The Middle East Region
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Where is Mesopotamia?
  • The land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers called the "Fertile Crescent"
Why did people settle here?
  • When the rivers flooded, they left behind fertile soil called silt and irrigated the fields with river water
  • The river valley was very fertile thus good for farming and a good place to start a civilization!
What were the disadvantages to the living in the fertile crescent?
  • Unpredictable flooding and periods of little or no rain
  • No natural barriers for protection
  • Limited natural resources
What solutions did the Sumerians develop for these problems?
  • Irrigation ditches were built to provide the fields with water and produce a surplus of crops
  • For defense, city walls were built
  • Goods were traded with other peoples to obtain raw materials

Sumer - the first civilization

A Ziggurat
A Ziggurat

  • Sumerians formed city states - a city and its surrounding land that functioned much like an independent country would today
  • In the center of all cities was a walled temple with a ziggurat in the middle
  • Ziggurat - a place of worship that also served as a city hall
  • City-states came under the rule of dynasties
Sumerian Culture

  • The people of the fertile crescent were polytheistic, or believed in more than one god
  • To keep the gods happy, the Sumerians built huge ziggurats and offered sacrifices
  • Sumerian women had more rights than women in later civilizations
  • The Sumerians created a system of writing called cuneiform which was used to keep records
The First Empire

  • Sargon defeated the city-states of Sumer in about 2350 BCE
  • He conquered both northern and southern Mesopotamia, thus forming the first empire
  • Empire - brings together several previously independent peoples under the control of one ruler
  • The Babylonian empire reached its peak during the reign of Hammurabi
  • Hammurabi created a single uniform code of laws known as Hammurabi's code
  • The code was engraved in stone and copies were placed all over the empire
  • An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth
Major Achievements of the People of Mesopotamia
  • Arithmetic and geometry were used to build city walls and buildings, plan irrigation systems, and survey flooded fields
  • The Sumerians also developed a number system in base 60
  • Architectural innovations included: arches, columns, ramps, and the pyramid shaped design of the ziggurat
  • Cuneiform - the system of writing developed and used in Mesopotamia
  • Sumerians invented the wheel, the sail and the plow
  • They were the first people to use bronze
  • First empire
  • Hammurabi's code

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Who were the Hittites?

  • Hittites- a group of Indo-European speakers; occupied Anatolia (the area that is now turkey) in about 2000 B.C.
  • Separate Hittite city-states united around 1650 B.C. to form empire- capital city of Hattusas.
  • Dominated Southwest Asia for 450 years, including Babylon.
  • Struggled with Egypt for control of northern Syria; then signed a peace treaty & pledged to help each other fight off future invaders.
  • Indo-European language used to communicate with one another; adopted Akkadian (the language of the conquered Babylonians) for international use.
  • Excellent technology: light and easy chariots, and iron weapons.
  • Iron was easily available to the Hittites in the mountains of Anatolia.
  • Despite military strength, the Hittite empire fell suddenly around 1190 B.C. when tribes attacked and burned Hattusas.
  • ~*The Hittites were mainly known for their use of Iron in military technology (they had a superb military because of the skill of their iron workers)*~


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Basic Facts

Who founded it?
  • Judaism was founded by Abraham
What made Judaism different from other religions of its time period?
  • Jews were monotheistic or believed in only one god
What is the holy book of Judaism?
  • The Hebrew Bible, including the Torah
Who are some important people in Jewish history?
  • Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon
Who leads Jewish prayer?
  • The Rabbi
Abraham and The Promised Landexternal image Torah.jpg

  • In the Torah, god chose Abraham to be the father of the Hebrew people
  • Abraham lived in Ur but god commanded that he move his people to Canaan
  • The promise between god and Abraham is called a covenant
  • The Hebrews migrated to Egypt because of drought and threat of famine
  • At first the Egyptians welcomed the Hebrews but later, they were forced into slavery
  • Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery
  • God made a new covenant with Moses - The 10 Commandments
  • The Hebrews wandered 40 years in the desert and then arrived in Canaan
  • Once in Canaan, they were divided by god into 12 tribes
The Kingdom of Israel

