The Nineveh tablets reveal a civilization 1000 years older than Babylonia...and
neolithic life going back to 7000 BCE
Two great rivers were fed by the winter rains of Syria and the spring thaws of the
snows of the Taurus and Zagros mts : life-giving but unpredictable
How was Mesopotamia transformed around 3200 BC?
Each city was believed to be the property of an individual god
U.S. soldiers, 2010
Religion was the central force:
• Explained the workings of
• Eased the fear of death
• United people in a
common view
• Bolstered the authority of
• Justified rules and morality
• Promoted creativity in art,
literature and science
The functions of the temple
priest class:
>Anticipated the god's
> Interpreted their actions
> Soothing their wrath
with prayer and
> collected taxes
> coordinated all
economic activity
How did Mesopotamians define the purpose of man’s existence?
Why did a mood of pessimism, uncertainty and anxiety
pervade the Sumerian psyche?
• Frequent floods and droughts
• Windstorms
• The gods were unpredictable
Sumerian women: role and rights
depended on the city-state, their
social status and changed over time.
> high born were literate
> commoners were occupied with childrearing and household duties
> little individualism-daughter or wife
> rulers of city-states- rare but possible
> could inherit and own property
> ran their own businesses
> freedom of movement in the
> arranged marriages-dowry/bride price
>extra-marital affairs not uncommon
> divorce was possible
> singers in temples and palaces were
highly regarded
• How did King Sargon
(2350 -2218 BCE) earn a
place in our history
The Akkadian Empire 2350 – 2100 BCE
Third Dynasty of Ur…Ur-Nammu, 2113-2096 BC
The Code of Hammurabi
> 8 ft column of basalt inscribed
with an engraving of the king
receiving the laws from the god
Marduk; a prologue (advertisement
for Hammurabi's greatness!) and
282 decisions- the law code itself.
Why were King Hammurabi's law
codes obeyed?
The Hittites,
1600 bc- 1200 bc
examples of Hittite iron swords…
A Phoenician sailing vessel
The Phoenician Alphabet, circa 1400 bc
• Monotheism
• Removed the gods
from nature
• Assertion of human
• 10 Commandments

Mesopotamia: the rise of civilization