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History 1A Study GuideHour Exam I – Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, AssyriaPart I: IdentificationsMESOPOTAMIAZigguratA high-step pyramid, the ziggurat was a piece of monumental architecture in Sumer (Southern Mesopotamia). It was built by the priests, sometime after the emergence of Sumerian city-states in 3000 BC, usually at the center of Sumerian cities. Since polytheism was a main feature of Sumerian religion, with each city-state having its own special patron god, each city’s ziggurat served to worship its patron god, though Mesopotamians recognized the entire pantheon of gods. Also, reflecting the anthropomorphic characteristics of the Sumerian gods, ziggurats acted as the house of the particular patron god that it worshipped, and contained inside it a statue of that god. The existence and prominence of ziggurats also show how important religion was to Mesopotamia, and subsequent high social status of priests.Ut-NapishtimUt-Napishtim was a character in the Sumerian myth The Epic of Gilgamesh, written circa 2000 BC. In the epic, after he is warned by the god Ea about a disastrous flood that the gods are planning to send on earth, Ut-Napishtim builds a large ship onto which he loads himself, his family, and every kind of animal on earth. As a result, he and his family are the only humans who survive the flood, and the god Enlil grants him immortality. This story holds many similarities to the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark in Genesis, with Ut-Napishtim as the Sumerian counterpart of Noah; since Sumerian civilization came into existence before that of Israel (about 3000 BC for Sumer, versus Israel in about 1200 BC), it can be conjectured that the biblical story of the flood was influenced by the Sumerians. Also, the flood that Ut-Napishtim survived was very likely a reference to the many floods from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that surrounded and threatened Mesopotamia; its destruction of almost all humankind in The Epic of Gilgamesh at the hand of the gods shows how Mesopotamians saw themselves as being at the mercy of the gods, and the influence of geography on their society.GilgameshThe main character of the Sumerian myth, The Epic of Gilgamesh, written circa 2000 BC. In the epic, Gilgamesh is a great hero, part god and part man, who has great strength and power. He displays this through great acts, such as killing Humbaba of the forest and the Bull of Heaven with the help of his also mighty friend Enkidu. After Enkidu is killed, however, he is reminded of his mortality and seeks for eternal life by going to Ut-Napishtim, a human granted immortality after surviving a great flood. However, despite this and all his great acts, he eventually dies, showing the pessimism of Sumerian culture due to the sporadic floods of the Tigris and Euphrates that threatened them, as well as the superiority of their Sumerian gods to humans and inescapability of death/fate. Additionally, Gilgamesh is thought to have possibly been a king of Sumer, who, if he existed, would have ruled around 2700 BC in Southern Mesopotamia.