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Sumer ()The name is from
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
'; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", i
ĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)
from ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Literally, "land of the native (local, noble) lords". Stiebing (1994) has "Land of the Lords of Brightness" (William Stiebing, Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture). Postgate (1994) takes ''en'' as substituting ''eme'' "language", translating "land of the Sumerian heart" (. Postgate believes it not that eme, 'tongue', became en, 'lord', through consonantal assimilation.)
is the earliest known
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

civilization
in the historical region of southern
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
(south-central
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
), emerging during the
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
and early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is also one of the
first civilization A cradle of civilization is any location where civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history an ...
s in the world, along with
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

ancient Egypt
, the Caral-Supe civilization, the
Indus Valley civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta Terracotta, terra cotta, or terra-cotta (; Italian language, Italian: "baked earth", from the Latin ''terra cocta''), a type of earthenware, is a clay-based ceramic glaze, unglazed or glazed ceramic, where the ...

Indus Valley civilization
, the
Minoan civilization The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the s ...
, and
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese h ...
. Living along the valleys of the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
, Sumerian farmers grew an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus from which enabled them to form urban settlements.
Proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used ...
dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
and
Jemdet Nasr Jemdet Nasr ( ar, جمدة نصر) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...
, and date to between  3500 and  3000 BC.


Name

The term "Sumer" (
Sumerian
Sumerian
: or ,
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
: ) is the name given to the language spoken by the "Sumerians", the ancient non-
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
-speaking inhabitants of southern
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, by their successors the East Semitic-speaking
Akkadians The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...
. The Sumerians themselves referred to their land as , the 'Country of the noble lords' (, , lit. 'country' + 'lords' + 'noble') as seen in their inscriptions."The area in question (the extreme south of Mesopotamia) may now be called Sumer, and its inhabitants Sumerians, although these names are only English approximations of the Akkadian designations; the Sumerians themselves called their land Kengir, their language Emegir, and themselves Sag-giga, "black-headed ones." in The origin of the Sumerians is not known, but the people of Sumer referred to themselves as "Black Headed Ones" or "Black-Headed People" ( , , lit. 'head' + 'black', or , phonetically , lit. 'head' + 'black' + 'carry'). For example, the Sumerian king
Shulgi Shulgi ( Dingir, dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology). His accompli ...
described himself as "the king of the four quarters, the pastor of the black-headed people". The Akkadians also called the Sumerians 'black-headed people', or , in the Semitic Akkadian language. The Akkadian word may represent the geographical name in dialect, but the
phonological Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...

phonological
development leading to the Akkadian term is uncertain. Hebrew ,
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
, and
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
, all referring to southern Mesopotamia, could be western variants of ''Sumer''.


Origins

Most historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a
West Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hem ...
n people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence), a non-Semitic and non-
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
agglutinative The middle sign is in Hungarian, which agglutinates extensively. (The top and bottom signs are in Romanian and German, respectively, both inflecting languages.) The English translation is "Ministry of Food and Agriculture: Satu Mare County D ...
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
. In contrast to its
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...
neighbours, it was not an inflected language. Others have suggested that the Sumerians were a
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
n people who migrated from the Green Sahara into the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
and were responsible for the spread of farming in the Middle East. However, with evidence strongly suggesting the first farmers originated from the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental orga ...

Fertile Crescent
, this suggestion is often discarded. Although not specifically discussing Sumerians, Lazaridis et al. 2016 have suggested a partial North African origin for some pre-Semitic cultures of the Middle East, particularly Natufians, after testing the genomes of Natufian and
Pre-Pottery Neolithic The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It i ...
culture-bearers. Alternatively, a recent (2013) genetic analysis of four ancient Mesopotamian skeletal DNA samples suggests an association of the Sumerians with Indus Valley Civilization, possibly as a result of ancient Indus-Mesopotamia relations. According to some data, the Sumerians are associated with the
Hurrians The Hurrians (; cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by th ...
and
Urartians Urartu () is a geographical region commonly used as the exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can iden ...
, and the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
is considered their homeland. These prehistoric people before the Sumerians are now called "proto- Euphrateans" or " Ubaidians", and are theorized to have evolved from the
Samarra culture The Samarra culture is a Late Neolithic archaeological culture of northern Mesopotamia, roughly dated to between 5500 and 4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid. Samarran material culture was first recognized during exc ...
of northern Mesopotamia. The Ubaidians, though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves, are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer. They drained the marshes for
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
, developed trade, and established industries, including
weaving Weaving is a method of textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheti ...

weaving
, leatherwork,
metalwork Metalworking is the process of shaping and reshaping metals to create useful objects, parts, assemblies, and large scale structures. As a term it covers a wide and diverse range of processes, skills, and tools for producing objects on every scale: ...
,
masonry Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by ; the term ''masonry'' can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are , building such as , , an ...

masonry
, and
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , and . The place where such wares are mad ...

pottery
. Some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language; they think the Sumerian language may originally have been that of the
hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism ...

hunting
and
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ...

fishing
peoples who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region and were part of the Arabian
bifacial A hand axe (or handaxe or Acheulean hand axe) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is in ...

bifacial
culture. Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before
Enmebaragesi Enmebaragesi (Sumerian:𒂗𒈨𒁈𒄄𒋛) originally Mebarasi (Sumerian:𒈨𒁈𒋛) was the penultimate king of the first dynasty of Kish and is recorded as having reigned 900 years in the ''Sumerian King List''. Like his son and successor ...
( Early Dynastic I).
Juris Zarins Juris Zarins (Zariņš) (born 1945, in Germany) is an American-Latvian archaeologist and professor at Missouri State University Missouri State University (MSU or MO State), formerly Southwest Missouri State University, is a public university in ...
believes the Sumerians lived along the coast of
Eastern Arabia Eastern Arabia was historically known as ''Al-Bahrain'' ( ar, اَلْبَحْرَيْنِ) until the 18th century. This region stretched from the south of Basra along the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=Xa ...
, today's Persian Gulf region, before it was flooded at the end of the Ice Age. Likewise, the ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with ...
'' describe the ''urheimat'' of the Sumerians as Dulmen, a civilization which covered this region. Sumerian civilization took form in the
Uruk period The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistoric Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cult ...
(4th millennium BC), continuing into the
Jemdet Nasr Jemdet Nasr ( ar, جمدة نصر) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...
and Early Dynastic periods. The Sumerians progressively lost control to Semitic states from the northwest. Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (
short chronology The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728–1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC. The absolute 2nd millennium BC dates resulting from these re ...
), but Sumerian continued as a
sacred language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to h ...
at approximately 2100–2000 BC, but the Akkadian language also remained in use for some time.Leick, Gwendolyn (2003), "Mesopotamia, the Invention of the City" (Penguin) The Sumerian city of
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambrid ...
, on the coast of the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
, is considered to have been one of the oldest cities, where three separate cultures may have fused: that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.


