Ambiguous term often used to denote more complex societies but sometimes used by anthropologists to describe any group of people sharing a set of cultural traits.
They study of past events and changes in the development, transmission, and transformation of cultural practices.
The historical period characterized by the production of tools from stone and other nonmetallic substances. It was followed in some places by the Bronze Age and more generally by the Iron Age.
Socially transmitted patterns of action and expression. Also includes arts, beliefs, knowledge and technology.
The period of the Stone Age associated with the evolution of humans.
The period of the Stone Age associated with the Agricultural Revolution.
People who support themselves by hunting wild animals and gathering wild edible plants and insects.
The change from food gathering to food production that occurred between 8000 and 2000 BCE. Also known as the Neolithic Revolution.
Grain-like crop grown for it's edible seeds.
Type of domestic cattle originating in South Asia.
A Palestinian City located near the Jordan River, described in the New Testament as the "City of Palm Trees".
A very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date.
Structures and complexes of very large stones constructed for ceremonial and religious purposes in Neolithic times.
The people who dominated southern Mesopotamia through the end of the third millennium BCE. They were responsible for the creation of many fundamental elements of Mesopotamian culture, such as irrigation technology, cuneiform, and religious conceptions.
Family of related languages long spoken across parts of western Asia and northern Africa. In antiquity these languages included Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician. The most widespread modern member of this family is Arabic.
The largest and most important city in Mesopotamia. It achieved particular eminence as the capital of the Amorite king Hammurabi in the eighteenth century BCE and the king Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century BCE.
Amorite ruler of Babylon. He conquered many city-states in southern and northern Mesopotamia and is best known for a code of laws, inscribed on a black stone pillar, illustrating the principles to be used in legal cases.
Was the predominant term for a King in general. Also meant ruler or head of.
A system of writing in which wedge-shaped symbols represented words or syllables. It originated in Mesopotamia and was used initially for Sumerian and Akkadian but later was adapted to represent other languages of western Asia. Because so many symbols had to be learned, literacy was confined to a relatively small group of administrations and scribes.
A massive pyramidal stepped tower made of mud bricks. It is associated with religious complexes in ancient Mesopotamian cities, but its function is unknown.
Small charm meant to protect the bearer from evil. Found frequently in archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia and Egypt, amulets reflect the religious practices of the common people.
An alloy of copper with a small amount of tin. It is harder and more durable than copper alone. The demand for this helped create long distance networks of trade.
The central figure in the ancient Egyptian state. Believed to be an earthly manifestation of the gods, he used his absolute power to maintain the safety and prosperity of Egypt.
Egyptian term for the concept of divinely created and maintained order in the universe. Reflecting the ancient Egyptians belief in an essentially beneficent world, the divine ruler was the earthly guarantor of this order.
Large, triangular stone monument, used in Egypt and Nubia as a burial place for the king.
Capital city of Egypt and home of the ruling dynasties during the Middle and New Kingdoms. Amon, patron diety of this city, became one of the chief gods of Egypt. Monarchs buried across the river in the valley of the kings.
The capitol of Old Kingdom Egypt, near the head of the Nile Delta. Early rulers were interred in the nearby pyramids.
System of writing in which pictorial symbols represented sounds, syllables, or concepts. It was used for official and monumental inscriptions in ancient Egypt. Cursive symbol-forms were developed for rapid composition on other media, such as papyrus.
A reed that grows along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. From it was produced a coarse, paper-like writing medium used by the Egyptians and many other peoples in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East.
A body preserved by chemical processes or special natural circumstances, often in the belief that the deceased will need it again in the afterlife. In ancient Egypt the bodies of people who could afford this underwent a complex process of removing organs, filling body cavities, dehydrating the corpse with natron, and then wrapping the body with linen bandages and enclosing it in a wooden sarcophagus.
Site of one of the great cities of the Indus Valley civilization of the third millennium BCE. It was located on the north-west frontier of the zone of cultivation, and it may have been a center for the acquisition of raw materials, such as metals and precious stones, from Afghanistan and Iran.
One of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the worlds earliest major urban centers. Translated as the Mound of the Dead.
