.    The International Bronze Age (Pg. 30-50)    .



INDO-EUROPEANS: Caucasians. Strange name for such a large group of peoples, from which all the European groups branch off from and derive from. From an original homeland north of the Caucasus Mts. in southern Russia, a diffusion of Proto Indo-European speakers (PIE) went out to Europe, Russia, Anatolia and Greece, and others went down to Persia, the Zagros Mts. area, and all the way to India. They domesticated the horse, rode it, and bred cattle too. They had strong family ties, and a penchant for technology- they combined the sumerian push cart with a horse and got a chariot.

Chariots and bows. A moment to, like John Keegan does, digress on composite bows: composite head to waist. curved, took centuries to perfect, but when done, virtually unchanged until the 19th century. slender strips of wood, bent the opposite way from its natural curve, glued with animal tendon, taking a year to cure. stinging it is 150 pounds of pressure. boiled cattle tendons and skin. humidity, semi-religious.



HITTITES: A powerful group of Indo-Europeans moved south to Anatolia, bringing the domesticated horse with them. They established the kingdom of Hatti in the 1600s. A great power now, Suppiluliumas I and Mussilish II raided Babylon and were at their peak. Muwatallish in 1280 fought Kadesh against Rameses II successfully. Mitanni they destroyed and absorbed, but they over-fought Egypt and were weakened. Before declining and disappearing, they accomplished something astounding: for 1500 years men fought with bronze. This 1500-1200 period is in fact called the International Bronze Age. But the Hittites discovered that pieces of a greyish metal that when beaten into plows, lance-tips, swords or knives... were far superior to bronze. These lumps of metal were actually meteorite fragments made of up iron-nickel, like the center of the Earth. Metalworking with them was harder than making bronze, the temp had to be higher for iron-nickel than copper-tin. charcoal had to be used. The Hittite kings carefully guarded the secret of iron. But this was the beginning of the Iron Age. When the Hittites were destroyed, by Phyrgians and Sea Peoples, their tech spread all over after 1200.



NEW KINGDOM EGYPT: NKE is the world's leading power under Thutmose III (1500) who defeated Canaan and Mitanni, and Nubia. He used charioteers. Maximum expansion by 1450 under Amenhoteps II and III. Baal and Astarte, popular Canaanite divinities, made their way into egypt. Magnificient architetural acheivements near Thebes, the capital, which is now the world's greatest city. Amenhotep IV, however, found something that interested him far more than architecture or conquests. He became history's first monotheist (outside the Hebrew patriarchs- who coincidentally were now in the orbit of Egypt, which may have been the reason for diffusion into Egypt of the idea). Amenhotep IV renamed himself Akenaton (servant of Aton) and worshipped the Sun as a single supreme god. The priests and people were disgusted by this, and needed their old-time religion back. When Akenaton died, the new youthful pharaoh said, “I will be the restorer or Re (full name: Amon-Re), and my name will be Tutankhamon (restorer of Amon), and perhaps for this reason, his was the only tomb unmolested from 1352 until our day! New vigor came with the restoration, and found fruition under Rameses II, who reigned for 67 years. He fought the Hittites in the Levant for the boundaries of the empire, and was the pharaoh of the Biblical exodus. Egypt that was victorious and seemingly unstoppable fought too hard against the Hittites and exhausted itself. Many soldiers died in battle, people war weary. Defeated nations constantly rebel. Victor becomes a shell-tough outside, hollow inside. In 1200, this is what was about to happen.



OTHER TRIBES: An unremarkable city is built by a new people, the Assyrians, north of Babylon. It is Ashur, and is soon taken by another tribe from the north, the Kassites, who also overwhelm the Babylonians in the late 1500s. The Hurrians, yet another tribe from the northwest, settle in northern Mesopotamia too, and are known as the Kingdom of Mitanni. Therefore, Mesopotamia enters a time of decentralization, and just as its power wanes, the Hittites to the farther northwest and Egyptians to the southwest are in ascendence. Neither, however, will have the reach to conquer and hold Mesopotamia- they will fight rather more over the Levant. Egypt will smack down Mitanni, but again, not definitively. The weakening of Mitanni had the consequence of adding power to another small kingdom, centered in northern Mesoptoamia in Ashur, from the mid 1200s.



SEA PEOPLES. The sudden decline of the Hittites and even NK Egypt is the subject of great mystery. Both were crippled (the Hittites mortally) by the 'Sea Peoples', who came from the Mediterranean Sea islands and in an amazing feat of warfare, struck the Hittite Kingdom in Anatolia. After, laying waste to it and decentralizing it to the point it was never reconsituted, they came down to Egypt, where Ramses III (20th Dynasty) faced them in a turbulent moment. With great effort, they were defeated- but Egypt was strained badly and remained a minor power thereafter. Only the imperishable monuments- pyramids, sphinx, obelisks, temples and statues would attest to the former glory of the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms. The Bronze Age ends with the conquering of the Hittites and weakening of Egypt by the Sea Peoples.

