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Chapter 2

Early Societies in Southeast


Asia and the Indo-European
Migrations
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How is civilization defined?


Urbanization (growth of city)
Political/military system
Social stratification
Economic specialization
Religion
Communications
Higher Culture

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Civilization and
the Means of Production
Essential element:

concentration of wealth
Agriculture
Control over natural

resources
Development of
ancient civilization
not hunter-gatherer

economics

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Mesopotamia

Between the Rivers


Tigris and Euphrates
Contemporary Iran,

Iraq
Cultural continuum of
fertile crescent
Sumer in southern
Mesopotamia is
commonly known as
the Cradle of
Civilization".

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The Wealth of the Rivers


Nutrient-rich silt
Key: irrigation
Necessity of coordinated efforts
Promoted development of local governments
City-states

Sumer begins small-scale irrigation 6000 BC


By 5000 BC, complex irrigation networks
Population reaches 100,000 by 3000 BC
Attracts Semitic migrants, influences culture

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Sumerian City-States

Cities appear 4000 BC


Dominate region from

3200-2350 BC

Ur (home of Abraham, see

Genesis 11:28), Nineveh (see


Jonah)

Ziggurat home of the god


Divine mandate to Kings
Regulation of Trade
Defense from nomadic

marauders

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Political Decline of Sumer


Semitic peoples from northern Mesopotamia overshadow Sumer
Sargon of Akkad (2370-2315 BC)
Destroyed Sumerian city-states one by one, created empire based

in Akkad
Empire unable to maintain chronic rebellions
Hammurabi sixth king of Babylon (1792-1750 BC)
Improved taxation, legislation
Used local governors to maintain control of city-states
Babylonian Empire later destroyed by Hittites from Anatolia, c. 1595
BC

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Legal System
The Code of Hammurabi (18th c.

BC)
Sixth Babylonian King
Said he was chosen by the
gods to deliver the law to
his people
282 items
lex talionis (item 196: eye for an eye)
Social status and punishment
women as property, but some rights
Ex: If a son slaps his father, his

hand shall be cut off. If a man


knocks the teeth out of another
man, his own teeth will be knocked
out.
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Later Mesopotamian Empires


Weakening of central rule an

invitation to foreign invaders


Assyrians use new iron
weaponry
Beginning 1300 BC, by 8th-7th
centuries BC control
Mesopotamia, Syria,
Palestine, most of Egypt
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (r.
605-562) takes advantage of
internal dissent to create
Chaldean (New Babylonian)
Empire
Famously luxurious capital
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Mesopotamian Empires
1800-600 BC

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Technological Development in
Mesopotamia
Bronze (copper with tin),

c. 4000 BC
Military, agricultural
applications
Iron, c. 1000 BC
Cheaper than bronze
Wheel, boats, c. 3500 BC
Shipbuilding increases
trade networks
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Social Classes of Mesopotamia


Ruling classes based often on military prowess
Originally elected, later hereditary
Perceived as offspring of gods
Religious classes
Role: intervention with gods to ensure fertility, safety
Considerable landholdings, other economic activities
Free commoners
Peasant cultivators
Some urban professionals
Slaves
Prisoners of war, convicted criminals, debtors

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Patriarchal Society
Men as landowners, relationship to status
Patriarchy: rule of the father
Right to sell wives, children

Double standard of sexual morality


Women drowned for adultery
Relaxed sexual rules for men

Yet some possibilities of social mobility for women


Court advisers, temple priestesses, economic activity
Introduction of the veil at least c. 1500 BC

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Development of Writing
Sumerian writing systems

form, 3500 BC
Pictographs
Cuneiform: wedge-shaped
Earliest known writing system

in world
Preservation of documents on
clay
Declines from 400 BC with
spread of Greek alphabetic
script

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Uses for Writing


Trade
Astronomy
Mathematics
Agricultural applications

Calculation of time
12-month year
24-hour day, 60-minute

hour
Letter sent to the king of
Lagash informing him of his
son's death in combat.
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Mesopotamian Literature
Epic of Gilgamesh, compiled after 2000 BC
Heroic saga
Search for meaning, esp. afterlife
The story revolves around the relationship between

Gilgamesh (King of Uruk), and a friend, Enkidu, who is


half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with
Gilgamesh. Much of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's
thoughts of loss following Enkidu's death.
In sum, Gilgamesh was given knowledge of how to
worship the gods, of why death was ordained for
human beings, of what makes a good king, and of the
true nature of how to live a good life.
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The Early Hebrews

Patriarchs and Matriarchs from

Babylon, c. 1850 BC
Early settlement of Canaan
(Israel), c. 1300 BC
Biblical text: slavery in
Egypt, divine redemption
On-going conflict with
indigenous populations under
King David (1000-970 BC) and
Solomon (970-930 BC)
David and Goliath, by
Caravaggio, c. 1599.

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Moses and Monotheism


Hebrews shared polytheistic

beliefs of other Mesopotamian


civilizations
Moses introduces monotheism,
belief in single God
Denies existence of competing
parallel deities
Personal God: reward and
punishment for conformity with
revealed law
The Torah (the teaching)
A painting depicting Moses,
1638, by Jusepe de Ribera
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Foreign conquests of Israel


Soon after the death of King

Solomon, the prophecy of


Ahijah (1Kings 11:31-35) was
fulfilled with the division of the
kingdom.
Northern tribes: Israel
Southern: Judah
Assyrian conquest, 722 BC
Exiles Israel: ten lost tribes
Babylonian conquest, 586 BC
Additional exile of many
residents of Judah
Returned later than century
Ruins of Babylon, 1932
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Israel and Phoenicia, 1500-600 BC

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The Phoenicians
City-states along

Mediterranean coast after 3000


BC
Extensive maritime trade
Dominated Mediterranean

trade, 1200-800 BC
Development of alphabet

symbols
Simpler alternative to

cuneiform
Spread of literacy

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Indo-European Migrations
Common roots of many

languages of Europe, southwest


Asia, India
Implies influence of a single
Indo-European people
Probable original homeland:

contemporary Ukraine and


Russia, 4500-2500 BC
Domestication of horses, use of

Sumerian weaponry allowed


them to spread widely
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