City-states in Mesopotamia

In the late 4th millennium BC, Sumer was divided into many independent
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
s, which were divided by canals and boundary stones. Each was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or goddess of the city and ruled over by a priestly governor ( ensi) or by a king (
lugal Lugal ( Sumerian: ) is the Sumerian term for "king, ruler". Literally, the term means "big man." In Sumerian, ''lu'' "𒇽" is "man" and ''gal'' "𒃲 GAL (Borger 2003 nr. 553; U+120F2 𒃲) is the Sumerian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram ...
) who was intimately tied to the city's religious rites. The five "first" cities, said to have exercised pre-dynastic kingship "before the flood": #
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambrid ...
(''Tell Abu Shahrain'') #
Bad-tibira Bad-tibira(Sumerian: , bad3-tibiraki), "Wall of the Copper Worker(s)", or "Fortress of the Smiths", identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah Al-Shatrah (also known as Shatrat al-Muntafiq) is a town in southern Iraq, located northe ...
(probably ''Tell al-Madain)'' # Larak #
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
(''Tell Abu Habbah'') #
Shuruppak Shuruppak ( sux, , "the healing place"), modern Tell Fara, was an ancient Sumerian city situated about 55 kilometres (35 mi) south of Nippur on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate. Shuruppak was dedicated to Ninlil, ...
(''Tell Fara'') Other principal cities: Minor cities (from south to north): # Kuara (''Tell al-Lahm'') # Zabala (''Tell Ibzeikh'') # Kisurra (''Tell Abu Hatab'') #
Marad Marad (Sumerian: Marda, modern Tell Wannat es-Sadum or Tell as-Sadoum, Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِ ...

Marad
(''Tell Wannat es-Sadum'') #
Dilbat Dilbat (modern Tell ed-Duleim or Tell al-Deylam, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian minor ''Tell (archaeology), tell'' (hill city) located southeast from Babylon on the eastern bank of the Western Euphrates in modern-day Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Al- ...
(''Tell ed-Duleim'') #
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Camb ...
(''Birs Nimrud'') #
Kutha Kutha, Cuthah, Cuth or Cutha ( ar, كُوثَا, Sumerian: Gudua), modern Tell Ibrahim ( ar, تَلّ إِبْرَاهِيم), formerly known as Kutha Rabba ( ar, كُوثَىٰ رَبَّا), is an archaeological site An archaeological site is ...
(''Tell Ibrahim'') # Der (''al-Badra'') #
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
(''Tell Asmar'') # Nagar (''Tell Brak'') (an outlying city in northern Mesopotamia) Apart from Mari, which lies full 330 kilometres (205 miles) north-west of Agade, but which is credited in the
king list A regnal list or king list is, at its simplest, a list of successive monarchs. Some regnal lists may give the relationship between successive monarchs (e.g., son, brother), the length of reign of each monarch or annotations on important reigns. Th ...
as having "exercised kingship" in the Early Dynastic II period, and Nagar, an outpost, these cities are all in the Euphrates-Tigris alluvial plain, south of
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
in what are now the Bābil, Diyala, Wāsit,
Dhi Qar Dhi Qar Governorate ( ar, ذي قار, translit=Dhī Qār) is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in southern Iraq. The provincial capital is Nasiriyah. Prior to 1976 the governorate was known as Muntafiq Governorate. Dhi Qar was the heartland of t ...
,
Basra Basra ( ar, ٱلْبَصْرَة, al-Baṣrah) is an Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...
, Al-Muthannā and Al-Qādisiyyah governorates of
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
.


History

The Sumerian city-states rose to power during the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods. Sumerian written history reaches back to the 27th century BC and before, but the historical record remains obscure until the Early Dynastic III period, c. 23rd century BC, when a now deciphered syllabary writing system was developed, which has allowed archaeologists to read contemporary records and inscriptions. The
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...
was the first state that successfully united larger parts of Mesopotamia in the 23rd century BC. After the
Gutian period The Gutian dynasty, also Kuti or Kutians ( Sumerian: , gu-ti-umKI) was a dynasty that came to power in Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ...
, the Ur III kingdom similarly united parts of northern and southern Mesopotamia. It ended in the face of
Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic lan ...

Amorite
incursions at the beginning of the second millennium BC. The Amorite "dynasty of
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
" persisted until c. 1700 BC, when Mesopotamia was united under
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n rule. The Sumerians were eventually absorbed into the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) population. *
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3800 BC) is a prehistory, prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-'Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall (Egyptologist), Henry H ...
: 6500–4100 BC (Pottery
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
to
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
) *
Uruk period The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistoric Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cult ...
: 4100–2900 BC (Late
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
to
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Period, ...
I) ** Uruk XIV–V: 4100–3300 BC ** Uruk IV period: 3300–3100 BC **
Jemdet Nasr period The Jemdet Nasr Period is an archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), assemblage of types of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, buildings and monuments from a specific period and region that may con ...
(Uruk III): 3100–2900 BC * Early Dynastic period (
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Period, ...
II–IV) ** Early Dynastic I period: 2900–2800 BC ** Early Dynastic II period: 2800–2600 BC (
Gilgamesh , image = Hero lion Dur-Sharrukin Louvre AO19862.jpg , alt = , caption = Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals The Master of Animals or Lord of Animals is a motif in ancient art showing a human betw ...

Gilgamesh
) ** Early Dynastic IIIa period: 2600–2500 BC ** Early Dynastic IIIb period: c. 2500–2334 BC *
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...
period: c. 2334–2218 BC () *
Gutian period The Gutian dynasty, also Kuti or Kutians ( Sumerian: , gu-ti-umKI) was a dynasty that came to power in Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ...
: c. 2218–2047 BC (Early Bronze Age IV) *
Ur III period The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC (middle chronology The middle chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 179 ...
: c. 2047–1940 BC


Ubaid period

The Ubaid period is marked by a distinctive style of fine quality painted pottery which spread throughout Mesopotamia and the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
. The oldest evidence for occupation comes from
Tell el-'Oueili Tell el-'Oueili is a Tell (archaeology), tell, or ancient settlement mound, located in Dhi Qar Governorate, southern Iraq. The site was excavated between 1976 and 1989 by French archaeologists under the direction of Jean-Louis Huot. The excavations ...
, but, given that environmental conditions in southern Mesopotamia were favourable to human occupation well before the Ubaid period, it is likely that older sites exist but have not yet been found. It appears that this culture was derived from the
Samarra Samarra ( ar, سَامَرَّاء, ') is a city in Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق '), is a c ...

