Ch 5: Ancient Civilizations in the Near East

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons on ancient Near East civilizations and learn about their hierarchical structures, religious beliefs, social developments, and more. These video lessons are short and engaging and make learning easy!

Ancient Civilizations in the Near East - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

An exploration of Near East ancient civilization lends insight into the development of phenomena such as law, writing, and various styles of art and architecture. This chapter covers the histories of a number of ancient cultures that existed in and around Mesopotamia, delving into their cultural identities, social structures, and religious perspectives. The video lessons in this chapter should lead you to:

  • Be familiar with the history of Mesopotamian civilization
  • Understand the historical development of phenomena such as writing and law
  • Identify the appeal and history of the fertile crescent
  • Articulate the artistic, architectural, and historical styles of a variety of ancient cultures
  • Assimilate significant accomplishments of ancient Egypt

Video Objective
Mesopotamia: The First Civilization Explore the evolution of civilization in the Mesopotamian region.
Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics, and Religion Understand the ruling system of Mesopotamian kings and its correlation with religion.
The Protoliterate Period in Sumer Learn about the development of written language in Sumer.
The Invention of Writing Examine the innumerable impacts of the materialization of writing.
The Old Sumerian Period Understand the predominance of and motivations for perpetual warfare in the old Sumerian period.
The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization Recognize the advantageous characteristics of the fertile crescent. Learn about the art, technology, and architecture of what became the region's dominant empires.
The Akkadian Period Become familiar with the migration of the Akkadians and the development of the first true empire.
The Neo-Sumerian Period Understand the characteristics of the Neo-Sumerian period and the tendencies toward order, peace, and prosperity in the Sumerian city of Ur.
Heirs of the Sumerians: Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians, and Assyrians Examine the technologies, architecture, and art of various kingdoms of the Mesopotamian region.
Assyrian Art and Architecture Become familiar with the architecture and art of the Assyrian civilization.
Hammurabi's Code: The Advent of Law, Prerequisites, and Implications Learn about the origination of law and its corresponding social implications.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Understand the Sumerians' religious belief system and exploration of immortality. Identify defining characteristics of this culture.
Ancient Egypt in the Bronze Age Explore the art, characteristics, and accomplishments of Egyptian culture as the pinnacle of Bronze Age society.
Ancient Egyptian Art: History and Style Become familiar with the style and elements of ancient Egyptian art.
Ancient Egyptian Architecture: History, Characteristics, and Influences Understand the influences and traits of ancient Egypt's architecture.
The Achievements of the Egyptians Identify major achievements of ancient Egyptian culture.
Egyptian Women: Royalty, Privileges, and Tradition Recognize the expected roles, responsibilities, and perceptions of women in ancient Egypt.
The Egyptian Social Structure Understand the dominant social structure of ancient Egypt.
Iron Age Empires: Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian, and Persian Empires Distinguish among and recognize the major characteristics of these empires of the Iron Age.
What's the Difference Between Polytheism and Monotheism? Define and differentiate between the religious concepts of monotheism and polytheism.
The Hebrews and Their Beliefs Examine the fundamental tenets of Judaism.
Iron vs. Bronze: History of Metallurgy Compare and contrast the characteristics of iron and bronze. Understand the historical development of metallurgy.
Ancient Persian Art and Architecture: History and Style Become familiar with the style and history of the art and architecture of ancient Persia.
Zoroastrianism: Definition, Beliefs, and History Understand the development, philosophy, and historical and contemporary implications of Zoroastrianism.
Cult of Mithras: Myth and History Learn the history and characteristics of Mithraism.

25 Lessons in Chapter 5: Ancient Civilizations in the Near East
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Mesopotamia: The First Civilization

1. Mesopotamia: The First Civilization

In this lesson, we explore the beginning of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Mesopotamia. We specifically discuss the factors that encouraged settlement in the region.

Mesopotamian Kings: History, Politics & Religion

2. 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.

Sumer's Protoliterate Period & the Origin of Writing

3. Sumer's Protoliterate Period & the Origin of Writing

In this lesson, we explore the Sumerian development of writing and the important cultural factors that led to its usage, as well as some of the practices in which it was quickly utilized. After, feel free to test yourself on the brief quiz.

