"Mesopotamia" means "the land between the rivers" or "the land between two rivers." Ancient Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the present-day Middle Eastern country ofIraq
THE SUMERIAN CITY-STATE
Sumerians established the world's first civilization around 3500 B.C. Mesopotamia has hot dry climate and seasonal flooding. The farmers learned to control the flooding rivers and produce many different kinds of fruit and vegetable crops in that fertile land. As a result, a stable food supply existed, and the Sumerian villages evolved into self-governing city-states like Ur, Uruk, Babylon, Khorsabad…
At the centre of each city-state was a temple surrounded by courts and public buildings. Then there were houses, different according to the wealth or importance of the people. The city-state also included the fertile farming land outside the city wall. There wasn't any building stone and very little timber in Sumer, so the people constructed their homes, public buildings, and city walls out of sun-dried mud brick.
Many times city-states would war with each other because boundary disputes existed. Sometimes a city-state would attack a neighbouring city-state just to prove its strength.
The ziggurat (temple-tower), made of mud bricks, housed each city-state's patron god or goddess. Only priests were permitted inside the ziggurat; as a result, they were very powerful members of Sumerian society.
As the Sumerian city-states' wealth increased, government officials realized that an efficient method of keeping records had to be developed. Sumerian cuneiform emerged as the world's first writing system. The term cuneiform means "wedge-shaped." due to the shape of the reed pen, or stylus, that was used. The Sumerians wrote on clay tablets that would either be dried in the sun or fired in kilns to make the writing permanent.
Cuneiform was learned in Sumerian schools called edubbas, or tablet houses. Only a select group of boys were able to attend Sumerian schools. The boys were usually sons of the very wealthy.
Once a student successfully completed twelve years of schooling, he was an official scribe, or writer. This was a prestigious position in Sumerian society. Scribes were very valuable in order to maintain and improve the record keeping.
In early Sumerian history, priests were also the kings of the city-states. Gilgamesh was one of the most heroic priest-kings of this time. He was the priest-king of Uruk. The oldest written story in the world describes Gilgamesh's legendary deeds. In the story, Gilgamesh is characterized as being both human and divine.
Sargon I was from Akkad located in the north of Mesopotamia. When the power of the Sumerian city-states began to collapse due to their constant battling, Sargon I attacked the southern region of Mesopotamia with his armies. After conquering all the Sumerian city-states, Sargon I united them with Akkad, and created the world's first empire.
HAMMURABI OF BABYLON
Sargon I ruled Mesopotamia for approximately fifty years. When he died, the empire crumbled. The individual city-states again rose to power.
About 1800 B.C., the Amorites migrated to Mesopotamia and constructed their own city-states. One of the city-states built was named Babylon, and it was ruled by a king named Hammurabi. As Hammurabi rose to power, he began conquering the city-states of Mesopotamia.
He too, began uniting the city-states, but he was much more successful than Sargon I because he made many new reforms that improved society. For example, he improved the irrigation system, tax system... He also united the people under one religion, but the reform for which Hammurabi became renowned was his code of law. (p. 146). Hammurabi of Babylon was a great ruler; the time he reigned is called the "Golden Age of Babylon".
The ancient Sumerians created the world's first civilization where people settled together in one area known as the city-state. This is why it is the "cradle of civilization."
Another contribution is the Sumerians' creation of a writing system. Other inventions include the water clock, the twelve-month calendar based on lunar cycles, the wheel, the plough, and the sailboat. All these inventions improved the daily life of the Sumerians.
1. SAME/DIFFERENT ASSOCIATIONS - Read each pair of words. If the terms are related, place a (S) on the blank line. If the terms are unrelated, place a (D) on the blank line.
_____SARGON I-CODE OF LAW
2. +/- ASSOCIATIONS - Read each pair of words. If the terms are related, place a (+) on the blank line. If the terms are unrelated, place a (-) on the blank line.
3. CLOSE-ENDED SORTS - Read each group of words, draw a line through the word that does not belong in the group.
EDUBBA, FARMER, CUNEIFORM, SCRIBE
IRRIGATE, CANALS, LEVEES, ZIGGURAT
STYLUS, EMPIRE, SARGON I, AKKAD
BABYLON, MESOPOTAMIA, UR, URUK
WHEEL, PLOW, PAPYRUS, SAILBOAT
LAW, DANCE, IRRIGATION, TAXES
4. CATEGORY SORTS - Group the following terms into the appropriate categories: EDUCATION, RELIGION, and EMPIRES.
5. TERMS: Sargon I, ziggurat, priest, Gilgamesh, scribe, Akkad, armies, Hammurabi, edubba, cuneiform, god, stylus.
THE __________ AND __________ ARE TWIN RIVERS THAT BEGIN IN THE MOUNTAINS OF TURKEY. TODAY, THE LAND BETWEEN THE RIVERS IS KNOWN AS __________. IN ANCIENT TIMES, IT WAS CALLED ________________.
