Cradles of Civilization 1: Early Civilization and The History of Writing
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Dr. David Neiman takes us from the Agricultural Revolution to the Ceramic Age, and then the Bronze. This lecture outlines the rise of the earliest civilizations in the West including Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia and Phoenicia. The development of cities allows for the diversification and specialization of society and with the invention of writing, history begins.
Writing is invented in the cities along the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Once the system was developed, literature flourishes. As the writing system develops, the Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations begin to describe their world. One of the most compelling accounts found is the autobiography of King Sargon of Akkad.
Egyptian civilization is influenced by the advances made in Sumer. The building of the temple towers, called Ziggurat lead to the development of the Egyptian pyramid. Egyptians develop hieroglyphic symbols. The use of Papyrus and ink is introduced. The Phoenicians revolutionize writing with the alphabet. Scribes resist the new system, but the alphabet prevails and becomes the new standard.
The last great flourishing of Sumerian civilization ends with the rule of Gudea of Lagash. In the 1930's, the Mari and Nuzi archives were found and the history of Assyria was revealed. Dr. Neiman tells of Shanshi-Adad I of Assyria who established an empire over neighboring states along with his sons. His kingdom is threatened by the growing power of Hammurabi of Babylon to the South.
Dr. David Neiman (1921–2004) was professor of Jewish theology at Boston College and specialized in a broad range of fields, including archaeology, Biblical studies, Jewish history and Catholic-Jewish relations. He also organized Boston College’s Institute of Biblical Archeology and participated in nearly a dozen archaeological excavations in Israel. He was the author of Domestic Relations in Antiquity (Little Acorns Press, 1994) as well as a commentary and selected translation of the Book of Job (Massada, 1972). He also wrote several important articles for the Encyclopedia Judaica. His lectures on the Book of Genesis were delivered in 2000 at the University of Judaism in Bel Air, CA.