Mesopotamia and the Near East The Roots of Western European Culture
Location of Mesopotamia <ul><li>Meant “Between Two Rivers”: The Tigris and Euphrates </li></ul><ul><li>Empires: Sumeria fo...
Neolithic: The Fertile Crescent <ul><li>Fertile Crescent: starts at Levant (E. Mediterranean Sea), upward into Turkey and ...
Near Eastern Neolithic <ul><li>Mesopotamia was too dry to sustain local agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Neolithic began in t...
Wild Ancestors of Domesticates <ul><li>The Fertile Crescent was the natural habitat of  </li></ul><ul><li>Wild ancestors o...
Domestication Processes <ul><li>“ Founder” plants were domesticated 9000-7000 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Grains (3) : Emmer and ...
Abu Hureyra: Domesticates <ul><li>Location:  Euphrates Valley in Syria </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from wild to domesticated s...
Abu Hureya: Other Developments <ul><li>Housing:  rectangular mud brick </li></ul><ul><li>Clay:  There were containers, but...
Abu Hureyra: Decline <ul><li>Abandonment: 6000 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Factors </li></ul><ul><li>Arid conditions precluded fa...
Mesopotamia: Introduction <ul><li>Meaning: From the Greek, “between two rivers” (Euphrates and Tigris) </li></ul><ul><li>L...
Ubaid Era (5300-4100 BC): Overview <ul><li>Later shifted from northern plains to southern river valley </li></ul><ul><li>T...
Ubaid Era: Main Attributes <ul><li>Spread of irrigation canals  </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of temple complexes  </li><...
Eridu (5000-3100 BC) <ul><li>Most of the early structures at Eridu were residential </li></ul><ul><li>Later, public and ri...
Social Stratification <ul><li>Little sign of the extreme social differentiation that was to come </li></ul><ul><li>No elab...
Uruk Period (4100-3100 BC) <ul><li>The first city, Uruk with a population of 10,000  </li></ul><ul><li>Overshadowed by the...
Uruk and Vicinity: Technology and Trade <ul><li>Pottery </li></ul><ul><li>Fine design of Ubaid </li></ul><ul><li>Gave way ...
Uruk and Vicinity: Trade <ul><li>Resource poor itself, Sumeria relied on trade </li></ul><ul><li>Main routes: the rivers (...
Uruk: Writing and Accounting, A Five-Step Model <ul><li>Main source: Denise Schmandt-Besserat:  Before Writing: From Count...
Final Steps of Writing and Accounting <ul><li>Step 3, 5500 BP: Bullae, or clay envelopes covering and indicating the token...
Writing and Accounting: Refinements <ul><li>Number of symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Early texts: 1500 symbols </li></ul><ul><l...
Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370) <ul><li>City states dominated Mesopotamia </li></ul><ul><li>10-15 were present various t...
Evidence of Extreme Stratification: Burials <ul><li>Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed 2500 burials  </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer th...
Lower Class Graves <ul><li>Of the other graves in the site </li></ul><ul><li>A large number contains modest quantity of go...
The Gods of Mesopotamia: I <ul><li>Anu : The father of the gods; god of heaven (above left) </li></ul><ul><li>Adad:  the r...
The Gods of Mesopotamia II <ul><li>Apsu: God of the primeval sweet waters </li></ul><ul><li>Ea: God of wisdom and patron o...
The Epic of Gilgamesh I <ul><li>Gilgamesh represents a theme of the enjoyments of life That ends sooner or later </li></ul...
Epic of Gilgamesh II <ul><li>Gilgamesh then goes on a quest for everlasting life </li></ul><ul><li>When he finds a plant t...
The Prevailing Theme: Enjoyment and Despair <ul><li>Michael Wood: This theme dominates the history of Iraq </li></ul><ul><...
