NCERT Textbook - Writing and City Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

Created by: Uk Tiwary

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Writing and City Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


29
writing and city life
CITY life began in Mesopotamia*, the land between the
Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the
Republic of Iraq. Mesopotamian civilisation is known for its
prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and its
mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system
and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern
Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so that the kingdoms of
that entire region were writing to one another, and to the
Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and
writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained
tradition of writing.
In the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the
urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer
and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an
important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern
region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established
their kingdom in the north, the region became known as
Assyria. The first known language of the land was Sumerian.
It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE
when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished
till about Alexander’s time (336-323 BCE), with some regional
changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aramaic also trickled in.
This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after
1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Archaeology in Mesopotamia began in the 1840s. At one or
two sites (including Uruk and Mari, which we discuss below),
excavations continued for decades. (No Indian site has ever
seen such long-term projects.) Not only can we study
hundreds of Mesopotamian buildings, statues, ornaments,
graves, tools and seals as sources, there are thousands of
written documents.
 Mesopotamia was important to Europeans because of
references to it in the Old Testament, the first part of the
Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament
refers to ‘Shimar’, meaning Sumer, as a land of brick-built
cities. Travellers and scholars of Europe looked on
Mesopotamia as a kind of ancestral land, and when
archaeological work began in the area, there was an attempt
to prove the literal truth of the Old Testament.
2
THEME
*The name
Mesopotamia is
derived from the
Greek words mesos,
meaning middle,
and potamos,
meaning river.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


29
writing and city life
CITY life began in Mesopotamia*, the land between the
Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the
Republic of Iraq. Mesopotamian civilisation is known for its
prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and its
mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system
and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern
Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so that the kingdoms of
that entire region were writing to one another, and to the
Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and
writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained
tradition of writing.
In the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the
urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer
and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an
important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern
region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established
their kingdom in the north, the region became known as
Assyria. The first known language of the land was Sumerian.
It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE
when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished
till about Alexander’s time (336-323 BCE), with some regional
changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aramaic also trickled in.
This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after
1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Archaeology in Mesopotamia began in the 1840s. At one or
two sites (including Uruk and Mari, which we discuss below),
excavations continued for decades. (No Indian site has ever
seen such long-term projects.) Not only can we study
hundreds of Mesopotamian buildings, statues, ornaments,
graves, tools and seals as sources, there are thousands of
written documents.
 Mesopotamia was important to Europeans because of
references to it in the Old Testament, the first part of the
Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament
refers to ‘Shimar’, meaning Sumer, as a land of brick-built
cities. Travellers and scholars of Europe looked on
Mesopotamia as a kind of ancestral land, and when
archaeological work began in the area, there was an attempt
to prove the literal truth of the Old Testament.
2
THEME
*The name
Mesopotamia is
derived from the
Greek words mesos,
meaning middle,
and potamos,
meaning river.
© NCERT
not to be republished
30 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
From the mid-nineteenth century there was no stopping
the enthusiasm for exploring the ancient past of
Mesopotamia. In 1873, a British newspaper funded an
expedition of the British Museum to search for a tablet
narrating the story of the Flood, mentioned in the Bible.
By the 1960s, it was understood that the stories of the
Old Testament were not literally true, but may have been
ways of expressing memories about important changes in
history. Gradually, archaeological techniques became far
more sophisticated and refined. What is more, attention was
directed to different questions, including reconstructing the
lives of ordinary people. Establishing the literal truth of
Biblical narratives receded into the background. Much of
what we discuss subsequently in the chapter is based on
these later studies.
According to the
Bible, the Flood was
meant to destroy
all life on earth.
However, God chose
a man, Noah, to
ensure that life
could continue after
the Flood. Noah
built a huge boat,
an ark. He took a
pair each of all
known species of
animals and birds
on board the ark,
which survived the
Flood. There was a
strikingly similar
story in the
Mesopotamian
tradition, where the
principal character
was called Ziusudra
or Utnapishtim.
Mesopotamia and its Geography
Iraq is a land of diverse environments. In the north-east lie green,
undulating plains, gradually rising to tree-covered mountain ranges
with clear streams and wild flowers, with enough rainfall to grow crops.
Here, agriculture began between 7000 and 6000 BCE. In the north,
there is a stretch of upland called a steppe, where animal herding
offers people a better livelihood than agriculture – after the winter
rains, sheep and goats feed on the grasses and low shrubs that grow
here. To the east, tributaries of the Tigris provide routes of
MAP 1: West Asia
ACTIVITY 1
Many societies
have myths
about floods.
These are often
ways of
preserving and
expressing
memories about
important
changes in
history. Find out
more about
these, noting how
life before and
after the flood is
represented.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


