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Lecture

The Neolithic Revolution.docx

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Department
Humanities
Course
HUMA 1770
Professor
Leo Stan
Semester
Fall

Description
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 -Hierarchical Structures 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 Geography -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. History -3500-30000 BCE: creation and development of Mesopotamian major city- states; -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 bureaucracy. -The Akkadian Empire fragmented in 2200 BCE, being followed by the neo- Sumerian empire (2100-2000BCE) Daily Life -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. Political Organization -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- cultural identity; -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, and ceramics; -Imported goods: hardwoods, metal, stone, and exotic products (for decorative purposes); -Merchants formed private partnerships (karum) under the direct supervision of the dominant priestly families. Religion -Polytheistic system (worship of numerous gods, some being more important/powerful than others); -Deities associated with: natural forces; ethical-social principles; and individual cities. -Be
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