empire. Problems of Succession after Sargon Dies. Internal Problems

56 Come to power under Hammurabi in 1700 B.C.E.
Babylon Come to power under Hammurabi in 1700 B.C.E. Publication of “Hammurabi’s Code” (300 laws carved in to huge stone pillars.) Importance of Code: 1st codified set of laws, promotes Civil and Criminal Law. Promotes an “Eye for an Eye” view of the world.

57 The “Code of Hammurabi” was the first set of codified laws
The “Code of Hammurabi” was the first set of codified laws. They continue to influence law making and crime control today. What similarities exist between the ““Code of Hammurabi” and laws we use today?

58 Babylon: Other Accomplishments of Hammurabi
Improved Irrigation System Organized well trained army Repair Temples Promoted Babylonian Gods, particularly Marduk. Like his code of laws, these tasks work to unite the people under Hammurabi’s rule.

59 Hittites Invaded Mesopotamia in 1400 B.C.E. using Iron weapons and tools. Brings about the Iron Age. The use of Iron was a major advancement in technology. Hittite ironsmiths migrate to different parts of Mesopotamia, and the new technology is accepted by many civilizations.

60 Hittite Warriors

61 Phoenicians Sailors and traders who dominated the Mediterranean Sea. “Carriers of Civilization” Main export was purple dye. Set up colonies in North Africa, Spain, and traded as far north as Britain. Developed and expanded an alphabet that served as the foundation for the Greeks to develop their own alphabet.

62 Assyrians Very fearsome warriors, who refined Hittite weapons technology. Were a constant power in the region between B.C.E. Built Planned cities in the areas they conquered.

63 Assyrian Warrior What role did new technology play in Mesopotamia?

64 Assyrians Tried to solidify influence in the region through the expansion of learning. One example is the great library of Assurbanipal, which stored cuneiform tablets from across Mesopotamia.

65 Later Babylonian Accomplishments
Develop strong civilization over 700 years after their original era of domination. Expand under King Nebuchadnezzar into the lands of the western Mesopotamia, including Judah. Rebuilds Babylon into the dominate city in the region. City becomes famous for its Hanging Gardens.

66 Hanging Gardens of Babylon

67 Persians Defeated Babylon in 551 B.C.E.
Empire would stretch from Europe and Africa to India. Promoted sense of tolerance toward the people they conquered by respecting their customs and allowing them to keep them. King Darius-( B.C.E.) Divides empire into provinces called “Satrapy”. Satrapy is ruled by an official called a “Satrap”.


69 Persians under Darius Satraps provided Darius will taxes and resources every month. This system allowed the empire to grow while sustaining its resources. Codified set of laws, rebuilt roads, coined money, common weight/measurements work so solidify Persian influence Zoroaster-Creates model for future monotheistic religions.

70 Israelites (Hebrews) Monotheistic People.
Creation of the Torah, promotes the 10 Commandments, provides simple alternative to “Code of Hammurabi”. Promote “Patriarchy”-Male dominated Society. Sent into exile following destruction of the temple of Solomon in Judah in 586 B.C.E. Maintain their cultural Identity in the Diaspora.

71 Lydians Invented a monetary system

72 Critical Thinking Questions
How did the Persian Policy of Tolerance help the empire cover such a large area? What major technological advances enabled civilization to grow and have influence in Mesopotamia? In what ways did political leaders seek to unify the people under their rule? What was the role of conquest in Ancient Mesopotamia?

73 Geography of Mesopotamia
Pros Cons


75 Sources

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