Ancient History I - Exam notes - Ancient History I Week 1: What is Ancient History? Chronological - Studeersnel (2023)

Ancient History I

Week 1:

What is Ancient History?

Chronological and geographical demarcationsStudy of history in world in the Mediterranean from 3000 BC – 500 AD.From the rise of civilization to the rise of Roman Empire

Mesopotamia, Egypt, Asia Minor (present day Turkey) and the Levant – important + theGreek World.

Stone Age/ New AgeBronze AgeIron Age

Time-reckoning modern and ancient

Before Christ: BC -> religious influenceIn the year of the Lord: AD (Anno Domini) -> after the birth of Christ

Before common era: BCECommon era: CE

Many societies in the Near East used recknon years – the year in the reign of the kingOther societies such as Greece and Roman, used Eponymous magistrates, the year of thereign of the Magistrates.

The years in between the Olympic games (Olymipad) has been used to figure out the years aswe know them today.

Many of the years and times we know today, has been found via dating systems, such asarcheologist researching the layers in the ground, astronomical events and volcano eruptions.

Dendrochronology has also been used, that is the time telling based on looking at the ringsinside of tree

Life expectancy in AntiquityAbout 25 years for females and for males a couple of year less.The high child mortality in Antiquity caused the low life expectancy. If a child made it past 5years, the life expectancy automatically rose.

Ancient History I

The Neolithic Revolution

The rise of civilization – the oldest form know located in Egypt and Mesopotamia.Characteristics for these civilizations from 3000 BCE are Urbanization, State formation andthe Invention of writing.

Before people had lived a very nomadic lifestyle and lived as hunters and gathers.But in the beginning of the New Stone Age, the Neolithic, agriculture started to rise.

The Neolithic Revolution is characterized by: - Hunters and gathers became farmers - Sedentary lifestyle instead of nomadic - The formation of agriculture and keeping livestock - A use of pottery for storage purposes.

The advantages of these characteristics was the, now farmers, ability to secure food fromlivestock and grain from the fields, they were also able to store this food and contributed tothe demographic growth.The farmers won in the long run basically.On the other hand, the disadvantages was that it was much harder and more time-consumingwork, than that of the hunters and gathers and the farmers were more prone to diseases.

250 mm. a year in order to have rainfall agriculture – north of Mesopotamia such as AsiaMinor

In Egypt and most of Mesopotamia, agriculture was not possible without irrigation.Irrigation is much more profitable and productive than rainfall agriculture, with the crop yieldratio for irrigation being 1:15 and for Rainfall 1:4 in ancient circumstances.

In Egypt the Nile was used for irrigation agriculture, the flooding of the Nile happened veryconveniently during summer after harvest and before sowing, so the Egyptians could simplylet the fertile water of the Nile do the job.

In Mesopotamia, the river Tigris would have its seasonal flooding before harvest time. Thepeople of Mesopotamia, therefore, had to carve dams and canals to avoid the water fromTigris, since it also contained harmful salts that were not good for the crops.

Characteristics of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization after 3000 BCEDivision of labour and tasks - more complex societies

Surplus = Production - (consumption + seeds)

Demographic growth – it became possible to live with more people together, villages turnsinto cities -> profitable to live with more people together.

Administration – the greater complexion of society called for more administration of work

Creation of pottery made on a wheel to create storage for grain and the introduction of theplow.

Ancient History I

Egypt and Mesopotamia 3000 – 1600 BCE

The center of main civilization during the third millennium

Egypt:Characterized by periods of unification and periods of fragmentationOn the basis of this pattern, the history of Egypt has, in modern times, been divided intokingdoms(unification) and intermediate periods (fragmentation): - Old Kingdom - 1 st intermediate period - Middle Kingdom - 2 nd intermediate period - New Kingdom - 3 rd intermediate period - Late Kingdom

In 300 BC Manetho, an Egyptian priest, introduced the ancient way of dividing Egyptianperiods, by dividing it into 31 dynasties.

Egypt was united for the first time during the early dynastic period (3000-2600 BCE)

Egypt was divided into two – lower and upper Egypt.Lower: by the delta of the NileUpper: The Nile valley

Memphis was near the board of these two lands and became the capital, during the firstunification, which was brought about by kings of the south (Upper Egypt).

