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Lecture

Mesopotamia

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Department
History
Course
History 2173
Professor
Barbara Murison
Semester
Fall

Description
Sept, 11, 2012 Mesopotamia -Mesopotamia is given precedence by historians because three vital things first happened which are the development of cities, the development of large scale irrigation projects, and the development of writing -These things spread to other areas from here and thus it is looked at as number one Earliest Cultures – c. 5000: -Made up of peasant communities who worked in agriculture in northern Mesopotamia (south was unoccupied) -Population expansion in the north perhaps pushed people down into the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Uruk Culture (Sumerians) – c. 3500: -Called Uruk in southern Mesopotamia and was associated with minor starts of urban development -The trigger for the cities were the placement near the rivers because they needed the water and this led to cooperation in agriculture and other pursuits (small populations can’t offer this) -Sumerians were incomers like many other people in the area (Sumerians probably from Iran) -Southern part of Mesopotamia is called Sumer (cities in the area are Ur, Umma, Lagash, etc) -Some of the cities had little villages dependant on them -There were numerous competing city states and there were lots of conflicts and aggression -Wars of the time were not too significant and were ongoing with one side rising then falling and visa versa -Sumerians were always shown in sculpture and other art with a pear shape head and huge staring eyes Early Dynastic Period – c. 2800: -The city states were doing very well -Were theocratic societies (all city lands belonged to the temple of the local god so the priest was the most important person in the state and administered the lands and became the head of city government usually) -Temples were very elaborate (called ziggurats) and wall paintings of this time are important sources for us Sargon of Agade – 2173 BC: -After 2400BC the ruler of Umma tried to expand his power and he had some success but he was over thrown by Sargon who was the head of Agade -Sargon was important and was not a Sumerian and he was of Semitic speech (his people’s movements were almost non-stop during this time and they were important to the area’s development) -People call Sargon history’s first imperialist and his dynasty lasted over a century and it was the first time the area was organized under one powerful leader -Also an example of a military dictator and his empire was very large with much trade with areas outside (routes reached as far as India and Cyprus) Third Dynasty of Ur – 2113-2006 BC: -In 2113 BC the Third Dynasty of Ur lasted for 100 years but again it came to an end because of incursions from far away and the invasion of Amorites who became more dominant in the area Hammurabi – 1792-1750 BC: -This resulted in many religious and social changes and after a confused period one great king emerged and this was Hammurabi -Was responsible for codifying laws into the Stele of Hammurabi and he gained a massive empire -The language of the time was Acadian and this was spoken until the time of Christ -Ruled for a long while but his successes were not able to hold things together for long Sack of Babylon (Invasion by Kassites) – 1595 BC: -Kassites came in from around 1595 and after their absorption Assyria’s rise occurs -The rise of Assyria came around 1365-746 BC and they were a Semitic speaking people Sept, 11, 2012 Assyrian Empire – 745-612 BC: -Assyrians lived in the upper Tigris and they made their living from agriculture and trade as well they were a militaristic people and wanted expansion (there were many set backs though) -Their core period had the empire thriving between 745-612 BC and saw them dominate the whole Near East -They traditionally have been painted as blood thirsty but they don’t seem to have been terribly different from their opponents and they ruled their empire well but firmly -The Old Testament is a good source for Near Eastern history and shows the violence of the time -It has been argued that the well administered empire levied less monetary tribute than their contemporaries -The Second book of Kings covers the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC and the Israelites were given a good deal by the Assyrians (shows their fairer side when it came to taxes and tribute) -One of the Assyrians most important rulers was Sargon II (no relation to Sargon just shows that he wanted the esteem of the name) and he ruled between 721-705 BC and is considered one of the last consolidated rulers Fall of Nineveh – 612 BC: -In southern Babylonia people got fed up with Assyrian rule so they allied with indo-Europeans from Iran (the Medes) and their organized a revolt -Together they destroyed the city of Nineveh on the river Tigris and the Assyrians were wiped out by 605 BC -Cavalry’s potential was ruined at the time because there were no stirrups used Medes: -Get the more Northern section of the empire and Asia Minor -The River Halys was the boundary between the Medes and Lydians Lydians: -Near the East Coast of the Mediterranean and western Asia Minor Fall of Babylon (The Persian Empire) – 539 BC: -Were before the dependants of the Medes and they were very closely related -One of their rulers married a daughter of the Lydian king and the offspring was Cyrus the Great founder of the Persian Empire -He went on to over thrown the Medes in 550 BC and he conquered Lydia and his empire stretched to the Aegean Sea and in 539 he took over Babylonia -This is the end of native rule in the area because the Persians were Indo-European speakers of Aramaic Warfare of the Assyrians: -Near Eastern warfare is somewhat neglected in history -John Keegan wrote a history of warfare and his study of the early periods is not that good -Evidence is very varied for this area and there is little literary evidence -One of the most important works to be published was the Art of Warfare in Biblical Times published by Yadin and the evidence therein was mostly based in archaeology but in contrast we have a hard time interpreting strategy and tactics -The use of siege warfare is a product of the Near East as well as limited use of cavalry and skirmishes -The logistics of the Near East permitted the conquest of large empires Armies of Sumer: -The areas of Sumer and Agade produced the most sophisticated armies of the Bronze Age -A period of interest in just before Sargon made his Empire because it is marked with constant warfare over agricultural lands and water rights and there were wars against foreign states -The first recorded instance of war between Sumeria and an enemy in2700BC -Lagash and Umma fought at 2525 BC and the king of Lagash defeated Umma and for historians the importance lies in a commemorative stele -The Stele of Vultures shows the birds picking at bodies of the fall soldiers -The lower panel is broken and shows the king of Lagash riding in front of some light infantry troops -The king is shown holding a sickle sword which was a key weap
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