Samarra
n culture from northern Mesopotamia. It is not known whether or not these were the actual Sumerians who are identified with the later Uruk culture. The story of the passing of the gifts of civilization ( ''me'') to
Inanna Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the ...
, goddess of Uruk and of love and war, by
Enki , image = Enki(Ea).jpg , caption = Detail of Enki from the Adda Seal, an ancient Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC , deity_of = God of creation, intelligence, crafts, water, seawater, lakewater, fertility Fertility is the ca ...
, god of wisdom and chief god of Eridu, may reflect the transition from Eridu to Uruk.


Uruk period

The archaeological transition from the Ubaid period to the Uruk period is marked by a gradual shift from painted pottery domestically produced on a slow
wheel File:Roue primitive.png, An early wheel made of a solid piece of wood A wheel is a circular component that is intended to rotate on an axle An axle or axletree is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the ...

wheel
to a great variety of unpainted pottery mass-produced by specialists on fast wheels. The Uruk period is a continuation and an outgrowth of Ubaid with pottery being the main visible change. By the time of the Uruk period (c. 4100–2900 BC calibrated), the volume of trade goods transported along the canals and rivers of southern Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large,
stratified Stratification may refer to: In mathematics: * Stratification (mathematics), any consistent assignment of numbers to predicate symbols * Stratified sampling , Data stratification in statistics In earth sciences: * Stable and unstable stratificati ...
, temple-centered cities (with populations of over 10,000 people) where centralized administrations employed specialized workers. It is fairly certain that it was during the Uruk period that Sumerian cities began to make use of
slave labour Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
captured from the hill country, and there is ample evidence for captured slaves as workers in the earliest texts. Artifacts, and even colonies of this Uruk civilization have been found over a wide area—from the
Taurus Mountains The Taurus Mountains (Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Gr ...
in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
, to the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
in the west, and as far east as western
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
. Algaze, Guillermo (2005). ''iarchive:urukworldsystemd0000alga, The Uruk World System: The Dynamics of Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization'', Second Edition, University of Chicago Press. The Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. The cities of Sumer could not maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force. Sumerian cities during the Uruk period were probably theocratic and were most likely headed by a priest-king (''ensi''), assisted by a council of elders, including both men and women.Jacobsen, Thorkild (Ed) (1939),"The Sumerian King List" (Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago; Assyriological Studies, No. 11., 1939) It is quite possible that the later Sumerian Pantheon (gods), pantheon was modeled upon this political structure. There was little evidence of organized warfare or professional soldiers during the Uruk period, and towns were generally unwalled. During this period Uruk became the most urbanized city in the world, surpassing for the first time 50,000 inhabitants. The ancient Sumerian king list includes the early dynasties of several prominent cities from this period. The first set of names on the list is of kings said to have reigned before a major flood occurred. These early names may be fictional, and include some legendary and mythological figures, such as Alulim and Dumuzid, the Shepherd, Dumizid. The end of the Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period from c. 3200–2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, called the Holocene climatic optimum.


Early Dynastic Period

The dynastic period begins c. 2900 BC and was associated with a shift from the temple establishment headed by council of elders led by a priestly "En" (a male figure when it was a temple for a goddess, or a female figure when headed by a male god) towards a more secular Lugal (Lu = man, Gal = great) and includes such legendary patriarchal figures as Dumuzid, Lugalbanda and
Gilgamesh , image = Hero lion Dur-Sharrukin Louvre AO19862.jpg , alt = , caption = Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals The Master of Animals or Lord of Animals is a motif in ancient art showing a human betw ...

Gilgamesh
—who reigned shortly before the historic record opens c. 2900 BC, when the now deciphered syllabic writing started to develop from the early pictograms. The center of Sumerian culture remained in southern Mesopotamia, even though rulers soon began expanding into neighboring areas, and neighboring Semitic groups adopted much of Sumerian culture for their own. The earliest dynastic king on the Sumerian king list whose name is known from any other legendary source is Etana, 13th king of the first dynasty of Kish (Sumer), Kish. The earliest king authenticated through archaeological evidence is
Enmebaragesi Enmebaragesi (Sumerian:𒂗𒈨𒁈𒄄𒋛) originally Mebarasi (Sumerian:𒈨𒁈𒋛) was the penultimate king of the first dynasty of Kish and is recorded as having reigned 900 years in the ''Sumerian King List''. Like his son and successor ...
of Kish (Early Dynastic I), whose name is also mentioned in the ''
Epic of Gilgamesh The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' () is an epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with ...
''—leading to the suggestion that Gilgamesh himself might have been a historical king of Uruk. As the ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' shows, this period was associated with increased war. Cities became walled, and increased in size as undefended villages in southern Mesopotamia disappeared. (Both Enmerkar and Gilgamesh are credited with having built the walls of Uruk.)


1st Dynasty of Lagash

The dynasty of Lagash (c. 2500–2270 BC), though omitted from the king list, is well attested through several important monuments and many archaeological finds. Although short-lived, one of the first empires known to history was that of Eannatum of Lagash, who annexed practically all of Sumer, including Kish, Uruk, Ur, and Larsa, and reduced to tribute the city-state of Umma, arch-rival of Lagash. In addition, his realm extended to parts of Elam and along the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
. He seems to have used terror as a matter of policy. Eannatum's Stele of the Vultures depicts vultures pecking at the severed heads and other body parts of his enemies. His empire collapsed shortly after his death. Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his capital, and claimed an empire extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. He was the last ethnically Sumerian king before Sargon of Akkad.


Akkadian Empire

The Akkadian Empire dates to c. 2234–2154 BC (middle chronology). The Eastern Semitic Akkadian language is first attested in proper names of the kings of Kish c. 2800 BC, preserved in later king lists. There are texts written entirely in Old Akkadian dating from c. 2500 BC. Use of Old Akkadian was at its peak during the rule of Sargon the Great (c. 2334–2279 BC), but even then most administrative tablets continued to be written in Sumerian, the language used by the scribes. Gelb and Westenholz differentiate three stages of Old Akkadian: that of the pre-Sargonic era, that of the Akkadian empire, and that of the Ur III period that followed it. Akkadian and Sumerian coexisted as vernacular languages for about one thousand years, but by around 1800 BC, Sumerian was becoming more of a literary language familiar mainly only to scholars and scribes. Thorkild Jacobsen has argued that there is little break in historical continuity between the pre- and post-Sargon periods, and that too much emphasis has been placed on the perception of a "Semitic vs. Sumerian" conflict. However, it is certain that Akkadian was also briefly imposed on neighboring parts of Elam that were previously conquered, by Sargon.


Gutian period

c. 2193–2119 BC (middle chronology)


2nd Dynasty of Lagash

c. 2200–2110 BC (middle chronology) Following the downfall of the Akkadian Empire at the hands of Gutian dynasty of Sumer, Gutians, another native Sumerian ruler, Gudea of Lagash, rose to local prominence and continued the practices of the Sargonid kings' claims to divinity. The previous Lagash dynasty, Gudea and his descendants also promoted artistic development and left a large number of archaeological artifacts.


