Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The origin of democracy and the city states

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 21, 2014

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Fragment of an inscription of Urukagina

Urukagina

Gudea

Gudea

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AMA-GI (the first written reference to the concept of liberty and freedom)

Cuneiform law refers to any of the legal codes written in cuneiform script, that were developed and used throughout the ancient Middle East among the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Hurrians, Kassites, and Hittites. The legal code was a common feature of the legal systems of the ancient Middle East. The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100-2050 BC), then the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), are amongst the earliest and best preserved legal codes, originating in the Fertile Crescent. The Code of Hammurabi is the most well-known of the cuneiform laws, but there were a number of precursor laws.

Although they were written in several different cities and kingdoms, these early laws have a number of formulae in common. Most contain both an epilogue and a prologue, which usually explain the purpose of composing the laws, invoke divine authority, and command the reader to abide by them. They are always imposed or ‘enacted’ in the name of a ruler, be it a prince or king, and show no sign of being the result of legislative bodies.

While many of these codes are only partially known, they nevertheless paint a fairly clear picture that enables us to learn what issues pertaining to rules were considered significant by the societies they governed in the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st millennia BC.

Unlike modern codes, Cuneiform law provides no universal formula for general areas of law. Rather, laws typically consist of specific “if… then…” cases that are meant to act as an example or precedent.

Punishments for crimes vary from code to code, but not all prescribe vengeance. Some call only for fines in certain instances, such as in the Code of Ur-Nammu, where one line reads: “If a man knocks out the eye of another man, he shall weigh out one-half a mina of silver.”

These cases are sometimes arranged in a seemingly random order, though this may be the result of an inability to properly interpret them today as they would have been at the time they were in force.

Cuneiform law is generally classified separately from later Middle Eastern law, but has been viewed as a predecessor of Biblical and Jewish law. The communities of the Middle East that made use of cuneiform law were generally all in contact with one another, and developed similar cultures. Akkadian, a cuneiform language, was used throughout the entire area, and even as far as Egypt, for diplomatic communications during the Amarna Period.

Urukagina

Urukagina (reigned ca. 24th century BC?, short chronology) was a ruler (énsi) of the city-state Lagash in Mesopotamia. He assumed the title of king, claiming to have been divinely appointed, upon the downfall of his corrupt predecessor, Lugalanda,  the son of the high priest of Lagash, who appointed him as king.

At this time the high priests of Lagash were very influential, and either occupied the throne, or decided who should. The priests, especially the high priests, remained very influential during Lugalanda’s reign.

All documents mentioning the reign of Lugalanda describe him as a wealthy and corrupt king. They say his reign was a time of great corruption and injustice against the weak. Inscriptions state that the king confiscated approximately 650 Morgen (up to 650 hectares) of land. He was overthrown by Urukagina after nine years in power.

Urukagina is best known for his reforms to combat corruption, which are sometimes cited as the first known example of a legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful in recorded history. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process in the history of humanity.

In this important code is found the first written reference to the concept of liberty and freedom (AMA-GI or amargi, literally, “return to the mother”), used in reference to the process of reform. The exact nature of this term is not clear, but the idea that the reforms were to be a return to the original social order decreed by the gods fits well with the translation.

The symbol appeared twice during the Sumerian civilization. In one instance, it referred to people who were freed from debt slavery. The early Sumerian monarchs used indebtedness to taxes to enslave people in service to the king. The amagi literally translates to “return to mother” meaning that when someone was freed from slavery, he would return to his family and mother.

Urukagina’s code has been widely hailed as the first recorded example of government reform, seeking to achieve a higher level of freedom and equality. It limited the power of the priesthood and large property owners, and took measures against usury, burdensome controls, hunger, theft, murder, and seizure (of people’s property and persons); as he states, “The widow and the orphan were no longer at the mercy of the powerful man”.

Although the actual text has not been discovered, much of its content may be surmised from other references to it that have been found. In it, he exempted widows and orphans from taxes; compelled the city to pay funeral expenses (including the ritual food and drink libations for the journey of the dead into the lower world); and decreed that the rich must use silver when purchasing from the poor, and if the poor does not wish to sell, the powerful man (the rich man or the priest) cannot force him to do so.

