NCERT Solutions for Class 11 History Chapter 2 Writing and City Life

Question 1. Why Mesopotamia is considered important by Europeans? Give reasons. (VBQ)
Answer: Europeans considered Mesopotamian important on account of the following reasons:

  • In Old Testament, there are references about it, which refer to ‘Shimar’, meaning the Sumer (the land of brick-built cities). It clearly refers to Mesopotamia, because early planned cities existed there.
  • European scholars and travelers referred to Mesopotamia as their ancestral land.
  • Archaeological discoveries also depict that Europeans had a keen interest in this region.

Question 2. “Rivers play crucial role in the emergence of civilization”. Justify this statement in context to Mesopotamia. (HOTS)
Answer: Mesopotamia is situated between the land of two rivers, i.e. Euphrates and Tigris. Both these rivers originated from Armenia mountain in present-day Turkey. They drained a vast mountain region. Although the climate of this area is dry yet agriculture is possible because of irrigation facilities. The favorable agricultural condition encouraged the people to reside in this region. The surplus food production of crops enabled the agriculturist communities to feed those people such as craftsmen, priests, rulers, soldiers, etc. who were not practicing agriculture. The nomadic pastoralist communities provided with other essential needs of daily use to these people. Thus the settlement of all these in this region paved the way for the rise of civilization.

Question 3. Give some facts to show geographical diversities that existed in Iraq.
Answer: Geographical diversity existed in Iraq. Some of these arguments that support it are the following:

  • North-east region is lush green region. It is also covered with mountain ranges with clear streams.
  • There is plentiful rainfall in the region which is sufficient for growing crops.
  • In Northern region there is a vast track of upland, called steppe. In this region, animal herders reside who provides better livelihood than agriculture.
  • In the east, River Tigris and its tributaries flows which provides routes of communication into the mountain region of Iran.

Question 4. Write in brief about the importance of southern and north-east regions of Mesopotamia.
Answer: Mesopotamian southern region is desert, but the rivers Euphrates and Tigris support the city life here. These rivers deposit their silt by flooding in the region and make the soil fertile. When the river Euphrates enters the desert, it gets divided into small channels. These river channels provided irrigation facilities in the past. Crops such as wheat, barley, peas or lentils were grown here, though there did not happen sufficient rainfall. In the north-east region, sheepary goats were grazed on steppe by the Mesopotamia’s. In this region milk, wool and meat was produced in bulk. Fish was also available in plenty. Date-palm provided fruit in summer. Considering these facts we can conclude that these regions were of utmost importance for Mesopotamia’s.

Question 5. “The use of seals played significant role in the development of trade in urbanization in Mesopotamia.” Discuss.
Answer: A number of seals have been excavated from Mesopotamia. These were made of stone and were cylindrical in shape. These seals were fitted with a stick and then rolled over wet clay so that a continuous picture got engraved over it. This work was done by skilled craftsmen. The name of the owner, his God, his official, ranks, etc. were also engraved on it. Seals were used by merchants to send their goods from one place to another. Goods were first packed and a seal was put at the head of the pack to ensure its authenticity. In case seals were found tampered with, it meant the back had been pilfered on the way otherwise it was safe and secure. Undoubtedly, we can say that the use of seals played a significant role in the growth of urbanization.

Question 6. “The Euphrates river of ancient Mesopotamia was world-renowned trade route”. How will you justify it? (HOTS)
Answer: Earlier the task of transportation of goods, food grains and other essential commodities were carried by the beasts of burden or bullock-carts. It was a time-consuming activity and a lengthy process. The river Euphrates helped the people to get rid of this task. It flows almost through the entire region of Mesopotamia. It provided people one of the cheapest means of transport, which made possible to transport bulk goods with any difficulty. The boats guided by the direction of winds were available free of cost. Several stream emerging of it provided an excellent source of water transportation. Most of the trade began to carry out on this route. Hence, we can say that the river of Euphrates was a well-renowned trade-route.

