CuneiformThe Mesopotamians invented the first systems of writing in order to keep track of tax records. Their form of writing was called cuneiform which included pictographs and syllabic symbols to represent words and ideas.
The Old KingdomThe Old Kingdom united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt under a single ruling house. During the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians developed their own system of writing, hieroglyphics, which was used for record-keeping. The Old Kingdom's government was highly effective in tax collection and the distribution of food, supplies, and work forces.
The World's First True EmpireKing Sargon the Great conquered many of the Mesopotamian cities and united the regions of Sumer and Akkad, forging the first true empire.
The First Intermediate PeriodDuring this period, the economy of Egypt diversified and expanded. A real noble class emerged with its own inherited power and land. With more elite people, craftspeople were needed to make royal-inspired goods.
The Ur III DynastyThe Ur III Dynasty of Mesopotamia is known for its complex system of bureaucracy in which the individual people of the empire were less important than the system itself. The Ur III Dynasty also divided the empire into three tax regions so that its tax bureaucracy could collect wealth without alienating the conquered people.
The Middle KingdomThe governor of the city of Thebes reunified the Egyptian kingdom establishing the Middle Kingdom. During this time, the kings made a major effort to extend Egyptian power and influence beyond the kingdom itself. The Egyptian kingdom began to interact with other civilizations during the Middle Kingdom, while in the Old Kingdom Egypt was completely isolated.
The Code of HammurabiImposed by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi, the Code of Hammurabi is the most substantial surviving law code. The Code of Hammurabi went into great detail about the rights and obligations of Babylonians.
The Second Intermediate PeriodThe Hyksos Dynasty seized power in Lower Egypt, beginning the Second Intermediate Period. The Hyksos introduced the use of bronze. With a more durable metal, the Egyptians were able to develop more advanced weapons and tools.
The New KingdomDuring the New Kingdom, the Egyptian empire expanded using its new bronze technology. A great bureaucratic empire was established during this period when pharaohs divided Egypt into two administrative regions. The regional administrators were then able to draft laborers, extract taxation, and supervise the agriculture of the area.
HatshepsutThe only known female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, ruled for twenty years, overseeing a period of ongoing prosperity. Under her rule, large quantities of African goods were imported from Nubia, such as gold, incense, live elephants, panther skins, and other forms of wealth.