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Mesopotamia and the Near East: Foundation of Western Culture

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Information about Mesopotamia and the Near East: Foundation of Western Culture

Published on February 23, 2009

Author: PaulVMcDowell

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Traces the history of Mesopotamia from the Sumerians to the Assyrians and Babylon, looks at the pantheon, including Innana, the goddess of love and war, the epic of Gilgamesh, and allied topics
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Mesopotamia and the Near East Foundation of Western Culture

Location of Mesopotamia Meant “Between Two Rivers”: The Tigris and Euphrates Empires: Sumeria followed by Akad then Assur (Assyria)

Meant “Between Two Rivers”: The Tigris and Euphrates

Empires: Sumeria followed by Akad then Assur (Assyria)

Neolithic: The Fertile Crescent Fertile Crescent: starts at Levant (E. Mediterranean Sea), upward into Turkey and Syria Then down to Iraq and Iran.

Fertile Crescent: starts at Levant (E. Mediterranean Sea), upward into Turkey and Syria

Then down to Iraq and Iran.

Near Eastern Neolithic Mesopotamia was too dry to sustain local agriculture Neolithic began in the Fertile Crescent, comprising The Levant (eastern shore of the Mediterranean Taurus Mountains of Turkey Zagros Mountains of Iran

Mesopotamia was too dry to sustain local agriculture

Neolithic began in the Fertile Crescent, comprising

The Levant (eastern shore of the Mediterranean

Taurus Mountains of Turkey

Zagros Mountains of Iran

Wild Ancestors of Domesticates The Fertile Crescent was the natural habitat of Wild ancestors of domesticated plants Wheat --Legumes (peas and beans) Barley Wild ancestors of domesticated animals Cattle --Pigs Sheep --Goats

The Fertile Crescent was the natural habitat of

Wild ancestors of domesticated plants

Wheat --Legumes (peas and beans)

Barley

Wild ancestors of domesticated animals

Cattle --Pigs

Sheep --Goats

Domestication Processes “ Founder” plants were domesticated 9000-7000 BC Grains (3) : Emmer and einkorn wheat, rye Legumes (5): Lentils, peas, faba beans, chickpeas, bitter vetch Flax for oil and fiber

“ Founder” plants were domesticated 9000-7000 BC

Grains (3) : Emmer and einkorn wheat, rye

Legumes (5): Lentils, peas, faba beans, chickpeas, bitter vetch

Flax for oil and fiber

Abu Hureyra: Domesticates Location: Euphrates Valley in Syria Shift from wild to domesticated species (left) Bone count shows shift from gazelle to sheep and goat bone count around 6500 BC Cattle and pig bone increases as well Grain and legume remains also increase

Location: Euphrates Valley in Syria

Shift from wild to domesticated species (left)

Bone count shows shift from gazelle to sheep and goat bone count around 6500 BC

Cattle and pig bone increases as well

Grain and legume remains also increase

Abu Hureya: Other Developments Housing: rectangular mud brick (artist’s conception) Site of Abu Hureyra (lower left) Clay: There were containers, but no fired pottery Evidence of trade: Cowrie shells (Mediterranean) Turquoise (Sinai) Obsidian and other crystalline stone from Turkey

Housing: rectangular mud brick (artist’s conception)

Site of Abu Hureyra (lower left)

Clay: There were containers, but no fired pottery

Evidence of trade:

Cowrie shells (Mediterranean)

Turquoise (Sinai)

Obsidian and other crystalline stone from Turkey

Abu Hureyra: Decline Abandonment: 6000 BC Factors Arid conditions precluded farming Pastoralism (herding) more viable in a grassland environment Likely scenarios Migration to the Zagros Mountains as herders Movement to the upper part of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Abandonment: 6000 BC