"Neo-Sumerian" Ur III period

Later, the Third Dynasty of Ur under Ur-Nammu and
Shulgi Shulgi ( Dingir, dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2094 – c. 2046 BC (Middle Chronology) or possibly c. 2030 – 1982 BC (Short Chronology). His accompli ...
(c. 2112–2004 BC, middle chronology), whose power extended as far as southern Assyria, has been erroneously called a "Sumerian renaissance" in the past. Already, however, the region was becoming more Semitic than Sumerian, with the resurgence of the Akkadian-speaking Semites in Assyria and elsewhere, and the influx of waves of Semitic Martu (Amorites), who were to found several competing local powers in the south, including
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
, Larsa,
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
and later, Babylonia. The last of these eventually came to briefly dominate the south of Mesopotamia as the Babylonian Empire, just as the Old Assyrian Empire had already done in the north from the late 21st century BC. The Sumerian language continued as a sacerdotal language taught in schools in Babylonia and Assyria, much as Latin was used in the Medieval period, for as long as cuneiform was used.


Fall and transmission

This period is generally taken to coincide with a major shift in population from southern Mesopotamia toward the north. Ecologically, the agricultural productivity of the Sumerian lands was being compromised as a result of rising salinity. Soil salinity in this region had been long recognized as a major problem. Poorly drained irrigated soils, in an arid climate with high levels of evaporation, led to the buildup of dissolved salts in the soil, eventually reducing agricultural yields severely. During the Akkadian and Ur III phases, there was a shift from the cultivation of wheat to the more salt-tolerant barley, but this was insufficient, and during the period from 2100 BC to 1700 BC, it is estimated that the population in this area declined by nearly three-fifths. This greatly upset the balance of power within the region, weakening the areas where Sumerian was spoken, and comparatively strengthening those where Akkadian was the major language. Henceforth, Sumerian would remain only a literary language, literary and Sacred language, liturgical language, similar to the position occupied by Latin in Middle Ages, medieval Europe. Following an Elamite invasion and sack of Ur during the rule of Ibbi-Sin (c. 2028–2004 BC), Sumer came under Amorite rule (taken to introduce the Middle Bronze Age). The independent Amorite states of the 20th to 18th centuries are summarized as the "Dynasty of Isin" in the Sumerian king list, ending with the rise of Babylonia under Hammurabi c. 1800 BC. Later rulers who dominated Assyria and Babylonia occasionally assumed the old Sargonic title "King of Sumer and Akkad", such as Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria after c. 1225 BC.


Population

Uruk, one of Sumer's largest cities, has been estimated to have had a population of 50,000–80,000 at its height; given the other cities in Sumer, and the large agricultural population, a rough estimate for Sumer's population might be 0.8 million to 1.5 million. The world population at this time has been estimated at about 27 million. The Sumerians spoke a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
, but a number of linguists have claimed to be able to detect a substrate language of unknown classification beneath Sumerian because names of some of Sumer's major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the early
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3800 BC) is a prehistory, prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-'Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall (Egyptologist), Henry H ...
(5300–4700 BC Radiocarbon dating, C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
and the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
. Some archaeologists have speculated that the original speakers of ancient Sumerian may have been farmers, who moved down from the north of Mesopotamia after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. The Ubaid period pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami transitional ware to the pottery of the
Samarra Samarra ( ar, سَامَرَّاء, ') is a city in Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق '), is a c ...

Samarra
period culture (c. 5700–4900 BC Radiocarbon dating, C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries. The connection is most clearly seen at
Tell el-'Oueili Tell el-'Oueili is a Tell (archaeology), tell, or ancient settlement mound, located in Dhi Qar Governorate, southern Iraq. The site was excavated between 1976 and 1989 by French archaeologists under the direction of Jean-Louis Huot. The excavations ...
near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware. According to this theory, farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment. Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral.
Juris Zarins Juris Zarins (Zariņš) (born 1945, in Germany) is an American-Latvian archaeologist and professor at Missouri State University Missouri State University (MSU or MO State), formerly Southwest Missouri State University, is a public university in ...
believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.


Culture


Social and family life

In the early Sumerian period, the primitive pictograms suggest that * "Pottery was very plentiful, and the forms of the vases, bowls and dishes were manifold; there were special jars for honey, butter, oil and wine, which was probably made from dates. Some of the vases had pointed feet, and stood on stands with crossed legs; others were flat-bottomed, and were set on square or rectangular frames of wood. The oil-jars, and probably others also, were sealed with clay, precisely as in early Egypt. Vases and dishes of stone were made in imitation of those of clay." * "A feathered head-dress was worn. Beds, stools and chairs were used, with carved legs resembling those of an ox. There were fire-places and fire-altars." * "Knives, drills, wedges and an instrument that looks like a saw were all known. While spears, bows, arrows, and daggers (but not swords) were employed in war." * "Tablets were used for writing purposes. Daggers with metal blades and wooden handles were worn, and copper was hammered into plates, while necklaces or collars were made of gold." * "Time was reckoned in lunar months." There is considerable evidence concerning Sumerian music. Lyres and flutes were played, among the best-known examples being the Lyres of Ur. Inscriptions describing the reforms of king Urukagina of Lagash (c. 2350 BC) say that he abolished the former custom of polyandry in his country, prescribing that a woman who took multiple husbands be stoned with rocks upon which her crime had been written. Sumerian culture was male-dominated and stratified. The Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest such codification yet discovered, dating to the Ur III, reveals a glimpse at societal structure in late Sumerian law. Beneath the ''lu-gal'' ("great man" or king), all members of society belonged to one of two basic strata: The "''lu''" or free person, and the slave (male, ''arad''; female ''geme''). The son of a ''lu'' was called a ''dumu-nita'' until he married. A woman (''munus'') went from being a daughter (''dumu-mi''), to a wife (''dam''), then if she outlived her husband, a widow (''numasu'') and she could then remarry another man who was from the same tribe. Marriages were usually arranged by the parents of the bride and groom; engagements were usually completed through the approval of contracts recorded on clay tablets. These marriages became legal as soon as the groom delivered a bridal gift to his bride's father. One Sumerian proverb describes the ideal, happy marriage through the mouth of a husband who boasts that his wife has borne him eight sons and is still eager to have sex. The Sumerians generally seem to have discouraged premarital sex. Neither Sumerian nor Akkadian had a word exactly corresponding to the English word 'virginity', and the concept was expressed descriptively, for example as ''a/é-nu-gi4-a'' (Sum.)/''la naqbat'' (Akk.) 'un-deflowered', or ''giš nunzua'', 'never having known a penis'. It is unclear whether terms such as ''šišitu'' in Akkadian medical texts indicate the hymen, but it appears that the intactness of the hymen was much less relevant to assessing a woman's virginity than in later cultures of the Near East, and most assessments of virginity depended on the woman's own account. From the earliest records, the Sumerians had very relaxed attitudes toward sex and their Sexual ethics, sexual mores were determined not by whether a sexual act was deemed immoral, but rather by whether or not it made a person ritually unclean. The Sumerians widely believed that masturbation enhanced sexual potency, both for men and for women, and they frequently engaged in it, both alone and Mutual masturbation, with their partners. The Sumerians did not regard anal sex as taboo either. ''Entu'' priestesses were forbidden from producing offspring and frequently engaged in anal sex as a method of birth control. Prostitution existed but it is not clear if sacred prostitution did.


