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Ch 2: Civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt & Kush

About This Chapter

Watch fun video lessons and learn about key events, developments and people in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Kush. Take quick quizzes to make sure you've retained critical info about this subject.

Civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt & Kush - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Get an in-depth look at early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Kush in this chapter, which introduces you to the major river systems of these areas, tools used to build empires and evolution of language in ancient civilizations. Experienced instructors present lessons on the kings of Mesopotamia, Egyptian leaders and the relationship between Kush and Egypt. When you've finished all the lessons in this chapter, you'll be familiar with:

  • Development of hierarchical structures
  • Agricultural growth in Egypt and Mesopotamia
  • Invention of cities
  • History of money
  • Egyptian trade methods
  • Expansion of Iron Age empires

Video Objectives
Major River Systems of Mesopotamia and Egypt Explore the river systems that fed the early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
How Physical Settings Supported Permanent Settlement and Civilization Learn more about the physical settings that were used to establish permanent settlements.
Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History Examine different types of hierarchies and why they're needed in society.
The Growth of Agriculture in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt Investigate the agricultural methods that were developed in these early civilizations. Discuss the ways these developments led to economic surplus.
The Great Flood and Population Migrations Analyze the myth of the Great Flood and other flood myths. See historical accounts of the Great Flood and discuss its benefits.
Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented Learn about early villages and the issues that villagers faced. Determine how these issues led to development of cities.
Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation Discover how walls, roads and bronze were effective tools used in the development of empires.
The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation Examine the role that horses played in warfare. Describe the development of the chariot and its benefits.
Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization? Explore alternatives to civilization and the conflicts that occur between groups and settlements.
The Evolution of Language in Ancient Civilizations Delve into the importance of language in early civilizations.
How Writing Was Invented Detail the events that led to the invention of writing.
The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies Find out why money was developed and how it has been used throughout history.
The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization Discover the reasons this area was ideal for forming the first civilizations.
Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion Assess the connection between politics and religion in ancient Mesopotamia.
Hammurabi's Code: The Advent of Law, Prerequisites and Implications Learn more about the need for laws and judges and discuss some early legal codes.
Ancient Egypt in the Bronze Age Discuss the geographical advantages held by Egypt and review the six periods of Egyptian history.
Ancient Egyptian Art: History and Style Describe Egyptian paintings, sculptures and pottery. Determine how styles of Egyptian art changed based on time periods.
Ancient Egyptian Architecture: History, Characteristics & Influences Uncover the temples, pyramids and structures that comprised Egyptian architecture.
Egyptian Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean and Nile Valley Assess the role that trade played in these areas.
Queen Hatshepsut and Ramses the Great of Egypt Characterize the significance of Queen Hatshepsut and Ramses the Great.
What Is the Kush Civilization? Determine the location of the Kush civilization.
The Kush Civilization & its Relationship with Ancient Egypt Learn more about Kush's political, cultural and commercial relationship with Egypt.
Iron Age Empires: Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian and Persian Empires Depict the founding of the Persian Empire and detail its expansion and political organization.

24 Lessons in Chapter 2: Civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt & Kush
Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

1. Development of Hierarchical Structures: Chiefs to Emperors in History

This lesson will explore society's need for hierarchies, as well as kinship as a basis of hierarchical structures. Various forms of hierarchy will be briefly explored and...spoiler alert...they all come back to kinship.

The Great Flood and Population Migrations

2. The Great Flood and Population Migrations

The Great Flood myth has been around for over eight millennia. Could it be more than a myth? What could have caused such a flood, and what effects has it had on humans?

Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

3. Villages to Cities: How Cities Were Invented

In this video lesson, you'll meet Uruk, a lone farmer living in ancient Mesopotamia. As Uruk tries to become a successful farmer, he realizes the difficulties in sustaining a fruitful farm without the help of a community. Watch to understand how these difficulties contributed to the creation of villages and cities throughout history.

Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

4. Walls, Roads & Bronze: Tools of Empire Creation

Learn some of the tools of the empire creation trade. In this video lesson, we'll explore the wall as a tough nut to be cracked, the strategic importance of roads and the advances made possible by bronze.

The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

5. The Horse and Chariot: Tools of Empire Creation

Horses were first used in warfare to pull chariots. Though horses were eventually ridden by cavalry, it was the chariot that first moved soldiers faster than man. In this lesson, you'll learn about the creation of the chariot, and its benefits during wartime.

Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

6. Horse People and Nomadic Pastoralism: What is Civilization?

This lecture examines the downsides and limits of settled agriculture and civilization. It then explores how 'civilized' forces are able to displace other systems. Horse people are introduced as a counterpoint to civilization and nomadic pastoralism as a successful alternative method of living. Finally it follows the conflict between nomadic pastoralists and settled agriculturalists throughout history.

The History of Money and Rise of Complex Economies

7. 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.

The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization

8. The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization

This lecture begins by exploring the features that made Mesopotamia such an appealing place to build an empire. It briefly discusses the challenges faced by historians of Mesopotamian history. Finally, we examine the material culture of the Sumerian/Akkadian empires, and their pivotal role as the inventors of civilization.

Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion

9. 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.

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

10. 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.

Ancient Egypt in the Bronze Age

11. Ancient Egypt in the Bronze Age

This lecture first compares the natural features of the Nile valley to those of Mesopotamia, enumerating the advantages that geography offered the Egyptians. This is followed by a brief discussion of why Egyptian material culture survives while so much of Mesopotamian culture has been lost. The lecture ends with a a whirlwind tour through 3,000 years of Egyptian history broken up into traditional historical periods.

Ancient Egyptian Art: History and Style

12. Ancient Egyptian Art: History and Style

This lesson provides a brief look at the exquisite art of the Ancient Egyptians. Egyptian art contains images of people and deities that represent the culture in which they lived.

Ancient Egyptian Architecture: History, Characteristics & Influences

13. Ancient Egyptian Architecture: History, Characteristics & Influences

This lesson explores the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. Some of these structures include temples, pyramids and monumental statues constructed long ago and surviving into modern times.

Major River Systems of Mesopotamia & Egypt

14. Major River Systems of Mesopotamia & Egypt

Without rivers, the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia might have never existed. Learn more about the role that the Nile River played in Egypt and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers played in Mesopotamia.

How Physical Settings Supported Early Civilizations

15. How Physical Settings Supported Early Civilizations

When determining where to build their first villages, people had to consider many factors. This lesson explores how physical environments affected where the first villages and cities were built.

Agriculture in Ancient Egypt & Mesopotamia

16. Agriculture in Ancient Egypt & Mesopotamia

Both the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians used rivers to develop impressive agricultural systems. However, each culture used rivers differently and, as a result, often had a very different relationship with the waters that nourished their fields.

The Evolution of Language in Ancient Civilizations

17. The Evolution of Language in Ancient Civilizations

The changes that languages undergo over the course of a period of time give historians incredible hints as to what actually happened. Watch this lesson to learn how a hated empire was loved for the language it introduced, and another empire decided to adopt the language of the people it had just conquered.

How Writing Was Invented

18. How Writing Was Invented

Writing was literally an invention that not only changed history, but made its study possible. The Egyptians and the Mesopotamians were two of the first civilizations to invent writing. Learn how and why in this lesson!

Egyptian Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean & Nile Valley

19. Egyptian Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean & Nile Valley

Learn how Egypt used its many ports to grow its economy and how it traded for the goods that the Ancient World couldn't get enough of in this lesson. Then, test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Queen Hatshepsut & Ramses the Great of Egypt

20. Queen Hatshepsut & Ramses the Great of Egypt

While the pharaohs of Egypt may have ruled the land along the Nile for thousands of years and many dynasties, two names deserve special recognition as perhaps the greatest rulers. Learn more about Ramses the Great and Hatshepsut.

What Is the Kush Civilization?

21. What Is the Kush Civilization?

While they may not get all the attention of other Egyptian neighbors, such as the Persians or Hittites, the Kush were a major factor in many of Egypt's decisions, both regarding trade and warfare. Learn about the Kush in this lesson.

The Kush Civilization & Ancient Egypt

22. The Kush Civilization & Ancient Egypt

While Egypt interacted with many different cultures, its relationship with the Kush was one of the most unique in history. Learn how this civilization not only conquered Egypt for a period of time, but even built their own pyramids.

The Neo-Babylonian & Neo-Assyrian Empires

23. The Neo-Babylonian & Neo-Assyrian Empires

With the arrival of iron, the political landscape of Mesopotamia would change forever. Learn how a metal changed the course of history for the Neo-Assyrians and the Neo-Babylonians in this lesson.

History of the Persian Empire

24. History of the Persian Empire

The Persian Empire has all the great aspects of an amazing story - an unlikely rise to power against an evil king, a ruler who is beloved by his people, and a military that was centuries ahead of its time.

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