2. Birth of the City: Mesopotamia (3200-1800 B. C.E.) 

I. What Impact Did Geography Have on the Development of

    Mesopotamian City-States?

    A. Location

           1. Located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers on

                  flat land and vulnerable to invasion

                  > need for defense

 

    B. Climate

          1. Dry climate

              - soil fertility dependent upon silt deposited during

                      annual flooding of the rivers

                      > need for large scale irrigation and flood control

 

          2. Rivers unpredictable and area is susceptible to strong

                    winds and late summer storms

                    > overall sense of insecurity

 

II. Who were the Creators of Mesopotamia Civilization

     and How Was Their Society Organized?

    A. Sumerians

          - migrated into the area about 5, 000 B. C. E.

 

    B. Political Organization

          1. Characteristics of the City-States

                a) Physical

                      - fortified cities whose authority extended into the

                         surrounding countryside

 

                b) Sacred

                      - focus of the city-state was on the temple (ziggurat)

 

                c) Demographic

                      - city-states generally had  a population of 35,000 to

                        45,000 inhabitants

                                   

           2. Ruled by Kings

                a) Evolutions of kingship

                      - from temple to palace

 

                b) Duties of the King

                      - religious and administrative

 

    C. Social Organization

          1. Royal Family, administrative and military officials, priests

   

          2. Commoners > farmers, craftsmen, traders

   

          3. Slaves

 

    D. Economy

          1.  Agriculture > the economic basis

 

          2. Technological Development

               - pottery

               - the wheel

               - ox-drawn plow

               - bronze

               - woolen textiles

               - brewed ale

 

          3. Long distance trade

                - by carts, donkey caravans and sailboats           

                - agricultural and craft products were exchanged for

                      wood, metals and precious stones

 

IV. How Did the City-States Lose Their Independence?

    A. Endemic Warfare among city-states

 

    B. Move toward larger territorial states

           - with primary loyalty shifting from city-state to

                   regional ruler

 

    C. Early Empires:

          - Akkadian Empire (c. 2350-2200 B.C.E.) founded by

                Sargon I

          - Third Dynasty at Ur (c. 2200-1990 B.C.E.)

          - Babylonian Dynasty (c. 1990- 1595 B.C.E.)

                > Hammurabi’s reign (1792-1750 B.C.E.)

 

IV. Close-Up on Mesopotamian Culture

    A. Religion

          1. A spiritual world view that reflected the

                harsh environment and  precarious existence

               of the people

 

          2. Polytheistic: the pantheon’s main deities were: 

                An > god of the sky; authority

                Enlil > god of the wind; a benign or destructive force

                Enki > god of the earth, life giving waters,  the underworld;

                   creativity, wisdom

                Ninhursaga > goddess of the soil, mountains,  vegetation;

                  the mother goddess 

 

          3. Role of Humans

              - Mankind was created to serve the gods and was

                  subject to the  whims of the gods

 

          4. Attempts to influence the gods or gain some control:

                - religious rituals > importance of priests

                - divination

 

          5. Subject to divine judgment for sins committed

 

          6. Concept of afterlife > vague?

 

    B. Writing

          1. Development

                - from pictographic to syllabic representations

                - from pictures to abstract  symbols > cuneiform

                - written on  clay tablets

                - Scribes

 

          2. Uses

                 - record keeping, teaching, monumental texts

                 - also used to write down literary texts > Gilgamesh

 

    C. Mathematics and Astronomy

          1. Mathematics

                - Used base 10, 12, 60

                - Used addition, subtraction, multiplication and

                       division

                - Developed geometry

 

          2. Astronomy

              - Chartered the major  constellations

              - Developed a lunar calendar

 

    D. Hammurabi’s Law Code

          1. First known written law code based on the principle

               of retribution  > “an eye for an eye” > but allowed

               for social distinctions

 

          2. Laws were included that protected the less powerful

                in society

 

          3. Laws were included that maintained the Patriarchal

               Order

 

    E. Status of Women

          1. Women’s place was in the home and under the

                 authority of men

                - Marriages were arranged: dowries  and bride

                       payments made

                - Primary duty of women to provide legitimate heirs

                - Existence of a double standard

 

          2. Exceptions in practice

                - some women worked outside the home and some

                      women owned their own businesses

                - some women became priestesses, for example -

                      Enheduanna

 

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