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Mesopotamia and the Near East

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Culture History of Mesopotamia structured by Epic of Gilgamesh

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Mesopotamia and the Near East

  1. 1. Mesopotamia and the Near East The Roots of Western European Culture
  2. 2. Location of Mesopotamia <ul><li>Meant “Between Two Rivers”: The Tigris and Euphrates </li></ul><ul><li>Empires: Sumeria followed by Akad then Assur (Assyria) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Neolithic: The Fertile Crescent <ul><li>Fertile Crescent: starts at Levant (E. Mediterranean Sea), upward into Turkey and Syria </li></ul><ul><li>Then down to Iraq and Iran. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Near Eastern Neolithic <ul><li>Mesopotamia was too dry to sustain local agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Neolithic began in the Fertile Crescent, comprising </li></ul><ul><li>The Levant (eastern shore of the Mediterranean </li></ul><ul><li>Taurus Mountains of Turkey </li></ul><ul><li>Zagros Mountains of Iran </li></ul>
  5. 5. Wild Ancestors of Domesticates <ul><li>The Fertile Crescent was the natural habitat of </li></ul><ul><li>Wild ancestors of domesticated plants </li></ul><ul><li>Wheat --Legumes (peas and beans) </li></ul><ul><li>Barley </li></ul><ul><li>Wild ancestors of domesticated animals </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle --Pigs </li></ul><ul><li>Sheep --Goats </li></ul>
  6. 6. Domestication Processes <ul><li>“ Founder” plants were domesticated 9000-7000 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Grains (3) : Emmer and einkorn wheat, rye </li></ul><ul><li>Legumes (5): Lentils, peas, faba beans, chickpeas, bitter vetch </li></ul><ul><li>Flax for oil and fiber </li></ul>
  7. 7. Abu Hureyra: Domesticates <ul><li>Location: Euphrates Valley in Syria </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from wild to domesticated species </li></ul><ul><li>Chart shows shift from gazelle to sheep and goat bone count around 6500 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle and pig bone increases as well </li></ul><ul><li>Grain and legume remains also increase </li></ul>
  8. 8. Abu Hureya: Other Developments <ul><li>Housing: rectangular mud brick </li></ul><ul><li>Clay: There were containers, but no fired pottery </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of trade: </li></ul><ul><li>Cowrie shells (Mediterranean) </li></ul><ul><li>Turquoise (Sinai) </li></ul><ul><li>Obsidian and other crystalline stone from Turkey </li></ul>
  9. 9. Abu Hureyra: Decline <ul><li>Abandonment: 6000 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Factors </li></ul><ul><li>Arid conditions precluded farming </li></ul><ul><li>Pastoralism (herding) more viable in a grassland environment </li></ul><ul><li>Likely scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>Migration to the Zagros Mountains as herders </li></ul><ul><li>Movement to the upper part of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers </li></ul>
  10. 10. Mesopotamia: Introduction <ul><li>Meaning: From the Greek, “between two rivers” (Euphrates and Tigris) </li></ul><ul><li>Location: southern strip of land between the Euphrates and Tigris River </li></ul><ul><li>First villages formed in northern Meso-potamian floodplain about 6000 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Seasonal rainfall sustained agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Communities comprised several houses with roof entrances </li></ul>
  11. 11. Ubaid Era (5300-4100 BC): Overview <ul><li>Later shifted from northern plains to southern river valley </li></ul><ul><li>The Area lacked: </li></ul><ul><li>Sufficient rainfall for dry (nonirrigated) farming </li></ul><ul><li>Plants and animals capable of domestication </li></ul><ul><li>Even usable stone and metal ores </li></ul><ul><li>Despite it all, by 4500 BC, towns and public buildings dotted the countryside </li></ul><ul><li>Irrigation sufficient to support a nonfarm population </li></ul><ul><li>Shrines and then temples emerged </li></ul>
