Amazing Discoveries and Facts About the Sumerian Civilization


The Sumer civilization is known to be one of the oldest civilization in Southern Mesopotamia, which is now known as Southern Iraq. Studies showed that the Sumer civilization was established between c.5500 and 4000 BC. The Sumerians are known to developed trade, weaving, leatherwork, and agriculture. Let’s take a look at some Sumerian inventions and discoveries and how they contributed variously to the culture of the world.

1. Trade and Commerce

The Sumerians were known to be very wise when it comes to trade and commerce. They were able to maintain a good trade and commercial relation with Asian countries such as India. They exported wool, metallic goods, dates, food grains, and even silk-dresses. And the Sumerians accepted silver for payment in exchange for all their goods.

2. Government

The invention of the government is often credited to the Sumerians. Because as the Sumerian villages slowly grew into large cities, it led to the establishment of several cities like Ur, Kish, Nipur, and Lagas. All of them has a city government that rules the city and the land around it. However, these city-states often fought each other that’s why the Sumerians built walls around each city for protection against the invaders.

These Sumerian city-states had its own king or governor who would also act as the city’s highest priest for their religion as well. These kings and governors would often have officials to help them organize the city’s building projects and their day-to-day transactions. They also implement the laws that the citizens must follow or they may face punishment. They developed the very first codified legal and administrative systems that have jails, courts, and even government records.

3. Libraries

It is said that the Sumerians invented the library because scientists found almost 30,000 clay tablets in the ruins of Tello. These tablets were in order according to their series. And there were also several tablets that have been discovered in different places and cities in the Mesopotamia. This evidence proves that Sumerians built these ancient storehouses of knowledge we know now today as the library.

4. Architecture

Each Sumerian city had its own god. That is why in the center of every city was a large temple dedicated to their god and they called it a ziggurat. These temples are seven or eight-story buildings that become narrower around the top. The Sumerians paid attention to every little detail and each column, arch, and the dome was made with proper proportion.

5. Wheel and Cart

One of the greatest contributions to mankind of the Sumerian civilization was the wheel. It was formed when Sumerians thought of the idea of making a potter’s wheel bigger and attaching them to vehicles and mill wheels. These wheeled carts helped the Sumerian’s to have faster constructions, trade, and commerce process which resulted in the accelerated progress of their civilization.

6. Astronomy

The Sumerians were the world’s first astronomers. They were able to map the stars into different constellations. They were also able to see the five planets that are easily visible to the naked eye.

7. Armed Forces

The Sumerians may have invented military formations and their basic divisions like the cavalry, infantry, and archers.

8. Domestication and Agriculture

The Sumerians are believed to be the first people to usher in intensive agriculture, irrigation, and domestication. They were the first people to cultivate crops and raised sheep and cows on a larger scale.

9. Time Measurement and the Water Clock

The Sumerians invented the water clock to measure the time. They made a measurement where they divided an hour into sixty minutes and each minute has sixty seconds. Their clock contained water that was falling down drop by drop from the hole of a pot. The Sumerian legacy of the measurement of the hour and the minute still lives on today.

Facts about the Sumerian Civilization

  • Uruk, one of the Sumerian civilization’s largest city is believed to have over 80,000 residents.
  • A woman was included in the list of Sumerian rulers. It is said that Kubaba, a “woman tavern-keeper” took the throne in the Sumerian city of Kish around 2500 BC.
  • The Sumerians loved drinking beer. Archeologists said that the Sumerians were brewing beer since the fourth millennium BC. And they believed that drinking beer is the key to a joyful heart.
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