Talk:Sumer/Archive 1

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physical features

Let's have a section on the physical features of the sumerians! according the some guy called steven quayle they were giants with six digits of each hand and two extra rows of teeth: "". There are other sources out there If this is a load of BS then it should be mentioned as a popular myth at the end of the article since his website has had something like 900m hits.



Map is now provided

John D. Croft 21:38, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

John, people migrate all the time and Sumerians were the first civilizations in that area. I read some speculation that they migrated from further East, Central Asia or Iran.

I see that your only posts so far have been regarding the Sumerians. If you know so much about them, can you write an alternate explanation for why historians speculated that the Sumerians were invaders of the pre-existing civilization of southern Iraq, as a replacement for the line of information that you want to remove?

John Alan Halloran

If something stands there for a long, it does not mean it is true. Let us not waste each other's time and make Sumerians at least for now racially neutral. Jesus Christ was a German Aryan for 12 years at least. So what?

The statement stood for so long because it was factually accurate, therefore I restored your deletion. The subtext that you describe does not exist in the minds of most people, so I agree with Codex Sinaiticus who removed the paragraph that you added about race.

John Alan Halloran

Hi there,

I removed the reference to Sumerians as being different from their Semitic neighbors and successors, lingistically, culturally, and in appearance. This sounds like Nazi racist theories that Sumerians were Aryans who invented civilization and therefore cannot look or be culturally similar from Semitic peoples. It looks like they were similar to other people in Iraq and Middle East, all of whom can be classified as Semitic.

I had to remove a slew of additions by John D. Croft because they did not reflect seasoned scholarship, but rather a host of opinions that he has read but not digested. His lack of expertise regarding Sumerian civilization is proved by his mistake in putting the creation goddess Nammu as the name of the moon-god and patron deity of the city of Ur, whose name was Nanna. Spellings such as 'descrete' for 'discrete' and 'weaping' for 'weeping' indicate a low level of scholarship.

John Alan Halloran

Hi all,

I've removed the following clip from the language section:

John Hayes, University of California, Berkeley who wrote a recent book titled:

 “Sumerian”  2nd printing June 1999, Languages of the World/Materials 68, 
LINCOM EUROPA, Paul-Preuss-Str. 25, D-80995 Muenchen, Germany.

Introduction of the book

”Sumerian has the distinction of being the oldest attested language in
the world. Spoken in the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia, the
Iraq of today, its first texts date to about 3100 BCE. Sumerian died
out as a spoken language about 2000 BCE, but it was studied in the
Mesopotamian school system as a language of high culture for almost
two thousand more years. A language-isolate, Sumerian has no
obvious relatives.  Typologically, Sumerian is quite different from
the Semitic languages which followed it in Mesopotamia. It is
basically SOV, with core grammatical relationships marked by affixes
on the verb, and with adverbial relationships marked by postpositions,
which are cross-referenced by prefixes on the verb. It is split
ergative; the perfect functions on an ergative basis, but the
imperfect on a nominative-accusative basis.

Because Sumerian is an isolate, and has been dead for thousands of
years, special problems arise in trying to elucidate its
grammar. There are still major challenges in understanding its
morphosyntax, and very little is known about Sumerian at the discourse
level. This volume will describe some of the major questions still to
be resolved."

It has two bad sentence fragments, doesn't flow, appears to duplicate information elsewhere in the article, and it may be copyrighted. --hamstar 07:24, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

Is there a way to have a pronunciation guide or something for some of these words? Even better would be a link to the names (Enmebaragesis, Lugal-Zage-Si) spoken aloud?? Or a dictionary like pronunciation next to the names?? Drives me CRAZY never being sure how to say them. Unless you are exposed to this information in school, the names aren't heard in day to day living. Same with Roman and Greek (Except for the well known and popular ones).

Any ideas or web sites that have some of this?? (I've looked and found some generic guides, but they don't help much...)

