Mesopotamia: Crash Course World History #3

Hi there. I’m John Green, you’re watching
Crash Course World History, and today we’re going to talk about “Iraq” No, you purportedly
smart globe. We’re going to talk about Mesopotamia. I love Mesopotamia because it helped create
two of my favorite things: Writing and taxes. Why do I like taxes? Because before taxes,
the only certainty was death. Mr. Green. Mr. Green, did you know that you’re
referencing Mark Twain? I’m not referencing Mark Twain, me from
the past, I’m referencing Benjamin Franklin, who was probably himself quoting the unfortunately
named playwright Christopher Bullock. Listen. You may be smart, kid, but I’ve been smart
longer. By the way, today’s illustration points out that an eye for an eye leaves the
whole world monocular. [theme music] So 5,000 years ago in the land meso, or between,
the Tigris and Euphrates potomoi, or rivers, cities started popping up much like they had
in our old friend the Indus River valley. These early Mesopotamian cities engaged in
a form of socialism, where farmers contributed their crops to public storehouses out of which
workers, like metalworkers or builders or male models or whatever—would be paid uniform
“wages” in grain. So, basically— MR GREEN MR GREEN WERE THERE REALLY MALE
MODELS? CAN YOU DO BLUE STEEL? Oh younger version of myself, how I hate you. Oh the humiliation I suffer for you
people… that was my best Blue Steel. That was as close as I can get. So anyway, if you lived in a city, you could
be something other than a shepherd, and thanks to this proto-socialism you could be reasonably
sure that you’d eat– STAN, Is there any way we could get another
globe in here? I feel like this shot is inadequately globed.
Yes, much better. You know you can tell the quality of the historian
by the number of his or her globes. But even though you could give up your flock,
a lot of people didn’t want to. One of the legacies of Mesopotamia is the
enduring conflict between country and city. You see this explored a lot in some of our
greatest art such as The Beverly Hillbillies and Deliverance,
and the showdown between Enkidu and Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is one
of the oldest known works of literature and I’m not gonna spoil it for you—
there’s a link to the poem in the video info—but suffice it to say that in the showdown
between country and city, the city wins. So what were these city states like? Well,
let’s take a look at one such city-state, Gilgamesh’s home town of Uruk, in the Thought
Bubble: Uruk was a walled city with an extensive canal system
and several monumental temples, called ziggurats. The priests of these temples initially had
all the power, because they were able to communicate directly with the gods. That was a useful talent, because Mesopotamian
gods were moody and frankly pretty mean—like, according to Gilgamesh they once got mad at
us because we were making too much noise while they were trying to sleep so they decided
to destroy all of humanity with a flood. The Tigris and Euphrates are decent as rivers
go, but Mesopotamia is no Indus Valley, with its on-schedule flooding and easy irrigation. A lot of slave labor was needed to make the
Tigris and Euphrates useful for irrigation; they’re difficult to navigate and flood
unpredictably and violently. Violent, unpredictable, and difficult to navigate: Oh, Tigris and Euphrates,
how you remind me of my college girlfriend. So I mean given that the region tends to yo-yo
between devastating flood and horrible drought, it follows that one would believe that the
gods are kind of random and capricious, and that any priests who might be able to lead rituals that
placate those gods would be very useful individuals. But about 1000 years after the first temples
we find in cities like Uruk, a rival structure begins to show up, the palace. The responsibility for the well-being and
success of the social order was shifting from gods to people, a power shift that will seesaw throughout
human history until…um, probably forever actually. But in another development we’ll see again,
these kings, who probably started out as military leaders or really rich landowners, took on
a quasi-religious role. How? Often by engaging in “sacred marriage”
— specifically skoodilypooping with the high priestess of the city’s temple. So the priests were overtaken by kings, who
soon declared themselves priests. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So how do we know
that these kings were skoodilypooping with lady priests? Because they made a skoodilypooping
tape and put it on the internet. No, because there’s a written record. Mesopotamia gave
us writing, specifically a form of writing called cuneiform, which was initially created
not to like woo lovers or whatever but to record transactions like how many bushels
of wheat were exchanged for how many goats. I’m not kidding, by the way; a lot of cuneiform
is about wheat and goats. I don’t think you can overestimate the importance
of writing but let’s just make three points here: 1. Writing and reading are things that not
everyone can do. So they create a class distinction, one that in fact survives to this day. Foraging
social orders were relatively egalitarian; but the Mesopotamians had slaves and they
played this metaphorically resonant sport that was like polo except instead of riding
on horses you rode on other people. And written language played an important role
in widening the gap between classes. 2. Once writing enters the picture, you have actual
history instead of just a lot of guesswork & archaeology. 3. Without writing, I would not have a job,
so I’d like to personally thank Mesopotamia for making it possible for me to work while
reclining in my lay-z-boy. So why did this writing happen in Mesopotamia?
Well the fertile crescent, while it is fertile, is lacking the pretty much everything else.
In order to get metal for tools or stone for sculptures or wood for burning, Mesopotamia
had to trade. This trading eventually led Mesopotamia to develop the world’s first
territorial kingdom, which will become very important and will eventually culminate in
some extraordinarily inbred Hapsburgs. So the city state period in Mesopotamia ended
around 2,000 BCE, probably because drought and a shift in the course of rivers led to
pastoral nomads coming in and conquering the environmentally weakened cities. And then
the nomads settled into cities of their own as nomads almost always will unless—wait
for it— …You are the Mongols. These new Mesopotamian city states were similar
to their predecessors in that they had temples and writing and their own self-glorifying stories
but they were different in some important ways. First, that early proto-socialism was replaced
