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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Ch. 11, Mesopotamia & Egypt

Course Code
Christopher Watts

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Lecture 7 - Mesopotamia & Egypt
Monday, October 31, 2011
6:14 PM
Now southern Iraq
This is where we see the first cities
Agriculture - could not be sustained without it
Two major river systems, Tigris and Euphrates, empty into Persian Gulf
Tether to these rivers: need for potable water and for agriculture
Not deeply entrenched, they meander
Most fertile soils are near rivers and very conducive, have lots of nutrients,
alluvial plain - so no coincidence that we see cities in this plain
The problem is that it's very hot there so a lot of the water evaporates so
they tried to irrigate but the drawback is that salt is left behind and after a
while leads to salinization which makes soil less productive after time
Wheat, barley, lentils, and peas
Sheep, goats, and cattle
Uses: the plants and animals were crucial, they have a lengthy history in this
part of the world
These are not h&g's, these are agriculturalists that have been there for a long
time, tending to livestock
First signs of dramatic shift: 5500 BC (Formative Period) and lasts for a
thousand years
Ubaid culture - sort of like a mother culture for southern Iraq
Environmental context
oLow rainfall: water comes mainly from Tigris and Euphrates
oDramatic spring floods: silt (chokes canals)
oPlain is flat & poorly drained: salinization (salt build-up)
oWheat, barley, lentils
Plain settled during the Formative Period (5500-4500 BC) by the 'Ubaid
oFarming settlements of 2-10 hectares; 2 tier settlement hierarchy
(villages, towns) by 4000 BC
oRectangular, mud brick homes; growth around temples
oExtensive irrigation, development of potter's wheel
oThere was no separation between church & state, temples were not
only for religious functions but also political
oRapid growth by ca. 4500 BC; world's first cities
Early City-States Period (4500-3100 BC) e.g. Uruk , Eridu , Ur
oPopulation growth - 50, 000+ people by 3100 BC!
o9 km wall, 250 ha. Settlement by 3100 BC
oTightly-packed houses, alleyways, courtyards, workshops
oFocal points - ziggurat complexes, temples
Class-based hierarchy
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