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Ancient Mesopotamia

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Natalie B.

on 17 September 2012

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Transcript of Ancient Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia Who Were the Mesopotamians? The Mesopotamians is the name that we give to several groups of people who resided in Mesopotamia (Near and in modern-day Iraq). The Mesopotamians were made up of several different cultures and empires. The region of Mesopotamia was first settled around 5000 BC. The Mesopotamians are known by us as the first civilized peoples, and invented a lot of things that we consider to be basic today. One of the most important things the Mesopotamians are credited with is writing. We also know some about their religion and their art. Writing in Mesopotamia One of the most important inventions by the Mesopotamians was their writing. They Invented a pictographic writing system called Cuneiform. The Sumerians were the people who invented this. It was later improved on by the Babylonians, who created a syllabic writing system. Hammurabi's Code The best example we have today of Mesopotamian writing is Hammurabi's Code. Hammurabi himself was a king in Babylon. In about 1790 BC, Hammurabi had artisans carve almost 300 laws into a stone stele. This writing is now known as Hammurabi's code. A picture of the stele and of some of the writing is below. Hammurabi's Code is important to us today because it represents the writing that became the basis of all writing. It was also the first written law. Hammurabi's idea of writing the laws of his land and putting them out for all to see gave him a lot of power over his people. Today, we do the same thing. We are made aware of the laws that are in effect and the consequences of breaking them. Hammurabi's code was used in Mesopotamia to determine whether someone was guilty or innocent of a crime and what their punishment should be if they were guilty. I think that it also probably gave King Hammurabi more power over his people, and the way that he put the laws out in the middle of the city probably made the people realize how much power he had. Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation

Hammurabi's code is a primary source writing. Hammurabi, the king of Babylon, wrote the laws (indirectly, as he used artisans) on the stone stele all those years ago. It was created in about 1790 B.C. in Babylonia.

King Hammurabi wrote the code in order to 'Set the laws in stone' (pun intended). He wanted to make sure that anyone in his empire knew that he was their ruler and that he was the one behind the laws as well. He chose to use a stone tablet because he wanted the people of Babylon to understand that he was in charge. As the king, he was probably one of the only ones in that time period who had money or power enough to have it made.

Hammurabi's code is a worthy source to use to better understand the culture in Mesopotamia. We know from it that Hammurabi had a lot of power. Since it took so much work to inscribe the laws, we know that they probably had simple tools. We also know that they had a system of writing from it. It shows us a lot about the way the laws and judicial system were set up during that time. We know that a lot of the laws are reasonable, but we think that some of the punishments are harsh (A doctor having his hands cut off for failing). The Mesopotamians followed these laws, though, so we know that they saw it as reasonable. I think that the laws are unbiased by the author, because we know that these were laws even before they were written.

However, there are certain limitations of Hammurabi's code, as far as using it to tell about the culture. We don't know from it how well the laws were followed, what they ate, how they built things, what they wore, how they looked, their religion, and other basic things about daily life in ancient Mesopotamia. Unit Question

Human need, interest and curiosity drives invention by pushing us into creating things that will make life easier or more interesting for ourselves. We do this to save time, to make getting food easier, to communicate better, or to give us something to do to pass time. Writing was developed in Mesopotamia in order to make communication easier, to record history, knowledge, and sometimes stories like Gilgamesh. Religion in Mesopotamia Today, we know that the ancient Mesopotamians had a polytheistic (worshipping more than one god) religion. Religion was a big part of life in Mesopotamia. Some of their laws were based around religion, and they built temples called Ziggurats to worship their gods. Ziggurats In Mesopotamia, we have found the ruins of pyramid-like temples that we call Ziggurats. We know that the ancient Mesopotamian priests and priestesses were the only ones usually allowed into these. They were connected with religion and could have been temples for worship or sacrifice. http://theblueshadow.net/wp-content/uploads/ziggurat-of-ur.jpg Reconstruction of the ziggurat of Ur Unit Question

In the case of the Ziggurats, I think that the mesopotamians were driven more by interest and curiosity than by need. Since we know that Ziggurats were used for religion, we know that the Mesopotamians could have survived without them. Ziggurats were built in order to worship and get closer to the gods, whom the Mesopotamians believed resided in the sky. How are we connected?