Language and writing

The most important archaeological discoveries in Sumer are a large number of clay tablets written in cuneiform script. Sumerian writing is considered to be a great milestone in the development of humanity's ability to not only create historical records but also in creating pieces of literature, both in the form of poetic epics and stories as well as prayers and laws. Although pictures—that is, hieroglyphs—were used first, cuneiform and then ideograms (where symbols were made to represent ideas) soon followed. Triangular or wedge-shaped reeds were used to write on moist clay. A large body of hundreds of thousands of texts in the Sumerian language have survived, including personal and business letters, receipts, lexical lists, laws, hymns, prayers, stories, and daily records. Full libraries of clay tablets have been found. Monumental inscriptions and texts on different objects, like statues or bricks, are also very common. Many texts survive in multiple copies because they were repeatedly transcribed by scribes in training. Sumerian continued to be the language of religion and law in Mesopotamia long after Semitic speakers had become dominant. A prime example of cuneiform writing would be a lengthy poem that was discovered in the ruins of Uruk. The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' was written in the standard Sumerian cuneiform. It tells of a king from the early Dynastic II period named Gilgamesh or "Bilgamesh" in Sumerian. The story relates the fictional adventures of Gilgamesh and his companion, Enkidu. It was laid out on several clay tablets and is thought to be the earliest known surviving example of fictional literature. The Sumerian language is generally regarded as a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
in linguistics because it belongs to no known language family; Akkadian, by contrast, belongs to the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. There have been many failed attempts to connect Sumerian to other language family, language families. It is an agglutinative language; in other words, morphemes ("units of meaning") are added together to create words, unlike analytic languages where morphemes are purely added together to create sentences. Some authors have proposed that there may be evidence of a substratum or adstratum language for geographic features and various crafts and agricultural activities, called variously Proto-Euphratean or Proto Tigrean, but this is disputed by others. Understanding Sumerian texts today can be problematic. Most difficult are the earliest texts, which in many cases do not give the full grammatical structure of the language and seem to have been used as an "aide-mémoire" for knowledgeable scribes. Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC,Woods C. 200
“Bilingualism, Scribal Learning, and the Death of Sumerian”
In S.L. Sanders (ed) ''Margins of Writing, Origins of Culture'': 91–120 Chicago
but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary, and scientific language in Babylonia and Assyria until the 1st century AD. File:Early writing tablet recording the allocation of beer.jpg, Early writing tablet for recording the allocation of beer; 3100–3000 BC; height: 9.4 cm; width: 6.87 cm; from Iraq; British Museum (London) Cuneiform tablet- administrative account with entries concerning malt and barley groats MET DP293245.jpg, Cuneiform tablet about administrative account with entries concerning malt and barley groats; 3100–2900 BC; clay; 6.8 x 4.5 x 1.6 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) Bill of sale Louvre AO3766.jpg, Bill of sale of a field and house, from
Shuruppak Shuruppak ( sux, , "the healing place"), modern Tell Fara, was an ancient Sumerian city situated about 55 kilometres (35 mi) south of Nippur on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate. Shuruppak was dedicated to Ninlil, ...
; c. 2600 BC; height: 8.5 cm, width: 8.5 cm, depth: 2 cm; Louvre Stele of Vultures detail 02.jpg, ''Stele of the Vultures''; c. 2450 BC; limestone; found in 1881 by Édouard de Sarzec in Girsu (now Tell Telloh, Iraq); Louvre


Religion

The Sumerians credited their divinities for all matters pertaining to them and exhibited humility in the face of cosmic forces, such as death and divine wrath. Sumerian religion seems to have been founded upon two separate Cosmogeny, cosmogenic myths. The first saw creation as the result of a series of ''hieros gamos, hieroi gamoi'' or sacred marriages, involving the reconciliation of opposites, postulated as a coming together of male and female divine beings, the gods. This pattern continued to influence regional Mesopotamian myths. Thus, in the later Akkadian Enuma Elish, creation was seen as the union of fresh and salt water, between male Abzu, and female Tiamat. The products of that union, Lahm and Lahmu, "the muddy ones", were titles given to the gate keepers of the E-Abzu temple of
Enki , image = Enki(Ea).jpg , caption = Detail of Enki from the Adda Seal, an ancient Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC , deity_of = God of creation, intelligence, crafts, water, seawater, lakewater, fertility Fertility is the ca ...
in
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambrid ...
, the first Sumerian city. Mirroring the way that muddy islands emerge from the confluence of fresh and salty water at the mouth of the Euphrates, where the river deposits its load of silt, a second hieros gamos supposedly resulted in the creation of Anshar and Kishar, the "sky-pivot" (or axle), and the "earth pivot", parents in turn of Anu (the sky) and Ki (goddess), Ki (the earth). Another important Sumerian hieros gamos was that between Ki, here known as Ninhursag or "Lady of the Mountains", and Enki of Eridu, the god of fresh water which brought forth greenery and pasture. At an early stage, following the dawn of recorded history, Nippur, in central Mesopotamia, replaced Eridu in the south as the primary temple city, whose priests exercised political hegemony on the other city-states. Nippur retained this status throughout the Sumerian period.