I'm not sure about some of the claims here. Did the Sumerians really invent the wheel? Etc. -- April

  • At least one website mentions the Sumerians as the inventors of the wheel. Another one suggests that there's some debate over this, so I don't know that I'd state it definitively here. Amusingly, another site mentions that in one location, after the wheel was invented there appeared to be an ad campaign on the cave walls promoting its use after people were afraid to do so because of fear of evil spirits. (This was in the Czech republic). So basically, no definitive evidence with a quick search. Probably need someone more authoritative though... Rgamble

In 1955 Ralph Linton wrote that the earliest evidence of the wheel is from Ur (Babylonian, I think, not Sumerian) although the earliest example of an axle is from Sumer. There has been an awful lot of archeology since then, so I wouldn't be surprised if there is now an even earlier example. But I wouldn't know where to look for an authoritative source. One reason is that I think most archeologists have given up on this kind of history (x first invented....). The archeological record is incomplete, in many ways. Even if the oldest example of a wheel comes from Sumer, it does not mean that Sumerians invented the wheel -- the evidence for an older wheel in Mexico may have been destroyed. Or the wheel in Sumer may have been brought there from some other society, or invented by a craftsperson from another place. Finally, does it really matter? Today in an integrated global economy, there is much at stake if someone invents the first VCR or cold-fusion reactor. But five thousand years ago, does it really matter if someone on one side of the planet invented something a few hundred years before someone on another side of the planet? SR

Ur was a Sumerian city, and probably existed under the earlier people of the region as well. One hears that the Sumerians invented the wheel a fair bit (second only to cavemen ;) ), but I think the archaeological record is still considered ambiguous.

"Male and female slaves were called maountian men and mountian women, respectivly." "maountian"? "mountian"? "mountain"?

Moved from vandalism:

sorry to post here but its the only place i know that people read and check new posts. Uh, Im working on Sumer and I can't get the text to wordwrap so its scrolling off into space...whats wrong? Lir 23:46 Oct 25, 2002 (UTC)

The problem was that the paragraph starting The Sumerian religion was initially very matriarchial begins with a SPACE character. So it's going to come out like the following:

The Sumerian religion was initially very matriarchial, as were many aspects of their society. 

Take off the space, and it will look like this:

The Sumerian religion was initially very matriarchial, as were many aspects of their society. --Ed Poor

What exactly is the source for the assertion that the ninth century Magyars were descended from the Sumerians. Seems to me that it is more a case of a people trying to link themselves (rather tenuously at that) with a mythical/heroic past. Please give some backing to the statement. Danny

The following URL should give you as many links as you desire. The linkage is quite a common theory; the Sumerians were not Semitic, and the Magyars and other tribes came from areas nearby, and the languages have strong similarities, more than to any other currently existing languages.
Magyar is a member of the Finno-Ugric group of the Uralic Yukaghir language family. Neither proto-Finno-Ugric, nor proto-Uralic, which may have been in existence at the time of Sumerian bear any resemblance to Sumerian Emesal or Emergir. All the comparisons of Magyar with Sumerian are drawn from modern Magyar.
John D. Croft 18:23, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Sumerian language says the language has no known affinities to others, which I've also seen written elsewhere.

Lir, the way you have edited this page it doesn't feel like an encyclopedia; it feels like a rather shoddy school report with things thrown in and linked willy-nilly. I know you are putting a lot of work into it, but perhaps you might benefit the project better if you looked at the entries for Sumer in a few other encyclopedias, to get a better idea of how things go into an encyclopedia. Good luck, and don't get discouraged. Your enthusiasm is catching. --Clutch

Well it should feel like a rather shoddy school report seeing as how its far from complete. Lir 07:41 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

What I was trying to point out was that some things that are appropriate to put into school reports, aren't so appropriate for encyclopedia articles. I mean, the fact that women did weaving in Sumeria needs some backing up. And why all the links? You have far too many, and you usually link to very generic things that it just doesn't make sense to link. If you haven't yet, I recommend going through the Wiki documentation and looking at the list of pages that are considered "quality" Wiki documents. Here is a link to Quality Wikipedia documents. I hope it clears things up for you. --Clutch 07:53 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

Look. If you want to know more about women weaving in Sumeria-then go ahead and add some information on it. Lir 07:59 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

I want to know what sources you are getting your information from. Also I don't think you should put in the bit about women weaving unless you also say why it's so important that it be in the article. Women have been weaving for a long time, and in many cultures. What was so unique about Sumerian women weaving that it should be in this encyclopedia article? I feel similarly about many other bits of information you felt were important to dump into the article.

