history 115 - The Culture of the West

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Chapters 1-5

Bronze Age

The period between 4000 and 1500 BCE characterized by the ability of early Near East inhabitants to smelt copper (and its alloy, bronze, which combines copper with tin) for weapons, farm implements, and tools. (page 6)


Technique of writing developed in Mesopotamia whereby wedge-shaped marks were impressed in clay tablets. (page 14)

Fertile Crescent

The region of the Middle East roughly framed by the Mediterranean to the west, the Arabian Peninsula to the south, and the Tarsus and Zagros Mountains to the north and east. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow through the center of this region, whose rich soils and abundant water gave rise to early agriculture. The Fertile Crescent connected central Asian and eastern Mediterranean economies. (page 10)


System of writing used in ancient Egypt, especially in official records. (page 23)


Old Sumerian title of city-state kings in Mesopotamia. (page 7)


Concept of cosmic order in ancient Egypt, everything being in perfect balance; includes the notions of meaning, justice, and truth, although in a passive sense, asking people not to upset divine harmony by attempting to alter the political and religious order. (page 27)


An economic and administrative district in ancient Egypt, comprised of towns and villages along defined segments of the Nile River. The chief administrator of each nome was called a nomarch. (page 21)


Describes a social system in Mesopotamia and elsewhere, a society in which only men can inherit property. (page 12)


Step-pyramid temples of ancient Mesopotamia, believed to be the dwelling places of the gods. (page 13)

economic specialization (Page 7)

Stone masons, weavers, warriors and engineers were all examples of Sumerian _________________________.

Kings and priests (Page 7)

Secular and religious power was represented by the two offices of _________and __________ which emerged together.

The Great Flood (Page 9)

The myth of the __________________ represented a fear of real events for Sumerians.

Empire (Page 9)

Sargon's conquered territory was linked together in an early form of ________.

Menes (Page 21)

_____________is credited with unifying the different states in Egypt.

Writing (Page 23)

The Egyptians may have acquired ________from Sumer.

Isis-Osiris (Page 28)

The __________________myth was central to Egyptian culture for thousands of years until it was supplanted by Christianity in the early centuries CE.

Ahura Mazda

The One Lord or eternal God, worshiped by Zoroastrians who believe he is the creator of all living things. (page 62)


A strongly militaristic and powerful society (ca. 12th century BCE-612 BCE) of upper Mesopotamia, whose use of iron and steel for weaponry contributed to their formidable conquests. (page 58)


The holy book of the Zoroastrians. (page 63)

Book of the Dead

An anthology of prayers, poems, and similar texts collected during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2035 BCE-1640 BCE). Placed in the coffin, the Book of the Dead was believed to allow the deceased to enter paradise. (page 41)

Greater West

The matrix of European and Near Eastern cultures originating in the Fertile Crescent and still resonant today through bonds of trade, intellectual cross-fertilization, cultural overlap, and religious rivalry. (page 34)


Indo-European group that settled in north-central Anatolia and by 1700 BCE had united into a single kingdom whose military repeatedly challenged Mesopotamia and Egypt (page 52)

Hyksos ascendancy

The Second Intermediate Period (1640-1570 BCE) of the Middle Kingdom, so named because of the revolt of foreign laborers against the Egyptian government. (page 41)


A horde of nomadic and herding nations, loosely related by their dialects of the language family, who began to migrate from their homeland near the Black Sea toward western Europe, the Aegean, and Asia Minor from about 2000 BCE. Other groups migrated eastward. (page 50)


Zoroastrian priests. (page 64)


The belief in a single, supreme deity. (page 49)


An urban, commercial people with origins in Mycenaean Greece who settled just south of Phoenicia and engaged in hostilities against the Hebrews. (page 58)

Sea Peoples

Indo-European invaders (ca. 1200 BCE) who conquered the Hittites, ended the Egyptian dominance of Palestine, and wrought enormous destruction across southern and southeastern Europe before vanishing, possibly through assimilation into local groups. (page 52)


Figures made of clay or wood, buried with well-to-do Egyptians, that represented servants who would work for one in the afterlife. (page 44)


Monotheistic religion founded by Zoroaster in Persia ca. 1300 BCE. In its emphasis on moral behavior, personal salvation, and the eventual victory of Good in a cosmic battle with Evil, Zoroastrianism is considered by many a precursor of Judaism (and, by extension, Christianity). (page 62)

Greater West (Page 34)

The __________________designates a world that bridges Europe and Western Asia.

Hammurabi (Page 34)

Scholars have credited _________________ as the first great lawgiver in Western history.

Gilgamesh (Page 38)

The epic of ____________________is the tale of the ruler of Uruk some eight hundred years before the Babylonian conquest.

Phoenicians (Page 57)

The _______________took to the sea and established a network of trading colonies across the Mediterranean.