A fine, light silt deposited by wind and water. It constitutes the fertile soil of the Yellow River Valley in northern China. Because this soil is not compacted, it can be worked with a simple digging stick, but it leaves the region vulnerable to devastating earthquakes.
The dominant people in the earliest Chinese dynasty for which we have written records. Ancestor worship, divination by means of oracle bones, and the use of bronze vessels for ritual purposes were major elements of this culture.
The capital of Shang.
The people and dynasty that took over the dominant position in north China from the Shang and created the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule. This Era, particularly the vigorous early period, was remembered in Chinese tradition as a time of prosperity and benevolent rule.
Mandate of Heaven
Chinese religious and political ideology developed by the Zhou, according to which it was the prerogative of Heaven, the chief deity, to grant power to the ruler of China and to take away that power if the ruler failed to conduct himself justly and in the best interests of his subjects.
Western name for the Chinese philosopher Kongzi. His doctrine of duty and public service had a great influence on subsequent Chinese thought and served as a code of conduct for government officials.
Chinese school of thought originating in the Warring States Period with Laozi. It offered an alternative to the Cunfucian emphasis on hierarchy and duty. People following this believe that the world is always changing and is devoid of absolute morality or meaning. They accept the world as they find it, avoid futile struggles, and deviate as little as possible from the path of nature.
In Chinese belief, complementary factors that help to maintain the equilibrium of the world. One is associated with masculine, light and active qualities, and the other is associated with feminine, dark, and passive qualities.
An Egyptian name for Nubia, the region alongside the Nile river south of Egypt, where an indigenous kingdom with its own distinctive institutions and cultural traditions arose beginning in the early second millennium BCE. It was deeply influenced by Egyptian culture and at times under the control of Egypt, which coveted its rich deposits of gold and luxury products from sub-Saharan Africa carried up the Nile corridor.
Capitol of a flourishing kingdom in southern Nubia from the fourth century BCE to the fourth century CE. In this period Nubian culture shows more independence from Egypt and the influence of sub-Saharan Africa.
Peoples sharing a common language and culture that originated in Central Europe in the first half of the first millennium B.C.E.. After 500 B.C.E. they spread as far as Anatolia in the east, Spain and the British Isles in the west, and later were overtaken by Roman conquest and Germanic invasions. Their descendants survive on the western fringe of Europe.
The first Mesoamerican civilization. Between ca. 1200 and 400 B.C.E., the people of this civilization of central Mexico created a vibrant civilization that included intensive agriculture, wide-ranging trade, ceremonial centers, and monumental construction. This place had great cultural influence on later Mesoamerican societies, passing on artistic styles, religious imagery, sophisticated astronomical observation for the construction of calendars, and a ritual ball game.
This place is a pre-Columbian archaeological site of the Olmec civilization located in the present-day Mexican state of Tabasco.
A Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the south-central Gulf Lowlands of Mexico in the Papaloapan River plain. Referred to as the third major capital of the Olmec.
Earliest major center of the Olmec civilization.
The first major urban civilization in South America (900-250 B.C.E.). Its capital, Chavín de Huántar, was located high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This place became politically and economically dominant in a densely populated region that included two distinct ecological zones, the Peruvian coastal plain and the Andean foothills.
A hoofed animal indigenous to the Andes Mountains in South America. It was the only domesticated beast of burden in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans. It provided meat and wool. The use of these animals to transport goods made possible specialized production and trade among people living in different ecological zones and fostered the integration of these zones by Chavín and later Andean states.
City located in present-day Tunisia, founded by Phoenicians ca. 800 B.C.E. It became a major commercial center and naval power in the western Mediterranean until defeated by Rome in the third century B.C.E.
Historians' term for the period during which iron was the primary metal for tools and weapons. The advent of iron technology began at different times in different parts of the world.
The largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq.
A people from central Anatolia who established an empire in Anatolia and Syria in the Late Bronze Age. With wealth from the trade in metals and military power based on chariot forces, these people vied with New Kingdom Egypt for control of Syria-Palestine before falling to unidentified attackers ca. 1200 B.C.E.
