B.C. Before Christ
A.D. anno Domini (Year of Our Lord)
B.C.E. Before Common Era
C.E. Common Era
ANCIENT NEAR EAST: THE FIRST CIVILIZATIONS
Dates to Remember
Jericho the oldest city abt. 8000 years ago
Catal Huyuk 6700-5700 B.C.
Great Pyramid at Giza 2540 B.C.
Stonehenge 2100-1900 B.C.
Hammurabi 1792-1750 B.C.
Hyksos ca. 1630-1567
Tutmosis III 1480-1247
Tell el-Amarna 1364-1347 B.C.
of the Wheel The oldest
wheel found in archeological excavations was discovered in what was
Mesopotamia and is believed to be over fifty-five hundred years old.
(Making the invention about 3000 B.C.-- a little earlier than the time of the
building of the Great Pyramid.)
I. First Humans
A. Hunter-Gatherers of the Old Stone Age
(Paleolithic Age 2,500,000
years to 10,000 years ago)
Australopithecines (simple stone tools) 2-4 million years ago
Homo erectus 100,000 to 1.5 million years ago
Neanderthals flourished c. 100,000-30,000 B.C.
Homo sapiens sapiens Emerged c. 200,000
Homo sapiens sapiens spread from Africa
beginning about 100,000 years ago. Living and traveling in small groups, these
anatomically modern humans were hunter-gatherers. Although groups of people
advanced beyond their old hunting grounds at a rate of only 2 or 3 miles per
generation, this was enough to populate the world in some tens of thousands of
Chauvet Pont d'Arc
3. Tools and Fire
Began to use fire about 250,000 years ago. Making of tools and the use
of fire remind us how crucial the ability to adapt was to human survival.
B. Neolithic Revolution End of the Ice
Age (abt. 10,000 years ago)
1. Food Production
Early cylinder seal depicting beer production
"There is a perfectly respectable academic theory that civilization began
Animals were domesticated
Agricultural villages grew in size
men came to play a more dominant role in society
Pottery came into use
2. First Towns
Catal Huyuk A Neolithic walled community sustained by food
Jericho 8-10,000 years old One of the oldest known agricultural villages,
located in Palestine
3. Homes and Families--
Rough equality between men and women
4. Technological Advances
Bronze replaced copper because it was stronger.
II. Emergence of Civilization (complex
culture in which large numbers of human beings share a variety of common
elements. Basic characteristics:
A. Urban Life cities become the
centers of political, economic, social, cultural and religious development
By 3100 B.C., an administrative structure,
complete with writing and formal record keeping, was already evident in Egypt,
and by 2700 B.C., it was present throughout the states of Mesopotamia.
Although these structures were probably first employed on large scale
public works projects -- building dikes, irrigation systems, the pyramids,
and ziggurats of ancient Sumer -- it was but a short step to employ
these new organizational resources in the service of warfare.
The development of central state institutions
and a supporting administrative apparatus inevitably gave form and stability
to military structures. The result was the expansion and stabilization of the
formerly loose and unstable warrior castes that first emerged in the tribal
societies of the fifth millennium. By 2700 B.C. in Sumer there was a fully
articulated military structure and standing army organized along modern lines.
The standing army emerged as a permanent part of the social structure
and was endowed with strong claims to social legitimacy. And it has been with
us ever since.
B. Religious Structures gods deemed crucial
to the community's success, and professional priestly classes, as stewards of
the gods' property, regulated relations with the gods
C. Political and Military Structures an
organized governmental bureaucracy arose to meet the administrative demands of
the growing population, and armies were organized to gain land and power
Maxwell-Gunter AFB, the Home of Air University and
the 42nd Air Base Wing
The invention and spread of agriculture
coupled with the domestication of animals in the fifth millennium B.C.
are acknowledged as the developments that set the stage for the
emergence of the first large-scale, complex urban societies. These societies,
which appeared almost simultaneously around 4000 B.C. in both Egypt and
Mesopotamia, used stone tools, but within 500 years stone tools and weapons
gave way to bronze. With bronze manufacture came a revolution in warfare
This period saw the development of many
new weapons -- the penetrating axe, armor, helmet,
composite bow, the wheel and chariot -- and gave birth to a number of
tactical innovations -- phalanx formations, increased mobility, pursuit,
emergent staffs and rank structures. It would be incorrect to conclude,
however, that new weapons were responsible for the great increase in the scale
of warfare that characterized this period of human history. Improved weaponry,
by itself, would have produced only a limited increase in the scale of warfare
unless accompanied by new types of social structures capable of sustaining
large armies and providing them with the impetus and means to fight on a
heretofore unknown scale. The military revolution of
the Bronze Age was rooted more in the development of truly complex societies
than in weapons and technology.