Factors

Arid conditions precluded farming

Pastoralism (herding) more viable in a grassland environment

Likely scenarios

Migration to the Zagros Mountains as herders

Movement to the upper part of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Mesopotamia: Introduction Meaning: From the Greek, “between two rivers” (Euphrates and Tigris) Location: southern strip of land between the Euphrates and Tigris River First villages formed in northern Meso-potamian floodplain about 6000 BC Seasonal rainfall sustained agriculture Communities comprised several houses with roof entrances

Meaning: From the Greek, “between two rivers” (Euphrates and Tigris)

Location: southern strip of land between the Euphrates and Tigris River

First villages formed in northern Meso-potamian floodplain about 6000 BC

Seasonal rainfall sustained agriculture

Communities comprised several houses with roof entrances

Sites of Mesopotamia This map shows Eridu Ur and Uruk in south in Sumer Sources of many structures, (ziggurats), technology (wheels, metallurgy) and gods Babylonia (Babilonia) to the northwest Home of the lawgiver Hammurabi

This map shows Eridu Ur and Uruk in south in Sumer

Sources of many structures, (ziggurats), technology (wheels, metallurgy) and gods

Babylonia (Babilonia) to the northwest

Home of the lawgiver Hammurabi

Sites of Mesopotamia This map shows Eridu Ur and Uruk in south in Sumer Sources of many structures, (ziggurats), technology (wheels, metallurgy) and gods Babylonia (Babilonia) to the northwest Home of the lawgiver Hammurabi

This map shows Eridu Ur and Uruk in south in Sumer

Sources of many structures, (ziggurats), technology (wheels, metallurgy) and gods

Babylonia (Babilonia) to the northwest

Home of the lawgiver Hammurabi

The Gods of Mesopotamia: I Anu : The father of the gods; god of heaven (above left) Adad: the rain god, and of storms Dumuzi (Tanmuz): God of vegetation and the Underword; Husband of Ishtar Ishtar (Innana): Goddess of love, fertility, and war; Queen of Heavan; Nemesis of Gilgamesh (lower left)

Anu : The father of the gods; god of heaven (above left)

Adad: the rain god, and of storms

Dumuzi (Tanmuz): God of vegetation and the Underword; Husband of Ishtar

Ishtar (Innana): Goddess of love, fertility, and war; Queen of Heavan; Nemesis of Gilgamesh (lower left)

The Gods of Mesopotamia II Apsu: God of the primeval sweet waters Ea: God of wisdom and patron of the arts Enlil: God of earth, wind, and air (aka Marduk in later cultures) Ninhursag: Mother goddess, creator of vegetation; wife of Enlil Nisaba: Goddess of grain Skanash: God of the sun, judge, and law giver; god of wisdom Sin: Goddess of the moon

Apsu: God of the primeval sweet waters

Ea: God of wisdom and patron of the arts

Enlil: God of earth, wind, and air (aka Marduk in later cultures)

Ninhursag: Mother goddess, creator of vegetation; wife of Enlil

Nisaba: Goddess of grain

Skanash: God of the sun, judge, and law giver; god of wisdom

Sin: Goddess of the moon

The Epic of Gilgamesh I Gilgamesh represents a theme of the enjoyments of life That ends sooner or later Gilgamesh is one-part human, two-part god, blessed with beauty and courage When he spurns the love of Ishtar (the Queen of Heaven) and kills the Bull of Heaven, (upper left) He is punished with the loss of his dearest (male) companion, Enkidu (depicted above right)

Gilgamesh represents a theme of the enjoyments of life That ends sooner or later

Gilgamesh is one-part human, two-part god, blessed with beauty and courage

When he spurns the love of Ishtar (the Queen of Heaven) and kills the Bull of Heaven, (upper left)

He is punished with the loss of his dearest (male) companion, Enkidu (depicted above right)

Epic of Gilgamesh II Gilgamesh then goes on a quest for everlasting life When he finds a plant that promises everlasting life, a serpent snatches it away (Left) He is left with a vision of death, a “house of dust,” and a place of inescapable sadness The snake recurs in the Book of Genesis and leads to the Fall of Man

