Chapter 2 -- Part 1: Complex Societies in Southwest Asia and the Nile
Men wearing long Persian robes and lacing ankle boots are carrying spears, bows, and quivers in this colorful decorative frieze.
The material in the palace of KingDarius I of Persia in Susa was used to build the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Humans were living in most parts of the planet five thousand years ago.
They designed technologies to meet the challenges presented by deep forests and jungles.
They adapted to the changing climate by building boats to cross channels created by melting glaciers and finding new sources of food.
In some places, the new sources included domesticated plants and animals, which allowed people to live in close proximity to one another.
Larger groups of people pooled their knowledge to deal with life's challenges, but it also created problems.
Human history can be seen as a response to opportunities, challenges, and conflicts.
People continued to develop technologies and systems to deal with new issues as small villages grew into cities.
Governments, militaries, and taxation systems were created to control their societies.
Writing was invented to record taxes, inventories, and payments in some places.
The first places where these new technologies and systems were introduced were the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys of southwest Asia and the Nile Valley of northeast Africa.
The remains of buildings, burial sites, weapons, tools, artwork, and other handmade objects provide the only evidence of how people lived, thought, felt, and died during most of the human past.
A new technology, writing, was developed by people in some parts of the world.
Writing met the needs of the state during the time covered in this chapter.
Many of the same types of physical evidence are used by historians who study societies without writing.
For some cultures, the writing or record-keeping systems have not yet been deciphered, so our knowledge of these people is dependent on physical evidence.
The writing of many societies can be read by scholars.
Most ancient writing is copied and recopied after it is first produced.
The survival of a work means that someone from a later period judged it to be worthy of the time, effort, and resources needed to produce copies.
It is possible that the copies are not completely accurate.
Historians try to find as many early copies as they can and compare them to the original to arrive at a version that is closest to the original.
The works that are considered worthy of copying are those that are about the political and military events involving major powers, those that record religious traditions, and those that come from authors who were later regarded as important.
Writing sources dealing with the daily life of ordinary men and women were rarely saved or copied because they were not significant.
In this letter from a city in Anatolia, located on the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent in what is now southern Turkey, a Mesopotamian merchant complains to his brother at home that life is hard and comments on the trade in silver, gold, tin.
Correspondents often enclosed letters in clay envelopes and sealed them by rolling a cylinder seal across the clay, just as you might use a stamped wax seal today.
The sender's seal at the bottom shows a person being led in a procession toward a king or god.
Some early written texts survive in their original form because people inscribed them in stone, shells, bone, or other hard materials, intending them to be permanent.
Laws, religious proclamations, decree, and treaties were included in the inscriptions on the stones that were put in the open for all to see.
In ancient Mesopotamia, all writing was made up of soft clay tablets, which hardened after a while.
Writing in Egypt at the same time was done in ink on papyrus sheets, made from a plant that grows in Egypt.
In China, the oldest surviving writing is on bones and turtle shells from 1200 B.C.E., but it is clear that writing was done earlier on less permanent materials such as silk and bamboo.
Along with writing, the growth of cities has been a way that scholars mark the increasing complexity of human societies.
In the ancient world, residents of cities generally viewed themselves as more advanced and sophisticated than rural folk.
Entire societies were depicted as either civilized or uncivilized.
Civilizations had cities, laws that governed human relationships, and codes of manners and social conduct that regulated how people were to behave.
The only societies that were judged to be civilizations were those that used writing.
Historians used to refer to the earliest places where writing and cities developed as the "cradles of civilization", suggesting a model of development for all humanity patterned on that of an individual person.
The idea that a new form of human society appeared 5,000 years ago has not been rejected.
Cities had more elaborate mechanisms to make them work than small agricultural villages did.
Political scientists call the state an organization in which a share of the population is able to force resources out of everyone else in order to gain and maintain power.
Even in democracies, states can force people to do things they don't want to do with the threat of imprisonment or other punishment, even though they were and are established.
Using armed force to gain resources is not very efficient, so states have come up with other ways to do this.
States need to keep track of people and goods, so they sometimes developed systems of recording information and accounting through writing.
These systems allowed for the creation of more elaborate rules of behavior, often written down in the form of law codes, which allowed for further growth in state power, or in the form of religious traditions, which specified what sort of behavior is pleasing to the gods or other supernatural forces.
More elaborate social hierarchies are created by written laws and traditions, in which divisions between elite groups and common people are established more firmly.
Men are more likely to establish laws and norms that favor them in marriage, property rights, and other areas when they gain power in a state.
In the fourth millennium B.C.E., we can either call the process the birth of civilization or the development of complex society.
Neolithic agricultural villages expanded into cities that relied on food from the surrounding countryside while people living in cities carried out other tasks.