29
writing and city life
CITY life began in Mesopotamia*, the land between the
Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the
Republic of Iraq. Mesopotamian civilisation is known for its
prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and its
mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system
and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern
Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so that the kingdoms of
that entire region were writing to one another, and to the
Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and
writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained
tradition of writing.
In the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the
urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer
and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an
important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern
region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established
their kingdom in the north, the region became known as
Assyria. The first known language of the land was Sumerian.
It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE
when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished
till about Alexander’s time (336-323 BCE), with some regional
changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aramaic also trickled in.
This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after
1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Archaeology in Mesopotamia began in the 1840s. At one or
two sites (including Uruk and Mari, which we discuss below),
excavations continued for decades. (No Indian site has ever
seen such long-term projects.) Not only can we study
hundreds of Mesopotamian buildings, statues, ornaments,
graves, tools and seals as sources, there are thousands of
written documents.
 Mesopotamia was important to Europeans because of
references to it in the Old Testament, the first part of the
Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament
refers to ‘Shimar’, meaning Sumer, as a land of brick-built
cities. Travellers and scholars of Europe looked on
Mesopotamia as a kind of ancestral land, and when
archaeological work began in the area, there was an attempt
to prove the literal truth of the Old Testament.
2
THEME
*The name
Mesopotamia is
derived from the
Greek words mesos,
meaning middle,
and potamos,
meaning river.
© NCERT
not to be republished
30 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
From the mid-nineteenth century there was no stopping
the enthusiasm for exploring the ancient past of
Mesopotamia. In 1873, a British newspaper funded an
expedition of the British Museum to search for a tablet
narrating the story of the Flood, mentioned in the Bible.
By the 1960s, it was understood that the stories of the
Old Testament were not literally true, but may have been
ways of expressing memories about important changes in
history. Gradually, archaeological techniques became far
more sophisticated and refined. What is more, attention was
directed to different questions, including reconstructing the
lives of ordinary people. Establishing the literal truth of
Biblical narratives receded into the background. Much of
what we discuss subsequently in the chapter is based on
these later studies.
According to the
Bible, the Flood was
meant to destroy
all life on earth.
However, God chose
a man, Noah, to
ensure that life
could continue after
the Flood. Noah
built a huge boat,
an ark. He took a
pair each of all
known species of
animals and birds
on board the ark,
which survived the
Flood. There was a
strikingly similar
story in the
Mesopotamian
tradition, where the
principal character
was called Ziusudra
or Utnapishtim.
Mesopotamia and its Geography
Iraq is a land of diverse environments. In the north-east lie green,
undulating plains, gradually rising to tree-covered mountain ranges
with clear streams and wild flowers, with enough rainfall to grow crops.
Here, agriculture began between 7000 and 6000 BCE. In the north,
there is a stretch of upland called a steppe, where animal herding
offers people a better livelihood than agriculture – after the winter
rains, sheep and goats feed on the grasses and low shrubs that grow
here. To the east, tributaries of the Tigris provide routes of
MAP 1: West Asia
ACTIVITY 1
Many societies
have myths
about floods.
These are often
ways of
preserving and
expressing
memories about
important
changes in
history. Find out
more about
these, noting how
life before and
after the flood is
represented.
© NCERT
not to be republished
31
communication into the mountains of Iran. The south is a desert – and
this is where the first cities and writing emerged (see below). This
desert could support cities because the rivers Euphrates and Tigris,
which rise in the northern mountains, carry loads of silt (fine mud).
When they flood or when their water is let out on to the fields, fertile
silt is deposited.
WRITING AND CITY LIFE
After the Euphrates has entered the desert, its water flows out into
small channels. These channels flood their banks and, in the past,
functioned as irrigation canals: water could be let into the fields of
wheat, barley, peas or lentils when necessary. Of all ancient systems,
that of the Roman Empire (Theme 3) included, it was the agriculture
of southern Mesopotamia that was the most productive, even though
the region did not have sufficient rainfall to grow crops.
Not only agriculture, Mesopotamian sheep and goats that grazed
on the steppe, the north-eastern plains and the mountain slopes
(that is, on tracts too high for the rivers to flood and fertilise) produced
meat, milk and wool in abundance. Further, fish was available in
rivers and date-palms gave fruit in summer. Let us not, however,
make the mistake of thinking that cities grew simply because of
rural prosperity. We shall discuss other factors by and by, but first
let us be clear about city life.
MAP 2: Mesopotamia:
Mountains, Steppe,
Desert, Irrigated
Zone of the South.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