Instead of dumping in a lot of little bits and pieces, like magpie droppings, I suggest that you put in one detail, adequately describe and explain it so it makes sense in the overall article... And THEN move on and add the next bit of information. --Clutch 08:21 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

I suggest you spend less time criticizing and more time adding articles. Lir 12:57 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

Your attitude is a poor reflection of the cooperative spirit of anarchy that you SEEM to find so attractive. --Clutch 14:04 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

Right back at you mr magpie droppings. Lir 16:46 Oct 28, 2002 (UTC)

Plz explain what is wrong with this article since you feel it so awful as to mention it on wikipedia-l as an example of an atrocity. Lir 10:46 Nov 21, 2002 (UTC)

Differing from previous city-state societies, Sumer was the first large nation formed by the aggregation and organization of city-states. The Sumerians practiced separation of church and state as well as representative democracy. The Sumerians had a sophisticated legal system. One ancient clay tablet tells of the first recorded murder trial in history.

Sumer existed as separate city-states, if sometimes achieving hegemony over one another, for many centuries. They did not see themselves as a nation, or as having a separate church and state, and indeed the kings were typically at least partly religious in function. The law codes are hardly what we would consider secular. I'm not entirely sure what the bit about representative democracy refers to, but it sounds like it is talking about the political system, which was not really that sort of thing. So I think it would be best to remove the paragraph until the points receive some justification.

The Magyars who settled Hungary in the 9th century AD are thought by some scholars to be ethnic descendants of the Sumerians. The Magyar and Sumerian languages show vastly more similarities to each other than to any other known languages.

No mention of the divergent migration and split in tribes of the Finno-Ugric peoples? Finnish, not Sumerian, is the closest relative to the Hungarian language... This same information can be found on the Magyars page.-- Jay Allen

I don't remove theories from Magyar just because it sounds foolish. (I try to be as NPOV'ed as possible, so these are listed as alternative theories.) There is the mainstream Finno-Ugric theory and lots of, let's call them, extreme theories, varying from Japanese to Martians as origin. Never heard about Sumerians and Magyars but hey, I'm not a wikipedia. :) If you have reliable sources it's always nice to hear about them, though. --grin 13:05, 10 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Hungarian and Sumerian cannot be shown to be related. Just about every single language in the history of the world has been linked to Sumerian(and Basque, and Etruscan). This is nothing but Fringe linguistics. It should not be in an encyclopedia(except in an article about Fringe linguistics), because it has zero evidence. I hope everyone won't mind if I remove it?

More of this zany fantasy can be found at the David Rohl website: People are afraid of this because the doubletalk has them fooled. This 'Sumerian' junk is a disgrace to Wikipedia Wetman

I could not find the reference on the site you posted. could you give the direct link please? I am surprised if Dr. Rohl mentions anything about that since he is despite his open mind a very meticulous archaeologist. User:Zestauferov

The mythical traditions of the Ancient Sumerians eerily resonate with those of the Hopi tribe of North America. Both have a central flood mythology, and both claim descendance from entities who survived a Great Flood. Here is a list of Hopi/Sumeria synchronicities:

The Hopi believe the Creator of Man is a woman. The Sumerians believed the Creator of Man was a woman.

The Hopi believe the Father Creator is KA. The Sumerians believed the Father Essence was KA.

The Hopi believe Taiowa, the Sun God, is the Creator of the Earth. The Sumerians believe TA.EA was the Creator.

The Hopi believe two brothers had guardianship of the Earth. The Sumerians believed two brothers had dominion over the Earth.

The Hopi believe Alo to be spiritual guides. The Sumerians believed AL.U to be beings of Heaven.

The Hopi believe Kachinas (Kat'sinas) are the spirits of nature and the messengers and teachers sent by the Great Spirit. The Sumerians believed KAT.SI.NA were righteous ones sent of God.

The Hopi believe Eototo is the Father of Katsinas. The Sumerians believed EA.TA was the Father of all beings.

The Hopi believe Chakwaina is the Chief of Warriors. The Sumerians believed TAK.AN.U was the Heavenly Destroyer.

The Hopi believe Nan-ga-Sohu is the Chasing Star Katsina. The Sumerians believed NIN.GIR.SU to be the Master of Starships.

The Hopi believe Akush to be the Dawn Katsina. The Sumerians believed AK.U to be Beings oflight.

The Hopi believe Danik to be Guardians in the Clouds. The Sumerians believed DAK.AN to be Sky Warriors.

