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World History - The Near East, Part 1

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1/5/2016 3:49:13 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
The Sumerians

location: Modern Iraq
Time period: 3000 - 2340 BC (approximately)

The first civilization in Mesopotamia arose in the south, where a number of growing city-states forged trading and diplomatic ties. This Sumerian culture, as it is known, was characterized by centralized hierarchies headed by rulers who often had priestly roles but, unlike Egypt's pharaohs, were rarely thought to be divine. Each of the cities was seen as the home of one of the major Sumerian gods and in the period known as the Early Dynastic (3000-2340 BC), the Sumerians began to build stepped temple towers, or ziggurats, in honor of their deities. The sophisticated palace cultures were supported by specialist administrators, merchant, and scribes, whose need to keep records led to the development of the first full writing system, in a script known as cuneiform.

The separate city-states of Sumeria were briefly united in around 2400 BC, when King Lugalzagesi of the city-state of Umma conquered Ur and Uruk and reduced the eastern city of Lagash to dependent status. But within half a century, the whole area had been absorbed into the empire of Sargon, king of Akkad, which was an ancient Babylonian city.


Location: South of Modern Iraq
Time period: 3000-2000 BC

One of the city-states of Sumeria, Ur began to thrive around 2800 BC, becoming extremely wealthy; the tombs of rulers such as Queen Pu-abi and Meskalamdug have yielded artifacts of great value. Ur was eclipsed politically during the occupation of Sumeria by Sargon, but in around 2100 BC, Ur-Nammu founded the Third Dynasty of Ur. For 70 years Ur dominated a huge area divided into 20 provinces, stretching from Susa in southwest Iran to Ashur, far to the northwest of the Sumerian heartland. During this time the population increased and cities flourished, supported by a system of forced labor. The city of Ur itself was enhanced with the construction of a great ziggurat. Ur-Nammu's heirs extended the empire, especially under Shulgi (2094-2047 BC) but under Ibbi-Sin outlying regions broke away, and invaders from nearby Elam finally ended the Third Dynasty's power.

The Akkadian Empire

Location: Modern Iraq, Southwest Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Southeastern Turkey
Time period: 2300-2083 BC

The northern part of Sumeria, known as Babylonia, gave rise to the earliest successful attempt to unite the Near East when Sargon smashed the power of Lugalzagesi of Umma, securing control over the whole region. His capital at Akkad dominated an empire that became ever more centralized. A calendar was introduced for the whole of Babylonia, new systems of taxation and standardized weights and measures were imposed, and Akkadian became the language of government. Sargon's armies reached as far as the Mediterranean cost, but it was difficult to control the outlying regions. Rebellion broke out in the reign of Sargon's grandson, Naram-sin, who took on the title "king of the world" and was worshiped as a god while alive. Naram-sin was victorious, but thereafter the Akkadians were on the defensive; their empire eventually fell during the reign of King Sharkalisharri, the son of Naram-Sin.

This was just Part 1, and I presume that I should be writing at least 3 parts total for the Near East, as I have it planned out on my documents sheet.

This was also my first writing for this little "project". Hopefully it was remotely enjoyable, and an interesting and very brief read.
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