The City-States of Ancient Mesopotamia
The first Mesopotamian civilization was established by the Sumerian. These people were able to established independent cities in the Mesopotamian region in around 3000 B.C. Among of these cities were the cities of Erida, Ur and Uruk. The cities they established soon began to expand and gained political and economic control among their surrounding countryside.
The Sumerians build these city-states which were considered as the basic units of the Sumerian civilization.
The cities of Summer were usually surrounded by walls. The city of Uruk as an example was encircled by a wall. The wall they created is six miles long and it has defense tower along the wall located in every thirty to thirty five feet.
Mesopotamian region had a little stone and wood to be used as building materials. The region had plenty of mud that was utilized by the Sumerians. They made mud bricks out of the mud which they used for constructing purposes. Mud bricks are easily shaped by hands. The Sumerians left the mud-bricks in the hot sand until the bricks were baked.
The Mesopotamian civilization was known in their creativity with mud-bricks. They were said to invent the arch and the dome. They were able to build some of the largest brick building in the world.
Until today, the use of mud-bricks is still prominent construction materials in the rural areas of the Middle East.
In the cities of Summer, the most prominent buildings are the temples. They dedicated their temples to their chief god or goddess. There is a massive stepped tower often built a top of every temple. This is called as the Ziggurat.
The Sumerian people believe that their cities were owned by gods and goddesses. Most of the people were very much devoted and offered much of their wealth in building temples.
The temple’s priest and priestesses who supervises the temples the temples properties posses much power then the ordinary citizens. Much of the cities livestock and land were owned by the temples. The temple also served as the economical and political powers. It was believe that the priesthood played an important factor in ruling summer cities in the early stage of their history.
They believed that gods ruled their cities. This belief brings the state into theocracy, a government by divine authority.
The ruling power passed to the hands of kings eventually. Sumerians believe that their kings have divine origins and they believed that their powers came from god.
The kings have powers to lead army, as well as to supervise the construction of the public works such as building temples and irrigations systems; as well as to implement laws and manage the people under his authority.
The kings were aided by the priest and priestesses, government bureaucracy, and the army in ruling the cities.
Sumerian economy relied mainly on farming. Trade and industry also existed. Sumerians made woolen textiles, potters as well as metal-works.
There are three main social groups in the Sumerian city-states. First are the nobles; this social group includes the royals, the priestly officials and their families as well. The second one are the commoner; the commoner are the ordinary people who work for the palaces and temples, the farmers, merchants, fishers, crafts people and other ordinary citizens. The third are the slaves. This group of people were owned or belonged to the palace officials. They are mostly used as labors in building projects or to farm the land of the rich land owners. The female slaves were often used to weave cloth and grin grains.