The Hopi believe Sotunangu is a Sky Katsina. The Sumerians believed TAK.AN.IKU were Sky Warriors.

The Hopi name for the Pleaides is ChooChookam. The Sumerians believed SHU. SHU.KHEM were the supreme Stars.

The Hopi believe Tapuat is the name of Earth. The Sumerians believed Tiamat was the name of Earth.

The Hopi call a snake Chu'a. The Sumerians called a snake SHU.

The Hopi word for "dead" is Mokee. The Sumerians used KI. MAH to mean "dead."

The Hopi use Omiq to mean above, up. The Sumerians used AM.IK to mean looking to Heaven.

The Hopi believe Tuawta is One Who Sees Magic. The Sumerians believed TUAT.U was One from the Other World.

The Hopi believe Pahana was the Lost Brother who would one day return to assist the Hopi and humankind. The Sumerians would recognize PA.HA.NA as an Ancestor from heaven who would return.

Some new menace going by the IP of who doesn't know how to edit (like me when I first started :-P ), cut all this info out without discussion. Seems like there is a bit of Fred Hamori info here mixed up with speculations by other authors. Anyway it looks like some of the info should be put back into the article more carefully, but not quite so childishly (which was probably the reason for annoying enough to delete instead of re-work it). I don't have time to do this myself right now so I am leaving it here.

The term "Sumer" is actually an exonym, first applied by the Akkadians and indicating a perceived relationship to the Subarians to the north-east of Akkad. It has remained an exonym for a linguistic group calling themselves "Kanga" or "Kienga", which for precision should be called Linguistic-Sumerians or Kangians. The Subarian exonym, combined with being unrelated (on the basis of their language) to the various groups speaking West Afro-Asiatic dialects in Mesopotamia and the Levant, indicates that the Kiengian-Sumerians migrated onto the "plain of Shinar" from the East, specifically the Iranian plateaux (or perhaps even from the Indus Valley by ship), especially considering the linguistic ties to the Elamite and Dravidian languages.
Although the Kangians' arrival date is thought to coincide with their literary period, following the devastation of the Ubaid pre-Kangian-Sumerian (pre-linguistic-Sumerian) civilization by a flood dated to 3100 BC, the minor agricultural and organized Ubaid civilization, with cultural roots in Kermanshah near the northwestern corner of the Zagros Range, seems to have existed in the area as early as the mid 5th millennium BC. We know very little of these Ubaid pre-linguistic-Sumerians, but plausibly surmise that they, like all subsequent peoples in the area, spoke an Afro-Asiatic language. According to traditions from the area recorded in the Sumerian language, they may have been the first Kishites, though their own chronology would fit them into the 1st Uruk period. The earliest Hebrew religious texts also attest the transition from a Hamite influence to a Shemite influence in the story of Asshur succeeding Nimrod.
At any rate the time of the Linguistic-Sumerians can appear as a period of foreign influence in Mesopotamia, after which native Afro-Asiatic control resumed. The expansion of Indo-European peoples from the west into the Iranian Plateau pushed the speakers of agglutinative language there into Central Asia and into the Indian subcontinent, severing any ties with Mesopotamia and leaving their relatives there to become assimilated. The "Kanga" and "Subar" names would survive in Central Asia until the expansion of the Avars in the 6th century AD.

Lets see what can be done with it. It might be IP is the world's expert in the area simply oblivious to the value of other's ideas, or be yet another factionist out to make Wiki o podium only his/her own POV thus trying to edit out POVs which contradict with her/his own academic standpoints.Zestauferov 14:40, 2 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Domestication, Writing

I'd appreciate not being described as "mangling" anything (JDG). Domestication of animals and crops almost certainly predates the Sumerians (Emmer wheat ca. 7800 BCE, einkorn wheat ca. 6500 BCE). As for writing -- yes, at the moment it appears that cuneiform predates hieroglyphics, but that's by no means hard and fast. +/- 50 years is hard to justify at dates of 5000 years ago. --Danno 05:03, 26 May 2004 (UTC)

