Sumer (/ˈsuːmər/)[note 1] is the earliest known civilization in the
historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq,
Chalcolithic and Early
Bronze ages, and arguably the first
civilization in the world with
Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley.
Living along the valleys of the
Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers
were able to grow an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus
of which enabled them to settle in one place.
Proto-writing in the
prehistory dates back to c. 3000 BC. The earliest texts come from the
Jemdet Nasr and date back to 3300 BC; early
cuneiform script writing emerged in 3000 BC.
Modern historians have suggested that
Sumer was first permanently
settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a West Asian people who spoke
Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic
occupations, etc., as evidence), an agglutinative language
isolate. These conjectured, prehistoric people are now
called "proto-Euphrateans" or "Ubaidians", and are theorized to
have evolved from the
Samarra culture of northern
Mesopotamia. The Ubaidians (though never mentioned by
the Sumerians themselves) are assumed by modern-day scholars to have
been the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for
agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including
weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.
Some scholars contest the idea of a
Proto-Euphratean language or one
substrate language; they think the
Sumerian language may originally
have been that of the hunting and fishing peoples who lived in the
marshland and the
Eastern Arabia littoral region and were part of the
Arabian bifacial culture. Reliable historical records begin much
later; there are none in
Sumer of any kind that have been dated before
Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC).
Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians
lived along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today's
Persian Gulf region,
before it was flooded at the end of the Ice Age.
Sumerian civilization took form in the
Uruk period (4th millennium
BC), continuing into the
Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic periods.
During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed
between the Sumerians, who spoke a language isolate, and
Akkadian-speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. The
influence of Sumerian on
Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all
areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic,
morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted
scholars to refer to Sumerian and
Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as
Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of
Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian
continued as a sacred language.
Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the Third
Dynasty of Ur at approximately 2100–2000 BC, but the Akkadian
language also remained in use. The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the
coast of the Persian Gulf, is considered to have been the world's
first city, where three separate cultures may have fused: that of
peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing
irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in
black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher
folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the
ancestors of the Sumerians.
1 Origin of name
2 City-states in Mesopotamia
3.1 Ubaid period
3.3 Early Dynastic Period
3.3.1 1st Dynasty of Lagash
3.5 Gutian period
3.5.1 2nd Dynasty of Lagash
Ur III period
3.7 Fall and transmission
5.1 Social and family life
5.2 Language and writing
5.3.3 Temple and temple organisation
5.3.4 Funerary practices
Agriculture and hunting
5.7 Economy and trade
5.7.1 Money and credit
7 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Origin of name
The term Sumerian is the common name given to the ancient
non-Semitic-speaking inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Sumer, by the East
Semitic-speaking Akkadians. The Sumerians referred to themselves as
ùĝ saĝ gíg ga (cuneiform: 𒌦 𒊕 𒈪 𒂵), phonetically /uŋ
saŋ gi ga/, literally meaning "the black-headed people", and to their
land as ki-en-gi(-r) (cuneiform: 𒆠𒂗𒄀) ('place' + 'lords' +
'noble'), meaning "place of the noble lords". The
Shumer may represent the geographical name in dialect, but the
phonological development leading to the
Akkadian term šumerû is
uncertain. Hebrew Shinar, Egyptian Sngr, and Hittite Šanhar(a),
all referring to southern Mesopotamia, could be western variants of
City-states in Mesopotamia
Further information: Cities of the Ancient
Near East and Geography of
In the late 4th millennium BC,
Sumer was divided into many independent
city-states, which were divided by canals and boundary stones. Each
was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or
goddess of the city and ruled over by a priestly governor (ensi) or by
a king (lugal) who was intimately tied to the city's religious rites.
The five "first" cities, said to have exercised pre-dynastic kingship
"before the flood":
Eridu (Tell Abu Shahrain)
Bad-tibira (probably Tell al-Madain)
Larsa (Tell as-Senkereh)
Sippar (Tell Abu Habbah)
Shuruppak (Tell Fara)
Other principal cities:
Kish (Tell Uheimir & Ingharra)
Ur (Tell al-Muqayyar)
Lagash (Tell al-Hiba)
Girsu (Tello or Telloh)
Umma (Tell Jokha)
Adab (Tell Bismaya)
Mari (Tell Hariri) 2
Isin (Ishan al-Bahriyat)
(2an outlying city in northern Mesopotamia)
Minor cities (from south to north):
Kuara (Tell al-Lahm)
Zabala (Tell Ibzeikh)
Kisurra (Tell Abu Hatab)
Marad (Tell Wannat es-Sadum)
Dilbat (Tell ed-Duleim)
Borsippa (Birs Nimrud)
Kutha (Tell Ibrahim)
Eshnunna (Tell Asmar)
Nagar (Tell Brak) 2
(2an outlying city in northern Mesopotamia)
Apart from Mari, which lies full 330 kilometres (205 miles) north-west
of Agade, but which is credited in the king list as having
“exercised kingship” in the Early Dynastic II period, and Nagar,
an outpost, these cities are all in the Euphrates-
plain, south of
Baghdad in what are now the Bābil, Diyala, Wāsit,
Dhi Qar, Basra, Al-Muthannā and Al-Qādisiyyah governorates of Iraq.
Main article: History of Sumer
Tell Asmar votive sculpture, 2750–2600 BC
The Sumerian city-states rose to power during the prehistoric Ubaid
Uruk periods. Sumerian written history reaches back to the 27th
century BC and before, but the historical record remains obscure until
the Early Dynastic III period, c. the 23rd century BC, when a now
deciphered syllabary writing system was developed, which has allowed
archaeologists to read contemporary records and inscriptions.
Sumer ends with the rise of the
Akkadian Empire in the 23rd
century BC. Following the Gutian period, there was a brief Sumerian
Renaissance in the 21st century BC, cut short in the 20th century BC
by invasions by the Amorites. The
Amorite "dynasty of Isin" persisted
until c. 1700 BC, when
Mesopotamia was united under Babylonian rule.
The Sumerians were eventually absorbed into the Akkadian
(Assyro-Babylonian) population.
Ubaid period: 6500–4100 BC (
Neolithic to Chalcolithic)
Uruk period: 4100–2900 BC (Late
Chalcolithic to Early
Bronze Age I)
Uruk XIV-V: 4100–3300 BC
Uruk IV period: 3300–3100 BC
Jemdet Nasr period (
Uruk III): 3100–2900 BC
Early Dynastic period (Early
Bronze Age II-IV)
Early Dynastic I period: 2900–2800 BC
Early Dynastic II period: 2800–2600 BC (Gilgamesh)
Early Dynastic IIIa period: 2600–2500 BC
Early Dynastic IIIb period: c. 2500–2334 BC
Akkadian Empire period: c. 2334–2218 BC (Sargon)
Gutian period: c. 2218–2047 BC (Early
Bronze Age IV)
Ur III period: c. 2047–1940 BC
Samarra bowl, at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin. The swastika in the
center of the design is a reconstruction.