As important as these developments were, they
could not have worked as they did without a profound change in the
psychological basis of the people's social relationship with the larger
community. The aggregation of large numbers of people into complex
societies required that those living within them refocus their allegiances
away from the extended family, clan, and tribe, and toward a larger social
entity, the state. This psychological change was facilitated by the rise
of religious castes that gave meaning to the individual's life beyond a
parochial context. Organized belief systems were integrated into the social
order and given institutional expression through public rituals that linked
religious worship to political and military objectives that were national in
scope and definition. Thus, the Egyptian pharaoh became divine, and military
achievements of great leaders were perceived as divinely ordained or inspired.
In this manner the terribly propulsive power of religion was placed at the
service of the state and its armies.
It is important to remember that the period
from 4000 to 2000 B.C. was a truly seminal period in the development of the
institution and instrumentalities of war. When this period began, people
had not yet invented cities or any of the other social structures required to
support communal life on a large scale. Agriculture, which became the basis
for the nation-state in the ancient period, was still in its infancy and could
not yet provide a food supply adequate to sustain populations of even moderate
size. Psychologically, people had not yet learned to attach meaning to any
social group larger than the extended family, clan, or tribe. The important
force of religion had not yet been given specific social focus to the point
where it could become a powerful psychological engine to drive the spirit of
conquest and empire. Even warfare itself had not in any meaningful sense been
invented. There were only the embryonic beginnings of a warrior class still
loosely embedded in a tribal social structure, a structure that lacked both
the physical and psychological requirements to produce war on any scale.
Military technology and organization were primitive, and the
professionalization of armies and warfare had not yet begun. In any
significant sense warfare had not yet been embedded in the social structure
of man as a legitimate and permanent function of developed society.
The two thousand years following the dawn of
the fourth millennium changed all this. As a mechanism of cultural
development, the conduct of war became a legitimate social function supported
by an extensive institutional infrastructure, and it became an indispensable
characteristic of the social order if people were to survive the predatory
behavior of others. This period saw the emergence of the whole range of
social, political, economic, psychological, and military technologies that
made the conduct of war a relatively normal part of social existence. In
less than two thousand years, man went from a condition in which warfare was
relatively rare and mostly ritualistic in which combat death and destruction
were suffered at low rates to one in which death and destruction were attained
on a modern scale. In this period, warfare assumed modern proportions in terms
of size of the armies involved, the administrative mechanisms needed to
sustain them, the development of weapons, the frequency of occurrence, and the
scope of destruction achievable by military force. And it was in Sumer and
Egypt that the world witnessed the emergence of the world's first armies.
More on the world's first armies:
D. Socio-economic Structures --new
social structure developed based on economic power: while kings and an upper
class of priests, political leaders, and warriors dominated there also existed
a large group of free people (farmers, artisans, craftspeople) and at the very
bottom socially, a class of slaves
Commerce and industry were important, second only to agriculture. Slaves
on the whole were well treated. The economy was divided into both public
and private sectors. The most prominent structures were temples.
Mainly for record keeping for kings, priests,
merchants, and artisans
F. Artistic and Intellectual Activities
Outstanding achievements in mathematics and astronomy. Monumental
architectural structures, usually religious, occupied a prominent place in
G. Civilizations of India, China, and South America
III. Civilization in Mesopotamia
A. City-States of Ancient Mesopotamia
2. Kingship and Ancient Religion
Polytheistic (had many gods) An (god of Sky), Enlil (god of Wind) Enki (god of
the earth) Ninhursaga
(goddess of the soil, earth, mountains)
Believed that gods ruled the cities: theocracy
Most prominent building...the temple built above a ziggurat
Sumerians came to view their kings as agents of their gods.
Were plagued by incessant warfare between their many city-states
Kings derived their authority from their military victories over the
The physical environment of the Mesopotamians generally led to a pessimistic
outlook with an emphasis on satisfying their angry gods.
Mesopotamian religion was one in which no one god reigned supreme and deities
were closely related to cities.
