Sumerian::period    First::sumer    Language::akkadian    Title::early    Which::writing    Culture::cities

{{#invoke:redirect hatnote|redirect}} {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} {{#invoke:Pp-move-indef|main}} {{#invoke:Sidebar|sidebar}} Sumer ({{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}})<ref group="note">The name is from Akkadian Šumeru{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}; Sumerian 𒆠𒂗𒂠 ki-en-ĝir15{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". ĝir15{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} means "native, local", in some contexts is "noble"(ĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian) from The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary). Literally, "land of the native (local, noble) lords". Stiebing (1994) has "Land of the Lords of Brightness" (William Stiebing, Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture). Postgate (1994) takes en as substituting eme "language", translating "land of the Sumerian heart" ({{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}. Postgate believes it likely that eme, 'tongue', became en, 'lord', through consonantal assimilation.)</ref> was one of the ancient civilizations and historical regions in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze ages. Although the earliest specimens of writing in the region do not go back much further than c. 2500 BC, modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence).<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref> "The Ubaid Period (5500–4000 B.C.)" In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (October 2003)</ref><ref>"Ubaid Culture", The British Museum</ref><ref>"Beyond the Ubaid", (Carter, Rober A. and Graham, Philip, eds.), University of Durham, April 2006</ref> These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called "proto-Euphrateans" or "Ubaidians",<ref name="britannica">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria).<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> The Ubaidians (though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves) are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.<ref name="britannica" />

However, some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.<ref>Margarethe Uepermann (2007), "Structuring the Late Stone Age of Southeastern Arabia" (Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy Volume 3, Issue 2, pages 65–109)</ref> Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC). Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians were settled along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today's Persian Gulf region, before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a language no relatives of which are known today; see language isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism.<ref name='Deutscher'>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence.<ref name='Deutscher'/> This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a Sprachbund.<ref name='Deutscher'/> Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the Third Dynasty of Ur (Sumerian Renaissance) approximately 2100-2000 BC, but the Akkadian language also remained in use. The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, was the world's first city, where three separate cultures may have fused — that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.<ref name="Leick, Gwendolyn 2003">Leick, Gwendolyn (2003), "Mesopotamia, the Invention of the City" (Penguin)</ref>

Sumer was also the site of early development of writing, progressing from a stage of proto-writing in the mid 4th millennium BC to writing proper in the 3rd millennium BC (see Jemdet Nasr period).

Sumer sections
Intro   Origin of name   City-states in Mesopotamia  History   Population    Culture    Legacy   See also  Notes  References   Further reading   External links  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Origin of name