History Making Civilizations!
By, Nikhil P, Stjepan K, Chaitanya S, and Matthew R
Mesopotamia - Bablyonians
City and Religion
It isnt even clarified or proven that the Hanging gardens of babylon never even existed! It was said to have been built on the east side bank of the River Euphrates, just 31 miles south of Baghdad Iraq.Aside from the exotic creatures, gushing waterfalls, 75 feet high gardens, and blossoming flowers; but the water pumping drainage system was said to be of extremely brilliant.
The babylonians didn’t follow any religions that are existent today, not even Christianity. But instead they believed in a couple ways to get into heavens. One was to pray and worship many different gods. Another one was to participate in specific rituals to help one gain the acceptance by the gods.
Babylon is located in an optimal position, the land of Shinar, as revealed in the bible. Its general location has never been disputed.The city of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, must have been a wonder to the ancient traveler's eyes.
Claimed to be the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, to allow two four-horse chariots to pass each other. The city also had inner walls which were not so thick as the first, but hardly less strong. Inside these double walls were fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold. Rising above the city was the famous Tower of Babel, a temple to the god Marduk, that seemed to reach to the heavens.
While archaeological excavations have disputed some of Herodotus's claims (the outer walls seem to be only 10 miles long and not nearly as high) his narrative does give us a sense of how awesome the features of the city appeared to those ancients that visited it. Strangely, however, one of the city's most spectacular sites is not even mentioned by Herodotus: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The plants couldn’t survive without water, so they had to pump water from the Euphrates River to flow down through channels to the plants. it also took 42-43 year s to build. Babylon rarely received rain and for the garden to survive, it would have had to been irrigated by using water from the nearby Euphrates River. That meant lifting the water far into the air so it could flow down through the terraces, watering the plants at each level. This was an immense task given the lack of modern engines and pressure pumps in the fifth century B.C.. One of the solutions the designers of the garden may have used to move the water, however, was a "chain pump."
There were several levels in the social hierarchy. With the king at the top and the slaves at the bottom, this was very similar to most other social structures at the time. In between, in descending order, were the nobles, the free citizens, and the military or social services. The debt slave had the possibility of paying his debts and regaining his freedom, however the only hope for a foreign captive was to escape or die. The class structure was rigid, but it was slightly possible to move from one level to another.
Writing was not only practiced by scribes, but also boys who went to school, because boys went to school to become scribes, while girls stayed at home. The Babylonians wrote in the language Sumerian before 1792 B.C., and Akkadian after 1792 B.C. Schools were called tablet houses, and boys practiced on wet clay tablets. They would leave these out in the sun to dry, and the writing would then leave a long lasting imprint on the tablet.
China - Zhou Dynasty: 1046 B.C. - 256 B.C.
Background Information and Religion
-Around 1046 BC, King Wen's son King Wu and his ally Jiang Ziya led an army of 45,000 men and 300 chariots across the Yellow River and defeated King Zhou of Shang at the Battle of Muye, marking the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty
-King Wu established the Zhou capital in Haojing
-During this dynasty iron was introduced into china. In the eastern Zhou there was a golden philosophical age in early 600 B.C where literature flourished and great minds such as Confucius emerged.
-Confucious preached the religion, Confucianism, which soon became dominant within the Zhou Dynasty
-The Zhou had several different states each with thier own capital.
-As time passed the Zhou city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions
Culture, Society, Art, and Writing
-Art during the Zhou Dynasty included a lot of bronze because it was at this time period smelting began. There was an increase in shapes and variety as time went on and works then began to depict scenes such as hunting and, horsemen with chariots.
- there were five societal ranks: gōng 公 "duke", hóu 侯 "marquis", bó 伯 "count", zǐ 子 "viscount", and nán 男 "baron
-the cities were walled unlike Europe which had castles
-the Zhou had two major armies, the six armies of the west and the eight armies of chengzhou
-the Zhou was one of the first to use chariots in battle
-Iron, ox-drawn plows, crossbows, and horseback riding were all introduced during this dynasty
-After the Zhou took over the Shang, they changed the universal worship from Shangdi, a sacred Shang temple, to the heavens.
