Posts

Rock Out with the Mesopotamians

Image
Check out this fun song from They Might Be Giants...



Also, you might be curious from the lyrics of the song:

Sargon was an Akkadian king who conquered all of the Sumerian city-states and created the world's first empire.

Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who created the world's first written set of laws for all to obey.

Ashurbanipal was an Assyrian king who ruled his empire from a huge palace in Nineveh. He collected a huge library of texts from ancient Mesopotamia.

Gilgamesh was the first epic hero in all of literature. The Sumerians wrote about his great deeds, including killing the Bull of Heaven and the guardian beast, Humbaba.



The Israelites

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent: The Israelites (Hebrews)

The Hebrews, also called the Israelites, were unique among ancient civilizations because of their monotheistic religion. Much of the information we have about the earliest history of the Hebrews comes from the Old Testament of the Bible. Modern Jews trace their religion and culture back to this ancient civilization.






Sources of information on the Hebrews/Israelites:
Harvard Semitic Museum
Wikipedia Entry
NYU Library Guide


The Phoenicians

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were known as the greatest sea traders on the Mediterranean, and left their legacy by creating the alphabet we still use today (with a few changes). From their bases in what is today Lebanon, the Phoenicians traveled the entire length of the Mediterranean, setting up far away colonies in places like Spain and North Africa. Their colony of Carthage actually challenges the powerful Roman Republic for dominance of the region in the third and fourth centuries B.C.

The Phoenicians built much of their wealth on selling a very special purple dye made from the shell of the murex, a snail-like creature. This dye was so valuable that in ancient Rome, only the emperor was allowed to wear all purple, and the noble families of Rome marked their togas with a purple stripe.





Sources for information about the Phoenicians:


Wikipedia Entry (a good starting point)
Ancient History Encyclopedia: Phoenicia
History World: Phoenicians
Histo…

The Assyrians

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent: The Assyrians

The Assyrians began their civilization in the ancient city-state of Assur over 3,000 years ago, and came to dominate the area of upper Mesopotamia that includes parts of modern day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The Assyrians were known by the Egyptians for being a fierce warrior race who knew nothing but bloodshed and destruction. Recent archaeology has shown that unlike the image in the Egyptians' propaganda, the Assyrians were actually an advanced civilization who excelled in the arts and the science of astronomy and mathematics.

The Assyrians were rivals of the Babylonians and the Egyptians, and produced strong kings with names like Shamshi-Adad and Tiglath Pileser I. Like the Babylonians, the Assyrians were powerful for a time, then declined, then returned as the "New" Assyrian Empire later. The modern country of Syria traces its name back to the ancient Assyrians.



Here are a few so…

The Babylonians

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Babylonians
Based in the ancient city-state of Babylon, the Babylonian empire stretched across the entire region of Mesopotamia and beyond at its height, around the year 1770 B.C. under its most famous ruler, Hammurabi. Hammurabi is most known for being a conqueror and a law-giver.

The Code of Hammurabi set out the concept of a punishment fitting the crime. He had his laws carved into stone and set in the center of the towns he ruled, so that all would know the laws. The thinking behind Hammurabi's laws can be summed up in the phrase, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." This means that if a man injures another by putting out his eye, then that man's eye will be put out as punishment.

The laws were more symbolic since most people in those days were unable to read and write, but Hammurabi created the concept of the rule of law, and the idea of fairness in the justice system.

The interesting thing about the Babylonian E…

The Persians

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Persians
The Persians lived in what is today called Iran. They built the largest land empire of the ancient world, and had a great capital city at Persepolis before its destruction by Alexander the Great. Some people know the Persians as the enemy in the movie 300, but there is so much more. The Persians' most famous leaders were Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, and Xerxes. At one time, the Persians took over the land of Egypt, and at another challenged the Greeks for domination of the lands east of the Mediterranean.


Sources of information on the Persians:
Wikipedia Entry
History for Kids: Persia









The Hittites

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Hittites
The Hittites were a fierce and mysterious people who lived in the central and eastern part of Anatolia, in the modern country of Turkey. The Hittites created a strong and important empire in the years between 1900 B.C. and 1100 B.C. (3,000 - 4,000 years ago), often battling or trading with the Egyptians, competing with the pharaoh Ramses the Great for domination over Palestine and the area of today's Syria.

