Homo sapiens sapiens

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A ncient Egyptian kings believed that the gods judged them af-ter death to decide their fate in the afterlife. In Instructions forMerikare, for example, written sometime around 2100–2000 B.C.E., Merikare’s father, the king, warns his son to rule with justice be-

cause even a king would face a day of judgment to determine whether

his choices had been good or evil: “Make secure your place in the ceme-

tery by being upright, by doing justice, upon which people’s hearts

rely. . . . When a man is buried and mourned, his deeds are piled up

next to him as treasure.” Being judged pure of heart led to an eternal

reward; if the dead king reached the judges “without doing evil,” he

would be transformed so that he would “abide [in the afterlife] like a

god, roaming [free] like the lords of time.” A central part of the justice

demanded of an Egyptian king was to keep the country unified under

a strong central authority and combat disorder. It was the development

of centralized authority that brought the most striking changes to the

lives of people as civilization emerged following the Neolithic Age.

The gods provided the Egyptians with a model of central author-

ity. Eventually ordinary Egyptians came to believe that they, like the

kings, could win eternal rewards by living justly and worshipping the

gods with prayers and rituals. An illustrated guidebook containing in-

structions for mummies on how to travel safely in the underworld,

commonly called the Book of the Dead, explained that on the day of

judgment the jackal-headed god Anubis would weigh the dead person’s

heart on a scale against the goddess Maat (literally “What Is Right”)

and her feather of Truth, with the bird-headed god Thoth carefully

The Controversial Concept of Western Civilization 4 • Defining Western Civilization • Locating Early Western Civilization

Mesopotamia, Home of the First Civilization, 4000–1000 B.C.E. 7 • Cities and Society, 4000–2350 B.C.E. • Metals, the Akkadian Empire, and the

Ur III Dynasty, c. 2350–c. 2000 B.C.E. • Assyrian, Babylonian, and Canaanite

Achievements, 2000–1000 B.C.E.

Egypt, the First Unified Country, 3050–1000 B.C.E. 16 • From Egyptian Unification to the

Old Kingdom, 3050–2190 B.C.E. • The Middle and New Kingdoms

in Egypt, 2061–1081 B.C.E.

The Hittites, Minoans, and Mycenaeans, 2200–1000 B.C.E. 23 • The Hittites, 1750–1200 B.C.E. • The Minoans, 2200–1400 B.C.E. • The Mycenaeans, 1800–1000 B.C.E. • The Period of Calamities,

1200–1000 B.C.E.

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