What Was the First Ancient World Civilization?

The first ancient world civilization is a topic of great fascination for many history enthusiasts. While there is no one definitive answer, scholars generally agree that the Sumerians were the first people to develop a complex civilization in the ancient world.

The Sumerians: Pioneers of Civilization

The Sumerians lived in Mesopotamia, an area that is now part of modern-day Iraq. They settled in this region around 4000 BCE and quickly developed a sophisticated society that was based on agriculture, trade, and religion.

Language and Writing System

One of the most important contributions of the Sumerians was their development of a writing system known as cuneiform. This system used wedge-shaped marks made on clay tablets to represent words and numbers. It was used for record-keeping, as well as for literature, such as epic poems like Gilgamesh.

Architecture and Engineering

The Sumerians were also skilled architects and engineers. They built impressive structures such as ziggurats, which were towering stepped pyramids that served as religious temples. They also developed irrigation systems that allowed them to cultivate crops in an otherwise arid region.

Religion and Mythology

Religion played a central role in Sumerian society. They had a pantheon of gods and goddesses who they believed controlled various aspects of life such as fertility, weather, and war. Their mythology included stories about creation, floods, and heroic deeds.


The legacy of the Sumerians can be seen throughout human history. Their writing system influenced later civilizations such as the Babylonians and Persians. Their architectural techniques were used by later cultures such as the Assyrians and Babylonians.

Even today, we still use many concepts that were developed by the Sumerians such as the division of time into 60 minutes and 360 degrees in a circle. Their legacy serves as a reminder of the incredible achievements that can be accomplished by early human societies.

  • Key Takeaways:
    • The Sumerians were the first people to develop a complex civilization in the ancient world.
    • They developed a writing system known as cuneiform, used for record-keeping and literature.
    • Their architecture and engineering skills were impressive, seen in structures like ziggurats and irrigation systems.
    • Religion played a central role in Sumerian society with various gods and goddesses controlling different aspects of life.
    • Their legacy can be seen throughout human history, influencing later civilizations and concepts still used today.

In conclusion, while there were many early civilizations that emerged around the world, the Sumerians were undoubtedly pioneers of civilization. Through their advancements in language, writing, architecture, engineering, and religion, they laid the foundation for many of the cultural practices that we still follow today.