Contributions and Accomplishments
Birth of a City -
Sumerian Art -
Religion in Mesopotamia -
Contributions of Mesopotamia
Artifact - An artifact is a product of a particular time and
place, more than that it represents the IDEAS and TECHNOLOGY of a particular civilization.
- When does an artifact become art? -
- Art engages us emotionally or intellectually
- A piece of art should MOVE us, Tolstoy said it should INFECT us
Many examples of artifacts are not what we'd call art in our society... yet when
we look at these artifacts they make us think...and wonder...about the culture that
produced it. Sometimes a work of ART pushes us to think about science or technology.
- We know from relieve sculptures dating to 850 BC that the Sumerians were
capable of using the wheel. This sets them apart, as perhaps the first culture
to fuse art and technology.
- The Sumerians employed a
system of counting
that is based on 60, and a circle of 360 degrees-this system was used to measure time. It was
a basis for calculating like our decimal system--it allowed for multiplication tables,
square roots, cubes.
- The need for mass production of pottery led to the invention of the POTTER'S wheel.
- At the same time, Sumerian technology had accomplished the casting and invention of glass.
So-without this ancient TECHNOLOGY back in 2500 BC, the STUNNING arts of Sumer wouldn't
MESOPOTAMIA - This region is known as the Fertile
Crescent or land between the rivers-the Tigris and Euphrates. The name Mesopotamia
comes from ancient Greek words meaning "between rivers"--which exactly describes
its situation. This land is shared today by Syria and Iraq.
- This region had two landscapes-the Northern Zone was mountainous. The foothills of
these mountains blended into a low, very flat plain crossed by the Tigris (east) and
the Euphrates (west). If you follow these rivers from their origins in the mountains,
they flow southward for 500 miles and pour into the Persian Gulf.
- The Southern 2/3 of this area was mainly desert, except along the banks of these two
rivers. It wasn't just an issue of rain. The topsoil along the banks was deep and
rich from the flooding. It is a good possibility that this fertile land between 2
rivers may have been originally identified with paradise.
The people in the Mesopotamia region led us toward civilization. The earliest men
were hunters and gatherers-NOMADS. The FIRST REVOLUTION was in 6000 BC when
the hunters and gatherers in this region became FARMERS. It was in this region
that people began to produce barley and wheat in a systematic way-and here that
the domestication of animals such as sheep, cattle, and goats began. When the
Mesopotamians became producers instead of gatherers, everything changed. The
people didn't have to follow the availability of wild berries and grains....they
didn't have to keep up with herds of wild animals so they began to build houses.
These houses also gave them protection from hostile tribes.
- They began to harness the two rivers-the Tigris and the Euphrates
- The Mesopotamians realized that if they could provide more water for the crops they
could produce more grain-they IRRIGATED. The first attempts at irrigation were crude:
a person carried a vessel of water and sloshed it on their plot of ground. As they
produced more grain, fewer people had to work in the fields, so they could branch
out. Some people dug trenches through the levees that bordered the river to help
create a reservoir. Then they became more specialized -they created dams and
irrigation ditches, and canals to channel water to the fields.
- Specialists were everywhere-they were measuring and calculating, mapping and surveying.
There was a need for tools, so that created more jobs, and stimulated trade in
far-off regions. Of course they needed a CALENDAR so they could figure out when
to plant their crops, etc.
- The WHEEL was probably invented first as a pottery tool, and then somebody got the
idea to turn it on its side and things haven't been the same since.
If people were going to stay in one place they had to have a permanent shelter
and the terrain provided the structure:
- alluvial mud-river sediment
- bitumen-a natural asphalt found in surface beds in Mesopotamia.
So the natural resources DECIDED FOR the people of Mesopotamia how they'd build
- The earliest houses were round huts sunk into the ground. First they were places of shelter.
- Houses had an ENTRANCE, MUDWALL, and HEARTH.
- These shelters also played a central role in the spiritual life of the community.
- The people from Mesopotamia built houses out of tall reeds staked in the ground in
two parallel rows, the tops were tied together and covered with matting. The MARSH
house is still constructed in Mesopotamia.
- MUDHIF house-Guest house. In a Mesopotamian legend, human beings were so noisy that
they kept the Gods AWAKE. One of the gods said, "Tear down your REEDHOUSE
AND BUILD A boat." The man who built a boat was able to escape the FLOOD,
which destroyed mankind. Not NOAH but UTNAPISTIM.
Here are some TOOLS that date to this time...
- Mortar and Pestle-for grinding food.
- Sickle with flint blades for cutting seeds--the blades were glued into the wooden
handle using bitumen.
This FERTILE CRESCENT gave a reason to be organized and specialized, and it
give the people enough FOOD so that they could INVENT and CREATE HOMES. It also
gave the people a REASON to be in one place.