Sorry Danno, I guess that was a bit harsh. But you might think about giving at least a tiny indication of why you've blown something away... About these questions, I read a very recent article by one of the leading people in the field. She traces the wheat mutation to a region of modern Armenia and believes that a number of different pre-Sumerian cultures harvested the mutant strain where it grew. A few may have carried seeds to other areas, but it was on a very small scale and sporadic. She asserts that true cultivation and selective germination began with the Sumerians. So most of this depends on your definition of 'domestication'. For me, it has to be systematic and it has to include conscious selection of traits... The 50 years thing is there because Egypt specialists say they have nailed the advent of hieroglyphics to a very narrow period, and the earliest iron-clad dating of cuneiform is also pegged with a claim of high accuracy to half a century earlier. Note the paragraph says "at least 50 years". If we relax our standard of proof just a smidgeon, the most likely lead time would be 125 years. JDG 00:03, 27 May 2004 (UTC)


Some dumbass classmate in my 7th grade changed it. He was I'll change it back. :(

Gloomy Worldview

I think it's taking it a little too far to say that all Sumerians shared a gloomy world view. After all, the only Sumerians whose thoughts and emotions we can know were the ones who expressed themselves in cuneiform.

Therefore, it makes more sense to say that Sumerian SCRIBES had the morose perspective... a condition often shared by pundits and commentators throughout the ages, down to our own time.

Rather an elegant observation! And doubtless with some truth in it.

But I think we ought to consider that literature was largely oral in early civilizations. It's likely that the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is about as gloomy as a modern existentialist philosopher, was not a library piece for the educated few, but was probably written down only after generations of oral recitations, like the Homeric epics. Great swathes of ordinary people must have been familiar with it, and something in its basic philosophy must have been congenial to them.

So, although generalizations are hazardous and generalizations about whole civilizations exceptionally so, I think it's fair to suggest that the Sumerians were collectively a little more toward the depressive end of the mood spectrum. Or the realistic one, depending on how you look at it.

(BTW, shouldn't something be said about Sumerian mathematics and astronomy, especially the 360 degree circle? This article more or less summarizes what I've read elsewhere: 360 degree circle). RivGuySC 00:57, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)


I suppose we'll need some erference for the 'domestication' claim. In fact, there are no references at all, so far and we need any kind. (also, I am unsure how agriculture without domestication is possible) dab () 21:48, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Happy to:
(1) Colledge, S., Conolly, J., and Shennan, S. 2004. Archaeobotanical evidence for the spread of agriculture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Current Anthropology 45: S35-58.
(2) D. Zohary and M. Hopf. 1993. Domestication of Plants in the Old World. OUP, Oxford.
Both works compile and review existing evidence, with copious references to archaeobotanical and genetic work. They show that the origins of agriculture based on the domestication of T. dicoccum (emmer), T. monococcum (einkorn) and H. spontaneum (barley) (and the other founder crops) lie in the Levant from ca. 9500 cal BC (and possibly independently arising a bit later in S.E. Turkey). The earliest sites in this region are Iraq ed-Dubb, Tell Aswad, and Jericho, all which had domestic cereals by 8500 BC, followed by Cayonu in SE Turkey by ca. 8000 cal BC. These cereal crops---the exact same species that the Sumerians were using 5000 (!) years later---were systematically farmed by PPNB communities in the Levant and Anatolia by at least ca. 8500 cal BC. This has been known for a very very long time. From this core area in SW Asia, the knowledge, technology and crop stocks spread west and east to Central Asia, Mesopotamia, and Europe. For example, LBK (early Neolithic) groups in central Europe were monocropping emmer and einkorn by 5000 cal BC, still 1000 years before the Sumerians! I have no idea where JDG is getting his info. from but crediting the domestication of emmer and einkorn (or lentils, peas, chick peas and barley for that matter) to the Sumerians at ca. 4000 BC is complete and utter rubbish. The wild progenitors of emmer and einkorn (i.e. T. dicoccoides and T. boeoticum) don't even extend to southern Mesopotamia! Rattus 22:39, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC).
I didn't mean you, I guess :o) I know that agriculture arose millennia before the Sumerian culture. I meant, we need references if we want to make claims of agricultural innovations by the Sumerians. And we still need any kind of references about the Sumerians in general :o( dab () 09:37, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm more than happy for their to be a list of agricultural innovations introduced by the Sumerians to Mesopotamia -- (e.g. possibly large scale irrigation, intensive agriculture and ploughing with oxen). I'll dig out references to these, unless somebody beats me to it. Rattus 16:33, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Rattus, my problem is I'm relying on library material I read three years ago and don't have access to now. And I don't have the time to do new research on the web (which really doesn't go much faster than book & journal research if one sticks only to reputable sources). I still believe I'm basically correct and that we are butting heads on the definition of terms 'agriculture', 'domestication', etc.,. All that you say above about the initial appearance of species which eventually became crops is true. Where you stumble is this: the first appearance (often by random mutation) of edible species often occurred at considerable distance from the places those species were eventually cultivated in any systematic fashion. In fact your citation of T. dicoccoides and T. boeoticum is the classic example. The leading 20th Century researcher in this field (alas, I can't remember her name) devoted many chapters to this alone, showing how emmer and einkorn arose in what is today southern Armenia, was 'harvested' by local people for many years in a very haphazard way. Then somehow by design or luck seeds made their way to Mesopotamia (at that time the early Sumerians mostly occupied central, not southern, Mesopotamia) and within a short time the Sumerians were raising wheat, consciously selecting wheat traits, devising irrigation systems for wheat fields, etc.,. with a purpose and efficiency that makes the efforts of all the groups you mention look, well, primitive. And that is the point. You want to credit groups that happened to be on the spot during mutation events, and who then sauntered out to grab handfuls in fair weather, as 'domesticators'. I reserve that word for those who clearly applied foresight and who husbanded the crop over time and to great effect. So, please understand how terms are being used before you go off saying "complete and utter rubbish". These sorts of insulting terms don't help your case either.... Anyway, since I don't anticipate being able to renew my research on this, this is what I'd like to see from you: a paragraph that shows why the Sumerians occupy an important place in the history of agriculture. Do you deny they occupy such a place? Let's see something written by you instead of stuff deleted by you. JDG 17:51, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I'll start on a positive: the Sumerians occupy an important place in the history of agriculture, and deserve credit for a range of agricultural innovations, including large-scale irrigation. Also, we are butting heads on definitions: definitely on 'domestication' and 'agriculture' and, by the looks of things, also on 'Sumerian'. Lets try to clear this up first.

