The First Civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley

4 criterias to judge whether early society can be a civilization. Socities considered civilization have (1) large agricultural surplus (2) because of more food, that means socities can have high degree of specialization, so people can have specific jobs besides agri/farming (3) high degree of social, economic, and political complexity (4) civilization with lots of people, tens of hundred thousand people.
land between 2 rivers- tigris and Euphrates, where Sumerian civilization emergzes. Very agriculturally fertile region. Tigris and Euphrates flood often and deposit silt on fields around them, and makes soil very nutrient rich. Because flood rivers, building of large complex irrigation systems so they can control water to build crops. Babylon most important city in south mesopotamia in 2nd and 1st millenium BCE. “Epic of gilgamesh” shows life in mesopotamia. Barley main cereal crop in S mesopotamia.
the earliest people living in mesopotamia by 5000 BCE to 3rd millineium. responsible for creation of many elements of Mesopotamian culture, ex irrigation technology, and also creaters of cuneiform. taken over by semitic later. hammurabi created first law code, ziggurat temples
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Primary form of political and social organization of Sumerian socities. Sumerians did not create empires, but rather divided into hundred city-states in s Mesopotamia. Normally walled for protection because each city-state constantly battling one another for resources. Sumerian socity highly militarized. Primary art: warfare.; each one had patron god each city-state had ziggurat built, each city had a temple built. temple and palace main center of power
in 3rd millenium new leadership of lugal. increase in warfare over land and water. not sure how the lugal came into power, possibly chosen by community to lead army and later extended authority (not automatically hereditary). later royals brought idea that the kings were gods on earth, idea did not take root, back to normal idea that king is gods representative. kings responsibility to do proper rituals, protect from attackers, and have justice.
greates monument built by Sumerians. Built in middle of sumerican city-states, honor gods. Huge, stepped pyramid form with 2-3 levels. Top, small shrine that had image of god/goddess. Priests of ziggurat daily performed rituals dress, wash, and feed the statue. All happened in ziggurat complex. Not jujst place for religious rituals, but place of political activity. Mughal lived in or around ziggurat and conducted important polit affairs. Places with economic events. Foods/grains sorted and measured in ziggurat. Focal point of city-states. Example of ancient monumental agriculture
Anthropomorphic Gods
gods imagined in human form and features, with emotions and reactions.
created 2500 bce by Sumerians. Created to keep track of goods stored in ziggurat. Script created written on wet clay tablet. 3000 bce used to write Sumerian literature, poems, history, etc. becomes the way the Sumerians record literature and pass it on. Most people not able to read and write cuneiform, only learned by small class of people called scribes who went to school for many years to learn this language. Low-payed labor job, put very important. Cuneiform preserves Sumerian literature and ideas and values on tablets that when dried can last forever. People in middle east, later, like Persians , used cuneiform to write their own language. Non-sumerian 1900 bce, because of learning Sumerian wirting, learn Sumerian ideas and culture. Sumerian stories appeared in bible that are originally Sumerian but passed down over many generations. Sumerians- very storng cultural legacy.
Sumerian Cultural Legacy
creators of cuneiform, irrigation advances skilled in metallurgy, potters wheel. developments in military tacticts, use horse drawn chariots.
Hammurabi’s Code
first written law code in world history, most famous in world history. Composed 1750 bce, not created by Sumerians. Instead, Hammurabi, was of the akkadian people who had capital in city of Babylon. Hammurabi helped create Babylonian empire, controlled all of meso for a while. 1750 bce created: written in cuneiform script. Adapted cuneiform to write script. Law code where differencial punishment for a crime depends on class status. Ex ariso steals bread: its okay, commoner stoel bread: hand cut off. Code very influencial in ancient middle eastern history. Law code strengthens power of king. Hammurabi Influences most famous code 10th amendments, the most famous in ancient history.
The Nile River Valley
fundamental geographic feature of egypt. worlds longest river, originates from lake victoria. flows through desert. nearly entire population lives alongside river. “black sand”= dark soil by river “red land”= desert. nile flooded each year and provided new rich soil.
The Pharaoh
central figure in egypt state was king, pharoah (meaning palace). from old kingdom period, idea that king=placed on earth by gods to maintain ma’at. thought to be link between people and gods, and through his rule ensured welfare and prosperity (explains why lack of effort to publish law code). pharaohs death= every effort made to ensure well being of spirit and so he can rejoin god. resources and offerings in royal tombs for spirit.
Egyptian idea of universal order, seen as the pharaoahs responsible to ensure maat, order and justice, in realm in behalf of the gods. If pharaoh maintains maat, then ensures wealth and prosperity of all people. Makes pharaoh indispensable figure in society. Without pharaoh, nobody to ensure ma’at in society and everything would fall apart.
around 2000bce, djoser king order construction of pyramid as a tomb for himself. next king makes pyramids smooth. 2550bce king khufu build pyramids at gaza largest structure ever built by human hands. pyramids considered religous to ensure prosperity of environ.
created by ancient Egyptian civilz. Created for political purposes. They are pictographs combo of pics and symbols. Used for political propaganda originally. Because script is used for polit purposes, affects who learns to read and write with script. Elite is the literate class of Egypt society because they read and write propaganda. Mark of social status. Very hard script to write. Egypt officials develop cursive form of heirogliphics- called demotic, easier form of heiro. Written primarily on papyrus.
The Indus River Valley
In south asia very fertile region. City disappeared, unknown why. Perhaps natural disaster shift of pattern of river caused collapstion, called system failure. much larger terriotry than mesopotamia. monsoons and and river overflows=bring fertile soil.
Seal Stones
system of writing with 400+ signs, but undeciphered. written on clay.
Indus Valley foreign connections
Indus valley civilization interacted with other people. Traded with people of central asia. Also traded with mesopotamia (because Mesopotamian artifacts found in Indus valley) primary product that they traded: cotton and cotton cloth. Indus valley region, is greates primary region in the world until late 19th century.
Systems Failure
Indus valley abanduned around 1900bce. thought invaders destroyed them. now realized that civilization suffered “system falilure” – breakdown of interrelationship of political, social, economic systems that sustained order. cause also may be natural disaster and eco change. in the end, urban centers where not sustained, villiage based farming and herding took place
primary of Indus valley civilization. All of tools made exactly same, all cities planned exactly the same. Mud brick exactly the same size. Theories for reason of standardization. Suggest that strong cent political authority. So much economic exchange between Indus valley civilz cities, this frequency led to high degree of civilization

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