About This Chapter
The Ancient Near East
Prepare to witness the epic developments and experiences that shaped the ancient Near East. First off, we wouldn't have records of these colorful stories and historical trends without one of the most important inventions of all time: writing. Thoughts recorded as writing allowed civilizations to move forward, retain progress and spread knowledge. How exactly did the growth of cities, the invention of writing and countless invasions contribute to the development of religions in the ancient world? Our spiritual conversation will also cover the differences between polytheism and monotheism, what the movement from many gods to one supreme being really meant for religious practices.
We'll track the development of ancient currencies and outline why money became a necessity for increasingly complex societies. The advent of law, as we'll see with Hammurabi's code, was also a necessity for expanding civilizations. We'll also chronicle major developments in metallurgy, exploring the advantages that iron offered over bronze. As always, the historical implications of each development will be outlined and provide context for the amazing stories as lived by our ancestors.
What combination of factors made the Fertile Crescent the cradle of human civilization? As we explore the kingdoms that followed, we'll examine their laws, technologies, art and architecture. We'll pay special attention to Egypt as the pinnacle of Bronze Age society. We'll also take a look at the Iron Age empires, relatively short-lived kingdoms that arose after the Bronze Age collapse. Every good story has a conflict as well; there will be plenty of those as we look back on competing civilizations, exploring the effects of their victories and defeats.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
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Other chapters within the Western Civilization I: Help and Review course
- Prehistory: Help and Review
- History of the Ancient Near East: Help and Review
- History of Ancient Greece: Help and Review
- Hellenism and the Athenian Achievement: Help and Review
- The Rise of the Roman Republic: Help and Review
- The Fall of the Roman Empire: Help and Review
- The Dark Ages: Help and Review
- The Early Middle Ages: Help and Review
- The Medieval Warm Period: Help and Review
- The High Middle Ages: Help and Review
- The Late Middle Ages: Help and Review
- The Renaissance: Help and Review
- The Age of Exploration: Help and Review
- The Reformation: Help and Review
- The Elizabethan Era: Help and Review
- Colonialism in History: Help and Review