1. 'Domestication': as it applies to plants, this term refers to changes arising from human selection of traits (such as grain size and a tougher rachis) such that the given species cannot propagate without human intervention. Full stop - the term does not refer to methods of cultivation, only a phenotypic/genotypic change in the plant. I don't know who your 'leading researcher' is, but the information you cite about Armenia is not wholly true. Current research (i.e. within the last 10 years) has shown very clearly that the 8 founder crops (emmer, einkorn, barley, vetch, peas, lentils, chickpeas, flax) arose in the Levantine area of the Fertile Crescent at around 9,000-8,000 BC (possibly a few centuries earlier for wheat and barley) and were restricted to this area until the first of the major agropastoralist migrations (the so-called 'PPNB diaspora') into Cyprus, Anatolia and the Zagros. The one possible exception is T. monococcum, which may have been independently selected for in SE Turkey (the evidence comes from a site called Cayonu), but a few centuries after it first appears in the Levant. I can't put it any more directly: the Sumerians and Sumer had nothing to do with the domestication of these crops.

2. Agriculture: this is more difficult and the Sumerians were definitely engaged in it, whereas it could be argued that the majority of Neolithic farmers were horticulturists. The latter term tends to be used to refer to the tending of garden plots by family groups (i.e. for consumption within the family) rather than the extensive fields tended by labourers. The crops farmed by Neolithic groups were the same as used by Sumerians a few millennia later; it really is only a question of scale. Note also that there are some extremely large Neolithic settlements that exceed the population size of many Sumerian city-states (e.g. Catalhoyuk and Asiklihoyuk in Central Anatolia, Abu Hureyra in Syria, Jericho in the West Bank, Ain Ghazal in Jordan, and Jarmo in Iraq). In the case of Catalhoyuk, population sizes could be in the range of 5,000-8,000 people. Moreover, Neolithic groups did not 'haphazardly' cultivate these crops -- quite the contrary. In fact, T. aestivum (bread wheat, i.e. the same species that you and I use for sandwich bread) is a secondary domesticate that is used at Ashiklihoyuk in Anatolia (and at Neolithic Knossos) by 7,000 BC, arising from the selective breading of T. dicoccum with Aegilops squarrosa). So, although horticulture describes much of the small-scale farming of the Neolithic, there are many larger sites in which farming of extensive fields of crops for the production of surplus is better defined by the term agriculture. This is also the case for farming in Neolithic Europe, where the use of domestic oxen for ploughing is also attested. Useful refs:

A. Bogard. 2004. Neolithic farming in Central Europe. London: Routledge.

The Current Anthropology paper that deals with the emergence of the founder crops is available from Conolly's web site at

Zohary, d. 1996. The mode of domestication of the founder crops of southwest Asian agriculture, in The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia. Edited by D. R. Harris, pp. 142–58. London: UCL Press.

