Early Dynastic Mesopotamia Essay

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Archaeology

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The end of their reign is thought to have been as a result of the invasion by the Persian Achaemenid Empire. The people of Mesopotamia worshiped the same gods and participated in trade with each other form the different cities. Important innovations were also made in the cities such as the wheel, the plow mathematics and agriculture. The citizens of Mesopotamia had social classes the highest in rank being the nobles and priests, then the commoners and slaves were the lowest. Each city had a tall tower at the center which was usually the temple of the patron god of the city. Transport in each city was well organized in to three categories: the wide processional streets, the public through streets and private blind alleys.

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The canals were however the most preferred in transport than roads. This period became known as the Uruk period and it was when the wheel, plow and cylinder seal for property was invented. The people also learnt how to forge weapons and bowls from metals such as copper and bronze. It is thought that each city had a priest ruler who governed it. The Sumerians were very strict on how the public and private spaces were divided and the houses were mainly 90 m2. During the Early Dynastic I period, the people of Mesopotamia started building palaces that grew in size and complexity with time. The earliest palaces were large-scale complexes that were owned by the Mesopotamian elites. One of the earliest known palace is the Khafajah and is thought to have served as a socio-economic institution.

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The palace was also used as a residence for the rulers and elite and also had chambers used as workshops by the craftsmen, stores where surplus food was kept courtyards where important ceremonies were held and some had shrines. The high temple which was believed to house the king of gods was used as a distribution center and also housed the priests. The temples as institutions had various roles like: advising people on timing of planting and harvesting which gave the temple a central role in agricultural production. The temple also controlled the distribution of irrigation water which gave it economic power as it was also believed to have supernaturally-sanctioned power over water. The priests of the temples also employed agricultural workers as well as own land.

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The early dynastic cities warred against each and sometimes they formed leagues or they submitted to rule by another city. These two made the final decisions on crucial issues such as war and who to form an alliance with. The council also had authority to override the king as in the case of Gilgamesh. The population of the early city-states totaled to about one million at the peak of the civilization. The Sumerians had been able to practice intensive agriculture and set up permanent settlement all year. They were also able to invent the oldest known writing system called the cuneiform. The top of this pyramids were flat until later on when they started using the step pyramid style. This buildings were built with sun-backed bricks in the inside and fired bricks were used on the outside.

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These large buildings were mostly used to support temples and other huge houses (Mallowan, 1965, 78). Some scholars believe that the ziggurats may have formed the foundation of the biblical Tower of Babel. There were various offices in Mesopotamia which were political or religious or social. Intuitions such as the temple and the palace also developed and were well organized. The temple played a key role of uniting the people of the city as they respected it as the home to the god of their city (Richardson, 2012, 213). Besides religion, the institution of the temple also organized irrigation and agriculture and was also responsible in distribution of irrigation in the city. The priests and priestesses were respected and were responsible for appointing the kings of the cities.

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The temples also served as ceremonial burial places for the priests and the priestesses. J. Culture and values: a survey of the humanities (7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. Nicholas Postgate, J N Postgate 1994. Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at Dawn of History. L. Early Mesopotamia and Iran. Thames and Hudson. Steinkeller, P. Early political development in Mesopotamia and the origins of the Sargonic Empire. American Journal of Archaeology. Stone, E. City-states and their centers. The Archeology of City-States: Cross-Cultural Approaches, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. Stein, G. Ancient Mesopotamia (Vol. Cambridge University Press. Leick, G. Mesopotamia: The invention of the city. Penguin UK.

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