  • Saul was the first of three kings
  • King David succeeded Saul and was a very popular leader
  • King David united the tribes, established Jerusalem as the capital and founded a dynasty
  • David was succeeded by Solomon
  • Solomon built a trading empire and beautified Jerusalem
  • Built a great temple to glorify god and permanently house the ark of the covenant
  • The building projects required high taxes and forced labor
  • After Solomon's death the kingdom was divided in two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south
  • Solomon's temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times during history

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Introduction to Assyrian Empire

  • Began around 850 B.C.
  • Ruled by kings, such as King Sennacherib
  • Flat, exposed land- easy to be attacked from nearby mountain areas
Military Organization
  • Glorified military strength- soldiers well-equipped with iron dressings and metal and/or iron armor
  • Advanced planning skills. ex; before attacks, dug beneath walls of enemy city to weaken them, and then attack from all different angles and directions
Expansion of Assyrian Empire
  • Between 850-650 B.C., kings of Assyria defeated Syria, Palestine, & Babylonia
  • Assyrian kings controlled dependent provinces by choosing rulers by support- system of governmental management
  • Military campaigns added to empire- if a conquered people refused to pay tax, their city was destroyed and its people were exiled
Assyrian Culture
  • King Sennacherib established capital at Nineveh along Tigris River
  • Nineveh ruins held carved sculptures- two main artistic subjects: brutal military campaigns and the lion hunt
  • King Ashurbanipal created one of ancient world's largest libraries- over 20,000 clay tablets from throughout Fertile Crescent
  • Modern characteristics to library- collection organized by subject matter; cataloged
Decline of the Empire
  • Ashurbanipal's death led to fall of Nineveh
  • 612 B.C. - army of Medes, Chaldeans, and others destroyed Nineveh- many rejoiced
  • Chaldeans made Babylon their capital around 600 B.C.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar restored the city with famous hanging gardens, later listed as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world
  • Nebuchadnezzar's empire fell quickly after his death as well

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Rise of Persia
  • Based empire on tolerance and diplomacy, and strong military backed up their policies.
  • Indo-Europeans first migrated from Central Europe and southern Russia to Fertile Crescent around 1000 B.C. (modern day Iran)
  • 550 B.C. - Persian king, Cyrus, began to conquer several neighboring kingdoms between 550-539 B.C., eventually controlling a span of 2,000 miles from Indus River (east) to Anatolia (west).
  • Cyrus was extremely kind to conquered people- showed tolerant view of empire.
  • allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. - Jews rebuilt their city and temple.
  • Cyrus was killed in battle against nomadic intruders in 530 B.C. [Cyrus-->]

Persian Rule

  • Cyrus's son, Cambyses, continued to expand empire by conquering Egypt.
  • Didn't follow his father's example- scorned Egyptian religion.
  • Cambyses ruled for only eight years, then died; widespread rebellions caused empire to become fragile.
  • Cambyses's successor, Darius, was once the king's bodyguard- seized throne around 522 B.C.
  • Established a well-organized and efficient administration.
  • Led conquests to present-day Afghanistan, and river valleys of India- Empire extended over 2,500 miles.
  • Darius's only failure was that of conquering Greece.
  • He divided his empire into 20 provinces- people could practice their own religion, speak own language, and follow own laws- "nationalities"- Darius still ruled with absolute power.
  • Installed a governor (satrap) in each province to rule locally, a military leader, and tax collector.
  • Excellent road system allowed for quick communication- Royal Road- ran from Susa in Persia to Sardis in Anatolia (total of 1,677 miles).
  • Metal coins of a standard value became available through the whole empire, promoting trade.

