Ebbs and Flows of Ancient Imperial Power, 3000 BC-Ad 900: A Short History of Ancient Religion, War, Prosperity, and Debt

Ebbs and Flows of Ancient Imperial Power, 3000 BC-Ad 900: A Short History of Ancient Religion, War, Prosperity, and Debt

by Will Slatyer

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ISBN-13: 9781482894479
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 05/16/2014
Pages: 454
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.01(d)

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Ebbs and Flows of Ancient Imperial Power, 3000 BC—AD 900

A Short History of Ancient Religion, War, Prosperity, and Debt
By WILL SLATYER

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Will Slatyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4669-3060-5


Chapter One

MILITARY GOVERNMENT AND RELIGIOUS FINANCE CORPORATION 3000BC-600BC

"I was compelled by logic and by evidence to penetrate into so many premises of the house of science. I freely admit to having repeatedly caused fires, though the candle in my hand was carried only for illumination." Immanuel Velikovsky 1982

THE BEGINNING—HUMAN CULTURE

Man is an animal—with advanced self-consciousness and opposing thumbs but never-the-less, an animal.

Man, as Homo sapiens, became the dominant animal on the planet Earth because the large brain, capable of learned memory, allowed development of technology and knowledge, shared from stored records of past success and failure. Man's animal instinct for survival and search for comfort have probably been greater driving forces than intellectual curiosity. The search for comfort and the need to accumulate to ensure a nourishing environment for offspring, in my opinion, has provided the main incentives for changes in human culture.

The human species was evidently born in Africa and accomplished its first successful migration about 85,000 years ago when colonies were established around the Arabian Gulf. Further migrations took place from the Gulf around the coastline to Indonesia and Australia. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis moved into the Mediterranean and Europe c.50,000 years Before Christ (BC) and advanced from cave dwellers to nomadic hunter gatherers who spread over a large geographic area eastward into Asia. Neanderthal man was then dominated into extinction, c.30,000BC by Cro-Magnon man, the larger, smarter Homo sapiens sapiens.

Man, as Homo sapiens sapiens, was a social animal whose families formed clans initially to cooperate as hunter gatherers. About 8500BC, after the end of an ice age, some clans discovered that food crops could be domesticated and cultivated sufficiently to provide tribal group sustenance in a more comfortable manner than hunting and gathering.

As tribes settled in a favourable agricultural area, the settlements developed into villages which in turn grew into town/city/states. Each group of clans/tribes developed a government/religion which suited their ethnic circumstances. The way of life under priest/ kings was peculiar to the individual tribes, although undoubtedly influenced by occasional contact with other societies. It is this way of life, natural and often unique to an individual society, which I define as its culture.

Although Neolithic man formed tribes and even kingdoms in Europe and China there is no clear record of early city/state civilisations in those regions until later centuries.

AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES

One of the most favourable areas on Earth in which to cultivate and exploit natural grasses was the part of South West Asia called the Fertile Crescent by modern agronomist researchers. Over the course of thousands of years, the agrarian surpluses from the Fertile Crescent allowed the formation of tribes and city/states in the land which became known as Mesopotamia. Remains of some of the world's earliest human food cultivating settlements have been found in northern Mesopotamia, as have traces of city priest/kings. Separately in China (Henan Province) the Yangshao people mainly cultivated millet but some settlements grew rice c.5000-3000BC. They also grew vegetables like turnips, cabbage, yams and other vegetables.

In the sixth millennia BC some tribes learned to work copper ore into metal. Better tools improved agriculture which led to increased populations and increased interaction with other tribes.

An English scholar, David Rohl ("Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation") postulated that early cities of Mesopotamia were swept away c.3100BC by a great flood, similar to that described in the Biblical Old Testament Book of Genesis. I am more inclined to the view of some climatologists who, from Icelandic cores, have suggested that global warming c.5600BC caused a catastrophic flood from a boil-over of the Black Sea. Inundation as reported in the Gilgamesh Epic, which preceded the Biblical tale of flood by some centuries, would have caused widespread tribal migration south as far as Egypt.