The organization of a more complex division of labor was done by an elite group that enforced its will through laws, taxes, and bureaucracy.
Social and gender hierarchies became more complex.
In Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India and China, this happened.
States first developed in Mesopotamia, where large populations, a division of labor, and the growth of cities were achieved.
These societies were developed by priests and rulers.
The Fertile Crescent was where settled agriculture first developed.
The earliest agricultural villages in Mesopotamia were located in the northern part of the river valleys.
The techniques of crop raising were brought to the southern part of Mesopotamia by farmers around 5000 B.C.E.
Farmers in this arid climate developed large-scale irrigation in order to allow the population to grow.
Over the next thousand years, other cities came and went, but they all had the same goal: to prevent floods.
These cities built defensive walls, marketplaces, and large public buildings to dominate the surrounding countryside and become city-states.
Irrigation systems that required cooperation and at least some level of social and political cohesion were relied on by the city-states of Sumer.
The authority to run this system was assumed by the Sumerian priests.
Encouraged and directed by their religious leaders, people built temples on tall platforms in the center of their cities.
There were elaborate complexes of buildings with storage space for grain and other products.
The houses of ordinary citizens were built around a central courtyard around the temple and other large buildings.
Between 2000 B.C.E.
and 2002 B.C.E., this small clay tablet was carved.
She is wearing a hat that suggests she is playing for wealthy people.
Music was an important part of Mesopotamian culture and social life, as evidenced by the images of musicians found in Mesopotamian art.
Polytheism is a religious idea that was used to control the world by many different gods and goddesses.
The sun, moon, water, and storms were represented by each deity.
Humans who lied or cheated would be punished by the gods.
Humans were created to serve the gods and were expected to be treated well by the gods if they honored them through rituals and temples.
It's not clear how kings emerged in Sumerian society.
During times of crisis, scholars suggest that a chief priest or military leader assumed temporary authority over the city.
He established an army, trained it, and led it into battle.
When temporary power became permanent, kings in some Sumerian citystates began to hand down the kingship to their sons, establishing patriarchal hereditary dynasties in which power was handed down through the male line.
Through marriage, Kings formed alliances with other powerful individuals.
Royal family members were in charge of many aspects of government.
The power of the kings was dependent on their connections with the gods and the military might of the kings.
Royal children were often priests and priestesses in major temples.
In Sumerian cities, priests, nobles, and kings used force, persuasion, and threats of higher taxes to maintain order, keep the irrigation systems working, and keep food and other goods flowing.
Free men and women who were dependent on the palace or the temple worked on the lands held by the king and nobles.
In return for their labor, they received crops and other goods.
The land they worked remained in the possession of the palace or the temple.
Some people paid taxes in the form of agricultural products or items they made on land they owned.
Slaves were at the bottom of society.
Slaves were a source of physical power for their owners, giving them an opportunity to accumulate more wealth and influence.
The experiences of both men and women were different for each of the social categories.
Women who held positions as priestesses or as queens ran their own estates independently of their husbands and fathers.
Some women took care of their own businesses.
They could give their property to their children.
Although a daughter received her inheritance in the form of a dowry, which technically remained hers but was managed by her husband or husband's family after marriage, sons and daughters inherit from their parents.
The basic social, economic, and intellectual patterns of Mesopotamia were established by the Sumerians.
People in southwest Asia used clay token as a counter for record keeping in the ninth millennium B.C.E.
By the fourth millennium, people realized that impressing the token on soft clay or drawing pictures of the token on clay was simpler than making them.
The earliest examples of the Sumerian form of writing known as(kyou-NEE-uh-form) are from about 3200 B.C.E.
The term refers to the marks made by a stylus.
The development of ideograms made writing more versatile because they represented ideas.
Scribes started using signs to represent sounds.
The symbol for "water" could be used to indicate "in", which sounded the same as the spoken word for "water" in Sumerian.
The development of the Sumerian system of writing was gradual.
Scribal schools were established by the Sumerians because of the complicated system.
The purpose ofcribal schools was to produce individuals who could keep records of the property of temple officials, kings, and nobles.
Writing was the first way to enhance the power of elites.
Some of the clay tablets written by the Sumerians show multiplication and division problems.
We derive our division of hours into sixty minutes and sixty seconds from the numerical system used by the Sumerians and later Mesopotamians.
The concept of place value is that the value of a number depends on where it is in relation to other numbers.
The religious practices of most of the other peoples in this region were not influenced by written texts.
People traveled with stories about the gods when they moved up and down the rivers.
An oral or written narration of the achievements and failures of heroes that embodies people's ideas about themselves.
Many cultures have a human desire to escape death.
The stories were told in the third millennium B.C.E.
The tradition says that Gilgamesh was the king of the city of Uruk.
In the story, Gilgamesh is not fulfilling his duties as the king and sets out with his friend Enkidu to perform feats against fearsome agents of the gods.