Gilgamesh then goes on a quest for everlasting life

When he finds a plant that promises everlasting life, a serpent snatches it away (Left)

He is left with a vision of death, a “house of dust,” and a place of inescapable sadness

The snake recurs in the Book of Genesis and leads to the Fall of Man

The Prevailing Theme: Enjoyment and Despair Michael Wood: The theme dominates the history of Iraq The video shows how the theme of greatness followed by disaster recurs throughout Mesopotamian/Iraqi history Another theme: constant warfare Much of the art emphasizes battles, symbolic lions, and other manifestations of war.

Michael Wood: The theme dominates the history of Iraq

The video shows how the theme of greatness followed by disaster recurs throughout Mesopotamian/Iraqi history

Another theme: constant warfare

Much of the art emphasizes battles, symbolic lions, and other manifestations of war.

Ubaid Era (5300-4100 BC): Overview Later shifted from northern plains to southern river valley The Area lacked: Sufficient rainfall for dry (nonirrigated) farming Plants and animals capable of domestication Even usable stone and metal ores Despite it all, by 4500 BC, towns and public buildings dotted the countryside Irrigation sufficient to support a nonfarm population Shrines and then temples emerged

Later shifted from northern plains to southern river valley

The Area lacked:

Sufficient rainfall for dry (nonirrigated) farming

Plants and animals capable of domestication

Even usable stone and metal ores

Despite it all, by 4500 BC, towns and public buildings dotted the countryside

Irrigation sufficient to support a nonfarm population

Shrines and then temples emerged

Ubaid Era: Main Attributes Spread of irrigation canals Construction of temple complexes A monochrome pottery design Triangles, grids, zigzag lines were common Less decorative than the polychrome Halafian pottery originating in Syria Ceramics made on slow-turning potter’s wheel For lack of workable stone and metals, tools were made of fired clay Sickles Hammers and axes Mullers (implements to grind paints, powders, etc.)

Spread of irrigation canals

Construction of temple complexes

A monochrome pottery design

Triangles, grids, zigzag lines were common

Less decorative than the polychrome Halafian pottery originating in Syria

Ceramics made on slow-turning potter’s wheel

For lack of workable stone and metals, tools were made of fired clay

Sickles

Hammers and axes

Mullers (implements to grind paints, powders, etc.)

Eridu (5000-3100 BC) Most of the early structures at Eridu were residential Later, public and ritual centers were erected At its peak, population was 5000 In one site, a series of shrines were constructed, one over another (see diagram) Earliest, dated 5000 BC, was a simple shrine By 3000 AD, a ziggurat was constructed in the form of a 200 yard square enclosure.

Most of the early structures at Eridu were residential

Later, public and ritual centers were erected

At its peak, population was 5000

In one site, a series of shrines were constructed, one over another (see diagram)

Earliest, dated 5000 BC, was a simple shrine

By 3000 AD, a ziggurat was constructed in the form of a 200 yard square enclosure.

Social Stratification: Eridu Little sign of the extreme social differentiation that was to come No elaborate funerary complexes found in this period No sign of a single ruler dominating Sumeria This city was the prototype of the city-state organization that was to come ( reconstructed ziggurat of Eridu)

Little sign of the extreme social differentiation that was to come

No elaborate funerary complexes found in this period

No sign of a single ruler dominating Sumeria

This city was the prototype of the city-state organization that was to come ( reconstructed ziggurat of Eridu)

Uruk Period (4100-3100 BC) The first city, Uruk with a population of 10,000 Overshadowed by the Anu Ziggurat and later the White Temple Named after the principal god Anu Like Eridu, constructed over earlier shrines The White Temple was constructed over the Anu Ziggurat Both temples entailed massive manpower inputs—7500 man-years alone Structures separated priestly residents from the populace Walls were constructed in Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370 BC)

