The Sumerian Civilization

The Sumerian
Chapter 2 section 3
Review Section 2
What happened to you in the
Who was the Afterlife for?
What was special about the Nile
The land: its Geography and its
In contrast with Egypt, South West Asia
was not geographically isolated
Invaders were able to cross the land freely
and take over the settled civilizations
This land Known as the {Fertile crescent
started at the Isthmus of Suez and arched
around to the Persian Gulf}
Around 5,000 BC Neolithic farmers began
to build civilizations in the Fertile crescent
The original societies were built around
cooperation needed to irrigate fields
The Geography continued
The Fertile Crescent consisted of two
major rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates
These two rivers started in the mountains
of Turkey and flowed into the Persian Gulf
This area between the two rivers has also
been known as Mesopotamia and the
southern part known as Babylonia
Both rivers flood the valley often but
{unlike the Nile the rivers floods were
Thus the gods of these civilizations were
also seen as harsh and unpredictable
People of the Fertile Crescent
Tribes of wondering herders lived off of
the plant life found in this river valley
They often would invade, conquer, and
establish empires.
Over time these invaders would weaken
and new invaders would take over
This pattern would repeat itself as
nomadic tribes came in and conquered
The Sumerians were the first civilization
known to live in this area
Neolithic people settled in the fertile land
between the Tigris and Euphrates
Not much is known about the origins of
the Sumerians
They had mingled with another group of
people that lived there around 3,000 BC
This new civilization used metal and had
developed a way of writing
This writing using pictures was the earliest
known form of writing
Sumerian writing
This Sumerian writing was different from
the Egyptian hieroglyphics
Instead of symbols carved in stone or on
{Sumerian writers used a stylus to carve
wedge shapes into clay tablets that they
let dry in the sun}
{This wedge shaped writing came to be
known as cuneiform} and included 600
Architecture and science
The Sumerians had developed several
important architectural designs
The Arch or the curved shape over an
opening, this is one of the strongest forms
in building
{The Sumerian temples were known as
Ziggurats which were made of baked
These Ziggurats were layered and shaped
something like wedding cakes
The top was a shrine for a Sumerian god
The Sumerians might have been one of
the first to use the wheel
{They used a number system based on
60} using a circle and dividing it into 360
degrees and dividing by 6
This is where we got the system we use
for watches and the compass used today
They also developed a calendar that was
based on the moon
To be accurate they added a month every
few years
Government and Society
Priests were important in the Sumerian
society because they thought the land
belonged to the gods
{The Sumerians created City-states} that
competed for water and land war became
more important and the rulers began to
rule as kings
Kings, high priests, and nobles were at the
top of society followed by lower priests
merchants and scholars
The lowest class were the farmers and
peasants that had been kidnapped from
other regions
Sumerian Kings
Farming and trade
Most of the Sumerian people farmed
They grew dates, grains, vegetables, and
raised domesticated animals
The Sumerian farmers grew enough
surplus to allow other people be artisans
and traders
Before 3,000 BC they had begun to trade
with other people in Southwest Asia
The traders would travel by land or boats
to far away places in order to sell
Sumerian goods
Education and Religion
Education was considered important in the
Sumerian culture
The right to education however was
reserved to the upper class boys
Students learned to write and spell and
also learned drawing and arithmetic
They were Polytheistic and their gods were
identified with the sun and moon
The Sumerians buried food and tools with
the dead {but did not believe in rewards
and punishment in the afterlife, they
believed in a shadowy afterlife}
Gilgamesh the Sumerian King
What is the name of the symbol
based writing?
What was used to create this form of
What was different about the rivers
in this area?
The End