Main article: Ubaid period
Ubaid period is marked by a distinctive style of fine quality
painted pottery which spread throughout
Mesopotamia and the Persian
Gulf. During this time, the first settlement in southern Mesopotamia
was established at
Eridu (Cuneiform: nun.ki 𒉣𒆠), c. 6500 BC, by
farmers who brought with them the
Hadji Muhammed culture, which first
pioneered irrigation agriculture. It appears that this culture was
derived from the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia. It is not
known whether or not these were the actual Sumerians who are
identified with the later
Uruk culture. The rise of the city of Uruk
may be reflected in the story of the passing of the gifts of
civilization (me) to Inanna, goddess of
Uruk and of love and war, by
Enki, god of wisdom and chief god of Eridu, may reflect the transition
Eridu to Uruk.:174
The archaeological transition from the
Ubaid period to the
is marked by a gradual shift from painted pottery domestically
produced on a slow wheel to a great variety of unpainted pottery
mass-produced by specialists on fast wheels. The
Uruk period is a
continuation and an outgrowth of Ubaid with pottery being the main
By the time of the
Uruk period (c. 4100–2900 BC calibrated), the
volume of trade goods transported along the canals and rivers of
Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large, stratified,
temple-centered cities (with populations of over 10,000 people) where
centralized administrations employed specialized workers. It is fairly
certain that it was during the
Uruk period that Sumerian cities began
to make use of slave labor captured from the hill country, and there
is ample evidence for captured slaves as workers in the earliest
texts. Artifacts, and even colonies of this
Uruk civilization have
been found over a wide area—from the
Taurus Mountains in Turkey, to
Mediterranean Sea in the west, and as far east as central
Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and
colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all
surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable,
competing economies and cultures. The cities of
Sumer could not
maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force.
Sumerian cities during the
Uruk period were probably theocratic and
were most likely headed by a priest-king (ensi), assisted by a council
of elders, including both men and women. It is quite possible that
the later Sumerian pantheon was modeled upon this political structure.
There was little evidence of organized warfare or professional
soldiers during the
Uruk period, and towns were generally unwalled.
During this period
Uruk became the most urbanized city in the world,
surpassing for the first time 50,000 inhabitants.
History of Sumer • Mythology • King list
Alulim • Dumuzid, the Shepherd • En-men-dur-ana
1st Dynasty of Kish:
Etana • En-me-barage-si • Aga of Kish
1st Dynasty of Uruk:
Enmerkar • Lugalbanda • Gilgamesh
1st Dynasty of Ur:
Meskalamdug • Mesh-Ane-pada • Puabi • Mesilim
2nd Dynasty of Uruk:
1st Dynasty of Lagash:
Ur-Nanshe • Eannatum • Entemena • Urukagina
Dynasty of Adab:
3rd Dynasty of Kish:
3rd Dynasty of Uruk:
Dynasty of Akkad:
Sargon • Tashlultum • En-hedu-ana •
Man-ishtishu • Naram-Sin of Akkad •
Shar-kali-sharri • Dudu of Akkad • Shu-Durul
2nd Dynasty of Lagash:
Puzer-Mama • Gudea
5th Dynasty of Uruk:
3rd dynasty of Ur:
Ur-Namma • Shulgi • Amar-Suena •
Shu-Suen • Ibbi-Suen
Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list includes the early dynasties of several
prominent cities from this period. The first set of names on the list
is of kings said to have reigned before a major flood occurred. These
early names may be fictional, and include some legendary and
mythological figures, such as
Alulim and Dumizid.
The end of the
Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry
period from c. 3200 – 2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter,
warmer climate period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, called the
Holocene climatic optimum.
Early Dynastic Period
Main article: Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia)
The dynastic period begins c. 2900 BC and was associated with a shift
from the temple establishment headed by council of elders led by a
priestly "En" (a male figure when it was a temple for a goddess, or a
female figure when headed by a male god) towards a more secular
Lugal (Lu = man, Gal = great) and includes such legendary patriarchal
figures as Enmerkar,
Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh—who are supposed to
have reigned shortly before the historic record opens c. 2700 BC, when
the now deciphered syllabic writing started to develop from the early
pictograms. The center of Sumerian culture remained in southern
Mesopotamia, even though rulers soon began expanding into neighboring
areas, and neighboring Semitic groups adopted much of Sumerian culture
for their own.
The earliest dynastic king on the
Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list whose name is
known from any other legendary source is Etana, 13th king of the first
dynasty of Kish. The earliest king authenticated through
archaeological evidence is
Enmebaragesi of Kish (c. 26th century BC),
whose name is also mentioned in the
Gilgamesh epic—leading to the
Gilgamesh himself might have been a historical king of
Uruk. As the Epic of
Gilgamesh shows, this period was associated with
increased war. Cities became walled, and increased in size as
undefended villages in southern
Mesopotamia disappeared. (Both
Gilgamesh are credited with having built the walls of
1st Dynasty of Lagash
Fragment of Eannatum's Stele of the Vultures
Main article: Lagash
c. 2500–2270 BC
The dynasty of Lagash, though omitted from the king list, is well
attested through several important monuments and many archaeological
Although short-lived, one of the first empires known to history was
Eannatum of Lagash, who annexed practically all of Sumer,
including Kish, Uruk, Ur, and Larsa, and reduced to tribute the
city-state of Umma, arch-rival of Lagash. In addition, his realm
extended to parts of
Elam and along the Persian Gulf. He seems to have
used terror as a matter of policy. Eannatum's Stele of the
Vultures depicts vultures pecking at the severed heads and other body
parts of his enemies. His empire collapsed shortly after his death.
Later, Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy
Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his
capital, and claimed an empire extending from the
Persian Gulf to the
Mediterranean. He was the last ethnically Sumerian king before Sargon
c. 2270–2083 BC (short chronology)
The Eastern Semitic
Akkadian language is first attested in proper
names of the kings of Kish c. 2800 BC, preserved in later king
lists. There are texts written entirely in Old
Akkadian dating from c.
