Early River Valley Civilizations

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Early River Valley Civilizations 1

Early River Valley Civilizations:

Four separate civilizations Mesopotamia (Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) Egypt (Nile River) Harappa (Indus River) Shang China (Huang He) Early River Valley Civilizations 2

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Geography Unpredictable rivers with devastating flooding ( Tigris and Euphrates ) The delta region was extremely fertile-its called the “Fertile Crescent”! Area lacked natural barriers so, they were open to frequent invasions from outsiders By 4,000 BCE early farmers had migrated into Mesopotamia: from North Africa, Arabia, and Central Asia To overcome unpredictable flooding they made extensive irrigation projects 4

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The first of many people to settle in the region became known as Sumerians. 5

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Sumerian Government Irrigation projects required cooperation on a grand scale and leadership Farmers banded together in settlements to manage the environment and for protection These settlements became compact cities surrounded by high mud-brick walls These cities were independent from one another, also known as city-states. A city-state is like a very small country, with just one city in it. It is surrounded by farms and fields for animals. 6

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Sumer lasted about 1,300 years (3360 – 2400 BCE ) There was constant warfare between theb city-states and invaders constantly attacked them as well Each city-state controlled an area about 100 square miles There were about 12 major city-states including Ur, Eridu, Lagash, and Uruk Each city-state was ruled by a priest/leader who was the highest political, religious, and military authority 7

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The city-states were often built around religious structures called ziggurats– this showed the close relationship between government and religion The ziggurat became the focal point of these city-states 8

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Ziggurats - stepped towers topped by temples 9

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Ziggurats were the focal point of the city-state . Constructing ziggurats was not easy! People used what they had available: mud and straw. 10

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Religion Pdue to the harsh life geography created people felt totally dependent on the will of the gods Originally, each city-state had its own patron god but later all gods were collected into a hierarchy (a system of ranking) reflecting Sumerian values As male gods became dominant, it led to the strengthening of patriarchy (rule by the eldest male relative) They believed their afterlife was a sad and gloomy place 11

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Connections Between Religion and Government All land belonged to the gods and kings were their representatives Kings and priests held a special place in society Theocracy – rule by gods or priests (religious leaders) By the end of Sumer’s influence, kings were becoming separate from the priest class 12

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Social Classes Kings / priests-held highest level in society Followed by commoners: farmers, artisans, merchants Slaves were at the bottom of the social class structure Role of Women Males were dominant but, Women in Sumer had more rights than in other civilizations Some upper class women were priestesses Some women were landowners and artisans Most women raised children 13

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Writing Cuneiform=oldest writing system Original purpose was economic Used to record lists of crops, goods, receipts and contracts 14

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Cuneiform - first system of writing 15

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Cuneiform tablet with envelope 16

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Writing was reserved for the wealthy classes 17

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Literature Writing systems led to the creation of literature Oldest literature was epic poem The Epic of Gilgamesh Poem relates story of Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, who seeks out survivor of the great flood in the quest of eternal youth= eternal life 18

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Established trade links with Egypt and Harappa (Indus Valley Civilization) Adopted use of silver as means of exchange “Invented” the wheel and pioneered use of carts and chariots Sumerian mathematics were based on 12, 60, and 360 (clock and circle) Sumerian astronomical charts basis for modern astronomy Invented quadratic expressions 19

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A copper statue of a chariot being pulled by four donkeys. It depicts an early form of the wheel, which Sumerians made by pressing two pieces of wood together. Three gold cups from Ur, dating to approximately 2450 B.C.E. The cup on the right belonged to Queen Shubad and may once have contained the poison that killed her. Two fragments of an ancient Mesopotamian clay tablet containing geometry exercises and questions written in cuneiform 20

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The “Gift of the Nile” 22

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Geography Located between the Mediterranean and Red Seas Desert Called “Redlands” Natural barriers protected from invasion Nile River Called “Blacklands” Unlike Mesopotamia, the Nile was serene and predictable The Nile was everything to Egyptians: life and communication 23

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Government Egypt separated into two distinct regions: Upper and Lower Egypt These regions unified by King Menes Leaders were called Pharaoh –means “great house” or “palace” 24

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Founded by King Zoser His power was virtually unlimited Pharaohs were considered the children of the sun god Pharaoh’s chief subordinates were the priests – pharaoh was the chief priest 25

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Egypt eventually divided into 42 provinces administered by a governor Governors reported to the Pharaoh or his chief government official, the Vizier The Old Kingdom was a period of great peace Pharaoh had no standing army – each local area had its own militia. There was little to no slavery Most of the large pyramids were constructed during the Old Kingdom-these huge stone pyramids served as tombs for the leaders. 26

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The pyramids at Giza 27

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Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids were not built with slave labor but by the Egyptian people. How was it done? 28