The first city, Uruk with a population of 10,000

Overshadowed by the Anu Ziggurat and later the White Temple

Named after the principal god Anu

Like Eridu, constructed over earlier shrines

The White Temple was constructed over the Anu Ziggurat

Both temples entailed massive manpower inputs—7500 man-years alone

Structures separated priestly residents from the populace

Walls were constructed in Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370 BC)

Ziggurat: Structure Note the stairs and levels of the Ziggurat at Ur For details of design, see pp. 56-57

Note the stairs and levels of the Ziggurat at Ur

For details of design, see pp. 56-57

Uruk and Vicinity: Technology and Trade Pottery Fine design of Ubaid gave way to crudely made utilitarian objects (upper left) Plow was invented with a metal tipped wooden blade Far more productive than the digging stick Agricultural base diversified Wheat, barley, flax, dates Cattle raising and fishing

Pottery

Fine design of Ubaid gave way to crudely made utilitarian objects (upper left)

Plow was invented with a metal tipped wooden blade

Far more productive than the digging stick

Agricultural base diversified

Wheat, barley, flax, dates

Cattle raising and fishing

Uruk and Vicinity: Trade Resource poor itself, Sumeria relied on trade Main routes: the rivers (especially the Euphrates) and overland east-west Products imported Persian Gulf Precious metals and stone: gold, silver, carnelian, lapus lazuli, onyx, alabaster Textiles, skins, and ivory Timber Northern regions: copper

Resource poor itself, Sumeria relied on trade

Main routes: the rivers (especially the Euphrates) and overland east-west

Products imported

Persian Gulf

Precious metals and stone: gold, silver, carnelian, lapus lazuli, onyx, alabaster

Textiles, skins, and ivory

Timber

Northern regions: copper

Uruk: Writing and Accounting, A Five-Step Model Main source: Denise Schmandt-Besserat: Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform Step 1, 9000 BP: 16 basic shapes, geometric, animal, or pottery jar forms; Top of graphic: Seal form (upper right) depicting cattle (upper left) Step 2, 6000 BP: 300 forms with varied markings (e.g.., distinctions between raw and finished materials)

Main source: Denise Schmandt-Besserat: Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform

Step 1, 9000 BP: 16 basic shapes, geometric, animal, or pottery jar forms;

Top of graphic: Seal form (upper right) depicting cattle (upper left)

Step 2, 6000 BP: 300 forms with varied markings (e.g.., distinctions between raw and finished materials)

Final Steps of Writing and Accounting Step 3, 5500 BP: Bullae, or clay envelopes covering and indicating the tokens inside (upper left; this indicated oil) Step 4, 5200 BP: Flattened tokens to indicate kind and amount of commodities recorded Step 5, 5100 BP: Information recorded on clay tablets using cuneiform, or ideographic wedge-shaped, markings (see lower left) This clay tablet indicates the sheep and goats owned by someone in Mesopotamia

Step 3, 5500 BP: Bullae, or clay envelopes covering and indicating the tokens inside (upper left; this indicated oil)

Step 4, 5200 BP: Flattened tokens to indicate kind and amount of commodities recorded

Step 5, 5100 BP: Information recorded on clay tablets using cuneiform, or ideographic wedge-shaped, markings (see lower left)

This clay tablet indicates the sheep and goats owned by someone in Mesopotamia

Writing and Accounting: Refinements Number of symbols Early texts: 1500 symbols One-for-one relations with commodity Thus, one symbol represented wheat, another for chariot, a third for copper ingot or block Later texts: 750 unique symbols Advantage: Increased the control by administration of products and people System was still cumbersome Elements could be combined but not in the way we can Cuneiform is not alphabet-based Want to see your name in cuneiform? Log on to www.upennmuseum.com/cuneiform.cig and follow instructions

Number of symbols

Early texts: 1500 symbols

One-for-one relations with commodity

Thus, one symbol represented wheat, another for chariot, a third for copper ingot or block

