HIST 205- Ancient Mediterranean History- LECTURE 1- The Ancient Near East

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HIST 205- Ancient Mediterranean History- Lecture 1: Cradle of the World: The Ancient
Near the East
- The Middle East was the origin of ancient civilization.
I. Rise of Organized Society
-Started in a region that was a fertile crescent. Through Mesopotamia (Syria,
Babylonia, Canaan, Lebanon, Akkad, Sumer).
-“Mesopotamia”: Between the two rivers- Tigris and Euphrates. It wasn’t
particularly fertile but that was because there were no proper dams and
irrigation systems.
-Rise of Agriculture:
8000-6000 BC Transition from hunter- gatherer to sedentary lifestyles.
They realize that they need help from people and are easier to
collaborate.
Agriculture in Mesopotamia from 5500 BC onwards
Organized cities appear in c. 3100 BC onwards in Sumeria
[BC and BCE means the exact same thing]
-Consequences of Agriculture:
Coalescence and nucleation of settlement, competition
Importance of collaboration and cooperation
Need for protection of settlements
Changed patterns of social interaction
Urban culture, urban interactions [different roles in society,
specialization of labour, not everybody needs to be a farmer
(pottery, metal working, priest, scribes) coalesce wealth
hierarchies rise, wealthy people are on top]
Leads towards: ‘government’
-Trade becomes very important in Mesopotamia.
II. Sumerians and Sargon
Sumerian Culture:
Coherent from 2900 BC onwards
More of a region than a ‘civilizations’: same style of tools, working,
same rough organization patterns, agricultural routines, there is a
similarity between cities
Linked by material culture, trade, not one sole government
What binds this region is material culture in trade, recognizes the
whole society of being an alias to each other.
Sumerian city- states in the Sumerian culture:
Babylon, Sippar, Eshnunna, tutub, Der, Larak, Lagash, Ur,
Eridu, Shurruppal, Isin, Kissura, Marad, Kish, Kid-nun,Akshak.
Cuneiform: wedge shaped writing, oldest surviving form of writing.
Developed from pictograms to ideograms. 2600 BC onwards.
Primarily records, receipts, taxes.
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