Ark of the Covenant

A chest containing the stone tables on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, which Moses received from God on Mount Sinai. Captured by the Philistines around 1050 BCE, the ark was recovered by King David (r. 1005-965 BCE), whose son Solomon (r. 965-928 BCE) built a temple in Jerusalem to house it. The ark vanished after the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 586 BCE. (page 78)

Babylonian Captivity

After the Chaldaeans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 587, they took many of the surviving Jews back east as slaves, where they remained until they were released in 538 BCE by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (r. 576-530 BCE). (page 83)

Chosen People

The Hebrew Bible describes the Hebrews as God's "Chosen People," by which is meant not just the favor and protection God gives them but their obligation to obey God in all things and to live up to the high moral standards God expects of them. (page 74)


The special promise God made to the Jews, symbolized by Moses's leading of the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land; in return, the Jews agreed to live by the Torah. (page 74)


The "exile" or "scattering" of the Hebrews after the Assyrians brutally conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 721 BCE and the Chaldaeans (or Neo-Babylonians) conquered Judah in 587 BCE. (page 83)

Documentary Hypothesis

The belief of many modern Biblical scholars that the Torah was compiled from four original sources: "J," by the Yahwist (ca. 950 BCE); "E," by the Elohist (ca. 750 BCE); "D," by the Deuteronomist (ca. 650 BCE); and "P," by the Priestly Author (ca. 550 BCE). (page 75)


One of two Hebrew kingdoms (937-721 BCE), this one in the south of Palestine and centered on Jerusalem. (See Israel.) (page 78)


As described in the Bible, the leaders of each of the twelve tribes of Hebrews who moved into Palestine around 1200 BCE, after being delivered from Egypt. (page 78)


One of two Hebrew kingdoms (937-721 BCE), this one in the north of Palestine with Shechem as its capital. (page 78)


An honorific Hebrew word meaning "my master." Rabbis were originally teachers of Jewish law. During the Babylonian Captivity, far from their ruined temple, many Jews turned to their rabbis for religious guidance. Rabbis became leaders of the exiled Jews, and during this time refined the laws governing Jewish life. (page 90)


A Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible created by a group of seventy-two scholars who convened in Alexandria around 260 BCE (the name is derived from the Greek word for "seventy". It includes several books later excluded from the Jewish canon. (page 72)


The underworld of the Hebrew Bible, to which all the dead are sent; not analogous to later Christian concepts of hell as a place of punishment. (page 88)

Song of Songs

Biblical book, also known as the Song of Solomon, consisting of a poetic dialogue between a bride and bridegroom. Centuries of scholars have interpreted the Song of Songs as an allegory of the covenant between God and his people. (page 86)


A common name for the canonical Hebrew Bible—an acronym based on the letters T (for Torah, meaning "Instructions"), N (for Nevi'im, or "Prophets"), and K (for Ketuvim, or "Writings"). Traditionally believed to have been assembled by the "Men of the Great Assembly" around 450 BCE, modern scholars believe the compilation occurred later, between 200 BCE and 200 CE. (page 72)


The first five books of the Tanakh, attributed to Moses. (page 72)


The term for "God" used by the Yahwist author of the Torah (see Documentary Hypothesis), represented in English-language Bibles by the all-capitals word LORD. (page 75)

Hagar (Page 70)

Ishmael's mother was Sarai's servant ________________

Documentary Hypothesis (Page 75)

The idea that the Hebrew texts result from the intertwining of several writers work is known as the ______________________

David (Page 80)

______________ established Jerusalem as the capital city

Fifth commandment (Page 85)

____enjoins Hebrews to honor their mothers and fathers equally.

Faith and morals (Page 88)

The Jews conflated ___________and ______________to a degree that they could not be separated, which was a revolutionary development in Western life.

Archaic period

From 750-500 BCE, a time marked by the extension of networks of Greek colonies—primarily for peaceful, entrepreneurial purposes—around the Aegean rim, the Black Sea, and the entire perimeter of Asia Minor, across southern Italy and Sicily, and along the southern coast of France and the eastern coast of Spain, and along the northern coast of Africa. (page 110)


Slave owned by the city-state of ancient Sparta. Comprising roughly 75 percent of the Spartan population, they performed virtually all the labor, leaving the Spartans themselves free to perform military and civic service. (page 118)


Ancient Greek infantrymen serving in a phalanx; name derives from Greek word (hoplos) for the smallish, circular shields they carried.

Ionian League

An alliance (ca. 750 BCE) of several Greek coastal cities in Asia Minor organized by the vibrant and prosperous city of Miletus. (page 121)

Linear A

Script used by Minoan culture on ancient Crete. Underlying language has not been identified, and hence the script has not been deciphered. (page 102)

Linear B

Syllabic script used by ancient Mycenaeans in Crete. Underlying Language is an early dialect of Greek, and the script was deciphered by 1953. (page 102)


An ancient and wealthy commercial culture that flourished from 2000 to 1500 BCE, centered on the island of Crete and named for its legendary founder, King Minos. Later Greek culture and mythology was profoundly influenced by the Minoans, and one of the two written scripts (called Linear A) used by Minoans records an early form of Greek. (page 101)

