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  • Mesopotamia was approximately 300 miles long and 150 miles wide. It was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. These rivers flow into the Persian Gulf. The word Mesopotamia means "The land between the rivers". CLIMATE 
 The climate for the region ranged from seasons of cool to hot seasons with temperatures often over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Mesopotamia experienced moderate rainfall. ENVIRONMENT 
Most of Mesopotamia was located in the present day country of Iraq. The land of Mesopotamia was once dominated by floods, but today is mostly desert. The seasonal flooding was a challenge to the farmers of Mesopotamia. These farmers learned to control the flooding to some degree. The fertile land along the rivers produced such crops as wheat, barley, sesame, flax, and various fruits and vegetables.The land that was once marshes and channels that provided food, protection, and life to the people there, no longer exists.
  • Uruk (Sumerian Unug, Biblical Erech , Greek Orcho � and Arabic Warka ), was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates, on the line of the ancient Nil canal, in a region of marshes, about 140 miles SSE from Baghdad. The modern name of Iraq is derived from the name Uruk. It was one of the oldest and most important cities of Babylonia. Its walls were said to have been built by order of Gilgamesh who also constructed, it was said, the famous temple, called Eanna, dedicated to the worship of Inanna, or Ishtar. Its voluminous surviving temple archive, of the Neo-Babylonian period, documents the social function of the temple as a redistribution center. In times of famine, a family might dedicate children to the temple as oblates. Uruk played a very important part in the political history of the country from an early time, exercising hegemony in Babylonia at a period before the time of Sargon. Later it was prominent in the national struggles of the Babylonians against the Elamite Empire up to 2000 BC, in which it suffered severely; recollections of these conflicts are embodied in the Gilgamesh epic, in the literary and courtly form in which it has come down to us. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (
  • The people of Mesopotamia had very many gods, called dingir in Sumerian. Their gods and goddesses looked and acted just like people. They had feasts, marriages, children, and wars. They could be jealous, angry, joyful, or kind. The gods and goddesses had supernatural powers.Every single city had its own patron god or goddess who owned everything and everyone in the city. Everyone was expected to sing hymns, say prayers, make sacrifices and bring offerings to the local temple (ziggurat) for the gods. The people trusted the priests and the priestesses in the temples to tell them what the gods or goddesses wanted, and they dutifully carried out their wishes. They believed that the gods could be annoyed at what you did and punish you, or they could be pleased and reward you.This made the leaders in the temples almost as powerful as the kings. In Mesopotamia the people looked to religion to answer their questions about life and death, good and evil, and the forces of nature. The dingir followed themes, or divine laws, that governed the universe. The Sumerians believed in divine order, that is, everything that occurs is preplanned by the gods.
There were four all-powerful gods that created and controlled the universe. An was the god of heaven, Enlil was the air-god, Enki was the water-god, and Ninhursag was the mother earth-goddess. Each of these gods created lesser gods who were also important in Mesopotamia. Utu, the sun-god, lit the world with rays shooting from his shoulders. He moved across the sky in a chariot. Nanna was the moon-god who used a boat to travel by night.
  • In Mesopotamia, each town and city was believed to be protected by its own, unique deity or god. The temple, as the center of worship, was also the center of every city.Around the year 2000 B.C., temple towers began to be built to link heaven and earth. The towers, called ziggurats, were very large, pyramid-shaped structures on top of which the temple was built. The ziggurats were built of mud bricks with 3 to 7 terraced levels.The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenankia or "House of the Platform between Heaven & Earth". The ziggurats were often decorated with pillars and other ornamentation.
At first, religious events were held at the temple. Later, as a priesthood developed, the temple became the center of both religion and learning for the entire community.