Deities

Sumerians believed in an anthropomorphic polytheism, or the belief in many gods in human form. There was no common set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings. Nonetheless, these were not exclusive; the gods of one city were often acknowledged elsewhere. Sumerian speakers were among the earliest people to record their beliefs in writing, and were a major inspiration in later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology. The Sumerians worshiped: * Anu, An as the full-time god equivalent to heaven; indeed, the word ''an'' in Sumerian means sky and his consort Ki (goddess), Ki, means earth. *
Enki , image = Enki(Ea).jpg , caption = Detail of Enki from the Adda Seal, an ancient Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC , deity_of = God of creation, intelligence, crafts, water, seawater, lakewater, fertility Fertility is the ca ...
in the south at the temple in Eridu. Enki was the god of beneficence and of wisdom, ruler of the freshwater depths beneath the earth, a healer and friend to humanity who in Sumerian myth was thought to have given humans the arts and sciences, the industries and manners of civilization; the first law book was considered his creation. * Enlil was the god of storm, wind, and rain. He was the chief god of the Sumerian pantheon and the patron god of Nippur. His consort was Ninlil, the goddess of the south wind. *
Inanna Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the ...
was the goddess of love, sexuality, and war;Black, Jeremy; Green, Anthony (1992), ''iarchive:gods-demons-and-symbols-of-ancient-mesopotamia-an-illustrated-dictionary 202012, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary'', University of Texas Press, the deification of Venus, the morning (eastern) and evening (western) star, at the temple (shared with An) at Uruk. Deified kings may have re-enacted the marriage of Inanna and Dumuzid the Shepherd, Dumuzid with priestesses. * The sun-god Utu at Larsa in the south and
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
in the north, * The moon god Sin (mythology), Sin at Ur. These deity, deities formed the main pantheon, and in addition to this there were hundreds of other minor gods. Sumerian gods were often associated with different cities, and their religious importance often waxed and waned with those cities' political power. The gods were said to have created human beings from clay for the purpose of serving them. The temples organized the mass labour projects needed for irrigation agriculture. Citizens had a labor duty to the temple, though they could avoid it by a payment of silver.


Cosmology

Sumerians believed that the universe consisted of a flat disk enclosed by a dome. The Sumerian afterlife involved a descent into a gloomy Sumerian nether-world, netherworld to spend eternity in a wretched existence as a Gidim (ghost). The universe was divided into four quarters: * To the north were the hill-dwelling Subartu, who were periodically raided for slaves, timber, and other raw materials. * To the west were the tent-dwelling Amorite, Martu, ancient Semitic-speaking peoples living as pastoral nomads tending herds of sheep and goats. * To the south was the land of Dilmun, a trading state associated with the land of the dead and the place of creation.Geoffrey Bibby and Carl Phillips, ''Looking for Dilmun'' (London: Stacey International, 1996; reprinted London: Knopf, 2013). * To the east were the Elamites, a rival people with whom the Sumerians were frequently at war. Their known world extended from ''The Upper Sea'' or Mediterranean coastline, to ''The Lower Sea'', the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
and the land of Meluhha (probably the Indus Valley) and Majan (civilization), Magan (Oman), famed for its copper ores.


Temple and temple organisation

Ziggurats (Sumerian temples) each had an individual name and consisted of a forecourt, with a central pond for purification. The temple itself had a central nave with aisles along either side. Flanking the aisles would be rooms for the priests. At one end would stand the podium and a mudbrick table for animal and vegetable sacrifices. Granary, Granaries and Warehouse, storehouses were usually located near the temples. After a time the Sumerians began to place the temples on top of multi-layered square constructions built as a series of rising terraces, giving rise to the Ziggurat style.


Funerary practices

It was believed that when people died, they would be confined to a gloomy world of Ereshkigal, whose realm was guarded by gateways with various monsters designed to prevent people entering or leaving. The dead were buried outside the city walls in graveyards where a small mound covered the corpse, along with offerings to monsters and a small amount of food. Those who could afford it sought burial at Dilmun. Human sacrifice was found in the death pits at the Ur royal cemetery where Queen Puabi was accompanied in death by her servants.


Agriculture and hunting

The Sumerians adopted an agricultural lifestyle perhaps as early as c. 5000–4500 BC. The region demonstrated a number of core agricultural techniques, including organized irrigation, large-scale intensive cultivation of land, monocropping involving the use of plough agriculture, and the use of an agricultural Division of labour, specialized labour force under bureaucratic control. The necessity to manage temple accounts with this organization led to the development of history of writing, writing (c. 3500 BC). In the early Sumerian Uruk period, the primitive pictograms suggest that sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs were domesticated. They used oxen as their primary beasts of burden and donkeys or equids as their primary transport animal and "woollen clothing as well as rugs were made from the wool or hair of the animals. ... By the side of the house was an enclosed garden planted with trees and other plants; wheat and probably other cereals were sown in the fields, and the ''shaduf'' was already employed for the purpose of irrigation. Plants were also grown in pots or vases." The Sumerians were one of the first known beer-drinking societies. Cereals were plentiful and were the key ingredient in their early brew. They brewed multiple kinds of beer consisting of wheat, barley, and mixed grain beers. Beer brewing was very important to the Sumerians. It was referenced in the Epic of Gilgamesh when Enkidu was introduced to the food and beer of Gilgamesh's people: "Drink the beer, as is the custom of the land... He drank the beer-seven jugs! and became expansive and sang with joy!" The Sumerians practiced similar irrigation techniques as those used in Egypt. American anthropologist Robert McCormick Adams says that irrigation development was associated with urbanization, and that 89% of the population lived in the cities. They grew barley, chickpeas, lentils, wheat, Date (fruit), dates, onions, garlic, lettuce, leeks and Mustard plant, mustard. Sumerians caught many fish and hunted fowl and gazelle. Sumerian agriculture depended heavily on irrigation. The irrigation was accomplished by the use of ''shaduf'', canals, Channel (geography), channels, dyke (construction), dykes, weirs, and reservoirs. The frequent violent floods of the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
, and less so, of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
, meant that canals required frequent repair and continual removal of silt, and survey markers and boundary stones needed to be continually replaced. The government required individuals to work on the canals in a corvée, although the rich were able to exempt themselves. As is known from the "''Sumerian Farmer's Almanac''", after the flood season and after the Spring equinox (northern hemisphere), Spring equinox and the ''Akitu'' or New Year Festival, using the canals, farmers would flood their fields and then drain the water. Next they made oxen stomp the ground and kill weeds. They then dragged the fields with pickaxes. After drying, they plowed, harrow (tool), harrowed, and rake (tool), raked the ground three times, and pulverized it with a mattock, before planting seed. Unfortunately, the high evaporation rate resulted in a gradual increase in the salinity of the fields. By the Ur III period, farmers had switched from wheat to the more salt-tolerant barley as their principal crop. Sumerians harvested during the spring (season), spring in three-person teams consisting of a reaper, a Reaper-binder, binder, and a sheaf handler. The farmers would use threshing wagons, driven by oxen, to separate the cereal heads from the stalk (botany), stalks and then use threshing sleds to disengage the grain. They then winnowing, winnowed the grain/chaff mixture.


