Compare the culture, state and social structure of two or more early civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley.

  • 5 Major Historical Themes:

- Human And Environment Interaction:
People who lived in these ancient civilizations had a great impact on the environment. An example of this would be Mesopotamia. In southern Mesopotamia, deforestation, soil erosion, and salinization of soil weakened Sumerian city-states, leading to foreign conquest. The rising populations of the ancient societies may have also contributed to the environmental impacts.
- Interaction of Cultures:
Ancient civilizations eventually began to interact with one another. For example, Egypt and Mesopotamia frequently interacted since they were not significantly distant from one another. The exchange of ideas and goods was beneficial for both civilizations. Egypt's agriculture benefited from interaction. Also, Mesopotamia had extensive sea trade with the Indus Valley civilization as early as 2300 B.C.E.
- Innovation:
All ancient civilizations strived for advancement. For example, innovation in art, religion, philosophy and language were key in these societies. In time, Egypt developed an alphabetic script and developed a major iron-working industry. This communication and iron working eventually led to the creation of new armor and weaponry which benefitted this society significantly.
- Power:
Power defined these ancient civilizations. For example, in ancient Egypt, Pharaohs were the most powerful people. They were considered to be a God in human form. They defined the law of the land and access to the afterlife was linked to proximity to the Pharaoh.
- Hierarchies of Gender:
Patriarchy gradually emerged in these ancient civilizations. There are a variety of explanations that may contribute to this. For example, more intensive agriculture with animal-drawn plows and large dairy herds favored male labor over female. Also, men were less important in the household. The association of women with nature because of their natural role in reproduction may have also played a role.
  • 9 Habits of Mind:

  • Construct and evaluate arguments: use evidence to make plausible arguments.
  • Use documents and other primary data: develop the skills necessary to analyze point of view and context and to understand and interpret information.
  • Assess continuity and change over time and over different world regions.
  • Understand diversity of interpretations through analysis of context, point of view, and frame of reference.
  • See global patterns and processes over time and space while connecting local developments to global ones
  • Compare within and among societies, including comparing societies’ reactions to global processes.
  • Consider human commonalities and differences
  • Explore claims of universal standards in relation to culturally diverse ideas
  • Explore the persistent relevance of world history to contemporary developments


Indus Valley



- Mainly showpeople and animals.
- known for being small scaled.
- Animals frequently used for symbolism.
- Religious temples & elaborate tombs.
- Pottery was a useful form of art.
- Olmec Civilizations of Mesopotamia
erected enormous human heads
representing rulers.
  • Pottery is very popular for this region
--Mainly made of stone.
  • Known for use of jewels and precious stones
--Very detailed work.
  • No paintings, temples, elaborate tombs, or palaces have been found.
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· Involved precious metals and stones:
- Showed extreme wealth.
- Many Pharaoh’s sarcophagus made out of gold.
- Pyramids originally capped in gold and outlined in polished white limestone.
· Egyptian sculptures and pyramids:
- Showed job specialization: had to mine stone, develop tools which would cut stone.
- Showed use of technology: lever and ramp introduced to help carry heavy stone slabs for pyramids.
· Artwork was very colorful:
- Shows they were resourceful: had to find different resources to produce the different colors.
· Shows gender equality:
- Artwork often included women just as much as men, and almost never showing one was better than the other.
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-Approximately 300 miles long and 150
miles wide.
- Located between the Tigris and Euphrates
- Land was very fertile (Fertile Crescent).
However prone to flood.
- Surrounding bodiesof water provided for
transportation, irrigation and maximization
of agricultural input.
- Vulnerable to invasion.
- The Indus Valley was built along a river system.
- This civilization was located in what is now northwestern India.
- There were mountains to the north and the Indus River to the west.
- The Khyber Pass was their main route to the outside world.
- The Indus Valley stretched 900miles .

external image IVC_Map.png
· Located in North East Africa:
- Arid climate, however civilization thrived thanks to the Nile:
a. Developed along Nile riverbanks.
b. Constructed farms, towns, along Nile’s riverbanks.
c. Nile flooded at a predictable time each year, which caused Egyptian agriculture to be very stable and produce substantial food surplus.
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- Developed iron weapons and monoplized
on them for success.
- Composite bow was developed and first
conscript armies were drafted.
- Extensive use of chariots.
- Brutal warriors & trained armies.
- Hittite = "Iron Warriors+
  • No trace of military actions and development.
  • Power was through commerce and trade.
  • No trace of warfare has been found.
- In the early times of the empire the weapons were small compared to later times.
- Clubs and stone- headed maces, daggers, and spear heads of copper were used.
- After Egypt was attacked by the Hyksos, they started using the composite bow, horses and chariots.
- Their use of chariots gave them advantages over their enemies.
- The Egyptian military were not innovative in itself but adapted enemy weapons which made them a powerhouse.

