The Sumerians were the first major group of people who occupied the so-called “Fertile Crescent”, a fertile region in the Middle East known historically as Mesopotamia, now part of Iraq. Mesopotamia is a place located between two rivers – Tigris and Euphrates. Mesopotamia means –“land between two rivers”. The annual overflowing or flooding of these twin rivers caused the farmlands suitable for farming.
Among the most famous cities established by the Sumerians include Erech, Eridu, Kish, Larsa, Lagash, Nippur, Umma, Ur and many others. They were polytheists – believing in many gods and goddesses. Because of frequent fighting, the Sumerians became weak and were easily conquered by invading enemies. Despite their lack of unity, the Sumerians left a handful of significant contributions to civilization. These contributions were the basis of many developments in science, technology and others.
Here are some interesting and historic facts about Sumerians
1. Sumerian society is divided into three namely; the upper class which is consists of priests and government officials; the middle class which is composed f businessmen and craftsmen; and, the lower class which is consists of farmers and slaves.
2. Education is an important aspect in Sumerian civilization. Subjects taught in a Sumerian school include reading, writing, mathematics, history, map-making, linguistics, law, medicine and surgical operation.
3. Fortune telling and astrology were also taught in Sumerian schools.
4. Sumerians were polytheist. Some of their gods and goddesses include Enlil – god of the wind and typhoon, Ea – god of water and bodies of water and Anu – god of heaven and earth.
5. Marriage of Sumerians were arranged by parents
6. Women in Sumerian society were highly regarded. They were allowed to purchase and own properties, engaged in trading and witness in court.
7. Sumerians most important economic activities were farming, trading and industry.
8. The Sumerians domesticated the cattle, goat, sheep and parrot.
9. The Behiston Rock was deciphered by the English Henry Creawicke Rawlinson in 1846.
10. The capital city of the Sumerian civilization is Sumer. It means "land of the civilized lords" or "native land".
11. The Sumerians referred to themselves as un san giga which literally means "the black-headed people".
12. The Sumerians built the Great Zigurrat of Ur.
13. There was plenty of pottery and the forms of the vases, bowls and dishes were manifold; there were special jars for honey, butter, oil and wine.
14. A Sumerian city-state was governed by a religious priest, prince or ruler called “ensi” or by a king called “lugal”.
15. The Sumerians used beds, chairs and stools with carved legs that look like legs of an ox. There fire-altars, were fire-places, and chimneys too.
16. Sumerians created daggers with metal blades and wooden handles. They hammered copper into plates and made gold into necklaces or collars.
17. Sumerian women worn feathered head-dress.
18. The Sumerians made knives, wedges, drills, bows, arrows, spears and daggers.
19. The Sumerians were music lovers.
20. The Sumerians believed that the Earth is a flat disc and believed in afterlife.
Here are the greatest contributions of the Sumerians
1. The Sumerians were the first inventors of wheel and cart pulled by ass.
2. They were also the first to milk cows.
3. The Sumerians were the first to weave linen.
4. The Sumerians were the first to established City-states.
5. The systems of weighing and measurement were first introduced by the Sumerians.
6. The usage of algebraic principle and the system of counting based on 60 were introduced by the Sumerians.
7. They invented the first lunar calendar with 12 months.
8. They invented cuneiform, the earliest form of writing in history and used stylus and clay tablets as writing material.
9. They used bricks which were made of clay for house construction.
10. In architecture and engineering, they introduced dome and vault,
11. They built ziggurats, temples for their god and goddesses. These structures were usually 7 stories high. The highest story was used as altar for their god/goddess.
12. They also introduced the construction of ramps, canals and dikes.
13. The Sumerians were the first to execute surgical operations.
14. They also invented the oven.
15. In Mathematics, they introduced also fraction and square root.
16. The principle of calculator originated to the Sumerians.
17. The Sumerians were the first civilization to used animals for plowing and pulling cart.
18. They formed the first organized labor force in history.
19. The discovery of the Behistun Rock by the Italian Pietro della Valle led to the better understanding of the Sumerian system of writing called “cuneiform” that consists of 600 symbols.
20. Sumerians used pictographs that represent things and used symbols for each word. The Sumerians developed the first known codified legal and administrative systems.