Civilizations are complex societies with cities, governments, art, religion, class divisions, and a writing system. Rivers were important b/c they made for good farming conditions. They also made it easy for people to travel and trade



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Section 1-2 Notes

Mesopotamian Civilization




  1. Mesopotamian’s Civilization

  1. Civilizations are complex societies with cities, governments, art, religion, class divisions, and a writing system.

  2. Rivers were important b/c they made for good farming conditions. They also made it easy for people to travel and trade.

  3. Governments were formed b/c someone had to make plans& decisions for the common good.

  4. Mesopotamia is a flat plain bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

  5. Floods in Mesopotamia were frequent & unpredictable. Farmers learned to control the rivers with dams and channels. Rivers were used to irrigate (to water) their crops.

  6. Many cities formed in a southern region of Mesopotamia known as Sumer.

  7. Sumerian cities were city-states, w/their own governments. Sumerian cities often fought each other. City-states built walls around themselves for protection.

  8. Sumerians believed in many gods. Each city-state had a ziggurat, or grand temple, to honor the gods.

  9. Most Sumerians were farmers, but some were artisans (skilled workers). Others were merchants & traders.

  10. Sumerian city-states had 3 classes.

Upper Class- kings, priests, & government officials

Middle Class- artisans, merchants, fishers, & farmers

Lower Class- slaves


  1. A Skilled People

  1. Mesopotamia has been called the cradle of civilization b/c of the influence of Sumerian ideas on other areas

  2. Sumerians developed a writing system called cuneiform. Writing helps people keep records & pass on ideas. Only a few people, called scribes, learned to write.

  3. Epic of Gilgamesh- the oldest known story was produced by the Sumerians.

  4. New technology invented by Sumerians- wagon wheel, the sailboat, and the plow.

  5. Sumerian developed mathematical ideas- geometry, a number system based on 60, & a 12 month calendar.




  1. Sargon & Hammurabi

  1. Sargon, the king of the Akkadians, conquered all of Mesopotamia & set up the world’s 1st empire. An empire is a group of many different lands under one ruler.

  2. After Sargon, another group of people became powerful. They built the city of Babylon on the Euphrates River.

  3. The Babylonian king, Hammurabi, conquered lands north and south of Babylon to create the Babylonian Empire.

  4. Code of Hammurabi was a collection of laws covering crimes, farming, business activities, & marriage and family. Many punishments in the code were cruel, but the code was an important step in the development of a justice system.


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