Symbolic representation of the unification of lower and upper Egypt is found when looking atNarmer palette, where King Narmer is portrayed with a crown of both upper and lowerEgypt.

Later on, the kings of Egypt would be portrayed with a crown that was a mix of these two, asa symbol of the unification.

The Old Kingdom (2600-2150 BCE):Characterized by the Pyramids in 2500 BCEShows how the Egyptian kings were able to manage economic sources of the kingdom andlabour.Came to an end, when princes of different districts became independent pity kings, each witha district of their own.

1 st intermediate period:Lasted from 2150 – 2000 BCE

Ancient History I

Middle Kingdom (2000-1800 BCE):Unity was restoredNubia in the south became a part of Egypt

  • Amenemhat III – Brought Fayyum under cultivation

2 nd intermediate period:Lasted from 1800 – 1600 BCEForeign domination by Hyksos in lower Egypt.Upper Egypt as Vassal

1600 BCE – Even though the Hyksos tried to adapt to the Egyptian culture, they were stillseen as foreign rule and the Hyksos were kicked out of Egypt

Ahmos I – the founder of the 18th dynasty and therefore the beginning of the New Kingdom.

The New Kingdom (1550-1100 BCE):The pharaohs of the new Kingdom wanted to conquer areas in Syria and Palestine (Levant)from which the Hyksos emerged during the 2nd intermediate period, in order to pay back.By trying to control Levant, Egypt joined the club of greater powers (concert of powers) thatfrom 1600 BCE onwards dominated the international scene.

  • Thutmose III – 15th cen. 
  • Ramses II – 13th cen.  gained a lot of territories

Mesopotamia:Early dynastic Period (3000 – 2600 BCE) - Gilgames of Uruk (2700 BCE)

Sumerian City States (2600-2300 BCE) - Uruk and Ur – most important city states - Sumerians responsible for the urbanization and formation of city states - A period characterized by internal wars and fights

Mesopotamia was not united until the Empire of Akkad (2300 BCE) - King Sargon of Akkad founded an Empire who stretched from Mediterranean in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south.

Empire of Ur III (2100-2000 BCE) - Highly centralized imperial state - Maintained unity for a short period - Came to an end because of the Amorites

City states became the norm again after the fall of the Empire of Ur IIIIn many city states Amorites dynasties had come to power – out of these two large territorialstates rose to power, forming the Babylonian Empire in the south and Assyrian Empire in thenorth.

Ancient History I

Week 2:

The end of the Late Bronze Age

The end of the Late Bronze Age:Around 1200 BCE the concert of powers came to a sudden end. It is a debate topic on whyand how.

Mycenae:Palaces destroyed and abandoned

Hittite:The capital Hattusa

Egypt:The Egyptian rule in Levant came to an end and several cities alongside the Syrian andPalestine coast were destroyed.Egyptians were faced with the Sea People, but Ramses III succeeded in defeating them.

Sea people:We do not know if they were the last straw to a combination to the disasters mentioned aboveor if they were the direct cause. -> Egyptian sources.Could well have been warriors from Greece after the fall of Mycenae.

Assyria and Babylonia:Faced by the Arameans and Chaldeans – semi nomadic people.

Possible causes for the migration and therefore the destruction of the concert powers:  Earthquakes and droughts  Overpopulation  Loss of the fertility of soil (too intense cultivation)-> Food shortage -> famine  Internal, dynastic struggles  Problems with vassal states

Ancient History I

The political history of the Ancient Near East in the 1 mill. BCE

Egypt:The 3rd intermediate period – ruled by Libyans from the west and Nubians from the south

The Late Kingdom – Assyrian domination and later Persian domination.

The only period of unity of the country with a native rule, was during The Saite Dynasty(655-526) under Psammetichus I and Amasis.