The gods decided that Enkidu must die after they killed several supernatural beings.
He sees his own death in a dream.
The earth said I was standing in between them.
The young man's face was obscured.
His face looked like that of a bird.
He had the paws of a lion and the claws of an eagle.
He used great force against me.
He took me to the dark house of Erkalla's god.
Those who stay in the house are deprived of light.
He is determined to become an eternal being.
The only humans who have eternal life are Ut-napishtim and his wife.
The hunted mule was a leopard of open country.
He had a worm in his nose.
My friend's words weigh on me.
Death is inevitable because the gods made you like your father and mother.
Man is cut down by savage death.
Brothers divide it according to inheritance.
When the river rises and floods, there is hostility in the land.
The great gods assembled and Mammitum created fate with them.
They decided on death and life.
They did not mark out days for death.
The story of how they survived a flood is told by Ut-napishtim.
Ut-napishtim gives Gilgamesh two opportunities to achieve it, but he fails both of them.
One square mile is city, one square mile is orchards, and one square mile is claypits.
Permission was granted by Oxford University Press.
The conquerors from the north were attracted to the wealth of the Sumerian cities.
The world's first permanent army was created when the king of a region to the north of Sumer conquered a number of Sumerian cities.
The city of Akkad was the symbol of his triumph.
The breadbasket of the empire was the Akkadian empire, which was expanded eastward to northern Syria.
He encouraged trading networks to bring in goods from as far away as South Asia and Turkey.
One of the languages that scholars identify as belonging to the Semitic language family, which includes modern-day Hebrew and Arabic, is the Sumerians.
The diplomatic language used over a wide area was Akkadian.
The map shows the spread of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures through the Fertile Crescent.
The sons of the rulers of the Sumerian cities were appointed to help cement their father's power.
She became the world's first author to put her name to a book when she wrote a number of hymns here, which is why she is known as the world's first author to put her name to a book.
One of the city-states that rose to power was centered on the city of Babylon.
It was fortunate that the ruler of Hammurabi (hahm-moo-RAH-bee) was able to control trade on both the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Initially a typical king of his era, he unified Mesopotamia later in his reign by using military force, strategic alliances with the rulers of smaller territories, and religious ideas.
The will of the gods was linked to Hammurabi's success.
He encouraged the spread of myths that explained how Marduk, the god of law and justice, was elected king of the gods by the other deities in Mesopotamia.
Babylonian ideas and beliefs became part of the cultural mixture of Mesopotamia, which spread far beyond the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Harappan cities of the Indus River Valley.
King Naram-Sin climbed a mountain above his soldiers and defeated enemies on this victory.
Naram-Sin, the god-king in a horned helmet, was twice the size of the other men under his rule.
The most memorable accomplishment of Hammurabi was the declaration of physical punishment.
Babylonian king Hammurabi issued a decree to regulate many aspects of life.
The code was ordered to be set up in public throughout the Babylonian empire.
At the top of the pillar is a depiction of Hammurabi receiving a ring of authority from Shamash, the god of law and justice.
We don't know if its laws were enforced, but we can use it to see what was important to people in Hammurabi's society.
The code dealt with agriculture because of its importance.
Tenants were fined for neglecting the land or not working it at all.
The code required artisans to guarantee the quality of their goods and services to consumers.
Marriage and the family were given careful attention by Hammurabi.
Marriage had some aspects of a business agreement.
If this was acceptable, the groom or his father would give the father of the bride a gift, and the bride's father would give her a gift.
The code required the courts to forgive a son for his first offense if his father disinherits him.
Other law codes were influenced by Hammurabi's code on family matters and other issues.
A unified state under a single ruler grew in the valley of the Nile River in North Africa at the same time that Sumerian city-states expanded and fought with one another.
For a long time, Egypt was prosperous and secure.
Groups invaded and conquered Egypt to seek better lives.
When they established an empire and engaged in trade, Egyptians also carried their traditions with them.
No other geographical factor had such a profound and fertile soil.
Through the fertility of the Nile and their own hard work, Egyptians produced an annual agricultural surplus which in turn sustained a growing and prosperous population.
Easy communication was promoted by the Nile highway.
The Nile was linked to the political power structures in Egypt.
The rise was seen as a descendant of the go come about before the development details of its origins have been lost.
The stone tomb of the king in his afterlife was in the great pyramiKingdom.
The Egyptians combined Amon and Ra into one sun-god, Amon-Ra, as his cult grew.
The Egyptians had a different view of an afterlife that reflected the world around them.
The walls of the king's tombs were carved with religious texts that helped him ascend to heaven.
The god Osiris, who died each year and was brought back to life by his wife Isis, was told in these texts that the soul left the body to become part of the divine after death.