PHILISTINES. As for the Sea Peoples, they were resettled on the coast of Canaan with the native Canaanites by Ramses III. The Bible places the origins of the Philistines, enemies of the Hebrews and furnisher of Goliath, whom David slew, as 'from the islands of the sea.' The Philistines were fighters in a desperate struggle with the Israelites for the land, killed and nailed King Saul to the wall of a city. Later the Romans would call the Holy Land "Palestine," a word corresponding to "Philistia, land of the Philistines," as an affront to the stiff-necked Jews. Today, the Israel-Palestine conflict is still going on, and what a headache for the rest of the world.

A POWER VACUUM. In the vacuum in Anatolia, smaller tribes established kingdoms, like the Pygerians, who under King Midas with the golden touch, prospered there. Troy in the far west and Ugarit in Syria were two city-states with trade links throughout the western Mediterranean world. In Mesopotamia, a loosely held confederation under the Kassites who ruled from Babylon, ebbed over the region. Life was primarily not imperial but religious, as Marduk claimed much need for appeasment. The Enuma Elish tells the creation story and the flood story.



PHOENICIANS. See Phoenicians...






IRON AGE ASSYRIA. Around 1000 BC a new semitic tribe settled in a decentralized Mesopotiamia. The Phrygians came into Mesopotamia from Anatolia and battered the nascent Assyrian Kingdom, but then under Tiglath-Pileser I (1100), Assyria resurged and built itself up. New Semite trouble came: the Arameans from Syria, and by 1000, they held Assyrians in check. But during the 900s Assyria asserted increasing control over Mesopotamia and Babylon, and a powerful and vicious empire was being born. North of Assyria at the foothills of Ararat and Armenia, Urartu was established as a kingdom, based on a fantastic new technology pioneered by the Hittites but perfected by Assyria: iron weapons. Iron smelting and trade formed the core of Assyria's expansionist power. They used cavalry to get the battlefield quicker than their opponents and outmaneuver them. Assyrian art? very large, fierce, in the British museum, you are scared! Architecture and frescoes are imposing, they did not evoke affection, but challenge.

Ashurnasirpal II ends toleration of local norms in the growing empire. Wanting Assyrian to be used (the majority of people spoke Akkadian), he wants to Assyrianize the people by deporting them, and begins the brutal taxation plan. He leads Assyrian army on annual campaigns. Killing prisoners reached a sadistic peak. His son, Shalmanasser III (830) continued this, and perfected the iron weapons of the Hittites. Army totally outfitted, in addition, Assyrian horses were mounted and controlled very well, and chariots were made faster and better. Assyria's time came under Tiglath Pileser III (740) who subdues the entire Mediterranean shore and adopts the modest title, "Kings of the Universe" for the Assyrian emperors. Aramaic Syria and Phoenicia were taken by Shalmanasser V, then came Sargon II (722), who took Israel and Urartu. Both vanished from history. Cimmerians from north of the Black Sea, helped the Assyrians, who reorganized their army and all males served. They were promoted if they were efficient, not because of who they knew. Iron battering ram used to plow through city walls, archery, chariots. With this force, Assyria was unstoppable, taking over everyone and punishing them with an amazing single-mindedness.

THE EMPIRE. For the first time since civilization began 2000 years previous, both river valleys were together in the same empire. Nineveh, the showcase capital city built on the Tigris River, had 500k people. A very tough, cruel, state terrorism- Assyria rounded up people and executed them, tortued, butcherd, slaverized the victims of conquered cities that rebelled. They burned cities to the ground after stealing everything of value. they used FEAR- which is what the 'terror' is in terrorism.

After Sargon II came Sennacherib (700), who attacked Judah and devastated it. The 10 Tribes (of 12) were deported in the population policy to destroy the identity of peoples, taking away their distinctiveness, and making them more easy to control by the central power. Over a million were deported (2 Kings, in the Old Testament). Jerusalem was lain in siege. But Judah, containing the last two tribes, was not wiped out. The Bible says it was the result of a miracle. They paid a heavy tribute to Nineveh to be left alone. Babylonian loyalists were taken to Israel to live in the place of people who were deported. The Syrians of Hama were divided into classes, and the upper classes were transported to the Zagros Mts., lost. No telephones: one did not know the army was coming until they were already there! What kind of art do you think the Assyrians depicted on their walls in Nineveh? Conquests. Subjugated peoples giving tribute. In the cities they took over, they made artwork of human skulls, depictions of people being killed in gruesome detail even though they surrendered... to make sure everyone understood. Palaces had giant winged bulls and lions guarding the doors, impressing every visitor of the power of Assyria.