2500 BC. Use of Old
Akkadian was at its peak during the rule of Sargon
the Great (c. 2270–2215 BC), but even then most administrative
tablets continued to be written in Sumerian, the language used by the
scribes. Gelb and Westenholz differentiate three stages of Old
Akkadian: that of the pre-Sargonic era, that of the
and that of the "
Neo-Sumerian Renaissance" that followed it. Akkadian
and Sumerian coexisted as vernacular languages for about one thousand
years, but by around 1800 BC, Sumerian was becoming more of a literary
language familiar mainly only to scholars and scribes. Thorkild
Jacobsen has argued that there is little break in historical
continuity between the pre- and post-Sargon periods, and that too much
emphasis has been placed on the perception of a "Semitic vs. Sumerian"
conflict. However, it is certain that
Akkadian was also briefly
imposed on neighboring parts of
Elam that were previously conquered,
Main article: Gutian dynasty of Sumer
c. 2083–2050 BC (short chronology)
2nd Dynasty of Lagash
Gudea of Lagash
Main article: Lagash
c. 2093–2046 BC (short chronology)
Following the downfall of the
Akkadian Empire at the hands of Gutians,
another native Sumerian ruler,
Gudea of Lagash, rose to local
prominence and continued the practices of the Sargonid kings' claims
to divinity. The previous
Gudea and his descendants
also promoted artistic development and left a large number of
Ur III period
Ziggurat of Ur, near Nasiriyah, Iraq
Main article: Third Dynasty of Ur
c. 2047–1940 BC (short chronology)
Later, the 3rd dynasty of Ur under
Ur-Nammu and Shulgi, whose power
extended as far as southern Assyria, was the last great "Sumerian
renaissance", but already the region was becoming more Semitic than
Sumerian, with the resurgence of the
Akkadian speaking Semites in
Assyria and elsewhere, and the influx of waves of Semitic Martu
(Amorites) who were to found several competing local powers in the
south, including Isin, Larsa,
Eshnunna and some time later Babylonia.
The last of these eventually came to briefly dominate the south of
Mesopotamia as the Babylonian Empire, just as the Old Assyrian Empire
had already done so in the north from the late 21st century BC. The
Sumerian language continued as a sacerdotal language taught in schools
Babylonia and Assyria, much as
Latin was used in the Medieval
period, for as long as cuneiform was utilized.
Fall and transmission
This period is generally taken to coincide with a major shift in
population from southern
Mesopotamia toward the north. Ecologically,
the agricultural productivity of the Sumerian lands was being
compromised as a result of rising salinity.
Soil salinity in this
region had been long recognized as a major problem.
Poorly drained irrigated soils, in an arid climate with high levels of
evaporation, led to the buildup of dissolved salts in the soil,
eventually reducing agricultural yields severely. During the Akkadian
Ur III phases, there was a shift from the cultivation of wheat to
the more salt-tolerant barley, but this was insufficient, and during
the period from 2100 BC to 1700 BC, it is estimated that the
population in this area declined by nearly three fifths. This
greatly upset the balance of power within the region, weakening the
areas where Sumerian was spoken, and comparatively strengthening those
Akkadian was the major language. Henceforth, Sumerian would
remain only a literary and liturgical language, similar to the
position occupied by
Latin in medieval Europe.
Following an Elamite invasion and sack of Ur during the rule of
Ibbi-Sin (c. 1940 BC),
Sumer came under
(taken to introduce the Middle
Bronze Age). The independent Amorite
states of the 20th to 18th centuries are summarized as the "Dynasty of
Isin" in the Sumerian king list, ending with the rise of Babylonia
Hammurabi c. 1700 BC.
Later rulers who dominated
Babylonia occasionally assumed
the old Sargonic title "King of
Sumer and Akkad", such as
Tukulti-Ninurta I of
Assyria after c. 1225 BC.
The first farmers from
Samarra migrated to Sumer, and built shrines
and settlements at Eridu.
Uruk, one of Sumer's largest cities, has been estimated to have had a
population of 50,000-80,000 at its height; given the other cities
in Sumer, and the large agricultural population, a rough estimate for
Sumer's population might be 0.8 million to 1.5 million. The world
population at this time has been estimated at about 27 million.
The Sumerians spoke a language isolate, but a number of linguists have
claimed to be able to detect a substrate language of unknown
classification beneath Sumerian because names of some of Sumer's major
cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier
inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear
uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the early Ubaid
period (5300 – 4700 BC C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia.
The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region
that were made fertile by silt deposited by the
Tigris and the
Some archaeologists have speculated that the original speakers of
ancient Sumerian may have been farmers, who moved down from the north
Mesopotamia after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. The
Ubaid period pottery of southern
Mesopotamia has been connected via
Choga Mami transitional ware to the pottery of the
culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to
practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle
Tigris River and its tributaries. The connection is most clearly seen
at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French
in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling
Samarran ware. According to this theory, farming peoples spread down
Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered
social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water
control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult
Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous
hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the bifacial assemblages
found on the Arabian littoral.
Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may
have been the people living in the
Persian Gulf region before it
flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.
Social and family life
Upper part of a gypsum statue of a Sumerian woman with her hands
folded in worship dating to c. 2400 BC, currently held in the British
Museum in London
A reconstruction in the British Museum of headgear and necklaces worn
by the women in some Sumerian graves
In the early Sumerian period, the primitive pictograms suggest
Pottery was very plentiful, and the forms of the vases, bowls and
dishes were manifold; there were special jars for honey, butter, oil
and wine, which was probably made from dates. Some of the vases had
pointed feet, and stood on stands with crossed legs; others were
flat-bottomed, and were set on square or rectangular frames of wood.
The oil-jars, and probably others also, were sealed with clay,
precisely as in early Egypt. Vases and dishes of stone were made in
imitation of those of clay."
"A feathered head-dress was worn. Beds, stools and chairs were used,
with carved legs resembling those of an ox. There were fire-places and
"Knives, drills, wedges and an instrument that looks like a saw were
all known. While spears, bows, arrows, and daggers (but not swords)
were employed in war."
"Tablets were used for writing purposes. Daggers with metal blades and
wooden handles were worn, and copper was hammered into plates, while
necklaces or collars were made of gold."
"Time was reckoned in lunar months."
There is considerable evidence concerning Sumerian music.
flutes were played, among the best-known examples being the
Inscriptions describing the reforms of king
2300 BC) say that he abolished the former custom of polyandry in his
country, prescribing that a woman who took multiple husbands be stoned
with rocks upon which her crime had been written.
Sumerian culture was male-dominated and stratified. The Code of
Ur-Nammu, the oldest such codification yet discovered, dating to the
Ur III, reveals a glimpse at societal structure in late Sumerian law.
Beneath the lu-gal ("great man" or king), all members of society
belonged to one of two basic strata: The "lu" or free person, and the
slave (male, arad; female geme). The son of a lu was called a
dumu-nita until he married. A woman (munus) went from being a daughter
(dumu-mi), to a wife (dam), then if she outlived her husband, a widow
(numasu) and she could then remarry another man who was from the same
Marriages were usually arranged by the parents of the bride and
groom;:78 engagements were usually completed through the approval
of contracts recorded on clay tablets.:78 These marriages became
legal as soon as the groom delivered a bridal gift to his bride's
father.:78 One Sumerian proverb describes the ideal, happy
marriage through the mouth of a husband who boasts that his wife has
borne him eight sons and is still eager to have sex.
