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Chapter 1: The Roots of Western Civilization

| Chapter Summary | Chapter Outline | Critical Thinking Questions | Review Questions: Multiple Choice | Review Questions: True-False | The Big Picture | Essay Questions | Map Exercises | A Closer Look | Using the Internet | Biography Questions | Guide to Further Research | Chapter in Perspective |

The Chapter in Perspective

This chapter traces the rise of the sophisticated cultures in the Middle East over the course of three thousand years which made significant contributions to Western civilization. During the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, the earliest humans developed skills with tools, began to cultivate plants, and domesticated animals. Following this period, two great cultures emerged; one in the Nile Valley, and the other in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Egyptians and Sumerians were remarkable for the complexity of their societies, their architectural achievements, their legal codes, and for the development of writing systems. The Phoenicians, with their alphabet, and the Hebrews, with their monotheism and concern with ethics, also made lasting contributions. Finally, the successive empires of the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians made further innovations based upon the ideas of their predecessors about warfare, ways of governing, and culture. The Persian kings had united the region by 500 BC to create an empire that encompassed the diverse cultures and heritages of this first period in the making of Western civilization.

  1. Based on the experiences of preceding empires, what do you predict will happen to the Persian empire? What are some of the challenges that will face new empires in the same region?
  2. What kinds of problems will people such as the Jews face under new rulers? What strategies from their past may help them overcome these problems?


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