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An Overview of Ancient Sumer

            Many aspects of today's society had their origins long ago in a land known as Sumer. Ancient Sumer, which included the land known as Mesopotamia, is considered the first human civilization. Mesopotamia, meaning "the land between two rivers," occupied land in what is today parts of Syria and Iraq. The two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, enabled the development of civilization.
             Humans, for most of their existence up to this point of history, were nomadic, living in small hunter-gatherer bands and moving with the seasons, animal herds and availabilty of wild plants. It is not known when exactly human beings began to make the connections between dropped or buried seeds, and higher availability of the desired foodstuffs, but it was the first step on the very long journey towards modern civilization. Mesopotamia, also known as the Fertile Crescent, was an ideal location for civilization to take root. The Tigris and Euphrates provided not only drinking water, food in the form of fish and a mode of transportation, but did an essential service with the floods that occured yearly and replenished the soil with vital nutrients.
             With the knowledge to grow crops came new needs, but the Ancient Sumerians were a resourceful people who rose to the challenge. Farming tools we still use today, such as plows, hoes and sickles, as well as the first irrigation systems, had their origins in this time. Animals, such as cows, goats and sheep provided another food source, and, with their meat and milk, freed the people from having to hunt as their only source of meat. With an abundant and steady food supply, people were free, for the first time, to turn to other pursuits. Artisans, such as potters and metal-workers, rose to take their place in a rapidly growing society. The potters' wheel and bronze, as well as the wheel and the sail, among many other things, emerged from this period of history.

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