The Sumerians generally seem to have discouraged premarital sex,
but it was probably very commonly done in secret.:78 The
Sumerians, as well as the later Akkadians, had no concept of
virginity.:91–93 When describing a woman's sexual inexperience,
instead of calling her a "virgin", Sumerian texts describe which sex
acts she had not yet performed.:92 The Sumerians had no knowledge
of the existence of the hymen:92 and whether or not a prospective
bride had engaged in sexual intercourse was entirely determined by her
From the earliest records, the Sumerians had very relaxed attitudes
toward sex and their sexual mores were determined not by whether a
sexual act was deemed immoral, but rather by whether or not it made a
person ritually unclean. The Sumerians widely believed that
masturbation enhanced sexual potency, both for men and for women,
and they frequently engaged in it, both alone and with their
partners. The Sumerians did not regard anal sex as taboo
either. Entu priestesses were forbidden from producing
offspring and frequently engaged in anal sex as a method of
Prostitution existed but it is not clear if sacred prostitution
Language and writing
Sumerian language and Cuneiform
Early writing tablet recording the allocation of beer, 3100–3000 BC
The most important archaeological discoveries in
Sumer are a large
number of clay tablets written in cuneiform script. Sumerian writing
is considered to be a great milestone in the development of humanity's
ability to not only create historical records but also in creating
pieces of literature, both in the form of poetic epics and stories as
well as prayers and laws. Although pictures — that is, hieroglyphs
— were used first, cuneiform and then ideograms (where symbols were
made to represent ideas) soon followed. Triangular or wedge-shaped
reeds were used to write on moist clay. A large body of hundreds of
thousands of texts in the
Sumerian language have survived, such as
personal and business letters, receipts, lexical lists, laws, hymns,
prayers, stories, and daily records. Full libraries of clay tablets
have been found. Monumental inscriptions and texts on different
objects, like statues or bricks, are also very common. Many texts
survive in multiple copies because they were repeatedly transcribed by
scribes in training. Sumerian continued to be the language of religion
and law in
Mesopotamia long after Semitic speakers had become
A prime example of cuneiform writing would be a lengthy poem that was
discovered in the ruins of Uruk. The Epic of
Gilgamesh was written in
the standard Sumerian cuneiform. It tells of a king from the early
Dynastic II period named
Gilgamesh or "Bilgamesh" in Sumerian. The
story is based around the fictional adventures of
Gilgamesh and his
companion, Enkidu. It was laid out on several clay tablets and is
claimed to be the earliest example of a fictional, written piece of
literature discovered so far.
Sumerian language is generally regarded as a language isolate in
linguistics because it belongs to no known language family; Akkadian,
by contrast, belongs to the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic
languages. There have been many failed attempts to connect Sumerian to
other language families. It is an agglutinative language; in other
words, morphemes ("units of meaning") are added together to create
words, unlike analytic languages where morphemes are purely added
together to create sentences. Some authors have proposed that there
may be evidence of a substratum or adstratum language for geographic
features and various crafts and agricultural activities, called
Proto-Euphratean or Proto Tigrean, but this is disputed by
Understanding Sumerian texts today can be problematic. Most difficult
are the earliest texts, which in many cases do not give the full
grammatical structure of the language and seem to have been used as an
"aide-mémoire" for knowledgeable scribes.
During the 3rd millennium BC a cultural symbiosis developed between
the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread
bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian on
evident in all areas including lexical borrowing on a massive
scale—and syntactic, morphological, and phonological
convergence. This mutual influence has prompted scholars to refer
to Sumerian and
Akkadian of the 3rd millennium BC as a Sprachbund.
Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere
around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC, but Sumerian
continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary, and scientific
Assyria until the 1st century AD.
A 24th-century BC statue of a praying Sumerian man (modern day eastern
Main article: Sumerian religion
The Sumerians credited their divinities for all matters pertaining to
them and exhibited humility in the face of cosmic forces, such as
death and divine wrath.:3–4
Sumerian religion seems to have been founded upon two separate
cosmogenic myths. The first saw creation as the result of a series of
hieroi gamoi or sacred marriages, involving the reconciliation of
opposites, postulated as a coming together of male and female divine
beings; the gods. This continued to influence the whole Mesopotamian
mythos. Thus, in the later
Akkadian Enuma Elish, the creation was seen
as the union of fresh and salt water; as male Abzu, and female Tiamat.
The products of that union,
Lahm and Lahmu, "the muddy ones", were
titles given to the gate keepers of the E-
Abzu temple of Enki, in
Eridu, the first Sumerian city. Describing the way that muddy islands
emerge from the confluence of fresh and salty water at the mouth of
the Euphrates, where the river deposited its load of silt, a second
hieros gamos supposedly created Anshar and Kishar, the "sky-pivot" or
axle, and the "earth pivot", parents in turn of
Anu (the sky) and Ki
(the earth). Another important Sumerian hieros gamos was that between
Ki, here known as
Ninhursag or "Lady of the Mountains", and
Eridu, the god of fresh water which brought forth greenery and
At an early stage, following the dawn of recorded history, Nippur, in
central Mesopotamia, replaced
Eridu in the south as the primary temple
city, whose priests exercised political hegemony on the other
Nippur retained this status throughout the Sumerian
Akkadian cylinder seal from sometime around 2300 BC or thereabouts
depicting the deities Inanna, Utu, Enki, and Isimud.
Sumerians believed in an anthropomorphic polytheism, or the belief in
many gods in human form. There was no common set of gods; each
city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings.
Nonetheless, these were not exclusive; the gods of one city were often
acknowledged elsewhere. Sumerian speakers were among the earliest
people to record their beliefs in writing, and were a major
inspiration in later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology.
The Sumerians worshiped:
An as the full-time god equivalent to heaven; indeed, the word an in
Sumerian means sky and his consort Ki, means earth.
Enki in the south at the temple in Eridu.
Enki was the god of
beneficence and of wisdom, ruler of the freshwater depths beneath the
earth, a healer and friend to humanity who in Sumerian myth was
thought to have given humans the arts and sciences, the industries and
manners of civilization; the first law book was considered his
Enlil was the god of storm, wind, and rain.:108 He was the chief
god of the Sumerian pantheon:108:115–121 and the patron god
of Nippur.:231–234 His consort was Ninlil, the goddess of the
Inanna was the goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, prostitution, and
war;[page needed]:109 the deification of Venus, the
morning (eastern) and evening (western) star, at the temple (shared
with An) at Uruk. Deified kings may have re-enacted the marriage of
Inanna and Dumuzid with priestesses.:151, 157–158
Larsa in the south and
Sippar in the north,
The moon god Sin at Ur.
These deities formed a core pantheon; there were additionally hundreds
of minor ones. Sumerian gods could thus have associations with
different cities, and their religious importance often waxed and waned
with those cities' political power. The gods were said to have created
human beings from clay for the purpose of serving them. The temples
organized the mass labour projects needed for irrigation agriculture.