29
writing and city life
CITY life began in Mesopotamia*, the land between the
Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the
Republic of Iraq. Mesopotamian civilisation is known for its
prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and its
mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system
and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern
Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so that the kingdoms of
that entire region were writing to one another, and to the
Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and
writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained
tradition of writing.
In the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the
urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer
and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an
important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern
region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established
their kingdom in the north, the region became known as
Assyria. The first known language of the land was Sumerian.
It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE
when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished
till about Alexander’s time (336-323 BCE), with some regional
changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aramaic also trickled in.
This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after
1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Archaeology in Mesopotamia began in the 1840s. At one or
two sites (including Uruk and Mari, which we discuss below),
excavations continued for decades. (No Indian site has ever
seen such long-term projects.) Not only can we study
hundreds of Mesopotamian buildings, statues, ornaments,
graves, tools and seals as sources, there are thousands of
written documents.
 Mesopotamia was important to Europeans because of
references to it in the Old Testament, the first part of the
Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament
refers to ‘Shimar’, meaning Sumer, as a land of brick-built
cities. Travellers and scholars of Europe looked on
Mesopotamia as a kind of ancestral land, and when
archaeological work began in the area, there was an attempt
to prove the literal truth of the Old Testament.
2
THEME
*The name
Mesopotamia is
derived from the
Greek words mesos,
meaning middle,
and potamos,
meaning river.
© NCERT
not to be republished
30 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
From the mid-nineteenth century there was no stopping
the enthusiasm for exploring the ancient past of
Mesopotamia. In 1873, a British newspaper funded an
expedition of the British Museum to search for a tablet
narrating the story of the Flood, mentioned in the Bible.
By the 1960s, it was understood that the stories of the
Old Testament were not literally true, but may have been
ways of expressing memories about important changes in
history. Gradually, archaeological techniques became far
more sophisticated and refined. What is more, attention was
directed to different questions, including reconstructing the
lives of ordinary people. Establishing the literal truth of
Biblical narratives receded into the background. Much of
what we discuss subsequently in the chapter is based on
these later studies.
According to the
Bible, the Flood was
meant to destroy
all life on earth.
However, God chose
a man, Noah, to
ensure that life
could continue after
the Flood. Noah
built a huge boat,
an ark. He took a
pair each of all
known species of
animals and birds
on board the ark,
which survived the
Flood. There was a
strikingly similar
story in the
Mesopotamian
tradition, where the
principal character
was called Ziusudra
or Utnapishtim.
Mesopotamia and its Geography
Iraq is a land of diverse environments. In the north-east lie green,
undulating plains, gradually rising to tree-covered mountain ranges
with clear streams and wild flowers, with enough rainfall to grow crops.
Here, agriculture began between 7000 and 6000 BCE. In the north,
there is a stretch of upland called a steppe, where animal herding
offers people a better livelihood than agriculture – after the winter
rains, sheep and goats feed on the grasses and low shrubs that grow
here. To the east, tributaries of the Tigris provide routes of
MAP 1: West Asia
ACTIVITY 1
Many societies
have myths
about floods.
These are often
ways of
preserving and
