1. How were the new civilizations different from the earlier agricultural villages, pastoral societies, and chiefdoms?
New civilizations encompassed far larger populations. In these cities, people were organized and controlled by powerful states whose leaders could use force to compel obedience. Profound differences in economic function, skill, wealth, and status sharply divided the people of civilizations, making them far less equal, and subject to much greater oppression, than had been the case in the earlier societies. (Original: p. 56; With Sources: p. 86)
2. Where and when did the first civilizations emerge?
Sumer in Mesopotamia, by 3,000 B.C.E. Egypt in the Nile River Valley, by 3,000 B.C.E. Norte Chico along the coast of central Peru, by 3,000 B.C.E. Indus Valley civilization in the Indus and Saraswati River valleys of present day Pakistan, by 2,000 B.C.E. China, by 2,200 B.C.E. The Olmec along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico near present day Veracruz in southern Mexico, around 1,200 B.C.E. (Original: p. 56-60; With Sources: pp. 86-91)
3. What was unique about each of the initial six civilizations?
Sumer—world’s earliest written language; city-states; temples Egypt—pharaohs and pyramids; a unified territorial state unlike Sumer Norte Chico—cities were smaller than those of Mesopotamia; monumental architecture in the form of earthen platform mounds; quipu for recordkeeping/accounting purposes; self-contained civilization Indus Valley–elaborately planned cities; standardized weights and measures; architectural styles, even the size of bricks; irrigated agriculture provided the economic foundation for the civilization; written language; little indication of a political hierarchy or centralized state China—Shang and Zhou dynasties; lavish tombs for their rulers; ruler known as “Son of Heaven” who served as an intermediary between haven and earth and ruled by the Mandate of Heaven; early form of written Chinese on oracle bones Olmecs—cities rose from a series of competing chiefdoms and become ceremonial centers filled with elaborately decorated temples, alters, pyramids, and tombs of rulers; colossal basalt heads weighing twenty tons or more; mound building; artistic styles; urban planning; a game played with a rubber ball; ritual sacrifice; and bloodletting by rulers. (Original: p. 56-61; With Sources: pp. 86-91)
4. What explanations are given for the rise of civilizations?
They all had their roots in the Agricultural Revolution. Some civilizations emerged from earlier and competing chiefdoms, in which some social ranking and economic specialization had already developed. Some scholars have emphasized the need to organize large-scale irrigation projects as a stimulus for the earliest civilizations, but archeologists have found that the more complex water control systems appeared long after states and civilizations had already been established. Some scholars say that powerful states were useful in protecting the privileges of favored groups, and warfare and trade have also figured in the explanations. (Original: pp. 61-62; With Sources: pp. 91-92)
5. How does Robert Carneiro approach the question of the rise of civilizations?
He argued that a growing density of population produced a crowded and competitive society that was a motivation for change, especially in areas where rich agricultural land was limited, either by geography or by powerful competing societies. Such settings provided incentives for innovations, such as irrigation or plows that could produce more food, because opportunities for territorial expansion were not readily available. Environments with dense populations led to intense competition among rival groups, which led to repeated warfare. Because losers couldn’t easily flee to new lands, they were absorbed into the winner’s society as a lower class. The successful leader of the winning side emerged as an elite with an enlarged base of land, a class of subordinated workers, and a powerful state at their disposal—in short, a civilization. (Original: p. 62; With Sources: p. 92)
6. What was the role of cities in the early civilizations?
political and administrative centers centers of culture including art, architecture, literature, ritual, and ceremony marketplaces for both local and long-distance exchange centers of manufacturing activity (Original: p. 63; With Sources: p. 94)
7. In what ways was social inequality expressed in early civilizations?
wealth avoidance of physical labor by the elite clothing houses manner of burial class-specific treatment in legal codes (Original: pp. 64-65; With Sources: pp. 94-95)
