HIST 3370 Lecture Notes - Fall 2018 Lecture 4 - Euphrates
Course CodeHIST 3370
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Discussion 4 – Herodotus and Mesopotamian Continuity
Culture defines the way of life of a community. Herodotus’ description focuses on a broad range
of cultural elements, including politics, religion, architecture, and technology. Such elements
provide useful insight into the culture of the Babylonians.
Religion and belief system form an essential part of the societal culture. The Sumerian
civilization believed in the existence of a supreme higher authority, and the Babylonians held the
same perception. The god was supposed to be appeased through the conduction of a wide range
of spiritual rituals in both civilizations. For instance, to appease the Babylonian goddess Venus,
every woman born in the kingdom was supposed to ensure they consort with a male stranger
once in her lifetime in the precinct of Venus. The custom was observed as a measure to maintain
fertility in the society. Burial rites such as the burning of incense were performed in line with the
cultural requirements of the gods. The institution of marriage seems to have also survived into
the Babylonian civilization. For instance, in the Babylonian culture, the maidens who were of
age were sold out to male suitors in an elaborate outdoor ceremony.
In the Sumerian civilization, agriculture was the mainstay of the society due to the proximity of
the area to the Euphrates River and presence of fertile soil. The Euphrates River provided water
for irrigation which supported the growing of corn, wheat, and barley and a variety of other
grains. Those close to the river also relied on fishing using boats. The same culture is noted in
the Babylonian way of life where they rely on the natural dynamics for a living. Since rain was
inadequate in Babylonia, they also utilized irrigation to grow crops. The communities living near
the river also practiced fishing.
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