An overview of ancient Mesopotamia.
|cuneiform||a writing system developed in Mesopotamia that was primarily used to record economic transactions, but was also used for literature and legal codes|
|Epic of Gilgamesh||one of the world’s first works of literature, this story was written in cuneiform, and various pieces and versions of this story were recorded throughout early Mesopotamian civilization|
|Code of Hammurabi||law code written during the reign of the Hammurabi in Babylon that consisted of 282 laws and punishments for breaking them; the punishments varied depending on the crime and the social status of the people involved.|
|ziggurats||large platforms for Mesopotamian temples dedicated to the gods that people in each city worshiped; these structures required large amounts of resources and coordination to build.|
|empire||a state with control over people with diverse ethnicity, language or culture|
|dynasty||a line of rulers who are members of the same family, often with children succeeding their parent as the ruler|
|c.4000 BCE—c.2330 BCE||Duration of Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia|
|c.3000 BCE||Development of cuneiform writing in Sumer|
|c.2330 BCE—c.2150 BCE||Duration of the Akkadian Empire, the first Mesopotamian empire|
|c.2000 BCE—612 BCE||Duration of the Assyrian Empire|
|1792 BCE—1750 BCE||Reign of Hammurabi in Babylon, during which Code of Hammurabi was created|
|626 BCE—539 BCE||Duration of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which was conquered by Persian leader, Cyrus the Great|
Environment: Many early civilizations appeared in river valleys. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia facilitated successful agriculture by providing a stable source of water. Many cities created irrigation systems, and building these large projects was correlated with having centralized states that could control large amounts of labor and resources.
State building: Agriculture and the development of cities gradually led to the development of states. In many states, rulers solidified their power by claiming divine connections. Religious leaders and monumental architecture, such as ziggurats often reinforced this power structure.
Social structures: Social hierarchies developed along with civilization. Ancient Mesopotamians developed cuneiform writing, which they used to record transactions and also to write out legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi. The ability to record laws made enforcement more consistent for everyone, but also supported hierarchies by basing punishments on social status.
- What environmental factors contributed to the rise of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia?
- How was the emergence of centralized states related to the creation of monumental architecture and other public building projects?
- Did written legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi, do more to maintain or to challenge social hierarchies?
Want to join the conversation?
- in the key dates, why is there a C. before every BCE?(3 votes)
- The "c." stands for "circa", which means "approximately". Historians aren't certain about exact dates. You'll notice that the years become more precise as we get into the Babylonian Empire, which has left us more sources.
See this article for more info on the use of "circa" > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circa(3 votes)
- The code of Hammurabi was a bit harsh... If you didn't follow this law of so and so importance, you lose something of equal importance... In most cases that meant your life. Did all ancient civilizations surrounding Mesopotamian have a code of conduct too, or did they not? If so, were they as fear-inducing as Hammurabi's Code?(0 votes)
- Please don't plagiarize, you copied this question from someone else. Someone else literally asked this up there. :P(2 votes)