Ancient Civilized Peoples: Sumerians (Part II)

The Sumerians did not have kings in the early past. The reign was then performed by priests. With the emergence and development of cities, the burden of governance became heavy for the priests. At that time, they selected a distinguished clergy person to lead city affairs. This is how the institution of kings came into being. The king performed all state affairs that were not related to the temple. The King was concerned about the Sumerian people obeying law and order. If war broke out with any of the nations or tribes, the king led the army into battles. He made sure that the streets and canals were maintained. The priests and other clerks advised the king. As the population grew, so did the king and his assistants with more work. Merchants and farmers supplied the city with food. With successful trade with other cities, the prosperity of the city grew. Craftsmen made the city more beautiful. The sculptors made beautiful statues, carpenters made gates, doors and furniture. Filigree craftsmen made jewelry made of silver, gold and precious stones. Armed men made forged copper weapons because the Sumerians were a belligerent people. Sealers were the most skilled craftsmen in Sumer. Their seals were used by kings, priests, clerks and merchants to stamp their letters, warrants, official documents and bills. The seals were made of loam and stone, alabaster or ivory. The seals had engraved figures of gods, animals, or humans. Many of the seals found are beautifully decorated.
Slaves served in wealthy families, worked in the fields or in the household. Slaves were often made up of enemy soldiers captured during the battle. Some slaves were able to buy their freedom and buy the land for cultivation.
The Sumerians used the so-called wedge letter. 3500 years BC, the Sumerians were drawing pictograms. The contours of the objects were carved into loam tables using feathers made of reeds. The tables were burning and thus becoming indestructible. A large number of such tables have been excavated in the city of Ur. With the help of these tables, Sumer’s life became clearer to us. Pictograms evolved over time into a mixture of images and symbols (which represented the pronunciation of syllables). After all, the Sumerians had one type of letter with about 600 symbols. One preserved Sumerian record says: “For Nanar, his king Ur-Nanu, a powerful man, King Ur, king of Sumer and Akkad, dug a great channel, his beloved channel.”
The number of cities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers has increased over time. Rich and powerful cities subjugated their neighbors to power. Thus a series of dynasties emerged, whose supreme authority was Sumer.
Although it is impossible to represent the complete tree of the Sumerian dynasties, some rulers are known. From 2700 BC to 2280 BC, the capital city and the leading city was Ur. The tomb of Queen Shab-Ad has been found. Based on the splendor and richness of the tomb, it was determined that she was the wife of a king. In her grave was found a harp decorated with a bull’s head and shells.
Around 2370 Sumer was conquered by the Semitic neighbor King Sargon I. Since King Sargon I had defeated the Kings of Ur, Lagash and other cities, he ruled Sumer for the next 120 years. King Sargan I ruled the Sumerians and their neighbors the Amorites and the Akkadian. Sargon’s grandson Naramsin was named King of the Four Quarters of the World. He was eventually defeated by the Sumerian army from Ur. Now Ur was once again a capital with a leading dynasty. Prior to 1950 BC, neighboring nations were slowly gaining dominance over Sumer.
Sumerian civilization ultimately failed, but merged with the Babylonian civilization, which improved all its best features. The Sumerians reached a high degree of legal and social organization in the period when Europe was inhabited by uncivilized Neolithic people.


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