3. "Then somehow by design or luck seeds made their way to Mesopotamia (at that time the early Sumerians mostly occupied central, not southern, Mesopotamia) and within a short time the Sumerians were raising wheat, consciously selecting wheat traits, devising irrigation systems for wheat fields, etc.,." What were the Sumerians doing before this?? I think we've got a problem here with definition of Sumerian -- I'm using it in a strict sense to refer to the city states from about ca. 3500. You? In my terms, there therefore is a very long and active history of agriculture in Mesopotamia that predates the Sumerians (e.g., the v. large settlements of the Ubaid period in N. Mesopotamia, such as at Tell Brak). If you'd like to extend the definition of 'Sumerian' to before this, please give me a date and I'll tell you what was happening in SW Asia and Mesopotamia before this in terms of farming. We can then take it from there... Rattus 20:33, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Parts of this article have been defaced by IP

"The Tigris-Euphrates plain lacked minerals and trees. Sumerian structures comprised plano-convex mudbrick, not fixed with mortar or with cement. As plano-convex bricks (being rounded) i made a poop)|marsh reeds]], and weeds. Mud-brick buildings eventually deteriorate, and so they were periodically destroyed, levelled, and rebuilt on the same spot. This constant rebuilding gradually raised the level of cities, so that they came to be elevated above the surrounding plain. The resultant hills are known as tells, and are found throughout the ancient Near East. The most impressive and famous of Sumerian buildings are the ziggurat (which smell like poopoo)s, large terraced platforms which supported temples. The Biblical Tower of Babel may have been constructed in a similar manner. Sumerian cylinder seals also depict houses built from reeds not unlike those built by the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq until recent years." - P

Page repeating

Woah, I noticed that many paragraphs located at the start of the article are also there towards the bottom. I thought I was too tired from reading at first. I am not sure if there is new info on those paragraphs, if this is simply a case of vandals, or something else. Perhaps someone was editing the article when I was reading? In any case, I think I will let the owners of this article figure this out.

Sumerian Emblem

Can anyone please post the sumerian emblem of Mesopotamia? Have seen it ones in a book and it looks like two hands with the palms upwards and the hands slightly bent down. Wiggly lines resembling the two rivers were flowing from the finger tips of both hands into what looks like a glass of wine. The drawing is symmetrical about the glass, which is at the bottom of the drawing with the rivers then hands above them on the left and right sides looking exactly reflected from each other. Could you please post the emblem/symbol if you have it?

Sumer as name for the Southern Iraq

I read today that the SCIRI of Ayatollah al-Hakim wants the southern, shia part of Iraq to become a Region with large autonomy like the Curds area, with the name "Sumer". Does anybody know something more precisely about the matter?


This article contains very few dates. At least the approximate years of the civilisation's rise and fall would be useful.

Scribe schools

FWIW, I'm moving here the following request, which an anonymous user had placed into the article:

Hi, I was just looking on the site and somehow I was able to edit this. I was wondering if you could add anything about scribe schools, and maybe the way they were built? -- by User: (Talk)

--Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 10:50, 4 November 2005 (UTC)


The biblical Shinar means Babylonia as a whole, not just Sumer, which is Southern Babylonia. The Tower of Babel (identified with the Etemenanki ziggurat in Babylon), for example, is placed in Shinar, and the city of Babylon is in Northern Babylonia (the region of Akkad).--Rob117 19:01, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Iraq's Marsh Arabs

"The Ma-Adan sustained an ancient culture in an unusual land" - an interesting article. Who can study it and write new article for Wiki?

Architecture Section

I eliminated the sentence, 'The Biblical Tower of Babel may have been built in a similar manner.' This is a section about the history of Sumeria, not Biblical mythology. The Bible is not a historical document, and referring to events in Genesis as if they actually happened is inappropriate for a work of history.