Art

The Sumerians were great creators, nothing proving this more than their art. Sumerian artifacts show great detail and ornamentation, with fine semi-precious stones imported from other lands, such as lapis lazuli, marble, and diorite, and precious metals like hammered gold, incorporated into the design. Since stone was rare it was reserved for sculpture. The most widespread material in Sumer was clay, as a result many Sumerian objects are made of clay. Metals such as gold, silver, copper, and bronze, along with shells and gemstones, were used for the finest sculpture and inlays. Small stones of all kinds, including more precious stones such as lapis lazuli, alabaster, and serpentine, were used for cylinder seals. Some of the most famous masterpieces are the Lyres of Ur, which are considered to be the world's oldest surviving stringed instruments. They have been discovered by Leonard Woolley when the Royal Cemetery of Ur has been excavated between from 1922 and 1934. Cylinder seal and modern impression- ritual scene before a temple facade MET DP270679.jpg, Cylinder seal and impression in which appears a ritual scene before a temple façade; 3500–3100 BC; bituminous limestone; height: 4.5 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) Raminathicket2.jpg, ''Ram in a Thicket''; 2600–2400 BC; gold, copper, shell, lapis lazuli and limestone; height: 45.7 cm; from the Royal Cemetery at Ur (Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq); British Museum (London) Denis Bourez - British Museum, London (8747049029) (2).jpg, ''Standard of Ur''; 2600–2400 BC; shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli on wood; length: 49.5 cm; from the Royal Cemetery at Ur; British Museum Bull's head ornament for a lyre MET DP260070.jpg, Bull's head ornament from a lyre; 2600–2350 BC; bronze inlaid with shell and lapis lazuli; height: 13.3 cm, width: 10.5 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art


Architecture

The Tigris-Euphrates plain lacked minerals and trees. Sumerian structures were made of plano-convex mudbrick, not fixed with Mortar (masonry), mortar or cement. Mud-brick buildings eventually deteriorate, so they were periodically destroyed, leveled, and rebuilt on the same spot. This constant rebuilding gradually raised the level of cities, which thus came to be elevated above the surrounding plain. The resultant hills, known as Tell (archaeology), tells, are found throughout the ancient Near East. According to Archibald Sayce, the primitive pictograms of the early Sumerian (i.e. Uruk) era suggest that "Stone was scarce, but was already cut into blocks and seals. Brick was the ordinary building material, and with it cities, forts, temples and houses were constructed. The city was provided with towers and stood on an artificial platform; the house also had a tower-like appearance. It was provided with a door which turned on a hinge, and could be opened with a sort of key; the city gate was on a larger scale, and seems to have been double. The foundation stones—or rather bricks—of a house were consecrated by certain objects that were deposited under them." The most impressive and famous of Sumerian buildings are the ziggurats, large layered platforms that supported temples. Sumerian cylinder seals also depict houses built from reeds not unlike those built by the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq until as recently as 400 CE. The Sumerians also developed the arch, which enabled them to develop a strong type of dome. They built this by constructing and linking several arches. Sumerian temples and palaces made use of more advanced materials and techniques, such as buttresses, Alcove (architecture), recesses, half columns, and clay nails.


Mathematics

The Sumerians developed a complex system of metrology c. 4000 BC. This advanced metrology resulted in the creation of arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. From c. 2600 BC onwards, the Sumerians wrote multiplication tables on clay tablets and dealt with geometrical exercises and Division (mathematics), division problems. The earliest traces of the Babylonian numerals also date back to this period. The period c. 2700–2300 BC saw the first appearance of the abacus, and a table of successive columns which delimited the successive orders of magnitude of their sexagesimal number system. The Sumerians were the first to use a place value numeral system. There is also anecdotal evidence the Sumerians may have used a type of slide rule in astronomical calculations. They were the first to find the area of a triangle and the volume of a cube.


Economy and trade

Discoveries of obsidian from far-away locations in Anatolia and lapis lazuli from Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan, beads from Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and several seals inscribed with the Indus Valley civilization, Indus Valley Indus script, script suggest a remarkably wide-ranging network of ancient trade centered on the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
. For example, Imports to Ur came from many parts of the world. In particular, the metals of all types had to be imported. The ''Epic of Gilgamesh'' refers to trade with far lands for goods, such as wood, that were scarce in Mesopotamia. In particular, Cedrus libani, cedar from Lebanon was prized. The finding of resin in the tomb of Queen Puabi at Ur, indicates it was traded from as far away as Mozambique. The Sumerians used slaves, although they were not a major part of the economy. Slave women worked as weaving, weavers, pressers, millers, and porter (carrying), porters. Sumerian potters decorated pots with cedar oil paints. The potters used a bow drill to produce the fire needed for baking the pottery. Sumerian masonry, masons and jewelry, jewelers knew and made use of alabaster (calcite), ivory, iron, gold, silver, carnelian, and lapis lazuli.


Trade with the Indus valley

Evidence for imports from the Indus to Ur can be found from around 2350 BC. Various objects made with shell species that are characteristic of the Indus coast, particularly ''Trubinella Pyrum'' and ''Fasciolaria Trapezium'', have been found in the archaeological sites of Mesopotamia dating from around 2500–2000 BC. Carnelian beads from the Indus were found in the Sumerian tombs of Ur, the Royal Cemetery at Ur, dating to 2600–2450. In particular, carnelian beads with an etched design in white were probably imported from the Indus Valley, and made according to a technique of acid-etching developed by the Harappans. Lapis lazuli was imported in great quantity by Egypt, and already used in many tombs of the Naqada II period (c. 3200 BC). Lapis lazuli probably originated in northern Afghanistan, as no other sources are known, and had to be transported across the Iranian plateau to Mesopotamia, and then Egypt. Several Indus seals with Harappan script have also been found in Mesopotamia, particularly in Ur, Babylon and Kish. Gudea, the ruler of the Neo-Summerian Empire at Lagash, is recorded as having imported "translucent carnelian" from Meluhha, generally thought to be the Indus Valley area. Various inscriptions also mention the presence of Meluhha traders and interpreters in Mesopotamia. About twenty seals have been found from the Akkadian and Ur III sites, that have connections with Harappa and often use Harappan symbols or writing. The Indus Valley Civilization only flourished in its most developed form between 2400 and 1800 BC, but at the time of these exchanges, it was a much larger entity than the Mesopotamian civilization, covering an area of 1.2 million square meters with thousands of settlements, compared to an area of only about 65.000 square meters for the occupied area of Mesopotamia, while the largest cities were comparable in size at about 30–40,000 inhabitants.


