McDougal-Littell World History: Patterns in Interaction

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Chapter 2

Sargon

A conquerer who defeated the city-states of Sumer. His conquests helped to spread the Sumerian culture even farther (beyond the Tigris-Euphrates Valley). He created the world's first empire, lasting for about another 200 years before it declined due to internal fighting, invasions, and famine.

Hammurabi

A ruler of Babylon who recognized that a single, uniform code of laws would unify the diverse groups within his empire. As a result, he collected existing rules, judgments, and laws into a Code named for him (which was engraved into stone). Although the code applied for everyone, it set different punishments for the rich and poor and for men and women.

Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains many tales, one including a flood story that is similar to Noah and the Ark.

Herodotus

A Greek historian who remarked that Egypt was the "gift of the Nile".

Sumerians

People in the Fertile Crescent who, like many other peoples, believed that many different gods controlled the various forces in nature. Built impressive ziggurats to keep the gods pleased and offered rich sacrifices of animals, food, and wine. They worked hard to earn the gods' protection in life but expected little help of them after death. Social class affected the lives of both men and women. Historians believe that they invented the wheel, the sail, the plow, and were among the first of any civilization to use bronze. Also developed a number system, arches, columns, ramps, the pyramid design for ziggurats, and cuneiform.

Babylonians

Empire established after nomadic warriors known as Amorites invaded Mesopotamia. Once the Sumerians had been defeated, the Amorites established their capital at Babylon.

Egyptians

Lived along the Nile from the mouth well into the interior of Africa. River travel was common and the Nile provided a reliable system of transportation trade between its Upper and Lower kingdoms. Ruled by pharaohs, who were worshipped as gods. Invented a calender, priests observed stars, and calculated the number of days between one rising of the star and the next (365). They also developed a system of writing.

Hyksos

People of present-day Israel who ruled much of Egypt from 1630 to 1523 B.C.

Harappans

Indus valley people whose most remarkable achievement was their sophisticated city planning, the capital city being a good example. Early engineers also created sophisticated plumbing systems. The civilization was mainly based on agriculture. They developed a written language (impossible to decipher) and most likely a theocracy. Trade thrived with the peoples in the region with the major help of the Indus River. Their cities gradually fell into decay.

Shang Dynasty

Lasted from around 1700 B.C. to 1027 B.C. and was the first family of Chinese rulers to leave written records. Kings built elaborate palaces and tombs. Surrounded their cities with massive walls because their people were constantly at war. Family was central to their society and the most important virtue was respect for one's parents. There was also a large division between nobles and peasants. Also developed a writing system composed of characters where each character stood for a syllable.

Zhou Dynasty

Overthrew the Shang in 1027 BC and established a dynasty. Rulers were chosen in accordance to the mandate of heaven and feudalism was established as the political and economic structure. Produced many innovations including roads, canals, coinage, blast furnaces, cast iron, and new tools. Gradually weakened, and the monarch was eventually killed along with his power (771 B.C.).

Fertile Crescent

An arc of land that provided some of the best farming in Southwest Asia. It includes the lands facing the Mediterranean Sea and a plain that became known as Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia

A plain within the Fertile Crescent and is framed by two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is where one of the first river-valley civilizations developed.

City-State

Each city and the surrounding land it controlled.

Dynasty

A series of rulers from a single family.

Cultural Diffusion

The process in which a new idea or product spreads from one culture to another.

Polytheism

The belief in more than one god.

Empire

Brings together several peoples, nations, or previously independent states under the control of one ruler.

Delta

A broad, marshy, area of land formed by deposits of silt at the mouth of a river.

Pharaoh

An Egyptian god-king.

Theocracy

The type of government where rule is based on religious authority.

Pyramid

An immense structure that served as the resting place after death for kings of the Old Kingdom.

Mummification

The process of preserving bodies by embalming and drying corpses to prevent it from decaying.

Hieroglyphics

A more flexible writing system where the pictures or symbols served as both ideas and sounds.

Papyrus

A better surface for writing that was made of reeds which grew in the marshy delta.

Monsoon

Seasonal winds.

Loess

Large, yellow silt deposits from the Huang He that also serve as fertile soil.

Oracle Bone

Animal bones and tortoise shells on which priests scratched questions for the gods.

Mandate of Heaven

Divine approval (for a king to rule).

Dynastic Cycle

The pattern of rise, decline, and replacement of dynasties.

Feudalism

A political system in which nobles, or lords, are granted the use of lands that legally belong the to king. In return the nobles owe loyalty and military service to the king and protection to the people who live on their estates.

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