The Hittites had their capital city at Hattusa, and were known in the ancient world for their skill in smelting and metal working, particularly using bronze and iron to make weapons.



Some great sources on the Hittites:

Wikipedia Entry
The British Museum
Archaeological Site of Hattusa














The Sumerians

Image
Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent:  The Sumerians
The earliest people to grow into a flourishing civilization in the Fertile Crescent (or anywhere) were the Sumerians. Just northwest of the Persian Gulf, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Sumerians built a series of city-states that were later incorporated into an empire. Impressively, the Sumerians invented the wheel, irrigation, writing, trade, the sailboat, organized government, and a number system based on 60 (which we still use to measure time).

The Sumerians were a polytheistic society, believing in a few principal gods and thousands of lesser gods and goddesses. The had one well-known creation myth involving a great flood and a hero named Gilgamesh. This story may have been the inspiration for the Noah's Ark chapter of the Bible.




Some great sources for information about the Sumerians:

BrainPOP
The British Museum
Wikipedia Entry
LookLex Encyclopedia

Ancient Near East Map

Image
In class we started mapping the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, where the ancient civilizations we study were located.


Our focus of study for the Mesopotamia unit is really the entire Fertile Crescent: An area that stretches from the Nile Valley of Egypt in the west, northward to Palestine, westward across the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and southward to the Persian Gulf. Surrounded by inhospitable deserts, the Fertile Crescent is an area that has good soil for farming, rivers for water, and is in a strategic location for trade.

Here are copies of the Ancient Near East maps that we are completing in class. Click on it for a larger version.


On the Ancient Map, locate:
Mediterranean Sea
Black Sea
Caspian Sea
Red Sea
Dead Sea
Persian Gulf

Euphrates River
Tigris River
Nile River
Jordan River

Anatolia
Persia
Mesopotamia
The Fertile Crescent
Egypt

Zagros Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Caucasus Mountains

Syrian Desert
Arabian Desert

Mesopotamia itself comes from the Greek meaning "…

Animal Domestication: Some Fun Videos

Image
In class, we talked about some of the differences between wild and domesticated animals. Sheep, for example, looked more like mountain goats and lived in the wild. Over time, humans bred them to be dumber, bigger, woolier, and more tame.


In the first video, a farmer in Wales (in Great Britain) demonstrates two domesticated animals working to create quite a light show--the trained shepherd dog that arranges the sheep according to the farmer's whistle commands, and the sheep that are herded around the hill side.




In another funny video, an Australian man sets the world record for speed sheep-shearing!







Barter Day 2018!

Image
As part of our study of ancient civilizations, students will be learning about the development of the first economies. Key concepts of this unit include surplus-scarcity, supply and demand, and trade; money was not used. To give students a clearer understanding of the concept of trading, or bartering, we will have “Barter Day” on Tuesday, November 20th.

On Barter Day, students will become artisans in a marketplace and trade their “goods” with other students to learn about the challenges (and fun) of bartering. In the process, students learn about the importance of supply and demand and about competition in the marketplace.



To participate on Barter Day, students should look around the house for unwanted tacky knickknacks, trinkets, toys, or other junk treasure. The items that students bring in should be no more than can fit all together on a desk. The things that students bring in are for trading. Students should not bring in anything of value, or anything that is special to them. So…

Living in an Early Farm Town

Image
This week's work involves illustrating a scene from the Neolithic Era.

You will have a better understanding of this time period by reading a passage from A Message of Ancient Days (p. 118-133) and answering four questions about life in one of the earliest Neolithic (Stone Age farming) communities.

In this case, the town is called Çatal Huyuk and it is located in the present day country of Turkey.


After looking at the readings on the early Neolithic period (Message of Ancient Days pgs. 127-133), the text asks you to answer the following questions:

1. What was life like in a Neolithic farming town?

You would live in a mud-brick house and take care of fields of crops outside of the village. Besides growing food, your family would continue to hunt wild animals and gather plants and berries. There would be different jobs for the different people in the town. The town would have a surplus of grain to trade with other people nearby. The people were polytheistic and they worshiped thei…