1) Roots of Western Religion.
2) The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, Samuel Noah Kramer. U of Chicago, 1967.
3) The British Museum 2002. 


King List


Includes most of modern Iraq and western Syria. Home to some of manís first experiments with agriculture and irrigation. Sumeria, an area in lower Mesopotamia the size of Massachusetts probably gave rise to the 1st high civilization. The Sumerians became know as Sumerians by the 3rd millenium. They developed the 1st system of writing in clay, 1st law codes, individualism, and irrigation hence cooperation. The is no stone or timber in the area thus the need to trade grain for those raw materials. By 3rd millenium they had surpluses. Thru trade or military force Sumerians penetrated east to India west to Mediteranean south to Ethiopia and north to the Caspian Sea.

Archeologists looking for Assyrans from Greek and Hebrew sources found the Sumerian civ around 1850. Realized Persian and Akkadian cuneiforms from Iran, but Iraq (Mesopotamia) original source of cuneiform, must have been an earlier civ. In 1850 Hincks suggests this Babylonian cuneiform orign but misnamed them Babyonian Scyths and later as Akkadians. Jules Oppert 1869 called them Sumerians based on King Sumer and Akkad whom he found in inscriptions of early rulers. Akkad was Semetic people of Assyria and Babylonia while Sumerians were non-Semetic.

1st dig 1877 at Telloh, ruins of Lagash by Frenchman de Sarzec. Ur excavated 1922-34 by Woolley.


Prehistoric settlements slowly become more reliant on domestic rather than wild food sources. The was storage happening in what is now North Iraq. Adaptation leads to increased population density. Plastered semi-subterranean houses anticipate the mud brick, sun dried clay buildings throughout later Mesopotamian history.


The grinding and working of fine stone vessels and statuettes was well established by 6000 BC.


Samarra Culture (6000-5500)

In central and north Mesopotamia.

Pottery, (c)

Halaf Culture (5500-5000)

In north Mesopotamia, agricultural settlements. Resemblances between them indicate a shared cultural and social organization.


5500-5000      Halaf period Stone Figurines

5000                Halaf period Necklace, Amulet Stone Seals, and Sealed Clay Labels

Ubaid Culture (5500-4000)

In south Mesopotamia, with expansion to north and west.

There is little known of south Mesopotamia before 5500 BC, but some centuries later the influence of the Ubaid culture seen throughout the north. 3

5500-5000      Ubaid Period Figurines

4000                Ubaid Period Amuletic Stone and Bone Seals, Sealed Clay Labels


Sumeria first settled (probably not by sumerians) btw 4500-4000. Before that most of Sumer covered by the Persian Gulf. But maybe not and older remains still underground.

Kings and rulers of city states: ensiís built temples as dwellings places for the gods for long prosperous life of self and subjects. Pictographs evolve info cuniform, record vuilding activities for all to see and remember

2nd quarter 3rd millenium Ė written history begins

5000 tablets of Sumerian literature spread over the world, excavated around 1910ís? cuneforem script. By 24th century written treaty btw Lagash and Umma inscribed in stele of Vulturres (p34-5 Kramer). Economic and admin documents.

Gawra Culture (4000-3500)

In north Mesopotamia

Uruk Culture (4000-3000)

In south Mesopotamia, with expansion to north and west.

From 3500-3000: Culmination of previous developments: enter a period of dense population. Large towns existed before, but now a major increase in scale.

The city of Uruk covered over five square kilometers. Power concentrated in the temples or religious organizations which controled large estates. However the building of a city wall is ascribed to a king, Gilgamesh. Massive temple buildings constructed and reconstructed over the centuries. Elaborate administrative organization existed, with specialist craftsmen classified by rank. Workers may have been paid in rations of food. International trade and other links florished. While pottery for common use was mass produced, magnificent stone carvings were created for dedication in the temples. The working of metal was more widespread.

By 3000: development of writings and mass production of goods reflected the complexities of social organization.

Late Prehistoric Period (3300-2750):

Includes Late Uruk/Jamdat Naar phase and Early Dynastic I.

Religious Uruk Trough, (c)


First Dynasty of Ur

Metalwork and a Mosaic Column from the Temple of Ninhursag at Tell al-'Ubaid, near

Ur. (c), (c).



At Eridu an early shrine can be traced through many rebuildings in its transformation in historical times into a major Sumerian temple, continuity in the region.

From 3000-1500 BC political control has held alternatively by small states ususally based on towns and short lived empires. The Sumerian language used in the south gradually

replaced by Akkadian, used by Babylonians and Assyrians in central and north

Mesopotamia. The economy largely depended on efficient management of water. Some cooperation and some competition btw settled farmers and mobile pastoral groups, some of whom invaded from without. In 1750 BC the Su