Subject: Social StudiesDate: May ……… 2012
Sumeria: First in Many Things
Ancient Sumeria was advanced beyond belief. Their achievements in agriculture, literature, business, and science are unparalleled in that time period. Unfortunately for them (and for us), their achievements in military matters left a little to be desired. First of all, the Sumerians recognized the need to trap excess water. Rainfall at times was scarce and other times too abundant. Sumerian cities were close to waterways of some sort, be they rivers or seas. The Sumerians built canals from these waterways to the cities. A natural extension of this idea was to build a reservoir to maintain a water supply. This was the advent of irrigation. Secondly, the Sumerians invented the library. Other civilizations at the time were writing a little bit. But it was the Sumerians who were writing almost prolifically, about their religion and their laws and their business practices and their daily lives. They also recognized the need to maintain records of these theories and events. They stored their writings in what we would recognize as a book depository or, more simply, a library. Businessmen in Sumeria were concerned with maintaining their incomes and their standing. They didn't want to get cheated or taken advantage of. They came up with the idea of the written contract. Both sides of a transaction would agree to terms, and they would both write down those terms and then sign the contract. If either party tried to pull a fast one, the other party could point to the written contract as evidence of being wronged. (It probably goes without saying that some of these contracts were stored in libraries.) These businessmen also invented the idea of credit. The idea that you could pay only part of what you owed was probably not all that attractive to the seller, but Sumerian laws protected the...