SUMERIA & EGYPT [ BCE Prehistoric Era - 200 CE ] Prehistoric Era - Time before recorded history (no writing system available) CE - common era (aka A.D.)
Components of Civilization:
Specialization of Labor
System of Writing
Government & Laws
Culture supported by large population
Egyptian Pyramid Sumerian Ziggurat
THE FERTILE CRECSENT Arc of territory running Northward from Egypt through Palestine and to the river valleys of Mesopotamia. This area had centuries of drainage from the rivers and flooding that resulted in very rich soil, good for farming. Farming led to growth of population and the clearing of land for living and planting crops. People begin settling down, no longer hunting and moving around, this is the start of the first observable civilization. The layout of the Fertile Crescent made trade and communication among its peoples very easy so tools found in Iran made in 8000 bc, were made from obsidian from another area in the Fertile Crescent called Anatolia. Area of farming villages between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Sumeria Farming and animal domestication (keeping and breeding animals) provided a reliable food supply, this meant that bigger populations could live in smaller areas. All the people did not have to be involved in food gathering, so people were able to practice more specialized crafts and skills, like pottery, leatherworking, stonecutting, fishing and weaving, and still be supported by the rest of the village. Sumerians called themselves “Sag-gi-ga” which meant black headed ones, they called their country “Kung-gi-r” which meant the civilized land. By 200 bc, the Sumerians lived in cities like Ur and Uruk in Soutehrn Iraq. They had developed paved roads, the arch and vault in architecture, writing, schools, epic literature (story of gilgamesh), law codes and banking. Lived in villages Had a cultural center, these cultural centers were places of devotion and pilgrimage Sumerian Bull Head from Tomb of Paubi, 2600 bc Sumerian Ziggurat
Pictographs to Cunieform Pictograms (simplified pictures) carved into clay tablets with reed stalk then baked. The earliest are in Sumeria, they used pictograms to keep records of supplies and receipts, this evolved slowly into Cunieform . From pictogram to cunieform Examples of cunieform imprinted in clay
Cunieform Cunieform was the first form of writing. It is made up of a symbol stamped into clay with a wedge shaped section of a cut reed. A sign or group of signs was used to represent phonetic (sounds), and possible syllabic elements. This was a very flexible form of writing. Cunieform is found on many pieces of pottery, clay cylinder seals and clay tablets. Please see chart below for examples of pictograms and the cunieform equivalents, notice that a phonetic pronunciation is included for the cunieform symbols. Example of Cunieform imprinted in clay Chart showing pictograms and the cunieform equivalents and pronunciations.
Sumerian Ziggurats Ur’s temple tower
Sumerian civilization (3,500 - 2,300bce) had all of the basic components of civilization:
Specialization of labor (examples: farm grains & dates, make pottery, build boats, make cosmetics & medicine, work as scribes, construction, etc.)
System of writing - Cuneiform (wedge-shaped symbols made with a reed or ‘stylus’ & wet clay tablets dried in sun telling about trade, storing, government, religion, war, etc.)
Government with organized set of laws (ruling from city palace or temple - Sumerian society divided into 12 city-states each belonging to a god or goddess. Each city-state built a ziggurat temple to honor it’s deity) Ziggurats were made of clay ‘domestic’ materials.
Ziggurat at Ur during excavation
Massive stepped (gets smaller as you get higher) pyramid 64 meters x 45.7 meters and 19.5 meters high. The ziggurat is made up of many platforms that get smaller as you go up, the inside or “core” is constructed with sun-baked mud bricks and the outside is fired mud bricks glazed in different colors. Access to the summit shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one side or by a continuous spiral ramp from base to summit. The number of platforms ranged from two to seven. The ziggurat was part of a temple complex that was the center of the city. The ziggurat was believed to be the place the moon god Nanna and the patron deity of Ur chose to live. A small shrine was built at the summit (top) of the ziggurat for Nanna, it was called “the bedchamber of the god”, each night a woman from the city was chosen to sleep in the shrine as the god’s companion.
Pottery Farming gave the Sumerians a reliable source of food allowing Sumerians not involved in farming to develop other skills. Pottery and works in clay were a large part of this civilization. Pottery was mass produced and created on a wheel. It was decorated with cedar oil paints and a “bow drill” (see next slide for bow drill image) was used to create fire to fire the clay. Sumerians were not only able to create in clay but they also had the knowledge to use ivory, gold, silver and lapis lazuli. Pottery uncovered at archeological digs
Bow drill This is a tool the Sumerians used to create fire.
Warka Vase Found Uruk 3000 bc This piece depicts Sumerians bringing gifts to the Goddess Inanna, upper level: rulers or gods accepting gifts, middle level: servants with food and milk, lower level : economic foundations of Uruk-water, plants and livestock (product with function as well as narration)
Inanna - female head from Uruk 3500-300 bc Sumerian statues from the Temple Aba Tell Asmar Statuettes (a tell is a mound created by debris from previous buildings) marble, 2700 bc, these figurines were worshipped for fertility of the women and the crops. These figures show tall, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts Clay Figures
Queen Paubi’s beaded cape and jewelry Gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and various stones Queen Paubi’s Headdress Gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian Ur Excavation This site was excavated by C. Leonard Wooley. Ur had 1600 burials, Some of these burials were considered royal because they had servants buried with them. Queen Puabi’s tomb had a vaulted chamber at the bottom of a pit, she was buried with 2 servents. Queen Puabi was identified from a cylinder seal with her name written in cunieform. “ Queen Puabi wore an elaborate headdress of gold leaves, gold ribbons, strands of lapis lazuli and carnelian beads, a tall comb of gold, chokers, necklaces, and a pair of large, crescent-shaped earrings. Her upper body was covered in strings of beads made of precious metals and semi-precious stones stretching from her shoulders to her belt, while rings decorated all her fingers.”