Citizens had a labor duty to the temple, though they could avoid it by
a payment of silver.
Sumerians believed that the universe consisted of a flat disk enclosed
by a dome. The Sumerian afterlife involved a descent into a gloomy
netherworld to spend eternity in a wretched existence as a Gidim
The universe was divided into four quarters:
To the north were the hill-dwelling Subartu, who were periodically
raided for slaves, timber, and other raw materials.
To the west were the tent-dwelling Martu, ancient Semitic-speaking
peoples living as pastoral nomads tending herds of sheep and goats.
To the south was the land of Dilmun, a trading state associated with
the land of the dead and the place of creation.
To the east were the Elamites, a rival people with whom the Sumerians
were frequently at war.
Their known world extended from The Upper Sea or Mediterranean
coastline, to The Lower Sea, the
Persian Gulf and the land of Meluhha
(probably the Indus Valley) and Magan (Oman), famed for its copper
Temple and temple organisation
Ziggurats (Sumerian temples) each had an individual name and consisted
of a forecourt, with a central pond for purification. The temple
itself had a central nave with aisles along either side. Flanking the
aisles would be rooms for the priests. At one end would stand the
podium and a mudbrick table for animal and vegetable sacrifices.
Granaries and storehouses were usually located near the temples. After
a time the Sumerians began to place the temples on top of
multi-layered square constructions built as a series of rising
terraces, giving rise to the
It was believed that when people died, they would be confined to a
gloomy world of Ereshkigal, whose realm was guarded by gateways with
various monsters designed to prevent people entering or leaving. The
dead were buried outside the city walls in graveyards where a small
mound covered the corpse, along with offerings to monsters and a small
amount of food. Those who could afford it sought burial at Dilmun.
Human sacrifice was found in the death pits at the Ur royal cemetery
Puabi was accompanied in death by her servants.
Agriculture and hunting
The Sumerians adopted an agricultural lifestyle perhaps as early as c.
5000 BC – 4500 BC. The region demonstrated a number of core
agricultural techniques, including organized irrigation, large-scale
intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping involving the use of
plough agriculture, and the use of an agricultural specialized labour
force under bureaucratic control. The necessity to manage temple
accounts with this organization led to the development of writing (c.
From the royal tombs of Ur, made of lapis lazuli and shell, shows
In the early Sumerian
Uruk period, the primitive pictograms suggest
that sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs were domesticated. They used oxen
as their primary beasts of burden and donkeys or equids as their
primary transport animal and "woollen clothing as well as rugs were
made from the wool or hair of the animals. ... By the side of the
house was an enclosed garden planted with trees and other plants;
wheat and probably other cereals were sown in the fields, and the
shaduf was already employed for the purpose of irrigation. Plants were
also grown in pots or vases."
An account of barley rations issued monthly to adults and children
written in cuneiform script on a clay tablet, written in year 4 of
King Urukagina, c. 2350 BC
The Sumerians were one of the first known beer drinking societies.
Cereals were plentiful and were the key ingredient in their early
brew. They brewed multiple kinds of beer consisting of wheat, barley,
and mixed grain beers.
Beer brewing was very important to the
Sumerians. It was referenced in the Epic of
introduced to the food and beer of Gilgamesh's people: "Drink the
beer, as is the custom of the land... He drank the beer-seven jugs!
and became expansive and sang with joy!"
The Sumerians practiced similar irrigation techniques as those used in
Egypt. American anthropologist
Robert McCormick Adams
Robert McCormick Adams says that
irrigation development was associated with urbanization, and that
89% of the population lived in the cities.
They grew barley, chickpeas, lentils, wheat, dates, onions, garlic,
lettuce, leeks and mustard. Sumerians caught many fish and hunted fowl
Sumerian agriculture depended heavily on irrigation. The irrigation
was accomplished by the use of shaduf, canals, channels, dykes, weirs,
and reservoirs. The frequent violent floods of the Tigris, and less
so, of the Euphrates, meant that canals required frequent repair and
continual removal of silt, and survey markers and boundary stones
needed to be continually replaced. The government required individuals
to work on the canals in a corvee, although the rich were able to
As is known from the "Sumerian Farmer's Almanac", after the flood
season and after the
Spring Equinox and the
Akitu or New Year
Festival, using the canals, farmers would flood their fields and then
drain the water. Next they made oxen stomp the ground and kill weeds.
They then dragged the fields with pickaxes. After drying, they plowed,
harrowed, and raked the ground three times, and pulverized it with a
mattock, before planting seed. Unfortunately, the high evaporation
rate resulted in a gradual increase in the salinity of the fields. By
Ur III period, farmers had switched from wheat to the more
salt-tolerant barley as their principal crop.
Sumerians harvested during the spring in three-person teams consisting
of a reaper, a binder, and a sheaf handler. The farmers would use
threshing wagons, driven by oxen, to separate the cereal heads from
the stalks and then use threshing sleds to disengage the grain. They
then winnowed the grain/chaff mixture.
Dedication Nail, ca. 2100 BC.
Main articles: Sumerian architecture, Ziggurat, and Mudhif
Euphrates plain lacked minerals and trees. Sumerian
structures were made of plano-convex mudbrick, not fixed with mortar
or cement. Mud-brick buildings eventually deteriorate, so they were
periodically destroyed, leveled, and rebuilt on the same spot. This
constant rebuilding gradually raised the level of cities, which thus
came to be elevated above the surrounding plain. The resultant hills,
known as tells, are found throughout the ancient Near East.
According to Archibald Sayce, the primitive pictograms of the early
Sumerian (i.e. Uruk) era suggest that "Stone was scarce, but was
already cut into blocks and seals. Brick was the ordinary building
material, and with it cities, forts, temples and houses were
constructed. The city was provided with towers and stood on an
artificial platform; the house also had a tower-like appearance. It
was provided with a door which turned on a hinge, and could be opened
with a sort of key; the city gate was on a larger scale, and seems to
have been double. The foundation stones — or rather bricks — of a
house were consecrated by certain objects that were deposited under
The most impressive and famous of Sumerian buildings are the
ziggurats, large layered platforms that supported temples. Sumerian
cylinder seals also depict houses built from reeds not unlike those
built by the
Marsh Arabs of
Southern Iraq until as recently as 400 CE.
The Sumerians also developed the arch, which enabled them to develop a
strong type of dome. They built this by constructing and linking
several arches. Sumerian temples and palaces made use of more advanced
materials and techniques, such as buttresses,
recesses, half columns, and clay nails.
Main article: Babylonian mathematics
The Sumerians developed a complex system of metrology c. 4000 BC. This
advanced metrology resulted in the creation of arithmetic, geometry,
and algebra. From c. 2600 BC onwards, the Sumerians wrote
multiplication tables on clay tablets and dealt with geometrical
exercises and division problems. The earliest traces of the Babylonian
numerals also date back to this period. The period c. 2700 –
2300 BC saw the first appearance of the abacus, and a table of
successive columns which delimited the successive orders of magnitude
of their sexagesimal number system. The Sumerians were the first
to use a place value numeral system. There is also anecdotal evidence
the Sumerians may have used a type of slide rule in astronomical
calculations. They were the first to find the area of a triangle and
the volume of a cube.