Sennacherib had to deal with Egypt and others, so accepted a tribute from Judah in exchange for being left alone. Esarhadon, the next one, attacked Egypt. Ashurbanipal is next, beautified Nineveh in 640, including the largest library in the ancient world: 22,000 clay tablets. Ashurbanipal fought off rebellions in Babylonia, Elam and Egypt, and Assyria weakened. Elam was destroyed (and the Persian tribe then settled on its land). In 612, that amazing imperial capital Nineveh fell, and the victorious rebels mercilessly inflicted its end. It was wiped out, and there would be no recovery. Assyria seemed untouchable only 25 years previous! Now, vanished from history.



ISRAEL. See Israel during the Iron Age...



NEO-BABYLONIANS. Chaldeans (who like the Amorites before, settled in Babylon, and mixed with them)- rebelled against Assyria many times, and Sennacherib burned Babylon once. But Nabopolassar saw a chance at winning in 605. Allied with tribes all around, including the Medes from the east, he attacked successfully. His son, Nebuchadnezzar founded a new empire on the rubble of Assyria: Levant, Mesopotamia and Egypt, mirroring the Assyrian preimage. Babylon is rebuilt after its burning by Sennacherib, and now it is poised to bloom. Enlarged and beautified at great cost. It became the greatest city in the world. Nebuchadnezzar completed a great ziggurat, one that did not in fact aspire to reach to heaven. It was 300 ft tall though, which is not too far off! Also built were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, for N's Median princess. Eight miles of walls, the Ishtar Gate, glazed tiles... Marduk becomes ruler of all Mesopotamia, everyone has a temple dedicated to Marduk. When Judah rebelled, Nebuchadnezzar came. In 586 he sacked Jerusalem and tore down the Temple of Solomon, built nearly 400 years previous. He unsuccessfully laid siege to Tyre, the only phoenician city to resist. The last two tribes of Israel are taken into Captivity, but unlike the 10 dragged off by Assyria, the last two go through a transformation: from squabbling factions to united people.

His successor was interested in archeology, but not in warfare. Babylon was about have some trouble. The priests of Marduk opposed the archeologist-emperor Nabonidus, and swayed the populous too. He went looking for relics and left his son Belshazzar in charge of the army with responsiblity of defending a disaffected land. When Cyrus came in 539, Babylon could not resist much. Both N and B died soon after. So did Babylonia, only 25 years after Nebuchadnezzar the Great! Astronomical observations were done, sky maps and star charts were the result of great care in observations over long periods of time. An Ionian Greek, Thales, would use these charts to predict an eclipse, amazing his friends. But he aslo did something more... by using the charts in prediction, he came upon the realization that the world is knowable, and understandable. He invented a new way of looking at the world, that of an investigator. He invented the process of science.



EGYPT. Ruled first by Assyria and then by Babylon, the 26th Dynasty declared independence and invited Greek traders and trading posts into Egypt. It reinvigorated Egypt's prosperity and Necho II was a great pharaoh- when Nablopolassar died, he saw a chance to bring back the Levant to Egypt. Well, Nebuchadnezzar was more than a match for Necho, and at Carchemish in Syria, Necho was broken. Babylon, however, left Egypt to itself, rather autonomous but for tribute- and a period of peace emerged for the land. Necho did not waste it. He some great things: built a canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea so Egypt had an 'eastward' river as well as a north/south. He didn't quite finish it, but it was a good try. He also sponsored a Phoenician fleet's great journey around the whole of Africa. It took 3 years, and when the Phoenicians got back, they said that the noonday Sun was in the north as they rounded South Africa! No one believed this, including Herodotus. The Phoenicians would not have reported such nonsense... unless they actually made it around the cape.



OTHER KINGDOMS. Scythians were horsemen from the steppes of Ukraine, who forced out the Cimmerians into Anatolia. The Cimmerians destroyed Phyrgia and Urartu, recall. Both tribes punched away at Assyria periodically and helped weaken it. In Anatolia though, the Cimmerians were then defeated by another power, the Lydians. They melted into the surrounding population and disappeared from history. When the Medes emerged under Cyaxares, the Scythians retired north to Ukraine again. As for the Lydians, in 648 their king fell in battle against the Cimmerians, but the kingdom became strong near Ionia. They in fact dominated the Ionian Greeks, but since they liked Greek culture, they were lenient.

