Western Civilization Chapter 2
Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, & Persians 1200 – 330 B.C. • 9th Century B.C. brings large empires • Brought diverse people together • Brought all living in the empire the benefits of higher civilization • Single government • Single religion • New art and literature • New technology • New trade connections
Assyrians • First to unify almost entire Near East • From Arabian Desert • Settled near Tigris River, an area without natural boundaries • Influenced by Mesopotamians, Hammurabi, and Sargon I • Suffered tribal raids 1750 – 1000 B.C. • As a result, they created a very strong military: new iron weapons and horse-drawn chariots • Fought preventive wars with Hebrews, Phoenicians, Arameans, and Mesopotamians to keep enemies away • After defeating them, they terrorized them, so many gave up without a fight
Assyrian Empire • In 745 B.C., set up by Tiglath-pileser III
Both enlarged empire to Syria, Palestine, & Judah • Other rulers: Sennacherib in705 B.C.
By 650 B.C. almost the entire civilized Near East was under Assyrian control • But the empire weakened because of internal discontent • Hated captors • Hated their brutal treatment of those conquered • Constant warfare had killed off many of the Assyrians • Egypt revolted • Chaldeans revolted in southern Mesopotamia • The Medes joined with Chaldeans to destroy the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 B.C.
Assyrian Contributions • Attempted to have a centralized monarchy, a single state • Forced an unsettling peace on the area for 300 years • Economically: - encouraged trade - broke down barriers to trade - encouraged a common spoken language to help with trading transactions
Culturally: • imitated the achievements of others • helped spread ideas • avid builders • used Mesopotamian style of architecture • created relief work : battles, stories, hunts • Collected works of Akkadians & Sumerians and placed them in library in Nineveh
Religion • Resembled the early Mesopotamian religion with Assur as the state god
Others tried to take over where the Assyrians left off: the Egyptians, the Lydians, the Medians, and the Chaldeans • Chaldeans: • Their great ruler Nebuchadnezzar conquered Syria-Palestine • Destroyed the temple in Jerusalem • Deported Hebrews to Babylon as captives • Rebuilt the Hanging Gardens of Babylon • Tried to revive Mesopotamian culture and religion • Made strides in astronomy • Lacked economic and military strength • Fell into hands of Persians in 525 B.C.
Phoenicians • Were Canaanites and heirs to the civilization of Ugarit • After attacks from Sea Peoples in 1200B.C., their territory was reduced to a small strip where Lebanon is today • Known for purple-dyed cloth • Master shipbuilders • Involved in trade • Had colonies in Mediterranean; ex. Carthage
Phoenicians were influenced by foreigners like Egypt • In art • Wigs • Alphabet Phoenician state fell to Assyrians in 750 B.C. Their culture survived
Medes and Persians arrived in western Iran about 1500 B.C. • Medes were at first the rulers of the Persians • That changed in 550 B.C. when Cyrus the Great captured the Medes
Cyrus ( r. 559 – 530 B.C.) conquered most of western and central Asia • His son, Cambyses ( r. 530 – 525 B.C.) added Libya and Egypt to the empire
Darius succeeded Cambyses ( r. 521 – 486 B.C.) and added Thrace and N.W. India to the empire
Xerxes ( r. 486 – 465 B.C.) came next and tried to add Greece to the realm but failed
Persia was then known as the Achaemenid Persian Empire and lasted 200 years • In the end it fell to Alexander the Great
Successes • Had military strength: 300,000 men in army who excelled as cavalrymen with bows • Had a great navy as well • Were generous and tolerant to those conquered • Had effective government • Provinces were called Satrapies • Governors were called Satraps • King’s inspectors traveled the empire to make sure the king’s edicts were carried out • Had unifying language: Aramaic • Had open trade
Weaknesses • Not all ventures succeeded: Greece and the Ukraine – expensive losses • Even though Persians felt they were tolerant, their captured people resented them • There was intrigue at court as people tried to compete for power
Persian Religion • Zoroastrianism founded by Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek)
Zoroastrianism may have influenced Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, & Roman Paganism • Holy Book was the Avesta • Emphasized the power of one god over all people: Ahura Mazda
Zoroastrians believed in good and evil, free will, and a last judgment • Priests were known as Magi
Era of Small Nations, 1200 – 800 B.C. • Hebrews • Founded Western tradition of religion • Bible helps us know their history (corroborated by archeology) • Began as Semitic nomads moving from the Arabian Desert to Mesopotamia to Syria-Palestine led by Abraham • Lived in semi-arid areas in small tribes with patriarchal leaders • Some moved to Egypt where during the 18th Dynasty they were mistreated and the Hebrews left – Exodus – shortly before 1200 B.C.
Exodus laid the foundation for the Hebrew nation • Fugitives wandering the desert with Moses • Felt they had a special relationship with Yahweh (god) • Yahweh promised to care for his people if they, in return, would worship only Yahweh • Received the Ten Commandments
The nation became known as the Israelites and introduced Judaism • They searched for the promised land • Found Palestine • Were united under King Saul
1020 – 930 B.C. was the height of their power • Patronized the arts and letters • Developed a system of law to unite people and to shape daily life • During the reign of Solomon, discontents threatened their unity • After Solomon’s death their unity fell apart • Judah was the southern part that followed the descendents of King David and survived until586 B.C. • As the political life faded, their religion got deeper and sustained that feeling of nationhood among Hebrews
Judaism • Monotheism practiced -- Yahweh • Yahweh was the creator existing outside of time and space • No graven images of Yahweh • Yahweh was God of justice, omnipotent, righteous, and caring • Humans were created to become god-like, achieved only through moral perfection • Individual conduct should be righteous and just • Code of law written in the Torah • Hebrews saw themselves as God’s chosen people • Yahweh would send a Messiah to lead Hebrews to victory over other peoples • Influenced Christianity and Islam
Greece • Mountainous • Only 10% of land is flat • Rocky • Much of land is infertile • Includes many islands in Aegean and Ionian Seas where they farmed for survival • Weather is usually too arid or too cool • Did not have large settlements or a central bureaucracy • Overcrowding and lack of food were constant problems
3 Characteristics Developed • First, they turned toward the sea • To colonize, so population could spread out • To get needed food • To become involved in trade, so they developed industries in pottery and olive oil to trade for food
Second, they became masters of resourcefulness • Nothing was wasted, neither energy nor material • This helped them bring balance, order, and refinement to their lives • They did not like excess
Third, they had a strong desire for independence • They needed to be self-sustaining because mountains divided cities So we have the sea, trade, resourcefulness, and independence as major elements of the Greek spirit.
Islands • Between 2500 – 1200 B.C., the Late Bronze Age, there were 3 distinct Greek cultures: • 1. The Cycladic (3000 – 1550 B.C.)
The Cycladic • Rugged islands near the bottom of the Aegean Sea • Small settlements of craftsmen who worked with lead and silver • Small figurines of men and women found in graves indicating religion • Society arranged in towns • Weren’t warlike -- settlements unfortified • Had fertility goddesses • Influenced Crete to the south