Later texts: 750 unique symbols

Advantage: Increased the control by administration of products and people

System was still cumbersome

Elements could be combined but not in the way we can

Cuneiform is not alphabet-based

Want to see your name in cuneiform? Log on to www.upennmuseum.com/cuneiform.cig and follow instructions

Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370) City states dominated Mesopotamia 10-15 were present various times Uruk itself increased to 50,000 inhabitants Defensive walls were constructed Monarchs became independent of temple rule City states rose and fell Uruk: Challenged by other city states around 2700 BC Ur: Located 75 miles away, became Uruk’s principal economic and military rival Bands of highwaymen, possibly pastoralists, raided the merchants en route

City states dominated Mesopotamia

10-15 were present various times

Uruk itself increased to 50,000 inhabitants

Defensive walls were constructed

Monarchs became independent of temple rule

City states rose and fell

Uruk: Challenged by other city states around 2700 BC

Ur: Located 75 miles away, became Uruk’s principal economic and military rival

Bands of highwaymen, possibly pastoralists, raided the merchants en route

Ur Site of the “Royal Cemetery” uncovered by Sir Leonard Woolley, English archaeologist Site contained chariots, headdresses, lyres, jewelry Classic example: lyres with bearded bull (upper left) The blue is constructed from lapis lazuli crystals Lower graphic is a typical Sumerian theme: animals with human faces This comes from the front panel of a lyre

Site of the “Royal Cemetery” uncovered by Sir Leonard Woolley, English archaeologist

Site contained chariots, headdresses, lyres, jewelry

Classic example: lyres with bearded bull (upper left)

The blue is constructed from lapis lazuli crystals

Lower graphic is a typical Sumerian theme: animals with human faces

This comes from the front panel of a lyre

Evidence of Extreme Stratification: Burials Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed 2500 burials Fewer than 20 were of royalty Queen Shub-ad (upper left) was lying on a bed accompanied by female attendants 2 wagons drawn by oxen driven by male servants backed down into entry ramp 59 bodies, mostly female, were on the ground near the tomb All retainers were lavishly bedecked with crafted elements Oxen dispatched, then all in the party consumed poison Lyre with bull’s head (lower left) was associated with the Good Queen

Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed 2500 burials

Fewer than 20 were of royalty

Queen Shub-ad (upper left) was lying on a bed accompanied by female attendants

2 wagons drawn by oxen driven by male servants backed down into entry ramp

59 bodies, mostly female, were on the ground near the tomb

All retainers were lavishly bedecked with crafted elements

Oxen dispatched, then all in the party consumed poison

Lyre with bull’s head (lower left) was associated with the Good Queen

Lower Class Graves Of the other graves in the site A large number contains modest quantity of goods A far larger number contain none at all

Of the other graves in the site

A large number contains modest quantity of goods

A far larger number contain none at all

Akkad First of the empires that consolidated city states’ Sargon I led the expansion (Upper left) Detail from Victory stelae from Susa. Irony: a stela intended to celebrate Akkadian victory actually documented their defeat

First of the empires that consolidated city states’

Sargon I led the expansion (Upper left)

Detail from Victory stelae from Susa.

Irony: a stela intended to celebrate Akkadian victory actually documented their defeat

Lagash Lagash, ruled by Gudea, succeeded Akkad Gudea drew a temple plan from a vision of the gods (upper) Lower: Gudea with temple plan on his lap Represents a model of the inspiration of heaven on earth through Gudea as a channel

Lagash, ruled by Gudea, succeeded Akkad

Gudea drew a temple plan from a vision of the gods (upper)

Lower: Gudea with temple plan on his lap

Represents a model of the inspiration of heaven on earth through Gudea as a channel

The Ziggurat of Ur: A Contrast with Egypt’s Pyramids The ziggurats became ritual and administrative centers The massive structure was intended to inspire awe among the subjects The pyramids were to be eternal homes of the pharaohs Ziggurats were built in states; pyramids were not Egypt’s pyramids were of stone; ziggurats were built of mud bricks in a stone-poor region

