The First Urban Revolution Mesopotamia, between the two rivers The Tigris & Euphrates, modern day Iraq It is called the Fertile Crescent because of its high agricultural productivity Also has high temperatures and unpredictable floods To succeed anyone who lived here would need to construct irrigation ditches and canals
Ubaidians Semitic speaking people who pre-date the Sumerians in the fertile crescent region Approx. 4500 BCE they drain marshes and develop an irrigation system Eventually, they were supplanted by the Sumerians who built better irrigation systems and roads
Sumer By 3300 BCE Sumer had emerged as one of the oldest urban centers in the world New methods of irrigation and farming technology led to a SURPLUS of food And that, leads to a lot of other very important things…
Surplus allows so many things to happen The population skyrocketed Increase the amount of job specialization (scientists, priests, traders, builders, farmers, military) Needed to build large storage buildings, and buildings for religious rituals …and government too!
Cities are unprecedented in scale Uruk (city of the god king Gilgamesh) Stretched to 6 miles wide Population 50,000 (2700 BCE) In comparison Limerick twp. Has a population of about 14,300 (2000 census) By 2500 BCE the Region of Sumer had a population of 500,000 and 4/5 people lived in a city.
Organization & Development Without a well structured and developed system of government Sumer would not have been able to function Construction and maintenance of public works required the organization of large work groups In turn, it helped to form Civic Identity, or a sense of citizenship, based on shared space
Power is Centralized Originally, aristocratic elders worked with and appointed temporary leader By 2000 BCE hereditary kings worked in conjunction with temple priests
Religion & Rituals Priests have enormous power & prestige Urban ritual practice is far more elaborate than rural The king maintained his right to rule through his religious standing On New Years the King of Ur would be married to Inanna in a special ceremony which signified both his heavenly and earthly importance
Grave from Ur excavated in the 1920s Six men servants carrying knives or axes lay near the entrance lined up against the wall; in front of them stood a great copper basin, and by it were the bodies of four women harpists, one with her hands still on the strings of her instrument. Over the rest of the pits area there lay in ordered rows the bodies of sixty-four ladies of the court. All of them wore some sort of ceremonial dress…Clearly these people were not wretched slaves killed as oxen might be killed, but persons held in honor, wearing their robes of office and coming, one hopes, voluntarily to a rite which would in their belief be but a passing from one world to another, from the service of a god on earth to that of the same god in another place. In contrast most commoners were buried in the basement vaults of their own homes.
Function & Beauty Monumental architecture could be found in the center of every Sumerian city-state in the form of a Ziggurat, they functioned as Temple complexes-cementing the centrality and importance of religious life in Sumer Temples also employed and fed multitudes. Ex. 3000 BCE the Lagash temple fed about 1200 people/day
Cylinder Seal, Hunting Scene 2200 BCE Small cylinders of stone for stamping clay tablets and sealing jars were ornately decorated to demonstrate status and position as well as identify the sender and could be worn as a type of amulet
Token to Tablet At first writing was simple pictures, tokens and seals Eventually a new method of record keeping was developed to keep track of business, proclamations, rituals and legends Cuneiform will progress from symbols for words to phonetic sounds based on words Occupations to follow, scribe and School Teacher!
Sumer has all the hallmarks of a great civilization Sumer is actually a network of city-states which share the same culture and language These cities (which include Ur, Uruk, Kish, Nippur and Lagash) thrive for a full millennium Each is extremely powerful, at one point Lagash controls 1200 sq. miles surrounding it. City-states frequently war with each other
Sumer traded by land, river & sea They are responsible for the development of both the wheel and the sail boat They traded all the way from the Arabian Sea Coast and the Indus River Valley bringing back wood, stone, metal, copper, tin, ivory and ceramics
Invention & Innovation Astronomers establish an accurate calendar Musician create the lyre Metallurgists smelt copper & tin, ushering in the Bronze Age New technology for weapons and farming can be created…the oxen pulled plow!