HIST #2 The Fertile Crescent Wednesday September 12, 2012
Mesopotomia – ‘land between two rivers’ Euphrates + Tigris
Sumerian cities: Ur, Eridu, Erech, Uruk, Ubaid, Larsa, Lagash, Nippur
Akkadian cities: Kish, Nippur, Akkad, Samarra, Khafaje
Ziggurat with mastabas (‘bench’)
Lugalzaggisi (c. 2350 BC)
Sargon I ‘the Great’ (2371 BC)
Kassities, Elamites, Assyrians
Neubuchadrezzar II (604 BC – 562 BC) and New Babylonian Empire
Built “sacared way”
Mesopotamia was a land of natural fertile because of the water that flowed through it. Refered as The
fertile crescent by geographers: Persian gulf arched into the nile, Egypt . Samarra: first evidence of
civilization. Towns were small. Towns required fortification. No overpopulation, famine and constant
war between states.
Sumerian cities: these small towns important because not involved in agriculture, not involved in
working the land. Own kings, own governments, own religion. Fighting one another over centuries for
supremacy. Developed organized warfare . Needed materials, resources, swords, formations to be
successful, so states started to emerge (ruled by king or prince) heavily intertwined with religion. State +
religion same. Limited opposition. Opposition was heresy & treason.
Battled each other until 2050 BC. Lugalzaggasi first one to unify all states. Became small federation of
states designed for mutual defense. Realized there were outsiders who were interested in their
wealth/resources. We know this because of cuneiform on clay tablets. Sumerians highly interested in
trade: always about interest, credit. Traded wood products, jewelry, chairs, tables. Importers of raw
materials. Exported finished goods.
Akkadians cities: also interested in acquiring wealth/trade of Sumerians. Land around Sumerian began
to be infertile (soil failed) (salts) Ecological disaster. Soil depleted. Mankind misused irrigation. 1700 BC:
Akkadian cities dominate Sumerian cities.
Sargon I ‘the great’ succeeded by Hammurabi.
Hammurabi unified Akkadian cities into one great empire. Great warrior, never lost a battle. Created
first great empire in Middle East. Area in Mesopomatia became unified under his authority. Hammurabi
known for establishing a code of law “ code of Hammurabi” . held for retribution. ‘ an eye for an eye’.
Victim would inflict punishment onto offender. Severe punishment if crime committed. Code was hope
that citizens would fear punishments so would obey rules Weakness of true authority? ¼ harvests
died, hunger occurred. Short life expectancy. People would worship particular gods representing various
things ie. Sun, harvests. Kings elected by priests, elders. Strong kings got son to succeed, often successor
elected. People who lived on land worked very hard, land owned by King. Expected to pay taxes (gave up
percentage of total harvest, up to 20%) must obey labor duties. People in the towns had similar HIST #2 The Fertile Crescent Wednesday September 12, 2012
obligations: taxes, labor duty (military service) had to worry about diseases. Women were little better
than slaves, roles have evolved from Neolithic period. Property becam