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Some workers were permanent employees of the pharaoh They may not have been slaves, but they did live a life of hard labor! 29

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The Old Kingdom fell about 2200 BCE WHY? Financial problems due to construction of the pyramids Crop failures Local nobles took power from the central government – warred against each other Civil war allowed the development of private armies and invasion by desert nomads Period of chaos ended with rise of Middle Kingdom around 2050 BCE 30

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Pharaohs power declined, power of nobles increased. Frequent civil wars Ruled through an alliance composed of middle class – were able to keep nobility in check Period of expansion – Nubia conquered Constructed public works versus pyramids (huge irrigation projects, a ship canal between the Mediterranean and Red Seas) 31

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Middle Kingdom considered golden age of Egypt Middle Kingdom possibly fell to revolt by nobles Period of chaos followed Weakened Egypt conquered by Hyksos (a group from Western Asia) 32

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Hyksos gained power through superior weapons: chariots and bronze weapons Egyptians learned from Hyksos – but united as one people to get rid of them Egypt became imperialistic – appetite whetted for war and conquest The large army gathered to destroy the Hyksos used by pharaoh to expand territory Egypt conquered into Libya and Syria Prisoners of war = large slave population 33

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Egyptian Religion Polytheistic Major god: Amon-re (sun); gods represented natural features People were hopeful for life after death Those who proved they were good were granted immortality Elaborate preparations were made to preserve remains for the afterlife The dead appeared before Osiris for judgment based on deeds done on earth – the good had eternal pleasure the bad were destroyed 34

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Amenhotep IV Introduced the idea of monotheism-worship of a single god. Opposition Priests feared loss of their power People feared the wrath of the traditional gods Polytheism was restored when Amenhotep IV died. 35

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The Indus Valley Civilization 36

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Sophisticated urban centers Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the largest city-states City-states traded with Mesopotamia and China The Monsoons-winds that bring rain in the summer; important for survival of crops. 37

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Cities very sophisticated with advanced sewage systems 38

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Harappan writing has not yet been deciphered. The Indus (or Harappan) people used a pictographic script. Some 3500 specimens of this script survive in stamp seals carved in stone. In addition to the pictographic signs they often contain pictures of animals apparently worshipped as sacred. 39

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Harappans worshipped cattle and there is some evidence they worshipped Shiva-one of the major Hindu gods. 41

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Aryans-a group of Indo Europeans spread into northwest India Name means “Noble People” The Vedas-teachings that later became part of Hinduism 42

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Level 1: The Brahmins (priests) Level 2: The Kshatriyas (warriors/nobles) Level 3: The Vaisyas (traders and farmers) Level 4: The Sudras (common laborers) Outcastes: The Untouchables (did the jobs no one else wanted) Social Classes 43

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Decline possibly due to Deterioration of the ecosystem (they overused the land) Migration of nomadic Aryans Political collapse 44

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Geography Region was very Isolation due to geographic features: Himalayas, Pacific Ocean, Gobi Desert Vulnerable northern borders At times open to attack by nomads from north China’s Heartland Huang He (“China’s Sorrow”); Yangtze Farmable land – most of the population lived in this region 46

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Heartland 47

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Government Chinese government was dominated by ruling families. The ruling families were called dynasties. Dynasty=period of time under the rule of a single family Xia Dynasty First rulers? Legends speak of this dynasty, but no written records from that time have been found to confirm this 48

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Shang Dynasty Government Dynasties were based on divine rule or ruled with the approval of the gods. King - head priest lived in and ruled from a capital city, it wasn’t always the same city The government structure became increasingly sophisticated 49

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Writing Early writing consisted of pictographs or symbols The primary purpose was religious-priests would ask questions of the gods and interpret the answers. Questions were asked through the use of Oracle Bones. Questions were carved into the animal bones, the bones were placed into a fire and the cracks of the bones were read by priests as the answers. Earliest known examples of Chinese writing were on Oracle Bones. 50

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The art of Bronze making s ophisticated metal-working skills produced high quality casted bronze vessels and weapons Controlled by skilled craftsmen Used for religious rituals and warfare 51

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Religion “Shang Di” was the supreme god that ruled over the lesser gods of the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, and other natural forces and places. Believed in the afterlife and ancestor worship Elaborate tombs of the Shang royal family are signs of their strong beliefs. 52

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Fall of the Shang The last king of the Shang was a cruel tyrant. Instead of the people overthrowing the king, he was killed by a king from a rival kingdom, the Zhou kingdom. The Zhou dynasty first introduced the "mandate of heaven", or the idea that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right. However, the rulers dethronement would prove he had lost the mandate. This idea explained and justified the fall of the two earlier dynasties and at the same time, supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers. 53

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