Commerce and industry were important next to agriculture
The economy was divided into both public and private sectors
A small percentage of the population was literate
The basic unit of early Mesopotamian civilization was the city-state
4. Class System
Several different social groups owned slaves
The clearest statement concerning Mesopotamian social hierarchy is found in
the Laws of Hammurabi (circa 1750 B.C.E.), which provided for three
separate—and unequal—tiers: the awilum (freeman), generally thought to
be an individual owning his means of support; the mushkenum (dependent,
or serf), who presumably did not own his means of earning a living and worked
land owned by another; and the wardum (slave), who was the property of
B. Mesopotamian Empires
1. Sumer Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers,
was a city-state civilization created by a people known as the Sumerians.
2. Sargon and Akkadia
Located on flat plains, the Sumerian city states were vulnerable to invasion resulting
in a series of empires beginning with the Akkadians c. 2340 BC
Sargon of Akkad was an
ancient Mesopotamian ruler who reigned approximately 2334-2279 BC, and was
one of the earliest of the world's great empire builders, conquering all of
southern Mesopotamia as well as parts of Syria, Anatolia, and Elam (western
Iran). He established the region's first Semitic dynasty and was
considered the founder of the Mesopotamian military tradition.
The Akkadians were Semites, that is, they spoke a language
drawn from a family of languages called Semitic languages (the term "Semite"
is a modern designation taken from the Hebrew Scriptures; Shem was a son of
Noah and the nations descended from Shem are the Semites). These languages
include Hebrew, Arabic, Assyrian, and Babylonian. After the final end of
Sumerian power and civilization around 2000 BC, the area came under the
exclusive control of Semitic peoples for centuries.
3. Hammurabi and Babylon
Later the Babylonians followed. They were famous for their ruler
Babylon (2000 - 323 BC), an ancient city of Mesopotamia located on the
Euphrates River about 55mi (89km) south of present day Baghdad. Settled since
prehistoric times. it was made the capital of Babylonia by Hammurabi (1792
1750 BC) in the 18th century BC. The city was completely destroyed in 689 BC
by the Assyrians under Sennacherib. After restoration it flourished and became
noted for its hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Hammurabi' s Code Was a harsh code but provided some justice for
The Code of Hammurabi sought to achieve financial liability, military
stability, commercial integrity and stable sexual relationships.
It established order through a well-understood set of laws. It
contained specific regulations on marriage, adultery, incest and divorce.
The foundation of all law-making in Babylonia
from about the middle of the twenty-third century B.C. to the fall of the
empire was the code of Hammurabi, the first king of all Babylonia. He expelled
invaders from his dominions, cemented the union of north and south Babylonia,
made Babylon the capital, and thus consolidated an empire which endured for
almost twenty centuries.
The code which he compiled is the oldest known
in history, older by nearly a thousand years than the Mosaic, and of earlier
date than the so-called Laws of Manu. It is one of the most important
historical landmarks in existence, a document which gives us knowledge not
otherwise furnished of the country and people, the civilization and life of a
great centre of human action hitherto almost hidden in obscurity. Hammurabi,
who is supposed to be identical with Amraphel, a contemporary of Abraham,
is regarded as having certainly contributed through his laws to the Hebrew
I. "An Eye for an Eye" Punishments more severe for lower classes
2. Responsibilities of Public Officials
3. Consumer Protection
Produced woolen textiles, pottery and metalwork. The Invention of the
wheel about 3000 B.C. led to the development of carts with wheels that
made the transport of goods easier.
5. Women Role was to be at home and be subservient to her husband.
Women held inherited property, even in marriage. They could be pharaohs.
class women could be priests. And women could operate businesses.
6. Sex and the Family
D. Mesopotamian Culture
1. Religion The Epic of Gilgamesh teaches that everlasting life is
reserved only for the gods.
b. The Power of Nature
The oldest Mesopotamian texts date to around 3000 B.C. and were written by the
Cuneiform--the writing was originally pictographic but became
3. Literature: Epic of Gilgamesh
Teaches that human life is difficult and immorality is only for the gods
4. Mathematics and Astronomy
Egyptian Civilization: "The Gift of the Nile"
The Nile River
The Nile River provided ancient Egyptians with an excellent artery of
The focal points and sources of life for the ancient Egyptians were the Nile
River and the Pharaohs.