8. In the rival Mesopotamian cities, what was the role of female and male slaves?
Female slaves were put to work in large-scale semi-industrial weaving enterprises, while males helped to maintain irrigation canals and construct ziggurats. Other male and female slaves worked as domestic servants in the households of their owners. (Original: p. 65; With Sources: p. 95)
9. Describe slavery in all of the First Civilizations.
Slaves-derived from prisoners of war, criminals, and debtors—were available for sale; for work in the fields, mines, homes, and shops of their owner; or on occasion for sacrifice. From the days of the earliest civilizations until the nineteenth century, the practice of “people owning people” has been an enduring feature of state-based societies everywhere. (Original: p. 65; With Sources: p. 95)
10. Compare the practice of slavery in ancient times from region to region.
Egypt and the Indus Valley civilizations initially had far fewer slaves than did Mesopotamia, which was highly militarized. Later, the Greeks of Athens and the Romans employed slaves far more extensively than did the Chinese or Indians. Furthermore, most ancient slavery differed from the type of slavery practiced in the Americas during recent centuries: in the early civilizations, slaves were not a primary agricultural labor force, many children of slaves could become free people, and slavery was not associated primarily with “blackness” or with Africa. (Original: pp. 65-66; With Sources: 95-96)
11. In what ways have historians tried to explain the origins of patriarchy?
Unlike earlier farming practices that relied on a hoe or digging stick, plow-based agriculture meant heavier work, which men were better able to perform. The growing population of civilization meant that women were more often pregnant and even more deeply involved in child care than before. The declining position of women was connected more generally to the growth of social complexity in civilization as economic, religious, and political “specialists” became more prominent. Because men were less important in the household they may have been more available to assume the powerful and prestigious specialist roles. Women have long been identified with nature, for they are intimately involved in the fundamental natural process of reproduction. Large-scale military conflict with professionally led armies was a feature of almost all of the First Civilizations, and female prisoners of war often were the first slaves. With military service largely restricted to men, its growing prominence in the affairs of civilizations served to enhance the power and prestige of a male warrior class. Perhaps private property and commerce also enhanced male power. Without sharp restrictions on women’s sexual activity, how could a father be certain that family property would be inherited by his offspring? In addition, the buying and selling associated with commerce was soon applied to male rights over women, as female slaves, concubines, and wives were exchanged among men. (Original: pp. 66-67; With Sources: pp. 96-97)
12. How did Mesopotamia and Egyptian patriarchy differ from each other?
Mesopotamia: By 2,000 B.C.E, various written laws codified and sought to enforce a patriarchal family life that offered women a measure of paternalistic protection while insisting on their submission to the unquestioned authority of men. Central to these laws was the regulation of female sexuality. Women in Mesopotamia were sometimes divided into two sharply distinguished categories. Respectable women, those under the protection and sexual control of one man, were required to be veiled when outside the home, whereas non-respectable women, such as slaves and prostitutes, were forbidden to do so and were subject to severe punishment if they presumed to cover their heads. The powerful goddesses of early times were gradually relegated to the home and hearth and were replaced by dominant male deities, who now were credited with the power of creation and fertility and viewed as the patrons of wisdom and learning. Egypt: Egypt, while clearly patriarchal, afforded its women grater opportunities than did most other First Civilizations. Women were recognized as legal equals to men, able to own property and slaves, to administer and sell land, to make their own wills, to sign their own marriage contracts, and to initiate divorce. Royal women occasionally exercised significant political power, acting as regents for their young sons or more rarely as queens in their own right. Married women in Egypt were not veiled as in Mesopotamia. Statues and paintings often showed men and women in affectionate poses and as equal partners. (Original: pp. 67-68; With Sources: pp. 97-98)
