The Rise of Sumer

The Rise of Sumer
Mesopotamia Division of Labor Quiz
• 1. On loose leaf notebook paper, not ripped from your notebook,
place heading and title on paper.
• 2. Complete quiz – just answer questions
– A. T or F = Mesopotamia’s surplus of goods led to the need for more
people to work in the fields.
– B. T or F = Division of Labor refers to the work force being split into
different jobs.
– C. T or F = The use of irrigation provided abundant water for the
– D. T or F = Division of labor works best if all people do their job on
– E. T or F = Laws and government is not needed with division of labor.
– F. T or F = a positive aspect of division of labor is jobs being done in an
efficient manner.
An Advanced Society
• By 3000 BC, several hundred thousand Sumerians
had settled in Mesopotamia, in a land they called
Sumer, the world’s first civilization.
• Most people in Sumer were farmers. Sumer
consisted of city-states, a city (urban) and all the
countryside (rural) around it.
• The amount of countryside controlled by each citystate depended on its military strength. Stronger
city-states controlled larger areas. City-states in
Sumer fought each other to gain more farmland.
Gilgamesh, Akkads, and Sargon
• Over the next 1,000 years, the city-states of Uruk and Ur
fought for dominance. One of Uruk’s kings, known as
Gilgamesh, became a legendary figure in Sumerian literature.
• Another society developed along the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers, this society was created by the Akkadians .
• The Akkadians and Sumerians lived in peace for many years.
That peace was broken in the 2300’s BC when Sargon sought
to extend Akkadian territory.
• Sargon established the world’s first empire, or land with
different territories and peoples under a single rule.
• Eventually, the Sumerian city-state of Ur rebuilt its strength
and conquered the rest of Mesopotamia, making Sumer the
most powerful civilization once again.
Sumerian Religion
• In many ways, religion was the basis for all of Sumerian
• Sumerians practiced polytheism, the worship of many gods.
• The gods they worshipped included the gods of: the air,
wisdom, fresh water, salt water, love and war, sun and moon.
• Each city-state considered one god to be its special protector.
The Sumerians believed that their gods had enormous
powers. They built temples to honor them known as
• Gods could bring a good harvest or a disastrous flood; they
could bring illness, good health, and wealth.
• The Sumerians believed that success in every area of life
depended on pleasing the gods.
• Every Sumerian had a duty to serve and worship the gods.
• Priests, were people who performed religious
ceremonies, had great status in Sumer.
• People relied on priests to help them gain the
gods’ favor.
• Priests interpreted the wishes of the gods and
made offerings to them.
• These offerings were made in temples, special
buildings where priests performed their
religious ceremonies.
Sumerian Social Order
Because of their social status, priests
occupied a high level in Sumer’s
social hierarchy, the division of
society by rank or class. In fact, priest
were just below kings, or monarch.
The kings of Sumer claimed that they
had been chosen by the gods to rule,
or divine right rule.
Below the priests were Sumer’s
“freedmen” or skilled craftspeople,
merchants, and traders. Trade had
great impact, or effect, on Sumerian
society. Traders traveled to faraway
places for gold, silver, copper, lumber,
and precious stones.
Below traders, farmers and laborers
made up the large working class.
Slaves were at the bottom of the
social order.
The Upper Class: Government
officials, professional soldiers, and
priests were found in this class.
The Lower Class: also known as
freedmen were comprised of
shopkeepers, farmers, merchants,
and laborers. They made up most of
the population.
Slaves: Slavery was an accepted part
of life in Sumer and slaves were the
lowest in the caste system. A person
could find themselves a slave for
several reasons, such as prisoners of
war, debt, or born into slavery. They
justified their slavery as would
others: that their gods had given
them victory over an inferior people.
Husbands could also sell their wives
into slavery and parents could sell
their children into slavery.
Stone “Picture” of Enheduanna
Men and Women in Sumer
• Sumerian men and women had different roles.
• In general, men held political power and made laws, while
women took care of the home and children.
• Education was usually reserved for men, but some upper-class
women were educated as well.
• Some educated women were priestesses in Sumer’s temples.
• Some priestesses helped shape Sumerian culture.
• Enheduanna, the daughter of Sargon, wrote hymns to the
goddess Inanna. Her name meant high priestess. She is the
first known female writer in history.
• 1. What kind of significance or impact did
Sumer have upon its people, neighbors, and
the world?
• 2. Explain the significance or impact that
religion and social hierarchy played in Sumer.
Sumerian B-I-N-G-O
• 1. What changes to Sumer’s social
hierarchy would you recommend?
• 2. Do you think religion playing a major
role in society is a good or a bad thing?
• 3. How effective are Sargon and
Gilgamesh to Sumerian history? Explain.

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