How was Sumerian Culture Spread Throughout Mesopotamia?
Early Mesopotamia: The Sumerians
Mesopotamia is the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers located in what is known today as the Middle East. In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians were a prominent civilization. In early Mesopotamia, as this area was first being populated, the Sumerians were one of the prominent civilizations that populated this area. They were there from around 4000 B.C. to around 1500 B.C. They developed cuneiform.
This is probably one of their most important achievements, because cuneiform is a system of writing that first used pictures, or hieroglyphs, and later use symbols. It is the oldest example of writing on Earth, which means that, as far as we’ve found, they were the first civilization to write things down. Sumerians wrote lots of things out.
They wrote their laws, religious beliefs, hymns, prayers, daily records, business letters, receipts, and lexical lists, which were lists of the nouns and the different words that they used and different semantic forms of it. Not only did they leave lots of their own writing around, they left a record of their language. You could go through the list of the words they used or the symbols that they used, so you could see what all the options were that could end up in any of the things that they wrote.
They wrote on clay tablets. They would get it a little wet and use a reed that had been dampened in water and they could write on the clay while it was still wet. The clay would harden and these clay tablets would be preserved. Lots and lots of these clay tablets from the Sumerians have been found and kept. The Sumerians also wrote out their complex mathematical systems in cuneiform. They were very mathematically advanced.
They had theories about algebra, geometry, and they wrote out multiplication charts. They had a lot of mathematical knowledge going on there and they kept records of it on these clay tablets. It is preserved for us to still see today where the Sumerians were at both in writing and mathematically. The Sumerians lived in mud-brick buildings in farming communities. They would live in these mud-brick buildings for a while, and then slowly the mudbrick would start to crumble.
They would have to tear them down and rebuild. They did this over and over again as it became necessary. The areas that they lived on actually became raised up a little more than the land that was surrounding their buildings or their communities. The area around where they actually lived they farmed. They used irrigation techniques and also kept some plants in pots or vases. They also would grow some trees that bore fruit and some other crops right next to their house, sort of like a yard.
They would grow things there that would be handy. They also primarily used oxen to plow and donkeys to transport goods. They did practice large scale farming, where they actually went out and plowed the field and planted more than they actually needed. That was what they used for food and for trading as well, but they had those plots right near their home, kind of like a yard or the plants that grew in pots or vases so they would have something handy if they needed it.
The Sumerians had use of the wheel. It first developed as the potter’s wheel. They had a lot of pottery. The potter would spin the wheel and be able to better form pottery. Well, quickly they realized that they could use this wheel for vehicles, which would be pulled by the oxen and donkeys. Then, a mill wheel, so they could grind all this grain that they’re growing. Sumerians traded widely using the barter system. They were very well known as traders and they traded quite a ways away from where they actually lived.
They use the barter system. They didn’t have currency. They didn’t have any kind of coin that they used. They would trade in goods with other cultures, or services perhaps. If they wanted someone to come and help them harvest a field, they may offer them some of the harvest. They used the barter system. They didn’t have any kind of money or currency to use to buy things they needed or wanted.
They had pottery, carved wooden items, including furniture, and musical instruments, such as the lyre. There were carved wooden stools, chairs, and bedposts that looked like the hooves of oxen and they had a lot of other carvings like that. They were a kind of artistic and they could use these things to trade with other cultures. They also had tools, such as knives, drills, wedges, and a saw-like tool that were used daily in their farming community.
Spears, bows, arrows, and daggers were used in times of war. They didn’t have swords yet, but the rest of those weapons were also used during times of war. They were things that the Sumerians had developed. The Sumerians had an advanced military due to constant warring among city-states. The Sumerians were a bigger civilization and there were lots of little city-states within this Sumerian civilization.
They would go to war against each other from time to time. It was actually pretty frequent that they would go to war with each other. Their military strategy, their planning, and their weapons were all a little more advanced than other cultures, because they fought amongst each other so often. These are a lot of different pieces of information to give you an idea of who the Sumerians were.
They had a system of writing, the oldest system of writing, known as cuneiform. They recorded lots of their daily business, as well as their laws and their mathematical systems. They were a farming community that did have use of the wheel. They traded very widely using the barter system, as well as advancing their military strategy, because they warred with each other. They fought with each other fairly constantly. These were the Sumerians, one of the earliest civilizations in the early Mesopotamian area.