13. What were the sources of state authority in the First Civilizations?
Citizens recognized that the complexity of life in cities or densely populated territories required some authority to coordinated and regulate the community enterprises, such as irrigation and defense. State authorities frequently used forced to compel obedience. Authority was often associated with divine sanction. Writing and accounting helped state authority by defining elite status, conveying prestige on the literate, providing a means to disseminate propaganda, strengthening the state by making accurate record keeping possible, and giving added weight to orders, regulations, and laws. Perception of state authority and power was seen through its grand architecture, impressive rituals, and lavish lifestyles of the elite. (Original: pp. 69-72; With Sources: pp. 99-103)
14a. Compare and Contrast Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations’ politics. (Original: pp. 73-78; With Sources: pp. 103-108)
Sumer was organized in a dozen or more separate and independent city-states. Each city was ruled by a king, who claimed to represent the city’s patron deity and who controlled the affairs of the walled city and surrounding rural area. Nevertheless, frequent warfare among these Sumerian city-states caused people living in rural areas to flee to the walled cities for protection. With no overarching authority, rivalry over land and water often led to violent conflict. Egyptian civilization, by contrast, began with the merger of several earlier states or chiefdoms into a unified territory that stretched some 1,000 miles along the Nile. Egypt maintained that unity and independence, though with occasional interruptions. Cities in Egypt were far less important than in Mesopotamia, although political capitals, market centers, and major burial sites gave it an urban presence as well. The focus of the Egyptian states resided in the pharaoh, believed to be a god in human form, he alone ensured the daily rising of the sun and the annual flooding of the Nile. All of the country’s many officials served at his pleasure; the law of the land was simply the pharaoh’s edict; the access to the afterlife lay in proximity to him and burial in or near his towering pyramids.
14b. Compare and Contrast Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations’ environment. (Original: pp. 73-78; With Sources: pp. 103-108)
An open environment without serious obstacles to travel made Mesopotamia more vulnerable to invasion than the much more protected space of Egypt. Flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers helped to provide alluvial soil for productive agriculture. However, flooding of the rivers was unpredictable. Irrigation involved a complex and artificial network of canals and dikes. In Sumer, deforestation and soil erosion decreased crop yields by some 65% between 2400 and 1700 B.C.E. Contributing to this disaster was the increasing salinization of the soil, a long-term outcome of intensive irrigation. As a result, wheat was replaced by barley, which is far more tolerant of salty conditions. Ecological deterioration clearly weakened Sumerian citystates, facilitated their conquest by foreigners, and shifted the center of Mesopotamian civilization permanently to the north. Egypt was surrounded by deserts, mountains, seas, and cataracts which made it less vulnerable to invasions. Yearly, predictable flooding of the Nile River helped to provide alluvial soil for productive agriculture. Egyptian irrigation was less intrusive by simply regulating the natural flow of the Nile. This avoided the problem of salty soils, allowing agriculture to emphasize wheat production. On occasion their were extended periods of low floods between 2250 and 1950 B.C.E. which led to sharply reduced agricultural output, large-scale starvation, the loss of livestock, and social upheaval and political disruption. Egypt’s ability to work with its more favorable environment enabled a degree of stability and continuity that proved impossible in Sumer.
14c. Compare and Contrast Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations’ culture. (Original: pp. 73-78; With Sources: pp. 103-108)
Mesopotamians viewed humankind as caught in an inherently disorderly world, subject to the whims of capricious and quarreling gods, and facing death without much hope of a life beyond. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, death is described as a journey from which there is no turning back with no hope of light or sustenance. Perhaps it was their environment that gave them this bleak outlook on life and death. By contrast, elite literate culture in Egypt, produced a rather more cheerful and hopeful outlook on the world, perhaps because of its more predictable, stable, and beneficent environment. The rebirth of the sun every day and of the river every year seemed to assure Egyptians that life would prevail over death.
15. In what ways were Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations shaped by their interactions with near and distant neighbors?