expressing
memories about
important
changes in
history. Find out
more about
these, noting how
life before and
after the flood is
represented.
© NCERT
not to be republished
31
communication into the mountains of Iran. The south is a desert – and
this is where the first cities and writing emerged (see below). This
desert could support cities because the rivers Euphrates and Tigris,
which rise in the northern mountains, carry loads of silt (fine mud).
When they flood or when their water is let out on to the fields, fertile
silt is deposited.
WRITING AND CITY LIFE
After the Euphrates has entered the desert, its water flows out into
small channels. These channels flood their banks and, in the past,
functioned as irrigation canals: water could be let into the fields of
wheat, barley, peas or lentils when necessary. Of all ancient systems,
that of the Roman Empire (Theme 3) included, it was the agriculture
of southern Mesopotamia that was the most productive, even though
the region did not have sufficient rainfall to grow crops.
Not only agriculture, Mesopotamian sheep and goats that grazed
on the steppe, the north-eastern plains and the mountain slopes
(that is, on tracts too high for the rivers to flood and fertilise) produced
meat, milk and wool in abundance. Further, fish was available in
rivers and date-palms gave fruit in summer. Let us not, however,
make the mistake of thinking that cities grew simply because of
rural prosperity. We shall discuss other factors by and by, but first
let us be clear about city life.
MAP 2: Mesopotamia:
Mountains, Steppe,
Desert, Irrigated
Zone of the South.
© NCERT
not to be republished
32 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
The Significance of Urbanism
Cities and towns are not just places with large populations. It is
when an economy develops in spheres other than food production
that it becomes an advantage for people to cluster in towns. Urban
economies comprise besides food production, trade, manufactures
and services. City people, thus, cease to be self-sufficient and depend
on the products or services of other (city or village) people. There is
continuous interaction among them. For instance, the carver of a
stone seal requires bronze tools that he himself cannot make, and
coloured stones for the seals that he does not know where to get:
his ‘specialisation’ is fine carving, not trading. The bronze tool maker
does not himself go out to get the metals, copper and tin. Besides,
he needs regular supplies of charcoal for fuel. The division of labour
is a mark of urban life.
Further, there must be a social organisation in place. Fuel, metal,
various stones, wood, etc., come from many different places for
city manufacturers. Thus, organised trade and storage is needed.
There are deliveries of grain and other food items from the village
to the city, and food supplies need to be stored and distributed.
Besides, many different activities have to be coordinated: there
must be not only stones but also bronze tools and pots available
for seal cutters. Obviously, in such a system some people give
commands that others obey, and urban economies often require
the keeping of written records.
The Warka Head
This woman’s head was sculpted in
white marble at Uruk before 3000
BCE. The eyes and eyebrows would
probably have taken lapis lazuli
(blue) and shell (white) and
bitumen (black) inlays, respectively.
There is a groove along the top of
the head, perhaps for an
ornament. This is a world-famous
piece of sculpture, admired for the
delicate modelling of the woman’s
mouth, chin and cheeks. And it was
modelled in a hard stone that
would have been imported from a
distance.
Beginning with the procurement of
stone, list all the specialists who would
be involved in the production of such a piece of sculpture.
The earliest cities in
Mesopotamia date
back to the bronze
age, c.3000 BCE.
Bronze is an alloy
of copper and tin.
Using bronze meant
procuring these
metals, often from
great distances.
Metal tools were
necessary for
accurate carpentry,
drilling beads,
carving stone seals,
cutting shell for
inlaid furniture,
etc. Mesopotamian
weapons were also
of bronze – for
example, the tips
of the spears that
you see in the
illustration on
p. 38.
ACTIVITY 2
Discuss
whether city
life would have
been possible
without the
use of metals.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


