Records close to five hundred or six hundred years ago first recognize civilization when people started living in organized communities that had social, political-military and economic structures that were distinct. These early societies had various activities including artistic, religious and intellectual that played important roles. Citizens often come together for the good of the greater community. It is usually through the development of religious, economic, political, and social organizations. Therefore, civilization may be described as the coming together of individuals in the community to develop religious, social, economic, and political organizations aimed towards the good of every person within the community.
The division of history in time
Prehistoric before c. 3000 B.C.E
Prehistoric is the time that was before written history. However ancient Mesopotamia marked the beginning of writing for the west, and this was just before 3000 B.C.E. it, therefore, includes architecture, sculptures and paintings that existed before then.
Ancient c. 3000 B.C.E to c. 400 C.E
It includes the early civilizations of the ancient Near East including the Romans, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and Etruscans. The period comes after writing is invented and just before the Roman Empire falls.
These two ages have three main periods that include the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. The prehistoric period is mainly before history and the available information on this time is mainly from archaeological discoveries of natural remains, tools, and weapons. The Stone Age comprises of the Palaeolithic period (600,000 to 10,000BC). A Greek word means Old Stone Age. There is the Mesolithic period (30,000 BP 5,000 BC) and the Neolithic period (9500 BC 3,000 BC). The Palaeolithic period has three divisions including the Lower Paleolithic (ca. 2,000,000 200,000 BC) which comes before Homo sapiens but begins with Homo habilis. It is Also Characterised by the earliest use of stone tools. Middle Paleolithic (ca. 150,000-40,000 BC) contains the earliest evidence of behavioral modernity. It also has the development of cultural traits including art and religion. Upper Paleolithic (ca. 40,000 10,000 BC) which has the earliest settlements that are organized including campsites.
The start of written documentation marks the beginning of ancient history. Its timeframe varies per civilization with some beginning as recent as the 1400s CE. There are various definitions of ancient civilization, but it 's hard to identify a firm working one. Some books describe it as a form of culture where a big number of people live in urban areas. These individuals have a developed writing system and master the art of smelting metal. The first civilizations are traced back larger, more populated and sophisticated cities with advanced political, social, and political structures. Civilization also calls for the individual to have a certain sense of history.
Why we study ancient civilizations
Get to understand ourselves more
Studying our predecessors helps us understand who we are
We get to learn about our society by exploring how past societies and cultures were structured.
Terminology and topics
B.C or B.C.E
B.C refers to before Christ while A.D, which is often used refers to Anno Domini or in the year of our Lord. A Monk developed the system in the year 525. Other more recent terms used by systems include B.C.E, which means before the Common Era and C.E for Common Era. The new systems currently work as replacements for B.C and A.D. they dictate that time goes backwards B.CE and forward C.E.
Dates are often preceded by a c and a ca which are abbreviations for the Latin word circa which stands for approximately or around.
A decade represents ten years, a century one hundred, and a millennium one thousand. Archaeology is the study of people during the prehistoric and historic times through the analysis of monuments remains artifacts and inscriptions. Anthropology is the scientific study of origins, cultural and physical development, human beliefs, customs and biological characteristics.
Civilization in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a Greek word that means river and translated to between two rivers. It is the current Iraq and is on the plains of Tigris and Euphrates. It was highly cultivated and irrigated by canals from the two rivers. It was an averagely dry area, but the silt from the two rivers enriched the plains of southern Mesopotamia. The land was dependent on the melting of the uplands where the rivers would flow into the lowlands. There were instances where the rivers would flood causing disasters in the area. Therefore, development of an elaborate system to prevent flooding and ensure growing of crops was necessary.
The ruling dynasties in Mesopotamia included Sumerian, Ur, Akkadian, Babylonian, Neo-Babylonian and Assyrians, Alexander the great, Persian and the Arab Islamic reign. It was a polytheistic nation with a belief in more than one god. These gods included heavenly bodies like the moon and the sun. Their relationship with humans was subservience I that people were only made for manual labor. Sumerians developed the first texts in Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C. they made impressions on clay tablets that were then dried and preserved. They started with pictures then to signs that were simplified and later to a phonetic system that enabled abstract ideas. Cities in Mesopotamia were considered sacred and connected to a god or goddess. Each had a temple at its centre. The soil had no stones or trees, and the city used mud for the building. The various Sumerian cities included Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Umma and Lagash. They later developed into city-states through political and economic advancement. Temples and priest houses were built on Ziggurats, which were fabricated mountains. They were also constructed with precious material due to the belief that they had a connection to the gods and goddesses. The ziggurat played three significant roles including religious, propaganda, and environmental functions.
Gods ruled their cities, and therefore they developed the theocratic type of government. However, some earthly kings also had power. Their kings were divine and derived their powers from gods. They ruled over every activity and resource in Mesopotamia. They mainly dealt with agriculture but gradually transited to industry and commerce. Carts emerged because of inventing the wheel in 300 B.C which, made transportation of goods easy. Their cities were divided into four major classes including the elites, dependent commoners, free commoners, and slaves. Some of the Sumerian findings included the lyre with a bulls head, votive statues, and the standard of Ur.
Sargon unified lower Mesopotamia after defeating the Sumerians. He established his capital at Akkad and had a short-lived dynasty due to invasion by barbarians in2200 BCE. The Akkadian empire fell leading its people to join the Assyrians to the north and Babylonians to the south. The Babylonians took over in 1790BCE with Hammurabi as the ruler. He unified the Sumerians and Akkadians and regained the borders almost similar to those by Sargon. He developed the laws of Hammurabi, and one of them was the stele of Hammurabi. It was a collection of legislation and divided the kingdom into classes.
Assyrians came to power around 1400 BCE, and their location had a different climate and terrain. They had full control of Mesopotamia by the end of the 9th century. They used iron tools to establish their empire, and their influence would reach as far as west Egypt by the 7th century. Babylonians and Medes combined their power to ensure the fall of Nineveh, which led to the fall of the Assyrian leadership. Nebuchadnezzar took control and rebuilt Babylon. They were therefore known as neo-Babylonians due to the previous rise and development of Babylon. Cyrus introduced the rule of Persians, which went on until they were conquered by Alexander the great in 330BC. He stretched the Mesopotamian Empire to Egypt, Iran, Babylonia, and Anatolia. They developed the region with various visible landmarks including the Persepolis, the Apadana, and the gate of all nations. Cyrus became the great king due to his wisdom and mercy. He owned titles such as the great king, king of Anshan, mighty king, king of the four rims, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad and much more. The empire eventually developed into the most influential around the world. All this took place under the leadership of Darius. Various other cities around Mesopotamia also developed. Darius loved to show a significant amount of strength and from his empire through different places.
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