The ziggurats became ritual and administrative centers

The massive structure was intended to inspire awe among the subjects

The pyramids were to be eternal homes of the pharaohs

Ziggurats were built in states; pyramids were not

Egypt’s pyramids were of stone; ziggurats were built of mud bricks in a stone-poor region

Babylon: Code of Hammurabi Hammurabi: The Lawgiver As commerce increased, civil law served to regulate transactions Criminal law was instituted Lex talonis—eye for an eye—became one of the cornerstones Here, Hammurabi receives the law code from the sun god

Hammurabi: The Lawgiver

As commerce increased, civil law served to regulate transactions

Criminal law was instituted

Lex talonis—eye for an eye—became one of the cornerstones

Here, Hammurabi receives the law code from the sun god

Babylon: Tower of Babel Babylon was the site of another ziggurat, the Tower of Babel Biblical interpretations: humankind’s intellectual arrogance God imposed different languages on the builders However, Babylon already had a diversity of languages and cultures Why construction was halted remains a mystery

Babylon was the site of another ziggurat, the Tower of Babel

Biblical interpretations: humankind’s intellectual arrogance

God imposed different languages on the builders

However, Babylon already had a diversity of languages and cultures

Why construction was halted remains a mystery

Warlike Themes: The Assyrians as Extreme Types Even today, the Assyrians is a classic study of ruthless warfare Under Assurnasirpal II, the Assyrians expanded his empire throughout Mesopotamia Cruelty cited in his boast that he dyed the mountains red with blood Combined war with culture, creating the largest library of the time Included the creation myths and epics of Mesopotamia Added to the arts reflecting war (left)

Even today, the Assyrians is a classic study of ruthless warfare

Under Assurnasirpal II, the Assyrians expanded his empire throughout Mesopotamia

Cruelty cited in his boast that he dyed the mountains red with blood

Combined war with culture, creating the largest library of the time

Included the creation myths and epics of Mesopotamia

Added to the arts reflecting war (left)

Neo-Babylonian Empire A ziggurat dedicated to the god Marduk, thought to be the Tower of Babel in biblical lore The Ishtar gate used the round arch, later to be imitated in Rome and Europe (above) It was faced (covered) with glazed bricks There was also a temple dedicated to Ishtar

A ziggurat dedicated to the god Marduk, thought to be the Tower of Babel in biblical lore

The Ishtar gate used the round arch, later to be imitated in Rome and Europe (above)

It was faced (covered) with glazed bricks

There was also a temple dedicated to Ishtar

Ishtar Babylonia is associated with Ishtar in the Bible She is said to be the patron of sacred prostitutes in her temple (upper left, a Phoenician rendition) Women were to “lay with strangers” (at a price) She was also a war goddess for the Assyrians The Book of Revelation cites her as the Harlot (or Whore) of Babylon (lower left)

Babylonia is associated with Ishtar in the Bible

She is said to be the patron of sacred prostitutes in her temple (upper left, a Phoenician rendition)

Women were to “lay with strangers” (at a price)

She was also a war goddess for the Assyrians

The Book of Revelation cites her as the Harlot (or Whore) of Babylon (lower left)

Conclusion Themes of Mesopotamia are very different from those of Egypt Egypt was relatively stable; Mesopotamia comprised warring city states Empires rose, did not last long, fell to others Mesopotamia was inventive; resource-poor, wealth had to come from technological innovations and trade War was often the motor force for innovation Art—depicting themes of war and powerful monarchs Ishtar/Innana: “Make love and war”

Themes of Mesopotamia are very different from those of Egypt

Egypt was relatively stable; Mesopotamia comprised warring city states

Empires rose, did not last long, fell to others

Mesopotamia was inventive; resource-poor, wealth had to come from technological innovations and trade

War was often the motor force for innovation

Art—depicting themes of war and powerful monarchs

Ishtar/Innana: “Make love and war”

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