Mesopotamian River Valley Characteristic Problems

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One: Similar Environment

Product: A menu and a sample of a recipe 

 

You are the owner of a small, but very well thought of, open air café in Ur. You have a few stools and tables in front of your house and you use your kitchen to make the food. It is located on one of the busy streets leading to the main market place in town. Helping you is your wife, two daughters and three slaves. Your son, you are honored to say, is in his sixth year of becoming a scribe and comes home at night from school. One day, you notice that your neighbor, who just moved in is also getting ready to start up his own café! How can you change what you serve, and how it is served, to be better, more nutritious and more important yet...more attractive than what he has? 

 

Two: Specialization of Jobs

Product: Create eight cards in two suits showing class and rank equally spread from high to low. On these cards, you must draw the people in the correct Mesopotamian way. On the back of the cards, you must have the job title, a description of the job and how it was done and how you figured out the level of status you gave it and why.

 

You are a low government official in King Hammurabi’s court. Hammurabi has ordered strict records be kept about the people currently under his rule. As one of many scribes assigned this task, you have to figure out a way to sort out the people in the neighborhood that surrounds, and includes the royal place, in order of their profession and rank. This is tough! You are not sure of the jobs that might be; how people are currently sorted out or why; or even how to show what you learned back to your boss who doesn’t like to read a whole lot of information on the clay tablets. AND you know if you don’t do all of this well, the punishment will be grim. What shall you do?   

 

Three: Social Organizations

A. Religion

Product: An 8 by 11 inch collage illustrating a personal guardian deity. (Name, what they look like, who the patron deities are, positive and negative characteristics and how the human had to take care of them)

 

You are the Goddess Ishtar, patron deity of Uruk. You are forever falling in and out of love….that is, when you are not advising those pesky mortals who call upon your advice when going to war. And now, your father, Sin, has asked you to assign a personal deity to a new baby just born down in Uruk. The demands of love. The demands of war…now THIS. Just WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO? Luckily, you have remained close to three of the other gods- Adad, Ea, and Shamash. They can help you create a new minor deity for this new baby with that would be a combination of you and one of them. However, it will be up to the baby to learn to serve, pray, cloth and shelter the patron the right way. You sure hope this baby gets it all right and knows just what to do. The quality of her life depends on it! How are you going to make the deity and how is she going to serve it?  

 

B:Leaders: (Sargon 1, Hammurabi, or Nebecunezzer)

Product: A seal, when it is rolled on clay, leaves a picture pattern particular to that leader.  

 

The room is dark except for the light Sin sends down from the moon. It is the quiet time when most of the palace is asleep except for the human guards who patrolled the outside of the room and the guardian figures in the doorways and corners of the room to keep away the evil spirits. It is a thinking time during the last few years of a leader’s life when he really looks at all the things that he has done and asks if they made the god happy. He wonders if he, through his works, would be “immortal”…that what he did would stand the test of time. When he goes into the Underworld, what would be said of him and his life? What will history remember of him and his life? That is the question only time can answer.

  

Four: Record Keeping-Writing

Project: A clay order tablet listing goods to be purchased, the amount, a simple map of the route along with transportation picture types 

 

Oh, drat! Just where IS that boy? We are about ready to set out on a buying trip for our customers here in Phoenicia and he has scooted off to get more reeds to use to record transactions when we meet with the various people we are trading with. Luckily, for me, I have already gotten the silver money we needed- 30 mina and the scales to measure out the weights of silver as we trade. Now, I just have to make sure of the best route it would be to take me to up from Babylon to the Mediterranean Sea and then over to the start of the Nile and Egypt. Of course, I plan to buy the best there is for my clients and of the best quality as well.   

  

Five: Advanced Technologies-- Astrology, Time and Calendars

Project: Create a calendar page for one month using cuneiform numbers, special days and using key star constellations or gods.

 

Being a temple priest and a major scribe is, at times, one great pain. The days and nights are growing closer and the special festival is soon here. Just trying to keep things straight and going smoothly has been a major headache. There are just too many details to think about! Making sure  to offer up rites to the god to make sure that you truly understand what he wants, preparing his statue well, getting the parties organized and the special foods prepared...all so much to do. Watching the stars, being prepared down to the correct time and hour, and being organized is the trick. Doing it correctly is important to bring him…and you, honor! To not do so, well, let’s not even think about it!      

  

 

Six: Specific Cultural Attributes

 

A: Houses

Project: Construct a 3-D diorama of a Mesopotamian home and models of people in it.

 

There…it is done. The last bit of paint has been put on the inner walls, the furniture has been moved in, and the wood for the fire has been placed in the kitchen and lit. I can hand the house that I and the crew have finished over to the young family who is ready to move in. This was such an important job as the owner is the son of an important general. He moves in with his wife, small child and two slaves. Because these people have important connections and according to the way the law works, it is very important that the building and all that is in it be just right. I hope that my work pleases; the question is…does it?  

 

B: A Ziggurat

Project: Construct a 3-D model of a ziggurat.

 

The sun is hot and it blazes down upon me. The jug of water I have in my hand is half full as I quickly walk up the ramp to the gang of slaves working on the second level of the building. This is my job, to constantly bring water to the thirsty men who toil day in and day out on this project. It grows…but slowly and I know that I will not see it finished in my lifetime nor in the lifetime of my children. As a female slave, this is my purpose in life. But I do wonder…just how is this being built and of what material?. For that matter, for what purpose and in whose honor do all these people work, live and die? Little makes sense, I was brought here from another land and for me, and there is no understanding beyond the fact that I am a water bearer and this is my fate.