Our lives and world as it is today owes a lot to the ancient Sumerian people.
They were perhaps the innovators of most of the things we take for granted today.
The Sumerians were the first to begin a human settlement of any kind and soon they began innovating and improvising in their day to day lives.Sumerian inventions forever changed the course of civilization.
Sumerian inventions contributed in written and oral communication,trade,travel,commerce,clothing,science and literature among a horde of other discoveries.Almost everything that we have always had can be traced back to the Sumerian culture.Some of the most influential of the Sumerian inventions are discussed here.
Writing system:Developing a writing system is perhaps the most significant of Sumerian inventions.It helped the Sumerians to communicate,contribute to literature and in book keeping.Cuneiform was the first form of writing developed by the Sumerians around 3200 BC.Clay tablets were used as paper and a stylus like implement was used to draw wedge-shaped characters.These clay tablets were then baked for preservation.For several decades after that Cuneiform was the method of written communication despite the fact that there were almost 500 characters to master in order to be able to communicate effectively.
The oldest known literary work,The Epic of Gilgamesh,is a collection of stories about a Sumerian hero which was the foundation for poetry and prose writing development.The Odyssey and the Iliad among others were based on this collection.
Astronomy:The Sumerian inventions’ unending list also comprises the invention of the calendar.The ancient Sumer had to yield crops much in excess of what he could consume in lack of calculations.The book keeping was also in lack of an efficient system of calculating long time periods.Based on the cycle of the moon,the Sumerians invented the calendar which was divided into twelve months.Since a year consisting of twelve lunar months was shorter than a solar year,the Sumerians also added a ‘leap year’ every three years to catch up with the sun.Gradually,the Sumerians had developed a keen sense in abstract mathematics and astronomy.
Monarchy:The world’s first system of monarchy is also a Sumerian invention.The early Sumerian states needed a new form of government to govern larger areas and diverse people.The states of Sumer were ruled by a priest-king whose duties included leading the military,trade,judging disputes and taking part in vital religious ceremonies.Under the priest-king were several priests who surveyed land,assigned fields and distributed the harvest.
The new system of rule followed the e concepts of kinship and responsibility.The monarch was considered divine and worshipped.With a large part of the Sumerian civilization now not merely raising crop,a middle management or the bureaucrat acted as the distribution mechanism.Book keeping and writing were already an established Sumerian invention and this aided bureaucracy well.
by Christopher Schwebius