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Mesopotamia amd Egypt

The earliest civilizations in an area between the Tigris and Euphrates known as Mesopotamia (Greek for “between the rivers”; the area is now Iraq) were the Sumerians to the south and the Akkadians to the north. From about 2330 bc the Akkadians expanded southward, extending their control from Syria to the head of the Persian Gulf and east into Persia (now Iran). Two other dynasties, the Amorites and the Elamites, succeeded the Akkadians, and the area split into a number of smaller states including Assyria and Babylon. Hammurabi, the king of Babylonia during the first half of the 18th century bc, developed one of the earliest systematic collections of laws. The Hittites, whose empire extended through much of present-day Turkey and into northern Mesopotamia by the 14th century bc, traded with their contemporaries in Greece. As a result of this trade, many Mesopotamian ideas reached Greece.

Egyptian civilization also began about 3000 bc when a single ruler united southern and northern Egypt. Egypt exhibited a greater degree of political continuity than Mesopotamia. There were no major foreign invasions or externally imposed changes of regime until the beginning of the 1st millennium bc. While Mesopotamian kings were often also priests, Egyptians believed their kings were gods who could control the waters of the Nile. The pyramids, richly treasured tombs in which kings were buried, serve as lasting symbols of this divine monarchy. The Great Pyramid at Giza, built during the middle of the 3rd millennium bc, remains among the most notable structures in the history of architecture. Over the centuries Egypt extended control south to mine the extensive gold deposits of Nubia (a region of southern Egypt and northern Sudan), and northeast toward present-day Syria.

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