10 facts from the life of the first human civilization
The Sumerians were one of the most ancient civilizations on Earth. More than 7,000 years ago, they built the roads and walls of their first city. Probably for the first time in the history of mankind, families left their rural huts and tribal houses and plunged into the city life.
This was the first time in history. Every resident of Mesopotamia had the opportunity to live in a friendly, walled city. People were given the opportunity to become employees or scientists instead of cultivating products. Life has become something completely new - not only for the people who lived there, but for the whole of humanity.
To date, there is little information about how they lived in 5000 BC. All that we have is a few old tablets and the ruins of ancient cities. But this is enough for a small look at the life of the first civilization in history.
10. Women had their own language
Men and women in Sumer were not equal.Every morning my wife prepared breakfast for the man. If there were children in the family, then the boys attended school, and the girls were kept at home. The lives of men and women were so different that women developed their own language.
The main Sumerian language was called emegir, and it was not exclusively masculine. Both genders used it, and this was the main language of the society. However, women also had their own separate dialect called “emsal” (“female language”), and we cannot find any records about the man who ever spoke it.
Women's language was really another dialect. Some sounds were pronounced differently, slightly different words were used, and there were several vowels in it that were not used by men. Men probably understood him, but most likely saw him as exclusively female.
It was a language used in poetry and songs, by mothers calming a child, or by girls who longed for their beloved. It is possible that in Sumer the girl who wanted to seem cute did not just carefully choose her words - she spoke another language.
9. The Sumerians introduced taxes before they invented money.
Taxes were introduced before the money came to pay them. Even before the first coins and silver shekels arrived in Mesopotamia, the people had to give the ruler his share.
Often the Sumerian taxes did not differ from ours. Instead of money, the ruler received a percentage of the output. Peasants gave part of the crop or livestock, while traders could pay with leather or wood. As our modern governments do, the richer were subject to higher taxes, in some cases they had to pay half of what they produced.
However, this was not the only way to pay taxes, the Sumerians had to participate in public works. Men had to leave their homes for long months to work in the fields, build irrigation canals or go to war. But that is if you were not rich. The rich could always hire someone who worked for them.
Mandatory labor was necessary for the functioning of early society. At the height of his development, Schumer had 11,000 government employees, and they needed to be fed. It can be said quite definitely that they did not starve.According to the records they left, over a million tons of barley was collected as taxes every year.
8. Life revolved around beer.
There is a theory that civilization arose because of beer. She says that people started farming to get an opportunity to get drunk. And they were also lured into the city under the promise to provide beer.
Whether this is true or not, beer was definitely an important part of life in Sumer. It was present at every meal, from breakfast to dinner, and it was not considered something reprehensible. This was the accepted norm.
Of course, the Sumerian beer was different from ours. It was thick like porridge, with a dirty sediment at the bottom, a layer of foam at the top and small pieces of bread left after fermentation. They were caught with the help of straws.
But it was worth it. Sumerian beer had so much grain that it could be considered the most nutritious meal of a balanced breakfast. Plus - degrees.
When people participated in volunteer work, it was common practice to supply them with beer. Thus, the ruler lured people to his work: he had the best beer.
7. The Sumerians used opium.
Drinking beer was not the only way to get pleasure available in Sumer. They had opium, and they definitely used it to get high.
Sumerians grew opium poppy at least 3000 years BC. We don’t have much information about what they did to him, but what they called him says. In Sumer, poppies were called "plants of joy."
There are theories that the Sumerians used these plants for medical purposes, but there is no evidence to support this. We know that people use opium as a painkiller, and therefore we want to think that the Sumerians did the same.
However, the only thing we know for sure is that the Sumerians grew opium, smoked it and liked it.
6. The governor married a new priestess every year.
Every year the ruler married a new woman. He had to marry one of the priestesses — virgin girls, whose duties included “serving the goddess with the body” —and then making love to her. Otherwise, the gods could punish the land and women of Sumer with sterility.
The ruler and his chosen bride should have supported the love of the gods.On the wedding day, while the king and his entourage approached the temple, the bride was bathed, rubbed with incense and dressed in the most beautiful clothes. In the temple, a crowd of priests and priestesses met the king with songs of love.
After the arrival of the king handed gifts to his new bride. Then they went together to a room filled with fragrant incense, and made love on a ceremonial bed, which was made to order specifically for this occasion.
