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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 2: The First River-Valley Civilizations, 3500-1500 B.C.E.



Mesopotamia to 2500 B.C.E.

Estimated Empire of Sargon

Poppa's World History: The Near East

Map of Nippur

Political Change in Ancient Mesopotamia, 3000-1000 B.C.E

Harrapa.com: Geography

Harrapa.com: Sites

Map of Ancient Egypt

Theban Mapping Project

Satellite Map of Nile Delta

Ancient Egypt and Nubia

Ancient Egypt

The Four Old-World River Valley Cultures

General Map of Ancient Civilizations

Satellite Image of Middle East


The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient Near East Collection 
Explore fifty images from this world renowned museum's collection of artwork from Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria, and Anatolia.

Slides of Mesopotamia
This collection of images from multiple sources offers numerous examples of artwork from ancient Mesopotamia.

Photo Gallery of Ancient Mesopotamia
The first three images at this site offer examples of ancient Mesopotamian art and cuneiform writing.

Images from World History: Sumer
Several images or artifacts from Mesopotamia can be found here, including the "Standard of Ur" and an example of cuneiform writing.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Egyptian Collection
Another superb collection from this museum. Notable images included hieroglyphics used in the "Book of the Dead" and statues of several pharaohs.

A New Look at Ancient Culture: Egypt
Explore ancient Egypt at this site. The section on hieroglyphs offers numerous examples.

This comprehensive site focuses on burial tombs of ancient Egypt.  You can locate numerous images of pyramids here.

The Detroit Institute of Art: Ancient Art, Egypt
This collection focuses on Egyptian tombs and other religious expressions.

The Egyptian Museum
A comprehensive site from this Egyptian museum. Make sure to distinguish the artifacts that originated in the time period covered by this chapter.

An excellent site. Click "Indus Valley" and then explore artifacts from this ancient civilization. "A unicorn seal" offers extensive description and images of this form of communication.

Images from World History: Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization (ca. 3000 - 1500 B.C.E.)
This site offers a nice image of a cylinder seal from the Indus River Valley Civilization.

Mohenjo-Daro: Virtual Tour
This Japanese site offers an aerial video clip of the ruins of this ancient city.

Activity One:

It is extremely important throughout your global history course to understand the geographical context of what you are studying.  Although the three civilizations you have examined in this chapter were very different, they shared many geographical characteristics.  Go to The Four Old-World River Valley Cultures and General Map of Ancient Civilizations.  In addition to their locations in major river valleys, what else did ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus River Valley have in common?  Were they located at similar longitudes?  Does this suggest that they shared similar climates and vegetation?  With what bodies of water did they have contact?  Was it possible for them to trade with each other or with other peoples?

Activity Two:

One of the major themes of this chapter is the influence of the environment on the world views of these ancient peoples.  Unlike societies studied in Chapter One, "Nature, Humanity, and History: The First Four Million Years," these civilizations left us extensive written records (although archaeologists have not yet deciphered the script used in the Indus River Valley).  After reading about ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt on pages 29-48 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition), examine the following primary sources: The Babylonian Creation Myth and The Egyptian Creation Epic.  While analyzing these sources, consider how the environmental conditions in ancient Mesopotamia and the Nile River Valley might have influenced their outlooks on the world's creation.  Be imaginative.

Activity Three:

Besides writing, these ancient peoples left behind other sources of information about their world and their world views.  As the authors of your textbook state in reference to Egypt, "Archaeologists and historians have gleaned much of what is now known about ancient Egyptian life from this practice of stocking the tomb [of the pharaohs] with utilitarian and luxury household objects. "  Examine some artifacts from these ancient tombs at Explore Ancient Egypt.  To examine this site, run your cursor over the topics at the top of the page and click on the links that interest you.  After doing so, make sure to click the arrows at the end of each page until you've completed the exhibit.  Visit at least two exhibits.  What do the artifacts that you have analyzed reveal about ancient Egyptian civilization?  How can we use archaeological evidence to understand the everyday lives of these people?  What aspects of their lives do these artifacts fail to illuminate?  You might want to print out some of the images to enhance your argument. 

Activity Four:

Without the ability to translate their writing script, archaeologists today do not understand nearly as much about the Indus River Valley civilization that flourished from 2600 to 1900 B.C.E., although the artifacts found there have enhanced our knowledge of these ancient peoples.  One mystery is what exactly happened to the civilizations of the Indus River Valley.  As you will see in later chapters, Mesopotamia and Egypt were later absorbed into a broader Hellenistic and later Roman cultural zone.  Civilization in the Indus River Valley instead disappeared.  Read the essays at Did aryans kill them or a depression? and The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India.   You might also want to review "Environment and Technology: Environmental Stress in the Indus River Valley" on page 50 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition).  According to these secondary sources, what are some of the debates that center around the disappearance of this ancient civilization?    Have archaeologists reached any firm conclusions?  Have they reached any consensus on this civilization's influence on other peoples of the region? What role might the environment have played in the rise and fall of this civilization?  What lessons does this teach us today?