EXAM1 REVIEW - Study Guide I History 121 Fall 2009 1.Early...

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Study Guide I History 121, Fall 2009 1.Early Mesopotamian civilization tells us much about how complex societies develop. Discuss at least four important features of this development, and the way in which they are related to each other. Be sure to develop your points concretely (providing context of place/time, and examples where possible). Mesopotamian society was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and is where urban life first developed. It is a flat region of the Middle East stretching from eastern Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf. Its natural land presented enormous obstacles to the development of agriculture as droughts and floods were often caused by erratic rainfall. By 3500 BC, the Sumerians were the dominating people in Southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerians are responsible for developing many of the innovations that made civilizations possible including: agriculture, technology, specialization and urbanization. The key factor in the rise of civilization was improved farming methods. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided them with very fertile land and an abundance of water. In between these two rivers is an area of land known as the Fertile Crescent. It was in this area where Neolithic societies formed stable communities and developed improved farming methods. The river waters contained rich mud, which provided a fertile basis for growing crops. Many areas of land away from the river were dry and uninhabitable. Early settlers learned to irrigate close to the river and then divert water by canals to more distant fields. Communities joined to build networks of canals to distribute water and control. Wheat and Barley were the most important crops grown by the Sumerians. As the climate of Mesopotamia began to improve, animals began to inhabit specific areas of the society. Hunters and gatherers began to domesticate animals in this part of the region to aid with farming and irrigation. Another important feature of early Mesopotamian society is technology. Along with its agricultural uses, their tactics for irrigation and canals are still being used to this day. Dikes are devices that regulate water levels and aid in the prevention of river flooding. The plough was also created as a tool used in farming to aid in the cultivation of soil in preparation of sowing seed or planting. This device has been used throughout most of history and represents one of the greatest advances in agriculture. The Sumerians were also the first people to use a wheel to manufacture pottery. They also devised new methods of transportation including the wagon wheel. The Sumerians also were responsible for the specialization of several complex systems of organization and control. In searching for these systems, they invented writing, one of the most crucial tools of civilization. The Sumerian Cuneiform Script was the first fully developed writing system in history. Their earliest inscriptions used signs that took the form of simplified pictures representing a group of related meanings. The signs were drawn on soft clay tablets
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