by something that looked a lot like private enterprise, where people could produce as
much as they would like as long as they gave a cut, also known as taxes to the government.
We talk a lot of smack about taxes but it turns out they’re pretty important to creating
stable social orders. Things were also different politically because
the dudes who’d been the tribal chiefs became like full-blown kings, who tried to extend
their power outside of cities and also tried to pass on their power to their sons. The most famous of these early monarchs is
Hammurabi or as I remember him from my high school history class, “The Hammer of Abi”.
Hammurabi ruled the new kingdom of Babylon from 1792 BCE to 1750 BCE. Hammurabi’s main claim to fame is his famous
law code which established everything from like the wages of ox drivers to the fact that the punishment
for taking an eye should be having an eye taken. Hammurabi’s law code could be pretty insanely
harsh. Like if a builder builds a shoddy building and then the owner’s son dies in a collapse,
the punishment for that is the execution of the builder’s son. The kid’s like, that’s not fair! I’m
just a kid. What did I do? You should kill my dad. All of which is to say that Hammurabi’s
law code gives a new meaning to the phrase tough on crime, but it did introduce the presumption
of innocence. And in the law code Hammurabi tried to portray himself in two
roles that should sound familiar: shepherd and father. “[I am] the shepherd who brings peace. My
benevolent shade was spread over the city, I held the peoples of Sumer and Akkad safely
on my lap.” So again we see the authority for protection
of the social order shifting to men, not gods, which is important, but don’t worry, it’ll
shift back. Even though the territorial kingdoms like
Babylon were more powerful than any cities that had come before, and even though Babylon
was probably the world’s most populous city during Hammurabi’s rule, it wasn’t actually
that powerful, and keeping with the pattern it was soon taken over by the formerly-nomadic
Kassites. The thing about Territorial kingdoms is that
they relied on the poorest people to pay taxes, and provide labor and serve in the army, all
of which made you not like your king very much so if you saw any nomadic invaders coming
by you might just be like “Hey nomadic invaders! Come on in; you seem better than the last
guy.” Well, that was the case until the Assyrians
came along, anyway. The Assyrians have a deserved reputation for being the brutal bullies of
Mesopotamia. But the Assyrians did give us an early example of probably the most important
and durable form of political organization in world history, and also Star Wars history,
the Empire. The biggest problem with empires is that by definition they’re diverse and multi-ethnic,
which makes them hard to unify. So beginning around 911 BCE, the neo-Assyrian
Empire grew from its hometowns of Ashur and Nineveh to include the whole of Mesopotamia,
the Eastern Coast of the Mediterranean and even, by 680 BCE, Egypt! They did
this thanks to the most brutal, terrifying and efficient army the world had ever seen.
More adjectives describing my college girlfriend. For one thing the army was a meritocracy.
Generals weren’t chosen based on who their dads were, they were chosen based on if they
were good at Generalling. Stan, is generalling a word? [pauses, two
thumbs up w answer] It is! Also, they were super mean. Like they would
deport hundreds of thousands of people to separate them from their history and their
familes and also moved skilled workers around where they were most needed.Also the neo-Assyrians
loved to find would-be rebels and lop off their appendages. Particularly their noses
for some reason. And there was your standard raping and pillaging and torture, all of which
was done in the name of Ashur, the great god of the neo-Assyrians whose divine regent was
the King. Ashur, through the King, kept the world going,
and as long as conquest continued the world would not end. But if conquest ever stopped,
the world would end and there would be rivers of blood and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
You know how apocalypses go. The Assyrians spread this world view with
propaganda like monumental architecture and readings about how awesome the king was at
public festivals, all of which were designed to inspire awe in the Empire’s subjects. Oh that reminds me, ITS TIME FOR THE OPEN
LETTER. An Open Letter to the Word Awesome: But first lets see what’s in the Secret
Compartment today. Oh, Stan is this yellow cake uranium? You never find that
in Mesopotamia… Dear Awesome, I love you. Like most contemporary
English speakers in fact, I probably love you a little too much. The thing about you, awesome, is that
awesome is just so awesomely awesome at being awesome. So we lose track of what you really
mean, awesome: You’re not just cool, you’re terrifying and wonderful. You’re knees-buckling,
chest-tightening, fearful encounters with something radically other- something that
we know could both crush and bless us. That is awe, and I apologize for having watered
you down. But seriously, you’re awesome. Best wishes,
John Green So what happened to the Assyrians? Well, first
they extended their empire beyond their roads, making administration impossible. But maybe even more importantly, when your
whole world view is based on the idea that the apocalypse will come if you ever lose
a battle, and then you lose one battle, the whole world view just blows up. That eventually
happened and in 612 BCE, the city of Nineveh was finally conquered, and the neo-Assyrian
Empire had come to its end. But the idea of Empire was just getting started.
Next week we’ll talk about mummies — oh, I have to talk about other things too? Crap,
I only want to talk about mummies. Anyway, we’ll be talking about [tapping stylus to
talking globe replying Sudan] No! Dangit! We’ll actually be talking about [taps globe
to reply Egypt] Thank you, Smart Globe. See you next week. Today’s episode of Crash Course was produced and
directed by Stan Muller. Our Script supervisor is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history
teacher Raoul Meyer with some help from myself. and our graphics team is Thought Bubble. Last week’s phrase of the week was “Better
Boyfriend.” If you want to take a guess at this week’s phrase of the week, you can
do so in Comments where you can also suggest new phrases of the week. And if you have any questions about today’s
show, leave them in Comments and our team of semi-professional quasi-historians will
endeavor to answer them. Thanks for watching and as we say in my hometown:
Don’t forget to be awesome.