Question 7. Explain with the help of an example, how did compulsory labor make possible the construction of temples, palaces, buildings, etc.
Answer: Mesopotamian king enjoyed the supreme status in the society and also enjoyed extensive power. The king made labor compulsory to all inhabiting in his empire for rendering their services to town’s deities and to construct temples. For example, the construction of temple in Uruk city was done by 1500 people working 10 hours a day. This work continued for five years. No person could seek immunity from compulsory labor. The people who were engaged in compulsory labor were paid grains in lieu of their services.

Question 8. How pictographic script came into prominence?
Answer: The trace of written language has come up from Sumer in Mesopotamia. They are dated back to 3200 BCE. It is believed that the written language was evoked by temple priests, who were assigned to look after temples independently by the king. They had to keep the records of the expenditure and income of the temples. So they began to paint the items donated to the temples on clay tablet. In this, they began to keep these records. The temple of Uruk has revealed a list of 5000 such tablets. They engraved the pictures like signs and numbers of oxen, fish, etc. Now, it became easier to remember the things. In this way, the pictographic script came into prominence.

Question 9. What do you know about the ancient town Ur of Mesopotamia?
Answer:

  • This city was founded by Mesapnanda about 2670 BCE. It was a well-known commercial centre and a port was destroyed by Elemites around 2200 BCE.
  • Ur was re-established under Ur-Nammu in 2100 BCE.
  • It was first excavated by British excavator J.E. Taylor in 1854-55.
  • This city was designed without planning as the excavation depicted.
  • Excavation was carried out on a large scale during 1920’s and 1930’s, under the supervision of Sir Leonard Woollsey.

Question 10. Which factors suggest that Ur was an unplanned city?
Answer: Ur was an unplanned city because excavation here reveals that people used to throw domestic garbage in the street. As a result of this, the level of the streets began to increase. Holders had to raise the level of their house for proper arrangement of light inside their rooms. It was made possible through doors, rather than windows. Several superstitious beliefs were also prevalent among Ur people regarding their houses under consideration. For example, they raised threshold of a house that brought prosperity. They believed that the first door that did not open towards another house was good and praiseworthy. In case, the door opened outward, it is believed that their strained relations between the husband and the wife residing in it.

Question 11. Discuss the features of town planning of early urban society.
Answer: Features of town planning of early urban societies:

  • The Mesopotamian cities were designed according to a definite plan. Hammurabi had issued a special order to construct cities according to a definite plan.
  • Special attention was paid towards the strength of the building.
  • Baked bricks were used for constructing buildings.
  • Any violation regarding the construction rules were dealt with severely.
  • Most of the buildings, i.e. the houses were of single story. There used to be an open courtyard in these houses. Along with this courtyard rooms were constructed.
  • Some people also built basement in their houses to beat heat.
  • There was also well adequate provision for roads in towns.

Question 12. What do you know about ancient Mesopotamian town Kish?
Answer: Ancient Mesopotamian town Kish was situated 12 kilometers east of Babylon. This city flourished around 3000 BCE under the ruler Urtung, who invaded Iran and subjected it to loot and plunder. This town reached its zenith of prosperity during the period from 2800 to 2300 BCE. It continued to flourish till 600 BCE. The first woman ruler of the Kish was Ku-baba, who ascended the throne, in 2450 BCE. The excavation work here was carried out by French archaeologist, between 1912 to 1914 CE. There Ziggurates, a temple and extensive palaces were excavated here by archaeologists.

Question 13. Name any two French archaeologists who carried art excavation at Lagish. Describe in short about its ruler Gudea.
Answer: Lagish, the important city of Mesopotamia was discovered by two French archaeologists Earnest de-Sarzec and Gaston Cross. Gudea, the greatest ruler of Lagish ruled from 2144 to 2104 BCE. He was very popular among his people due to his religious deeds, liberal attitude and being a justice-lover ruler. He also contributed a lot in the field of architecture and constructed many temples and several of his own statues. He also encouraged trade. As a result of his efforts, i.e. promotion of trade, people became affluent during his region. This city began to lose its glory after the death of Gudea.

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