After the end of all the ceremonies, the king and his bride sat on the throne, and the new bride addressed the people with poems, praising the king's valor and telling the crowd that he brought them prosperity. Then the king said that it was his sacred duty. He had no choice, he had to sleep with beautiful women. This was demanded by the gods.
5. The priestesses were doctors and dentists.
The priestesses were engaged not only in the king’s harem — they were one of the most useful people in Sumerian society. They were poets, scribes, some of them were the first doctors in history.
Sumerian cities were built around temple complexes. In the center was the Great Ziggurat, surrounded by buildings in which priests and priests lived, as well as those artisans who worked on public projects.
The complexes occupied a huge space, about a third of the entire area of the city, and they served not only for ceremonies. They had orphanages, observatories, large business operations were carried out. There was an administrator who was in charge of state business, and he used his temple as a center for managing trade relations with other cities.
However, the most socially significant work was carried out outside the complex. There came the sick and turned to the priestesses for help. Then these women came out and examined the sick. They determined the diagnosis and carried out the treatment - most often with the help of spells and prayers, but there were also the beginnings of early medicine.
4. Literacy is wealth
Reading and writing were fairly new concepts in ancient Sumer, but they were incredibly important. It was impossible to get rich, working with his hands. Merchants and peasants were considered the lower class, in order to get rich, it was required to become an official or a priest. And if people wanted their children to become rich, they were forced to learn to read and write.
The Sumerian boys could start studying as soon as they were seven years old, but the training was expensive.Only the richest people in the city could afford it. At school, children were taught mathematics, history, and grammar, usually forcing them to rewrite what the teacher wrote, until the children could reproduce the sample exactly. Discipline was strict. Disciples who behaved inappropriately or performed when they were not asked were flogged in front of the whole class. However, the greatest impetus was future wealth. A particularly talented student could become a scribe or a priest, and that meant falling into the highest echelon of Sumerian society.
3. The poor lived outside the city
Not all the Sumerians entered the top echelon. Most of them belonged to the lower class and lived on farms outside the city walls or were low-paid workers and artisans in the city.
While the rich lived in mud houses with large windows filled with furniture and lamps, the poor had to huddle in reed huts. They slept on straw mattresses laid out on the ground, and they often had to do this with a large family.
Life outside the city walls was hard. But people had the opportunity to move up.A hardworking family could sell the grown crop, buy some land and lease it. Sometimes, although very rarely, people have enough money to hire a mentor and provide their child with a better life in the city walls.
2. The army caught the Highlanders to turn them into slaves
Despite all this, the life of the poor in Sumer was much better than the life of slaves. The Sumerian kings ensured that the city had a constant number of slaves, and, as necessary, conducted raids on the highlanders. During the raids, people were captured, and their property was robbed. The Sumerian kings believed that if the gods granted them victory, their divine will was to make the captured mountaineers slaves. Usually those slaves who could do household chores and manual labor were ruled by women. Only a few got more prestigious jobs, sometimes they did bookkeeping or even taught children.
Female slaves often became concubines. They lived the life of the sex toys of their owners. According to the law, if a slave concubine began to speak of herself as a wife, then a quart of salt was poured into her mouth.
But they had the opportunity to free themselves.A female slave could marry a free man, but in this case, she had to give her firstborn to the owner as compensation. A slave man could get freedom and even his own land thanks to his merits. But it could be the other way around, nobody was insured against being enslaved. If a free man could not repay or was caught committing a crime, he could be forced to sell himself into slavery.
1. Together with the kings buried their servants.
In Sumer, death was considered a mystery. The dead went to the world, which they called "the land from which they did not return," but little was known about what lay on the other side.
The only thing that the Sumerians knew about this land was that it would be useful for them to have earthly possessions in the afterlife. They were horrified at the thought that they would have to spend eternity alone and without food, so the dead were buried along with gold ornaments, food, and even with their pets.
The kings and queens went on, they took with them accompanying. The beloved servants of the king as a reward for their hard work were ritually killed during the funeral.They were dressed in the best clothes, and then their heads were cut off.
One of the queens was buried along with her court musicians. They were poisoned and thrown into her tomb, so that the queen would not have to spend an eternity without songs. One king was buried along with 73 servants, their bodies remained forever on their knees in front of his remains.
Some of the kings could even be buried along with their living family members. In the epic Gilgamesh described that the king was buried with his beloved son and beloved wife. This threat existed for all. When the king died, death could overtake anyone whom the king cherished.