Ancient Civilisations – 6a Ancient Sumer

Ancient Sumer

Ancient Sumer was made up of city states located in the southern part of Mesopotamia, in the region where the rivers Tigris and Euphratesmeet. This area falls mainly in modern Iraq.

Sumerian civilisation was very long lived, lasting from c5300 BC to c1940 BC – from the late neolithic to early Bronze Age periods.

The ancient cities of Sumer were rediscovered in the 1840s. Continual rebuilding of the cities over the centuries had raised their level above the surrounding land so they looked like hills. These ancient city hills are called tells

The Sumerians were excellent mathematicians and used 60 as a base. This is why we have 60 minutes in an hour and 360 degrees in a circle. The Sumerians developed a calendar based on the moon and the sun (lunisolar). Their months each had thirty days. The Sumerians were the first people to develop writing and they used over 500 pictographs which over time evolved into cuneiform script .Each of the Sumerian city states had its own god. There were seven main gods and hundreds of minor ones.

Ancient Sumer

Sumerian ziggurats were enormous temple complexes which also contained offices, workshops and treasuries. Sumerians believed that their Gods lived in the temples and descended to earth down their stairs.

Some people argue that the Sumerians were the world’s greatest inventors. They are famed for the introduction of the wheel, and of both writing and the measurement of time – all things that today are a regular part of daily life. Alongside these major changes, the Sumerians also developed the first books, schools, historian, legal precedent, proverbs… the list is near endless. We have Sumerians to thank for the 360° in a circle, for basic geometry and even the very first toys designed for children.

Follow these hyperlinks to learn more:-

  1. BBC Bitesize
  2. Ducksters
  3. Mr Donn

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