B. Natural Barriers
C. Old and Middle Kingdoms
Ancient Egyptian History is divided into three major periods: Old Kingdom ,
Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom
1. Old Kingdom (2686-2125)
According to Egyptian theology, the pharaoh derived his authority from the
fact that he was perceived as a divine instrument of order and harmony.
Egyptian pharaohs ruled and derived their authority from the principle of
Ma 'at (Right order and Harmony)
c. Nomes (Provinces)
For administrtive purposes in the Old Kingeom, Egypt was divided into
provinces called nomes and governed by nomarchs.
2. Middle Kingdom (2055-1650)
a. Order out of Chaos
Egypts Middle Kingdom was portrayed by Egyptians as a golden age of Egyptian
b. Pharaoh as Shepherd
"He [a particular god] created me as one who should do that which he had done,
and to carry out that which he commanded should be done. He appointed me
herdsman of this land, for he knew who would keep it in order for him."
Egypt's Middle Kingdom saw the pharaohs provide more for the public welfare.
D. Society and Economy
1. Nobles and Priests
2. Merchants and Artisans
The economy of ancient Egypt relied most heavily upon agriculture.
In comparison to Mesopotamian society, Egyptian society was more rural.
E. Egyptian Culture
1. Spiritual Life of the Gods
b. Osiris and Isis
Osiris was the Egyptian god most closely associated with the mummification of
the dead. Generally the Osiris cult was reserved for the wealthy who could
afford preservation of the body. Osiris eventually came to be identified
as the judge of the dead. Osiris was Egypt's judge of the dead who was killed
by his brother Seth and restored to life by his sister Isis.
a. Preservation of the Pharaohs
The Egyptian Pyramids were conceived and built as tombs for a city of the
Pyramid at Giza
3. Art and Writing
Egyptian art was primarily functional and not intended to add beauty. It was
highly stylized. It followed strict formulas governing form and presentation
and often glorified the pharaohs.
Hieroglyphics "sacred writing" of Egyptian priests, composed of
stylized pictures, preserved on stone monuments, wood panels, and papyrus
F. Chaos and a New Order
1. Hyksos (Misspelled on handouts)
The Hyksos were a Semitic-speaking people who infiltrated Egypt in the
seventeenth century B.C. from the Arabian desert. The Hyksos did
eventually utilize superior bronze
composite bows to help them take control of Egypt, though in
reality, the relative slowness of their advance southwards from the Delta
seems to support the argument that the process was gradual and did not
ultimately turn on the possession of overwhelming military superiority.
2. New Kingdom
During the imperialistic New Kingdom, Egyptian government changed by a
general lessening in the power of pharaohs over their neighbors.
In the thirteenth century the Egyptians were driven out of Palestine and back
to their original frontiers by the "Sea Peoples".
Ahmose I Founder of the 18th Dynasty
(r. c.1570-1546 BCE), was the founder of the 18th dynasty, one of the most
outstanding in the history of ancient Egypt. His principal achievement was to
weaken the Hyksos, who had dominated Lower Egypt for some 300 years, by taking
Avaris, their citadel in the north. He pursued them into southern Palestine
and laid siege to Sharuhen for three years. On his campaign in Upper Egypt
against rebels great slaughter was recorded in all the battles
(c.1504-1450 BCE) was very young when his father, Thutmose II, died and was
until 1482 the co-regent of his aunt, Hatshepsut. When he became sole monarch,
he tried to erase the memory of Hatshepsut by destroying many of the monuments
which bore her name or effigy. From 1482 onwards, he devoted himself to the
expansion of the Egyptian empire, leading many campaigns into Canaan,
Phoenicia and Syria.
c. Amenhotep III
ruled (c.1417-1379 BCE) Egypt at the height of its power. His extensive
diplomatic contacts with other Near Eastern states, especially Mitanni and
Babylonia, are revealed in the
Amarna tablets. Ancient locality, Egypt, near the Nile and c.60 mi
(100 km) N of Asyut. Ikhnaton’s capital, Akhetaton, was in Tell el Amarna.
