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Western Civilization I - Europe to 1700
The Early Humans and the Neolithic Revolution

This recorded lecture focuses on certain points discussed in this section that have arisen ambiguity, conflicting opinions, or extensive discussion among the historians.
(coming soon) for 30 min.

Section Outline
  • The west in European history
  • A definition of civilization
  • The dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia
  • Sumer: The Cradle of Civilization
  • Old Sumerian Period (2800-2300 B.C.)
  • Akkadian Period (2300-2200 B.C.)
  • New Sumerian Period (2200-2000 B.C.)
  • Early Old Babylonian Period (2000-1570 B.C.)
  • Science, Litearture, Religion, Art Reading/Study Material
  • Western culture Read the introduction only.
  • Civilization. Read the introduction and the Characteristics paragraph only.
  • The Fertile Crescent.
  • Read the The Emergence of Mesopotamian Civilization page from the International World History Project.
  • Study Map 1 and Map 2 and Map 3 and Map 4 of Ancient Mesopotamia. Print the blank map of Iraq and place Bagdad, Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Assur, Babylon and Mari cities/sites on the blank map.
  • Read about The Sumerians.
  • The Akkadians: The First Empire
  • Ur-Nammu
  • Read the introduction to Babylon and the Old Babylonian Period section only.
  • Hammurabi
  • The Code of Hammurabi. The text of the law of Hammurabi of Babylon
  • Read the Mesopotamian Literature section only.
  • Mesopotamian Science and technology
  • Mesopotamian Religion and Primary gods and goddesses
  • Art: Standard of Ur
  • Art: Queen's lyre from Ur
  • Architecture: Great Ziggurat of Ur and Drawing of the Ziggurat at Ur Review Questions
  • How and why are the terms "west" and "western civilization" used in European History?
  • What differentiates a "culture" from "a civilization" in ancient times?
  • What were the changes in Neolithic Mesopotamian cultures that resulted in the launching of the first civilization?
  • Study a map of Ancient Mesopotamia and name five important cities. What is the name of the modern state in the area?
  • What is the Fertile Crescent and were is it located?
  • Who were the Sumerians? Describe briefly their cities, religion, everyday life.
  • Who was Sargon and why is he significant?
  • What were the achievements of Naram-Sin?
  • Why is Ur-Nammu important?
  • Who was Hammurabi and why is he important?
  • What were some of the penalties in Hammurabi's Code?
  • Is there any element of forgiveness (hint: marital relations) in the Code?
  • Describe the basic characteristics and the uses of the cuneiform script in Mesopotamia.
  • What is the contribution of the Babylonians to astronomy (mainly astrology)?
  • What was the Babylonian numerical system?
  • What is the contribution of the Babylonians to medicine?
  • Name some of the Mesopotamian gods/goddesses and their functions.
  • Name and describe one artifact or monument from Mesopotamia. Test Yourself Questions
  • In a paragraph or two define civilization by stating its basic characteristics.
  • In a short essay state the common characteristics of the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Early Babylonian civilizations. Refer to political, social, and cultural manifestations of the Mesopotamian civilizations. Complementary Material
  • The Reforms of Urukagina
  • Hammurabi
  • Read first the Outline to the Epic of Gilgamesh and then the translation of the original Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Cuneiform script
  • Museum Highlights and Photographic Archive from The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
  • New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tip: Choose "Ancient Near Eastern Art" from 'Select Department' dropdown.
  • British Museum Highlights Tip: use "mesopotamia" in the search box Further Reading
  • C. B. F. Walker. Reading the Past: Cuneiform. London: British Museum, 1987. A short introduction to the cuneiform script used in the Ancient Near East.
  • Kramer, Samuel Noah. History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981. A classic introduction to the beginning of civilization in Sumer.
  • Roux, George. Ancient Iraq. 3rd ed. London: Penguin, 1992. A comprehensive introduction to the complex and fragmented history of Ancient Mesopotamia.
  • Frankfort, Henri. The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient. 4th Edition. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1970. An introduction to the artifacts and monuments of the Ancient Near East.
  • Pritchard, James B. Ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3rd ed. with Supp. Princeton: Princeton Un. Press, 1969. A comprehensive older collection of translated documents from the Ancient Near East. Chronology
    Ancient Mesopotamia
    Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age2800-2300 B.C.
    Old Sumerian300.000 - 7000 B.C.
    Akkadian2300-2200 B.C.
    New Sumerian2200-2000 B.C.
    Early Old Babylonian2000-1570 B.C.