However, his laws were otherwise typically brutal for Mesopotamia, including the stoning of women for having multiple husbands. Despite these apparent attempts to curb the excesses of the elite class, it seems elite or royal women enjoyed even greater influence and prestige in his reign than previously.

Urukagina greatly expanded the royal “Household of Women” from about 50 persons to about 1500 persons, renamed it the “Household of goddess Bau”, gave it ownership of vast amounts of land confiscated from the former priesthood, and placed it under the supervision of his wife, Shasha (or Shagshag).

In his second year of reign, Shasha presided over the lavish funeral of his predecessor’s queen, Baranamtarra, who had been an important personage in her own right.

In addition to such changes, two of his other surviving decrees, first published and translated by Samuel Kramer in 1964, have attracted controversy in recent decades. First, he seems to have abolished the former custom of polyandry, a form of polygamy whereby a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time, in his country, on pain of the woman taking multiple husbands being stoned with rocks upon which her crime is written.

Second is a statute stating that “if a woman says [text illegible…] to a man, her mouth is crushed with burnt bricks.” No comparable laws from Urukagina addressing penalties for adultery by men have survived. The discovery of these fragments has led some modern critics to assert that they provide “the first written evidence of the degradation of women”.

Gudea was a ruler (ensi) of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled ca. 2144 – 2124 BC. The social reforms instituted during Gudea’s rulership, which included the cancellation of debts and allowing women to own family land, may have been honest reform or a return to old Lagašite custom.

Ur-Nammu

Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, ca. 2047-2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian 3rd dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following several centuries of Akkadian and Gutian rule.

Year-names are known for 17 of Ur-Nammu’s 18 years, but their order is uncertain. One year-name of his reign records the devastation of Gutium, while two years seem to commemorate his legal reforms: “Year in which Ur-Nammu the king put in order the ways (of the people in the country) from below to above”, and “Year Ur-Nammu made justice in the land”.

He was known for restoring the roads and general order after the Gutian period. He was succeeded by his son Shulgi, after an eighteen-year reign. His death on the battle-field against the Gutians (after he had been abandoned by his army) was commemorated in a long Sumerian poetic composition.

His main achievement was state-building, and Ur-Nammu is chiefly remembered today for his legal code, the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known surviving example in the world.

The Code of Ur-Nammu, found in two fragments at Nippur, is the oldest known law code surviving today. It is from Mesopotamia and is written on tablets, in the Sumerian language c. 2100–2050 BC. It is today held at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

Although the preface directly credits the laws to king Ur-Nammu of Ur, the actual author who had the laws written down onto cuneiform tablets is still somewhat under dispute. Some scholars have attributed it to Ur-Nammu’s son Shulgi.

Although it is known that earlier law-codes existed, such as the Code of Urukagina, this represents the earliest extant legal text. It is three centuries older than the Code of Hammurabi.

The laws are arranged in casuistic form of IF (crime) THEN (punishment) – a pattern followed in nearly all later codes. For the oldest extant law-code known to history, it is considered remarkably advanced, because it institutes fines of monetary compensation for bodily damage, as opposed to the later lex talionis (‘eye for an eye’) principle of Babylonian law; however, murder, robbery, adultery and rape were capital offenses.

The code reveals a glimpse at societal structure during the “Sumerian Renaissance”. Beneath the lugal (“great man” or king), all members of society belonged to one of two basic strata: The “lu” or free person, or the slave (male, arad; female geme).

The son of a lu was called a dumu-nita until he married, becoming a “young man” (gurus). A woman (munus) went from being a daughter (dumu-mi), to a wife (dam), then if she outlived her husband, a widow (nu-ma-su), who could remarry.

Legal Code

Cuneiform law

List of ancient legal codes

 

Code of Ur-Nammu

Code of Hammurabi

Gudea, Urukagina, and the Mesopotamian Origin of the Concept of Liberty

Democracy

Democracy commonly refers to a type of political system in which the people or their representatives lawfully govern themselves, rather than being governed, say, by a military dictatorship, totalitarian party or monarch.

Athens is regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy. Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, nor as well-documented as that of Athens.

In recent decades, democracy in this sense has enjoyed unprecedented popularity. Democracy has become one of those English words – along with computer and OK – familiar to many millions of people around the world.

