The Fertile Crescent The Sumerians (3000-2000 B.C.) Mesopotamian Empires (2000-1600 B.C.)
Located North of the Arabian Peninsula. Surrounds the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. One section was called Mesopotamia or the land between rivers. Where is it?
Where Did They Come From And Why did they Migrate? • Herders came North from Arabian Peninsula. • Peasants from present-day Turkey moved South. WHY? • Herders? Lack of rainfall and dry land. • Peasants? Poor weather, war, and overpopulation.
The Twin Rivers • Migrants settled near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. (Water for farming). • No annual flooding. Had water shortages. • Had to develop dams, canals and escape channels for the water that came in spring from snow melt and spring rains. • Became prolific farmers.
The Sumerians(Lived in lower Mesopotamia) • Formed 12 city-states. • City States= the city + the land around it. • Population: 20,000-250,000. • Each city state shared a common culture, language, and religion. • Each had ziggurats: temples made of sun-dried brick and decorated with colored tiles.
Comprised of terraces connected by staircases. Shrine on top. Only priests and priestesses were allowed to enter. Dedicated to city’s chief deity (god) Ziggurats(Pictured is the Ziggurat at Ur)
Sumerian Government • Each city-state governed itself. • Had councils of nobles and assemblies of citizens. • Each eventually chose a military leader. • Several became kings. • King was leader and high priest. • Governments were theocratic monarchies.
Sumerian Gods(They were Polytheistic!) • Each deity presided either: • Over a natural force (rain, moon, air). OR • Over a human activity (plowing, farming, or brick making). • Each City-state claimed one god/goddess. • Citizens prayed and offered sacrifices.
Economy and Writing • Commerce and trade dominated Sumerian city-states. • Writing kept track of accounts and documents. • Invented cuneiform: wedge-shaped markings on clay tablets. • Only scribes, trained at eddubas(special schools) knew how to write.
Scribes produced: Business records Historical dates Literary works Epic Poem “Gilgamesh” is at right. Regarded as oldest story in the world. Written work of Scribes
Inventions of Sumerians • The arch • Potter’s wheel • Sundial • Number system based on 60 • 12-month calendar (based on moon cycles) They further developed the wheel and metal work.
Other Info about Sumerians • Their laws regulated family life and roles of men and women. For example: • Man could sell his wife or children into slavery. • Could divorce his wife for any cause. • Women could buy/sell property, operate businesses, sell their own slaves.
Time to switch gears • Get with your 2:00 appointment. Answer the following questions on a sheet of paper. • Define: city-state, cuneiform, Mesopotamia, deity, ziggurat, eddubas. • What is the main difference between the Nile and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers? • Explain G.R.E.A.S.E. as it pertains to Sumerian society. • How did ziggurats differ from the pyramids of Egyptian society?
Mesopotamian Empires • Akkadian: led by Sargon I. • Spoke Akkadian • Used Sumerian religious and farming practices. • Kingdom of Ebla: led by Sargon’s grandson. • Became wealthy from overland trade
Empires continued • Amorites: later led by Hammurabi • Conquered the people of Ebla • Took over Babylon • Hammurabi put down all other rulers • Developed extensive set of laws called the Code of Hammurabi. • Helped Babylon become a major trade center.
Babylonians • Three social classes: • Upper: Kings, Priests, Nobles • Middle: Artisans, Small Merchants, Scribes, Farmers • Lower: Slaves • Babylonians used Cuneiform, like the Sumerians. • Hammurabi’s death caused the decline of the Babylonian empire.
More Questions • Contrast Hammurabi’s code with modern American law. Which do you think serves justice better? Explain your answer. • Identify an economic or cultural achievement of one of the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent region and explain how it must have required skillful planning and the organization of many people.