The Saite Renaissance:Egypt was included in the Assyrian empire from 671 – 655. The Assyrians turned some of theEgyptian provincial governors into Assyrian vassal rulers, but one of them, Psammetichus,threw the Assyrian Yoke in 655, which kick started the revival of the Egyptian influence andtherefore forming the Saite dynasty. In the effort to bring back the Egyptian culture, the Saitekings brought back the former traditions from the Old Kingdom, which is why this period isreferred to as the Saite Renaissance.The Old Kingdom culture because that was the time of the pyramids and there for greattimes.

Syria and Palestine:Creation of smaller regional power, hereby the Kingdoms of David and Solomon – Israel.After Solomons death the kingdom was divided into two, Israel in the north and Judah in theeast.

Phoenicia/Phoenicians:The Phoenicians spoke a Semitic language and developed and alphabet during the 11thcentury, a script in which each consonant presented a sound. This alphabet was later adoptedby the Greeks, who added vocals, this happened around 800 BCE. The Greek alphabet waslater adopted by the Romans

  • Called themselves Canaanites
  • Characterized by their city states: Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos. Tyre preeminent from 9th c. on

Phoenician trade and colonisation:Founded colonies along the western coast of the Mediterranean -> most important one wasCarthage. - 11th - 10th c. in Levant (temple of Salomon) - 9th c. in southern Spain, to get silver - Colonised Carthage - They were creative and did a lot of silver work to trade with

Ancient History I

Darius 522-486 BCE:Reorganized the empire, by dividing it into satraps and introduced regular taxation.

The Persian Empire remained a superpower of the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean, untilit was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE.But it was the largest Empire the world had seen so far.

Two methods of governing an empire:

Vassal kingdom:Maintains a certain level of internal autonomy, as long as the Vassal King pays his tribute andaccept the leadership of the Empire in military matters.

Province:Directly ruled mostly by governors from the imperial heartland, directly elected by the Kingof the Empire.

The transition from Vassal to province often occasions of an insurrection, disloyal behaviourof the Vassal King. The population of this vassal would then be deported to another provincewithin the empire.This way of ruling started during the 8th century in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, under the ruleof Tiglath-Pileser III.

Ex. Deportation of the people of Israel  Cyrus the great would later let the Israelites moveback, during the Persian Empire.

Ancient History I

Ancient Religion

What is religion?A working definition: An attempt by humas to get a grip on the reality surrounding them byconnecting it to the supernatural.

To get a grip on: - Religion help humans to understand, to explain reality. o Explain the origin of the world and natural processes. But also, origin of institutions such as kingship  if kingship is a divine institution decanted from heaven, kingship is legitimized. - Religious ideas often leaves room for the possibility of influencing reality. o For example, by prayer or sacrifice religious action/rituals

Rituals (action) <-> conceptions (ideas) in religion:Should be distinguished from one another.

Rituals: actions taken, in favor of the God(s) - Prayer or sacrifice

Conceptions: The ideas held by people about a nature or the working of the supernatural - What is a God? - Who do God act? - Are God sympathetic towards humans? - Is there one or more Gods? - Which are the Gods names and competences?

This is what makes religion manageable for humans

People of the ancient history were often agricultural societies, and it can therefore beexpected that the Gods were often relates to natural processes.Osiris (Egypt): his death and later resurrection, was associated with death of the seed andthe growth of a new crop.

Societies were often organized around the God of the City. The Uruk vase – everything revolved around the city Goddess.

Religious loyalty was in the ancient world more a matter of belonging to a politicalcommunity and much less a matter of personal choice or conviction.

In Ancient times it was thought that by studying the stars, the liver of a sacrificed animal orthe flights of birds one could see what God held in store for humans

Ancient History I

Week 3:

Greek History – Chronology and Geography

Standard periodization of Greek history:

Before Common Era: - 1600 - 1200 BCE: Mycenaean civilization o Greek language civilization – Linear B

  • 1200 - 750 BCE: The ‘Dark Ages’

  • 750 - 500 BCE: The Archaic Period o A fresh start of Greek civilization, a period of the rise of the Polis

  • 500 - 330 BCE: The Classical Period o Artistic production

  • 330 - 30 BCE: The Hellenistic Period o Marked by Alexander’s conquest o The Greek world was enlarged o Split up after Alexander’s death

Common Era: - 30 BCE - 395 CE: The Roman Period o Roman Empire conquered the kingdoms of Alexander’s successors

  • 395-1453 CE: The Byzantine Empire o The Roman Empire disappears and there is a transition o Homioi – Greek for Romans.