Economy and trade
Bill of sale of a male slave and a building in Shuruppak, Sumerian
tablet, c. 2600 BC
Discoveries of obsidian from far-away locations in
Anatolia and lapis
Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan, beads from Dilmun
(modern Bahrain), and several seals inscribed with the Indus Valley
script suggest a remarkably wide-ranging network of ancient trade
centered on the Persian Gulf. For example,
Imports to Ur
Imports to Ur came from
many parts of the world. In particular, the metals of all types had to
The Epic of
Gilgamesh refers to trade with far lands for goods, such
as wood, that were scarce in Mesopotamia. In particular, cedar from
Lebanon was prized. The finding of resin in the tomb of Queen
Ur, indicates it was traded from as far away as Mozambique.
The Sumerians used slaves, although they were not a major part of the
Slave women worked as weavers, pressers, millers, and
Sumerian potters decorated pots with cedar oil paints. The potters
used a bow drill to produce the fire needed for baking the pottery.
Sumerian masons and jewelers knew and made use of alabaster (calcite),
ivory, iron, gold, silver, carnelian, and lapis lazuli.
Money and credit
Large institutions kept their accounts in barley and silver, often
with a fixed rate between them. The obligations, loans and prices in
general were usually denominated in one of them. Many transactions
involved debt, for example goods consigned to merchants by temple and
beer advanced by "ale women".
Commercial credit and agricultural consumer loans were the main types
of loans. The trade credit was usually extended by temples in order to
finance trade expeditions and was nominated in silver. The interest
rate was set at 1/60 a month (one shekel per mina) some time before
2000 BC and it remained at that level for about two thousand
years. Rural loans commonly arose as a result of unpaid
obligations due to an institution (such as a temple), in this case the
arrears were considered to be lent to the debtor. They were
denominated in barley or other crops and the interest rate was
typically much higher than for commercial loans and could amount to
1/3 to 1/2 of the loan principal.
Periodically, rulers signed "clean slate" decrees that cancelled all
the rural (but not commercial) debt and allowed bondservants to return
to their homes. Customarily, rulers did it at the beginning of the
first full year of their reign, but they could also be proclaimed at
times of military conflict or crop failure. The first known ones were
Lagash in 2400-2350 BC. According to
Hudson, the purpose of these decrees was to prevent debts mounting to
a degree that they threatened the fighting force, which could happen
if peasants lost the subsistence land or became bondservants due to
the inability to repay the debt.
Early chariots on the Standard of Ur, c. 2600 BC
Battle formations on a fragment of the Stele of the Vultures
The almost constant wars among the Sumerian city-states for 2000 years
helped to develop the military technology and techniques of
Sumer to a
high level. The first war recorded in any detail was between
Umma in c. 2525 BC on a stele called the Stele of the
Vultures. It shows the king of
Lagash leading a Sumerian army
consisting mostly of infantry. The infantry carried spears, wore
copper helmets, and carried rectangular shields. The spearmen are
shown arranged in what resembles the phalanx formation, which requires
training and discipline; this implies that the Sumerians may have made
use of professional soldiers.
The Sumerian military used carts harnessed to onagers. These early
chariots functioned less effectively in combat than did later designs,
and some have suggested that these chariots served primarily as
transports, though the crew carried battle-axes and lances. The
Sumerian chariot comprised a four or two-wheeled device manned by a
crew of two and harnessed to four onagers. The cart was composed of a
woven basket and the wheels had a solid three-piece design.
Sumerian cities were surrounded by defensive walls. The Sumerians
engaged in siege warfare between their cities, but the mudbrick walls
were able to deter some foes.
Examples of Sumerian technology include: the wheel, cuneiform script,
arithmetic and geometry, irrigation systems, Sumerian boats, lunisolar
calendar, bronze, leather, saws, chisels, hammers, braces, bits,
nails, pins, rings, hoes, axes, knives, lancepoints, arrowheads,
swords, glue, daggers, waterskins, bags, harnesses, armor, quivers,
war chariots, scabbards, boots, sandals, harpoons and beer. The
Sumerians had three main types of boats:
clinker-built sailboats stitched together with hair, featuring bitumen
skin boats constructed from animal skins and reeds
wooden-oared ships, sometimes pulled upstream by people and animals
walking along the nearby banks
Evidence of wheeled vehicles appeared in the mid 4th millennium BC,
near-simultaneously in Mesopotamia, the Northern Caucasus (Maykop
culture) and Central Europe. The wheel initially took the form of the
potter's wheel. The new concept quickly led to wheeled vehicles and
mill wheels. The Sumerians' cuneiform script is the oldest (or second
oldest after the Egyptian hieroglyphs) which has been deciphered (the
status of even older inscriptions such as the
Jiahu symbols and
Tartaria tablets is controversial). The Sumerians were among the first
astronomers, mapping the stars into sets of constellations, many of
which survived in the zodiac and were also recognized by the ancient
Greeks. They were also aware of the five planets that are easily
visible to the naked eye.
They invented and developed arithmetic by using several different
number systems including a mixed radix system with an alternating base
10 and base 6. This sexagesimal system became the standard number
Sumer and Babylonia. They may have invented military
formations and introduced the basic divisions between infantry,
cavalry, and archers. They developed the first known codified legal
and administrative systems, complete with courts, jails, and
government records. The first true city-states arose in Sumer, roughly
contemporaneously with similar entities in what are now
Lebanon. Several centuries after the invention of cuneiform, the use
of writing expanded beyond debt/payment certificates and inventory
lists to be applied for the first time, about 2600 BC, to messages and
mail delivery, history, legend, mathematics, astronomical records, and
other pursuits. Conjointly with the spread of writing, the first
formal schools were established, usually under the auspices of a
city-state's primary temple.
Finally, the Sumerians ushered in domestication with intensive
agriculture and irrigation. Emmer wheat, barley, sheep (starting as
mouflon), and cattle (starting as aurochs) were foremost among the
species cultivated and raised for the first time on a grand scale.
Marsh Arabs (on the DNA distribution of Marsh Arabs)
History of Iraq
History of writing
History of writing numbers
Ancient Mesopotamian units of measurement
Ancient Mesopotamian religion
^ The name is from
Akkadian Šumeru; Sumerian 𒆠𒂗𒂠
ki-en-ĝir15, approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native
land". ĝir15 means "native, local", in(ĝir NATIVE (7x: Old
Babylonian) from The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary). Literally,
"land of the native (local, noble) lords". Stiebing (1994) has "Land
of the Lords of Brightness" (William Stiebing, Ancient Near Eastern
History and Culture). Postgate (1994) takes en as substituting eme
"language", translating "land of the Sumerian heart" (John Nicholas
Postgate (1994). Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of
History. Routledge (UK). . Postgate believes it not that eme,
'tongue', became en, 'lord', through consonantal assimilation.)
^ King, Leonid W. (2015) A
History of Sumer
History of Sumer and Akkad
^ "Ancient Mesopotamia. Teaching materials". Oriental Institute in
collaboration with Chicago Web Docent and eCUIP, The Digital Library.
Retrieved 5 March 2015.
^ "The Ubaid Period (5500–4000 B.C.)" In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art
History. Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, New York (October 2003)
^ "Ubaid Culture", The British Museum
^ "Beyond the Ubaid", (Carter, Rober A. and Graham, Philip, eds.),
University of Durham, April 2006
^ a b "
Sumer (ancient region, Iraq)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
^ Kleniewski, Nancy; Thomas, Alexander R (2010-03-26). "Cities,
Change, and Conflict: A Political Economy of Urban Life".
^ Maisels, Charles Keith (1993). "The Near East: Archaeology in the
"Cradle of Civilization"". ISBN 978-0-415-04742-5.
^ Maisels, Charles Keith (2001). "Early Civilizations of the Old
World: The Formative Histories of Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia,
India and China". ISBN 978-0-415-10976-5.
^ Shaw, Ian; Jameson, Robert (2002). "A dictionary of archaeology".
^ Margarethe Uepermann (2007), "Structuring the Late Stone Age of
Southeastern Arabia" (Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy Arabian
Archaeology and Epigraphy Volume 3, Issue 2, pages 65–109)
^ Hamblin, Dora Jane (May 1987). "Has the Garden of Eden been located
at last?" (PDF). Smithsonian Magazine. 18 (2). Archived from the
original (PDF) on 9 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
^ a b c d e f Deutscher, Guy (2007).
Syntactic Change in Akkadian: The
Evolution of Sentential Complementation.
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press US.
pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-19-953222-3.
^ a b Leick, Gwendolyn (2003), "Mesopotamia, the Invention of the
^ W. Hallo; W. Simpson (1971). The Ancient Near East. New York:
Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. p. 28.
^ a b K. van der Toorn, P. W. van der Horst (Jan 1990). "Nimrod before
and after the Bible". The Harvard Theological Review. 83 (1): 1–29.
^ Stanley A. Freed, Research Pitfalls as a Result of the Restoration
of Museum Specimens, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
Volume 376, The Research Potential of Anthropological Museum
Collections pages 229–245, December 1981.
^ a b Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983). Inanna: Queen of
Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper
& Row. ISBN 978-0060147136.
^ Elizabeth F. Henrickson; Ingolf Thuesen; I. Thuesen (1989). Upon
this Foundation: The N̜baid Reconsidered : Proceedings from the
U̜baid Symposium, Elsinore, May 30th-June 1st 1988. p. 353.
^ Jean-Jacques Glassner (2003). The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in
Sumer. p. 31. ISBN 9780801873898.
^ a b Algaze, Guillermo (2005) "The
Uruk World System: The Dynamics of
Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization", (Second Edition,
University of Chicago Press)
^ a b Jacobsen, Thorkild (Ed) (1939),"The Sumerian King List"
(Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago; Assyriological
Studies, No. 11., 1939)
^ Lamb, Hubert H. (1995). Climate, History, and the Modern World.
London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12735-1
^ Jacobsen, Thorkild (1976), "The Harps that Once...; Sumerian Poetry
in Translation" and "Treasures of Darkness: a history of Mesopotamian
^ George, Andrew (Translater)(2003), "The Epic of Gilgamesh" (Penguin
^ a b Roux, Georges (March 1, 1993). Ancient Iraq. Harmondsworth:
Penguin. ISBN 978-0140125238.
^ Toward the Image of Tammuz and Other Essays on Mesopotamian History
and Culture by T. Jacobsen
^ Thompson, William R. (2004). "Complexity, Diminishing Marginal
Returns and Serial Mesopotamian Fragmentation" (PDF). Journal of World
Systems Research. 10 (3): 612–652. doi:10.5195/jwsr.2004.288.
Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. CS1 maint: Unfit
^ Harmansah, Ömür, The Archaeology of Mesopotamia: Ceremonial
centers, urbanization and state formation in Southern Mesopotamia,
^ Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones, 1978, Atlas of World Population
History, Facts on File, New York, ISBN 0-7139-1031-3.
^ Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat (30 September 1998). Daily life in ancient
Mesopotamia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 13.
ISBN 978-0-313-29497-6. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
^ a b c Sayce, Rev. A. H. (1908). The Archaeology of the Cuneiform
Inscriptions (2nd revised ed.). London, Brighton, New York: Society
for Promoting Christian Knowledge. pp. 98–100.
^ Goss, Clint (15 April 2017). "Flutes of
Gilgamesh and Ancient
Mesopotamia". Flutopedia. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
^ Gender and the Journal: Diaries and Academic Discourse p. 62 by
Cinthia Gannett, 1992
^ a b c d e Kramer, Samuel Noah (1963). The Sumerians: Their History,
Culture, and Character (PDF). The Univ. of Chicago Press.
^ a b c Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea (1998), Daily Life in Ancient
Mesopotamia, Daily Life, Greenwood, p. 132,
^ Celibacy in the Ancient World: Its Ideal and Practice in
Pre-Hellenistic Israel, Mesopotamia, and Greece by Dale Launderville,
^ a b c d Cooper, Jerrold S. (2–6 July 2001). "
Virginity in Ancient
Mesopotamia". Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of
the 47th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Helsinki (PDF).
Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.
ISBN 9789514590542. CS1 maint: Date format (link)
^ a b c d e f Dening, Sarah (1996). "Chapter 3: Sex in Ancient
Civilizations". The Mythology of Sex. London, England: Macmillian.
^ a b Leick, Gwendolyn (2013) , Sex and Eroticism in
Mesopotamian Literature, New York City, New York: Routledge,
p. 219, ISBN 978-1-134-92074-7
^ a b c Black, Jeremy; Green, Anthony (1992), Gods, Demons and Symbols
of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, University of Texas
Press, ISBN 0-292-70794-0
^ Allan, Keith (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the History of
Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 56–57.
^ Woods C. 2006 “Bilingualism, Scribal Learning, and the
Sumerian”. In S.L. Sanders (ed) Margins of Writing, Origins of
Culture: 91-120 Chicago
^ Campbell, Lyle; Mauricio J. Mixco (2007). A glossary of historical
linguistics. Edinburgh University Press. p. 196.