Democratic values and institutions are never set in stone; even the meaning of democracy changes through time. During its first historical phase, which began in ancient Mesopotamia (2500 BC) and stretched through classical Greece and Rome to the rise and maturation of Islamic civilization around 950 CE, democracy was associated with the creation and diffusion of public assemblies.

During these centuries, nobody knows who invented the term or exactly where and when the word ‘democracy’ was first used. It is commonly thought that it is of classical Greek origin, but new research shows that the feminine noun demokratia (meaning the rule of the people: from demos , ‘the people’, and kratein , ‘to rule’) has much older roots.

It is traceable to the Linear B script of the Mycenaean period, seven to ten centuries earlier, to the late Bronze Age civilization (1500-1200 BC) that was centred on Mycenae and other urban settlements of the Peloponnese.

Exactly how and when the Mycenaeans invented terms like damos (a group of people who hold land in common) and damokoi (an official linked to the damos) is unclear, but it is probable that the family of terms we use today when speaking of democracy have Eastern origins, for instance in the ancient Sumerian references to the dumu, the ‘inhabitants’ or ‘sons’ or ‘children’ of a geographic place.

The uncertainty surrounding the origins of the language of democracy is tempered by the discovery by contemporary archaeologists that the practice of self-governing assemblies is not a Greek invention.

The custom of popular self-government was born of the ‘East’, of peoples and lands that geographically correspond to contemporary Iraq and Iran. Assemblies were later transplanted eastwards, towards the Indian sub-continent; they travelled westwards as well, first to city states like Byblos and Sidon, then to Athens, where during the fifth century BC they were claimed as something unique to the West, as a sign of its superiority over the ‘barbarism’ of the East.

Dumuzid, “child, son” 

Dumuzid or Dumuzi (Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” (daughter – dumu-mi), + Zi(d), “faithful, true”), called “the Shepherd”, from Bad-tibira, “Wall of the Copper Worker(s)”, or “Fortress of the Smiths”, identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah and Tell as-Senkereh (ancient Larsa) in southern Iraq, was, according to the Sumerian King List, the fifth predynastic king in the legendary period before the Deluge. The list further states that Dumuzid ruled for 36,000 years.

According to the Sumerian King List, Bad-tibira, an ancient Sumerian city, which appears among antediluvian cities in the Sumerian King List, was the second city to “exercise kingship” in Sumer before the flood, following Eridu. These kings were said to be En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana and Dumuzid the Shepherd.

Its Akkadian name was Dûr-gurgurri. It was also called (Pantibiblos) by Greek authors such as Abydenus, Apollodorus of Athens and Berossus. This may reflect another version of the city’s name, Patibira, “Canal of the Smiths”.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, William Wolfgang Hallo associates Dumuzid the Shepherd with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) An-Enlilda, and suggests an equivalence between Dumuzid and Enoch in the Sethite Genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.

“Dumuzid the Shepherd” is also the subject of a series of epic poems in Sumerian literature. However, in these tablets he is associated not with Bad-tibira, but with Uruk, where a namesake, Dumuzid the Fisherman, was king sometime after the Flood, in between Lugalbanda “the Shepherd” and Gilgamesh.

Dumuzid “the Fisherman”, originally from Kuara in Sumer, considered the birthplace of the god Marduk (Asarluhi), Enki’s son, was the 3rd king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor, according to the Sumerian king list.

In Tablet 6 of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh rebuffs Ishtar (Inanna), reminding her that she had struck Tammuz (Dumuzid), “the lover of [her] youth”, decreeing that he should “keep weeping year after year”.

The early Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld mentions the city’s temple, E-mush-kalamma. In this tale, Inanna dissuades demons from the netherworld from taking Lulal, the younger son of Inanna and patron of Bad-tibira, who was living in squalor. They eventually take Dumuzid king of Uruk instead, who lived in palatial opulence. This Dumuzid is called “the Shepherd”, but on the King List it is Dumuzid, the Fisherman.

The E.muš-kalamma, main temple of Bad-tibira, originally dedicated to Dumuzi when it was built, was later re-dedicated to Lulal when Inanna appointed him god of the city.

Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla”, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.

