Ancient Egypt- Death & AfterlifeEgyptians came to have a highly developed view of the afterlife with elaborate burial preparations and practices. They lived their entire lives preparing for death. Their rituals for preparing the body and soul for eternal life focused heavily on preservation of the body. They believed that Ka was still associated with the body after death and it was necessary to reunite it with Ba-the spirit or soul. Early burials were in shallow pits in the desert where the sand acted as a drying agent, keeping the bodies better preserved than customary burials. Tombs and pyramids were reflective of the value of life and afterlife. Pyramids were built to house the bodies of dead kings- the most wealthy Egyptians had elaborate tombs. Pharaohs’ relatives and officials were often buried in Mastabas nearby. Ruins of 35 major pyramids stand on the west side of the Nile- the 3 largest at Giza. The tomb of a pharaoh would contain a sarcophagus to hold the casket and body, and would be filled with the worlds possessions of the deceased. Often, walls would be ornately decorated with hieroglyphics and wall paintings. To prevent grave robbery, most tombs were sealed from the outside, with massive, multiple slabs of limestone.
Religion in Ancient Egypt
This was the most polytheistic religion of any civilization-with more than 80 principal deities and over 2000 lesser ones. Many gods were anthropomorphic-often depicted as human bodies with animal heads. It was believed that immortal beings influenced every aspect of daily life. There was a belief that there was universal salvation for everyone who passed the weighing of the heart. Society also tolerated foreign deities being worshipped.
Oracles- like in some other polytheistic religions, a person or a sign was sought for before a big decision was made. Statues of deities would be paraded around towns during festivals. At these festivals, people would ask “yes/no” questions to the gods they passed. A nod forward from it was a positive answer.
Ahnk- a sign of life
Eye of Horus- (pictured above) a symbol of protection and royal power.
People were superstitious and used charms and amulets to ward off evil. It was postulated that dreams were a glimpse into the future.
The Age of Pyramids- The Old Kingdom:
Djoser was the first powerful king to create a strong central government. He ordered the construction of the giant Step Pyramid at Saqqara as a tomb.
Khufu built the Great Pyramids at Giza. Pyramids were built by farmers in their off season and not by slaves. They stood at 146.6 metres tall.
Achievements of the Old Kingdom:
Hieroglyphics- a system of writing based on representative images, was further developed during this period.
Engineering- had to be sophisticated to build temples and pyramids of the period. Irrigation techniques were also refined- shaduf. Trade- it was more regulated and spread throughout the Mediterranean region, enriching Egypt with new inventions and goods: potter’s wheel from Mesopotamia, timber from Syria, and oil and wine from Crete. Toward the end of the Sixth Dynasty, political and natural climates combined to end the old monarchy. Low rainfall and weak floods caused famines, while the authority of the king had been weakened by government officials and priests who were vying for power. Egypt again separated into 2 separate parts. There was a time of general disorder which is referred to as The First Intermediate Period. It lasted for less than 100 years.
Sumer- 3500 BCE:
Sumerians lived in independent city-states, ruled by separate kings. It included the city and surrounding countryside. Each city-state had its own laws, military, and government. Sometimes separate city-states fought for land control and irrigation, but there were no major wars.
The king acted as head of the army in times of conflict. He was responsible for irrigation of the land- maintaining farming and a viable food source. However, for the upkeep and distribution of the land, all work was done by a slave class in society, not the actual king.
In turn, the king received a portion of the land and all that it produced- the king always had the most fertile
areas. The king was given manpower- to work the land and be a part of the army. No Sumerian king was able to unite the city-states until the rise of Sargon The Great (2340- 2305 BCE). Sargon united all of them and extended his control into both Egypt and Ethiopia, building the first true empire in history. After his death, Sumer fell into decline and the only city-state to continue to thrive was Ur.
Human Characteristics- what does it mean to be human?
Walking Upright: the earliest humans walked on the ground and climbed trees. They were flexible in this sense, in order to survive a diverse habitat and changing climate.
Bodies: as humans began to spread around the world, into different environments, body shapes began to evolve in order to survive different climates.
Social Life: human ancestors cared for each other, shared food, and built social networks to help with daily environmental challenges.
Tools & Food: our ancestors were once prey to large animals, but by 2.6 million years ago, early humans were butchering them. By 50 000 years ago, wooden spears were made in order to prey on big animals.