About 400 tablets with inscriptions in Akkadian cuneiform were found there in
1887. They constitute correspondence between Amenhotep III and Ikhnaton and
the governors of the cities in Palestine and Syria, and they shed much light
on ancient Egypt and the Middle East. The tablets are mostly in the Berlin,
British, and Cairo museums.
d. Amenhotep IV and Aten
(c. 1379-1361), was invested as king not in the Amen temple at Karnak as
custom dictated, but at Hermonthis, where his uncle Inen was High Priest of Re
and immediately began building a roofless temple to the Aten, the disk of the
rising sun. He soon forbade the worship of other gods, especially of the state
god Amen of Thebes. He is best known for the temporary installation of the
god of the sun disk in Egyptian culture. Taking the name Akhenaten he
established a new city called Akhetaten, 200 miles from Thebes.
e. Rameses II (c. 1304-1237 BCE) is remembered for his
military campaigns and his extensive building program
Ramses was responsible for building many large temples, most notably that at
Abu Simbel in Nubia. He also founded a new royal capital at Per-Ramesse ("the
house of Ramses") in the eastern Nile delta. During his long reign--24 years
old to 98 years old-- Ramses had
more than 100 children, and by his death in 1237, he had outlived his 11
Rameses referred to his beloved first wife
Nefertari as, "The one for whom the sun shines." Also poetry written by
Ramesses about his dead wife is featured on some of the walls of her burial
chamber. ("My love is unique - no one can rival her, for she is the most
beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.")
Ramses II", who reigned for 67 years
during the 19th dynasty of the 12th century BC, was
known as "Ramses the Great". His glories surpassed all other Pharaohs, and
Egypt reached an overwhelming
state of prosperity during his reign. Not only is he known as one of Egypt's
greatest warriors, but also as a peace-maker and for the monuments he left
behind all over Egypt. He was the first king in history to sign a
peace treaty with his
Hittites, ending long years of wars and hostility. The treaty can still be
considered a conclusive model, even when applying today’s standards
It is widely believed that Ramses II is the pharaoh of Moses time referred to
in the Bible. At least as early as
Eusebius of Caesarea, he was identified with the pharaoh of whom the
figure Moses is
popularly believed to have demanded that his people be released from
G. Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
1. Home and Family (read
p. 26 Father's advice to his son)
In Egypt women had many equal legal rights with men . The upper classes
devoted much time to entertainment. The wife's primary role in the family was
to produce children. Polygamy was the rule.
2. Women: Hatshepsut
d. c.1482 BCE, was one of the few women to rule Egypt as a pharaoh. After the
death (c.1504) of her husband, Thutmose II, she assumed power, first as regent
for his son Thutmose III, and then (c.1503) as pharaoh. She encouraged
commercial expansion, sent a trading expedition to
Punt and sponsored a major building program overseen by Senenmut;
the monuments of her reign include the temple at Deir el-Bahri. Toward the end
of her reign she lost influence to Thutmose III who came to be depicted as her
3. Material Abundance
Kept entire population fed. Wealthy apparently enjoyed lavish lifestyle.
Music, hunting, fowling, board games
V. On the Fringes of Civilization
A. Megaliths (Stonehenge ) Growing appreciation of astronomy among
Europeans after 4000 B.C. is best seen in megalithic observatories, the most
famous of which is Stonehenge. One of the most significant features of
the late Neolithic period in Europe was the building of megalithic (large
stone) structures around 4000 BCE, more than a thousand years before the great
pyramids of Egypt. The most famous of the megalithic sites is Stonehenge in
England. Its first phase, a large earthwork of bank and ditch arrangement
(called a henge), was constructed about 5000 years ago. About 2000 BCE, the
first stone circle (the inner circle) was built. Inside these two circles lies
a horseshoe structure. The whole structure was probably completed about 1500
B. Indo-Europeans (The Hittites)
The original Indo Europeans possibly came from the steppe region north of the
Black Sea. . Sanskrit, German, Latin and Greek are Indo-European
The Hittites Empire stretched from Mesopotamia to Syria and Palestine.
Their invasion spelled the end of the Old Babylonian empire in
The Hittite civilization dominated Mesopotamia from 1600 BC to 1200 BC.
The Hittites were a warrior people noted for their ferocity.
The Hittites were the first (if not the very first) to domesticate horses and
harness them to chariots.
They invented iron which was used to forge weapons.
They transmitted Mesopotamian culture to the west especially to the
Mycenaean Greeks. .
Especially notable in the Hittite New Kingdom or Hitite
Empire (1370- 1330 BC) was Supiluliumas I who established Hitite control from
Western Turkey to northern Syria.
Hittites were in conflict with Egypt until Ramses II negotiated a remarkable
Hittites were finally brought down by their own internal problems and the
Scholars believe that the Minoans of
Crete were overtaken by the Mycenaean Greeks sometime in the fifteenth century