On the geographical map of the Middle East you can see two rivers: the Tigris (Sumerian: Idigna) and the Euphrates. The Tigris River is the eastern of the two great rivers that flow through Mesopotamia (the other is the Euphrates), and springs in the Anatolian hills, and continues through Iraq to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet near the Kurna and together form a river called Shat-El Arab. This river is 170 km long. It flows into the Persian Gulf.
Mesopotamia (Greek inter-river) is the plain between the lower reaches of the Tigris and the Euphrates. This area is very fertile. A dark-skinned people from northwestern India settled in Mesopotamia. They gave themselves the name “Black-headed People” or the people of Sumer. This first civilized nation in the world left us written monuments.
The settlement of the Sumerians in the area of Mesopotamia began 5000 years before the new era. The Sumerians made many useful tools and realized that metal could be processed. As skilled farmers on the fertile soil of Mesopotamia, they developed to a high degree their agricultural skills. They harvested much more fruit from their cultivated fields and fields than they needed. So they started trading and exchanging goods with their neighbors.
The people of Sumer were builders. Mesopotamia has no natural stone or wood, so the Sumerians began construction with bricks: thick loam from the river banks was put into molds. They left these molds for the loam to be baked in the hot sun. Initially, they built smaller houses with two to three rooms. As their well-being grew, larger houses were built. Some of the houses were on multiple floors while some of the houses were with rooms around the patio. By trade with neighbors they were given a stone. Larger Sumerian buildings are made of stone and brick. Sumerac invented the potter’s wheel. With this wheel, they designed pots: plates, mugs, vases and cups to hold food. They decorated their pottery with beautiful patterns. The Sumerians knew one form of sculpture, processing copper, bronze, gold and precious stones.
Also, the Sumerian people built knit cane boats. Then these boats were covered with animal skin and coated with tar pitch. The basis of their further development was the construction of boats. They sailed from one bank of the Tigris to the other or down the Euphrates River. So they made contact with neighbors. This new way of communicating is significant to an emerging civilization. The connection between the original settlements and the settlements led to the creation of the first cities over time.
The history of the Sumerians revolves mainly around city-states. This period began 3500 BC and lasted 1500 years. For the last several hundred years, archaeologists have been excavating in the Mesopotamian region and making interesting discoveries. The most important discoveries are the ruins of a Sumerian city called Ur. Other Sumerian cities of Ereh, Kish, Eridu and Lagash are similar to Ur, so through the telling of the history of the city of Ur, one can give an overview of all Sumerian cities.
The Sumerian city of Ur was built on the east coast of the Euphrates. Archeological findings show that the city was surrounded by a high brick wall and a wide channel. The canal was used for defense and traffic. There was a dock on the river for trading galleys that brought and took goods from Ur.
The city of Ur was intersected by narrow streets paved with sun-baked earth. There were houses, shops and public buildings along the streets. Sumerian houses resembled our present houses but were built without windows (glass was then unknown material). The population of Ur said they had enough air and light if they left openings for cane curtain doors.
In the center of Ur was a large tower-shaped temple. The temple was called Ziggurat. The Sumerians believed that the gods governed natural forces. So the god of the earth was Euli, the god of heaven was called Ana, the god of water was Ea, the sun-god was Shamash and the moon-god was Nanar. Each Sumerian city had its own special god, but he respected all other gods. The supreme god of the city of Ur was Nanar. The supreme god of the city of Erida was Ea. The great temple in the city of Ur was the main place where the god Nan was worshiped. The Sumerians (like other ancient peoples) believed that God had a human form. The gods were also believed to have houses, temples, food, clothing and furniture.
They carefully supplied their temples and provided them with special parts of arable land whose fruits they also gave to them. There was a statue of the god Nanara in the temple in Ur city. The statue stood on three brick posts. He was climbing the stairs. One of the first Sumerian kings built this temple. Some bricks have his name on it.
The temple was surrounded by a high wall. In this enclosure was the ruler’s castle. His house was larger than other houses in the city. Advisers to the king, family, servants and priests resided in the enclosure next to the king’s castle.In the city of Ur there were several smaller temples dedicated to the god Nanar and his wife Ningal. In the Sumerian family, the most important was the unit of society. The main member of the family was the father. In order for the family to maintain itself, the father could give his land to his son or wife.
The Sumerian people were divided into three stocks: priests, clerks, and the army (the highest social class), then merchants, farmers, and artisans (the middle class), and slaves (the last and the lowest class). The most significant were the priests (servants of God). The Sumerians believed that the health, well-being and safety of humans depended on the gods. So they kept tweaking the gods to make them happy. It was the priest’s duty to oversee all the deeds of worshiping the gods. They cared for cultivating land outside the city, managing warehouses, trading, altering excess food for stone, wood, and precious metals that used to decorate temples and chapels.
The priests were wise men. They gave medicines, gave advice to the people, litigated disputes and made a calendar. For Sumer, godian counted according to the lunar motion. She was 12 months old who split into days and hours. Months were 30 days each, which meant a total of 360 days a year. To fit the seasons completely into the calendar, priests often announced that they would add another month to the current year.