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2 The Ancient Near East- The Politics of Power

2 The Ancient Near East- The Politics of Power - The...

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The Ancient Near East: The Politics of Power Reading Notes WE: pp. 7-13 The First Civilizations I. The First Civilizations in Mesopotamia: Sumer & Babylonia **Mesopotamia: land between 2 rivers (Tigris & Euphrates) **Home to one of earliest writing systems **From here rose two of the earliest civilizations: Sumer and Babylonia . The Emergence of Civilization **Civilization as social org. with more complex rules than those that guided dwellers in caves or earliest farmers – more sophisticated divisions of authority and labor, including duties, powers, and skills that pass down with certain families. The Beginnings of Government a. Rulers: from powerful families, or one who embodies special quality b. Law: formally accepted codes of behavior (tell us about ethical values, divisions between citizens, and social structure) -laws create tension and freedom The Power of Cities a. Cities; larger stronger than villages. Create social order slavery, religious communicators w/ diving power even kings could not ignore b. Improved Techniques: major step forward in blending metals with copper to make bronze . Sumer **Large cities form w/ own social order (nobles & priests, commoners, & slaves) The City and its God a. At the center of a Sumerian city usually stood a ziggurat a terraced tower built of baked brick that culminates in a temple b. Patron god own whole city but there was a lot of private property c. People were monogamous and women also held property n took part in business but did not hold political office Trade and Mathematics a. Trade: essential for growth in Sumer b/c even though they had great fertility, they lacked good timber and stone. They became really good at metalwork as well. b. Developed precise system of mathematical notation called: sexagesimal (#60 is one of main elements modern contributions: foot w/ 12 inches, 24 hr days, 60 minute hr, 60 second minute, 360 degree circle. Sumerian Writing a. Sumerians writing by 3000 BC: keep records, codify laws, and transmit knowledge. Script was pictographic: each sign was originally a stylized picture of the article that the scribe had in mind. b. Later became phonetic and written on clay tablets. Wedge shaped marks are called cuneiform (latin cuneus meaning wedge)
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c. Scripts are not languages: they are symbols that can be used to write several languages, as the Latin script is used to write all languages of western Europe The Epic of Gilgamesh a. Gilgamesh (there was a king from Sumer w/ this name) he was part man part god. Sets out to recover cedar w companion Enkidu, killed by storm god Enlil. Gilgamesh searches for eternal life – finds plant that restores youth but serpent swallows it. He returns home n epic ends with his death n funeral The fate of Humanity in Sumerian Thought a. Fearful alternation between diving favor/ punishment (floods) b. Humanity dependent on gods n they were taught gods had created people merely to provide slaves for themselves.
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