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Class 110 Course Notes.doc

Course Code
Frances Pownall

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September – December 2013 Christel
Classics 110
- Longest span of human existence
- Before written records
Evolution from hominid (human-like) Homo sapiens (thinking man) emerged 150, 000 -> 100, 000 years
Paleolithic Culture “Old Stone Age”
- Hunters/gatherers
- First signs of human existence
- Stone tools
- Nomads: nomadic peoples moved with migratory prey; not many possessions
- Throwers to launch spears, the bow was invented, and the rotary drill
- Microliths – small, specialized flints
- Cave paintings found towards the end
Neolithic “New Stone Age” c. 8000 BC
- Begin to grow their own food/crops, domesticate animals
- Begins near east
- Associated with later Stone Age and use of polished stone implements and weapons
- Shift to food producing on Fertile Crescent
BC: Before Christ
AD: Anno Domini (the year of our lord)
- Food production results in permanent settlements + specialization of labor
- Villages + more durable buildings
- Population growth rises dramatically
- Begin to find pottery
- Quicker technological advances
- Emphasis on fertility
- Women hold a central position in society
- Evidence of warfare of poor villages on wealthy villages
- Trade begins
oJericho c. 9000 BC
Known for its giant walls
Biblical story of Joshua the warrior King
oCatal Hulyuk c. 6500 – 5400 BC
Example of Neolithic Site
Wealthier village
Public Spaces (courtyards)
Access to obsidian
Volcanic area -> rich soil
Contains some of the most advanced features of Neolithic culture: pottery, woven textiles,
mud-brick houses, shrines honoring a mother goddess, and plastered walls decorated with
murals and carved reliefs

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Bronze Age 4th millennium BC
- Emergence of civilizations = 2nd great landmark in human society
- River Valley civilizations develop along Tigris/Euphrates river in Mesopotamia; Nile in Egypt;
Indus River in India; Yellow River in China
- Metallurgy emerged
oMostly copper (too soft of metal)
oAlloyed with tin to make bronze
- First urban areas
oPhysical + monumental infrastructure
oPolitical infrastructure, laws, authority
oOrganized labor/defense
- Increase in population
- Written Records
- Potters wheel invented
- Wheeled vehicles – war chariots
All large civilizations started in river valleys: first by the Tigris and Euphrates, second by the Nile
- “Land between the rivers” earliest civilization
- Beginning of larger civilizations build on river valleys
- Origin unclear, language not connected to known group
- Iran/Iraq area
- No natural boundaries: valley exposed on all sides to potential invadors
- Rivers flooded unpredictably (Tigris + Euphrates)
oDouble edged sword
oDisastrous consequences
oBut flood brings in silt/fertilizer
- Struggled to bring stability to society
- Beginning of civilization in Sumer associated with the beginning of the Bronze Age (new
technology spread to Egypt and later to Europe and Asia
- Examples of Sumerian writing stimulated Egyptians to develop script of their own (probably)
Pro-literate Period c. 3800 – 2800 BC
- Earliest form of writing (cuneiform)
oUsed wedge-shaped impression in soft clay tablets
oAdopted by many other peoples of the near-east: Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Persians
- Pictographs develop into ideograms develop into phonetic (or syllabic) writing, reduction in
number of signs
- Administrative invention stimulates intellectual development + helps define cultural identity:
religious traditions become sacred books, social customs became law codes, oral myths + stories become
Old-Sumerian Period c. 2800 – 2300 BC
- Large number of city-states => smaller number of city-states because of war/conquest
- Hierarchical Society
oKings (earthly representative of god) -> Nobles (generals/administrators/priests) -> Commoners ->
- Development of science and math begins in response to needs of a more complex society: to
facilitate keeping of accounts, develop first measurements of time (hour, calendar), distance, area, and quantity
(based on the #60)

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- Votive Statuses
oShaved head: priests
oBeard: administrators/soldiers
- Gods – much like humans
oControl human world + natural forces
- First astronomers/astrologers
- Characterized by constant warfare
- Gilgamesh:
oKnown only by several epic tales
oPortrayed as extremely powerful ruler
oShows Sumerian rulers can be questioned, even opposed by nobles
- Made extensive use of slavery, not based on racial characteristics or cultural differences
(sometimes 40 – 50% of population)
Sumerian Religion
- Religion gives rise to literature, based on myth (“narrative of social importance, usually
explaining relationships between humans + gods in the natural world”)
- Most famous piece of Mesopotamian literature is Epic of Gilgamesh (why must humans suffer
- Gilgamesh: semi-legendary ruler of Uruk c. 2700 BC
- Religion leads to monumental architecture “ziggurat
oTall pyramid-shape
oPhysically closer to the gods
oState worship was conducted
Akkadian Period c. 2300 – 2150 BC
- More city-states, not a central empire
- More INSTABILITY than peace
- Akkadians took over Sumerians
oEthnically different
oAbsorb many political, social + cultural systems
- Among earliest of Semetic people who migrated from Arabian Peninsula
Sargon of Akkad c. 2370 - 2315 BC
- Establishes large empire – first true empire in history
- First attempt to control power
- First political usurper to justify actions by appeal to divine favor
- Adoption of Sumerian Culture = cultural synthesis
- Empire of Sargon stretched into the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Asia Minor
- Sargon founds dynasty, grandson Naram-Sin puts down revolts + expands border of empire
(cursed by Sumerian gods for claim to be divine)
- Claims to look after welfare of lower classes and aid the rising class of private perchants
- Expanded his influence in neighboring lands
- Sargon’s sons assassinated
- Collapse of Akkadian empire c. 2150 BC, but establishment of Akkadian language (Semitic)
Neo-Sumerian Period = 3rd Dynasty of Ur c. 2150 – 2000 BC
- Establishment of new empire under Ur-Nammu
- Highly centralized political formation, flourishing of Sumerian language and culture
- Established first LAW CODE
oGiven to emperor by the gods
- Oldest surviving law code
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