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- Composed of separate chiefdoms.
Uruk=largest city (50,000 people).
- Distinct social classes based upon
profession and gender
Upper class: defined by large amounts of
land & wealth. Avoided physical labor.
Enjoyed the finest in everything.
Commoners: made up most of the
population. Punished more harshly
compared to those with superior rank.
Slaves: bottom of class system.
- Pessimistic (negative) view on death.
- Gender division: Divorces were easier
for men. Also women who were subjected
by their husbands wore veils in public.
- Hammurabi's Code: codifies patriarchal
family life.
- Consisted of three classes.
- At the top were the warriors.
- Then the priests.
- At the bottom were the peasants.
- Later the merchant class was added above the peasants.
- Also the priests move above the warriors because they were said to be closer to the gods.
- Social mobility was allowed.
- Later on the social structure became much more complex and ridged.
- Eventually subcastes were added and social mobility was not allowed.
-They were the leaders who were thought to be gods in human form.
- They owned all the land.
- They had greater rights than in other regions.
- They could own, sell and inherit property.
- They could dissolve marriages.
- Men were still superior to women.
- They were prisoners of war or captured during conquest of surrounding areas.
- Slaves could be appointed into positions in the government and palace.
Social Mobility-
- Social mobility was possible.
- Peasants and farmers could move up the economic ladder.
- Lower class families could save money to send their sons to learn a trade. external image society_pyramid.jpg


-Cities arose from competing chiefdoms:
-Kings were the rulers, who had power similar to Egyptian rulers.
-Thought the best form of punishment was the Hammurabi Code.

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- Little indication of political heirarchy
or centralized states.
- Small republics, ruled by priests,
and early form of caste system.
- No palaces, temples, elaborate
graves, kings or warrior classes
· Political History developed around 3100 B.C.E.
· 3100 B.C.E:
- Merging of several earlier states into a unified territory stretching 1000 miles along Nile.
- Maintained this unity and independence for almost 3000 years.
· Southern wind patterns and northern currents made sailing along Nile very easy.
- Facilitated communication, exchange, unity. And stability in the Nile Valley.
· Cities not as important as in Mesopotamia.
- Cities included:
a. Political Capitals.
b. Market Centers.
c. Major burial sites.
- All of which gave Egypt an urban presence as well.
· Centralized government:
- Pharaoh, a god in human form, was the focus of the Egyptian State.
a. Ensured Nile’s annual flooding.
b. Defined Law.
c. Was the people’s link to the afterlife.
d. Most powerful in 2200 B.C.E.
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-First to be recorded
-Ceremonial centers of Olmec alter.
-Decorated temples, pyramids, and tombs of rulers.
-Rulers practiced ceremonial blood lettering.
-Teotihuacan had dozens of temples and two huge pyramids.
-Temples were similar to Mesoamerican and pyramids for religious reasons.

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Olmec Alter
- Ruled by priests.
- Ceremonial bathing, ritual burning
and yoga positions.
- Polytheistic (more than 1 God)
- Animals held as symbols. Bulls &
elephants used as religious symbols.
- Polytheistic
- Some gods include Re, Anubis, Seth, Osiris, Isis and Horus.
- They had a main focus on the afterlife.
-They believed they could take belongings with them.
- Believed the body was useful in the afterlife therefore mummification was created.
- Once dead it was said that your soul would be weighed against Anubis “Father”.
- If your soul was heavy with bad deeds then you were punished.
- If lighter then Anubis, you would move on.
- Egyptians sacrificed animals in religious rituals.
- Cats were important.
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-Very negative worldview; claimed it
was very violent.
-Organized into city states
-When resources ran low, they moved North.
-First written law
-First language
-Believed in equality; "eye for an eye".