  • The Sumerians made their clothing by using the natural resources that were available to them. Clothing was made from wool or flax which Sumerians could raise and harvest. (Flax is a plant with blue flowers. The stems of these plants are used to make the clothing.) How thick or how coarse the clothing was meant the season in which the clothes would be worn. Like us, heavier clothing would be worn in the winter and lighter clothing would be worn in the summer. Men were bare-chested and wore skirt-like garments that tied at the waist. Women usually wore gowns that covered them from their shoulders to their ankles. The right arm and shoulder were left uncovered. Men were either clean shaven or had long hair and beards. Women wore their hair long, but they usually braided it and wrapped it around their heads. When entertaining guests, women would place headdresses in their hair. Although both rich and poor Sumerians wore the same style of clothing, the wealthier Sumerians wore clothing that was made out of expensive and luxurious materials. Wealthy women and princesses also wore clothing that was colorful and bright. Both men and women wore earrings and necklaces. During celebrations, even more jewelry was worn. The wealthier Sumerians often wore beautiful gold and silver bracelets and earrings. Necklaces were also worn and were set with bright, precious stones. Some of these stones were the lapis lazuli and the carnelian. Image: central Mesopotamia, Asian; Middle Eastern; Mesopotamian Standing male worshiper, 2750-2600 B.C. Sculpture (Alabaster (gypsum), shell, black limestone) H. 11.9 in. (29.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, USA Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 1940 40.156 CAMIO: MMA_.40.156
  • Trade and commerce developed in Mesopotamia because the farmers learned how to irrigate their land. They could now grow more food than they could eat. They used the surplus to trade for goods and services. Ur, a city-state in Sumer, was a major center for commerce and trade. Temples were the chief employer and location for commercial activity. The system of trade developed from people's need. People in the mountains needed wheat and barley. Mountain people could give timber, limestone, gold, silver, and copper. Flax was grown in the river valley and then woven into cloth. Linen garments were worn by priests and holy men. Wool and wool cloth was also important for trade. Wood was used for ships and furniture. Imagine having to take your boat apart after traveling down a river. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers made transport of goods easy and economical. Riverboats were used to transport goods for trade. Strong currents moved the boats downstream, but because of the current they could travel in one direction only. The boats had to be dismantled after the trip downstream. The Mesopotamians were clever people and used interesting types of boats. 
The Mesopotamians used three types of boats: wooden boats with a triangular sail, the turnip or Guffa boat which was shaped like a tub, made of reeds and covered with skin, and the kalakku which was a raft of timbers supported by inflated animal skins. The invention of the wheel by the Sumerians revolutionized the transportation. Wagons could be used to carry heavy loads. If you lived back then, you would not need money to get things you needed. 
Money wasn't used to trade goods and services. The Mesopotamians used the barter system instead. They developed a writing system to keep track of buying and selling. Scribes kept accurate records of business transactions by writing on clay tablets. Business contracts were sealed with a cylinder wheel.
  • The Beginnings of Writing Because they needed to keep records of their livestock, food, and other things, officials began using tokens. Tokens were used for trade .
Clay tokens came in different shapes and sizes. These represented different objects. For example, a cone shape could have represented a bag of wheat. These tokens were placed inside clay balls that were sealed. If you were sending five goats to someone, then you would put five tokens in the clay ball. When the goat arrived, the person would open the clay ball and count the tokens to make sure the correct number of goats had arrived.The number of tokens began to be pressed on the outside of the clay balls. Many experts believe that this is how writing on clay tablets began. A system of writing develops.The earliest form of writing dates back to 3300 B.C. People back then would draw "word-pictures" on clay tablets using a pointed instrument called a stylus. These "word-pictures" then developed into wedge-shaped signs. This type of script was called cuneiform (from the Latin word cuneus which means wedge). Who used cuneiform? 
Not everyone learned to read and write. Boys that were chosen to become scribes (professional writers) began to study at the age of 8. They finished when they were 20 years old. The scribes wrote on clay tablets and used a triangular shaped reed called a stylus to make marks in the clay. The marks represented the tens of thousands of words in their language. Many of the tablets containing the story of Gilgamesh come from tablets schoolboys used for practice. Image: Mesopotamian, Asian; Middle Eastern; Mesopotamian Administrative tablet with cylinder seal impression of a male figure, hunting dogs, and boars, 3100-2900 B.C. Sculpture (Clay) H. 2 in. (5.3 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, USA Purchase, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gift, 1988 1988.433.1 CAMIO: MMA_.1988.433.1
  • The Ishtar Gate, one of the eight gates of the inner city of Babylon, was built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604- 562 BC). Only the foundations of the gate were found, going down some 45 feet, with molded, unglazed figures. The gateway has been reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, from the glazed bricks found, so its original height is different in size. Reconstructed height is 47 feet. It was one of the eight gates of the inner city of Babylon. It was built in about 575 BC, the eighth fortified gate in the city. It is one of the most impressive monuments rediscovered in the ancient Near East. The Ishtar gate was decorated with glazed brick reliefs, in tiers, of dragons and young bulls. The gate itself was a double one, and on its south side was a vast antechamber. Through the gatehouse ran a stone-and brick-paved avenue, the so-called Processional Way, which has been traced over a length of more than half a mile.
