AN01b1_Ch.02: Beginnings of Civilizations- Early River Valley Civilizations (Mesopotamia)
Timeline: 4th – 3rd Millennium BCE (Neolithic => Bronze Ages)
FS: City-States Rise in Mesopotamia
I. Attributes of Sumer (and to some extent, later Mesopotamians)
II. Challenges/ Assets
A. Geography/ Topography
1. Plains: Susceptible to invasion by outside forces, but easy to farm.
2. Tigris-Euphrates River: Unpredictable flooding causing property damage and loss of life.
3. Climate: High temperatures, wind storms, and arid conditions away from river banks.
4. Conflicts are common between neighboring city-states.
5. Lack of unity in meeting challenges (natural disasters, invasions).
6. The Tigris-Euphrates rivers provide all the basic necessities for life plus additional materials (i.e. mud for bricks) and transportation to conduct trade.
B. Political/ Social
1. City-State: Each city is a separate and independent political entity from every other city in the region. They may be culturally the same (Mesopotamian), but politically different and often political enemies. (See Ancient Greece).
2. Hierarchical (class-based) society
3. Each City-State was led by a monarch that was ‘divinely chosen’. This made every city a kingdom.
4. “Sumer” was an area at the southern portion of Mesopotamia, where the Tigris-Euphrates empties into the Persian Gulf (Mouth of the Tigris-Euphrates). “Sumerians” is the term used for the inhabitants of the city-states within the area of Sumer. For example, the city-state of Ur was within Sumer. Therefore, these inhabitants were Sumerian.
III. Massive Public Works
A. Ziggurat: Civic rituals. Centrally located in city.
B. Irrigation channels
IV. Innovation/ Advancements
A. The Wheel
B. Time measurement (Hour, Minute, Seconds)
C. Astronomical Charts
D. Mathematical Concepts
– World History: Patterns of Interaction textbook
– Update: Babylon Today (2 May 09)
– The Ancient World Podcast. Episode 1: Climb the Stone Staircase. (accessed July 2013)