The Ziggurats in ancient Mesopotamia are connected to us in a few ways. First of all, we still today have temples, churches, mosques, and other places of worship that are very commonplace in society. Also, they give us an insight into how religious the Mesopotamians were. Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation

The origin of Ziggurats is a little bit fuzzy. We know that they were built by the Mesopotamians. The Ziggurat of Ur was built around about 2000 B.C.
Ziggurats existed for a religious purpose. They were used as temples by the Mesopotamians.
We value Ziggurats because they give us insight into Mesopotamian religion. We know that the Mesopotamians were developed enough in this time to build such big structures. We can tell that the Mesopotamian culture was very religious from the Ziggurats.
Although they provide insight into religion, we can't tell from Ziggurats any more about the culture. We know basically what they looked like, but since they were so old and made of mud, Ziggurats are pretty much gone now. All we have to study is their foundations and any records of what they looked like and were used for. Art in Mesopotamia Mesopotamian art centered around animals, people, and jewelry. they used art in their Ziggurats, tombs, and palaces. Mesopotamian jewelry was often gold and/or beaded. Standard of Ur The Standard of Ur was found in on of the largest royal tombs of Ur. It's a small, 8.5 by 19.5 inch trapezoid shaped box Although we don't understand it's purpose, we know that it has a 'war' and a 'peace' side on it. Some theories of it's use are as part of a musical instrument, or as a standard carried on a pole. Unit Question

Since we don't know much about how the standard of Ur was used, it's harder to understand why it was created. I think that they probably needed it to show other armies whether they came in war or peace (hence they had a war and peace side). They would have used it held up on a pole so that an opposing army could see their intention, in the same concept of a white flag. We are connected to art in Mesopotamia in a lot of ways. We create art for a lot of the same reasons they did: To decorate our walls, to adorn
ourselves and in honor or respect of our religion. They also used art to sell or to be creative like us. However, their clay pottery and things like stamps that we consider purely decorative today actually served a purpose to them. (lol I said 'adorn') Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation

The standard of Ur came from a royal tomb in Ur around 2600-2400 BC.
It is theorized that it exists to be used as a standard while going to war. From it we know that there was some measure of diplomacy in warfare in Mesopotamia. It would have been held up as a message to opposing forces: either 'we come in peace' or 'we come for war'.
We can tell that the wars in Mesopotamia had some amount of negotiation and thought behind them, and that war was regarded as important. We already know that Mesopotamia had a lot of wars during it's time. The Standard of Ur reflects this in that the Mesopotamians took the time to make such a thing. If war was uncommon they would not have been so well prepared.
We can't tell how the wars went from the piece, or about any other aspect of culture. Of all the pieces in this museum, the Standard of Ur is probably the most limited, because it was a tool or an artwork and not a record of anything. Works Cited
"British Museum - The Standard of Ur." British Museum - Welcome to the British Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/t/the_standard_of_ur.aspx>.
" Construction Law; The History is Ancient! - Construction Connection." Construction Connection - Construction Employment Job Search, Construction Community & Industry Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.constructionconnection.com/blog/features/construction-law-the-history-is-ancient/>.
"First Home Building Laws." Greg Peterson, certified home inspector in Rome Georgia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.gregpetersoninspections.com/hammurabi.htm>.
"Hammurabi's Code: What Does It Tell Us About Old Babylonia? | EDSITEment." EDSITEment | The Best of the Humanities on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/hammurabis-code-what-does-it-tell-us-about-old-babylonia>.
"Mesopotamia." www.huntfor.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <www.huntfor.com/arthistory/ancient/mesopotamia.>.
"Religion in Mesopotamia and Primary Gods." Ancient Civilizations. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.anciv.info/mesopotamia/religion-in-mesopotamia-and-primary-gods.html>.
"Standard of Ur." bbc.co.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qb>.
"The Sumerians.." Ancient-Wisdom - Online Guide to Prehistory.. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/sumeria.htm>.
"Ziggurats." Mesopotamia - The British Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/ziggurats/home_set.html>.


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