|History of literature
|Modern by century|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (July 2012)|
The Sumerians invented the first writing system, developing Sumerian cuneiform writing out of earlier proto-writing systems by about the 30th century BCE. The earliest literary texts appear from about the 27th century BCE.
The Sumerian language remained in official and literary use in the Akkadian and Babylonian empires, even after the spoken language disappeared from the population; literacy was widespread, and the Sumerian texts that students copied heavily influenced later Babylonian literature.
Sumerian literature has not been handed down to us directly, rather it has been rediscovered through archaeology. Nevertheless, the Akkadians and Babylonians borrowed much from the Sumerian literary heritage, and spread these traditions throughout the Middle East, influencing much of the literature that followed in this region and Ancient Egypt
Important works include:
- A Creation and Flood Myth (translation)
- Three epic cycles:
- Two Enmerkar legends:
- Two tales of Lugalbanda during Enmerkar's campaign against Aratta:
- Five stories in the Gilgamesh epic cycle:
- The Lament for Ur (translation)
- The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
- Catalogue of literary works at the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature