The easy availability of writing materials encouraged the Egyptians to create a national literature.
It was used for religious purposes, for example, tales about the gods and books of rituals and spells to aid the passage of the soul to the afterworld.
The Egyptians produced no heroic masterpiece like the Sumerian epics.
They excelled in the scope and quantity of their work.
The areas of fields, the volumes of shapes, and the properties of pyramids are explained in surviving texts.
The invention of a solar calendar by the Egyptians was a major contribution.
They added five "free" days at the end of the year.
The solution of keeping the months in step with the seasons was the most successful yet.
Basic principles are still used in the calendar.
The birth of civilization in the middle east "weeks" of ten days each and each day into twenty-four hours was divided into three c hapter 1.
Sundials were invented to tell the hours of the day.
They had no interest in a general science of the skies, despite recording the daily rising of certain stars.
Some writers claim that the Egyptians were the originators of scientific medicine.
They didn't know anything about germs or infections, and the "demonic" theory of sickness prevailed in Egypt as well.
Along with magic formulas and exorcists were trained physicians and surgeons.
The Egyptians wrote books about diseases and established medical libraries and schools.
The Egyptian practice of mummification is believed to have contributed to the superiority of their medical techniques.
The internal organs of the deceased were removed prior to the embalming process.
The Egyptians were pioneers in technology.
The growing wealth of their civilization led to the creation of ways to improve water transportation along the Nile.
They began building larger boats by fastening wooden plank together to make the hull.
To propel the heavy craft upstream by 3100 b.c.
They were the first known people to harness the power of the wind to benefit themselves.
The Egyptians adapted these sailboats to travel the open sea to the Mediterranean's eastern shoreline, which was a source of timber and other valuable products.
It was the first time that the Mediterranean would be used to link the Middle East with less advanced peoples in the north and west.
The fact that their god-king must have a stone tomb as a final resting place was the main inspiration.
The structures that come to mind when we think of Egypt are the giant royal pyramids.
The character of that ancient civilization is summed up by the masterpieces of practical engineering and social discipline.
They were built by a group of people who believed that their ways would last forever.
The four-sided, pointed design of a pyramid was the most stable and resistant structural form they could come up with.
King Khufu built the largest of the pyramids.
The marble on the sides of the pyramid was stripped away in the Middle Ages to make way for the mosques and palaces of Cairo.
The Great Sphinx is a monument carved for another king.
The enormous head of this man-beast, cut from the cliff of the valley wall, rises 66 feet from its base.
The primary architectural con cern of Egyptian priests and worshipers were religious shrines.
The "post-and-lintel" method supported Temple buildings with horizontal beams held up by columns.
The method was used by Mesopotamian architects, but it was not practical for their structures, which were made of brick.
The method was suitable for stone structures and Egyptian builders had easy access to huge supplies of stone.
The temple of Amon was built around 1530 b.c.
The largest religious building ever constructed covered a ground area of 1,220 feet by 340 feet and enclosed a space large enough to hold four Gothic cathedrals that were built more than 2,500 years later in Europe.
The main hall's roof was made of 134 columns, each made of stone drums and 70 feet high.
The huge proportions of Karnak make them feel insignificant.
The aim of each kind of building was fulfilled by the work of sculptors and painters.
They worked on the interiors of royal and noble tombs.
Stone statues of the individual and members of the household were usually placed within the tomb because they were believed to contribute to the welfare of the soul of the dead.
Scenes of Egyptian life were painted on the walls of the tomb.
The way people and objects look to the eye was not naturalistic.
The portraits had to be made according to the rules.
The figures were placed so that they could be seen from the front.
wigs and beards were usually treated in a stylized manner, with the left foot placed forward.
We have learned a lot about Egyptian civilization from the tomb paintings.
Artists were free to arrange their compositions as they thought best within the assigned space, and there was no attempt to provide perspective or depth in these pictures.
Some scenes might be laid out on a line parallel to the base line of the picture frame and some on a line parallel to the base line.
The king was always shown as the largest person in a frame, but individual figures could be drawn to different scales.
The governing principle of Egyptian painting was that a representation must reflect established knowledge of the object and must be shown from an angle that best reveals that knowledge.
The face is always shown in profile, except for the eye, which is shown as it appears frontally.
The New Kingdom's wealth and power made this building large.
The Hypostyle Hall is a gigantic porchlike structure leading from the temple's outer courtyard to a series of inner shrines where the actual worship took place.
The priests were about to perform the rituals of the god.
King Menkaure and his Queen were born in 2500 b.c.
The queen has her arm around her husband in a typical pose in Egyptian statues of married couples.
The king's pose, with arms at his sides, fists clenched, and left foot forward, was typical of Egyptian male statues for thousands of years.
The purpose of these strict rules was to make sure that painting fulfilled the religious and magical purposes of Egyptian art.
By depicting the various parts of a human body from different angles, the artist could make a person most fully present on a two-dimensional surface, even if the whole body was not seen, as it would be in real life.
The Egyptian painters developed techniques of line, design, and color that were very effective.
The artistic creations of the Egyptians, including jewelry, metal, and glass, became admired models for the ancient world.
This was the resting place of an official during the New Kingdom who was important enough to lie in a cemetery near the tombs of the pharaohs.
The smaller pictures at right are hieroglyphs.
According to Egyptian belief, the picture and words would bring about what they depicted and described, so they were intended to remain dark and unread.
The First Universal Empires: Assyria and Persia opened in the Middle East around 1200 b.c.
From the eastern Mediterranean to the shores of the Indian Ocean, the brilliant civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia had spread.
The international civilized world has gone through a crisis.
It was weakened by internal conflicts, less advanced peoples attacked it from the north and south, and old established kingdoms were swept away.
The civilized world recovered from the crisis, but it was different than before.
The use of iron and alphabetic writing is one of the basic features of future civilizations.
Trade and travel were controlled by networks of flourishing commercial city-states.
The new skills and international contacts helped make it possible for conquering peoples to build universal empires that could rule all of the civilized world.
There were times when one empire fell and another came to take its place.
The idea was that it was normal for the world to have a single ruler.
This was an idea that would last a long time.
The invaders arrived by land and sea from the Aegean region and other parts of the Mediterranean.
The invaders were perhaps displaced by overpopulation and war among the barbarian peoples of Europe.
The newcomers were well armed and desperate, and from Asia Minor they spread havoc in Syria and Palestine.
They attacked Egypt, where they were known as the "Sea Peoples".
The Kassite kings of Mesopotamia were overthrown by civilized eastern neighbors who were not strong enough to replace them as rulers of that entire region.
Two of the great powers of the civilized world were destroyed, and the third, Egypt, was weakened by rivalry between the pharaohs and the priests.
In Mesopotamia, new groups of Semitic nomads appeared out of the desert, and took advantage of the collapse of Kassite rule to overrun much of the region.
The decline and decay of civilization in Asia Minor was caused by the disruption of the trade in metals and the invasions of nomadic peoples from farther north.
World-changing advances in technical skills were brought about by invasions and the disruption of trade.
The nomadic warriors who attacked Asia Minor brought with them a new way of exploiting the speed and strength of the horse in battle: instead of using it to pull chariots, their archers and spearmen rode on its back.
This was an advance that horrified civilized people until they adopted it themselves.
The metalworkers in the devastated lands of Asia Minor were short of imported tin that they needed to make bronze, so they began to use iron.
It was more plentiful than copper and tin, but it was hard to smelt and work, so it had never been popular.
Forced by necessity, the bronzesmiths started to experiment with improved processes for smelting iron, as well as hardening and toughening it, until they ended with a metal that was superior to bronze and available in far larger quantities.
Tools and weapons from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age were advanced out of the chaos wreaked by the Sea Peoples.
In the Middle East, the Aramaean nomads adapted to the civilized ways of Mesopotamia.
They established a network of prosperous city-states that dominated land trade in the Middle East after the collapse of the great powers.
The Phoenicians lived by seaborne trade with Egypt for many centuries, and they seem to have been subject to the pharaohs.
C hapter 1 is the birth of civilization in the middle east independent city-states, using the forests in the coastal mountains as the last word in two thousand years of progress in shipbuilding.
The Phoenician ships had stout internal timber frameworks to strengthen their hull against wind and wave.
The merchant vessels were escorted by purposebuilt seagoing warships that were propelled by sail but also by crews of oarsmen, sitting in two rows one above the other, to provide speed and maneuverability.
In battle, they sank enemy vessels with bronze-tipped rams projecting from their bows.
Phoenician merchants traveled throughout the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic in search of timber, metal, and slaves.
The spread of civilization to the less advanced nations of Mediterranean Europe was led by the Phoenicians.
Both the Aramaeans and the Phoeni cians were involved in the transmission of the new alphabet.
The trast was developed to several hundred.
The Middle developed the porary writing system as an improvement on Egyptian hieroglyphs.
For centuries earlier.
The Romans then the Greeks.
All the alphabets used in the West are derived from the Greek version at the present time, whether Greek, Latin, or which has remained standard Cyrillic.
The civilized world once again stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Aegean, and in many ways it was more advanced than it had been before the crisis.
The time was ripe for new great powers to arise, who would not merely compete with each other as the Egyptians, Hittites, and Kassites had done, but each of which would seek to unite the civilized world under its rule.
Their location exposed them to frequent attacks by nomadic tribes to the north and east as well as by civilized states to the south and west.
As they defended their lands, they grew into tough soldiers.
The trade routes between western Asia and the Mediterranean were to be controlled by the Assyrians.
They began to think of the larger object of a universal empire as they gradually accomplished this aim.
One of their rulers would say, "I am the legitimate king of the world."
The rise of the universal empire began after 900 b.c.
The Assyrians took over the southern portion of Asia Minor, as well as Syria, Phoenicia, and part of the Israelite territories in Palestine.
The territories of southern Mesopotamia were added to their possessions by 700 b.c.
During the turbulent period of conquests, insurrections, and frontier wars, the Assyrians faced the task of holding a widespread empire together.
They were defeated by a rebellion of their old enemies, the Chaldeans, aided by the Medes.
There is an attack from the east.
The high-walled capital of Nineveh was burned in 612 b.c.
The Assyrian nation sank into obscurity after most of their army and royal family were wiped out.
The Assyrians were brought to their knees by the way they were ruled.
Assyrian power began with armed force and terror.
The first military state was Assyria.
All adult males were subject to military service, commanders were rewarded with the best lands and the highest honors, and war was the main business of the kingdom.
The Assyrians were the most advanced people in the arts of weaponry and military tactics.
Their army was a mixed force that did not rely on chariots alone but on the combined striking power of chariots, light infantry, and massed heavy infantry.
The Assyrians used the new horse-riding cavalry and the first battering rams and siege towers to break down the defenses of cities.
As the nation's manpower was reduced by its wars, the imperial masters relied on drafted or hired troops from the subject peoples.
Most of the Middle East was conquered by the rulers and armies of Assyria and Babylonia.
The rise and fall of other world conquerors, the Persians and later the Greeks, were prepared by the collapse of both empires.
They pursued a policy of deliberate terror to compensate.
They boasted of their inhuman practices, which included skinning and killing bodies, torturing, impaling, burning alive, and displaying stacks of human skulls.
The Assyrians were the most feared people of the ancient world because of the propaganda of the deed.
They were destroyed by the storm of hatred they had aroused.
The Assyrian kings succeeded in bringing together the largest collection of peoples ever united up to that time.
The first truly imperial government was this one.
Assyrian nobles were appointed as governors of conquered lands.
In return for regular payments, some of the "tribute states" were allowed to keep their own rulers.
Defenders are impaled on tall stakes behind the siege tower.
The invention of the cannon continued to be used by armies for two thousand years.
The Assyrians made few original contributions.
As heirs to the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, they played a vital role in preserving it and sending it to future generations.
The Assyrian ruler Assurbanirpal established the world's first great library about 650 b.c.
When it was excavated in the 19th century a.d., it contained twenty thousand tablets with texts in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, and provided the key to present-day knowledge of Mesopotamian writing, history, and culture.
The people of the Middle East returned to their own ways after the fall of Assyria.
The rebirth of industry and the arts was stimulated by the liberation of Babylonia.
The king of the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar II, reached out to destroy the kingdom of Judah in Palestine.
The power of the "Neo-Babylonian empire" was short-lived and fell to the Persians.
The peoples of the east of Mesopotamia were related to the peoples of the west of Europe.
The natural environment was very different from the Mesopotamian heartland.
The western part of a c hapter 1 was formed by media and Persia.
The region was rich in metals and farmers were able to exploit underground water sources.
As the wealth and population of the Medes and Persians grew, the rulers became sophisticated enough to take an interest in Mesopotamian civilization and intervene in the power politics of their western neighbors.
After the Assyrians were defeated, the Persian king, Cyrus, moved to take over all of the surrounding lands.
He defeated the king of the Medes.
Cyrus sought the support of the Medes for his further ambitions.
The Greeks used the names "Persians" or "Medes" to describe their powerful eastern neighbors.
Cyrus showed that he meant to reject the Assyrian way of taking power.
He sought to win over his opponents by treating them fairly.
Persian rule was quickly accepted.
Cyrus was in control of the Middle East within twenty years after his victory over the Medes.
The Assyrian effort was similar to the second attempt at political unification.
The style of monarchy practiced in Mesopotamia for hundreds of years was the same as it was in the Persian absolute ruler.
He was identified with divine will and justice, but not as a god like the Egyptian pharaohs.
He was dressed in purple cloth and was sitting on a gold and blue throne.
Ordinary mortals were required to lie face down before him, and his royal word was an unquestioned command.
The Persian army and civil servants were ready to take over the throne.
The military forces were similar to those of the Assyrians in their organization and weaponry.
Large supporting forces, including fleets of warships, were drawn from the conquered populations.
The moderate nature of Persian rule made these forces loyal.
The empire rarely engaged in offensive wars and insurrections by the conquered peoples.
The state did not develop a militaristic character.
The monarchs preferred to use their resources on public buildings, roads, and services.
Unlike the Assyrian rulers, they advertised their peaceful accomplishments.
The Persian Empire was larger than any other empire in the Middle East.
From their homeland on the border between the Middle East and the rest of Asia, the Persians moved west to conquer most of the civilized world that had grown up in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean.
In central and southern Asia, they moved north and east.
The satrap ruled with a light hand under the guiding principles of restraint and tolerance after the king placed a nobleman in charge of each province.
Local customs, language, and religion were left alone as taxes and military supplies were rigorously collected.
The satraps were supervised by the "king's eyes," who were appointed by the monarchs as a further measure of administrative control.
An excellent road network made it easier for the "king's eyes" to work.
The Jews broke away from the polytheism of the peoples of the Middle East in religion.
The ancient beliefs and superstitions of the Persian people were transformed into a faith in one God, the author of good and evil, by the religious thinker Zoroaster.
The world was the scene of two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda, god of goodness and light, and Angra Mainyu, demon of evil and darkness.
The birth of civilization in the middle east would be raised to enjoy eternal bliss at the end of time.
The Savior would appear at the last days to prepare the way for the Final Judgment.
The Avesta, the Persian holy book, contained all this.
Zoroastrianism condemned pride, lust, and avarice and praised truthfulness, love, and the "Golden Rule" (treat others as you would want them to treat you).
Conduct during life determines whether a person's soul goes to heaven or hell.
All people would be saved by Ahura Mazda's goodness, unlike the later Christian damnation.
The religion of Zoro aster was spread to all the peoples of the Middle East after the conquest of the Persians in the sixth century b.c.
It had an influence on the Jews for a long time.
Babylonians learned how to calculate and predict eclipses of the moon after being encouraged by the Persians to advance their knowledge of the heavens.
Persian art and architecture were mostly based on existing styles and techniques.
The most magnificent example was the royal palace at Persepolis, which was a combination of elements from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece.
For purposes of administration and government, the Persians used the Aramaic language and alphabet, which was standard for commerce throughout the Middle East.
The Persian development of coinage was good for trade.
Payment for goods used to be made in kind or with bars of precious metal.
Coins were invented by the Lydians of Asia Minor in the seventh century B.C.
The Persian Empire lasted for two centuries, but fell in its turn due to some of the same reasons that later empires, like that of Rome, also fell.
Human aggressiveness and corruption were some of the issues it had to contend with.
It was weakened by internal conflicts among the Persians.
Alexander the Great brought down the failing empire in a brilliant military campaign in 330 b.c.
The standard for a successful world state was set by the Persian Empire.
The civilized Middle East of Persia's time had grown into an economic and cultural unit, and the empire's subjects showed a longing for unity, peace, and the freedom of movement and ideas that unity permits.
The Persian Empire allowed the subject peoples to maintain their own identities.
The Persian Empire was the culmination of three thousand years of civilization in the Middle East.
The rise of a new kind of religious in 2000 B.C.
was the most lasting change that took place in the new world of the Middle East after 1200 b.c.
The new belief involved more than the question of how many divine beings were to be worshiped.
The one God was thought of as eternal, almighty, all-knowing, the creator of the whole universe, infinitely good, pure spirit yet somehow masculine.
He allowed an evil power to gain control over the human race.
He would save those humans who obeyed him, but at the end of the day, he would send a mighty Savior to destroy the evil power and all who served it.
Humans must accept the truth that the gods and goddesses were evil beings and not the one God.
Even though God was beyond human knowledge and understanding, he spoke to them through angels, prophets, and authoritative books, and religious leaders who acted as guides to understanding and obeying his will.
It took time for the ideas to come together and form a single belief, as several Middle Eastern peoples were involved in developing them.
After his death, the Egyptian pharaoh had worshiped a single divine power that ruled the whole universe, though his innovations had been rejected.
The Persians saw the world as a place of struggle between good and evil.
The features of monotheism were developed from the beliefs and practices of the Jews and their experiences of victory and defeat in the Middle East.
Semitic emigrants from Egypt were among the settlers, according to their traditions, which said that they had already existed for many generations.
According to these traditions, they originated in Mesopotamia.
They went to Palestine as a small nomadic clan headed by their forefather, Abraham.
After famine forced them to move to Egypt, they grew to be many people.
One of the pharaohs had begun to distrust and oppress them, but a great prophet had arisen to lead them out of Egypt, thus allowing them to return to Palestine.
The emigrant group from Egypt were identified by most of the other settlers in Palestine.
The group's name was adopted as the "children of Israel," the "Israelites," or just "Israel."
They began to worship the group's god.
The beliefs of the people of Israel may have been influenced by Egyptian and Mesopotamian ideas, but it's clear that they were unique among the gods and goddesses of the Middle East.
Many Egyptian deities were hidden, veiling their true being in mystery, and only Yahweh was so deeply hidden that he could not even be depicted.
The name Israel was taken by Abraham's grandson Jacob, according to tradition.
It was the most common name for the people who claimed descent from him.
The name "Jews" came into use after that date.
Today, the name "Hebrew" is used to refer to the people of Israel, who were around 500 b.c.
Only Yahweh's requirements were so detailed and specific that they came to be the status of laws.
It wasn't unusual for Mesopotamian peoples to have special loyalty to a god or goddess who was the rival or enemy of other deities.
He forbade his people to worship other deities because he wasjealous.
While the deities of all peoples promised benefits in return for obeying, only Yahweh had bound himself by specific covenants with Abraham, Moses, and others, promising the Israelites favor and protection as his Chosen People so long as they gave him their exclusive allegiance.
Many or most of the early Israelites did not give him the exclusive allegiance that he wanted.
David and Solomon combined the worship of Yahweh with that of the traditional gods and goddesses of Palestine.
After the settlement of Israel in Palestine about 1200 b.c., his chosen messengersstruggled for the people's soul against the gods and goddesses.
In the course of this struggle, he showed himself to be even more grand than before.
Instead of forbidding his people to worship other gods and goddesses, he declared that they were "abominable beings" and that no real deity existed beside himself.
He was the creator and ruler of the universe and not just the powerful protector of Israel.
Jewish monotheism began to take shape in this way.
The triumph of the prophets was not only due to the new monotheis tic belief in Yahweh, but also to the disasters of Israel from 1200 b.c.