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Unformatted text preview: Chapter Summary1 There is little doubt that historians today have an extraordinary number of tools and methods at their disposal which have helped them to reconstruct the past. While we still rely on written records, the work of archeologists, social psychologists, and demographers have helped broaden our understanding of the distant past. We may never see the total picture of "how things really were," but the historian still tries to put together the seemingly random pieces of the past in order to make sense of the present and, it is hoped, cope with the future. By the end of the Neolithic Age, and because humans had learned to domesticate plants and animals, an important primary civilization was able to flourish in an area known as The Fertile Crescent. This "agricultural revolution" gave birth to a collection of independent city-states known collectively as Mesopotamia. The people of this area Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and others were able to solve the problems of irrigation, build massive temples to their many gods, and organize their lives in a way that permitted the future growth of permanent settlements. They also managed to invent the wheel and the first form of writing, the cuneiform . Eventually, intense warfare between city-states led to the formation of the Akkadian empire, the first such empire in western history. While the Akkadians created an empire in Mesopotamia, another ancient primary civilization developed along the banks of the Nile River. The Egyptians created an empire based not on conquest, but upon the development of a highly unified society that would come to be dominated by pharaoh. His magnificence and divinity were reflected in massive public buildings such as the Great Pyramids at Giza. An extremely confident people, the Egyptians created a world view based on the cyclical nature of life, death, and the afterlife. The Mesopotamians and Egyptians created societies in which religious beliefs and politics were interconnected. Although these civilizations had contact with one another, there was very little political or cultural interaction between them. Instead, they were more like islands of the ancient world. By 2000 BCE, however, this isolation would give way to something completely different, as developing empires in the ancient Near East moved to expand and transform the ancient world. Chapter Summary2 New population groups and the emergence of large empires created a major transformation in the ancient Near East. Most important, the military conquests of kingdoms such as the Assyrians, were accompanied by widespread cultural assimilation, economic integration and the beginnings of an international diplomatic system. In a way, we could say that the ancient Near East had become a "global" entity, and within this entity new groups appeared such as the Kassites, Hittites and the Mitanni....
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- Spring '05