The Sumerians

Around 2,000 BC the inhabitants of Mesopotamia were the Sumerians.

The name Mesopotamia means ‘the Land of the Two rivers.' These were the great rives Euphrates and Tigris.

The Southern part of this area is also called in the Bible ‘the land of the Shinar' and the ‘land of the Chaldeans'.

Sumerian Sagas.

Some of the world's earliest writing was done on clay tablets by the Sumerians in a script we now call "cuneiform" - which means, "wedge-shaped".

The Sumerians wrote about their national heroes and their ‘gods'.

The Epic of Gilgamesh.

One of their early heroes was GILGAMESH, King of Uruk, who conquered Lebanon, Syria and parts of Turkey.

A Sumerian poem about him, which contains stories from an earlier account called ‘The Epic of Atrahasis', has been found.

In this famous poem reference is made to their own ideas about Creation and the Great Flood.

Citizens of Ur.

One of the great Sumerian cities was *UR, the city from which Abraham originally came (see Genesis 11 v 31)

It was a city of advanced culture as excavations at the site have proved. It was also a place of false religion, including Moon worship.

The Sumerian life-style was not suitable for a believer in God. So Abraham was called from it, to go to the land that God would show him.  The land of Israel (Canaan), not Shinar, was to be the Promised Land (see Genesis 14 v18).

Akkadian Advances.

The Sumerians were descended from Ham, one of the sons of Noah.  But from Shem, also a son of Noah, descended the Semetic peoples.  Some early Semites in the area of Accad, known as the Akkadians, overran the Sumerian civilisation.  Later the Assyrians conquered the area (1500BC).

From the 'Bible Treasure Chest' Birmingham England.

*Ur - See article below



The Bible tells us that our patriarch Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees or Ur Kasdim. There is some scholarly debate as to the actual site of this city but most identify it with a Sumerian city that lay approx 200km south east of Baghdad in Iraq. The Sumerians were the second group of settlers in the area but were accredited with the bringing of art and literature to the region.

Ur was one of several city-states that vied with each other and were first united under Etanna, King of Kish (one of the states). Eventually the kings of Ur became the effective rulers of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates), and this became known as the first dynasty of Ur.  The names of some of these kings appear on the Sumerian king list.

The Semitic king, Sargon, King of Akkadia, was cupbearer to the ruler of Kish, but then became ruler of the area. His dynasty ruled about 100/150yrs. His daughter Enheduanna became high priestess of the moon god Nanna.

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad

(Source: Wikemedia commons)

Ur became the major city-state again but not much is known of the second dynasty of Ur. The third dynasty began with King Ur-Nammu, who revived the empire of Sumer and Akkad (descendants of Noah's sons Ham and Shem) and who published the earliest law yet discovered in Mesopotamia.  He built many temples including the ziggurat, which was a temple to the moon god Nanna, and gives an example of their fine architecture.

An increase in irrigation and agriculture helped revitalise the area and excavations from some of the early tombs show incredible wealth and also show highly developed civilisation and art. The most spectacular discovery was the Royal Cemetery. It contained art treasures of gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones. Even after Ur ceased to be a capital it retained its religious and commercial importance as it was favourably situated for both sea and land trade.

After the Elamites invaded approx 2000BC, the city of Ur was destroyed.  It was later rebuilt and became part of the kingdom of Isin, then Larsa and finally incorporated into Babylon.