The Median Empire stretched all the way across the north to Lydia. The two armies squared off on May 28, 585 for supremacy in Anatolia. We know the day, because the battle never took place. An eclipse of the Sun was taken so seriously by both armies, they made peace. Zarathustra was a monotheistic Median religious reformer. Lydia, an Indo-European kingdom, made some great advances in economics. Gold and silver were used as media of exchange, and were easily portable. To allay fears of gold and silver being mixed with less valuable metals, the Lydian state issued "coins." Coins were stamped with the wight and value, and impressed with the image of the king, who guaranteed its purity. This idea spread quickly and was very sensible. The Greeks admired the wealth of the Lydian king Croesus so much, like that of Phrygian king Midias centuries earlier, that they said one may be "rich as croesus." very rich. Croesus admired Greek richness of culture so much, in turn, that he sponsored the oracle of Delphi, making it the religous center of the Greek world.

Croesus was worried about Cyrus' victories. Media was his neighbor with whom he signed a peace accord! He made an alliance with Nabonidus. Oops. So, he sends a messenger to Delphi to ask "What happens if I attack Cyrus?" "You would destroy a great empire." Well he did, and he did. His own. Cyrus took Sardis with mounted archers, the first such instance. Lydia disappeared from history, and the Persians now looked beyond Lydia to Ionia.



PERSIA. The Medes live northeast of Mesoptoamia beyond the Zagros. Never really interested in Mesopotamia, they had a quite large land themselves: modern Iran. They appeared there as the Amorites and Chaldeans did in Mesopotamia, and they were beyond the range of Assyria, but a client kingdom. In 625 they united under Cyaxares, who revolted when Ashurbanipal died. As Babylon reemerged, Media took the northern swath from Anatolian Hittite lands across Urartu to northern Persia. Loosly organized.

East of Babylon, Elam was wiped out by Assyria, and Persians settled. Persians were related to the Medes, Indo-European. Persia was part of Media, in fact, called Fars. Greeks called it Persis. Susa of the Elamites was now the Persian capital. In 558, Cyrus became ruler of Persia. He rebelled successfully against the Median central government and took Ecbatana, the median capital. He became ruler of Media itself! The name "Media" disappeared now, and Persia was on the march.

Cyrus (the Shah-in-Shah) took everything- Levant, Mesopotamia, Anatolia (all the way to Ionian Greece), and all very fast. Everything but Egypt, and Cambyses his successor took that. In 522 Darius came in, and Persia was by far the largest empire in world history. All of civilized Asia from India to the Aegean. Population 13 million, about as big physically as the USA. Transport was primitive, and isolation was still great. Size was a weakness with bad transport. It was subdivided into 20 realms called satrapies, under satraps. Elaborate road system and new capital, Persepolis, was founded. Zoroastrianism was Persia's religion, but local gods (ie: babylonian Marduk) were honored. Ahuramazda vs. Ahriman, good vs evil. The eternal cosmic war between the two had no clear winner, and earth was the battlegrond. The intervention of human beings on one side or the other might tip the balance. So they should, be virtous and good.

how? herodotus says they had a million men. today we say 300k men, and

that number is still huge. also inside that army 10,000 immortals

great cavalry tactics, on the field. you want to outflank the enemy, and stop from

being outflanked by them. persians discovered that when infantry is engaged, cavalry can come around and attack at the right moment, to win.

persians tolerant

locals left in charge - core periphery

saytraps in charge, ‘eyes and ears’ who you didnt know.

in building an imperial state, you can use your own people and send them out

or you can use people who are homegrown. 1st are totally loyal to the center.

persians were clever. romans will be masters at it. you elevate someone beyond

anything they could dream of...

weights and measures standardized, and travel, royal road. if one state used ounces

and pounds and another kilos? different money? single coinage... good feeling of an effective state. road? they didnt build JUST to be nice, but in order to move troops... but other benefits flowed from creation of the Persian road system. language of trade was aramaic. semetic... a lingua franca. smart stuff...

aramaic, greek, latin, french, now... english

religion. zoroasterianism. zarathustra. avesta, the spiritual scriptures of persia. one god, ahura mazda (single creator), and ahriman, the devil. evil. if there is a single god who is good, why is there evil? so there is a devil. twin child of ahura mazda. world history is a struggle of this good vs evil. people reflect in common ways - this dualism of good vs evil is here. light and dark, hope and fear, flesh and spirit... dualism, understanding these polarities is how we can overcome evil and remain good.

the world out there is messy, troubling, complicated... this world is a false impression of the spiritual realm, the better world that exists out there. dualism. part of western tradition.

legacy? assyrians and babylonians left impressive buildings, but not much else. persians however, left religion, good kingship and transportation. from isolation to multiethnic empires, exchange of ideas, astronomy, languages, trade, money etc. lots of what the west is based on today.

crucial phase in western civ. huge and long history of art, architecture, religion, etc. that lay at the feet of Greece.  



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