54 terms

Mesopotamia Key Terms

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Bronze Age
The era of human history in which civilization began (c. 4000 BCE - c. 1200 BCE)
Bronze
A mixture of copper and tin (used to make weapons and tools)
c. 4000 BCE
Date of the beginning of civilization
Cities, smelting metal, writing, long-distance trade, monumental architecture, government
Six characteristics of civilization
Fertile Crescent
Crescent-shaped region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf (included Mesopotamia)
Assyria (NW section of Mesopotamia), Akkad (middle section of Mesopotamia), Sumer (SE section of Mesopotamia)
Mesopotamia (three parts)
"Land between the rivers" (meso- means "middle," potamos means "river," and the ending -ia is present in the names of many lands)
Meaning of the word "Mesopotamia" in Greek
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
The two rivers that form the single river valley that makes up Mesopotamia
They are unpredictable—sometimes just the right amount of water, but sometimes droughts or floods
Levees
Raised banks of earth along a river used for flood control
empire
An area made up of conquered lands
imperialist
Someone who conquers other lands
emperor
Someone who rules over conquered lands
Sumerians
The first civilized people on Earth—lived in independent city-states
city-state
A city and the surrounding farmland that had its own government and deity (examples: Ur and Uruk)
theocracy
A government in which the ruler is believed to be a god or the representative of a god
ensi
Priest-king of a Sumerian city-state
Responsibilities of the ensi
Organizing flood control and irrigation projects
Performing religious ceremonies
Collecting tribute for the deities
Priests, nobles, craftsmen/merchants, peasants, slaves
Social classes in Sumerian city-states (in order from highest to lowest)
Anthropomorphic
Having human characteristics
Gilgamesh
Legendary Sumerian king of Uruk, the hero of the most famous Sumerian epic.
Enkidu
Legendary wild man tamed by Gilgamesh who accompanied him in his adventures.
Sailing ships, wheeled vehicles, potter's wheel
Technological inventions of the Sumerians
ziggurat
Stepped temple made of clay bricks
arch and keystone
Curved structure spanning an opening, with a wedge-shaped stone at the top locking the others into place (This type of structure can bear a significant amount of weight.)
pictographs
Symbols representing objects
Phonograms
Symbols representing sounds/ syllables
ideograms
Symbols representing ideas
cuneiform
Sumerian writing made by pressing a wedge-shaped reed into wet clay
scribe
Professional writer
Behistun Rock
A cliff in modern-day Iran (ancient Persia) containing an inscription in three languages, which was used to decipher cuneiform
Babylonian (written in cuneiform), Old Persian, Elamite
Three languages on Behistun Rock
Henry Rawlinson
Deciphered cuneiform on Behistun Rock (in the 1840s), using the Old Persian (which he knew) as the key to figuring out the cuneiform
Darius I
Persian king who had the inscription carved on Behistun Rock (c. 500 BCE—long after cuneiform was first invented by the Sumerians)
Grain, pottery, wool
Goods produced by the Sumerians for trade
Stone, metal, wood
Goods not produced in Sumer (which the Sumerians needed to acquire through trade)
Sumerian number system
Base 60 system (still used today for measuring time and angles/circles)
Sumerian calendar
First calendar, based on cycles of the moon (with a leap month every few years to synchronize the months with the seasons)
Semites
Neolithic herding tribes who lived in Arabia (Many of these tribes migrated to various parts of the Middle East, where they settled and founded important civilizations, such as the Akkadians and Amorites (and the Israelites and Phoenicians, which we will learn about later).
Akkadians
Semites who migrated to central Mesopotamia from Arabia, and adopted Sumerian culture (writing, religion and buidling techniques, but not language) and established the first empire in history
Sargon I (the Great)
Akkadian king and first imperialist in history, who conquered all of Mesopotamia and created the Akkadian Empire
Third Dynasty of Ur
Sumerian kingdom (c. 2150-2000 BCE) that marked the height of Sumerian power and culture
Ur-Nammu
Sumerian king who established the Third Dynasty of Ur; created a written law code, and built the ziggurat of Ur
Code of Ur-Nammu
Law code of the Third Dynasty of Ur (one of the first known written law codes)
Leonard Woolley
Archaeologist who excavated the Royal Cemetery of Ur
Royal Cemetery of Ur
A tomb complex in Ur containing jewelry, gold cups, and other artifacts, as well as the skeleton of a royal woman and her servants
Royal Standard of Ur
A hollow wooden box found in the Royal Cemetery of Ur, inlaid with a mosaic showing scenes of war on one side and peace on the other
Amorites
Semites who settled in Akkad (c. 2000 BCE), adopted Sumerian culture (but not language), and whose king Hammurabi conquered Mesopotamia
Amorite Empire
A.k.a., Old Babylonian Empire, established by Hammurabi
Hammurabi's accomplishments
(1) Conquered all of Mesopotamia, creating the Amorite Empire (c. 1750 BCE),
(2) Established the capital city of Babylon,
(3) Created the most famous ancient written law code: the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
A list of 282 laws carved into a stone pillar (Laws are based on "an eye for an eye," but also on the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." Punishments were harsher for lower classes than for upper classes and for crimes committed against upper classes than for those against lower classes.)
Babylon
The capital of the Amorite Empire (and one of the most important cities of the ancient world for over 1000 years)
Indo-Europeans
Nomadic herding tribes who lived in Central Eurasia, north of the Caucasus Mountains (Many of these tribes migrated to various parts of Europe and Asia, where they settled and founded important civilizations, such as the Hittites and Kassites, (and the Aryans, Greeks, and Romans, which we will learn about later).
Hittites
Indo-European tribe that invaded and destroyed the Amorite Empire, then left and settled in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)
Kassites
Indo-European tribe that invaded and conquered Mesopotamia after the Hittites left & ruled Mesopotamia for 500 years

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