What Characteristics Describe Ancient Sumerian Civilization?

Ancient Sumerian civilization is known to be one of the earliest civilizations in human history. It emerged in the southern part of Mesopotamia, which is now modern-day Iraq, around 4000 BCE.

The Sumerians were known for their remarkable cultural achievements and advancements in various fields. Here are some characteristics that describe the Ancient Sumerian Civilization.

Geography and Environment

The Sumerians lived in an area that was largely desert and had limited natural resources. They relied on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for irrigation and agriculture.

The fertile land between these two rivers was known as the ‘Fertile Crescent’. This area was ideal for farming, and the Sumerians developed advanced techniques to make the most of it.


Religion played a significant role in Ancient Sumerian civilization. They worshipped a pantheon of gods, each with their own specific qualities and attributes. The gods were believed to control every aspect of life, including weather patterns, agriculture, and fertility.


The Sumerian civilization was divided into city-states, each with its own ruler or king. These city-states were fiercely independent but also engaged in trade with one another. Some of the most prominent city-states were Uruk, Ur, Eridu, Lagash, and Nippur.

Writing System

The Sumerians are credited with inventing one of the earliest forms of writing called cuneiform. Cuneiform involved pressing a wedge-shaped stylus onto a clay tablet to create different shapes that represented words or ideas. This system allowed them to keep records of trade transactions, religious ceremonies, and other important events.

Technological Advancements

The Sumerians made significant technological advancements that were ahead of their time. They developed a system of canals and levees to irrigate crops, which allowed them to produce a surplus of food. They also invented the wheel, plow, and sailboat, which made transportation and trade more efficient.

Art and Architecture

The Sumerians were skilled artists and architects. They created intricate sculptures of gods and goddesses, as well as decorative objects such as jewelry and pottery. Their architecture included ziggurats, which were massive stepped structures that served as religious temples.

Social Hierarchy

The Sumerian society was hierarchical in nature, with the king at the top followed by priests, government officials, soldiers, merchants, and farmers. Slavery was also prevalent in their society.


In conclusion, Ancient Sumerian civilization was a remarkable achievement in human history. Their advancements in agriculture, writing systems, technology, art, and architecture laid the foundation for future civilizations to come. The legacy of this civilization still lives on today in modern society.