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EI+08+ME+NAfrica+1453-1914 - HISTORY 1020(ROWLEY WORLD...

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H ISTORY 1020 (R OWLEY ) W ORLD C IVILIZATION II E SSENTIAL I NFORMATION Week 8: Mid-East and North Africa, 1453-1914 The Middle East Ancient Mesopotamia Sedentary agriculture began in Mesopotamia in Civilization about 10,000 BCE , and by 6500 BCE , the first cities began to appear. By 3500 BCE , the world’s first civilization was thriving in Sumer, a city-state on the southern Tigris-Euphrates River. Sumer was ruled by priest-king, who claimed to be the earthly representative of the God Marduk. In the Sumerian creation myth, Marduk had led his generation of gods in a war against their parents. In the course of that war, Marduk killed a traitorous god, whose drops of blood then turned into human beings. Ordinary people were taught that, because they descended from a traitor, they were slaves to Marduk—and therefore owed obedience, taxes, and labor to his representative on earth. The Sumerian king employed a class of professional bureaucrats who administered written laws and a class of professional priests who performed rituals to appease the gods and bring good weather and good fortune. Sumerian artisans and scientists made fundamental discoveries in architecture, mathematics, and astronomy that served as the basis for the later civilizations of Greece and Rome. The lack of natural boundaries and the lure of the wealth of Mesopotamian cities attracted Semitic invaders from Arabia and Indo-European invaders from north of the Caucasus Mountains. These invaders created the first empires (an empire is a state that governs more than one nation.), and a recurrent theme of Middle Eastern history has been the rise and fall of empires. Usually foreign invaders defeat and overthrow the old empire, and recreate a new empire on the foundations of the old with themselves as the new rulers. Emperors style themselves as “Kings of kings”—that is, their states are made up of a number of peoples who retain local autonomy under their own kings (or rulers delegated by the emperor). Typically, the agricultural population is little affected by the empires that rule them—except for the need to pay taxes and provide labor. Later Civilizations Situated at the heart of Eurasia, neighboring Africa, Europe, Central Asia, and India, and connected with China through the Silk Road, the Middle East has been a mixing pot for science, technology, commerce, and ideas from all of Eurasia. It has also been the home of a series of magnificent civilizations. Some of them are: the Assyrian Empire (745-605 B . C . E .), the Persian Empire (550-350 B . C . E .), the Macedonian Empire (begun by Alexander the Great (350-31 B . C . E .), and the Sassanid Empire (224 C . E .–651 C . E .). Ethical Monotheism Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Middle East is that it was the birthplace of Ethical Monotheism—belief that there is only one god and that god is the source of goodness and an enemy of evil.
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