Located in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which of these ancient sites was home to the earliest known civilization?
And the answer: Sumer.
Known for their innovations in language, governance, architecture and more, Sumerians are often considered the creators of civilization as modern humans understand it. First settled around 4500 to 4000 BCE, the Sumer civilization controlled the region of modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria for over a thousand years.
An early population, known as the Ubaid, is notable for developing farming, raising cattle, weaving textiles, working with carpentry and pottery, and even enjoying beer. By the year 3000 BCE, Sumerians were in control of this region, and their population soon swelled to create one of the first true cities. At its peak around 2800 BCE, Uruk had a population between 40,000 and 80,000 people living between its six miles of defensive walls, making it a contender for the largest city in the world.
The Sumerian language is the oldest on linguistic record. We are able to access a slice of the life of Sumerians thousands of years ago due to their meticulous record keeping. The oldest written laws date back to 2400 BCE in the city of Ebla, where the Code of Er-Nammu was written on tablets. The Sumerians were considered to have a rich body of literary works, though only fragments of these documents exist today.
To learn more about this advanced yet ancient civilization, check out the video below.