Ch 2: Early Near East Civilizations

About This Chapter

In this chapter is a comprehensive overview of ancient civilizations in the Near East. Developed by top instructors, engaging videos closely examine Mesopotamia, the Neo-Sumerian period, the Akkadian civilization and additional topics.

Early Near East Civilizations - Chapter Summary

Early Near East civilizations thrived during important ages in world history. Use the lessons in this chapter to learn more about these civilizations, how they formed and what achievements still impact modern-day humans. Lessons can be accessed as entertaining videos or full transcripts with easy-to-identify vocabulary words. Review these lessons in any sequence and as often as you'd like from your computer, smartphone or tablet. When ready, test your knowledge of early Near East civilizations by taking short lesson quizzes and a chapter exam. Upon completion of this chapter, you will understand the following:

  • What factors contributed to the formation of civilization in Mesopotamia
  • How Mesopotamian kings used religion to secure their power
  • How writing developed in Sumer's Protoliterate Period
  • What occurred during the Old Sumerian and Neo-Sumerian periods
  • Why the Fertile Crescent was a great place to build a civilization
  • Why the Akkadians migrated from the Arabian Peninsula
  • Who were the heirs of the Sumerians and what was Hammurabi's Code
  • What Ancient Egypt accomplished during the Bronze Age, how Egypt was structured socially and how Egyptian women were treated
  • What were the Iron Age empires and differences between the Iron and Bronze ages
  • How polytheism and monotheism differed
  • What were the beliefs of Zoroastrianism and the myth and history of the cult of Mithras

18 Lessons in Chapter 2: Early Near East Civilizations
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.

Old Sumerian Period: Wars & Expansion

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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.

Egyptian Social Structure: From Slaves to Pharaoh

11. 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

12. 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.

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

13. 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?

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

There have been many religions throughout human history, and each one has had a unique set of beliefs. In this lesson, we're going to look at the two main categories into which most of the world's religions fit and then compare them to each other.

The Hebrews and Their Beliefs

15. 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

16. 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.

Zoroastrianism: Definition, Beliefs & History

17. 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

18. 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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