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1: Early Middle Eastern and Northeast African Civilizations

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    • 1.1: Chronology
    • 1.2: Introduction - Defining Civilization
      The term civilization often elicits mostly idealized images of ancient empires, monumental architecture, and the luxurious lives of ruling classes. Civilization, however, is a tricky term. Recent scholars have recognized that at least seven independent civilizations emerged in different regions from 3500 to 1000 BCE. Most civilizations share common characteristics included food surpluses, higher population densities, social stratification, systems of taxation, labor specialization, regular trade
    • 1.3: Ancient Mesopotamia
      Mesopotamia is located in an area known as the Fertile Crescent. Archeologists have found some of the earliest known sites of agricultural production in the Fertile Crescent. Although much of this region received little or irregular rainfall, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided large amounts of freshwater, facilitating agricultural production and the development of early civilizations. The Greeks referred to the region as “the Land between the Rivers” or Mesopotamia.
    • 1.4: Sumerian City-States
      Lower Mesopotamia drew settlers, who moved to take advantage of rich soils and the availability of water in the area commonly known as Sumer. The people who lived in Sumer are generally referred to as Sumerians. Prior to 3,000 BCE, Sumerians, whose origins remain a subject of debate, founded a number of independent cities in Lower Mesopotamia. In these cities, Sumerians had organized religions, centralized governments, social hierarchies, and access to trade networks.
    • 1.5: Mesopotamian Empires
      In the second half of the third millennium BCE, Sumerian city-states fought each other, and dynasties rose and fell. Kings consolidated power over multiple city-states in the region. Then, King Sargon of Akkad enlarged the scale by conquering the Sumerian city-states and parts of Syria, Anatolia, and Elam. In doing so, he created one of the world’s first empires in approximately 2334 BCE. For generations, Mesopotamian literature celebrated the Akkadian Empire (c. 2334 – 2100 BCE) that King Sargo
    • 1.6: Ancient Egypt
      In our study of World History, ancient Egypt serves as an excellent example of a complex society with cross-cultural connections, adaption to and control over changing environments, and sophisticated political and religious developments. All of these themes are evident in an examination of the origins of Egypt. Egyptian leaders unified Upper and Lower Egypt around 3100 BCE, creating a powerful ancient state.
    • 1.7: Dynastic Egypt
      Scholars break the 1500 years following unification, a time known as dynastic Egypt, into three main periods: the Old Kingdom (c. 2660–2160 BCE), the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040 – 1640 BCE), and the New Kingdom (c. 1530–1070 BCE). There is some disagreement about the exact dates of the periods, but, in general, these spans denote more centralized control over a unified Egypt. During dynastic Egypt, pharaohs ruled a united Upper and Lower Egypt.
    • 1.8: Nubia- The Kingdoms of Kerma and Kush
      South of Aswan, at the first cataract of the Nile River, is Nubia, a neighbor who had a long-term, dynamic relationship with ancient Egypt. The kingdoms of Kerma (c. 2400 BCE to 1500 BCE) and Kush (c. 1000 BCE to 300 CE) emerged along the Nile River. These kingdoms prospered especially due to their productive agriculture and the region’s copious natural resources. At certain points, both Kerma and Kush were strong enough to successfully invade Egypt. The Nubians developed their own religious and
    • 1.9: Summary
      Between about 4000 and 3000 BCE, civilizations emerged in the fertile river valleys of Mesopotamia and Northeast Africa. These civilizations had common elements, including food surpluses, higher population densities, social stratification, systems of taxation, labor specialization, regular trade, and written scripts.

    Thumbnail: Golden Mask of Tutankhamun | Because his tomb was found mostly intact in 1922, King Tutankhamen (or King Tut) has become one of our most familiar images from dynastic Egypt. Author: Carsten Frenzl Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC BY 2.0

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