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10 Cool Facts About The Ancient Sumerians


he ancient cities of Sumer were rediscovered in the 1840s. Continual rebuilding of the cities over the centuries had raised their level above the surrounding land so they looked like hills. These ancient city hills are called tells.

The Sumerians were excellent mathematicians and used 60 as a base. This is why we have 60 minutes in an hour and 360 degrees in a circle.

The Sumerians developed a calendar based on the moon and the sun (lunisolar). Their months each had thirty days.

The Sumerians were the first to develop writing. They used over 500 pictographs which over time evolved into cuneiform script.

Each of the Sumerian city states had its own god. There were seven main gods and hundreds of minor ones.

Sumerian ziggurats were enormous temple complexes which also contained offices, workshops and treasuries. Sumerians believed that their Gods lived in the temples and descended to earth down their stairs.

By c2900 BC between 50-80,000 people lived in the city of Uruk. The city was walled and had an area of 6 km2.

Sumerian houses were made of sun dried brick and faced onto courtyards. They had flat roofs which provided extra living space. Doors had hinges and keys. Wealthy peoples houses had two storeys.

The Sumerians believed that their early kings had supernatural powers. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells of the adventures of one such king.

The Sumerians had a written law code. The earliest code of laws were those of Urukagina King of Lagash 2530 BC.


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