Ancient Near East

Sumerian

The region of southern Mesopotamia is known as Sumer, and it is in Sumer that we find some of the oldest known cities, including Ur and Uruk.

c. 4000 - 2339 B.C.E.

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Sumer, an introduction
Sumer, an introduction

Sumer was home to some of the oldest known cities, supported by a focus on agriculture.

Warka Vase
Warka Vase

One of the most precious artifacts from Sumer, the Warka Vase was looted and almost lost forever.

Standard of Ur and other objects from the Royal Graves
Standard of Ur and other objects from the Royal Graves

At the center of Ur, a rubbish dump grew over the centuries—it evolved into a cemetery for the elite.

Archaeological reconstructions
Archaeological reconstructions

From physical models to virtual reality, reconstructing ancient sites and objects can help us understand the past.

<em>Standard of Ur</em>
Standard of Ur

Intentionally buried as part of an elaborate ritual, this ornate object tells us so much, but also too little.

<em>Standing Male Worshipper</em> (Tell Asmar)
Standing Male Worshipper (Tell Asmar)

One of a group buried in a temple almost 5,000 years ago, this statue’s job was to worship Abu—forever.

White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk
White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk

A gleaming temple built atop a mud-brick platform, it towered above the flat plain of Uruk.

<em>Perforated Relief of Ur-Nanshe</em>
Perforated Relief of Ur-Nanshe

More than 4,000 years ago, Ur-Nanshe, the chief priest and king, displayed his piety and power by building a temple.

Cylinder seals
Cylinder seals

Instead of signatures, the Ancient Near East used carved beads to press unique impressions into clay documents.

Selected Contributors | Sumerian