Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ancient Mesopotamia and the first civilizations

Men and women learned the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was ideal for cultivation. The settled, hunted, ate plants, and ultimately learned to manage the land they lived upon.  They learned that by coming together they could better manage the land and the people within it.  They gathered together for both cultural and economic reasons.  They created the first great civilization called Sumeria.  

The land was later called Mesopotamia: the land between two rivers.  People started gathering here for thousands of years before the first civilizations formed.  They learned that by working together they could better manage the rivers.  They created canals and pumps to irrigate the land.  They created a written language to record when events occurred to they could predict when the floods would occur, and learn the best times for planting crops and harvesting them.  

They formed cities that were states in themselves, called city-states.  Each city-state consisted of various huts build of reed and mud.  In the center of the city-state was a temple, called a zugurat, usually located on a hill.  It was a place of worship and sacrifice to the god of that city-state and several minor gods.  This god was served by the people, the farmers and slaves, and by the king who made sure the gods were pleased.  

Ultimately the city-states came together as one for economical and cultural reasons.  The king of one city-state would become the leader, and ultimately king.  The god of his city-state would become the main god, and his nation would sometimes become the name of the civilization.  It was in this way the first civilizations of Sumeria, Babylon and Assyria were formed.  

At different times other civilizations overpowered the Mesopotamian nations and assimilated its culture.  This is one of the neatest things about Ancient Mesopotamia is that while many different groups ruled the land at various times, the culture did not change. Their culture was so strong and significant much of what was adapted by it effects us to this day.

The first great nation formed when the city-states of the North, Upper Mesopotamia, came together to form Sumeria at around 3,200 B.C.  These people had a written language called cuneiform, and it was written on soft stone with a reed and sun-dried.

The King of one city-state, Uruk, became the chief king of the region.  He ultimately became the supreme leader of the land, or the divine king. He he was in charge of making sure the people worked together to please the  Uruk god and manage the rivers by building and maintaining canals and pumps to irrigate the land.  He was also in charge in case of conflict.  

At various times other city-states would overcome the others and it's kind would become king of all of Sumeria, and it's god would become the dominant god.  He would become the king in charge of pleasing the gods, maintaining the land, and leading in times of conflict among people, other city-states, and invading tribes.  He was aided by a series of officials, priests, and scribes.  

The Akkadians moved into the land and formed a city-state called Akkadia with their own Ziggurat and their own god.  They became so powerful by 2,350 B.C. that their king -- Sargon the Great -- became supreme ruler of the land.  The Akkadian god became the chief god of the land. The language of Sumeria became known as Akkadian.  

Sargon the Great is credited as being the person who created the first World Empire.  Akkadia became the new seat of the dynasty, which was brought to a zenith by Sargon's son Naramsin.  Art flourished, and trade extended as far as the Indus Valley.  The Akkad empire fell around 2,180 because it was unable to defend its borders.  

At various times one or another city-state became dominant, with its king becoming king of all the land, and it's god becoming dominant.  Some such city-states were Ur, Lagash, Umma, Nineveh, Assur and Babylon.  Both Assur and Babylon would become so dominant they gave their names to the civilization it so developed:  Assyria and Babylon.  

One city-state was Akkadia, and the ruler was Sargon the Great.  He conquered all of the city-states in what was called Sumeria.  This gave rise to the first great empire of the world: the Sumerian Empire.  The Sumerian language became known as Akkadian due to the land it was developed in.

This was around 2350 B.C.  Sargon's son brought the empire to its zenith.  Arts flourished during this time, and trade extended all the way to the Indus Valley.  The Akkadians took over not only the Sumerian religions but their calandar.  The Sumerians were able to make a calandar year because they started writing down events that occurred.  They created the mood calendar of 365 days in a year, with five extra days at the end of each year.

They had units for weights and measures thanks to their new written language.  This made it possible for building structures and measuring the rise and fall of the water.  They learned to predict when the inundations would occur, and they knew when to plant their crops, and when they could build their canals or manage them.  They knew when to pick their crops.  They knew when they could take time off.

They learned that people needed to be controlled, and they did this by both creating religions -- pagan religions, and by creating laws.  One mighty ruler who fought a war that lasted over 30 years and won organized all older laws and etched them in stone in a language called cuneiform.  The laws were called the Laws of Hummarabi.

The new laws were strict: an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, and arm for arm.  These strict rules were necessary to prevent one man from invading another mans rights. This was the first attempt at man at litigation, at protecting one mans rights over another.

It was all possible because of the written language called Akkadian.

  Yet there were weaknesses in this great empire, and no history to learn from.  The Akkadian empire, named so because Sargon was from Akkadia, collapsed because the people weren't able to manage the borders.  Barbarians crept in and the empire collapsed.

For the next 100 years the Guterian's ruled until the people from a powerful city state, Urek, drove out the invaders.  We must realize that each generation learned from the previous, and they learned to become better fighters and better defenders of the land.  They grew stronger.  They adapted ideas, philosophies and religions from previous people who managed the land.

nations called city states.

Houses were built of reed and mud, each inhabited by patriarchal families.

Hairy humans walked the earth for hundreds of thousands of years searching for food and shelter. Where they lived the weather was warm, so they had no use for clothing.  They lived in shelters by trees or in caves.

for food.

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