Persian Legacy

  • Persia was so fortunate while people of Fertile Crescent suffered war, conquest, famine, etc.
  • Persian prophet, Zoroaster, taught that earth is a battleground where a struggle is fought between good and evil; at the end of time, Ahura Mazda (the only god in Zoroastrian religion) will judge everyone according on their fight for the good spirit in life.
  • Zoroastrian religion eventually declined in the A.D. 600s.
  • Persians brought political order to Southwest Asia, by preserving ideas from earlier cultures and civilizations.
  • The powerful dynasty established by Cyrus lasted 200 years.
  • In 334 B.C., Alexander the Great led an army into Anatolia to defeat Darius III of Persia, crushing them.


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Who founded Christianity?
  • Jesus of Nazareth- born around 6 to 4 B.C.
What did Jesus teach?
  • He did good works; reportedly performed miracles
  • teachings contained many ideas from Jewish tradition, such as monotheism & the Ten Commandments
  • emphasized God's personal relationship with individuals
How did Christianity spread?
  • Jesus had 12 men who followed him, known as apostles, who later spread his works and teachings
  • people became touched by Jesus's messages, especially the poor
What is the Holy book of Christianity?
  • The Bible (Old and New Testaments)
  • originally, main source of his teachings were the Gospels

Christianity Spreads

Paul's Mission

Who was Paul?
  • One apostle who was originally an enemy of Christianity, but then had a vision of Jesus and from then on followed him and spread his teachings
What did Paul do?
  • He wrote influential letters, called Epistles, to groups of believers
  • He stressed that Jesus was the son of God who died for people’s sins, and that Christianity should welcome all converts
Diaspora- dispersal of the Jews; those who were exiled and who were able to escape the Roman control.
Christians are Persecuted

  • Christians posed a problem to Roman rulers- refused to worship Roman gods
  • Christians often used as scapegoats for political and economic problems
  • Were exiled, imprisoned, or executed for not worshiping the Roman gods; others killed in circus arenas for entertainment
  • Some Christians posed as martyrs

Christians Become Powerful

  • Christianity became powerful force by late third century A.D.
  • Constantine- first Roman emperor to accept Christianity; he prayed for divine help in battle and then saw an image of a cross- a symbol of Christianity
  • In the next year, he ended the persecution of the Christians
  • Bishops- priests who supervised several local churches
  • Peter- apostle who traveled to Rome and became the first bishop
  • Later bishops claimed that Peter was the first pope, or the father of the Christian Church


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Basic Facts

Who founded Islam?
  • Muhammad the prophet was the founder of Islam
What is the holy book of Islam?
  • The Qur'an
What are the basic beliefs of Islam?
  • The Five Pillars of Islam
  • Belief in one god called Allah (monotheistic)
What are some important terms associated with Islam?
  • Mecca, Medina, Hegira, Ramadan hajj, Allah, Muslim, mosque, Qur'an, Shi'a, Sunni

Muhammad The Prophet

  • After Allah spoke to Muhammad, Muhammad began to teach that Allah was the one and only god
  • When people that opposed his teachings attacked some of his followers, he moved from Mecca to Medina
  • This "Hijrah" attracted many followers to Muhammad
  • About 8 years later he returned to Mecca and defeated the government
  • Most Meccans converted to Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam

  • Muslims must testify that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
  • Five times a day Muslims face toward Mecca to pray
  • They may assemble at a Mosque or wherever they may be
  • Muslims must support the less fortunate and give money to the poor
  • Muslims must fast between dawn and sunset during the holy month of Ramadan
  • All Muslims that are physically and financially able to perform the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) must do so at least once in his or her lifetime

Islam Spreads
  • Arab fighters spread Islam through war
  • Treated Christians and Jews as "people of the book" because they were monotheistic
  • Non-believers were taxed
  • Many people chose to convert
  • Also spread through trade and cultural diffusion
  • Ibn Battuta - spread Islam, allowed women to vote, and created public schools

Art and Sciences Flourish (GOLDEN AGE!!!)