  • 1453 - 1821 CE: The Ottoman Period o Constantinople, the capital of Byzantine, was conquered by the Ottomans of Turkey.

  • 1821- CE: Independent Greek State

Hellos – The Greek motherland

Peloponnese: The southern part of the Greek motherland – most important city being Laconia(Sparta)

Ancient History I

Dark Ages:

Around 1200BCE the Mycenean civilization collapsed, and the art of writing vanished.The term dark means that are knowledge is limited.The information we do have come from: - Archaeological finds - Linguistic data - Homeric Epics (Long narrative poems) o Probably reflect post Mycenean period. o A reflection of the world in Homers own time (late 8th century)

Dark Age characteristics:

  • Low level social and political organizations o Small communities o Local Chieftains (høvdinge) – village headmen o Would take refugee on a hill in case of danger

  • Decline of Material culture o Fairly primitive life o But contact with Egypt and Asia is found

  • Demographic decline

Polis and the Greek colonization

The Archaic Period (800BCE):

Demographic growth

Already in the 10th and 9th century demographic growth occurred and continued during 8thcentury. The numbers of settlements grew and so did the size, this resulted in a greaterdensity of settlements and finally in the rise of small towns that grew into cities.

This process of urbanization went together with a process of state formation on a micro level.That is the emergence of the polis – that were the characteristics of the political structure ofGrecce.

In Greece there were both Polis (city state) and Ethnos (a more loosely structured regionalentity).Polis were often found in more developed regions by the sea, were as the Ethne were found inItalia.

Ancient History I

take make decisions. The polis also contained a hill – acropolis – a place to take refuge intimes of danger.

The polis was governed by officials with different responsibilities such as military leadership,jurisdiction and supervision of religious stuff.Most of the people political offices were monopolised by Noble landowners. Meaning theyclaimed their right and privileges by birth.

The principal concern of the Polis was freedom and autonomy – the freedom from beingdominated by greater powers or other polis, which implied autonomy – the possibility tomake your own laws.

Population in an average Polis:

  • Men of landed wealth – hereditary aristocracy
  • Small holders – working own lands
  • Farmers and small peasants, who income might not have been enough to feed their families, so they would take extra jobs, doing seasonal labour.
  • Landless labors and slaves.

Greek colonization 750- 550 BCE:Already during the Dark Ages did the Greeks start to establish settlements and communitiesin the western parts of Asia Minor. But in the 8th and 7th century, the Greeks were on the moveagain, founding new settlement along the coast Mediterranean and the black sea.

In doing so, they followed the example of the Phoenicians, whose most famous colony wasCarthage.

Why Colonies? Symptoms of the phenomenon: interconnectivity - Interconnectivity: o Rainfall in the Mediterranean was unpredictable and therefore in good years overproduction and storage were essential for survival in bad years. o When the surplus of overproduction turned out to be not for use, they could be re-distributed to wider areas, by using the easy access to the sea. o Could also done with raw materials such as cobber and tin o This led to an establishment of an overseas community  migrants

One explanation given for the Greek colonization is the growth of population during that timeand therefore lack of supplies, others see it as a way of solving internal conflicts, by shippingoff rebellious groups for them to create their own existence.But it must also have been partly caused by the Phoenician influence of going off to sea.

The Greeks settled in the east of Sicily and southern Italy. The first Greek colony was inNaples - Napoli

Ancient History I

This is why you can find a lot of Greek temples in Italy and other parts of the world outsideof Greece. The main colonies were in Asia Minor and Corinth.The best-known emporiums (settlements for commercial reasons) were Al Mina in Syria,Naukratis in Egypt and Pithecusae on Ischia in the Gulf of Naples.

But the majority of the Greek colonies were aimed against more fertile land for agriculturalpurposes – which meant mainly along the shores of the black sea.The word colonization means a territory governed by a foreign city that has founded thecolony. But the case of the Greek colonies was something else. It was a new independentpolis, bond to the mother city by moral and religious ties only, so politically independent.The settlement that the Greek established in Al Mina and Naukratis were not independentPolies and therefore not the same as the normal Greek settlements (apoikiai).