29
writing and city life
CITY life began in Mesopotamia*, the land between the
Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the
Republic of Iraq. Mesopotamian civilisation is known for its
prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and its
mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system
and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern
Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so that the kingdoms of
that entire region were writing to one another, and to the
Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and
writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained
tradition of writing.
In the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the
urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer
and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an
important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern
region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established
their kingdom in the north, the region became known as
Assyria. The first known language of the land was Sumerian.
It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE
when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished
till about Alexander’s time (336-323 BCE), with some regional
changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aramaic also trickled in.
This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after
1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Archaeology in Mesopotamia began in the 1840s. At one or
two sites (including Uruk and Mari, which we discuss below),
excavations continued for decades. (No Indian site has ever
seen such long-term projects.) Not only can we study
hundreds of Mesopotamian buildings, statues, ornaments,
graves, tools and seals as sources, there are thousands of
written documents.
 Mesopotamia was important to Europeans because of
references to it in the Old Testament, the first part of the
Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament
refers to ‘Shimar’, meaning Sumer, as a land of brick-built
cities. Travellers and scholars of Europe looked on
Mesopotamia as a kind of ancestral land, and when
archaeological work began in the area, there was an attempt
to prove the literal truth of the Old Testament.
2
THEME
*The name
Mesopotamia is
derived from the
Greek words mesos,
meaning middle,
and potamos,
meaning river.
© NCERT
not to be republished
30 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
From the mid-nineteenth century there was no stopping
the enthusiasm for exploring the ancient past of
Mesopotamia. In 1873, a British newspaper funded an
expedition of the British Museum to search for a tablet
narrating the story of the Flood, mentioned in the Bible.
By the 1960s, it was understood that the stories of the
Old Testament were not literally true, but may have been
ways of expressing memories about important changes in
history. Gradually, archaeological techniques became far
more sophisticated and refined. What is more, attention was
directed to different questions, including reconstructing the
lives of ordinary people. Establishing the literal truth of
Biblical narratives receded into the background. Much of
what we discuss subsequently in the chapter is based on
these later studies.
According to the
Bible, the Flood was
meant to destroy
all life on earth.
However, God chose
a man, Noah, to
ensure that life
could continue after
the Flood. Noah
built a huge boat,
an ark. He took a
pair each of all
known species of
animals and birds
on board the ark,
which survived the
Flood. There was a
strikingly similar
story in the
Mesopotamian
tradition, where the
principal character
was called Ziusudra
or Utnapishtim.
Mesopotamia and its Geography
Iraq is a land of diverse environments. In the north-east lie green,
undulating plains, gradually rising to tree-covered mountain ranges
with clear streams and wild flowers, with enough rainfall to grow crops.
Here, agriculture began between 7000 and 6000 BCE. In the north,
there is a stretch of upland called a steppe, where animal herding
offers people a better livelihood than agriculture – after the winter
rains, sheep and goats feed on the grasses and low shrubs that grow
here. To the east, tributaries of the Tigris provide routes of
MAP 1: West Asia
ACTIVITY 1
Many societies
have myths
about floods.
These are often
ways of
preserving and
expressing
memories about
important
changes in
history. Find out
more about
these, noting how
life before and
after the flood is
represented.
© NCERT
not to be republished
31
communication into the mountains of Iran. The south is a desert – and
this is where the first cities and writing emerged (see below). This
desert could support cities because the rivers Euphrates and Tigris,
which rise in the northern mountains, carry loads of silt (fine mud).
When they flood or when their water is let out on to the fields, fertile
silt is deposited.
WRITING AND CITY LIFE
After the Euphrates has entered the desert, its water flows out into
small channels. These channels flood their banks and, in the past,
functioned as irrigation canals: water could be let into the fields of
wheat, barley, peas or lentils when necessary. Of all ancient systems,
that of the Roman Empire (Theme 3) included, it was the agriculture
of southern Mesopotamia that was the most productive, even though
the region did not have sufficient rainfall to grow crops.
Not only agriculture, Mesopotamian sheep and goats that grazed
on the steppe, the north-eastern plains and the mountain slopes
(that is, on tracts too high for the rivers to flood and fertilise) produced
meat, milk and wool in abundance. Further, fish was available in
rivers and date-palms gave fruit in summer. Let us not, however,
make the mistake of thinking that cities grew simply because of
rural prosperity. We shall discuss other factors by and by, but first
let us be clear about city life.
MAP 2: Mesopotamia:
Mountains, Steppe,
Desert, Irrigated
Zone of the South.
© NCERT
not to be republished
