Chapter 3: River Valley Civilizations Nile Valley and Indus Valley



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Chapter 3: River Valley Civilizations

  • Nile Valley and Indus Valley

  • Developed civilization or learned ideas from Mesopotamia?

  • Each civilization has a distinct pattern that is different from the one in Mesopotamia

  • Nile state more important than cities

  • Lack of evidence leaves questions about Indus valley civilization

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Nile naturally irrigated cropland with predictable, annual flooding

  • River also facilitated man-made irrigation systems

  • Adjacent deserts protected Egypt from invasion

  • Waterfalls hindered invasion from the south

  • Stability meant long-term indigenous government

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Earliest Egypt: Before the Kings

  • Agriculture sustained life

  • Grasses ground into food, 12,000 B.C.E.

  • Seeds ground into flour, 6000 B.C.E.

  • Saharan drought led to more Nile settlement

  • String of villages along Nile by 3600 B.C.E.

  • Walled towns emerged by 3300 B.C.E., along with evidence of social stratification

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • The Written Record

  • Writing emerged at same time as in Sumer

  • Writing based on system of hieroglyphics written on papyrus

  • Writing used for business and government to 2400 B.C.E.

  • Emergence of literature aided reconstruction of Egyptian history and culture

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Unification and the Rule of Kings

  • 3100 B.C.E unification established unified Egypt from peoples who came to the Nile and melded into a single ethnicity

  • Menes often seen as first king, but there is support for kings 200 years earlier

  • Kings came to be seen as divine

  • Kings balanced nature and invited Nile to flood

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Gods, Unification of Egypt and the Afterlife

  • Osiris = order (ma’at) and virtue

  • Seth = disorder and evil

  • Isis, sister/wife of Osiris, defeated Seth’s plot to destroy Osiris

  • Seth cut Osiris into fourteen pieces and scattered him across Egypt

  • Isis’s collection of pieces symbolizes unification of Egypt

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Gods, Unification of Egypt and the Afterlife (cont.)

  • Isis conceived son Horus with a briefly-revivified Osiris

  • Horus defeated Seth in battle and made father Osiris divine and in charge of underworld

  • Horus was first Egyptian god to be worshipped nationally

  • Belief in afterlife led to practice of mummification

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Cities of the Dead

  • Design tombs (mastabas) for prominent Egyptians

  • Early burials concentrated in Abydos and Saqqara as early as 3100 B.C.E.

  • Women generally lower status but burial inscription of Ankhesenpepi II was rare honor

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • The Growth of Cities

  • Egypt had no independent city-states

  • Egyptians lived in network of riverbank villages interspersed with larger towns that may have become administrative cities (nomes)

  • Transition occurred around 3300 BCE.

  • Development of Hierakonpolis illustrates this trend: spread out rather than compact, it still served as an administrative center

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • The Growth of Cities (cont.)

  • Supplemental irrigation systems during drought may have triggered unification

  • Development of man-made irrigation projects a staple feature of Egypt for next 2,000 years

  • Religion, administration, and irrigation were keys to city development

  • Did cities have walls? This would be a measure of the success of unification

The Gift of the Nile

  • The Growth of Cities (cont.)

  • Recent excavations suggest presence of walls

  • Larger cities were political capitals--Memphis in the north and Thebes in the south

  • City-village network supported population increase from 1.5 to 2.5 million in 1550-1200 B.C.E. period

  • Egypt also had trade cities to deal with rest of world

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Pyramids and Fortresses

  • Transition from mastaba to pyramids began in Third Dynasty (2649-2575 B.C.E.)

  • Large pyramids of Khufu, Khefren, and Menkaure in Fourth Dynasty (2575-2465 B.C.E.)

  • Pyramids reflected Egyptian strength in era

  • Power extended to fortress at first cataract of the Nile

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • The Disintegration of the Old Kingdom

  • Old Kingdom fell in 2181 B.C.E., due likely to period of drought and famine

  • Increased power of nome leaders (nomarchs) reflected decline

  • Nomarchs collected and kept local taxes and raised armies

  • Era after Old Kingdom decline known as First Intermediate Period

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Rise and Fall of the Middle Kingdom

  • Middle Kingdom (2950-1750 B.C.E.) established by Mentuhotpe of Thebes

  • Trade revival based on caravans and ships

  • Fine art revival includes “Autobiography of Si-nuhe”

  • Administrative reform extended Egyptian power

  • Ended with invasions of Nubians and Hyksos

Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

  • Akhetaten, Capital City of King Akhenaten

  • Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaten

  • Developed monotheistic worship of Aten and made himself mediator between gods and people

  • Moved capital 200 miles north of Thebes to be free of traditional religious leaders

  • City destroyed after Akhenaten died; former religious traditions were restored

Indus Valley and Its Mysteries

  • Roots of the Indus Valley Civilization

  • Unknown until mid-19th century discovery

  • Excavations revealed two cities: Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

  • Site predates appearance of Aryans in India by 1,500 years

  • Harappa seen as an innovation, not a copy of Sumer

  • Limited writing hinders knowledge of Harappa

Indus Valley and Its Mysteries

  • Design/Construction of Well-planned Cities

  • Crafts and the Arts

  • Reflected trade connections over broad area

  • First use of cotton

  • No written texts to explain meaning of wide range of artifacts

Indus Valley and Its Mysteries

  • Design/Construction of Well-planned Cities

  • Carefully Planned Cities

  • 1,000 known Harappan sites by 2500 B.C.E.

  • Identical city layout for Harappa and Hohenjo-Daro

  • Extensive public baths

  • Homes with toilets connected to sewer system

  • Regular plan suggests organization & bureaucracy

  • No monumental buildings

  • No evidence of social stratification

Indus Valley and Its Mysteries

  • Design/Construction of Well-planned Cities

  • Questions of Interpretation

  • Artifacts suggest equality, efficiency, and public conveniences but also little change over time

  • Sign of successful or stagnant civilization

  • No apparent central city

  • Can’t read language to answer questions

  • How did it move east to lay basis for successor, Aryan civilization of Ganges River?

Indus Valley and Its Mysteries

  • Legacies of the Harappan Civilization

  • Was succeed by and blended with the Aryan civilization

  • Aryans have extensive literary legacy but virtually no artifacts

  • Four Legacies

  • Some Harappan practices adopted by Aryans

  • Aryans learned farming from Harappans

  • Image of Harappan god similar to Aryan Shiva

  • Caste system used to control Harappans?

Cities of the Nile and Indus

  • What Difference Do They Make?

  • Underscore diversity of type of city

  • City created the state and formed its values

  • Shows significance of archaeology in uncovering the forgotten past



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