- This worshiped created the Li ritual system which consisted of brotherliness, righteousness, good faith and loyalty-Agriculture in the Zhou Dynasty was intensive and directed by the government. This allowed the government to store a surplus of food and use it times of famine.
The cities began to form when people started to make modern civilization like today, possible. For example, cities first formed when agriculture was getting developed and the egyptian people began using a predominant form of political organization. The two most successful cities that resulted were: Memphis and Thebes. Memphis was important because of its close proximity to the Nile River and the Nile Delta. Thebes became a recognizable city because of its vast fermentable area and good use of agriculture, which made it well populated.
The government used in Ancient Egypt was a theocracy. The Pharaoh of Egypt had absolute power over all the residents as well as being a god like symbol to the people. The clergy also had much power in the government, such as the Pharaoh’s ministers and advisors. These ministers and advisors were also the priests of the city and followed out religious practices. Taxes were paid out by the use of goods and services. All the slaves were forcefully drafted into the Egyptian army. Most of the citizens of Egypt, the peasants, had no say at all in the government.
In Ancient Egypt, there were approximately 8 social classes: The Pharaoh, Government Officials, Soldiers, Scribes, Merchants, Artisans, Farmers, and Slaves. The Pharaoh was at the top and had all the power. His servants, the government officials, helped collect taxes and keep track of government records. Below the officials were the priests. They help spread and keep the religion alive throughout the land and carry out the religious will of the Pharaoh. Next were the soldiers, who fought and protected the citizens. Then the scribes, merchants, and artisans, all made up a living by selling products to common people. Below them were the farmer who helped collect the food for the land. And the bottom of the social classes were the slaves and prisoners of war who conducted labor for the other people in the land with no pay.
Ancient Egyptian religion consisted of people believing in a polytheistic religion. They followed many deities and believed that these deities to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature. The citizens of Ancient Egypt revolved their lives of gaining the acceptance of their gods and gain their favor. The Pharaoh of Egypt was thought to have been sent down by the gods to make a bridge with the real world and the beyond. And because of this, many rituals revolved around the Pharaoh and praying towards the Pharaoh. In addition to that, much labor and resources were put in to make these rituals and the construction of religious temples possible.
The Ancient Egyptians made their art to help portray the past and keep their way of life alive. Most of their art showed religious practices, ceremonies, about everyday life, or just about the Pharaoh. The art the Egyptians made ranged from drawings on stone tablets to glass figures and containers to stone sculptures. The artists used bright colors of blue and red, orange and white to develop pictures that tell of the life of the everyday Egyptian.
The Egyptians believed it was very important to communicate between one another and to preserve their way of religion and government so they made up the way to communicate which is known as Hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics is a sort of writing that the ancient egyptians used to communicate with one another. And thanks to this way of communication scribes, people who recorded information, could write about their religion, government, and practices. So because of the scribes, people in today’s world can now study about how the ancient egyptians once lived.
Indus River Valley - Aryans
Ancient Aryan cities are known to have had one of the most advanced structure and layout of ancient civilizations four thousand years ago. One example of such a city is Arkaim, located in present day Kazakhstan. This city was built in a spiral shape that stretches across the land for four hundred miles. Most Aryan cities were similar in their layout; a ditch surrounding the city, divided into segments, having spiral streets, and a square in the middle of the entire settlement. Most of these cities were located within close proximity to a water source, such as a river or an ocean. Not only were the layouts of the cities cutting edge, but also were the materials used to build the cities, as they still stand strong to this present day. Most buildings or houses were rectilinear; some were comprised of sun-dried mudbrick, while others were comprised of wood. Most houses had inner courtyards with doors that open onto side lanes. Some buildings were two stories high. The city was divided into two segments: the Citadel and the Lower City. The Citadel, a mud brick mound around thirty nine feet high, supported public baths, 5,000 upper class citizens, and two large assembly halls. The square in the middle of the settlement contains the marketplace. This was where households obtained water from wells. On the note of water, Aryan settlements are known to have introduced the most advanced sewer system in the Indus River Valley civilizations, such as Mohenjo daro, that is even more advanced than some modern day sewer systems in present day India.