Mycenaean Greece

Society (1600 to 1200 BCE) marked by the dominance of mainland Hellenes in the Aegean region; named for the city of Mycenae, which according to tradition was the city ruled by the legendary King Agamemnon. (page 102)

Olympian deities

The numerous gods, worshipped by the ancient Greeks, whose passions and exploits are recounted in Greek mythology. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection Book by Charles Darwin (1859) that set forth his theory of natural selection as the means by which evolution occurs. (page 98)


A fighting unit of Greek foot soldiers: eight horizontal lines of ten to twenty men each, who stood shoulder to shoulder and moved as a single unit. (page 112)


The ancient Greek city-state (plural form poles). (page 109)


The essential characteristic of Greek thought, from Mycenaean times to the earliest known philosophers of Miletus (Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes); attempts to explain the natural world through observation rather than through mythology. (page 122)


Ancient Greek warship with three tiers of oarsmen and a bronze-tipped battering ram on the prow. (page 126)


A person in a Greek polis who took power temporarily in order to bring about dramatic reform in a politically deadlocked state. In terms of social class, the tyrants were aristocrats but were allied with the masses. (page 114)

Olympus (Page 97)

Greek gods inhabited mount__________.

Mycenaean (Page102)

The years from 1600 BCE to 1200 BCE are known as ___________________.

Homer (Page 104)

___________was the author of the Iliad.

Dark Age (Page 105)

The Mycenaen age was followed by the ___________.

tyrant (Page 114)

In Greek, a person who seized power temporarily was a ________________.

Persia (Page 122)

The Ionian League broke with _________in 499 BCE.

Poleis (Page 109)

Greek communities began to refer to themselves as ______________.


The school founded by the philosopher Plato in Athens in 385 BCE. (page 152)

Classical Age

The era beginning with the defense of Greece against Persia lasting until the conquest of Persia by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (479-323 BCE), marked by vitality in civic life, economic prosperity, artistic expression, and literary achievement. (page 132)

Delian League

A military alliance formed in 478 BCE (Athens assumed control a year later) among all the Greek poleis, dedicated to maintaining a strong defense—particularly against Persia. (page 132)


Area of a private home in ancient Greece restricted women, their children and their servants. Greek women were strictly segregated from public life, and did not enter public areas of their own homes without the permission of their husbands. (page 134)

Hellenistic Age

The era beginning with the death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE) and concluding with the conquest of the East by the Romans (327 BCE), and marked by a broader degree of cultural cohesion than previous eras, including the development of a common dialect of Greek (Koine) used across the territories. Although art and literature did not flourish as they did in the Classical Age, tremendous advances were made in the sciences. (page 160)


Arrogant self-pride, the deadliest of moral sins to the ancient Greeks; specifically, the delusional belief that one was in control of one's own fate. Frequently used as the plot device to trigger the dire events in Greek tragedy. (page 141)

Ideal Forms

In Plato's philosophy, the concept of a perfect and ultimate reality, of which our own perceived reality is but a flawed and flimsy reflection. Because we have a dualistic nature comprised of an eternal soul temporarily housed in a flawed and mortal body, we can apprehend and aspire to that perfection. (page 154)


School founded by the philosopher Aristotle in Athens in 335 BCE. (page 158)

Peloponnesian War

(431-404 BCE) Prolonged war between Athens, which sought to dominate all of Greece, and Sparta, one of the last holdouts against Athenian supremacy. An epidemic of typhus in 429 BCE weakened Athens, while the Spartans' alliance with Persia allowed them to challenge and defeat the Athenian navy. (page 143)


Group of philosophers named after Pythagoras (570-495 BCE), who had developed the famous theorem about right triangles. They sought to identify rational order and laws governing the natural world; hence their focus on mathematics. (page 148)


A Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible created by a group of seventy-two scholars who convened in Alexandria around 260 BCE (the name is derived from the Greek word for "seventy". It includes several books later excluded from the Jewish canon. (page 165)


In Greece in the 5th century BCE, a group of thinkers who traveled from city to city teaching rhetoric and philosophy. (page 150)


All-male drinking parties in ancient Greece where philosophical ideas were discussed. (page 137)


The union of religious doctrines. (page 165)


According to Aristotle, the intrinsic purpose or necessary role in the cosmic drama of every existing thing. (page 156)

Thirty Tyrants

Committee of thirty Athenians appointed by the Spartan conquerors of Athens to rule the city. (page 144)

Delian League (Page 13

The Greek alliance to defend against the Persians was known as the _____________.

Hades (Page 136)

Most Greeks believed in a shadowy afterlife known as _____________.

Athens (Page 133)

Pericles was a leader of ________________.

Hippocratic (Page 147)

The _______________oath marked the onset of new physicians' careers?

Plato (Page 154)

_____________thought that our world was a pallid reflection of the world of Ideal Forms.

India (Page 159)

Alexander's conquest extended as far east as ___________.

People of the land (Page 163)

The Jews who had not been taken into exile were known as _______.

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