Emergence of Civilazation

•Mesopotamia means "in between the useful waters"
•Modern-day Iraq
•3000 BCE to 1000 BCE
Civilizations require:
•Complex social structure (class division)
•Complex political structure (government)
*This does not necessarily make them more civilized
•Tigris & Euphrates rives provide alluvial soil (Fertile Crescent)
•Timber, metal, and stone had to be imported
•They built with mud brick instead
•Topography was open plain, few natural defenses
Writing as Technology & Art
•Developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and around the Indus River Valley in ~3,000 BCE
•Starts as symbols
•Develops into script systems (token/symbols to cuneiform writing)
•Cuneiform means "wedge-shaped"
•Has over 350 symbols
•Can be used to write many languages
Writing Systems
•Useful for complex ideas
•Creates an elite class of literate people (scribes, priests)
•Because it creates this class system, it can also be used as a tool of opression
Other Technologies
•Metal crafts
•Math & science
-Multiplication, division, square & cube roots
-Counting based on units of 60
-Basic astrology
Sumerian City-States: 3500 to 2400 BCE
Babylonian Society: 2400 to 1000 BCE
•Ziggurats represent the theology in Sumerian city-states
•Mesopotamia was divided into city-states until 2400 BCE
•unification by Sargon - "lugal" is the Sumerian term for ruler or king
The Law Code of Hammurabi
•Origin of law
•State control of the economy
•"In order to prevent the powerful from oppressing the weak..."
•Commonly known to be based on retribution ("an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth")
•However, modern scholars look at it more as based on class structure, because many law codes made reference to the social hierarchy
•Laws were also not equally obeyed
•Hammurabi claimed the Gods gave him the laws as well
•Meaning, the laws were not made by mere men, but by the Gods themselves
•It is also thought that laws may have just been propaganda for Hammurabi, as they don't really keep social harmony
The Royal Standard of Ur
•circa 4,500 years ago
•Wooden box with mosiac
•Found in southern Iraq
•The Standard shows how far Sumerians traveled - lapis from Afganistan, red marble from India, shells from the Gulf
•Agricultural surplus meant they could mobilize, extend trade routes, have soldiers, craftsmen -> all society you can see in the Standard!
•It's arranged like a modern-day comic strip
•It shows social classes
•The king is the biggest figure, just like Egyptian art
•The piece was found at the 1920s, at the end of WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, right at the creation of modern Iraq
•It means a lot to the Iraqi people, because it helped in the creation of an Iraqi national identity
•Modern cities everywhere have Mesopotamia in their DNA


Sources: Western Civilization 10th Edition, Volume One to 1715 by Spielvogel