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Ancient Civilizations


Will Gibbs

on 11 January 2012

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Transcript of Ancient Civilizations

Ancient Civilizations
of the Middle East
Civilizations - complex cultures…dating back to almost 6000 years ago
7 Themes of Civilization
1.) Large Settled Population
2.) Food Production through Agriculture
3.) Government
4.) Religion
5.) Specialized Crafts
6.) long distance trade
7.) System of Writing
How did these "civilizations start?
Climate Change began to happen and quickly these groups of people found themselves right smack in the middle of a food shortage. Some people just up and left… Others began to “domesticate” animals.
Gave birth to the NEOLITHIC AGE - an era marked by the growth in the size of herds of goats, sheep, and other domesticated animals, the planting of wheat fields, and the development of permanent villages
What made Mesopotamia so great?
Plentiful water supply
Arable land
50-100X increase in crop yields
It became known as the "Fertile Crescent"
A magical “cause and effect” journey from Melting Snow Caps to Cultural Exchange
CAUSE: Melting snow caps
EFFECT: would flood fields….
CAUSE: flooded fields
EFFECT: build a dam
CAUSE: these dams left an excess of water
EFFECT: lets dig irrigation ditches so that we can increase our agricultural production
CAUSE: Irrigation ditches
CAUSE: More Crops
EFFECT: less people had to work in the fields each day
CAUSE: more free time
EFFECT: increase in artisans,
craftsman, inventors, artists, etc.
CAUSE: increase in this “stuff”
EFFECT: increase in trade
CAUSE: increase in trade
Cultural Exchange occurs as a result of meetings between two different groups of people: the 3 ways this can happen is through TRADE and WAR and EXPLORATION (foreign visitors)
Cultural Exchange took the Middle East to a whole new level of humanity. Because it was the hub of three continents, trading and war were frequent occurrences. this enabled the following Civilizations to be born and thrive:
The Sumerians
the Egyptians
The Phoenicians, Hittites, Lydians
The Hebrews
the Persians
The Greeks The Romans
the Babylonians
Society was based around the temple…the temple was known
as a “Ziggurat” and is a terraced building that functioned as
administrative and religious centers.
These political, social and religious centers gradually evolved into a “city-state”
A city-state is an independent town or city and the surrounding countryside.
The Sumerian city-state
called “Ur” was
the most successful
Priests were the leaders of the community. They collected taxes, stored grains for future use, maintained irrigation canals, and directed building projects. A ruling group gradually emerged from among the priests…like a “council”
The ancient Sumerians believed in “polytheism” or the belief in many Gods.
As Sumerian society became more complex, the need for accurate records emerged. This need gradually led to the development of writing circa 3500 BC.
This early system of writing was known as “cuneiform” and took the form of wedgelike engravings into stone tablets.
Other notable Sumerian contributions to the world:
Legal code (laws)
Business contracts
Seed planter
Epic poems
Medical remedies
Mathematical system using 60.
Today, we have 60 seconds, 60 minutes,
and 360 degrees in a circle, etc.
More and More city states began to pop up in Mesopotamia. More kings began to get power hungry. Arguments arose over ownership of land and access to water sources. A period of continuous warfare marked the time from 3500 BC to 2500 BC.
One MAJOR problem with Mesopotamia, was its ease of invasion. It was in the middle of the World, with no natural boundaries. The Sumerians were invaded by a half a dozen invaders, each one left their mark on society.
The Babylonians were perhaps the most significant of these invaders. They conquered the Sumerians around 2000 BC. Their greatest contribution? The code of Hammurabi - a system of roughly 300 laws and punishments. Most of which involved an “eye for an eye” philosophy.
Some highlights from the Code of Hammurabi:
If a man kills another man's son his son shall be cut off.
If a son slaps his father, his hand shall be cut off.
If anyone commits a robbery and is caught, he shall be put to death.
If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then the builder shall be put to death
The good news was that this geographic location from 2500 BC to 500 BC was the epicenter of cultural exchange.

