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The Ancient Near East

The Birth of Civilization and the


Origins of Life in the Ancient Near
East

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

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.

Civilization: The stage in human


organization when governmental,
social and economic institutions
have developed sufficiently to
manage the problems of order,
security, and efficiency.

II. Mesopotamian Civilization

A. Ancient Sumer (3200-2000 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

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
--worlds oldest poetry

B. Old Babylonia (2000-1600 BCE)


Invasion of semitic
language groups like the
Amorites
Most famous Amorite
ruler = Hammurabi
Hammurabis Code of
Law
-- An Eye for an eye
-- Let the Buyer Beware
Procedures in Amorite
trials

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

C. The Dark Age (1600-1300


BCE)
Reasons for the fall of the
Amorites
Horse-drawn chariots
challenge traditional oxdrawn chariots
Invasion of the Hittites
Kassite Occupation
Prestige of Iron weapons
and implements
Assimilation of previous
cultural accomplishments

D. The Assyrian Empire


(1300-612 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
(705-681 BCE)

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

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

E. New Babylonia (612-539 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

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

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

A. Political History Under the


Pharoahs
Divided into 6 Eras
Archaic Period1st
Pharoah
Old Kingdom Period
Building of 1st
pyramid and era of
royal absolutism
First Intermediate
Periodcentral
authority disappeared

A. Political History (cont)


Middle Kingdom Period
Golden Age of royal
cooperation with middle
class and
democratization of
religion
--concept of maat
Second Intermediate
PeriodHyksos invasion
New Kingdom Period
Era of Empire and the
Exodus of the Israelites

B. Egyptian Religion
Polytheism to QuasiMonotheism 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

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

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

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

D. Egyptian Art (cont)


Statues of Pharoahs were
colossal in size
Rigidity and
impassiveness
symbolized Egyptian love
of stability
Anatomical distortion was
practiced
Akhenatons naturalistic
revolution in art
--Famous bust of Nefertiti

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

IV. The Persian Empire (539 BCE


on)
Far-sighted Diplomats
who allowed subjects to
practice native customs
and religionsCyrus 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

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)