The Sumerian Alphabet
Episode 6: The Innovations of Mesopotamia
The Big History of Civilizations (2016)
Dr Craig G Benjamin
This lecture explores the major technological innovations produced by Sumer, the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), which flourished between 2750 and 2150 BC. Sumer consisted of roughly a dozen city states. Six (Eridu, Kish, Ur, Uruk, Nippur and Babylon) are mentioned in the Old Testament.
Benjamin traces how initially these city-states were ruled (as were most towns and villages) by assemblies of leading male citizens elected for their seniority and status. In each instance, these leaders gave up their power to absolute leaders during periods of crisis. Because Sumer’s city-states were almost constantly at war, they all appointed kings, who in most cases granted themselves absolute power owing to their special relationship with the gods.*
In 2334 BCE, Sargon the Great overthrew the king of Kish, built a…
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