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Ancient Mesopotamia: The Sumerians
Terms in this set (14)
are thought to have formed the first human civilization in world history. They lived in Southern Mesopotamia between the Tigris river and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East
Cradle of civilization
historians think that cities and towns were first formed in Sumer around 5000BC. Nomads moved into the fertile land and began to form small villages which slowly grew into large towns. Eventually these cities developed into the civilizations of the Sumer. This land is often called the Cradle of Civilization.
Sumer city states
As the Sumerian villages grew into large cities, they formed city-states. This is where a city government would rule the city as well as the land around it. These city states often fought each other. They built walls around their cities for protection. Farm land was outside the walls, but people will retreat to the city when invaders came.
There were many city states trough Sumer
Some of the most powerful city states included Eridu, Bad-tibura, Shuruppak, Uruk, Sippar, and Ur. Eridu is thought to be the first of the major cities formed and one of the oldest cities in the world.
Sumerians Rulers and Government
Each city had its own ruler. They went by various titles such as lugal, en, or ensi. The ruler was like a governor. The ruler of the city was often a high priest of their religion as well. The most famous king was Gilgamesh of Uruk who was the subject of the Epic Gilgamesh, one of the worlds oldest surviving works of literature. Also there was a fairly complex government. There were also laws that the citizens must follow or face punishment
Each city state also had its own god. In the center of each city was a large temple to the city god called a ziggurat. It looked like a step pyramid with a flat top. Here the priests would perform rituals and sacrifices.
Inventions and Technology
one of the greatest contributions to the civilizations from the Sumerians was their many inventions. They invented the first form of writing, a number system, the first wheeled vehicles, sun dried bricks and irrigation for farming. They also had interest in science including astronomy and the movement of the moon and the stars. They used this information to make a more accurate calendar
Fun Facts about the Sumerians
1. Their number system was based on the #60, they came up with 60 minutes
2. Some historians think that the ziggurat at the city of Eridu was the Tower of Babel from the Bible
3. Some of the city states were quite large, Ur was thought to be the largest and may have the population of 65,000 people at its peak
4. Their buildings and homes were made from sun dried bricks
5. The Sumerian language was eventually replaced by the Akkadian language around 2500BC
Large Structure in the center of every major city. It was built to honor the main god of the city. The tradition of building ziggurats was started by the Mesopotamians, but other civilizations of Mesopotamia like the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians also built ziggurats.
What ziggurats look like
looked like step pyramids. They would have anywhere from 2 to 7 levels or steps. Each level would be smaller than the one before. Typically the ziggurat would be square in the shape at the base.
the Sumerians developed the first form of writing. As the towns grew into cities, the people needed a way to keep track of business transactions, ownership rights and government records. Around 3300BC the Sumerians began to use picture symbols marked into clay tablets to keep their records.
writing was inscribed on clay tablets using a stylus
The initial writing of the Sumerians utilized simple picture or pictograms. Later they included sounds and meanings. Cuneiform means wedge shaped
Translating the Sumerian language is difficult. It contains over 700 different symbols, and the symbols meaning and shapes could change between different cities and regions and over time.
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