There might have in fact been more than one flood. The earlier flood could have provided the genesis of an Egyptian civilisation from a northern migration, from which came the legendary first Pharaoh Menes c.3200BC. The second flood might have been the "Great Flood", legendary evidence from which suggests that the sons of the Biblical Noah (Sumer historical hero Utnapishtim) settled on the plains of Shinar, which was Sumer. The great-grandson of Noah, Nimrod, has been identified as the Sumerian king, Enmeru-kar who is reputed to have re-built the city of Eridu (Uruk), and worshipped Noah's god Ea.

MESOPOTAMIAN EMPIRES

From earliest history, city/states of Ur and Uruk flourished in the southern, Sumer, area of Mesopotamia. The priests established themselves as the benevolent community bureaucrats who assisted agricultural improvements and irrigation. The priests encouraged agricultural surplus which they managed. Food surpluses allowed farming settlements the luxury of non-food producing specialists, initially leader/priests, but later, soldiers (to reinforce leadership) and merchant/bureaucrats (to assist priestly commerce). Government of Sumer city/states was theocratic in that the leader, such as Nimrod, could enforce both political and religious authority.

At some time, technicians developed to provide better tools. Sumerian technicians are credited with the invention of the potter's wheel (Ur c.3500BC) and the ox-drawn plough. A system of writing known as cuneiform was developed in Uruk c.3300BC, some archaeologists believe, as a method of book-keeping to assist agricultural commerce.

The city/states of Sumer competed for resources and used their soldiers with basic weapons for warring skirmishes. War between city/states must have developed because in the time of legendary king Gilgamesh c.2700BC, his city of Uruk was a walled city.

These city/states were initially united by conquest from the northern state of Akkad around 2335BC by the legendary Sargon the Great, who also weakened the political/religious link that existed between royalty and the priestly class. Sargon's 'biography' was written on a stele (upright stone slab), claiming he was of noble birth but had been placed into a reed boat pitched with tar, and set adrift on the Euphrates. Is it coincidence that the Hebrew hero Moses much later was given a similar bull-rushes tale?

Sargon might have created the world's first known codified laws under which the Sumerians could experience stability less subject to the whims of the ruling classes. Under Sargon's laws, merchants are thought to have gained some independence from the priests, for whom they had previously just acted as agents. In relative peace, maintained by an army of around 5000 men armed with bronze weapons, barter trade was made possible between city/states.

After another bout of city/state warfare, during which merchants apparently survived as arms dealers of early Bronze Age weapons, Mesopotamia was again united around 2120BC when Ur was the dominant city. Evidence has been found of a code of laws in northern Mesopotamia under king Ur-Nammu (2112-2059BC) which might have flowed from Sargon's earlier code on to later rulers.

The law code of king Eshnunna (c.2000BC) mentions commerce and prices which have been translated into mina, which might have weighed a little more than half a kilo of silver/barley. The smallest weight was the shekel, sixty to the mina, weighing just over 8 grams. Interest rates of 20-33 percent on loans were recorded.

Northern Amorite conquerors from Canaan established its First Dynasty's capital in the small town of Bab-ili (the Gate of God—Babylon) c.1900BC. Civilization in Babylon (near Al Hillah in modern Iraq) apparently progressed steadily, if one accepts economic success as progress. Under the sixth king of the Amorite Dynasty, Hammurabi (c.1790-1750BC), Babylon gained such a reputation as an irrigated city civilization, that most of southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia. Babylon used its central position and food surplus to become a centre of ancient world trade, and its merchants travelled as far as Egypt, Persia, India and China. Commerce was greatly assisted by the cuneiform system of writing, a basic number system, and a monetary system in the form of standardized weights of precious metals.

Under Hammurabi, the separation of government and religion widened, with the creation of a civil service of royal officials to centrally administer the unified city/states. Hammurabi promulgated some 285 laws under which Babylonia was to be governed through royal court appointed judges. Hammurabi's laws mention an interest rate on silver at 20percent.

Deprived of many government functions, the priests used their acquired wealth and land holdings to become the religious finance corporations to the community. In addition to the availability of temple banks' own wealth for loans to the community, deposits were accepted from those who wished to enjoy the security of the temple. Grain was the main form of deposit initially, but then other seed crops and cattle were handled. The deposit of agricultural instruments led over time to the acceptance of silver as a unit of exchange. Temples might have stamped the bars of silver with certified weight and quality, because it is known that the temples of Ur stamped the head of the goddess Ishtar on their silver. Archaeological records show that deposits would not only be transferred back to the depositors, but could be loaned to third parties.

