Chapter 1: From the Origins of Agriculture to the First River-Valley Civilizations, 8000--1500 B.C.E.

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civilization

An 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. (p. 6)

culture

Socially transmitted patterns of action and expression. Material culture refers to physical objects, such as dwellings, clothing, tools, and crafts. Culture also includes arts, beliefs, knowledge, and technology. (p. 6)

history

The study of past events and changes in the development, transmission, and transformation of cultural practices. (p. 6)

Stone Age

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. (p. 6)

Paleolithic

The period of the Stone Age associated with the evolution of humans. It predates the Neolithic period. (p. 7)

Neolithic

The period of the Stone Age associated with the ancient Agricultural Revolution(s). It follows the Paleolithic period. (p. 7)

foragers

People who support themselves by hunting wild animals and gatherings wild edible plants and insects. (p. 7)

Agricultural Revolutions

The change from food gathering to food production that occurred between ca. 8000 and 2000 B.C.E. Also known as the Neolithic Revolution. (p. 8)

Holocene

The geological era since the end of the Great Ice Age about 11,000 years age. (p. 11)

megaliths

Structures and complexes of very large stones constructed for ceremonial and religious purposes in Neolithic times. (p. 12)

Babylon

The largest and most important city in Mesopotamia. It achieved particular eminence as the capital of the Amorite king Hammurabi in the eighteenth century B.C.E. and the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century B.C.E. (p. 14)

Sumerians

The people who dominated southern Mesopotamia through the end of the third millennium B.C.E. They were responsible for the creation of many fundamental elements of Mesopotamian culture-such as irrigation technology, cuneiform, and religious conceptions. (p. 15)

Semitic

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 the Semitic family is Arabic. (p. 15)

city-state

A small independent state consisting of an urban center and the surrounding agricultural territory. A characteristic political form in early Mesopotamia, Archaic and Classical Greece, Phoenicia, and early Italy. (p. 16)

Hammurabi

Amorite ruler of Babylon (r. 1792-1750 B.C.E.). 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. (p. 17)

scribe

In the governments of many ancient societies, a professional position reserved for men who had undergone lengthy training required to be able to read and write using cuneiforms, hieroglyphics, or other early, cumbersome writing systems. (p. 18)

ziggurat

A massive pyramidal stepped tower made of mud bricks. It is associated with religious complexes in ancient Mesopotamian cities, but its function is unknown. (p. 20)

amulets

Small charm meant to protect the bearer from evil. Found frequently in archaeological excavation in Mesopotamia and Egypt, amulets reflect the religious practices of the common people.

cuneiform

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 administrators and scribes. (p. 20)

pharaoh

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. (p. 25)

ma'at

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 earthy guarantor of this order. (p.25)

pyramid

A large, triangular stone monument, used in Egypt and Nubia as a burial place for the king. (p. 26)

Memphis

The capital of Old Kingdom Egypt, near the head of the Nile Delta. Early rulers were interred in the nearby pyramids. (p. 26)

Hieroglyphics

System of writing in which pictorial symbols represented sounds, syllables, or concepts. Used for official and monumental inscriptions in ancient Egypt. (p. 26)

papyrus

A reed that grows along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. From it was produced a coarse, paperlike writing medium used by the Egyptians and many other peoples in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East. (p. 26)

mummy

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 mummification 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. (p. 29)

Harappa

Site of one of the great cities of the Indus Valley civilization of the third millennium B.C.E. It was located on the northwest frontier of the zone of cultivation , and may have been a center for the acquisition of raw materials. (p. 31)

Mohenjo-Daro

Largest of the cities of the Indus Valley civilization. It was centrally located in the extensive floodplain of the Indus River in contemporary Pakistan. Little is known about the political institutions of Indus Valley communities, but the large-scale of construction at Mohenjo-Daro, the orderly grid of streets, and the standardization of building materials are evidence of central planning. (p. 31)

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