How did early empires arise in Mesopotamia? How did ideas and technology spread?

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AIM: How did early empires arise in Mesopotamia? How did ideas and technology spread?

Do Now: Today’s handout is a class set. Do NOT keep. Answer the following in your notebook: What advantage does a money economy have over a barter economy? Then do the following: Imagine the US eliminated currency and replaced it with a barter economy. In this hypothetical, you grow tomatoes to make a living. You want a new smartphone that costs $500. The seller can’t sell it for dollars anymore because they have been banned by the government (at the suggestion of mobs that disliked money). How many pounds of tomatoes do you need to trade for that smartphone, if tomatoes used to sell for $2 per pound? What other challenges will you face in getting that smartphone?

Outline: I. Invaders, Traders, and Empire Builders

  1. A series of strong rulers united the lands of the Fertile Crescent into well-organized empires.

  2. Again and again, nomadic warriors invaded the rich cities

of the Fertile Crescent. Some looted and burned the cities. Others stayed to rule them.

  1. 2300 B.C. –Sargon, the ruler of Akkad, conquered Sumer and built the first known empire.

  2. 1790 B.C.–Hammurabi, King of Babylon, united the Babylonian empire.

C. The Code of Hammurabi

1.Hammurabi’s code was the first attempt by a ruler to codify, or arrange and set down in writing, all of the laws that would govern a state.

2. One section codified criminal law, the branch of law

that deals with offenses against others, such as robbery

and murder. Another section codified civil law, the

branch that deals with private rights and matters, such as

business contracts, taxes, and property inheritance.

  1. Warfare and the Spread of Ideas

  1. Conquerors brought ideas and technologies to the conquered region.

  2. When the conquerors were in turn conquered, they moved elsewhere, spreading their ideas and technologies.

  1. For example, when the Hittite empire was itself conquered, Hittite ironworkers migrated to other regions and spread the secret of iron making across Asia, Africa, and Europe.

  1. The Persian Empire

  1. Cyrus the Great and his successors conquered the largest empire yet seen, from Asia Minor to India.

  2. Emperor Darius unified the Persian empire.

  3. Drew up single code of laws for empire.

  4. Had hundreds of miles of roads built or repaired to aid communication and encourage unity.

  5. Introduced a uniform system of coinage and encouraged a money economy.

  6. Before it was a Barter economy-exchanging one set of goods or services for another.

  1. The Phoenicians

  1. Occupied string of cities along the eastern Mediterranean coast.

  2. Made glass from sand and
    purple dye from a tiny sea

  3. Called “carriers of
    civilization” because they
    spread Middle Eastern
    civilization around the

  4. Most important contribution: Invented the alphabet. An
    alphabet contains letters
    that represent spoken

Pivotal Questions:

  • How did the Persians unite a huge empire?

  • For its time, was Hammurabi’s Code cruel?

  • What contributions did the Phoenicians make?

  • How did geography influence the type of economy that the Phoenicians developed?

Past: The Outline of our lesson today

Present: Phoenician traders needed a quick, flexible way to record business deals. Cuneiform was too clumsy so they developed 22 symbols for consonant sounds. Later, the Greeks added symbols for vowel sounds. Then Latin borrowed from Greek and the Roman alphabet looked similar to our modern English.

Geography: The names Iran and Persia are often used interchangeably to mean the same country. Iran is the legal name. Persia, was an ancient kingdom within Iran. Iran came to be known as Persia in the West thanks to classical Greek authors during whose time Persia was the dominant kingdom in Iran. To call all of Iran 'Persia', would be like calling all of Britain 'England'. (Source – Heritage institute)

Phoenicia was an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what is now Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. (, source)

Future: Persians pursued a policy of tolerance of the people they conquered. Phoenicians valued trade. Will the world embrace these values in the future?

Video: From The Great Courses, Code of Hammurabi
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