Its an amazing thought how the Sumerian economy was a highly developed one and had man legalities, such as contracts, deeds, wills, and promises to pay-I actually thought that such laws were very recent ones. There were many disputes over inheritance, divorce settlements, and personal injury. Legal cases were heard by king, who also set interest rates, prices, wages, and measures. Gradually, law codes were formed after many trials and cases. A simply startling fact is that being one of the first civilizations ever, that too about 6,000 years ago, “the Sumerians invented the wheel, which they used both for making pottery and for vehicles.
They had four-wheeled wagons for transporting goods and two-wheeled chariots for war”6. The Sumerians also developed the concept of using “mud bricks to build houses and temples because they didn’t have wood and stone. ” I believe that such a technique was a very effective one because whenever the mud-brick walls of a temple collapsed from age or accident, “the ruins served as the basis for building a new temple. It expanded and formed into something known as ziggurat, which was a sequence of one building rising on the ruins of another, which came to resemble giant steps.
“7 An astonishing fact is that the ziggurat still remains in Iraq despite the Civil, Gulf, and the very recent war (2003) that just took place. Even from the inside these monuments are breathtaking with frescoes and sculptures adorning the walls of temples’ many rooms. “It is believed that the ziggurats were artificial hills, built in honor of various deities. It was the center of daily undertakings of certain transactions and exchanges, for example, where a tablet went to the donor as a receipt, and the other was deposited in the sacred archives.
” 8 Through my research, I found that not only were the Sumerians, in my opinion, the “fathers” of invention, but they were also skilled metalworkers. Besides excelling at making jewelry, they made vessels, statues, toilet sets, axes, daggers, saws and other weapons and tools. Like weavers and potters, metalworkers were a professional class often employed by the temple. “The Sumerians priests developed a simple arithmetic in the process of keeping temple accounts and invented the unit 60”, 9which marvelously is still used to measure angles.
Priests also believed that the gods caused illness so they devised many ointments and portions to help sufferers. However, the most important achievement of the priests was “cuneiform writing”, which went through several stages of development. The first stage in Sumerian writing was clearly pictorial, with picture symbols standing for concrete objects and actions. For example, a simple drawing of a round roughly spherical circle meant “head” and two wavy lines meant “water”. But very soon certain pictures were made to stand for a little more complex words.
For example, the Sumerian sign for “mouth” also came to mean, “speak”. That is quite a remarkable progress considering the time period this all happened. Over the centuries, the implementation of writing changed. Literate people began to communicate in more intimate ways, setting down messages such as “your loving wife who has had a child”10. Cuneiform was taught to priests in school, and copybooks show that education was chiefly by memorizing and copying, a practice which is still applied today.
From here on, many cultures evolved their own scripts in the following centuries. On a religious level, the Sumerians thought that “the universe was a great city-state ruled by an assembly of gods and worked by men, who were created only to serve the gods. “11 This sort of thinking was something I have read many a times about earlier civilizations such as the Greek and the Roman. The gods were worshipped in elaborate ceremonies conducted in the temples by priests and kings. I find it overwhelming how each individual prayed to his own personal god to bring him luck.
I’m sure that individual felt very lucky to have the benefit of a personal god, whose statue was fed and dressed, and the worshipper offered devotion in return for favors. Amusingly, the Sumerians believed that although gods preferred good to evil, they, nevertheless, created such evils as old age and sickness. Keeping all these qualities of the Sumerian civilization, it however met its eventual fate. “The Sumerians were constantly at war with one another and other peoples, for water was a scarce and a valuable resource.
The Semitic people, as in people who spoke a related language such as Hebrew and Arabic, migrated from the Arabian Peninsula. They were known as the Akkadians. “12 They battled the Sumerians and emerged victorious, settling in Akkad, a city later came to be known as Babylon. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the Sumerian civilization had come to an end, the Akkadian kingdom had adopted the Sumerian customs and culture, and furthermore, their inventions are still probably the most useful and essential ones to date.
Just think, if it weren’t for the invention and development of cuneiform, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article! 1 Extracts in Paragraphs 1, from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia” 2 Extracts in Paragraphs 2, from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia” 3 Extracts in Paragraphs 3, from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia” 4 Extracts in Paragraphs 4, from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia” 5 Extracts in Paragraphs 4, from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia” 6 Extracts in Paragraphs 6, from “History Of The World 3000-1500BC”.
7 Extracts in Paragraphs 7, from ” History Of The World3000-1500BC” 8 Extracts in Paragraphs 7, taken from “History Of The World 3000-1500BC” 9 Extracts in Paragraphs 8, taken from “Merit Student encyclopedia” 10 Extracts in Paragraphs 10 taken from ” History Of The World 3000-1500BC” 11 Extracts in Paragraphs 11, taken from ” History Of The World 3000-1500BC” 12 Extracts in Paragraphs 12 taken from “The Merit Student Encyclopedia”.