In history, we have an era called Pre-history, which is history before humanity left written records. During this period, archeologist named these early periods of human culture from the materials used at the time. They called this the Old Stone (Paleolithic) age. This was around 3000 B.C. were people used chipped stone tools. Also the development of farming and the use of stone implements marked the beginning of the New Stone age (Neolithic). About 3000 B.C., the invention of bronze led to the Bronze Age. Here, new forms of human life and society were found.
All this information was retained thanks to historians. Historians rely on written sources to put history in order. Recent development in science called Carbon-14 helps straighten out chronology. This technique, whereby radioactive carbon is used, helps to date ancient objects within a couple of centuries.
In the Old Stone Age, Paleolithic people left remains scattered in Europe and Asia. They took refuge in Africa from the glaciers that moved south over to northern continents. These people hunted to eat, and fought and killed their enemies. They cooked their food, specialize tools, and sheltered in caves from the cold. They also created art. At Lascaux France, Paleolithic artists left remarkable paintings in limestone caves, using vibrant colors depicting deer, bison and horses. A variety of finds concerning the development of the calendar showed markings whose sequence and intervals may have recorded lunar periods.
The advance from the Old Stone Age to the New Stone Age was marked by certain major changes found in the Near East. The domestication of animals for food was discovered. Parallel with this was the domestication of plants for food-a kind of wheat and barley. Temporary shelter was replaced by houses. The baking of clay vessels were also discovered. In Catal Huyuk in Southern Turkey, people grew their own grain, kept sheep and wove the wool into textiles. Variety of pottery and sculptures were found. In ancient Mesopotamia, farmers were using plows to scratch soil and they were also keeping business accounts of their temple in picture writings. Writing, metallurgy, and urban life are among the early marks of civilization.
Recent discoveries have led some scholars to believe that the inventors of writing were the Subarians who might have been conquered by the Sumarians. They apparently turned the Subarians into slaves. Sumarians began to use capital. Archeologists found clay tablets that were inscribed. The language on them was Akkadian. Others were unknown. But, because they made references to the king of Summer and Akkad, a scholar suggested that the language be called Sumerian. The Summerians developed a phonetic alphabet between 3000-2000 B.C. They impressed little wedge-shaped marks into a wet clay tablet with a reed pen. This was a script called cuneiform-from the latin “cuneus”, meaning “wedge”. Most of these tablets contained economic or administration records.
The Summerians were a major group of people in history. The earliest of the kind governed themselves through a council of elders. This group derived their authority from a general assembly of adult free males. This assembly who sometimes granted a supreme authority to one leader at a time, decided on matters of war and peace. This arrangement did not last long! It was replaced by a one-man rule in each city. The human ruler acted as a representative of the god of the city.
Torrential floods swept down the river valleys. The lives, religion and literature of the people of Mesopotamia were pervaded by terror of these floods. The Summerians devised a system of canals to control these forceful floods.
Around 2300, Sargon, king of Akkad, conquered the Sumerian ruler of Urok. Sagon then called himself king of Summer and Akkad. This indicates the fusion of the Summerians and the Akkadians. By 2100, when the Bronze Age ended, Sargon lost his power.
Gudea, ruler of the city of Lagash, united the Summerians. Ur replaced Lagash as the capital city after Gudea died. Its rulers again called themselves king of Summer and Akkad. Much of what is known about the Summerians come from Ur.
Ur was prosperous. It had far-flung trade by sea in textiles and metals. Ur had recorded a systematic tax system and a revival of learning. Within time, a decline set in because Ur took over too many responsibilities.
Sumer was a hydrolic society. This meant that it was based on a centralized control of irrigation and flood management by government. Within time, these city-states fragmented. Elamites from the east destroyed it. This destructed Ur and Summerian power ended.
Life became very diversified with blacksmiths, carpenters, and merchants who appeared alongside the hunters, farmers and shepherds of the older days. The women held high- position during these days.
The Summerians looked up to their city gods. They also worshiped numerous other gods such as god of heaven, god of earth, and god between heaven and earth. Others included god of moon and goddess of the morning star. Enki was god of earth and of wisdom who apparently poured water into the 2 fertilizing rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, He supposedly filled the land with cattle, built houses and canals, and set sub gods over the enterprise. Along with these beliefs, Summerians used various arts to fortell the future and interpreted dreams.
Summerian art and literature and architecture were largely religious in style. Their epic poetry included Gilgamesh, a mighty hero two-thirds divine and one-third human. The Summerians built their temples of baked brick. The typical Mesopotmia temple was the ziggurat.
The successors of the Summerians as rulers of Mesopotamia were the Babylonians and their successors, the Assyrians. They both originally descended from the nomands of the Arabian desert. Power passed to them with Sargon the Great in 2300B.C. and retuned to them later after the Amorites (people from the west) invaded them in 2000B.C.
The Amorite Prince named Hammurabi, made his Babyonian kingdom supreme in Mesopotamia by warfare and diplomacy. Hammurabi had a code of law that applied to the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. These were inscribed on a pillar eight feet tall beneath a sculpture of the king in front of the sun god. The code was a leagal statement about stern justice. In its vocabulary,the code refects the continuing Sumerian impact on the Akkadian-speaking Babylonians.