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Western Civilization Chapter 1 Focus Questions

1. What is meant by the term civilization? Under what conditions did it emerge? Civilization began when humans learned to farm and began settling down in one place and building communities there. They were more complex in their political, economic, and social structure than Neolithic villages. The first civilized humans established cities and states, invented writing, developed organized religion, and constructed large-scale buildings and monuments. These are all signs of civilized life.

2. What did Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations have in common? How did they differ? Mesopotamia and Egypt were both constructed near rivers and they relied on those rivers for irrigation, good soil, and farming. Both civilizations were based heavily on religion and both made impressive advancements in mathematics. There were many similarities between the civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but there were many differences as well. For example, in Mesopotamia kings were viewed as extraordinary humans selected by the gods to watch over their lands and people, however in Egypt the kings were viewed as the gods themselves. Egyptian doctors were more knowledgeable about medicine than Mesopotamian ones. Egyptian doctors could identify illnesses and recognized that uncleanliness encourage contagion. The Egyptians also had some knowledge of anatomy and could perform a few minor procedures. 3. In what ways did mythopoeic thought characterize Near Eastern civilization? How does this type of thinking differ from that of science? They relied on religion to help them understand nature, society, and themselves. Through this, they created myths to explain the origin of the human species. Myths were narratives about the activities of the gods. They believed that people were given life so that they could do the will of the gods on earth. Because they relied so heavily on the religious aspect of it all, they used the myths to explain all of nature s mysteries rather than search for the scientific reasons for their existence or other mysteries. They believed that everything and everyone in the universe had been created by their gods, and this belief hindered their chanced for major scientific discoveries on these subjects. 4. What elements of Near Eastern civilization were passed on to Western Civilization? The wheeled vehicle, the plow, and the phonetic alphabet were all passed on to Western Civilization. They also passed down some knowledge of medicines and illnesses and some of their mathematical developments. The division that gave the circle 360 degrees and an hour 60 minutes all originated in Mesopotamia. Egyptian geometry and Babylonian astronomy also became a part of Western knowledge, and also the ideas that a king s power came from divine

sources. These are just a few of the many things passed on to Western Civilization. Many of the Near Eastern discoveries, are things that still are used today.