32 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
The Significance of Urbanism
Cities and towns are not just places with large populations. It is
when an economy develops in spheres other than food production
that it becomes an advantage for people to cluster in towns. Urban
economies comprise besides food production, trade, manufactures
and services. City people, thus, cease to be self-sufficient and depend
on the products or services of other (city or village) people. There is
continuous interaction among them. For instance, the carver of a
stone seal requires bronze tools that he himself cannot make, and
coloured stones for the seals that he does not know where to get:
his ‘specialisation’ is fine carving, not trading. The bronze tool maker
does not himself go out to get the metals, copper and tin. Besides,
he needs regular supplies of charcoal for fuel. The division of labour
is a mark of urban life.
Further, there must be a social organisation in place. Fuel, metal,
various stones, wood, etc., come from many different places for
city manufacturers. Thus, organised trade and storage is needed.
There are deliveries of grain and other food items from the village
to the city, and food supplies need to be stored and distributed.
Besides, many different activities have to be coordinated: there
must be not only stones but also bronze tools and pots available
for seal cutters. Obviously, in such a system some people give
commands that others obey, and urban economies often require
the keeping of written records.
The Warka Head
This woman’s head was sculpted in
white marble at Uruk before 3000
BCE. The eyes and eyebrows would
probably have taken lapis lazuli
(blue) and shell (white) and
bitumen (black) inlays, respectively.
There is a groove along the top of
the head, perhaps for an
ornament. This is a world-famous
piece of sculpture, admired for the
delicate modelling of the woman’s
mouth, chin and cheeks. And it was
modelled in a hard stone that
would have been imported from a
distance.
Beginning with the procurement of
stone, list all the specialists who would
be involved in the production of such a piece of sculpture.
The earliest cities in
Mesopotamia date
back to the bronze
age, c.3000 BCE.
Bronze is an alloy
of copper and tin.
Using bronze meant
procuring these
metals, often from
great distances.
Metal tools were
necessary for
accurate carpentry,
drilling beads,
carving stone seals,
cutting shell for
inlaid furniture,
etc. Mesopotamian
weapons were also
of bronze – for
example, the tips
of the spears that
you see in the
illustration on
p. 38.
ACTIVITY 2
Discuss
whether city
life would have
been possible
without the
use of metals.
© NCERT
not to be republished
33
Movement of Goods into Cities
However rich the food resources of Mesopotamia, its mineral resources
were few. Most parts of the south lacked stones for tools, seals and
jewels; the wood of the Iraqi date-palm and poplar was not good
enough for carts, cart wheels or boats; and there was no metal for
tools, vessels or ornaments. So we can surmise that the ancient
Mesopotamians could have traded their abundant textiles and
agricultural produce for wood, copper, tin, silver, gold, shell and
various stones from Turkey and Iran, or across the Gulf. These latter
regions had mineral resources, but much less scope for agriculture.
Regular exchanges – possible only when there was a social organisation
– to equip foreign expeditions and direct the exchanges were initiated
by the people of southern Mesopotamia.
Besides crafts, trade and services, efficient transport is also
important for urban development. If it takes too much time, or too
much animal feed, to carry grain or charcoal into cities on pack
animals or bullock carts, the city economy will not be viable. The
cheapest mode of transportation is, everywhere, over water. River
boats or barges loaded with sacks of grain are propelled by the current
of the river and/or wind, but when animals transport goods,
they need to be fed. The canals and natural channels of
ancient Mesopotamia were in fact routes of goods transport
between large and small settlements, and in the account on
the city of Mari later in the chapter, the importance of the
Euphrates as a ‘world route’ will become clear.
The Development of Writing
All societies have languages in which certain spoken sounds
convey certain meanings. This is verbal communication.
Writing too is verbal communication – but in a different
way. When we talk about writing or a script, we mean that
spoken sounds are represented in
visible signs.
The first Mesopotamian tablets,
written around 3200 BCE, contained
picture-like signs and numbers. These
were about 5,000 lists of oxen, fish, bread
loaves, etc. – lists of goods that were
brought into or distributed from the
temples of Uruk, a city in the south.
Clearly, writing began when society
needed to keep records of transactions –
because in city life transactions occurred
at different times, and involved many
people and a variety of goods.
GRAIN,
FISH
NUMBERS,
BOAT
OX
Clay tablets c.3200 BCE. Each
tablet is 3.5 cm or less in
height, with picture-like signs
(ox, fish, grain, boat) and
numbers ( )
WRITING AND CITY LIFE
Cuneiform syllabic
signs.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Read More

Share with a friend

Complete Syllabus of Humanities/Arts

Dynamic Test

Content Category

Related Searches

Important questions

,

ppt

,

Previous Year Questions with Solutions

,

NCERT Textbook - Writing and City Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

NCERT Textbook - Writing and City Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

Objective type Questions

,

practice quizzes

,

mock tests for examination

,

Semester Notes

,

Sample Paper

,

shortcuts and tricks

,

pdf

,

video lectures

,

study material

,

MCQs

,

Free

,

Viva Questions

,

NCERT Textbook - Writing and City Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

Summary

,

past year papers

,

Exam

,

Extra Questions

;