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Sumer The Cradle of Civilization Mesopotamia is located in the Middle East, which is located in Southwest Asia. The first civilizations and examples of writing were ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Sumer

The Cradle of Civilization
Mesopotamia is located in the Middle East, which
is located in Southwest Asia. The first
civilizations and examples of writing were found
in Southwest Asia. These things began in
When a newborn baby begins life, he or she is
placed in a cradle. Mesopotamia is called the
cradle of civilization because the first
civilizations began there, about 5,500 years ago
in 3500 B.C.
Mesopotamia was located in the Middle East.
(No Transcript)
Mesopotamia was located in what is now the
country of Iraq.
Mesopotamia - The Land Between Two Rivers
Mesopotamia was a place where many cities began
to grow. As its name suggests, Mesopotamia was
located between two rivers. The two rivers were
the Tigris River and the Euphrates River.
Mesopotamia was located in the Middle East, and
surrounded by desert. People came to Mesopotamia
because the silt (soil) between the two rivers
was very fertile.
Mesopotamia was part of a larger region called
the Fertile Crescent. This area, that stretched
from the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea
down to the Persian Gulf, had fertile soil and
was where many civilizations started. The shape
is somewhat similar to a crescent (think of a
crescent roll, or a crescent-shaped moon).
City-States in Mesopotamia
A. Mostly dry desert climate in SW Asia (Middle
1. Except in region between Tigris / Euphrates
2. a flat plain known as Mesopotamia lies
between the two rivers
3. Because of this regions shape and the
richness of its soil, it is called the
Fertile Crescent. - the rivers flood at
least once a year, leaving a thick
bed of mud called silt.
SW Asia (the Middle East)
Fertile Crescent
PP Design of T. Loessin Akins H.S.
City-States in Mesopotamia
B. Three Disadvantages / Environmental Challenges
1. Unpredictable flooding / dry summer months
2. No natural barriers for protection -
small villages lying in open plain were
3. Limited natural resources (stone, wood, metal)
Sumerian innovations
in achieving civilization set example
others would follow. But to arrive at
these solutions, required organized
government. Lets now look at the type of
government the Sumerians had.
C. Solutions
1. Irrigation ditches
2. Built city walls with mud bricks
3. Traded with people around them for
the products they lacked. Initiated
Bronze Age.
PP Design of T. Loessin Akins H.S.
City-States in Mesopotamia
II. The City-State Structure of Government
A. Although all the cities shared the same
Define type of government
  • Each city had its own government / rulers,
  • its own patron god, and functioned like an
    independent country
  • includes within the city walls and also the
  • surrounding farm land

D. At center of each city was the walled temple
with a ziggurat a massive, tiered,
pyramid-shaped structure.
City-States in Mesopotamia
II. The City-State Structure of Government
A. Powerful priests held much political power in
the beginning.
B. Military commanders eventually became ruler /
monarch - then began passing rule to their
own heirs, creating a new structure of
government called a Dynasty a series of
rulers descending from a single family line.
Define type of government
Historians wonder Did the Sumerians
develop this new type of government on their own,
or did they learn and adopt it only after contact
with other peoples cultural diffusion?
PP Design of T. Loessin Akins H.S.
City-States Formed Along the Rivers
Many city-states formed along the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia. They each had
their own form of government, and the people
worshipped different gods and goddesses.
Eventually, they each had their own kings. The
region where the two rivers meet was called
Sumer. The people who lived in the Sumer region
were called Sumerians.
Why Did These Cities Develop?
Due to the fertile soil in Mesopotamia, farming
was very successful. In fact, people were able to
create surpluses of food. This meant that some
people could stop farming and begin doing other
things, like building a city.
As cities began to develop, people began to worry
about others who might come and invade their
city. They wanted to protect themselves from
enemies, so people in Mesopotamia built walls
around their cities.
Writing first began in Sumerian cities. The
first schools were set up in Sumer over 4,000
years ago. Sumerian schools taught boys the new
invention of writing. Those who graduated became
professional writers called scribes. Scribes
were the only people who could keep records for
the kings and priests. Boys that wanted to be
scribes had to attend school from the age of 8 to
the age of 20.
Remember, Sumer is the region where the Tigris
and Euphrates Rivers meet.
Sumerian Writing
Scribes used a sharp point called a stylus to
etch words into clay tablets. These tablets have
been discovered by archaeologists and looked at
by historians.
A Sumerian City
Sumerian city streets were so narrow that you
could hardly get a cart through them.
Narrow Streets
Sumerian houses faced away from crowded streets.
Instead, they faced onto courtyards where
families ate and children played.
Courtyard Area
Sumerian Cities
On hot nights, people slept outdoors on the top
of their houses flat roof.
Sumerians had a form of light at night. They
burned oil lamps.
Sumerians even had plumbing! Clay pipes that
were buried underground carried their waste away.
Inventions like plumbing wouldnt come around
for another thousand years in other parts of the
Sumerian Religion
Sumerians worshipped many gods, not just one.
This belief in many gods is called polytheism.
Poly means many and Theism means gods.
The picture above shows a ziggurat. Ziggurats
were the main temples used to worship the gods of
a city. Ziggurats were built in the center of
the city. They had steps and ramps, and it was
believed that the gods descended to the Earth
using the ziggurat as a ladder.
The Ziggurat at Ur was first excavated by British
archaeologist Woolley in 1923.
Sumerian Mythology
Sumerian myths, or stories, explained peoples
beliefs. Sumerians believed that a person must
keep the gods happy by going to the ziggurat and
praying to them. They believed that the gods
would reward them for good service. They also
believed that the gods would punish the people
who made them angry.
DID YOU KNOW Like many ancient civilizations,
the Sumerians also had a flood story. Thats
not surprising given their challenging
environment sitting between two unpredictable
riversin their view, such a cataclysmic event
did, indeed, destroy their entire world. The
Epic of Gilgamesh is, perhaps, the oldest written
story on Earth. It comes to us from ancient
Sumeria, and was originally written on 12 clay
tablets in cuneiform script. It is about the
adventures of the cruel King Gilgamesh of Uruk
(ca. 2750 and 2500 BCE). In tablet XI we read
about a man who built a boat and was saved from a
great flood brought about by angry gods.
Tablet XI
The Downfall of the Sumerians
Each of the Sumerian city-states had a ruler, and
these city-states began fighting each other.
They fought over land and the use of river water.
Since the Sumerians were constantly at war with
each other, they became weak. By 2000 BC, Sumer
was a weakened area, and by 1759 BC, Sumer was
conquered by another group of people - the
Babylonians, who were from the north.