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Mesopotamia

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Frank McCormick

on 28 March 2016

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Transcript of Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia
“Great lady under earth”
Goddess of the underworld
Similar to Hades
Ereshkigal
Babylonian God
His mother wanted to establish him as ruler of the gods after his father was murdered
Killed by the god Marduk who mixes his blood with clay to create man
Kingu
King of the demons of the wind, son of the god Hanbi
A really nasty demon… Brings famine during dry seasons and locusts during rainy seasons
Pazuzu
The Tigris and Euphrates flooded at least once a year
It left behind silt- a thick bed of mud, very rich in nutrients.
Silt led to huge quantities of wheat and barley
Let it flood, let it flood, let it flood!
Why would humans now need standing armies?

Standing Armies
Why would humans now need walls?
Was this new characteristic of mankind the result of civilization?
We have “stuff”- we need to defend it.
We want “stuff”- lets take it from those guys (birth of war as we know it).
Moral dilemma of civilization?
Walls: Another characteristic of early civilizations
Empire peaks during the Reign of Hammurabi
Babylonian Empire
King of gods, demons, spirits
God of the Sky
Had the power to judge those who had committed crimes
Created the stars (who were soldiers) to punish the wicked
Anu
Assyrian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex
Had many lovers
Portrayed as a spoiled goddess
Temple Prostitution:
“The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life.”- Herodotus (Greek Historian)
Ishtar
Lets meet some key players in Mesopotamian mythology...
You’re a Sumerian in Mesopotamia. You work hard to appease the gods in life. Reward in heaven right?
Wrong! You go to “the land of no return”
A dismal, gloomy place with no joy
Judeo-Christian notions of God as a contrast
Religion in Mesopotamia
As civilization developed and humans became more organized and specialized, so too did their spiritual beliefs
Religion as an institution
Benefits of organized religion?
Consequences of organized religion?
Organized Religion
“I’ve got a lot of stuff…
I adorn myself in gold and beautiful clothing… That makes me better than you!”
Class based on possession
Cities allowed for people to collect and own things
Accumulating things (wealth) created new classes of people
Literally, the “haves” and the “have-nots”
The accumulation of wealth!
Mesopotamian Irrigation System
Assyrian Sickle (Clay)
Why did cities develop?
The First Cities
Geography of the Fertile Crescent
Tigris River
Euphrates River
Syrian Desert
Example of a Mesopotamian Irrigation System
Between 10,000 - 6000 B.C. hunter-gatherers in northern Mesopotamia began transitioning to planting and herding (sufficient rainfall).
By 5800 B.C. people were living in southern Mesopotamia.
Very Fertile Land
Mastery of the Environment
Cows and Wheat
No one knows for sure why urbanization began in ancient Mesopotamia, however there are a few theories...
A settled existence, even small villages, precipitates advanced cities
Environmental challenges such as lack of rainfall require cooperation and organization to develop solutions (such as developing and maintaining irrigation systems)
Protection from open plains (nomadic raiders)
Cities of the Fertile Crescent
Assyrians (North)
Akkadians (Central)
Sumerians (South)
Amorites (South-West)
Characteristics of Civilization
Specialized Workers
Complex Institutions
Record Keeping
Advanced Technologies
Advanced Cities
Specialization
Advances in agriculture allowed for a small class of farmers to provide food for a large number of people
No longer did every family have to grow their own food- this significantly freed up time
Individuals could turn to other specialties and exchange their goods/services for food
Why specialize over self-sustenance?
Specialization precipitates exchange economies
What specialization produced!
A receipt for the “best” beer Mesopotamia had to offer
Civilization and luxuries
Brewers were well respected artisans in Mesopotamia
Beer may have provided upwards of 40% of a person’s daily calories
The Hymn to Ninkasi
Beer:
An Example of Specialization
Ninkasi:
Sumerian Goddess of Beer
The Wheel
Bronze
"The seeder plow, invented by the Mesopotamians, was a major technological achievement. It revolutionized agriculture by carrying out the tasks of seeding and ploughing simultaneously. Seed was dropped down the middle funnel into the furrow that the plow created. The ancient Mesopotamians believed that the god Enlil created the seeder plow and that the image of the plow could also be seen in the stars. They discovered that by observing the movements of celestial bodies they could measure time, which was key for planting crops and for holding religious festivals." - The University of Chicago
The Seeder Plow
Key characteristic of cities is that they are the center of trade for a larger area
He also made an appearance in "The Exorcist"
As government, religion, and the economy became increasingly complex, someone had to keep track of everything
Taxes, laws, grain storage
Scribes- professional record keepers
Scribes:
Another example of specialists
Medicine
A place of worship, a city hall, and a center of trade
Priests managed the irrigation systems- but demanded a tax
Ziggurats
Free-write: How would you define a civilization?
Institutions are mechanisms of social order; Their FUNCTION is to coordinate or constrain the behavior of a number of individuals.
Institutions can be constructed to serve a MANIFEST FUNCTION- a function (relating to an institution) that is planned and intentional.
Institutions can arise organically to serve individual needs/desires, and end up serving a LATENT FUNCTION- a function of an institution that is unintentional and often unrecognized.
Epic poetry from Mesopotamia
Among the earliest known works of literature
Recounts Gilgamesh’s travels, adventures, and his search for immortality
Epic of Gilgamesh
Hammurabi's most enduring legacy: codified law available for all to see
The world's first empires...
The Akkadian Empire
Sargon of Akkad (city-state north of Sumer) brought Northern and Southern Mesopotamia under his rule...
An empire s when multiple nations (in this case city-states) are brought under the control of one ruler
2000 B.C.: Amorites invade Mesopotamia, overwhelm the Sumerians, and establish their capital at Babylon.
Who do you think should provide us with most of our institutions? The government through taxpayer money? Or should we allow the market to provide institutions that consumers demand?
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