Birth of Civilization: Mesopotamia Humanities I Dr. Whitney Vandiver Redlands Community College
Ancient Societies Sumer ~ 4,000-2,000 BC Assyrian Empire Regional settlements united ~ 2,300 BC with Sumerian settlements Babylonian Empire ~ 2,000 BC with the combination of Sumer and Babylonian settlements Persian Empire (First) ~ 550-350 BC Hebrews Nomadic society
Sumer A network of city-states with individual rulers Greatly agriculturally-based Bronze-age brought about greater agricultural tools Nomadic tribes were the greatest threat because of small “cities” and no unified force. Sargon I united the city-states ~ 2350 BC and ruled as theocratic monarch for 56 years first multi-ethnic empire fell to nomadic tribes who improved systems and tools Polytheism, theocratic monarchy, and systems of bartering continued through changes in societies and rule.
Class & Social Order Division among society is recorded as early as 2700 BC Religious servants, military, royal staff, and the educated served separate purposes, which offered a social stature. “Standard of Ur” panel depicts division among class War, trade, and social expectations continued through the goal of societal success.
Babylon ~ 2000 BC, Babylonian and remaining Sumerian city- states were combined for the First Babylonian Empire. Hammurabi (6th Babylonian monarch) Code of Hammurabi combination of statutes from city-states 282 laws engraved on a 7-foot tall stele most specific and comprehensive law of ancient society resembles story of Moses on Mount Sinai punishment and application differed based on social class
Changes in Gender Views The Babylonian Creation earliest cosmological myth, ~ 2,000 BC similar to a big bang story with a simultaneous creation of the universe and gods The Great Mother, Tiamat, is destroyed by hero-god Marduk offers shift from matriarchal society to patriarchal gods Code of Hammurabi labeled woman as property of men despite having commercial abilities and protection because of child-bearing status.
Gilgamesh First recorded epic poem, long narrative about a hero Initially orally spoken, written down ~3000 BC Possibly based on an early Sumerian ruler 2/3 god, 1/3 mortal—a Hercules-type figure who rejects the goddess Ishtar and loses his companion Only recourse is to search for eternal life, which he discovers in the form of a plant to restore youth Symbolism resembles some Biblical literature mortal who saves humankind from a flood serpent who steals the plant
Mesopotamian Architecture ziggurat—religious buildings for burial and rituals to rise closer to gods