^ a b Coleman, J. A.; Davidson, George (2015), The Dictionary of
Mythology: An A-Z of Themes, Legends, and Heroes, London, England:
Arcturus Publishing Limited, ISBN 978-1-78404-478-7
^ Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), "The Sumerian Deluge Myth: Reviewed and
Revised", Anatolian Studies, British Institute at Ankara, 33:
^ Hallo, William W. (1996), "Review:
Enki and the Theology of Eridu",
Journal of the American Oriental Society, 116 (2)
^ Black, Jeremy A.; Cunningham, Graham; Robson, Eleanor (2006), The
Literature of Ancient Sumer, Oxford University Press,
^ Black, Jeremy; Green, Anthony (1992). Gods, Demons, and Symbols of
Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary. University of Texas
Press. ISBN 978-0292707948.
^ Leick, Gwendolyn (2003), Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City'
^ Crawford, Harriet (1993), "
Sumer and the Sumerians" (Cambridge
University Press, (New York 1993)), ISBN 0-521-38850-3.
^ Bibby Geoffrey and Carl Phillips (2013), "Looking for Dilmun"
(Alfred A. Knopf)
^ Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. Gotham Books.
p. 5. ISBN 978-1-592-40303-5.
^ Mackenzie, Donald Alexander (1927). Footprints of Early Man. Blackie
& Son Limited.
^ Adams, R. McC. (1981). Heartland of Cities. University of Chicago
^ Tannahill, Reay (1968). The fine art of food. Folio
Society. [page needed]
^ By the sweat of thy brow: Work in the Western world, Melvin
Kranzberg, Joseph Gies, Putnam, 1975
^ Duncan J. Melville (2003). Third Millennium Chronology, Third
Millennium Mathematics. St. Lawrence University.
^ Ifrah 2001:11
^ Anderson, Marlow; Wilson, Robin J. (October 14, 2004). Sherlock
Holmes in Babylon: and other tales of mathematical history. Google
Books. ISBN 9780883855461. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
^ Diplomacy by design: Luxury arts and an "international style" in the
ancient Near East, 1400-1200 BC, Marian H. Feldman, University of
Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 120-121
^ a b c d Hudson, Michael (1998). Michael Hudson and Marc Van De
Mieroop, ed. Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East.
Bethesda, Maryland: CDL. pp. 23–35. ISBN 1883053714.
^ Van De Mieroop, Marc (1998). Michael Hudson and Marc Van De Mieroop,
ed. Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East. Bethesda,
Maryland: CDL. p. 63. ISBN 1883053714.
^ Roux, Georges (1992), "Ancient Iraq" (Penguin)
^ Winter, Irene J. (1985). "After the Battle is Over: The 'Stele of
the Vultures' and the Beginning of Historical Narrative in the Art of
the Ancient Near East". In Kessler, Herbert L.; Simpson, Marianna
Shreve. Pictorial Narrative in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Center
for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Symposium Series IV 16.
Washington DC: National Gallery of Art. pp. 11–32. ISSN 0091-7338
^ Gary Thompson. "History of Constellation and Star Names".
Members.optusnet.com.au. Archived from the original on 2012-08-21.
Retrieved 2012-03-29. [unreliable source]
^ "Sumerian Questions and Answers". Sumerian.org. Retrieved
Ascalone, Enrico. 2007. Mesopotamia: Assyrians, Sumerians, Babylonians
(Dictionaries of Civilizations; 1). Berkeley: University of California
Press. ISBN 0-520-25266-7 (paperback).
Bottéro, Jean, André Finet, Bertrand Lafont, and George Roux. 2001.
Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Press, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Crawford, Harriet E. W. 2004.
Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Leick, Gwendolyn. 2002. Mesopotamia: Invention of the City. London and
New York: Penguin.
Lloyd, Seton. 1978. The Archaeology of Mesopotamia: From the Old Stone
Age to the Persian Conquest. London: Thames and Hudson.
Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea. 1998. Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia.
London and Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Kramer, Samuel Noah (1972). Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual
and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C. (Originally
published 1944 by American Philosophical Society. Revised 1961 by
Harper & Row. Revised edition reprinted 1972 by U. Penn.)format=
requires url= (help) (Rev. ed.). Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812210476.
Roux, Georges. 1992. Ancient Iraq, 560 pages. London: Penguin (earlier
printings may have different pagination: 1966, 480 pages, Pelican;
1964, 431 pages, London: Allen and Urwin).
Schomp, Virginia. Ancient Mesopotamia: The Sumerians, Babylonians, And
Sumer: Cities of Eden (Timelife Lost Civilizations). Alexandria, VA:
Time-Life Books, 1993 (hardcover, ISBN 0-8094-9887-1).
Woolley, C. Leonard. 1929. The Sumerians. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Sumer History --- The History of the Ancient Near East
Iraq’s Ancient Past — Penn Museum
The History Files: Ancient Mesopotamia
Sumerian Language Page, perhaps the oldest Sumerian website on the web
(it dates back to 1996), features compiled lexicon, detailed FAQ,
extensive links, and so on.
ETCSL: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature has complete
translations of more than 400 Sumerian literary texts.
PSD: The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, while still in its initial
stages, can be searched on-line, from August 2004.
Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, a large corpus of Sumerian
texts in transliteration, largely from the Early Dynastic and Ur III
periods, accessible with images.
Coordinates: 32°00′N 45°30′E / 32.0°N 45.5°E / 32.0;
Syria and Mesopotamia
c. 3500–2350 BCE
c. 2350–2200 BCE
c. 2200–2100 BCE
c. 2100–2000 BCE
Third Dynasty of Ur
Third Dynasty of Ur (Sumerian Renaissance)
c. 2000–1800 BCE
Mari and other
Old Assyrian Empire
Old Assyrian Empire (Northern Akkadians)
Larsa and other
c. 1800–1600 BCE
Old Hittite Kingdom
Old Babylonian Empire
Old Babylonian Empire (Southern Akkadians)
c. 1600–1400 BCE
c. 1400–1200 BCE
New Hittite Kingdom
Middle Assyrian Empire
c. 1200–1150 BCE
Bronze Age collapse ("Sea Peoples")
c. 1150–911 BCE
Neo-Babylonian Empire (Chaldeans)
Achaemenid Empire (Persians)
Macedonian Empire (Ancient Greeks)
Parthian Empire (Iranians)
63 BCE – 243 CE
Byzantine Empire (Syria)
Sasanian Empire (Persians)
Pre- / Protohistory
Neolithic A (PPNA)
Neolithic B (PPNB)
Timeline of the Assyrian Empire
Culture / Society
Destruction by ISIL
Muslim conquest of Persia
Ottoman Iraq (Mamluk dynasty)
Kingdom of Iraq
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party –
Iraq Region (National Command)
Invasion of Kuwait
U.S. troop withdrawal
Civil War (2014–present)
Council of Representatives (legislative)
Council of Ministers
in pre-Saddam Iraq
in Saddam Hussein's Iraq
in post-invasion Iraq
in ISIL-controlled territory
Freedom of religion
Wars and conflicts
Iraqi Turkmen dialect