The Invention of Writing

4. 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.

Old Sumerian Period: Wars & Expansion

5. Old Sumerian Period: Wars & Expansion

In this lesson, we explore the Old Sumerian Period, a period of Mesopotamian history where the growth of prosperous city-states led to intermittent periods of warfare.

The Fertile Crescent: Cradle of Civilization

6. 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.

Akkadian Civilization: Culture, Art & Religion

7. Akkadian Civilization: Culture, Art & Religion

In this lesson, we explore the Akkadian empire of ancient Sumer. Possibly the first 'empire' to ever exist in the ancient world, Akkadian kings dominated Sumer for over a century.

Neo-Sumerian Period: Lifestyle, Peace & Prosperity

8. Neo-Sumerian Period: Lifestyle, Peace & Prosperity

In this lesson, we explore the Neo-Sumerian Period, a relatively short period in Sumerian history but one of immense economic and cultural growth and prosperity.

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

9. 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.

Assyrian Art and Architecture

10. Assyrian Art and Architecture

This lesson explores the unique characteristics of a fierce and violent culture: the Assyrians. The Assyrians were a warrior culture living in ancient Mesopotamia who used art and architecture to display their power.

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

11. 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.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

12. 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.

Ancient Egypt in the Bronze Age

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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.

Egyptian Social Structure: From Slaves to Pharaoh

16. Egyptian Social Structure: From Slaves to Pharaoh

In this lesson, we will explore ancient Egypt's social structure. We'll start at the top of this great pyramid with the Pharaoh and work our way to the bottom, where we'll find peasants and slaves.

Egyptian Women: Royalty, Privileges & Tradition

17. Egyptian Women: Royalty, Privileges & Tradition

In this lesson, we will study ancient Egyptian women. We will focus especially on the rights and privileges they enjoyed in the legal, economic, and social realms, and we will meet Egypt's most famous female ruler.

Egyptian Achievements: Unification, Pyramids, Hieroglyphics & Calendar

18. Egyptian Achievements: Unification, Pyramids, Hieroglyphics & Calendar

In this lesson, we will discuss some of the major achievements of ancient Egypt, including its unification by King Menes, the pyramids, hieroglyphics, and the Egyptian calendar.

Iron Age Empires: Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian and Persian Empires

19. Iron Age Empires: Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian and Persian Empires

This lesson is a survey of the three empires that emerged after the Bronze Age collapse. Parts of the survey are viewed from the perspective of the Israelites, who found themselves the playthings of powerful empires. The lecture focuses on a few specific rulers and their impact on their empires. It also traces patterns of imperial tactics throughout this period and region.

What's the Difference Between Polytheism and Monotheism?

20. 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.

The Hebrews and Their Beliefs

21. The Hebrews and Their Beliefs

This lesson covers the Hebrews and their beliefs. We look at the core tenets of Judaism and explore some of the stories from the Torah. Finally, we see how the Hebrews' history of oppression impacted their religion and the world today.

Iron vs. Bronze: History of Metallurgy

22. Iron vs. Bronze: History of Metallurgy

This lecture explores the transition from the bronze age to the iron age. The difficulties of working with iron are enumerated. The properties of iron and steel are compared to those of bronze. Finally the implications for this transition on civilization are considered.

Ancient Persian Art and Architecture: History & Style

23. Ancient Persian Art and Architecture: History & Style

This lesson explores the artwork of one of the most powerful and expansive empires in history: the Persian Empire. Persian artwork contained vivid imagery that recorded the success of the Persian kings in battle and their cultural tendencies.

Zoroastrianism: Definition, Beliefs & History

24. Zoroastrianism: Definition, Beliefs & History

Major religions, like Christianity and Islam, have been popular since ancient times, but what religion was popular before these belief systems developed? This lesson explores the beliefs of Zoroastrians, one of the earliest forms of organized religion.

Cult of Mithras: Myth & History

25. Cult of Mithras: Myth & History

The Cult of Mithras was a mysterious religion popular in Rome in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries. This lesson explores the secretive beliefs, practices, and history of the cult and its initiates.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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