Mesopotamia was the first of human civilisations.

The word Mesopotamia means "between two rivers" in Greek! So this civilisation was named because it was situated between two rivers: Tigris and Euphrates.

Within these fertile lands, the first ever city-states were born, four thousand (4.000) years before Christ. 

The most important cities were Ur, Urk and Lagash.

These city-states were independent from each other, like small different countries. 

Ziggurat of Ur
Ziggurat of Ur

This is a Sumerian ziggurat temple which is the largest and tallest building in the city. It is tall because Sumerians believed they could reach the gods if they went closer to the sky. 

The Sumerians believed in many gods which is also known as being polytheistic. However each city-state chose one god to honor the ziggurat for. Each god was known for a different reason and power.

Priests lived in the Ziggurat, from here they controlled the trade, agriculture and taxes. 

The supreme priest had the city's political and religious power.

City of Ur
City of Ur

Because of their well-being, these cities began to grow, but so did the conflicts between them due to the control of land.

The cities had to protect themselves building great walls. 

Those battles arose military leaders that little by little turned into monarchs, Kings!

The kings, priests, warriors, and government officials were the upper class

Most of the city's citizens were farmers,  shepherds and fishermen, but there were also artisans that sold their own products at the markets. They were the middle class which was the largest group.

The lower class was the enslaved people and criminals which worked for the upper class.

Sumerians made irrigation systems to water crops more easily and made buildings and roads as well.

Written language

Sumerians developed a writing system called cuneiform around 3.500 B.C.

The first written language was invented!

At first, it was composed by simple drawings called pictograms, look at these examples. 

Over time, these drawings were simplified and started to transform into symbols, which is what we know today as cuneiform writing.

The scribes or writers taught cuneiform to younger boys who would train to later become scribes. 

Cuneiform is made up of lines and triangles and was written on clay tablets with sharp reeds.



Make a mind map explaining the Sumerian Civilization.


Click on the picture and visit the British Museum.