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Ch 2: Civilization Begins at Mesopotamia

About This Chapter

Use the fun and engaging video lessons in this chapter to learn about the origins of civilization. Take the quizzes that follow each lesson to confirm your understanding of the empires, laws and economies of Mesopotamia.

Civilization Begins at Mesopotamia - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

In the early days of civilization, about 12,000 years ago, Mesopotamia was considered an ideal spot to settle. Spend some time watching the engaging lessons in this chapter to find out why Mesopotamia was known as the Fertile Crescent and discover the empires that dominated this region. Professional history instructors will teach you about the Sumerians and their heirs as well as the roles religion, politics and money played in the creation of a new society. When you're finished with this chapter, you'll have knowledge of:

  • Mesopotamia's four empires
  • Sumerian city-states
  • Hammurabi's Code
  • Polytheism and monotheism
  • Kings of Mesopotamia
  • Origins of writing
  • Development of religion

Video Objective
The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization Dive into a summary of the features that encouraged settlers to start a civilization in the Fertile Crescent. Examine the technology, art and architecture of the region.
The Four Empires of Mesopotamia Learn about the Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires. Describe the achievements of these four Mesopotamian empires.
The Rise of Sumerian City-States Examine the geographic issues that led to the creation of city-states in Mesopotamia.
Sumerian Art and Architecture Discover the clay tables, ziggurats and sculptures that characterized Sumerian art and architecture. Describe themes of Sumerian art and identify the materials used.
Heirs of the Sumerians: Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians and Assyrians Get details on the empires that replaced the Sumerian Empire. Learn about the art, architecture and technology that typified each empire.
Hammurabi's Code: The Advent of Law, Prerequisites and Implications Explore the history of early law and the reasons that laws and judges were needed. Unearth the Code of Ur-Nammu and delve into the laws set forth by the more famous Code of Hammurabi.
What's the Difference Between Polytheism and Monotheism? Differentiate between these two concepts and identify the origins of monotheism.
Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion Probe the ways that kings used religion to justify their actions and maintain their power.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Summarize this poem and connect it to the Sumerian's views of gods and immortality.
The Invention of Writing Depict early forms of writing and assess the main advantages and impacts of writing.
The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies Illustrate some of the reasons money replaced goods in early economies. Review the different types of money used in early societies.
How Religion Developed in the Stone Age and Bronze Age Trace the development of religion from the decline of female gods to the emergence of male deities.

12 Lessons in Chapter 2: Civilization Begins at Mesopotamia
The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization

1. The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization

Complex civilization wasn't always the norm. In this lesson, we are going to check out the origins of civilization as we know it, and see where, when, and how this new system of living first began.

The Four Empires of Mesopotamia

2. The Four Empires of Mesopotamia

Whereas a number of dynasties ruled Egypt, it was often completely different cultures to rule Mesopotamia. This lesson looks at four of those cultures that were able to build empires.

The Rise of Sumerian City-States

3. The Rise of Sumerian City-States

Before the great empires of Assyria and Babylon, many small city-states, such as Sumer and Ur, existed throughout Mesopotamia. This lesson takes a look at their societies and how they interacted.

Sumerian Art and Architecture

4. Sumerian Art and Architecture

This lesson explores the artwork of one of the earliest civilizations: the Sumerians. Sumerians created beautiful works of art that inspired other cultures for centuries after their decline.

Heirs of the Sumerians: Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians and Assyrians

5. Heirs of the Sumerians: Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians and Assyrians

This lecture covers the history of Mesopotamia from the disintegration of the Sumerian Empire to the great Bronze Age collapse. We'll explore the destructive force of the Elamites and the Hittites as well as the imperial ambitions of the Babylonians, the Mittani and the Assyrians.

Hammurabi's Code: The Advent of Law, Prerequisites and Implications

6. Hammurabi's Code: The Advent of Law, Prerequisites and Implications

This lecture discusses the need for law and the benefits of a judicial system. Next, it reviews the history of early law codes, like those of Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi. Finally, we look at the implications of law for kings.

What's the Difference Between Polytheism and Monotheism?

7. What's the Difference Between Polytheism and Monotheism?

This lecture discusses the origins of monotheism. It then compares monotheism to polytheism, with especial emphasis on the problematic nature of holy law. Finally it uses the Greek story of Hippolytus to compare the ancient polytheistic perspective to a modern christian perspective.

Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion

8. Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion

Ancient Mesopotamia was a land of chaotic weather and inner turmoil. Religion became a political weapon for fighting among the city-states. This lesson explores the link between religion and politics in the ancient land.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

9. The Epic of Gilgamesh

Witness the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story of adventure, love and friendship. This long poem will help us examine the hallmarks of civilization for a Sumerian and the importance of dreams. We'll also cover the Sumerian contributions to the epic form of literature.

The Invention of Writing

10. The Invention of Writing

Writing, the original IT: This lecture covers the limitations and obstacles of aural transmission. It describes the invention of Cuneiform in the fertile crescent. Finally, it explains how writing enabled literate societies to dominate their pre-literate neighbors.

The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies

11. The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies

This lecture covers the development of money in response to the needs of complex economies. It begins with a discussion of gift economies. It then examines the factors that led to the growth of commodity economies. Find out how we came to use money, rather than goods, for commerce.

How Religion Developed in the Stone Age and Bronze Age

12. How Religion Developed in the Stone Age and Bronze Age

Have you ever wondered exactly how religion developed in the ancient world? Check out this lesson to see how the impact of cities, writing and invasion upon religion, the ascent of the sky father and the descent of the mother goddess contributed to the development of religion.

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