Chapter 2: From Village Community to City-State Introduction



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Chapter 2: From Village Community to City-State

  • Introduction

  • Transition to settled communities began about 10,000 B.C.E.

  • Why change? Appealing theory points to population pressure

  • Villages promoted agricultural productivity as well as cultural creativity

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Agricultural Village

  • First villages appeared in “Fertile Crescent”

  • Based on domestication of plants and animals

  • Included peas, lentils, goats in Fertile Crescent

  • Different regions of world focused on other species

  • Era of villages labeled Neolithic or New Stone Age

  • Farming required a different toolkit

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Agricultural Village

  • Tools needed for cutting, grinding, chopping, etc.

  • Pottery developed for storage

  • Variation of pottery design and decoration is one way to identify the people who occupied early villages

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The First Cities

  • Appeared on sites of early villages

  • Were the result of innovation rather than diffusion of techniques from distant cities

  • Appeared in seven separate places around the world

  • Mesopotamia site of earliest city

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The First Cities

  • Cities transformed human life with innovations

  • Irrigation and walls

  • New transportation modes (wheel)

  • Metallurgy (led to era known as the Bronze Age)

  • New ideas for administering daily life (bureaucracy)

  • Armies and diplomats

  • In short: specialized organizations, centralized state, and a powerful army

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The First Cities

  • Record keeping, a major development for historians, led to written records

  • Cities became and remain a basic feature of human life

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • Sumer: The Birth of the City

  • Sumerians migrated to Mesopotamia

  • Were not the first people to live in area

  • Earlier settlers (Ubaids) pioneered irrigation

  • Sumerians made better canals and, over time, gained control of area with better techniques

  • Sumerian cities were conquered by Akkadians under Sargon (2350 B.C.E)

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Introduction

  • Physical size larger than villages

  • City populations reached from 5,000 to 40,000

  • Sumer region included 500,000 people, with eighty percent living in cities by 2500 B.C.E

  • Size of population and extent of irrigation canal system led to government controls

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Religion: The Priesthood and the City

  • Religious leaders strongly supported city leaders

  • Priests built imposing temples--ziggurats--to reflect their power and impress the population

  • Size of temple community within city was large with Lagash group, numbering 1,200 people

  • Rituals reaffirmed power with public ceremonies

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Religion: The Priesthood and the City

  • Religion conferred divine power on king

  • Royal burials were major pageants that included displays of wealth and reverence
  • Commoners were buried in small vaults in basements of houses or in public cemeteries

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Occupational Specialization and Class Structure

  • Arts and Invention

  • Artisans made a broad range of goods including cylinder seals for stamping clay tablets and sealing jars
  • Astronomers created an accurate calendar
  • Gang labor created canal systems
  • Developed potter’s wheel and wagon wheels for transport
  • Artisans created bronze for tools, weapons and decoration

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Trade and Markets

  • Sumer had food but few raw materials such as wood, stone, and metal

  • Traded as far as Indus River for ivory and ceramics

  • Women made cheese, bread, and ale from commodities sold in local markets

  • Trade and work of artisans suggest specialization and a division of labor

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Monumental Architecture and Adornment

  • Sumerians took pride in size and beauty of city and its monuments

  • Pride is reflected in the introduction to Gilgamesh

  • Artwork such as bas reliefs reinforced the power of leaders and the history of the city

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Writing

  • Invented by Sumerians

  • Scribes used pictograms by 3300 B.C.E. which were simplified into a system of cuneiform that presented simplified versions of the earlier pictures

  • Use of writing expanded from records to personal communication including literature

  • Written directives enabled governments to extend their power

2. From Village Community
7to City-State

  • The Growth of the City-State

  • Achievements in Literature and Law

  • Epic of Gilgamesh is the most famous example of Sumerian literature

  • Code of Hammurabi of Babylonian king shows importance of legal codes and the issues that most concerned people

  • Efforts to contrast urban life with idealized rural, agricultural life cannot be supported because of lack of evidence

2. From Village Community
to City-State

  • The First Cities: What Difference Do They Make?

  • Cities facilitated important accomplishments including population increase, economic growth, organized life, new technologies, legal codes, and literature

  • Not all cities succeeded

  • Cities raised new questions of appropriate size and how best to achieve the good life




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