Not very much information is known about Aryan government. What is known, is that kings, or some sort of political authority, wore masks. It can only be assumed that a strong form of government existed, in order for a civilization to survive.
The Aryans introduced the caste system, a system that organizes the division of labor and power in a society. This system is still used in India today.
The caste system defines a community into hereditary groups called Jatis. Jatis are grouped by the Brahmanical texts of Hindu culture into four categories; Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Some did not belong to the system, were excluded, ostracized, and considered “untouchable”. Brahmins were the high class, or the Hindu priests, were engaged in obtaining the highest spiritual knowledge of God, and performed sacred rituals in homes.A brahmin typically married within the same caste, and the child would automatically belong to the same caste as the parents. The next caste, in terms of power, is Kshatriya. Kshatriyas were the warriors and leaders in battle. Despite having a more physically challenging role in the caste, Brahmins were still given higher power, indicating that religion played a very strong role in Aryan Civilizations. Following Kshatriyas, are the Vaishyas. Vaishyas were the farmers. Their roles were involved in agriculture, cattle-rearing, land owning, trading, and lending money. After the Vaishyas, came the Shudras. The main role of the Shudras, was to serve the other three varnas. Modern day Shudras often have service jobs, such as working in restaurants, hotels, stores, or telemarketing. The last “group” of the caste are the untouchables. They included foreigners, house workers, nomadic tribes, criminals, and the diseased. This exclusion from the caste was a method of punishing criminals, and protected society from contagious diseases. Overall, the caste system provided unity that allowed the civilizations to last.
The primary religion of the Aryans was Hinduism, a religion that is dominant over all others in present day India. Hinduism is a very complex and difficult to comprehend religion, because of its polytheism, and how it is directly incorporated into the social system. Hinduism can be divided into four Vedas, or ancient scriptures written by unknown Aryan and Vedic authors in the sacred language Sanskrit. These Vedas are Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda. Each Veda specifies on different Hindu practices, such as different slokams, or chants, to recite, as well as worshipping different deities. Similar to most other religions, Hinduism is mostly based off of one holy scripture; the Bhagavad Gita. This is a tale of how the Earth came to be, and the miraculous powers of the Gods. Despite their “inhumane” abilities, the Bhagavad Gita claims that Hindu Gods once walked the face of the Earth, and lived in the Himalaya Mountains. Today, there around 1 billion adherents of Hinduism, with approximately 950 million of them residing in India. This shows how Hinduism is an ethnic religion, in which followers do not attempt to appeal to people of of other faiths in an effort to convert religions. However, this was not always the case. In Aryan times, Islam began to dominate over Hinduism in the Indus River Valley civilizations. For a brief period of time follower of the saint Adi Shankaracharya, helped preach Hinduism and create monasteries in an effort to restore Hinduism in the civilizations.
Since the Aryans lived in a time before paper-and-pencil, most of their art was created on bamboo or papyrus. Their art was not 3D, however, it captured famous battle scenes, entailing warriors riding chariots, brandishing their swords. Other paintings included scenes from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, which are stories of the Hindu God, Rama. Aside from paintings or drawings, the Aryans are most renowned for the construction of enormous and beatiful Hindu temples. These Hindu temples were not built of wood, or even mud-brick; the Hindu temples were built out of the finest materials, including marble, and stone. On the exterior of the temples are sculptures and statues of Hindu Gods, most of them scenes from the Mahabharata or Ramayana. In the interior, are Gods in shrines, where Hindus can worship and the priests can perform ceremonies.
Not much is known about Aryan writing, except for the scriptures written in holy texts such as the Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, the Vedas, and the Upanishads. All of these texts were written in the holy language Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an ancient Indian written language, however it is not spoken, as most of the vocabulary can only be used when referring to Hinduism, and not communication or everyday objects. Most of the scriptures were written on sheets of flattened bamboo, and served as the code for daily life. For example, in order for a Brahmin to continue living in his social class, he must shave his head, recite chants from the Veda his family belonged to, and give up all earthly items in order to live a simple life.