  12. 12. Ubaid Era: Main Attributes <ul><li>Spread of irrigation canals </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of temple complexes </li></ul><ul><li>A monochrome pottery design </li></ul><ul><li>Triangles, grids, zigzag lines were common </li></ul><ul><li>Less decorative than the polychrome Halafian pottery originating in Syria </li></ul><ul><li>Ceramics made on slow-turning potter’s wheel </li></ul><ul><li>For lack of workable stone and metals, tools were made of fired clay </li></ul><ul><li>Sickles </li></ul><ul><li>Hammers and axes </li></ul><ul><li>Mullers (implements to grind paints, powders, etc.) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Eridu (5000-3100 BC) <ul><li>Most of the early structures at Eridu were residential </li></ul><ul><li>Later, public and ritual centers were erected </li></ul><ul><li>At its peak, population was 5000 </li></ul><ul><li>In one site, a series of shrines were constructed, one over another (see diagram) </li></ul><ul><li>Earliest, dated 5000 BC, was a simple shrine </li></ul><ul><li>By 3000 AD, a ziggurat was constructed in the form of a 200 yard square enclosure </li></ul>
  14. 14. Social Stratification <ul><li>Little sign of the extreme social differentiation that was to come </li></ul><ul><li>No elaborate funerary complexes found in this period </li></ul><ul><li>No sign of a single ruler dominating southern Mesopotamia </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, this city was the prototype of the city-state organization that was to come </li></ul>
  15. 15. Uruk Period (4100-3100 BC) <ul><li>The first city, Uruk with a population of 10,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Overshadowed by the Anu Ziggurat and later the White Temple </li></ul><ul><li>Named after the principal god Anu </li></ul><ul><li>Like Eridu, constructed over earlier shrines </li></ul><ul><li>The White Temple was constructed over the Anu Ziggurat </li></ul><ul><li>Both temples entailed massive manpower inputs—7500 man-years alone </li></ul><ul><li>Structures separated priestly residents from the populace </li></ul><ul><li>Walls were constructed in Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370 BC) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Uruk and Vicinity: Technology and Trade <ul><li>Pottery </li></ul><ul><li>Fine design of Ubaid </li></ul><ul><li>Gave way to crudely made utilitarian objects </li></ul><ul><li>Plow was invented </li></ul><ul><li>Wooden blade with metal tip </li></ul><ul><li>Far more productive than the digging stick </li></ul><ul><li>Agricultural base diversified </li></ul><ul><li>Wheat, barley, flax, dates </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle raising and fishing </li></ul>
  17. 17. Uruk and Vicinity: Trade <ul><li>Resource poor itself, Sumeria relied on trade </li></ul><ul><li>Main routes: the rivers (especially the Euphrates) and overland east-west </li></ul><ul><li>Products imported </li></ul><ul><li>Persian Gulf </li></ul><ul><li>Precious metals and stone: gold, silver, carnelian, lapus lazuli, onyx, alabaster </li></ul><ul><li>Textiles, skins, and ivory </li></ul><ul><li>Timber </li></ul><ul><li>Northern regions: copper </li></ul>
  18. 18. Uruk: Writing and Accounting, A Five-Step Model <ul><li>Main source: Denise Schmandt-Besserat: Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform </li></ul><ul><li>Step 1, 9000 BP: 16 basic shapes, geometric, animal, or pottery jar forms </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2, 6000 BP: 300 forms with varied markings (e.g.., distinctions between raw and finished materials) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Final Steps of Writing and Accounting <ul><li>Step 3, 5500 BP: Bullae, or clay envelopes covering and indicating the tokens inside (upper left; this indicated oil) </li></ul><ul><li>Step 4, 5200 BP: Flattened tokens to indicate kind and amount of commodities recorded </li></ul><ul><li>Step 5, 5100 BP: Information recorded on clay tablets using cuneiform, or ideographic wedge-shaped, markings (see lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>This clay tablet indicates the sheep and goats owned by someone in Mesopotamia </li></ul>