100 thoughts on “Mesopotamia: Crash Course World History #3

  1. Cuniaform looks more to me like cheat codes. You must read them the same as ancient Egypt cheat codes. The arrows mean what they mean in Egyptian glyphs. To bad the "experts" don't understand what they are looking at

  2. iraq or uruk at the point was populated by africans to be an arab in that particular
    zeitgeist you had to be African the cultural vestige of africans still resides in southern iraq today

  3. It's really hard to concentrate and learn something from these when he breaks off into a short skit every three sentences that generally isn't even funny.

  4. well when i saw the flood there were fish. where did the Fish come from when u said that remind me of my collage girlfriend????

  5. Your lectures would have been far ore better if it weren't for too many corny unnecessary jokes

  6. If there are 42 episodes in this series, and they are roughly 10 minutes each, then that's 420 minutes.

    I have to watch 7 hours of video because I'll fail my AP exam otherwise

  7. "They relied on the poorest people to pay taxes, and provide labor, and serve in the army"
    So nothing like modern America then.

  8. So if the Assyrian world view was that the world would end if they lost a battle and they lost then the empire collapsed were they technically correct?

  9. Sometime you should try singing "scoodlypooping, scoodlypoop" to the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer" it's pretty great

  10. Mesopotamia Great 🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶🇮🇶

  11. Taking the ap test in nine hours and cramming the whole year in rn 🤪😅😰
    Good luck everyone!!!

  12. Did time flow backwards in the period of Hammurabi? Also, I always like to thank the Sumerians for working to diligently perfect beer recipes. Always give them credit. Way to go.♥

  13. is anyone else curious to see if John green's college girlfriend actually looked like that/actually wsa difficult to navigate?

  14. We the people of Iraq are proud of this civilization and we want to restore its great glory
    Yes we are facing problems now but this land will return as it was producing scientists and geniuses and artists and writers

  15. gobekli tepe pre dated the Indus valley civilization by nearly 7,000 years. kinda throws your timeline right in the trash don't it?

  16. Only uneducated pawns believe Benjamin and the kite and the key code.Alexander Bell and the Telephino? Television which Eorpeons couldn't pronounce so called it T.V.Then claim to build structures that already existed in Los Americas way before the disease filled boats came.The great cleansing is coming for all the certificate holders living of my ancestors blood and land.