Egyptian agriculture drew upon wheat and barley, which reached Egypt from Mesopotamia, as well as gourds, watermelons, domesticated donkeys, and cattle, which derived from Sudan. Some scholars argue that Egypt’s steep pyramids and its system of writing were stimulated by Mesopotamian models. The practice of divine kingship seems to have derived form the central or eastern Sudan. Indo-Europeans Hittites—and pastoralists—Hyksos– influenced both Egypt and Mesopotamia (Babylonia) by bringing with them the domesticated horse, wheeled carts, and chariot technology, which were introduced into their own military forces. The Egyptians absorbed foreign innovations, such as the horse-drawn chariot; new kinds of armor, bows, daggers, and swords; improved methods of spinning and weaving; new musical instruments; and olive and pomegranate trees. After expelling the Hyksos, the Egyptians went on to create their own empire, both in Nubia and in the eastern Mediterranean regions of Syria and Palestine. The Babylonian and Egyptian Empires were also bound together by marriage alliances as part of an international political system. (Original: pp. 79-81; With Sources: pp. 108-112)
16. What are the reservations some scholars have with the term “civilization?”
The first is its implication of superiority. In popular usage, “civilization” suggests refined behavior, a “higher” form of society, something positive. The opposite of “civilized”—barbarian, savage, or “uncivilized”—is normally understood as an insult implying inferiority, and that of course, is precisely how the inhabitants of many civilizations have viewed those outside their own societies. A second reservation about using the term derives from its implication of solidity—the idea that civilizations represent distinct and widely shared identities with clear boundaries that mark them off from other such units. At best, members of an educated upper class who shared a common literary tradition may have felt themselves part of some more inclusive civilizations, but that left out most of the population. Moreover, unlike, modern nations, none of the earlier civilizations had definite borders. The line between civilizations and other kinds of societies is not always clear. (Original: pp. 83-84; With Sources: pp. 112-113)
a series of knotted cords, used for accounting and perhaps as a form of writing in Norte Chico civilization (Original: p. 57; With Sources: p. 87)
In Chinese civilization, animal bones were heated and the cracks then interpreted as prophecies. The prophecies were written on the bone and provide our earliest written sources for ancient China. (Original: p. 60; With Sources: p. 90)
Mandate of Heaven
the ideological foundation of Chinese emperors, this was a belief that a ruler held authority by command of divine force as long as he ruled morally and benevolently (Original: p. 60; With Sources: p. 90)
Both were major cities of the Indus River Valley civilization that flourished around 2,000 B.C.E (Original: p. 63; With Sources: 93)
Code of Hammurabi
A series of laws publicized, at the order of King Hammurabi of Babylonia, that proclaim the king’s commitment to social order (Original: p. 65 and 72; With Sources: p. 95 and 102)
wedged-shape writing in the form of symbols incised into clay tablets; used in Mesopotamia from around 3,100 B.C.E. to the beginning of the Common Era (Original: p. 71; With Sources: p. 101)
Ancient Egyptian writing system; literally, “sacred carvings”—so named because the Greeks saw them prominently displayed in Egyptian temples (Original: p. 71; With Sources: p. 101)
Epic of Gilgamesh
the most famous existing literary work from ancient Mesopotamia, it tells the story of one man’s quest for immortality (Original: p. 74; With Sources: p. 104)
Egyptian god of the dead (Original: p. 79; With Sources: p. 108)
a smaller early civilization whose development of a monotheistic faith that provided the foundation of modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam assured them a significant place in world history (Original: p. 80; With Sources: p. 109)
A civilization in the area of present-day Lebanon, creators of the first alphabetic writing system (Original: p. 80; With Sources: p. 109)
a civilization to the south of Egypt in the Nile Valley, noted for the development of an alphabetic writing system and a major ironworking industry by 500 B.C.E. (p. 80 and 81; With Sources: p. 111 and 112)
an Indo-European civilization established in Anatolia in the 18th century B.C.E. (p. 81; With Sources: p. 111)
a pastoral group of unknown ethnicity that invaded Egypt and ruled in the north from 1650- 1535 B.C.E. Their dominance was based on their use of horses, chariots, and bronze technology. (Original: p. 81; With Sources: p. 112)