  20. 20. Writing and Accounting: Refinements <ul><li>Number of symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Early texts: 1500 symbols </li></ul><ul><li>One-for-one relations with commodity </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, one symbol represented wheat, another for chariot, a third for copper ingot or block </li></ul><ul><li>Later texts: 750 unique symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Advantage: Increased the control by administration of products and people </li></ul><ul><li>System was still cumbersome </li></ul><ul><li>Elements could be combined but not in the way we can </li></ul><ul><li>Cuneiform is not alphabet-based </li></ul><ul><li>Want to see your name in cuneiform? Log on to www.upennmuseum.com/cuneiform.cig and follow instructions </li></ul>
  21. 21. Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370) <ul><li>City states dominated Mesopotamia </li></ul><ul><li>10-15 were present various times </li></ul><ul><li>Uruk itself increased to 50,000 inhabitants </li></ul><ul><li>Defensive walls were constructed </li></ul><ul><li>Monarchs became independent of temple rule </li></ul><ul><li>City states rose and fell </li></ul><ul><li>Uruk: Challenged by other city states around 2700 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Ur: Located 75 miles away, became Uruk’s principal economic and military rival </li></ul><ul><li>Bands of highwaymen, possibly pastoralists, raided the merchants en route </li></ul>
  22. 22. Evidence of Extreme Stratification: Burials <ul><li>Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed 2500 burials </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer than 20 were of royalty </li></ul><ul><li>Queen Shub-ad was lying on a bed accompanied by female attendants </li></ul><ul><li>2 wagons drawn by oxen driven by male servants backed down into entry ramp </li></ul><ul><li>59 bodies, mostly female, were on the ground near the tomb </li></ul><ul><li>All retainers were lavishly bedecked with crafted elements </li></ul><ul><li>Oxen dispatched, then all in the party consumed poison </li></ul>
  23. 23. Lower Class Graves <ul><li>Of the other graves in the site </li></ul><ul><li>A large number contains modest quantity of goods </li></ul><ul><li>A far larger number contain none at all </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Gods of Mesopotamia: I <ul><li>Anu : The father of the gods; god of heaven (above left) </li></ul><ul><li>Adad: the rain god, and of storms </li></ul><ul><li>Dumuzi (Tanmuz): God of vegetation and the Underword; Husband of Ishtar </li></ul><ul><li>Ishtar (Innana): Goddess of love, fertility, and war; Queen of Heavan; Nemesis of Gilgamesh (lower left) </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Gods of Mesopotamia II <ul><li>Apsu: God of the primeval sweet waters </li></ul><ul><li>Ea: God of wisdom and patron of the arts </li></ul><ul><li>Enlil: God of earth, wind, and air </li></ul><ul><li>Ninhursag: Mother goddess, creator of vegetation; wife of Enlil </li></ul><ul><li>Nisaba: Goddess of grain </li></ul><ul><li>Skanash: God of the sun, judge, and law giver; god of wisdom </li></ul><ul><li>Sin: Goddess of the moon </li></ul>
  26. 26. The Epic of Gilgamesh I <ul><li>Gilgamesh represents a theme of the enjoyments of life That ends sooner or later </li></ul><ul><li>Gilgamesh is part human, part god, blessed with beauty and courage </li></ul><ul><li>He blows it when he spurns the love of Ishtar (the Queen of Heaven) and kills the Bull of Heaven, (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>He is punished with the loss of his dearest (male) companion, Enkidu (depicted above right) </li></ul>
  27. 27. Epic of Gilgamesh II <ul><li>Gilgamesh then goes on a quest for everlasting life </li></ul><ul><li>When he finds a plant that promises everlasting life, a serpent snatches it away (Left) </li></ul><ul><li>He is left with a vision of death, a “house of dust,” and a place of inescapable sadness </li></ul><ul><li>The snake recurs in the Book of Genesis and leads to the Fall of Man </li></ul>
  28. 28. The Prevailing Theme: Enjoyment and Despair <ul><li>Michael Wood: This theme dominates the history of Iraq </li></ul><ul><li>Accordng to him, the Gilgamesh myth sets the theme whereby greatness followed by disaster recurs throughout Mesopotamian/ Iraqi history </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion: Does this theme recur throughout this history, up to and including the Iraq war? </li></ul>

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