The Ancient World

Where does the story of the human spirit begin?

What does this mask have to say?

The first humans

Prehistoric cultures
Paleolithic (old stone age) ‡ 40,000-8000 B.C ‡ Chipped stone tools; earliest stone sculptures; cave paintings.

Lascaux, France

The Chauvet Cave or Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave is a cave in the Ardeche department of southern France

Paleolithic sculpture
The Paleolithic tool industry is characterized by complex art, which includes ‡ figurines depicting faunal representations of the time period associated with now-extinct mammals, including mammoths, rhinoceros, and the European horse, along with ‡ anthropomorphized depictions that could be inferred as some of the earliest evidence of Religion.

Paleolithic sculptor also rendered the human image in a vivid and often naturalistic style. Carved figures ere usually female, often pregnant or with exaggerated sexual features. These first sculptures were possibly used for adornment or magical charms to induce fertility and ease childbirth.

Female fertility
» Fertility symbols often exaggerate the sexuality of the male or the female body. This venus of Willendorf was found in Austria and is believed to be from the Paleolithic era, between 25,000 and 30,000 BC

Venus of Hohle Fels (true height 6 cm (2.4 in)),

Male fertility
» Archaeologists in Germany found what they believe is the oldest male statue discovered in Europe, dating back 7,000 years to the Neolithic period. Previously only female statues had been known. The statue, dubbed the Adonis of Zschernitz, was found during work on a gas pipe outside the town of Zschernitz, near the Polish border.


‡ The oldest musical instruments found to date are from the Upper Paleolithic period, and include bullroarers, rasps and even a marimba-like instrument. But the oldest of all these are ancient flutes, carved from the wing bones of birds or from ancient elephant ivory.
‡ Paleolithic Flute from Geissenklösterle (Replica).

Prehistoric cultures continued
Neolithic (new stone age) ‡ 8000-2300 B.C. Polished stone tools; domestication of plants and animals; stone henge; potters¶ wheels (Egypt); rock art (Africa) 

riented to mark the solstice  Largest stones 50 tons  c.2100-2000  Hauled from site 150 miles away  Megalithic structure


‡ Egyptian Pottery was one of the earliest art forms undertaken by the ancient Egyptians. This piece from the Predynastic period (5000 bc-3000 bc) is decorated with ostriches, boats, and geometrical designs.

‡ In some parts of Africa, experts have been able to develop chronologies based upon the existence of ancient species such as the crocodile, now extinct in the Sahara, or the introduction of exotic new species like the horse, camel or dog. ‡ Because Africa's rock art was created in exposed places, much has now disappeared. What we see today was probably created during the last 12,000 years, while much of it is less than 6,000 years old. Researchers however believe that Africa's now-vanished art may have been contemporary with Europe's great Paleolithic cave art between 15,000 and 33,000 years old.

Prehistoric cultures continued
Bronze age ‡ 2300-1000 B.C. ‡ Metal tools and weapons ‡ Development of writing (China, India) ‡ Shift in human history from food gathering to food growing economies ‡ Human settlement stabilized around intensive agriculture in the Near East (now Turkey, Iran, and Arabia) ‡ The first cities and the first centers of human civilization appeared on the plains of Mesopotamia.

Land between two rivers

The Tigris and Euphrates

Invention of writing
The invention of the first writing systems is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Bronze Age ‡ Cuneiform ‡ cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. Over time, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract. ‡ Cuneiforms were written on clay tablets, on which symbols were drawn with a blunt reed called a stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform ("wedge shaped").

‡ Pictographs for ox and mountains. Clearly these are simple pictures of the actual things they represent. ‡ The ideograph above combines the ox and mountain pictographs to symbolize the idea of a wild ox, as opposed to a herded one. It¶s no longer just a literal representation. ‡ Rebus: pictographs of the sea and the sun, is a rebus. The phonetic sound of each ³word´ of the rebus is put together to make a new compound word: seasons

‡ The development of Egyptian hieroglyphs is also parallel to that of the Mesopotamian scripts, and not necessarily independent. The Egyptian protohieroglyphic symbol system developed into archaic hieroglyphs by 3200 BCE ‡ (Note BC and BCE)

The people of Mesopotamia Sumerians
‡ 3500 BCE dozen cities ‡ Cuneiform writing reveals myths ‡ Reverence for female body, reverence for earth fertility, renewal of life ‡ Mesopotamian goddess - Inanna-Ishtar ‡ Wealth led to leisure and the development of fine arts.

People of Mesopotamia - Old Babylonians
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Gilgamesh c. 2000 BCE ± flood (Note on ³c´) Hammurabi¶s code

Hammurabi¶s code 1-5
1 If any one ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death.

2 If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

3 If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death.

4 If he satisfy the elders to impose a fine of grain or money, he shall receive the fine that the action produces.

5 If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgment.

‡ Gilgamesh was an historical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq; he lived about 2700 B.C.E. Although historians tend to emphasize Hammurabi and his code of law, the civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates area, among the first civilizations, focus rather on Gilgamesh and the legends accruing around him to explain, as it were, themselves. ‡ Many stories and myths were written about Gilgamesh, some of which were written down about 2000 B.C. in the Sumerian language on clay tablets which still survive; the Sumerian language, as far as we know, bears no relation to any other human language we know about. ‡ These Sumerian Gilgamesh stories were integrated into a longer poem, versions of which survive not only in Akkadian (the Semitic language, related to Hebrew, spoken by the Babylonians) but also on tablets written in Hurrian and Hittite (an Indo-European language, a family of languages which includes Greek and English, spoken in Asia Minor). All the above languages were written in the script known as cuneiform,

Summary of Ancient World notes
‡ Prehistoric cultures ‡ Paleolithic ± cave drawings ‡ Neolithic ± domestication of plants and animals ‡ Bronze age ± writing; stabilized settlements ‡ Mesopotamia Sumerians ± reverence for fertility ± development of the arts Old Babylonians ± Gilgamesh; Hammurabi ± myth and law define culture

So, what does Gilgamesh tell us?
‡ Question 2 ± structure ± what happened? ‡ Question 5 ± who has power; who has trust ± who¶s who? ‡ Question 1 ± themes ± what were the big ideas? ‡ Question 4 ± how were the gods portrayed? ‡ Question 3 ± what defined ³hero´?