Lydians - first to develop a system of money.
Anatolia and the Mediterranean Coast - 1300 BC to 500 BC
As the bigger groups (Mesopotamia and Egypt) had large scale power struggles. The civilizations of the Aegean Sea were smaller, but quickly rose to power and made significant contributions to the world. We are going to focus on the Hebrews… but here is a quick run down of some of their Anatolian counterparts
Phoenicians - highly skilled sailors and traders…which given their geographic location was GREAT for cultural exchange. Probably made them so successful as a society. Major contribution? The Phoenetic Alphabet. Consisted of 22 Consonants. The Greeks added some vowels later on….and then the Romans adopted it. Therefore: it was the foundation of the English alphabet…aka our alphabet.
Hittites - learned how to smelt iron and taught it to neighboring civilizations. (making metal)
The HEBREWS, who had come from Mesopotamia to Canaan (present day Israel), adopted and transmitted the idea of MONOTHEISM…the belief in one God. Their God was kind and caring. They recorded their beliefs and teachings in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians refer to as the “Old Testament”
A famine struck parts of the Middle East around 1300 BC. This famine led the Hebrews (or Israelites as they were called) to Egypt where they were enslaved by Ramses II. Moses eventually freed his people (“Let my people go!”), with help from the parting of the Red Sea, and led them back through the Sinai Desert. On their way back to their homeland, Moses stood atop Mt. Sinai and received the 10 Commandments from God.
The Israelites settled in Canaan, conquered the people who had settled there in their absence, the Philistines, and set up the kingdom of Israel. The 2 kings, Saul and David rebuilt the once great civilization. David built Jerusalem and his son Solomon built the first temple there. The Hebrew society flourished under his leadership.
Solomon’s successors, however, were weak. And the Israelite Kingdom was split into two parts, the North and the South. The North (the Ten Tribes) was conquered in 722 BC by the Assyrians from Mesopotamia. The Southern Kingdom (the tribes of Judea) was conquered by the Babylonian King, named Nebuchadnezzar. The temple was destroyed and many Jews had to flee their homeland. This happened in 586 BC. And it marks the start of the Diaspora.
From 500BC to 500AD (1K years) 3 Great empires successively held large areas of the Middle East as part of their territories
1) Persians
2) Greeks
3) Romans
The Persians conquered and united the peoples of the Fertile crescent and invaded Egypt.
-Greek control over the area lasted from 322 BC
to 32 BC at which time the Roman Empire emerged.
-Unrest brought by invaders, rebellion within the empire, and rise of a new Persian Empire to the East…known as the Byzantines.
The Byzantine Empire
-The Persian Empire refers to a number of historic dynasties that ruled the country of Persia (Iran)
-Big rival of the Greeks – every time the Persians tried to expand Northward…the Greeks pushed them back and defeated them.
-Several Persian Kings tried multiple times to extend the Persian empire into Europe, and although they were successful in invading Greece, they never conquered Greece and thus never extended in to Europe.
-The Greeks struck a fatal Blow to the Persians under the leadership of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)
-Alexander led Greek Armies into the middle East crushed the Persians and marched his troops all the way to India
-The Greek Empire in the Middle East emerged
-Alexander was only 33 when he died in the City of Babylon in Mesopotamia
-Alexander the Great’s biggest impact came after his death: Upon his death generals divided the empire founding new dynasties in Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, Asia Minor, and Greece.
-The impact of Greek culture was felt throughout the ME = this period was know as the Hellenistic era. This height of Greek culture was marked by: Greek ideas, education and literature.
-Romans dominated everyone.
-Roman empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Tigris Euphrates River
-As rulers they borrowed law, religion, and culture from the conquered people
-LATIN the official language of the Roman Empire carried more advanced ideas of the Middle East to people who lived in W Europe
-Between 31 BC until the death of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD is known as Pax Romana or Roman Peace.
-During this time the Romans fought few outside enemies and people could travel from one end of the empire to the other without fear.
-They started to get a little too big to manage though.
-Revolts in various parts in the Middle East
-One of these revolts took place in Judea 66 AD, Romans had appointed Herod a ½ Jewish ½ Roman citizen to be King of Judea. This upset the Jews.
-Jews opposed Herod’s rule, after a small massacre of a Roman Garrison in Jerusalem the Romans placed the city under direct control.
-In 70 AD, Roman legions sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple
-After the death of Marcus Aurelius the Roman empire passed through turmoil
-To run the empire more efficiently the Roman emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into 2 parts West- continued to decline until the last ¼ of the 5th century when it disappeared completely
-East Roman Empire held off invaders and managed to survive for 1K years (One of the strongest Roman Emperors, Constantine, dedicated a new capital in 330 AD named it Contantinople in honor of himself
-Constantinople served as the capital of the Eastern Roman which eventually became the Byzantine Empire
-A major center of Christianity, Constantinople fell to Ottoman Turks in 1453. Today it is the Turkish city of Istanbul.
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