1. Mesopotamia is known as the “land between
the rivers”. Name the two rivers.
2. Describe how these rivers played a major role
in the development of this great civilization.
3. Give the name of the first system of written
law. Describe it.
4. Name 4 major Mesopotamian contributions.
For those who have the WORLD HISTORY book:
5. Name the 3 social classes of Sumeria.
6. Why were the Assyrians so successful at
7. Name the first monotheistic religion?
8. Who conquered the Persian Empire?
Extra Credit for everyone:
The Epic of Gilgamesh was not written on a book,
what was it written on?
THE FERTILE CRESCENT
• Mesopotamia (the land between 2
rivers), is a valley between the Tigris
and Euphrates Rivers.
• These rivers often overflow and leave
silt, which makes the soil rich for an
• The SUMERIANS developed the first
• Ancient Mesopotamia covered three general
• Several different ethnicities lived in these areas.
• Mesopotamian civilization involved many peoples.
• The Sumerians developed the first Mesopotamian
• By 3,000 B.C.E. the Sumerians had formed a
number of city-states centered around cities
such as Kish, Ur and Uruk
• These states controlled the surrounding
countryside politically and economically.
• City-states were the basic political unit of
the Sumerian Civilization.
• WHAT IS AN EMPIRE?
supreme control under an emperor.
• The Akkadians lived north of the Sumerian
• They were considered Semitic people
because they spoke a Semitic language.
• Around 2340 B.C.E. the leader of the
Akkadians, Sargon, conquered the
Sumerian city-states and set up the world’s
first empire* (absolute authority)
• The temple (most important building) was built
on top of a massive stepped tower called a
• Sumerians believed gods and goddesses
owned and ruled the cities.
• In the beginning, the Sumerian state was a
theocracy (a government ruled by divine
SOCIETY & RELIGION
• three classes;
–Nobles- included the royal family, royal
officials, priests and their families.
–Commoners worked for large estates as
farmers, merchants, fishers, and
–Slaves worked on large building projects,
wove cloth, and worked the farms of the
• Due to the harsh physical environment and
famines, Mesopotamians believed that the
world was controlled by destructive
supernatural forces and gods.
• Priest and priestesses were important
figures politically as well as religiously.
• Ruling power passed from the hands of
kings, who traced their authority back
to the gods.
• Like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians
were polytheistic because they
believed in many gods and goddesses.
• 3,000 gods have been identified
through archaeology and
• The Sumerian ECONOMY: was agricultural, but
manufacturing of metalwork and trade of wheat
were also important; bronze, iron, shipbuilding;
The Sumerians are credited with the invention of
the wheel around 3,000 B.C.E. and this greatly
facilitated trade –can carry goods further.
• Developing consistent agriculture required
controlling the water supply.
• People in Mesopotamia developed a system
of drainage ditches, canals and irrigation
• Careful farming methods resulted in large
food supplies and made possible significant
population growth and the emergence of
civilization in Mesopotamia.
• SUMERIAN ARCHITECTURE
• The Sumerians built largely with mud bricks,
they built their homes on top of mounds to
protect them from floods.
• Using them they invented the arch and the
dome and built some of the largest brick
buildings in the world.
• The Sumerians were important inventors.
They created a system of writing called
cuneiform (wedge-shaped). They used a
reed stylus to make wedge-shaped
markings on clay tablets. Writing was for
record keeping, teaching, and law.
• A new class of people who wrote and made
copies were called scribes.
• Like in Egypt, being a scribe was the key to
a successful career for an upper-class
• Writing also passed on cultural knowledge
from generation to generation, sometimes in
• The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most important
piece of Mesopotamian literature, teaches
the lesson that only gods are immortal.
Gilgamesh is wise and strong, a being who
is part human and part god.
• Gilgamesh befriends a hairy beast named
Enkidu. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh feels
the pain of his friend’s death, and he
searches for the secret of immortality. He
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
• The Sumerians invented important
technologies, such as the wagon wheel.
• In mathematics they invented a number
system based on 60, and they made
advances in applying geometry to
• In astronomy, the Sumerians charted the
constellations using their number system of
SECOND EMPIRE: BABYLONIA
• The rise and fall of empires is an
important part of history.
• In 1792 B.C.E. Hammurabi of Babylon,
a city-state south of Akkad, established
a new empire over much of both Akkad
FIRST SYSTEM OF WRITTEN LAW
• The Code of Hammurabi is one of the
world’s most important early systems of
• It calls for harsh punishments against
• The principle of retaliation; “an eye for an
eye, a tooth for a tooth,” is fundamental in
• Hammurabi’s code punished public officials
who failed in their duties or were corrupt.