Ancient Egypt
‡ Near East ± upheaval and diversity
± Sumerians ± Old Babylonians ± Assyrians (skilled and ruthless warriors) ±Babylonian rule revived (Nebuchadnezzar) ± Persians (the last and greatest Neawr Eastern empire) ± Persepolis ±towering columns and a grand staircase, decorated by a procession bearing taxes and tribute from Mesopotamia's rich cities. An unmistakable statement of Persian domination. Eventually fell to the Greek general ³Alexander the Great who left its ruin to stand in the desert as a reminder of the vanity of power. ±.

Persepolis is a 2007 French animated film based on Marjane Satriapi¶s autobiographical graphic novel. The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution. The story ends with Marjane as a 24-year-old expatriate The title is a reference to the historic city of Persepolis. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes film Festival. In her acceptance speech, Satrapi said "Although this film is universal, I wish to dedicate the prize to all Iranians." The film was also nominated for The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Ratatouille.

Back to the Ancient World
‡ Egypt ± stable and homogeneous civilization ‡ Lasted 3000 years ‡ Geographically unified by the Nile river and enriched by its annual floods. ‡ Political and religious unity under the pharaohs± god kings ‡ Pharaohs erected stupendous monuments along the banks of the Nile

The first pyramids
‡ Summerian ³ziggurats´ ± a sacred altar ‡ .

‡ According to Greek historian Herodotus, Egyptiona were the most relitous pleopel he knew and their reltious faith inspired much of Egypts¶ greatest aret ‡ Mythology ± Isis and Osiris

The god Seth murders and dismembers his brother Osiris.
‡ Upon Osiris' return, an evil plot was put into motion. Seth secretly acquired the measurements of Osiris and began having a wonderfully decorated box built to fit those measurements. When the box was finished, Seth had a great feast to which he invited Osiris and the 72 conspirators. Having absolutely no evil in him, Osiris suspected nothing. ‡

‡ When the feasting was done, Seth had the box brought out. He offered it as a gift to anyone whom the box fit. One at a time they tried to fit into the box until it was Osiris' turn. He layed in the box suspecting nothing. The conspirators slammed the lid, nailed it closed, and poured molten lead in the seam to seal his fate. They threw the great chest into the Nile river. Osiris was never seen again, walking in the land of the living.

Seth later discovers Osiris¶s wife, Isis, has found the body and is mourning over it. He dismembers the body and tosses the pieces. Isis gathers his scattered limbs and resurrects him in the underworld.

She once again sets out to find her husbands remains. Where ever she finds a piece of Osiris, she buries it, and builds a shrine in that place. This is the reason that Osiris has so many tombs in Egypt. Later Osiris is resurrected as the king of the dead in the underworld.

Why pyramids?

‡ Life continued unchanged after death.

‡ Pyramids at Giza ‡ Largest covered 13 acres at its base ‡ Built of more than 2 million huge stone blocks ‡ Valley of the Kings tombs

The Pharoaohs
‡ Akhenaton ± established a cult to the sun god Aten ‡ Queen ± Nefertiti ‡ Rule is renown for artistic and religious innovation, intimacy

‡ Restored the cult of Amon-re and destroyed most of the buliding dedicated to Aten

Ramesses II
‡ Continued monuments to power and richly decorated tombs.

Queen Hatshepsut
‡ Ruled for two decades. Possibly ended her life in pain

‡ Excerpts from article by Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News ‡ Obese, plagued with decayed teeth and perhaps a skin disease, Queen Hatshepsut might have spent her last days in pain, according to a preliminary examination of the 3,000-year-old mummy thought to be that of Egypt's greatest female pharaoh. Bald in front but with long hair in back, the mummy shows an overweight woman just over 5 feet tall, who died at about 50. ‡ When her husband-brother died, Hatshepsut became regent for the boy-king Tuthmosis III. But hieroglyphic carvings suggest she donned a royal headdress and false beard, and proclaimed herself pharaoh. "First of all, the mummy was not just overweight, she was obese," Obesity and poor oral hygiene suggested to Selim and colleagues that she might have suffered from diabetes. One thing, however, is certain: Hatshepsut had cancer, cancer that had metastasized into the bone ± a very painful form of cancer.

The Aegean world

The Aegean world
‡ Minoans
c. 2500-1250 BCE

‡ Crete

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡

Pleasure loving people Skilled in small crafts 1400 BCE high point for arts King Minos (Minotaur story) (sounds violent ± but it¶s all about love«)

King Minos

King Minos¶s wife Pasiphae

The minotaur

King Aegeus

Ariadne (Daughter of King Minos) and Theseus (son of King Aegeus)

Famous works of the Minoan period

Snake goddess c. 1600

Mask of Agamemnon c. 1500 BCE (note: King Tut funerary mask c 1330 BCE)

Mycenaean civilization
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ C. 1600-1150 BCE Aggressive warrior civilization Fabulous wealth Brooding palace-cities Greek mainland City of Mycenae ± most well preserved ruins Mycenaean palaces reveal a civilization swollen by plunder and fascinated by death and the afterlife ‡ Fell in c. 1150 BCE ‡ Greece entered a dark age ‡ From these ruins emerged what we now call Greece

That¶s it for the Ancient World«

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful