Characteristics of a civilization

(Ancient Sumer addition)

Government and Social Structure

Sumer was divided into at least twelve major city-states. Each city had its own ruler and way of life and stuff. But the city-states still counted on each other for three reasons:

  • To maintain and clean the river system/marine 'highways' that connect to the city-states of Mesopotamia.
  • To max out the benefits of extensive trading.
  • To serve their gods, who regularly met at the Assembly of the gods in the 'holy' city of Nipper on the upper Euphrates river.

The people in these city-states talked the same language, wrote the same and had a common religious believes.

Though social stratification seems to be less pronounced during the early centuries of Sumerian civilization, by the time of the Babylonian Empire had Hammurabi (1792–1750 B.C.) practically EVERYBODY knew what a social structure was, and who was in it. As time passed by, the peoples owning land—and all the political power that comes with—came to be focused on more and more in the hands of the few.

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Writing and Arts

The Sumerians were one of the earliest urban societies to take place in southern Mesopotamia more than 5000 years ago. They came up with a confusing writing system whose edgy, curvy lines would influence the style of their writing for the next 3000 years.

Sumerians made sculptures and other cool, artsy stuff with alabaster, gypsum, lapis, limestone, marble, and wood. The Sumerian craftsmanship was valuable and pretty sweet. The details and extras were usually inlaid with seashells, lapis, red limestone, obsidian, and gold.

Religion and Technology

Sumerian religion has its roots in the worship of nature, such as the wind and water. The ancient sages of Sumer found it necessary to bring order to that which they did not understand and to this end they came to the natural conclusion that a greater force was at work. The forces of nature were originally worshiped as themselves. However, over time the human form became associated with those forces. Gods in human form were now seen to have control over nature.

Stable Food Supply

A civilization can only live if they have a stable food supply. This means enough food to feed all their citizens on any given day and a way to keep that supply. Sumerians were primarily farmers. In order to give their crops a regular water supply, they made complex irrigation systems. The irrigation systems were made of canals, dams, and reservoirs. Another farming invention was the plow. A plow is a tool used to break up the dirt so it's easier to plant stuff. Before the plow, they used animal horns and poles to stick and poke holes in the earth.