1. An ancient region in southern Mesopotamia (now southeastern Iraq), was the birthplace of the world’s first civilization. 2. Scholars do not know where these people orginially came from. 3. This civilization began about 3500 B.C. and flourished until about 2000 B.C. 4. Several Sumerian cities grew into independent city-state. 5. It was later absorbed by the great empires of Babylonia and Assyria. B. Property
6. People had inhabited the Sumer region since the 5000’s B.C. 7. The more powerful city states conquered their neighbors and became small kingdoms, including Kish, Lagash, Umma, Ur, and Uruk. 8. Sometime during the 2300’s B.C, Uruk controlled all of Sumer for a brief time until Sargon of Akkad conquered Sumer. 9. Shortly before 2100 B.C, Ur won control first of Sumer and then of nearby Assyria and Elam. 10. But Semites, who may have come from the Arabian Peninsula, ruled Sumer for most of the period from 2300 to 539 B.C, when the Persians conquered the region. 11. The Semites spoke Semitic spoke Semitic languages related to Arabic and Hebrew, but they absorbed most of the traditions of Sumerian civilization. II. Economy
C. Basis for livelihood
1. The Sumerian civilization developed in the fertile plain formed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 2. The Sumerians built cities that had magnificent palaces and temples. 3. The Sumerians built walls around their cities for protection against invaders. 4. Most Sumerians made their living by growing crops or raising livestock. 5. Sumer’s dry climate prompted the Sumerians to construct canals to irrigate their fields. 6. The major crops were barley, wheat, dates, and vegetables. 7. Sumerians also raised cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. 8. Wool from the sheep was used to make textiles, the main export of the area. 9. Sumerians were accomplished craft workers and traders. 10. Many were skilled in metalwork or stonework even though nearly all stone and metal had to be imported. 11. Textile workers wove fine cloth.
12. Other craft workers made jewelry, pottery, armor, and weapons. 13. Traders carried their goods to nearby regions by land and by boat. 14. Sumerian ships sails to lands bordering the Persian Gulf to obtain ivory and other luxury items. 15. They made the cuneiform symbols by pressing a tool with a wedge-shaped tip into wet clay tablets. 16. The tablets were then dried in the sun.
17. Hundred of thousands of these tablets have survived.
18. They provide information about Sumerian politics, literature, economy, law, and religion. 19. They also indicate that they had knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. 20. They founded some of the earliest schools, mainly to train scribes. Scribes kept records for government offices, temples, and other institutions. III. Signs of Civilization
D. Power and Politics
12. Common Sumerians remained illiterate and without power, while kings once elected by common people, became monarchs. 13. The monarchs were viewed as agents of and responsible to the gods. 14. It was the religious duty of their subjects to accept their rule as a part of the plan of the gods. 15. Governments drafted common people to work on community projects, and common people were obliged to pay taxes to the government in the form of a percentage of their crops, which the city could either sell or use to feed its soldiers and others it supported. E. Men Dominate Women
16. Physically stronger than women, men could rule women by brute force, and in societies where men were the warriors it was they who got together and made decisions for their society. 17. Presumably before the time of Sumerians, kings were chosen by the...