4300 – 2334 B.C.E
Sumer – The World’s First Civilization
The world’s first civilization arose in Sumer, which is the ancient name for southern Mesopotamia, during the Uruk period. In these fertile, low-lying marshes, the land had to be drained and irrigated before it could be farmed, and flood barriers had to be built. All this required cooperation between different villages. As the population rose and pressure for reclaimed land grew, it must have made sense for these villages to unite to form towns, usually on the site of the shrine of the local god. These towns then grew to form cities.
The first cities were built in about 3500. They were, in fact, city-states – independent states consisting of a city and the surrounding territory. There were around twelve of these city-states, the largest being Uruk, with a population of around 10,000. Uruk was the dominant…
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