The article on the Tower of Babel has several paragraphs on this subject, so I don't personally see a need to have it mentioned here. However, out of respect for whoever it was that orginally put the material in there, I put in its place the sentence, 'Some biblical scholars have theorized that these structures might have been the basis of the mythical Tower of Babel described in Genesis.'

I welcome any questions or comments. Cal

Zecharia Sitchin?

Considering that no other authority of any level of repute is even mentioned in the article (with the exception of a brief mention of Alan Marcus), I question strongly whether Zecharia Sitchin should be named here. His "theories" may have resonance with fringe thinkers and New Agers, but his statements have seriously eroded his credibility with mainstream thinkers. I can see including him as an example of the extremes of thought inspired by the study of Sumer, but unless more legitimate mainstream scholars are also included then any reference to Sitchin seems at best unencyclopedic and at worst completely irrelevant. Canonblack 22:14, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I deleted this section:

Russian-born Israeli writer and linguist Zecharia Sitchin has written many books advocating the view that the Sumerian gods were alien astronauts. He supports this opinion with his own translation of Sumerian cuneiform script. He is one of only hundreds of scholars who can decipher the ancient language. He also argues that the ancient Sumerians knew of Neptune and Uranus, and that the sun is the centre of the solar system.

As, it has already been noted, Sitchin is in no way a credible Assyriologist and his ideas are completely unfounded. -Lance

Zecharia Sitchin lies that Sumerian was first human tongue. original human tongue was Proto-Indo-European, proofs here:


You have a contradiction on this page between describing an arid climate and the moist Holocene period later down. Please decide which climate governed the founding of Sumer and edit accordingly.

Geographical Coordinates in History Section

Coordinates inaccurate for Shuruppak (Fara)

Can Someone Explain to me How This is The First 'Civilization'

It seems to rest solely on cuneform vs. heiroglyphics. The Egyptians had pictographs and had civilizations beyond imagination back decades before Sumer. I don't get it. It seems all purely technicality, and most things defining civilization date back long before Sumer in general.


On the heiroglyphics page, they date heiroglyphics to 3,200BC - 100 years before cuneiform, and show evidence that heiroglyphics in full sentences were used centuries earlier. I am trying to use Wikipedia as a starting point for a glossary on ancient civilizations, and I have to say the dates and terms used just don't add up. Sorry to criticize, but Wikipedia is falling short of it's goal on many of these pages, and it's a shame because it does a great job with many other topics.

It seems to me that Sumeria is NOT the first country to use proper writing, and this is a fairly recent discovery. Because of religious reasons, I fear this is the reason that the claims have not been updated to reflect the facts.

Go ahead, prove me wrong or ignorant. That's a request. I'd love to get to the bottom of this. Whatever it is however, many pages need their dates updated and/or fixed - or, if I am a moron, clarified. Proper sourcing using current credible materials is critical on these pages, IMHO. Nephalim 04:24, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

writing emerged simultaneously, and probably not unconnectedly, in both Egypt and Mesopotamia. It isn't possible to say exactly in which century writing proper first appears, because it emerges very gradually from proto-writing, say between 3400 and 3000 BC. Egypt and Sumer will just have to share the honour of being the first literate civilization. dab () 21:41, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your wisdom. That, after much investigation, seems to be the case. There is even apparently evidence that the Akkadians (who are migrants) developed their own writing system before the Sumerians as well. The conventional knowledge of the first civilization occuring in Mesopotamia seems to be tough to break it seems. Perhaps religious reasons? I don't know as much of the old testament as I should of something so influential. Or perhaps we don't want to have civilization begin in Africa. It's very cleary that the first civilizations were Egypt and Sumeria, and that civilized (neolithic) cultures existed across the globe, especially all of Europe, Asia (the Middle East and China), and Africa (haven't gotten into the Americas (or Africa, aside from Egypt,) yet in my research however), mostly "evolving" independently going back a good 12,000 years.
Unfortunately my comment that the pages on these ancient civilizations are poorly coordinated at best. I love Wikipedia, but I am let down by this bit, and had to turn to other reseach materials to feel comfortable with certain claims and figuring out certain things. Perhaps once I finish my ancient history reference glossary for the book I am writing I will post it here and you can take from it what you'd like. Nephalim 08:54, 30 October 2006 (UTC)