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HIST205- Ancient Mediterranean History- FINAL EXAM STUDY GUIDEPremium

Course Code
HIST 205
Alexander Mc Auley
Study Guide

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HIST 205- Ancient Mediterranean History- Lecture 1:Cradle of the World: The Ancient
Near the East
- The Middle East was the origin of ancient civilization.
I. Rise of Organized Society
- Started in a region that was a fertile crescent. Through Mesopotamia (Syria,
Babylonia, Canaan, Lebanon, Akkad, Sumer).
- “Mesopotamia”: Between the two rivers- Tigris and Euphrates. It wasn’t
particularly fertile but that was because there were no proper dams and
irrigation systems.
- Rise of Agriculture:
8000-6000 BC Transition from hunter- gatherer to sedentary lifestyles.
They realize that they need help from people and are easier to
Agriculture in Mesopotamia from 5500 BC onwards
Organized cities appear in c. 3100 BC onwards in Sumeria
[BC and BCE means the exact same thing]
- Consequences of Agriculture:
Coalescence and nucleation of settlement, competition
Importance of collaboration and cooperation
Need for protection of settlements
Changed patterns of social interaction
Urban culture, urban interactions [different roles in society,
specialization of labour, not everybody needs to be a farmer
(pottery, metal working, priest, scribes) coalesce wealth
hierarchies rise, wealthy people are on top]
Leads towards: ‘government’
- Trade becomes very important in Mesopotamia.
II. Sumerians and Sargon
Sumerian Culture:
Coherent from 2900 BC onwards
More of a region than a ‘civilizations’: same style of tools, working,
same rough organization patterns, agricultural routines, there is a
similarity between cities
Linked by material culture, trade, not one sole government
What binds this region is material culture in trade, recognizes the
whole society of being an alias to each other.
Sumerian city- states in the Sumerian culture:
Babylon, Sippar, Eshnunna, tutub, Der, Larak, Lagash, Ur,
Eridu, Shurruppal, Isin, Kissura, Marad, Kish, Kid-nun,Akshak.
Cuneiform: wedge shaped writing, oldest surviving form of writing.
Developed from pictograms to ideograms. 2600 BC onwards.
Primarily records, receipts, taxes.
Each Sumerian city had a step mountain known as a Ziggurat in the
middle of the city, very powerful political statement. It could be seen
for miles and miles around the city. Sumerians were religious in their

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own right. Religion and politics were the same in the olden days and
Kings believed that they acquired divine favour. Propaganda in the
sense that it showed the powerfulness of the King.
Sumerian pessimism, detached gods
Divination and prophecy, coercing gods
Religion and kingship, religion and politics, organized society.
Sargon and Akkad
- First emperor in the world’s first empire.
Sargon I- 2270- 2215 BC:
Moses-esque origin story, humble beginnings
Gradual expansion and incorporation
Problem of management, mechanism of empire
Defeated kings turned into governors
City walls torn down
Taxation and redistribution of wealth
Religious component- pray to local gods
Empire consequences:
Conquest and domination
- Personal power of Sargon, Akkadian dominance
- Security and relative stability
- Economic benefits from taxation, redistribution
- Larger trade zone
- Standardized language.
- Same story- expansion from Babylon
- Inherited Babylon, minor kingdom a the time
- Early reign peaceful
- Hammurabi’s Code- 1750 BC:
Massive legal document on a piece of rock. Several surviving copies are
available. Received from Shamash.
Laws and practices; Attempt to standardize law throughout the kingdom
Proscriptions for punishments
Presumption of innocence, need for evidence.
Eye for an eye.
Palace at Ebla- Syria
- Monumental structures, stone foundations, fairly large, dense network of rooms,
store houses, larger audience areas where kings and guests recide,
entertainment rooms, courtyards. Fundamental building block of the ancient near
East. Within those city states this is a defining structure were political matters
and decisions are made
Centres of economy and trade, storehouses
Nodes and nexuses of political power over a region
Wealthy, dominant elite (Kings,

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Another tier in the network
HIST 205- Ancient Mediterranean History- Lecture 2: The Early Greeks
I. The Minoans 2700-1450 BC
Minos, according to tradition, was the first person to organize a navy/ He
controlled the greater part of what is called the Hellenic Sea. He ruled of the
Cyclades, in most of which he founded the first colonies, putting his sons in as
governors after having driven out the Carians. And it is reasonable to suppose
that he did his best to put down piracy in order to secure his own revenues.
Archaic Greece- Crete: cradle of civilizations (Sir Arthur Evans excavated it)
Minoan Society
- Named after mythical King Minos (minotaur myth)
- Palatial society based in Bronze- Age Crete
- Thalassocracy (Maritime gods) that spread throughout the Aegean
- Sea based supremacy
- Knossos has the biggest palace excavated by Sir Arthur Evans
- Trade creates leisure for the wealthy, games, athletics, art, feasts all work to
establish and cement power
Phaistoc Disc- discovered in 1908, mid- to- late Minoan
Linear A characters, still undeciphered
Resembles Anatolian and Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Society- First European Civilizations
Palaces culture not unlike the Near East
- Palaces as centres of political and economic power
- Palatial period from around 1900- 1450 BC
Leisured classes, gap between rich and poor
Structured and hierarchy (urban rich, rural poor)
Society built on trade, mostly peaceful
Quick Downfall- c. 1450: Destroyed by fire
Two theories, not necessarily exclusive:
- Volcano eruption c. 1450 causes great damage and social unrest, bringing down
- Purely social conflict caused by mobilization of wealth, led to unrest and brought
down palaces
II. Mycenaeans 1600- 1100 BC (1880’s Heinrich Schliemann discovered this site)
- Still a palace culture
- Large citadels
- Fortifications (walls)
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