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Ancient Civilizations- Wk2

Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians
by

Sabrina Anand

on 13 August 2014

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Transcript of Ancient Civilizations- Wk2

Ancient Civilizations
The Sumerians
The first inhabitants of the the Tigris-Euphrates valley were the Sumerians.
Their civilization developed about 6,000 years ago, possibly even before that of the Egyptians.
They built their principle city, Sumer, at the eastern end of the Fertile Crescent near the Persian Gulf.
Sumer was a city-state. It consisted of the city itself and all its surrounding area. Other Sumerian cities were also city-states, each ruled by a priest-king.
They gave the world the wheel, and they may have been the first to use the arch in construction.
They divided the circle into 360 degrees and the minute into 60 seconds.
They devised an early calendar, although it was not as accurate as that of the Egyptians. To correct inaccuracies in their lunar year, the Sumerians occasionally added a thirteenth month.
The Sumerians cont.
The Babylonians
They adopted the cuneiform system of writing, using a stylus to make impressions on clay tablets.
They also borrowed Sumerian ideas concerning science and architecture.
The Hittites
Following the Babylonian Empire, the next great civilization of the Mesopotamian area was that of the Hittites
The Hittites were herders from the north who established an empire in Asia Minor and the western part of the Fertile Crescent.
Instead, the whole matter was settled through some type of payment that was made by the offender. Also, capital punishment was used sparingly, with only major crimes being subject to the death penalty.
The Hittite Empire was overrun by the Assyrians, the cruelest group ever to rule Mesopotamia.
The Assyrians built the next great empire in the Fertile Crescent area: a city-state on the Tigris River. They called it Assur, after the name of their chief god.
It is from Assur that the name Assyria and Assyrians are derived. The Assyrians overran Babylonia and all of the Fertile Crescent and even conquered Egypt. Their empire lasted almost three hundred years.
The Warlike Assyrians
In the area of government, the Assyrians were the first people to develop an effective system of empire.
Some historian refer to them as the "Romans of Asia."
In spite of these contributions to later civilizations, the Assyrians are most remembered for their extreme cruelty.
They killed prisoners of war and conquered peoples who offered resistance.
They also had many horrible methods of torture. Their brutality knew no bounds.
To the relief of the peoples of Egypt and the fertile Crescent, the hated Assyrian Empire ended in 612 B.C.
It was stopped by the combined armies of the Chaldeans, Medes, and Persians.
The Warlike Assyrians cont.
Because Mesopotamia contained no stone, temples and other buildings were constructed of sun-dried brick.
Like the Egyptians, the Sumerians were polytheistic, worshiping many gods.
To honor the gods, the Sumerians built large temples called ziggurats.
Because they remained separated into city-states and never united into a single nation, they easily fell pray to nomadic groups that pushed in from the Arabian desert. Their civilization was overrun by the Babylonians.
The Sumerians made achievement in many areas:
The Sumerians cont.
They also developed a system of writing called cuneiform, which consisted of some 600 signs, each standing for a particular sound. Scribes wrote these signs on wet clay with a pointed stick called a stylus.
The greatest contribution of the Babylonians was Hammurabi's Code of Laws. Hammurabi had 282 laws chiseled on a stone and inscribed in clay.
The laws had to do with commerce, trade, marriage, divorce, and property rights.
Every aspect of Babylonian life was addressed.
Although Hammurabi's Code was harsh and was based on the concept of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," it nevertheless represents the oldest legal system know to humans.
The Babylonians
The invaders who overran the Sumerian civilization built the city of Babylon on the Euphrates river.
Sometime later, Hammurabi, their greatest king, extended his control over most of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.
His kingdom became known as the Babylonian Empire.
The Babylonians copied and added to the civilization of the Sumerians.
They were powerful people who held a distinct advantage over their neighbors: they knew how to smelt iron.
With the use of iron weapons and chariots, they were the
The supreme achievement of the Hittites was their legal system. Their laws were much less severe than of Hammurabi.
Whereas Hammurabi's code emphasized gaining revenge against an offender, the Hittite system stressed compensation. Thus someone who cut off the arm of another person was not required to sacrifice an arm in return.
When other nations discovered how to smelt iron and acquired iron weapons of their own, the Hittite Empire crumbled.
The Hittites cont.
They conquered Babylon, but their capital was too far away to maintain effective control over it.
dominating power of the Middle East for 400 years.
The Hittites cont.
The Assyrian were more imitators than innovators. They borrowed the ideas of writing and art from the previous peoples of Mesopotamia.
Even so, they made several worthy contributions.
The Warlike Assyrians cont.
One of their kings, Assurbanipal, built a magnificent library at Nineveh, where the Assyrians moved their capital to after conquering the Fertile Crescent.
The library contained 22,000 clay tablets in cuneiform from all over Assyria and Babylonia.
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