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- Had elaborately planned cities.
- Writing system used symbols.
- Ventured into sciences, by using
standardized weights & measurements.
- The Egyptians had a highly advanced writing system known as hieroglyphics.
- They were series of pictures that represented letters and words.
- They were interested in astronomy.
- This lead to the creation of their calendar.
- They were highly skilled.
- Engineering the pyramids.
- They used precious metals and stone.
- Egyptians used job specialization.

external image hieroglyphics.jpg


-First written law
-Metal tools
-Copper working
-Glass and lamp making
-Textile weaving
-Flood control and water storage
-Different weapons such as; daggers, swords, spears, and maces.

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-Grid-like cities
-Sewage systems
-Agriculture and warfare was a big incentive for new technology.
-Stylistic and symbolic aspects of the material culture were prominent.
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Sewage System
· Paper and Writing:
- Papyrus – formed from beaten strips of Papyrus plant – introduced in 3000 B.C.E.
- Egyptian hieroglyphics served as basis for Phoenician alphabet, from which later alphabets derived.
· Buildings:
- Temples:
a. Many still standing today.
b. Among largest constructions ever conceived and built by humans.
c. Rock cut tombs showed they had mining and rock cutting technology.
- Pyramids:
a. Built by brick/stone slabs.
b. Built for tombs of Pharaohs.
c. The only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing.
d. Capped in gold and outfitted in polished white limestone.
- Ships and Navigation:
a. Used sails to navigate.
b. Introduced a variety of ships.
c. Introduced stern-mounted rudders.
d. First to evolve sails for better navigation.
- Agriculture and Irrigation:
a. Egypt’s main economic stabilizer.
b. Used flooding of the Nile for maximum crop output.
c. Used domestic animals to make work easier.
d. Main crops were barley and wheat.
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-Farmed wheat and barley; the development of irrigation allowed their crops to be produced in greater numbers.
-Textiles and crops were sold for stone, metals, and timber.
-They were also known for their metallurgy.
-Metallurgy= the science and technology of metals.
-Mesopotamians had no form of currency.
-Archeologists have found documents that were believed to taxes and documents of business.

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Use of Metallurgy
-Grew wheat, beans, barley, sesame, rice, bananas, black peppers, mustard, and cotton crops.
-Had very elaborate cities
-Traded with neighboring civilizations due to their transportation technology and rivers.
-Planned cities out which made commerce to be conducted more easily.
-Game animals and pasturge for domesticated animals were pleintiful.
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· Very wealthy:
- Artwork involved gold and precious stones.
- Funding for Great Pyramids and other engineering marvels.
- Economy strongly fueled by agriculture.
· Interaction and Exchange:
- Frequently interacted with Mesopotamia
· Egypt’s strong agriculture benefitted from interaction:
- Wheat and barley, Egypt’s primary crops, came from Mesopotamia
- Received gourds, watermelon, and domesticated donkeys and cattle from Sudan.
- Scholars believe Egyptian step pyramid and writing derived from Mesopotamian models.
· Established long-distance trade routes.
· Egyptian influence can be seen in Mediterranean basin.
- Minoan art influenced by Egypt’s.
- Greeks drew heavily on Egyptian art, religion, philosophy, and language.
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  • Sources:

-Strayer, Robert W. Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. Print.
-"This History, Our History." Ancient Mesopotamia: This History, Our History. Web. 05 Nov. 2010. <>.
-"Indus Valley Civilization." The Ancient Indus Valley and the British Raj in India and Pakistan. Web. 05 Nov. 2010. <>.
-"Ancient Egypt - Menu Page." Introduction. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
-Wikipedia Foundation INC. "Ancient Egyptian Technology." Wikipedia. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.

- "Military Technology." The Ancient Egyptian Culture Exhibit. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
- "3b. Egyptian Social Structure [Beyond Books - Ancient Civilizations]."
Beyond Books. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
- "Ancient Egypt Military."
Ancient Military History, Warriors, Warfare and Weapons. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
- "Egyptian Religion - History for Kids!"
Kidipede - History for Kids - Homework Help for Middle School. Portland State University, 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
-"Indus Civilization."
Minnesota State University. Web. 05 Nov. 2010.
-Armstrong, Monty, David Daniel, Abby Kanarek, and Alexandra Freer.
The Princeton Review Cracking the AP World History Exam 2011 Edition//. 2011 ed. New York: Random House, 2011. Print.