The value of silver is not known but was initially related to grain. Fines, interest, wages etc. were calculated in silver but could be paid in the equivalent amount of grain. Later, precious metals were probably related to cattle which were man's earliest form of mobile capital (the modern word pecuniary comes from the Latin word for cattle pecus). There is a suspicion that one silver talent was equivalent to one head of cattle at least in those early days of farming when 90 troy pounds of silver could be equated to one of few domesticated beasts. A talent could be divided into sixty mina.

All those farmers and less wealthy merchants, who wanted agricultural or commercial loans, had to resort to the temple banks, which operated under Common Law. Archaeologists have discovered thousands of cuneiform tablets in city/state sites along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, involving civil and commercial contracts drawn according to Babylonian law, which confirm that simple banking operations were common-place throughout Babylonia. The limited partnership to finance international trade, at risk from raiders and bandits, was a Babylonian invention. The silent partner apparently provided the business capital in cash or goods, allowing the other partner to work the land or travel as a merchant.

The priests did not forget their religious power-base. The city god of Babylon, Marduk, became the supreme Sun God of the Mesopotamian pantheon.

The ass or donkey is believed to have been domesticated in Mesopotamia and Egypt as early as 4000BC, possibly as a pack animal. At some time during the second millennium BC, hunter/ gatherers of the lower steppes domesticated the horse, which the Babylonians called a "mountain ass". The horse was still too small to take the weight of a rider, but could be used to draw a four wheel cart for the transport of tribal camp equipment.

From the four wheel cart, the two wheel chariot was developed, possibly to make the life of a herdsman more comfortable, and, with a spear, as a mobile hunting platform. Some tribes discovered that defenders of settled lands with bronze arms were vulnerable to the horse-drawn chariot carrying a composite-bow archer. Even the experts disagree on the time and place of development of the short composite bow. Made of laminated wood and animal horn, it was strong and light, and was a perfect hunting tool for the charioteer. It could fire a one ounce arrow a distance of 360-400 metres.

An Indo-European people came to dominate northern Anatolia and the city of Hattusa c.1650BC and became known as the Hittites. The Amorite dynasty of Mesopotamia was toppled by raids from an aggressive charioteering people, thought to be the Hittites from Anatolia (modern Turkey), around 1600BC. The Hittites were thought to have moved the chariot axle back from the centre of the vehicle, so that two bowmen and a driver could be carried. The Amorites retreated back to Canaan where at least some were eventually absorbed by the Israelites.

The Babylonian culture was little changed by the brief dominance of the Hittites, as well as the 400year rule of the subsequent iron-assisted conquerors, the Kassites from the Persian steppes. There was no apparent cultural stimulus from these invaders to Babylon, which had been declining even before the Hittite raids. Without strong administration, Babylon slid into anarchy, although the commercial culture endured.

ASSYRIA

The tribes of northern Mesopotamia rose up to overthrow the next Persian steppe conquerors, the Hurrians, around 1300BC to form the powerful kingdom of Assyria (from the city/state Sun God of Assur). The Assyrians improved on the Hurrian chariot archer to support their foot soldiers and, under Shalmaneser I (d.1290BC), set out to secure the Mesopotamian boundaries. The horse had grown strong enough, through selective breeding, to be able to carry a rider on its back in a position of control over its shoulders. The war-horse had arrived. The fearsome Assyrians temporarily conquered Babylon, but concentrated activities in adding to the Empire, northern and western states of what today are Armenia and northern Syria.

From the twelfth century BC, Aramaic speaking nomads had infiltrated the Fertile Crescent to form small principalities. The most important centre was in the vicinity of Damascus in modern Syria, but they were equally as ensconced in Mesopotamia. The Aramaeans, like all peoples in the region, suffered from cruel Assyrian dominance but did provide their oppressors with a new form of writing. The Aramaic alphabetic script was far more practical for writing on parchment and papyri than the Assyrian cuneiform (adapted from the symbols of Sumer and Akkad). Aramaic became the written language of commerce and bureaucracy from Egypt to Persia.