  • Many people started to do calligraphy or the art of beautiful handwriting because images of living beings were discouraged
  • Literature included The Thousand and One Nights, a collection of fairy tales, parables and legends
  • Advances in medicine were made such as a book on how to treat Smallpox and Measles
  • Muslim scientists solved problems by conducting experiments instead of using logical reasoning
  • Algebra was created in mathematics
  • Studies of optics were later used to develop lenses for telescopes and microscopes
  • Lunar calendar to keep track of the holy month of Ramadan

Important Terms Defined
  • Mecca - Muhammad's home that is now the Islamic holy land
  • Medina - When Muhammad fled Mecca, he went to Medina and gained followers
  • Hegira - Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina because the people in Mecca wanted him dead
  • Ramadan - The holy month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset
  • Hajj - The pilgramage to Mecca that Muslims must make at least once in their lifetime
  • Allah - God
  • Muslim - A person that practices Islam
  • Mosque - The place of worship for Muslims
  • Qur'an - The islamic holy book
  • Shi'a - A sect of Islam that directly follows the teachings of Muhammad and takes the Qur'an literally (Islamic fundamentalism, minority)
  • Sunni - A sect of Islam that is more modern


What were the Crusades?
  • Crusade- "holy war"
  • Pope Urban II wanted to gain control of the Holy Land (Jerusalem)
Goals of the Crusades
  • The European Christians wanted to regain the holy land of Jerusalem from the Muslims
  • The Muslims also threatened Constantinople and the Europeans wanted to stop Muslim attacks
What were the effects of the Crusades?
  • Trade was expanded which benefited both the Christians and Muslims
  • The fall of Constantinople weakened the Byzantine empire
  • A legacy of hatred between Christians and Muslims was left behind that still exists today
Who was Saladin?
  • The most famous Muslim leader of that time period
  • He captured Jerusalem after the First and Second Crusades
  • He signed a truce with Richard the Lion-Hearted after many battles of the Third Crusade
  • Jerusalem remained under Muslim control but Saladin promised that unarmed Christian pilgrims could freely visit the city's holy places
The Crusades
The Crusades

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Osman - the founder of the Ottoman Empire

  • Osman named his followers Ottomans
  • Osman built a small Muslim state in Anatolia between 1300 and 1326
  • Osman’s successors expanded by buying land, forming alliances with other emirs, and conquering others

Mehmed the conqueror

  • Mehmed the conqueror launched an attack on Constantinople in 1453
  • He conquered Constantinople and opened it to new citizens of many religions and backgrounds who helped rebuild the city
  • Constantinople became known as Istanbul
Suleyman the magnificent
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  • Ottomans controlled trade routes in Africa and dominated the whole eastern Mediterranean
  • Waged war with central Europeans north Africans and central Asians
  • Most powerful monarch on earth
  • Created a law code
  • Simplified and limited taxes
  • Systematized and reduced government bureaucracy
  • These changes improved the lives of most citizens
  • Devshrime system – under this system, the sultan’s army drafted boys from the peoples of conquered Christian territories. The army educated them, converted them to Islam, and trained them as soldiers
  • Hired caliphs (religious governors) and Viziers (advisors)
  • An elite force on soldiers known as janissaries was trained to be loyal to the sultan only. They were the heart of the ottoman war machine
  • In accordance with Islamic law, the ottomans granted freedom of worship to other religious communities
  • These communities were called "millets" or nations
  • Each millet was allowed to follow its own religious laws and practices
  • The head of the millets reported to the sultan and his staff
  • This kept conflict from arising among the various religious groups in the ottoman empire
  • Art and literature also flourished under Sulyman’s rule ((GOLDEN AGE!!!))
The slow decline of the empire

  • Despite sulyman’s achievements, the Ottoman Empire was losing ground
  • Suleyman set a pattern for weak sultans (kings) by isolating his sons from education and the outside world and his sons doing the same thing.
  • Ottoman Empire became known as the "sick man of Europe"