• It also had consumer protection provisions,
for example, holding builders responsible
for the quality of their work.
• If a building collapsed and killed anyone
other than a slave, the builder was executed.
• Damages had to be paid to people injured.
• The largest group of laws in the code
covered marriage and the family.
• Parents arranged marriages, and the bride
and groom had to sign a marriage contract
to be officially married.
• Hammurabi’s code expresses the
patriarchal nature of Mesopotamian
• Women had fewer privileges and rights
• The code enforced obedience of
children to parents.
• For example, a father could cut off the
hand of a son who had hit him.
ASSYRIAN EMPIRE: GOVERNMENT
• A king (Ashurbarnipal) with absolute power
ruled the Assyrian Empire. They
encouraged a well ordered society – it was
organized well with local officials directly
responsible to the king.
–They developed an efficient
communication system in order to
administer their empire by setting up a
network of posts with horses carrying
messages that took only one week to
reach anywhere in the empire.
Why were the Assyrians so successful at
• They glorified the military and were known
for their military prowess.
• Their military power came from using iron
and a large, well-disciplined army of
infantry, cavalry, and archers, often on
• They also used terror to subdue people;
they were known for committing atrocities
on their captives.
SOCIETY & RELIGION:
• Riches from trade & war paid for splendid
• Women were confined in secluded quarters
and had to be veiled when they appeared in
• Learned to extract iron from ore
• Created state of the art weapons
• Nineveh held one of the ancient world’s
The Empire Crumbles
• The cruelty displayed by the Assyrians had
earned them many enemies.
• In 612 B.C.E., combined army of Medes,
Chaldeans, and others rammed open the
city’s gates and burned and leveled
• The fire glazed the tablets in the library,
which preserved them for archaeologists to
study centuries later.
Rebirth of Babylon under the Chaldeans
• After the Assyrian Empire collapsed, the
Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar made
Babylonia the leading state of western Asia.
• Babylon became one of the greatest cities of
the ancient world.
• Nebuchadnezzar II conquers Jerusalem,
destroys their temple, and enslaves the
• Babylonia did not last long; the Persians
conquered it in 539 B.C.E.
PERSIA – 539 B.C.E.
• The Persians were a nomadic, Indo-
European people living in what is today
• One family unified the different groups.
• One member, Cyrus, ruled from 559 to 530
• He captured Babylon, treating his new
subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he
allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
• Cyrus captured Babylon, treating his new
subjects with noteworthy restraint, and he allowed
the Jews to return to Jerusalem (he had a
reputation for mercy this caused everyone to
accept him as a ruler).
• The Persians based their empire on
tolerance and diplomacy.
• Cyrus’ son Darius (extended the empire into
India and Europe) created the largest empire
the world had ever known.
• Darius strengthened the Persian
government by dividing the empire into 20
provinces, called satrapies.
• A satrap was the governor of the province
responsible for collecting taxes, handling
legal matters, and recruiting soldiers.
ROYAL ROAD (contribution)
• The Persians established a communication
system using horses and regular posts
known as the Royal Road, from Lydia to the
empire’s capital at Susa.
• They built hundreds of miles of roads.
–used barter then coins
–1st coins made of electrum, an alloy, or
natural mix, the image on the coin showed
• Much of the Persian power was due to its
• The empire had a standing army from the
• At its core was an elite group called the
Immortals because anyone who was killed
was immediately replaced.
• The Immortals were made up of ten
thousand each of cavalry and infantry.
• The Persian Empire declined for a set of
reasons common to the decline of empires.
• The kings became more isolated at court
and lived lives of tremendous luxury.
• They levied high taxes that weakened the
• Factions were struggling for control of the
• Of the nine rulers after Darius, six were
murdered in plots.
• These bloody struggles weakened the
Persian monarchy and Alexander the Great
conquered Persia during the 330s B.C.E.
• Zoroaster taught monotheism (belief in one god).
• The universe was permeated by the good of the
supreme god Ahuramazda, who brought all into
being and an evil spirit named Ariman.
• People have a free will to choose between the two
but eventually, good will triumph over evil.
• In the last judgment at the end of the world, good
and evil will separate.
• The good will go to a happy eternal life, and the
evil to damnation.
• The most original Persian cultural
contribution was its religion of
Zoroastrianism (the first monotheistic
• Persian tradition says that Zoroaster was
born in 660 B.C.E.
• He had visions that caused him to be
declared a prophet.
• His teachings were written in the sacred
book of Zoroastrianism, the Zend Avesta.