Thousands of omens including both the observation and

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Unformatted text preview: decisions and to discover the causes of illness, unhappiness, and failure. The hope was to avert unfavorable future events by discovering them in time and carrying out rituals or avoiding certain actions. Diviners were paid professionals, not priests. Witchcraft was also widely feared and blamed for illnesses and harm to people. There were many rituals against witchcraft, such as making a figurine of a witch and burning it, thereby burning up the witchcraft. Religion played a large part in the literature and art of Mesopotamia. Epic poems told of the deeds of the gods, such as how the world was created Read the Document and organized, of a great flood the Excerpts from The Epic of gods sent to wipe out the human Gilgamesh at race, and of the hero-king Gilgamesh, who tried to escape death by going on a fantastic journey to find the sole survivor of the great flood. The presence of many literary and artistic works that were not religious in character suggests that religion did not dominate all aspects of the Mesopotamians’ lives. Religious architecture took the form of great temple complexes in the major cities. The most imposing religious structure was the ziggurat, a tower in stages, sometimes with a small chamber on top. The terraces may have been planted with trees to resemble a mountain. Poetry about ziggurats often compares them to mountains, with their peaks in the sky and their roots in the netherworld, linking heaven to earth, but their precise purpose is not known. Eroded remains of many of these monumental structures still dot the Iraqi landscape. Through the Bible, they have entered Western tradition as the Tower of Babel. Society Hundreds of thousands of cuneiform texts from the early third millennium B.C.E. until the third century B.C.E. reveal a full and detailed picture of how peoples in ancient Mesopotamia conducted their lives and of the social conditions in which they lived. From the time of Hammurabi, for example, there are many royal letters to and from the various rulers of the age, letters from the king to his subordinates, administrative records from many different cities, and numerous letters and documents belonging to private families. Categorizing the laws of Hammurabi according to the aspects of life they deal with reveals much about Babylonian life in his time. The third largest category of laws deals with commerce, relating to such issues as contracts, debts, rates of interest, security, and default. Business documents of Hammurabi’s time show how people invested their money in land, moneylending, government contracts, and international trade. Some of these laws regulate professionals, such as builders, judges, and surgeons. The second largest category of laws deals with land tenure, especially land given by the king to soldiers and marines in return for their service. The letters of Hammurabi that deal with land tenure show that he was concerned about upholding individual rights of landholders against powerful officials who tried to take their land...
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This document was uploaded on 04/03/2014.

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