Sumerian Language

Topics: Mesopotamia, Sumerian language, Sumer Pages: 3 (976 words) Published: April 23, 2013
Sumerians Contribution
Have you ever thought of where math, writing, and governments were invented? The Sumerians invented math, science, writing, and astronomy. The Sumerians were the first civilization on earth. Around 4,000 B.C.E the people called Sumerians moved into Mesopotamia, located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East. The Sumerians built massive city walls, Ziggurats (similar to pyramids but used for worshipping), canals, etc. Many people don’t know about how greatly the Sumerians have contributed to our society. Looking at math, writing, and governments we will see how the Sumerians have influenced today’s society.

First of all, Sumerians were the first to invent math. The Sumerians used a “sexagesimal system,” which basically means that everything based on the number 60 (Krupp). The mathematician Duncan J. Melville from St. Lawrence University said that “the system is striking for its originality and simplicity.” The reasons why the Sumerians picked 60 as their base remains unknown; however, the idea was developed from an earlier,

“More complex system known from 3200 B.C. in which the positions in a number alternated between 6 and 10 as bases. For a system that might seem even more deranged, if it weren’t so familiar, consider this way of measuring length with four entirely different bases: 12 little units, called inches, make a foot, 3 feet make a yard, and 1,760 yards make a mile.

Over a thousand years, the Sumerian alternating-base method was simplified into the sexagesimal system, with the same symbol standing for 1 or 60 or 3,600, depending on its place in the number, […] just as 1 in the decimal system denotes 1, 10 or 100, depending on its place” (Wade). Then later on Babylonians adopted the system and used it to calculate time: the “1:12:33” on a computer clock means 1 (x 60 squared) seconds + 12 (x 60) seconds + 33 seconds, which we still use today. This is the reason why modern day civilization measures an...

Citations: "Ancient Mesopotamia: The Invention of Writing." The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. N.p.. Web. 13 Dec 2012. <>.
"Government." The World History Hall of Fame. N.p.. Web. 13 Dec 2012. <>.
Krupp, E.C. "Going Like Sixty." Sky & Telescope. 2007: n. page. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. <
Wade, Nicholas. "An Exhibition That Gets to the (Square) Root of Sumerian Math." New York Times. 22 2010: n. page. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. <>.
Whipps, Heather. "How Writing Changed the World."LiveScience. 10 2008: n. page. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. <>.
Figure 1: Sumerian Tablets With Semi-Pictographic Writing
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