Mesopatamia Essay

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THE SUMERIAN CITY-STATE The people who established the world's first civilization around 3500 B.C. in southern Mesopotamia were known as the Sumerians. The Sumerians learned to control the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by constructing levees and irrigation canals. As a result, a stable food supply existed, and the Sumerian villages evolved into self-governing city-states. At the center of each city-state was a temple surrounded by courts and public buildings. Radiating from the all-important city center were the two-story houses of the priests and merchants, or the upper class; the one-story homes of government officials, shopkeepers, and craftspeople; and the lower class homes of farmers, unskilled workers, and fishermen. The city-state also included the fertile farming land outside the city wall. Since there wasn't any building stone and very little timber in Sumer, the people constructed their homes, public buildings, and city walls out of sun-dried mud brick. The Sumerians took great pride in their city-states. Many times city-states would war with each other because boundary disputes existed. Sometimes a city-state would attack a neighboring city-state just to prove its strength. THE ZIGGURAT Originally the temples at the center of each city-state were built on a platform. As time passed, these platform temples evolved into temple-towers called ziggurats. The ziggurat was the first major building structure of the Sumerians. Constructed of sun-baked mud bricks, the ziggurats were usually colorfully decorated with glazed fired bricks. The ziggurat housed each city-state's patron god or goddess. Only priests were permitted inside the ziggurat; as a result, they were very powerful members of Sumerian society. CUNEIFORM As the Sumerian city-states' wealth increased, government officials realized that an efficient method of keeping records had to be

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