THE PEOPLE WHO SETTLED IN SOUTHERN MESOPOTAMIA AROUND 3500 B.C. WERE CALLED THE _______________. THEIR AREA OF MESOPOTAMIA WAS CALLED ______________.
HOW DID THE SUMERIANS BUILD THEIR HOUSES AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS?
DESCRIBE THE MAKE-UP OF A SUMERIAN CITY-STATE.
AT THE CENTER OF EACH SUMERIAN CITY-STATE WAS A TEMPLE, CALLED A ________________.
WHO ATTENDED SCHOOLS IN SUMER?
WHAT WERE THE SCHOOLS IN SUMER CALLED?
WHAT TYPE OF WRITING DID THE SUMERIANS USE?
WHAT INSTRUMENT DID THE SUMERIANS USE TO PRODUCE THEIR WRITING?
WHY WAS A SCRIBE AN IMPORTANT POSITION IN SUMERIAN SOCIETY?
WHO WAS SARGON I, AND WHAT SIGNIFICANT ROLE DID HE PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF MESOPOTAMIA?
LIST FOUR REFORMS, OR IMPROVEMENTS, THAT HAMMURABI CARRIED OUT IN MESOPOTAMIA.
WHAT WAS HAMMURABI'S MOST FAMOUS REFORM?
WHY IS MESOPOTAMIA CALLED “THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION”?
WHAT WERE THE MANY THINGS THAT THE SUMERIANS INVENTED THAT HELPED IMPROVE THEIR WELL-BEING?
SAME/DIFFERENT ASSOCIATIONS - Print a (S) on the blank line if the terms are related. Print a (D) on the blank line if the terms are unrelated.
CLOSE-ENDED SORTS. Draw a line through the term that does not belong to the group.
MULTIPLE CHOICE - Read each statement carefully. Decide what answer best completes the statement. Circle the letter of the correct answer.
WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS NOT A CHARACTERISTIC OF CIVILIZATION?
GOVERNMENTS OF MESOPOTAMIA CENTERED AROUND THE _________.
MESOPOTAMIA, LAND OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN CIVILIZATION, WAS INHABITED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE CALLED THE _____________.
WHAT WERE SUMERIAN BUILDINGS MADE OF?
B. ANIMAL HIDES
C. MUD BRICK
WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMERIAN CONTRIBUTION TO MODERN SOCIETY?
B. SPEAR THROWER
TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin in eastern Turkey, flow in a southeast direction, converge in southeast Iraq, and empty in the Persian Gulf. In ancient times, the land between the twin rivers was called Mesopotamia which was the site of the world's first civilization.
Mesopotamia means "the land between the rivers" or "the land between the two rivers." This was the site of the world's first civilization, Sumer.
CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
Mesopotamia is often referred to as the "cradle of civilization" because the world's first civilization occurred there.
Sumer was the world's first civilization. It was located in the southern area of Mesopotamia where the twin rivers converged. The people who lived in this area were called Sumerians.
In order to control the destructive seasonal flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the ancient Sumerians constructed levees, or raised areas of earth, in order to hold back the floodwaters.
The ancient Sumerians irrigated, or watered, their crops by using a system of irrigation canals. By devising such a irrigation system, the ancient Sumerians were able to successfully establish a permanent civilization.
The ancient Sumerians organized themselves into competing city-states. A Sumerian city-state consisted of the city, the surrounding mud brick wall, and the surrounding farmland.
The ziggurat was a temple. It was located in the center of each Sumerian city-state. It housed the city-state's patron god. The term ziggurat means "mountain of god" or "hill of heaven." Since the ziggurat was a sacred place, only priests could enter it.
The ancient Sumerians created the world's first writing system known as cuneiform. The term cuneiform means "wedge-shaped." Sumerian writing is wedge-shaped because of the the type of instrument that was used to create it.
The ancient Sumerians used a stylus to write. A stylus is a wedge-shaped instrument made out of reed. The Sumerians wrote on wet clay tablets with a stylus.
An edubba is a Sumerian school where young boys learned reading, writing, and arithmetic.
After graduating from a Sumerian school, a young man became a scribe, or a writer.
In early ancient Sumerian history, the powerful priests were also the kings of the city-states.
Gilgamesh is one of ancient Mesopotamia's most legendary historical figures. He was a heroical priest-king from the Sumerian city-state of Uruk.
An empire is a collection of kingdoms under the power of one powerful ruler.
Around 2300 B.C., Sargon I created the world's first empire in the area of ancient Mesopotamia. Since he was from the northern reaches of Mesopotamia known as Akkad, the world's first empire was Akkadian.
HAMMURABI OF BABYLON
About 1800 B.C., the Amorites moved into Mesopotamia. They established their own city-states, and Hammurabi was the king of Babylon. He conquered the Akkadians and ruled all of Mesopotamia. His reign is often described as the "Golden Age of Babylon"because he established many new reforms.