Sumerian Cuneiform Cylinder Seal, Iraq, 3000 BCE Cylinder Seal The cylinder seal was rolled on clay to make an imprint, it worked as a signature and was used on important documents or envelopes for protection from someone opening it. It was also used to show ownership of items imprinted with it. These seals were often made of stone but could also be made from bone, ivory, metal, glass, wood or clay. These seals were worn on a bracelet or on a necklace when not being used, they belonged to a person for their entire lifetime and when they died, the cylinder seal was buried with them. (almost like functional jewelry) Impression of an Indus-style cylinder seal of unknown Near Eastern origin.
Egypt - Nile Valley & Sahara Desert Egyptian civilization: old kingdom 2700bce, middle kingdom 2000bce, new kingdom 1550bce, decline in 1100bce
Egypt The Great Sphinx Located South of Khafre’s pyramid at Giza near Cairo. This is the first large royal sculpture in Egypt. The Great Sphinx is made of limestone bedrock that is 50 million years old, this bedrock was made from sediment deposits from the sea. The builders began by digging out a u-shaped hole to create rectangle block to carve the Sphinx into. The limestone removed to make the body of the Sphinx was used to build the 2 temples to the East of the sculpture. Like many of Egypt's monuments, The Great Sphinx is part of a complex which consists not only of the Sphinx, but also of its old temple, a New kingdom temple and some other small structures. It is also related to Khafre’s Valley Temple, which has four sphinx statues of its own.
Egyptian Pyramids Giza: 4th Dynasty - Menkaure, Khafre, Khufu 100,000 workers spent 20 years constructing the one pyramid. 2.3 million huge limestone blocks. Each block weighed 2.5 tons. This labor was their religious duty to the pharoah. Shape based on 2 things: 1) ladder to heaven 2) the belief that the universe was based on a pyramidal hill. Materials: Granite-block stone inner-construction with a smooth Limestone casing and a golden capstone. 52degree angle. 3 small pyramids in front for Khufu’s 3 queens.
Egyptian Pyramids Pyramid Interior design altered due to Tomb Robbers. Before, the tomb was placed in the bottom chamber, however, later, for purposes of deception, the tomb was actually moved upwards to the heart of the pyramid. (Notice the second false chamber in the middle section. This developed In during the end of the “Old Kingdom” particularly with the building of the pyramid of Khufu. Tomb of Pashedu (East Side) - Thebes 1,250 Section of Tomb of Pashedu
Plan & Perspective Today, 80 pyramids still stand along the Nile. The largest structure ever built is the pyramid of Plaraoh Khufu at Giza. 152 meters tall (50 story building). Pyramids often became full-fledged communities because of the support they required to run. Priests & retainers were needed to serve the needs of the deceased pharoah, and attendents were needed to serve them, a cyclic repetition. *Pharoah - rulers of ancient Egypt owning all lands. Comes from the Egyptian word for palace. Thought of as Gods on Earth. pyramid of Plaraoh Khufu
After-Life Mummification process for preservation. Canopic jars for organs. Boat that crosses the the river from this life to the next. *Canopic Jars (organs except for the brain which was thrown away & heart not removed) for example: stomach, lungs, intestines. Organs protected by the gods personified on the lids.
Toys & Entertainment Clockwise from upper-left: board game similar to checkers, frog w/ moveable mouth, working peasant, Dancing dwarves.
Grid Layout System & Symbols Flat, 2-dimensional, symbolic Ba - The soul, Utchat - Sacred Eye, Ankh - Life (origins of a sandal strap) Carved hieroglyphs in surface of a mathematical grid.
Scribes Palette & Papyrus Hieroglyphics - Greek for ‘sacred carving’ after the Egyptian for ‘the god’s words’ Unlike cuneiform in that it remained a picture-writing system. Started in about 3100bce, lasted until 394ce! However, not simply pictograms, they also often functioned as phonograms (sound out like alphabet). Discovered in 1822. Book of the Dead:
Hieroglyphics & Rosetta Stone detail Hieroglyphics: system of writing using about 500 pictures & signs to stand for words & SOUNDS! Reed brushes and ink to write on scrolls of papyrus, a thick paper made from plants growing along the Nile. Scribes trained in temples (like Sumerians) Cartouche: *rebus - pictures for sound Detail of the Rosetta Stone (c.197-6bce): Found in August 1799 by Napoleon’s troops digging a foundation for a fortification addition. Trilingual (Hieroglyphic, Demotic, Greek) - PTOLEMY (PTOLEMAIOS) Rosetta Stone (c.197-6bce)
Motifs Cobra, Sphinx, Scarab (beetle), feather motifs used for interior design in architecture Cobra, Sphinx Scarab Feather
Weekly questions: 1. Why was the Fertile Crescent a good place to start civilization? 2. What is Cunieform? 3. What were Pictograms used for? 4. What is a Ziggurat? 5. What was a Cylinder Seal made from and what was it used for? 6. How were the blocks for the Egyptian Pyramids cut and moved? 7. Why were there so many chambers in the great pyramids? 8. What was the purpose of mummification? 9. Hieroglyphics we used for what purpose in Egyptian culture?