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Ancient Civilizations Intro

The Common Thread that Runs Through All These Early Civilizations

- Mesopotamia
o Tigris and Euphrates
- Egypt
o The Nile
- India
o Indus River
- China
o Hung He River (Yellow River)

Mesopotamia 3000 BC 100 AD

Fertile Crescent
Location Modern Day Iraq, parts of Iran, Syria, Turkey
Urbanization Enriched life
- Specialization of the arts and professions
- Trade up and down river

Three Important Contributions

Calendar based on observation of the movements of the celestial bodies

The first form of writing
- Cuneiform 4000-3000 BC
o Form of writing system based on wedge system
- Ziggurat (Ur 3500 BC)
o Temple-lower
o Symbolic mountains: an intermediate territory between the earth and the sky

Rise of Babylon

Gates of the Gods (Bagdad)

2000 BC
First translators of Gilgamesh
Code of Hammurabi
o 282 Laws of Regulations
o Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth
Covers all aspects of life, from business to marriage to divorce


Assyrians conquer Babylon (Mesopotamia) in 900 BC

Nineveh 230 miles south of Bagdad

Stored clay tablets of literature and records in the Great Library

Found in 19th century by British Explorer (Austin Henry Layard)

Sumerian Mythology, Religion, and Worship

- Popular Use
o Something that the person using the word believes to be untrue even though
many people may accept it as true
- Anthropologists, psychologists, or literary critics
o Stories developed anonymously within a culture that attempted to explain
natural events from a supernatural or religious point of view (example:
o Greek word mythos: word or story
Mythology Body of a cultures myths

Legend vs. Myth

- Narrative of human actions within the realm of possibility
- Based on historical events situated in time
- Take place outside of historical time
o sacred time
- Sacred beings, gods, semi-divine heroes and heroines


System of beliefs, ritual, and standards of conduct

Sumerians believed in many gods and goddesses. These divine beings created humans to
serve them.
Afterlife was a place neither of punishment nor reward but a dark, dusty cave where the
crowded shades of the dead bumped into each other like bats

Epic of Gilgamesh

Who is Gilgamesh?
- Historical and legendary figure who was probably king of the city of Uruk (one of the
first cities) around 2,600 BC
- Considered a great hero
- 2/3 Divine; 1/3 Human
- His epic was written in both Sumerian (3200 BC) and Akkadian (2340 BC)
Gilgamesh as King
- Terrible king
- People pray to the Gods to get rid of him
- Gods send Enkidu to get rid of him

Gilgamesh wins against Enkidu and they become friends


A long narrative poem that relates the great deeds of a larger than life hero who embodies
the values of a particular society

Names and Vocab to Remember

Gilgamesh- king of the city of Uruk, excessive pride, clouds pride

Enkidu- Sent by the Gods to fight Gilgamesh, becomes Gilgameshs friend, Wild Man,
Gods kill him with sickness
- Description of the Afterlife
o the house from which none who enters ever returns
o People sit in the darkness
o Dust is their food; clay is their meat
o They see no light and sit in darkness
- Enkidus biggest regret is that he is dying a shameful death
- Gilgamesh mourns for seven days
Shamhat- Love-priestess; sent to strip Enkidu of his animal powers
Humbaba- monster; guardian of the Cedar Forest
Shamash- Sun God
Archetype- model
Epic Hero- a larger than life main character whose mighty deeds reflect the values
admired by the society that created the epic. They normally undertake a dangerous
journey to supernatural realms to achieve a goal. They are often endowed with superior
strength, knowledge, and courage. However, they do possess some kind of human
Ishtar- Goddess of Love, Gilgamesh would not pay attention to her so the Gods sent the
Bull of Heaven to destroy him. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the bull and Gods decide to
kill Enkidu

What characteristics of an epic hero are depicted in this section?


Emotional- shows his weakness

2/3 god 1/3 man
Hubris- excessive pride, boasting
Never giving up
Mortality- appearance, action
Exceptional strength
Exceptional courage

What obstacles doe Gilgamesh overcome on his journey?

Lions- killed with axe and sword

Man-Scorpion- try to talk him out of it but Gilgamesh wont hear it
Mountain- 36 miles of complete darkness
Shamash- You will not find the life you are looking for