In addition to maintaining and ruthlessly exploiting their empire, the Assyrians served as a buffer to the civilized
Middle East against the barbarians on the frontiers.
The Assyrian empire finally fell because of internal revolution and a defeat in 612 B.C.E. by the Neo-
While these empires rose and fell, the most important intellectual development was that of the Hebrew religion.
(or Hebrews) were a people, like the Phoenicians, who flourished in the political vacuum left
by the weakening of the Egyptian empire and the annihilation of the Hittites around 1200 B.C.
The Israelites were responsible for a religious revolution founded on the concept of a single, universal God who had
a covenant with his chosen people. God was a just judge who required obedience to his laws.
The early Greeks
(Thales, Xenophanes, Pythagoras and Hippocrates) tried to understand the world
without reference to supernatural powers, but rather with emphasis on logic and observation.
In this, and in other ways, the Greeks differed radically from Near Eastern thought.
As more people began living in the same area, various forms of government
Ranging from strong centralized monarchy (Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Israelites, etc.), to the less centralized
monarchies of the city-states in Sumeria, to the theocracy of Egypt.
Egypt was protected by deserts and the sea and nourished by the Nile
which flooded regularly; it was less
prone to invasion and hence more secure politically.
In contrast, Mesopotamia was invaded regularly, having no natural barriers; the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were
difficult to navigate and control and flooded regularly.
The first use of writing
may have been to record the arrangements for river control.
The Mesopotamian civilizations are described as more pessimistic than the Egyptians which were more secure
Nature of Culture
is a communication element intended to simply represent or stand for a complex of person,
object, group, or idea.
Symbols may be presented graphically, as in the cross for Christianity, the red cross or crescent for the life-
preserving agencies of Christian and Islamic countries; representationally, as in the human figures Marianne, John
Bull, and Uncle Sam standing for France, England, and the United States respectively; they may involve letters, as in
K for the chemical element potassium; or they may be assigned arbitrarily, as in the mathematical symbol for infinity
or the symbol $ for dollar.