Ancient Mesopotamia

Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys

8 Characteristics of Eary Civilization in Mesopotamia

1. Cities
  • Cities developed as separate countries, called "City-States."
  • Sumer was a collection of 12 ancient city-states that developed in the southern region of Mesopotamia.

2. Well Organized Government
  • Priests managed the god's land, directed worship, and governed the city.
  • Hammurabi later conquered the region and instituted his code, which consisted of 282 laws affecting all aspects of life.

3. Complex Religion
  • Each city-state belonged to a different god. People believed that the gods had the power to destroy their cities with floods.
  • Sumerians believed in "Polytheism," or the worship of many gods.

4. Job Specialization
  • Most of the people of Sumer were farmers.
  • Because plenty of food was produced, others were able to work as traders and artisans.

5. Social Classes
  • Only upper class boys received an education.
  • Priests ran schools that were set up in temples.

6. Arts/Architecture
  • Ziggurats, or massive step-like towers were erected in the center of each city.
  • This was done to please the gods.

7. Public Works
  • Houses were built out of sun-dried clay bricks.
  • With the help of irrigation, farmers grew grain, vegetables, and dates, and raised cows, sheep and goats.

8. Writing
  • The Sumerians are the first people on earth to invent a system of writing.
  • Cuneiform consisted of 600 symbols drawn on soft clay tablets that dried in the sun and became hard.