Mesopotamia_2007_Lec_1

Mesopotamia_2007_Lec_1 - THE RISE OF CIVILIZATION January...

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1 T HE R ISE OF C IVILIZATION [Rise of Civ 2007\Mesopotamia2007Lec1.wpd] January 25, 2007 T. D'Altroy M ESOPOTAMIAN C IVILIZATION I: V ILLAGE F ARMERS © Terence N. D’Altroy [main sources: Redman 1978; Postgate 1992; de Montmollin 1992 lecture notes; Van De Mieroop 1992; Hole 1994; Pollock 1999; Wenke 1999; Rothman 2001] 1. lecture today: begin discussion of formation of complex society in Mesopotamia a. environmental setting b. chronological sequence c. early cultures 1. Hassunan 2. Samarran 3. Halafian 2. Mesopotamia: earliest evidence for rise of the state a. transition from 1. simple villages 2. through rank society and chiefdoms 3. to states 4. empires b. antecedent developments in neighboring regions c. occupation of southern Mesopotamia ca. 6000 BC d. inception of major transitions: ca. 4100 3. developments provided models for patterns elsewhere: e.g., notions of a. political state b. city c. civilization itself d. shifts from religious or theocratic rule to secular (militaristic) rule 4. why is Mesopotamia so important? a. conceptually: precocious development 1. first state society 2. first writing b. historically: tied to European origins 1. tracing developments into Classical antiquity c. long research tradition 1. along with Egypt d. common pattern in archaeology 1. first thing studied sets standards for later studies 2. e.g., sites or regions 1
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G EOGRAPHIC AND E NVIRONMENTAL S ETTING 1. Mesopotamia : literally "land between the rivers" (Greek) a. Euphrates (W) and Tigris (E) b. region of interest: really much larger [Greater Mesopotamia ] 1. Mesopotamia proper a. 0-1,000 m amsl (meters above mean sea level) b. hot and dry 2. Taurus and Zagros mountains a. peaks over 2,000 m tree line 3. Anatolian and Iranian Plateaus a. 500-1,500 m and dry 4. Levant a. broken terrain b. interspersed with alluvium c. areas 1. Greater Mesopotamia: 1,400,000+ km 2 2. core lowlands: 500,000 km 2 2. on geography and climate of Mesopotamia a. lower Mesopotamia is so flat that the elevation descends 5 m in 300 km 1. i.e., walking upstream with my feet at the same level, I could still breathe with my head above water over 50 miles upstream b. see discussion of positioning of Gulf during the ‘Ubaid and thereafter (subsequent lectures) 1. and for environmental conditions associated with collapse of ‘Ubaid and rise of Uruk 3. Mesopotamia proper a. northern plains: Assyria 1. grassy steppes, very bare, fairly dry 2. rainfall agriculture a. possible some years, but not others 3. irrigation: required a. to increase production b. even out production fluctuations 4. productive subsistence economy a. staple grains : wheat, barley b. pastoralism : sheep, goats b. southern plains: Sumer 1. alluvial desert 2. rainfall in Baghdad a. mean: 139 mm over 20 years (Adams) 1. 5.47" b. range: 72-316 mm 2
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3. implication of rainfall pattern a. inadequate for rainfall agriculture b. unpredictable, but frequent crop failures without control over water 4. cut by Tigris and Euphrates
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Mesopotamia_2007_Lec_1 - THE RISE OF CIVILIZATION January...

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