Mesopotamia Notes


  1. Mesopotamia- The Land Between the Rivers
    1. Tigris R. and Euphrates R.
    2. Climate and Geography
      1. Warm weather
      2. Low rainfall
      3. Few building materials; wood and stone scarce
      4. Zagros Mountains supplied the two rivers
    3. 4 Obstacles of Civilization (3500 BC) cause and effect
      1. Food Shortage
        1. Growing populations in foothills lead to food shortages
        2. Migration to Mesopotamia
          1. Fertile land between the two rivers
          2. Flooding brought extremely fertile soil and a constant water supply
      2. Uncontrolled water supply
        1. Irregular flooding occurred annually
          1. Snow melts from the Zagros rapidly increased water levels of the rivers
          2. Brought good soil (silt) and lots of water
          3. Could also bring destruction or wash away crops
        2. Built irrigation systems
          1. Methods of supplying land with water
          2. Built levees- earth walls to stop or control flooding
          3. Used dams and pools
      3. Building and Maintaining water systems across civs
        1. Clogs and breaking in the irrigation system caused problems further down the line
        2. Different villages had to work together to maintain systems
          1. Farmers lived near one another
            1. These developed into towns and cities by 3000 BC
      4. Attacks
        1. Control of water and vegetation led to disputes between cities
        2. War between city-states became more frequent
        3. Developed walled cities with motes for protection
          1. Few natural barriers for protection
          2. Farms outside the city, and citizens inside the walls
  2. Forming a Civilization
    1. Requirements to form a civilization
      1. Stable food supply
      2. Social structure with different levels and jobs
      3. Government
      4. Religious system
      5. Culture; arts, architecture, music, literature
      6. Advances in technology
      7. Written language
    2. City-States
      1. Independent nations that are centered around a single city
        1. Have their own patron gods
        2. Have their own armies
        3. Have their own kings
    3. Sumerian Religion
      1. Temples-Ziggurats
        1. Tall structure with large staircases
          1. So that gods may come down to earth
      2. Polytheistic- Believed in many gods
      3. Honoring the gods by Music, Poetry, Art, Feasts
    4. Farming
      1. To run a farm
        1. Water, good soil, sunlight, seed
        2. Plow, irrigation, oxen, scythe
      2. Irrigation
        1. A system of transporting water
      3. Tools
        1. Plow- tills the dirt, dredges it up to soften and aerate
        2. Scythe-cuts and harvests crop
  3. Akkadians- Rise and Fall of Sumer
    1. Unified in 2300 BC by the Akkadians
      1. Military skill- formation of men with shields and spears
      2. Destroyed walls to leave cities defenseless
    2. Because of wealth and success they have a big target on their back
    3. By 2000 BC, Akkadian Empire is dissolved
  4. Babylonians
    1. United and formed by Hammurabi (1787-1500BC)
      1. They control all of Mesopotamia
      2. Forms one of the first Empires
        1. Collections of territories and people under 1 ruler
        2. Network roads
    2. Code of Laws- collection of written laws accessible` to the public
      1. Based predominantly on eye for an eye
  5. Assyrians
    1. United by Sargon II (714-612BC)
    2. Strong military nation
      1. Chariots
      2. Armor-helmets
      3. Military strategy
      4. Battering ram- heavy wooden beams for breaking down doors and walls
    3. Overthrown by revolting groups; Chaldeans and Medes
  6. 2nd Babylonian Empire (612-539BC)
    1. When the Chaldeans conquered the Assyrians, they reform the Babylonian Empire
    2. Nebuchadnezzar
      1. Rebuilt the city of Babylon
        1. City of floating gardens
      2. Technological Advances
        1. Effective calendar
        2. Mathematics
        3. Honey bees
      3. Overthrown by the Persian Empire
  7. Mesopotamian Law and Culture
    1. Hammurabi’s Code
      1. Written law for judicial purposes
      2. Earliest recorded example of law
      3. Applied to everyone
    2. Scribes
      1. System of writing using cuneiform
        1. Wedge shaped symbols that represent words
      2. Carved into clay forms
      3. Kept records, especially for trade
  8. Phoenicians (1500BC-500BC)
    1. A collection of non-unified city-states that controlled trade throughout the Mediterranean Sea
      1. Most important cities include Carthage, Tyre, and Sidon
      2. All had very similar cultures and writing
    2. Sea trade
      1. Traded with civilizations throughout the Mediterranean
        1. Even made it up to Britain
      2. Dyes and wood
        1. Phoenicians had large supplies of Cedar wood that they traded
        2. Sold snail shells for purple dye
          1. Extremely expensive
          2. In Rome it is the color of Cesar
      3. Exotic foods
        1. Honey, olives, figs, spices
      4. Exotic animal trade
    3. Ships
      1. Hippoi and the galloi (horse and tub)
      2. Two types of ships
        1. Designs will later be used by Greeks and Romans
    4. Alphabet
      1. A systems of 22 letters
      2. Easier to learn than cuneiform
      3. Quicker and easier to write
      4. Adopted by the Greeks and later by the Romans to write Latin
        1. Becomes the basis for most European languages