  17. Also – another question. Would it be safe to say that the different civilizations of Mesopotamia – the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, were all ethnically and culturally related? For example, did they worship the same gods? Did they speak related languages? Did they have other cultural institutions in common?

  18. Wow this guy describes how current culture and kingdoms haven’t changed.. relying on the poor for money military and workpower

  19. What if I told you that the name Mesopotamia does not mean the land between two rivers?!?! But it means the Flat in between, and believe me it does not come from Greek, but it derives from a language right next to Greece, Albanian! Meso in Albanian means between, now let's see the etymology of word Meso, the word Meso derives from the Word Midis, Mi derives from "Mbi" which means on top, Dis derives from the word Dysh which means 'Two" so literally the word "Midis" means on top of two, which if you want to get to the middle you have to divide two sides, Now lets discuss the word "Potamia", I believe the word Potamia derives from the word Peta, which means 'Flat' or something that extends, it could also refer to Position, so Mesopotamia Either means the Flat in between or the Position in Between, Albanian is the only language on earth which uses the word "PO" for confirmation, from which word the words like Position or Possible derive from.

  20. I like how no one questioned the scootly pooping and thank god I didn’t watch this video during the Mesopotamia unit

  21. waow. This is a great free show with free info. <3 Even their philosophy is mentioned. Why im here btw

  22. "The Hammer of Abi!" Should be a superhero of the MCU…. or better yet, a supervillain!
    "Who's that? Oh NO! It's the Hammer of Abi, entering from the Crescent, unleashing his Code!!"

  23. Oh younger version of myself… how I hate you…
    Fails at a bLuE sTeEL

    Yep. This sounds just like me. Just like me.

  24. I just want to point out that they discovered the grave of Gilgamesh back in 2003 but then the US Military confiscated everything.

  25. Would it be fair to say that Zecharia Sitchin was one of the foremost leading experts on cuneiform and ancient Mesopotamia?

  26. You are so skewed towards socialism in your vids man. Keep the politics out like "taxes are important for creating a stable social order". Why do you need to put this brainwashed opinion in the video. Otherwise really enjoyable series for which I'm thankful but it seems like you get subsidies from gov.

  27. You are talking about the most important civilization in human evolution history, not game of thrones. you might have usefull infos but with act I wont believe anything you say

  28. Very useful, but I would prefer it if he didn't interrupt with silly outbursts. Makes it harder to understand. I don't think I can watch the rest even though I really want the information.

  29. If interested…….according to Anthropologist Mitchell S. Rothman regarding the extent  of discoveries and specially on the quality of horse bones proved, According to him, that it was from the Shangavit Armenian 6000 years ago that the culture of that area spread around to the ancient world…also ..if interested…Professor Jensen also says.  ‘For almost everything that is known in the Hittite language is Old Armenian in form..Historian Sayce (1845-1933) also consider Hittite and Armenian to be one and the same’.  and Rothman, quoted earlier, said…''All that was known in Mesopotamia came from Armenia and that Armenia is the absent fragment in the entire mosaic of the ancient world's civilization's construction. H.V. Hilprecht(1859-1925) a Clark research professor of Assyriology and scientific director Babylonian expedition at the University of Penn. argue that the Hittite tongue is Armenian and the Hittites themselves were of Armenian stock…according to Ellis (1861)  through language analysis we observe that under the names of Phrygians, Thracians, Pelasgians and Etruscans spread westward from Armenia to Italy and Elis claimed that the closest affinities of the Aryan element are the Armenians ..other historians
    that agree are..Hellenthal, Busgy, Brand, Wilson, Myers and Falush…

  30. John Green, Such an engaging, smart, cool man.
    Just disappointed he has a dig at Christianity, with the shepherd reference, he does this side dig in a number of the cc series – it almost makes him seem like he’s fighting what he comes across over and over is true. He knows there are an enormous amount of manuscripts and references to jesus in other valid historical content and knows more than many people, to a greater depth, that Jesus the man truely existed on the earth. and as for the extreme claims the writings made of Jesus…I guess we can only find out for ourselves (it’s not very hard though) : but here I am to add to the millions : Jesus is alive today : it’s awesome. (As it truely would be if you find out it’s true)
    (Oh and I’m glad the gravity of the word ‘awesome’ in this video was endeavoured to be reestablished) 🙂

    On another topic I read the other day in the bible, in Ezekiel, a pretty old book, that Egypt would be taken over by Nebuchadnezzar and Egypt would never rise again to be above other nations like it had been. Wow I was amazed as I read – it’s true to this day.

    Why I came to watch this video.

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