Under Tiglathpileser I of the Middle Assyrian Kingdom c.1100BC, the cruel practices were proscribed which made the Assyrians feared and hated throughout history. Adad Nirai II c.900BC began Assyrian expansion by conquering small Aramaean states which had been established in northern Syria. By using mass murder, terror, and deportation of people he spread fear of Assyria.

Assurnasirpal II (c.883-859BC) records how he flayed rebels and hung their skins from the walls. Mass deportations, however, were found to serve the interests of the growing empire better than terror. Through the systematic exchange of native populations, conquered regions were denationalized. The result was a submissive, mixed population in which the Aramaean element became the majority. This provided the labour force for the various public works in the metropolitan centres of the Assyrian Empire. The supremacy of Assyria over its neighbouring states under Assurnasirpal owed much to the proficiency of the government service under the leadership of the minister Gabbilani-eresh.

Shalmanesar III (858-824) fought against the Empire of Urartu which existed in the area now covering Armenian Turkey and northern Syria. The troops returned from Urartu with immense quantities of lumber and building stone.

By the 8th century BC the Assyrian king Sargon II (722-705BC) had combined chariots, capable of disassembly, with mounted archers, infantry, sappers and logistic support forces, into the world's first true long range army. His son, Sennacherib, even added a navy of sea-going river boats with Ionian mercenaries to complete the Assyrian subjugation of what is now Arabia, as well as Syria, Lebanon, northern Israel.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Ebbs and Flows of Ancient Imperial Power, 3000 BC—AD 900 by WILL SLATYER Copyright © 2012 by Will Slatyer. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

The Beginning—Human Culture....................1
Agricultural Societies....................2
Mesopotamian Empires....................4
Egyptian Empires....................14
Hebrew Culture....................26
Minoan/Mycenaean Greek—Phoenician Empires....................34
Greek Colonies of Asia-Minor....................45
European Greek Empires....................49
Indian Culture....................51
Chinese Empire....................55
Cusp of Sixth/Seventh Century BC....................59
Athenian Greek Empire....................62
Spartan Greek Empire....................68
Nascent Greek Empire....................70
Persian Empire....................80
Macedonian Greek Empire....................94
The Alexander Succession—Hellenic Diaspora....................104
The Rise of the Maurya Indian Empire and Buddhism....................107
The Rise of the Ch-in Empire....................111
The Western Phoenician Empire of Carthage....................114
The Egyptian Ptolemaic Hellenic Empire....................125
The Asian Seleucid Hellenistic Culture....................133
Judean Hebrew Culture....................138
Indian Buddhist Empire....................146
Chinese First Empires....................149
The Mysterious Etruscan Culture....................155
Roman Republican Culture....................160
The Punic Wars....................173
International Expansion to Pax Romana....................186
Post-Punic War Prosperity....................190
Italian Revolution....................192
Military Ascendancy....................198
Military Control....................201
Capitalist Dictators....................202
Dictators Enthroned....................211
The Germanic Culture....................217
Roman Imperial Praetorian Power 37-69AD....................219
Army Emperors 69-138AD....................225
Adopted Imperial Succession 138-192....................231
The Powerful Provincial Emperors 193-249AD....................235
Military Imperial Chaos 249-284....................240
Illyrian Imperial Reorganisation 284-330....................245
Persian Parthian Empire....................252
Indian Kushan Empire....................255
Chinese Eastern Han Empire....................258
Judaic/Christian Culture....................261
The Roman Byzantine Culture....................276
Persian Sassanid Empire....................287
Roman Catholic Culture Absorbs Italian Gothic/Lombard Arian Culture....................292
Hispanic-Romano Culture Absorbs the Gothic/Vandal Culture....................303
The Catholic Influenced Romano-Gallic Frankish Culture....................315
Anglo-Saxon Culture Overcomes Romano-Celtic Culture....................324
Indian Empires....................335
Chinese Empires....................339
Central Asia Hun Culture....................342
Roman Church Power in Italy during the Decline of Roman Empire....................348
From Frank-Romano-Gallic Gaul to Europe....................357
Romano-Celtic Britannia Becomes Anglo-Saxon England....................371
Scandinavian Expansion to Viking Raiders....................382
Gothic/Vandal/Romano Hispanic Culture Fractured Again....................388
The Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire....................394
Arab/Muslim Culture....................404
The Chinese Empires—Source of Silk....................419
Indian Disintegration....................426

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