The Greek colonization of the Archaic period came to an end, once the ability to import foodand supplies from overseas came, the interest in forming new colonies faded. The Greeks’quests for new landed came to an almost complete end around 550BC. Instead, they started tocultivate the wasteland and trade to boost the industry in the cities.

Hoplites and Tyrants

The power in the Archaic Polis were in the hands of hereditary aristocracies, whose wealthconsisted primarily of landed property. But a new type of wealth emerged  trade systemand colonization started to evolve, alongside with things such as crafts and the cultivation ofcommercial crops for olives.This meant that people of the non-elite suddenly had opportunities to grow rich, and thereforestarted to challenge the aristocratic monopoly of power.

Hoplites:In the course of the Archaic Period, a new type of heavy military armor for foot soldiers,around 700 BCE.Characteristics for this armor, was the big round shield, called a Hoplon, which gave name tothe soldiers: Hoplites. These Hoplites would fight in a certain battle formation, called aPhalanx.

Phalanx – a battle formation in which the hoplites had to ensure closed ranks and cover theright shoulder of the person next to them, since it was not protected by armour  leading to asense of community.

In the beginning the Hoplites came from the richest classes of society, but due to the growingwealth amongst the non-aristocratic population, they were also able to afford this armor, andtherefore after 500 BCE the middle classes started to supply Hoplites too. People fromdifferent classes of society started to fight alongside each other in the Phalanx  they wereequals on the battlefield.The military participation also meant an ability to push for a political say.

Ancient History I

Sparta’s social and political structure:

Militarily the strongest polis of the Greek world from the 6th until 4th century BCE.This was due to the fact that a large amount of non-aristocratic citizens were alreadyequipped as Hoplites, whereas for the rest of the Greek world, this did start to develop untilafter 500 BCE.

Sparta was also special, due to large possession of serf (helots)

Spartan organization of society:

  • Spartiate (homoioi – equals/peers) o Professional Hoplites and citizens with full political rights. They trained from a young age and where able to do so, because they did not have to work  all agricultural labour was performed by the Helots. o They had equal rights in the Phalanx and equal vote in the assembly. They were assigned equal lots of land

  • Perioiki (Those living around): o Semi autonomy cities around Sparta, without political rights. Served in the army.

  • Helots/serfs: o Lived in their own communities on ancestral farms but were obliged to pay half of their yield to Spartan overlords.

Spartiate + Perioikoi = Lacedaemonians (all living in the region of Laconia)

The economic infrastructure of Spartan military superiority:

  • All spartan citizens with full civil rights (Spartiates) had access to a lot of land, a so- called Klaros, which was worked by the Helots.

  • The Helots had to pay a fixed rent to the Spartiates in kind o Rent in kind: agricultural products

  • From this rent, the Spartiate could Feed his family and/or pay a contribution to his Syssition o Syssition: a mess. A sort of association where all Spartans had to be a member of. In this mess they would train, eat and fight together. o Citizenship was conditional on membership of a mess. If you had to leave the mess because you could not afford to pay contribution, you lost citizenship.

Ancient History I

This made it possible for the Spartans to focus only and exclusively on training for war andwarfare.Because of all the time for training, Spartan Hoplites were considered invincible, but becauseof the constant thread of uprising from the Helots, they did not use their military strength fornew wars after the middle of the 6th century. Instead, they established a military league,consisting of almost all states of the Peloponnesian area.Political institutions in Sparta:

  • Assembly  Apella o Spartiates all had the right to attend and cast their vote.

  • Council  Gerousia o Council of elders – 28 members of 60 years and older + the 2 kings. o Members were chosen for life, by the assembly

  • Magistrates  two kings and five ephors o Kings still existed in Sparta, which was special  Primarily military commanders. o Ephors had overall political and administrative competences  chosen by the assembly, for short period.

If the assembly made a decision, which Gerousia and the Magistrates did not like, they couldsimply set aside this decision. This meant that, even though it seems like the Spartiates had alot of influence, they might not have had that much after all.

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