The Neolithic Revolution –Sept 12, 2012
Limited control over the surrounding environment -> beginning of
agriculture through irrigation and the domestication of animals;
Agricultural Societies -> settled populations + social cohesion (villages,
small towns, cities) + cooperation
Technological Advancement through use of metal tools (especially the plow)
+ the invention of the wheel (easier and faster transportation);
Greater and more diverse sources of nurture -> increased social stability
+specialized labor (craftsmen, merchants, scribe, etc.)
-Social stratification – visible discrepancies in wealth
Invention of writing; accurate record keeping; efficient long distance
communication; beginning of the historical record (communal identity);
generation and preservation of knowledge over greater periods of time;
imparting of wisdom;
Birth of art through the need to adorn everyday practical objects + the
rulers’ need to display and project their power through expensive, rare, and
beautiful objects or attire.
-Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq; the land between two rivers) – the region
between and along the riverbanks of Tigris and the Euphrates;
-Unfriendly environment: arid land with very little vegetation +devastating
storms and floods, which usually led to starvation;
-However, the mud plains of Mesopotamia were highly suitable for
agriculture -> appearance of the world’s first (known) civilization.
Almost no natural state borders or geographic boundaries (hard to cross for
i.e. High mountains or turbulent rivers) -> a territory more prone to invasion
-> kingdoms with constantly fluctuating boundaries.
-3500-30000 BCE: creation and development of Mesopotamian major city-
-3000-2350 BCE: the age of warring states (border wars and battles over
important trade routes); -Sargon of Akkad (r. 2334-2279 BCE) conquered and unified the cities of
Sumer in a large empire created a royal army and a processional
-The Akkadian Empire fragmented in 2200 BCE, being followed by the neo-
Sumerian empire (2100-2000BCE)
-Harsh environment -> people’s incessant struggle against nature;
adaptation to sometimes-limited resources.
-Intensive agriculture: vast irrigation systems & organized labor; orchards
(dates, figs and olives);
-Between 3500-31000 BCE: absence of stone +scarcity of wood
-> Mud as primary material in construction or in producing objects for daily
use; reeds used as burning fuel and for baskets, mats, and boats;
-Increasing knowledge of metal-casting processes: bronze (an alloy of
copper and tin).
-Efficient agriculture & advanced technology -> food surpluses and increased
prosperity -> emergence of the first independent cities in 3100 BCE;
-Sumer: the urban civilization of Mesopotamia (the earliest in recorded
history with a population of 500,000); the most important Sumerian city-
states are: Nippur, Uruk, and Ur.
-Sumerians: a single people but loyal to individual city-states and the
divinities associated with these cities.
-The city-state (big cities sustained by intense agriculture and trade);
-Bigger & more sophisticated cities -> border wars and battles over trade
routes -> need for military leaders -> creation of kingships & royal dynasties
-> political division and hierarchy;
-The political structure of Sumerian city0states: theocracy = rule of powerful
families who control the cults and religious life: one member of the priestly
group held the title of “overseer” (en) or “great man” (jgal) or dynast (ensi)
-Scribes: commissioned to keep inventory of the temple’s stored goods; to
keep track of taxes; contracts and laws; and to preserve the city’s spiritual-
-The rest of Mesopotamian society (vast majority): slaves, peasants,
merchants, and craftsmen.
Trade -Lack of building materials -> early emergence of long-distance trade with
peoples from today’s Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey;
-Exported goods: bread, date wine, textiles, furniture, weapons, jewelry,
-Imported goods: hardwoods, metal, stone, and exotic products (for
-Merchants formed private partnerships (karum) under the direct supervision
of the dominant priestly families.
-Polytheistic system (worship of numerous gods, some being more
important/powerful than others);
-Deities associated with: natural forces; ethical-social principles; and