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About the Sumer Lesson

This is an introductory lesson about the Sumerian civilization.

• to explain and discuss the significance of the Sumerian civilization;

• to identify some of the Sumerian accomplishments;

• to explain and discuss the transition from the Sumerian to the Akkadian civilization.

Suggested Grades
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade

Around 3500 BCE, a civilization known as Sumer developed in Mesopotamia. Most of what is known about Sumer is due to the findings of archaeologists. In 1927, archaeologists unearthed the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. Based on their findings, we know that the Sumerians had powerful city-states. A city-state is a city that is a state unto itself. This means that it has its own government, and it is not controlled by any larger state or governing body.

Some Sumerians lived outside of the actual city. They farmed and raised pigs, sheep, and oxen. The crops received water from the rivers by using a complex network of canals. While the farmers lived outside of the city, merchants, artisans, and trades people lived in the city.

Sumerian society was made up of different classes. The upper class was made up of priests, government officials, rich landowners, nobles, and kings. The middle class included farmers, merchants, trades people, artisans, and soldiers. The lowest class was made up of slaves.




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