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Ancient Civilizations: Sumerian

Updated on October 15, 2012

One of the oldest recorded civilizations on record is the Ancient Sumerian Civilization. They were located in the cradle of civilization of what is Iraq today. Along the river, Euphrates is a very fertile location that was perfect for human settlement. It is estimated that this area was settled around the year 4000 B.C; however, the exact date of the first settlement built is still an ongoing debate among archeologist. The most interesting things about the Sumerians are they seem to come out of nowhere. There is still the mystery of where they came. Most likely the reason they settled here was because of the fertile land and the peaceful neighbors at the time.

Was Sumer the First Civilization?

Main stream archeology will contend that the true spawn of civilization started with the Sumerian settlement in the Middle East. However, there is additional evidence that the land found along the two major rivers in that region is no longer the true location of modern man. There are other areas that date back much farther up to 8000 years. Whole 4000 years, before the Sumerians ever settled in that area. These areas can be found in central turkey and in central Africa. The most famous is with the people of Cata Hoyuk. These people were settled and build homes that were similar in design to today’s modern wood home with a rectangle design and doors and windows.

The first people to conquer the land of Sumer were nomads that made their living by hunting, gathering and raising livestock. What truly set them apart from other ancient civilizations is their advanced astronomy, architecture, lifestyle, and culture.

Sumerians Invented Writing

Some of the first known writings in the world were carved on clay tablets found among the Sumerians. They are currently the oldest civilization on record that has an established writing system. These tablets were first found to have what have become known as pictorials or hieroglyphics in the writing. They eventually went into the process of creating symbols that had specific meaning in sounds. They did not have a suitable paper back then so most of the writings were printed on Soft clay tablets.

In many of the discoveries made by archeologist digging in Sumerian, there is evidence of these writings also found on other structures. Some of them are giant monuments, statues, tablets, buildings and other areas. They write prayers, songs, letters, and history of their culture and people.

Sumer Buildings and Achievements

The Sumerians were the first civilization to establish regular, organized cities. They became advanced in astrology, mathematics, engineering and even metallurgy. Much of the advancements came while they were at war with neighboring tribes. This resulted in an abundance of achievements that included new roads and trade routes with other settlements.

One of the largest and still standing structures from Sumerian times is the Ziggurat Temples. They are a testament to the ingenuity and advancement of the Sumerian culture and people. The Temples they built were made as small steppe pyramids that gave the priest and religion a chance to be closer to the gods. They were also used as safe houses when the rivers flooded to keep people in a safe location. Other unusual building unearthed can still be seen today giving additional credit to the Sumerians.


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