Brains: with bigger evolved bodies, came larger, more complex brains, to deal with environmental challenges.
Languages & Symbols: communication changed the way humans lived and provided new ways to cope within an unpredictable world.
Humans have changed the world. Homo Sapiens have made the transition to producing food and changing our surroundings, within the past 12 000 years. Humans have been so successful, that we’ve created a turning point in history of life on earth.
Thutmose III- (1479- 1425 BCE):
He was the greatest military leader of the New Kingdom. He was determined to make Egypt a mighty empire, leading armies into Asia almost every year for 20 years. Thutmose III brought Syria and Palestine under Egyptian control. It was standard practice for the captured sons of foreign rulers to be held hostage in Egypt, as it guaranteed loyalty to the Pharaoh. There were quite a few military achievements. Leather body armor covered with metal scales as well as body armor for horses, charioteers began to carry large, wooden shields. Through drill practices and battles, the army became an extremely well experience fighting force.
The 7 criteria of a great civilization. How civilizations were possible in ancient times:
1. Agricultural intensification- means of production.
2. Government- theocracy.
3. Religion- there is conflict between government and religion.
4. Development of science and writing- records could be made.
5. Occupation specialization.
6. Trade- merchants/tenants/slaves.
7. Class Structure- haves vs. have nots.
Assyria, 1309- 609 BCE:
The name Assyria was derived from the chief, Ashur. Their civilization developed in northern Mesoptamia along the banks of the Tigris. Ashur, the capital, was an important trading centre for east-west caravans, with this economic importance, the Assyrians gained political and military power as well. They eventually came to conquer all of Mesopotamia. They were brutal in war practices, and enemies were often tortured and killed for pleasure. Between 1000 and 600 BCE, their influence was spread as far west as the Mediterranean and Egypt.
Factors which contributed to military success: Assyrians tamed horses and used them in war. They maintained a professional, well-trained army, which was organized into foot soldiers, archers, charioteers, and Calvary. Mercenaries or hired foreign soldiers were added to local armies. Officers were trained in combat skills and strategy. From the Hittites, they learned the art of iron working, and with that they were able to make superior arrows and lances- stronger than bronze and cheaper to make.
Cultural Evolution In The Stone Age:
The Great Leap Forward- 35 000 years ago, humans showed the first signs of conscious planning, forethought, and creativity.
Social Organizations- People lived in small bands, and hunted and gathered in their own regions, ranging from 16 to 80 kilometres. People became non-migratory; they dug out shallow pits or camped under rock ledges for shelter. They did not live in caves. This stability lead to creativity and ingenuity. Early huts were animal skin walls and roofs suspended on wooden poles. Evidence shows that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons alike, took care of the sick and buried their dead. Both Homo Sapiens were quite social, using organized hunts to capture large prey.
Hunting- It was their first specialized skill. Early hunters caught small rodents and ate carrion. Neanderthals were the first to hunt for large prey. They used pitfalls (large holes covered by branches) and deep bogs (the animal would sink) to their advantage.
Tool Making- Popular materials were flint, obsidian, quartz and basalt. The earliest tools were the chopper, and hand axes. Flake tools eventually replaced simple axes, as they were sharper. The development of the bow and arrow was important as it allowed for humans to be the hunter and not the hunted.
Speech- Early language was rudimentary but allowed people to work more closely together and to share cultural knowledge with each other.
Use of fire- It allowed for ancestors to spread into Europe and Asia. People could now cook their food rather than process it raw. It was useful in hunting, to harden wooden points of spears and arrows. It was used for defense. Burning sticks would be thrown to ward off animals from settlements.
Greece, The Dark Ages (1000 BCE- 800 BCE):
After the fall of Mycenae, Greece entered 300 years of poorly recorded history and multiple invasions from the outside.
The invaders from the northeast (the Dorians) spoke a different dialect of Greek, which served to spread to the Greek-speaking people all around the Agean Sea region, thus creating differences in dialects, as well as similarities in societies, separated by great distances.
As a result of this “dark” period, the achievements of the Mycenaean people in construction, art, monument building, and writing, were lost. As invaders swept south, they destroyed farming communities, drastically reducing the food supply and causing massive famines. The Greek population rapidly declined.
Greek mythology, legends and stories, were said to have taken place during the times of Mycenae.