Osiris weighed dead humans' hearts to determine if they deserved to live.
Proper funeral rituals, in which the physical body is mummified, were essential for life after death, so Osiris was assisted by the jackal-headed god of mummification.
Justice and order were embodied by the king to ancient Egyptians.
Kings did not always live up to the ideal.
In each period a strong warrior-king came to restore order and expand Egyptian power.
The earliest written texts about the gods in Mesopotamia and Egypt can be found in poems and incantations.
The sources are examples of such works.
Your divinity shines in the sky.
Your torch illuminates the corners of heaven.
Each one of the men and women's daily status hangs down before you as they form a row for you.
Before Utu, your many people passed before you for their inspection.
You hold everything in your hand, no one can give you a hand on your divine powers.
No one can walk before you.
The god of the heavens is in the holy resting-place.
A man is addressing the deities.
The Old Babylonian period ended in 1600 B.C.E.
Every land has been filled with the beauty of the art that rose on the eastern horizon.
Every meadow, the rays suckle.
They grow for thee when they rise.
They may like the heat.
It is necessary to see all that is made.
Thou madest millions of forms of himself alone, as he rose in his form as the living Aton, Appearing, shining, withdrawing or approaching.
He has been made well versed in his plans.
The alabaster palace at Tell elAmarna has carved reliefs.
Enheduana was a member of the ruling dynasty of Akkad, and the kings of Egypt were Unas and Akhenaton.
The University of California Press published it.
The book is in the format Book via Copyright Clearance Center.
The pyramids were reflected in Egyptian society.
The pharaoh relied on a group of people to administer his kingdom.
All of them were assisted by people who used a writing system that may have been adapted from Mesopotamia.
Scribes in Egypt created two writing systems, one for engraving religious or political texts on stone and the other for writing on papyrus made from reeds in the Nile Delta.
The cities of the Nile Valley were home to many different types of people.
The broad base of the social pyramid was made up of a large group of farmers.
The Nile was an essential part of daily life for Egyptians.
Farmers worked on the pharaoh's building programs and other tasks away from their fields during the flooding season.
When the water began to fall, they diverted some of it into ponds for future irrigation and began planting wheat and barley using plows pulled by oxen or people.
Farmers planted and tended crops from October to February.
In Mesopotamia, common people paid their obligations to their superiors in labor and products.
People's labor obligations in the Old Kingdom may have included forced work on the pyramids and canals, although recent research suggests that most people who built the pyramids were paid for their work.
The army of the pharaoh was both a fighting force and a labor corps.
The lives of all Egyptians were centered around the family.
In Mesopotamia, marriage was a business arrangement.
The marriage was arranged by the couple's parents at a young age.
When couples were married, having children, especially sons, was a high priority, as indicated by surviving charms to promote fertility and prayers for successful childbirth.
Only boys could perform the proper burial rites for their father.
The majority of Egyptian men had one wife, but some had several.
Ordinary women were expected to obey their fathers, husbands, and other men, but they had considerable economic and legal rights.
They could testify in court and own land in their own names.
Ordinary husbands and wives enjoy each other's company in a world depicted in literature and art.
The tomb of the Egyptian official Inherkau, who lived and worked during the reign of Ramesses III, has a painting of him and his wife receiving offerings from their two sons.
The sidelock of youth is a long braided lock of hair common in Egyptian paintings of children that indicates the child was an heir to the god Osiris.
Those who worked on the tombs at Thebes were paid for their work in grain, fish, vegetables, water, wood, and lived in a town nearby with their families.
Along with the construction of the royal tombs, they made and sold furniture and funerary equipment such as coffins, boxes, statuary, and pottery.
Evidence about marriage, divorce, land transfers, inheritance, and religious life can be found in written records on papyrus and limestone.
The reign of Ramesses III saw several strikes by workers for more regular pay, as corrupt officials sometimes were slow in paying workers.
Many craftsmen and officials built their own underground tombs near Thebes, with burial chambers with vaulted ceilings and wall decorations.
Inherkau's richly decorated burial chamber has many scenes depicting gods, the afterlife, mythological events, and the deceased and his family engaged in everyday or religious activities.
The New Kingdom spread the practices of tomb building and showing children with the "sidelock of youth" that began in the Old Kingdom.
Various groups migrated throughout the Fertile Crescent and accommodated themselves to local cultures while Egyptian civilization flourished in the Nile Valley.
Some settled in the Nile Delta.
Although they were later portrayed as a conquering horde, the Hyksos were actually migrants looking for good land, and their entry into the delta, which began around 1800 B.C.E., was probably gradual and peaceful.
The newcomers worshiped Egyptian deities and modeled their political structures after the Egyptians.
The rise and fall of empires in the eastern Mediterranean were shaped by internal developments, military conflicts, and the migration of peoples to new areas.