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The Code of Hammurabi - the Hammurabi Stela

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Bull Lyre, Royal Tombs of Ur

Sumer, the earliest civilization, existed between the Tigris Unknown Sumerian Rulerand Euphrates Rivers from 3200 BCE. It occupied the southern portion of Mesopotamia. The Sumerians were not an indigenous people (from the local area) but probably came from the Indus Valley.

Sumer may very well be the first civilization in the world (although there are sites which predate it). Sumerian civilization was a sophisticated urban culture. From its beginnings as a collection of farming villages around 5000 BCE, to the founding of Sumer at around 3200 BCE, through its conquest by Sargon of Agade around 2370 BCE and its final collapse under the Amorites around 2000 BCE, Sumer was influential on later civilizations. Sumerian cuneiform, the earliest written language, was borrowed by the Babylonians, who also took many of their religious beliefs. A striking similarity of the Sumerian flood myth can also be found in Genesis.

HeaddressThey were skilled in developing irrigation systems, using canals and dikes to transform their frequently flooded lands. They also became fine metal artists as this headdress attests.

The earliest known literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh came from Sumer. This work began in an oral tradition and was written finally on tablets in cuneiform. It told the story of Gilgamesh, the hero king of Uruk who traveled the world in an attempt to understand and defeat death.

The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first codifications of law, and is one of the significant achievements of the ancient Babylonians.

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