Queen of Egypt (r. 1473-1458 B.C.E.). She dispatched a naval expedition down the Red Sea to Punt (possibly northeast Sudan or Eretria), the faraway source of myrrh. There is evidence of opposition to a woman as ruler, and after her death her name and image were frequently defaced.
Egyptian pharaoh (r. 1353-1335 B.C.E.). He built a new capital at Amarna, fostered a new style of naturalistic art, and created a religious revolution by imposing worship of the sun-disk. The Amarna letters, largely from his reign, preserve official correspondence with subjects and neighbors.
A long-lived ruler of New Kingdom Egypt (r. 1290-1224 B.C.E.). He reached an accommodation with the Hittites of Anatolia after a standoff in battle at Kadesh in Syria. He built on a grand scale throughout Egypt.
Prosperous civilization on the Aegean island of Crete in the second millennium B.C.E. The Minoans engaged in far-flung commerce around the Mediterranean and exerted powerful cultural influences on the early Greeks. (p. 88) mit'a Andean labor system based on shared obligations to help kinsmen and work on behalf of the ruler and religious organizations.
Currently refers to the main Bronze Age archaeological site at Heraklion, a modern port city on the north central coast of Crete.
A fortified palace complex in southern Greece that controlled a Late Bronze Age kingdom. In Homer's epic poems this place was the base of King Agamemnon, who commanded the Greeks besieging Troy.
A term used for the burial sites of elite members of Mycenaean Greek society in the mid-second millennium B.C.E. At the bottom of deep shafts lined with stone slabs, the bodies were laid out along with gold and bronze jewelry, implements, weapons, and masks.
A set of syllabic symbols, derived from the writing system of Minoan Crete, used in the Mycenaean palaces of the Late Bronze Age to write an early form of Greek. It was used primarily for palace records, and the surviving of these tablets provide substantial information about the economic organization of Mycenaean society and tantalizing clues about political, social, and religious institutions.
An empire extending from western Iran to Syria-Palestine, conquered by the Assyrians of northern Mesopotamia between the tenth and seventh centuries B.C.E. They used force and terror and exploited the wealth and labor of their subjects. They also preserved and continued the cultural and scientific developments of Mesopotamian civilization.
The forcible removal and relocation of large numbers of people or entire populations. The mass deportations practiced by the Assyrian and Persian Empires were meant as a terrifying warning of the consequences of rebellion. They also brought skilled and unskilled labor to the imperial center.
In antiquity, the land between the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, occupied by the Israelites from the early second millennium B.C.E. The modern state of this place was founded in 1948.
A collection of sacred books containing diverse materials concerning the origins, experiences, beliefs, and practices of the Israelites. Most of the extant text was compiled by members of the priestly class in the fifth century B.C.E. and reflects the concerns and views of this group.
Belief in the existence of a single divine entity. Some scholars cite the devotion of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten to Aten (sun-disk) and his suppression of traditional gods as the earliest instance. The Israelite worship of Yahweh developed into an exclusive belief in one god, and this concept passed into Christianity and Islam.
Greek word meaning "dispersal, used to describe the communities of a given ethnic group living outside their homeland. Jews, for example, spread from Israel to western Asia and Mediterranean lands in antiquity and today can be found throughout the world.
Semitic-speaking Canaanites living on the coast of modern Lebanon and Syria in the first millennium B.C.E. From major cities such as Tyre and Sidon, merchants and sailors explored the Mediterranean, engaged in widespread commerce, and founded Carthage and other colonies in the western Mediterranean.
Walled enclosures where thousands of small, sealed urns containing the burned bones of children lay buried. In Carthage and other western Phoenician towns.
Was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia.
Under the Chaldaeans (nomadic kinship groups that settled in southern Mesopotamia in the early first millennium B.C.E.), Babylon again became a major political and cultural center in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. After participating in the destruction of Assyrian power, the monarchs Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar took over the southern portion of the Assyrian domains. By destroying the First Temple in Jerusalem and deporting part of the population, they initiated the Diaspora of the Jews.