  • More information
  • Notice that Dragon (and lion to follow) is constructed from a number of relief bricks designed to ensure that none of the seams between the bricks came at eyes or other places that might be aesthetically disturbing. Bricks were cast in reusable molds in order to produce as many identical animals as necessary. Neo-Babylonian, Asian; Middle Eastern; Babylonian Ishtar Gate, Dragon of Marduk, 604/562 B.C. Sculpture (Terracotta glazed and molded bricks) 115.57 cm x 167.01 cm The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, USA Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund 31.25 CAMIO: DIA_.31.25
  • Mesopotamian, Asian; Middle Eastern; Mesopotamian Panel: striding lions, 604-562 B.C. Sculpture (Glazed brick) H. 38.3 in. (97.2 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, USA Fletcher Fund, 1931 31.13.2 CAMIO: MMA_.31.13.2
  • Gilgamesh was an historical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq; he lived about 2700 B.C. Although historians tend to emphasize Hammurabi and his code of law, the civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates area, among the first civilizations, focus rather on Gilgamesh and the legends accruing around him to explain, as it were, themselves. Many stories and myths were written about Gilgamesh, some of which were written down about 2000 B.C. in the Sumerian language on clay tablets which still survive; the Sumerian language, as far as we know, bears no relation to any other human language we know about. These Sumerian Gilgamesh stories were integrated into a longer poem, versions of which survive not only in Akkadian (the Semitic language, related to Hebrew, spoken by the Babylonians) but also on tablets written in Hurrian and Hittite (an Indo-European language, a family of languages which includes Greek and English, spoken in Asia Minor). All the above languages were written in the script known as cuneiform, which means "wedge-shaped." The fullest surviving version is derived from twelve stone tablets, in the Akkadian language, found in the ruins of the library of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria 669-633 B.C., at Nineveh. The library was destroyed by the Persians in 612 B.C., and all the tablets are damaged. The tablets actually name an author, which is extremely rare in the ancient world, for this particular version of the story: Shin-eqi-unninni. You are being introduced here to the oldest known human author we can name by name!
  • Note: be careful not to apply 21st century moral codes to these ancient works!

Gilgamesh1 Gilgamesh1 Presentation Transcript

  • Gilgamesh Dr. Mary Ann Clark
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
    • People
    • Religion
    • Languages
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
      • Location : Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
      • Area : slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
      • Climate : mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
      • Terrain : mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
    • People
      • Population : 26,074,906 (July 2005 est.)
      • Ethnic groups : Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
    • People
    • Religion
      • Religions : Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
  • Iraq: Home of Gilgamesh
    • Geography
    • People
    • Religion
    • Languages
      • Languages : Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
  • Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Uruk
    • Oldest & most important ancient cities
    • About 140 miles SSE of contemporary Baghdad
    • Modern name of Iraq derived from Uruk
  • Culture
    • Religion
    • Clothing
    • Trade & Commerce
    • Writing (Cuneiform)
  • Religion
    • Pantheon of deities (God and Goddesses)
    • Every city had its own patron deity
    • People sang hymns, said prayers, made offerings at the temples (ziggurats)
    • Gods looked and acted like very powerful people
  • Religion
    • Temple to local deity
    • Large pyramid-shaped structures
    • Connected heaven and earth
    Ziggurat at Ur
  • Clothing
    • Made from natural fibers: wool or flax
    • Men generally bare-chested with skirt-like garments
    • Women wore long gown, left right arm & shoulder bare
    • Both men & women wore jewelry
  • Trade & Commerce
    • Ancient Mesopotamia was a center of trade and commerce
    • People traded among themselves and with their neighbors
    • Irrigation by producing an excess of crops made trade possible
    • Temples were centers of trade & commerce
  • Cuneiform
    • Earliest system of writing
    • Formed by stylus on clay tablets
    • Important tablets baked to preserve them
  • Achievements
    • Ishtar’s Gate
    • Legend of Gilgamesh, the God-King
  • Ishtar Gate
    • Main gate to Nebuchadnezzar II’s Babylon
    • Built around 575 BCE
    • Decorated with glazed brick reliefs
  • Ishtar’s Gate
    • Reconstructed from original materials
    • Staatliche Museen (State Museum), Berlin, Dept. of the Near East
  • Ishtar Gate: Dragon
  • Ishtar Gate: Lion
  • Gilgamesh
    • Historical king of Uruk
    • Lived ~2700 BCE
    • Son of Lugalbanda and Nunsun, a goddess
    • Legends important to the self-identity of Mesopotamian peoples
  • Special Note
    • “ Harlot” is probably a misrepresentation of Shamhat’s profession
    • She was a temple priestess, who offers her sexual services in the hieros gamos (sacred marriage ritual)