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1 Above: Tigris River Above: Irrigation system from the Euphrates River

2 Major Civilizations of Mesopotamia Sumer ( B.C.) Assyria ( B.C) Babylonia ( B.C.) Other Groups in Mesopotamia Hebrews Pheonicians

3 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Advanced Cities

4 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Advanced Cities Sumerians built city-states. Although these cities shared the same culture, they developed their own governments, each with its own rulers. Sumerian cities and the surrounding lands were protected by a city wall. At the center of all Sumerian cities was the temple called a ziggurat. There the priests and rulers appealed to the gods for the well-being of the city-state. Outer city wall Irrigation & city water supply Ziggurat Homes for commoners

5 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Specialized Labor

6 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Specialized Labor Mesopotamian civilizations such as Sumer and Babylon had three distinct social classes. The upper class was made up of nobles, priests, government officials, and warriors. The middle class was made up of merchants, traders, and skilled workers. The lower class constituted the majority of population, containing common peasants (serfs) and slaves that were responsible for all manual labor. The Sumerian economy relied on agriculture and trade. To support agriculture, the surrounding land of each city-state was irrigated through a system of canals and dams. Trade occurred through the transportation of textiles and crops by Sumerian merchants to other lands, where goods were exchanged for stone, metals, and timber. The traders would then return to Sumer where these items would either be traded to other Sumerians or used to make jewelry, tools, and weapons

7 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Technology

8 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Technology Historians believe that Sumerians invented the wheel, the sail, and the plow and that they were among the first to use bronze. Many new ideas and inventions arose from the Sumerians practical needs. In order to erect city walls and buildings, plan irrigation systems, and survey flooded fields, Sumerians needed arithmetic and geometry. They developed a number system in base 60, from which stem the modern units for measuring time (60 seconds = 1 minute) and the 360 degrees of a circle. The wheel Bronze Metalwork The sailboat The plow

9 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Writing

10 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Writing Sumerians created the world s first system of writing, known as cuneiform. Cuneiform was made up of thousands of "wedgeshaped" signs that written with a reed pen, or stylus, on a clay tablet that would be dried to make the writing permanent. Sumerian writing was simplified by Phoenician merchants who needed a way of recording transactions clearly and quickly. The Phoenicians transformed the thousands of cuneiform symbols into an alphabet of 22 symbols that represented sounds. Phoenician merchants spread this alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. Eventually the Greeks adopted and modified this alphabet, which eventually influenced the Latin and English alphabets. Left: Cuneiform writing on clay tablets Below: Cuneiform was simplified into an alphabet by the Phoenicians. The Phoenician alphabet eventually influenced the Greek and English alphabets.

11 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Government

12 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Government During the Babylonian Empire, King Hammurabi created one of the most important legacies of the ancient world. Hammurabi s Code was a single, uniform code of laws that helped unify his empire. Hammurabi had the code engraved in stone, and copies were placed all over his empire. The code lists 282 specific laws dealing with family relations, businesses, and crime. The code applied the principle of retaliation (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth) to punish crimes. Although the code applied to everyone, it set different punishments for rich and poor and for men and women. Hammurabi s Code became the model for other civilizations to write rules, judgments, and laws into a clear legal code.

13 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Religion Above: Family tree (genealogy) of Sumerian and Babylonian gods Below: Key ideas of Judaism, the religion of the Hebrews who lived in Mesopotamia

14 Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization: Religion Like many peoples in the Fertile Crescent, the Sumerians were polytheistic (belief in many different gods) and thought the gods controlled the various forces in nature. Sumerians described their gods as doing many of the same things humans do falling in love, having children, fighting but their gods were immortal and all-powerful. At any moment, the gods might strike, sending a fire, a flood, or an enemy to destroy a city. To keep the gods happy, the Sumerians built impressive ziggurats for them and offered rich sacrifices of animals, food, and wine. Along the eastern edge of Mesopotamia was an area known as Palestine. This was the ancient home of the Hebrews (the Jews). Unlike the Sumerians who believed in many gods, the Hebrews were the first monotheists (believed in only one God) in history. The Hebrews proclaimed Yahweh as the one and only God. In their eyes, Yahweh had power over all peoples, everywhere. The Ten Commandments were a series of divine laws to guide the morality of the Jewish people. The Jewish faith had a major influence on the development of both Christianity and Islam. Above: The Sumerians and Babylonians were polytheistic (believed in many gods) Above: Hebrews were monotheistic (believed in one god)

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