Money and credit

Large institutions kept their accounts in barley and silver, often with a fixed rate between them. The obligations, loans and prices in general were usually denominated in one of them. Many transactions involved debt, for example goods consigned to merchants by temple and beer advanced by "ale women". Commercial credit and agricultural consumer loans were the main types of loans. The trade credit was usually extended by temples in order to finance trade expeditions and was nominated in silver. The interest rate was set at 1/60 a month (one shekel per mina (unit), mina) some time before 2000 BC and it remained at that level for about two thousand years. Rural loans commonly arose as a result of unpaid obligations due to an institution (such as a temple), in this case the arrears were considered to be lent to the debtor. They were denominated in barley or other crops and the interest rate was typically much higher than for commercial loans and could amount to 1/3 to 1/2 of the loan principal. Periodically, rulers signed "clean slate" decrees that cancelled all the rural (but not commercial) debt and allowed bondservants to return to their homes. Customarily, rulers did it at the beginning of the first full year of their reign, but they could also be proclaimed at times of military conflict or crop failure. The first known ones were made by Enmetena and Urukagina of Lagash in 2400–2350 BC. According to Hudson, the purpose of these decrees was to prevent debts mounting to a degree that they threatened the fighting force, which could happen if peasants lost their subsistence land or became bondservants due to inability to repay their debt.


Military

The almost constant wars among the Sumerian city-states for 2000 years helped to develop the military technology and techniques of Sumer to a high level. The first war recorded in any detail was between Lagash and Umma in c. 2450 BC on a stele called the Stele of the Vultures. It shows the king of Lagash leading a Sumerian army consisting mostly of infantry. The infantry carried spears, wore copper helmets, and carried rectangular shields. The spearmen are shown arranged in what resembles the phalanx formation, which requires training and discipline; this implies that the Sumerians may have made use of professional soldiers.Winter, Irene J. (1985). "After the Battle is Over: The 'Stele of the Vultures' and the Beginning of Historical Narrative in the Art of the Ancient Near East". In Kessler, Herbert L.; Simpson, Marianna Shreve. Pictorial Narrative in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Symposium Series IV 16. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art. pp. 11–32. The Sumerian military used carts harnessed to onagers. These early chariots functioned less effectively in combat than did later designs, and some have suggested that these chariots served primarily as transports, though the crew carried battle-axes and lances. The Sumerian chariot comprised a four or two-wheeled device manned by a crew of two and harnessed to four onagers. The cart was composed of a basket, woven basket and the wheels had a solid three-piece design. Sumerian cities were surrounded by defensive walls. The Sumerians engaged in siege warfare between their cities, but the mudbrick walls were able to deter some foes.


Technology

Examples of Sumerian technology include: the wheel, cuneiform script, arithmetic and geometry, irrigation systems, Sumerian boats, lunisolar calendar, bronze, leather, saws, chisels, hammers, brace (tool), braces, Bit (horse), bits, nail (engineering), nails, pins, jewelry ring, rings, hoe (tool), hoes, axes, knife, knives, lancepoints, arrow (weapon), arrowheads, swords, adhesive, glue, daggers, waterskins, bags, horse harness, harnesses, armor, quivers, war chariots, scabbards, boots, sandal (footwear), sandals, harpoons and beer. The Sumerians had three main types of boats: * clinker-built sailboats stitched together with hair, featuring bitumen waterproofing * skin boats constructed from animal skins and reeds * wooden-oared ships, sometimes pulled upstream by people and animals walking along the nearby banks


Legacy

Evidence of wheeled vehicles appeared in the mid-4th millennium BC, near-simultaneously in Mesopotamia, the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe. The wheel initially took the form of the potter's wheel. The new concept led to wheeled vehicles and mill wheels. The Sumerians' cuneiform script is the oldest (or second oldest after the Egyptian hieroglyphs) which has been deciphered (the status of even older inscriptions such as the Jiahu symbols and Tărtăria tablets, Tartaria tablets is controversial). The Sumerians were among the first astronomers, mapping the stars into sets of constellations, many of which survived in the zodiac and were also recognized by the ancient Greeks. They were also aware of the classical planet, five planets that are easily visible to the naked eye. They invented and developed arithmetic by using several different number systems including a mixed radix system with an alternating base 10 and base 6. This sexagesimal system became the standard number system in Sumer and Babylonia. They may have invented military formations and introduced the basic divisions between infantry, cavalry, and archers. They developed the first known codified legal and administrative systems, complete with courts, jails, and government records. The first true city-states arose in Sumer, roughly contemporaneously with similar entities in what are now Syria and Lebanon. Several centuries after the invention of cuneiform, the use of writing expanded beyond debt/payment certificates and inventory lists to be applied for the first time, about 2600 BC, to messages and mail delivery, history, legend, mathematics, astronomical records, and other pursuits. Conjointly with the spread of writing, the first formal schools were established, usually under the auspices of a city-state's primary temple.


See also

* History of Iraq * History of writing numbers * Ancient Mesopotamian units of measurement * Ancient Mesopotamian religion * Indus-Mesopotamia relations


Notes


References


Further reading

* Ascalone, Enrico. 2007. ''Mesopotamia: Assyrians, Sumerians, Babylonians (Dictionaries of Civilizations; 1)''. Berkeley: University of California Press. (paperback). * Bottéro, Jean, André Finet, Bertrand Lafont, and George Roux. 2001. ''Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia''. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. * Crawford, Harriet E. W. 2004. ''Sumer and the Sumerians''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Leick, Gwendolyn. 2002. ''Mesopotamia: Invention of the City''. London and New York: Penguin. * Lloyd, Seton. 1978. ''The Archaeology of Mesopotamia: From the Old Stone Age to the Persian Conquest''. London: Thames and Hudson. * Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea. 1998. ''Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia''. London and Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. * * Roux, Georges. 1992. ''Ancient Iraq'', 560 pages. London: Penguin (earlier printings may have different pagination: 1966, 480 pages, Pelican; 1964, 431 pages, London: Allen and Urwin). * Schomp, Virginia. ''Ancient Mesopotamia: The Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians''. * ''Sumer: Cities of Eden (Timelife Lost Civilizations)''. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1993 (hardcover, ). * Leonard Woolley, Woolley, C. Leonard. 1929.
The Sumerians
'. Oxford: Clarendon Press.


External links



* [http://www.penn.museum/sites/iraq/ Iraq’s Ancient Past] – University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Penn Museum
A brief introduction to Sumerian history.
;Geography * The History Files

;Language
Sumerian Language Page
perhaps the oldest Sumerian website on the web (it dates back to 1996), features compiled lexicon, detailed FAQ, extensive links, and so on.
ETCSL: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
has complete translations of more than 400 Sumerian literary texts.
PSD: ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''
while still in its initial stages, can be searched on-line, from August 2004.
CDLI: Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative
a large corpus of Sumerian texts in transliteration, largely from the Early Dynastic and Ur III periods, accessible with images. {{Authority control Sumer, States and territories established in the 4th millennium BC States and territories established in the 3rd millennium BC States and territories disestablished in the 20th century BC Civilizations Lists of coordinates Archaeology of Iraq Levant Populated places established in the 6th millennium BC 6th-millennium BC establishments