World Civilizations Midterm Exam

World Civilizations Midterm Exam - HST 101.17 Feb. 16, 2011...

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HST 101.17 Feb. 16, 2011 Take-home Midterm Exam Sturza 1 Ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt defined the makings of a civiliza- tion. Both exhibited strong development in agriculture, religion, urban-based liv- ing, trade, and literacy which led to their greatness. It was literacy that led to the organization of religion, religion that was believed to control agriculture, agricul- ture that led to trade, and trade that gave way to urban-based living. These com- ponents distinguish one civilization from another, yet at the same time tie them together. This concept can be explained by comparing and contrasting the es- tablishment of religion as well as agriculture among the two civilizations. In ancient Mesopotamia, religion was very highly regarded. For most Sumerians, it was Religion that defined their culture as well as politics. The vari- ous forces of nature were said to be controlled by the gods. These gods were seen as having human form, yet did not live among the people. Each city had a patron god which they honored with impressive shrines. Massive towers, called ziggurats , were built as a way to commune with the gods. Each ziggurat had steps that led to the top, which only the priestly class was to step foot upon, while the lower class was inside making pottery and textiles. It wasn’t until 1800 B.C.E. that the great ruler, Hammurabi came into the picture. Hammurabi is regarded as one of the great rulers of early civilized history and thought of religion not as a lifestyle, but as a belief system holding society to- gether. During his rule he set up extensive networks of officials and judges while maintaining a separate priesthood. He transformed religion into codified laws that dealt with a variety of criminal, property, and family issues. The Hammurab-
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HST 101.17 Feb. 16, 2011 Take-home Midterm Exam Sturza 2 ic law code was developed and written on stone slabs using cuneiform writing so as to ensure it’s long term longevity. It was designed to set general standards of justice in regard to social relations and family structure. King Hammurabi claimed great power and although he associated himself with the gods, he was not on the same level as them. Mesopotamia’s emphasis on the importance of religion carried through many other aspects of its culture. Take agriculture, for example. Named for its location, “meso” meaning in the middle and “potamia” meaning rivers Meso- potamia is centralized between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was these rivers that made the soil fertile which led to farming and generating large food surpluses, which promoted population growth and village expansion as well as increased trade. However wonderful the gifts of the rivers were, they came at a great price. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were extraordinarily hard to tame and their unpredictable behavior was blamed on the god Enki. This dependence on the gods shows how central religion was to every aspect of Sumerian life. In ancient Egypt, religion was also highly regarded.
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This note was uploaded on 06/12/2011 for the course HST 101 taught by Professor Pettegrew during the Winter '08 term at Grand Valley State University.

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World Civilizations Midterm Exam - HST 101.17 Feb. 16, 2011...

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