A number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inanna and Dumuzid the shepherd. A text recovered in 1963 recounts “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” in terms that are tender and frankly erotic.

According to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, represented in parallel Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, Inanna (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) set off for the netherworld, or Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal, perhaps to take it as her own.

Ereshkigal is in mourning at the death of her consort, Gugalanna (The Wild Bull of Heaven Sumerian Gu = Bull, Gal = Great, An = Heaven). She passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when she had passed through the seventh gate she was a simple woman, entirely naked.

Despite warnings about her presumption, she did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal’s throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and she became a corpse, hung up on a meathook.

Based on the incomplete texts as first found, it was assumed that Ishtar/Inanna’s descent into Kur occurred after the death of Tammuz/Dumuzid rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid.

This is the familiar form of the myth as it appeared in M. Jastrow’s Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World, 1915, widely available on the Internet. New texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion, showing that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release.

Inanna’s faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea’s plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts, but in the end, Inanna/Ishtar was resurrected.

However, a “conservation of souls” law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz richly dressed and on her throne.

Inanna/Ishtar immediately set her accompanying demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz’ sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.

There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid’s sister who is there named Geshtinana, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.

In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has two close calls until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inanna repents.

Inanna seeks vengeance on Bilulu, on Bilulu’s murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire’s consort Shirru “of the haunted desert, no-one’s child and no-one’s friend”. Inanna changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.

Finally, Inanna relents and changes her decree thereby restoring her husband Dumuzi to life; an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid’s place in Kur for six months of the year: “You (Dumuzi), half the year. Your sister (Geštinanna), half the year!”

This newly recovered final line upset Samuel Noah Kramer’s former interpretation, as he allowed: “my conclusion that Dumuzi dies and “stays dead” forever (cf e.g. Mythologies of the Ancient World p. 10) was quite erroneous: Dumuzi according to the Sumerian mythographers rises from the dead annually and, after staying on earth for half the year, descends to the Nether World for the other half”.

Later poems and hymns of praise to Dumuzid indicate that he was later considered a deity, a precursor of the Babylonian god Tammuz (Transliterated Hebrew: Tammuz, Tiberian Hebrew: Tammûz; Arabic: Tammūz; Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Tamuzi also is Dumuzid or Dumuzi.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. Locations associated in antiquity with the site of his death include both Harran and Byblos, among others.

A Sumerian tablet from Nippur (Ni 4486) reads: She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid, the lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert — she can make it reach the house Arali; she can make it reach Bad-tibira; she can make it reach Dul-šuba; she can make it reach the shepherding country, the sheepfold of Dumuzid

“O Dumuzid of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully, “O you of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully. “Lad, husband, lord, sweet as the date, […] O Dumuzid!” she sobs, she sobs tearfully.

These mourning ceremonies were observed at the door of the Temple in Jerusalem in a vision the Israelite prophet Ezekiel was given, which serves as a Biblical prophecy which expresses YHWH’s message at His people’s apostate worship of idols:

“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto to me, ‘Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.” – Ezekiel 8:14-15.

According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The Church Father Jerome, who died in Bethlehem in 420, reports in addition that the holy cave was at one point consecrated by the heathen to the worship of Adonis, and a pleasant sacred grove planted before it, to wipe out the memory of Jesus.

Some modern mythologists, however, reverse the supposition, insisting that the cult of Adonis-Tammuz originated the shrine and that it was the Christians who took it over, substituting the worship of their own God.

Tammuz is the month of July in Iraqi Arabic and Levantine Arabic, and references to Tammuz appear in Arabic literature from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. In a translation of an ancient Nabataean text by Kuthami the Babylonian, Ibn Wahshiyya (c. 9th-10th century AD), adds information on his own efforts to ascertain the identity of Tammuz, and his discovery of the full details of the legend of Tammuz in another Nabataean book:

“How he summoned the king to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve (signs) and how the king put him to death several times in a cruel manner Tammuz coming to life again after each time, until at last he died; and behold! it was identical to the legend of St. George which is current among the Christians.”

Ibn Wahshiyya also adds that Tammuz lived in Babylonia before the coming of the Chaldeans and belonged to an ancient Mesopotamian tribe called Ganbân. On rituals related to Tammuz in his time, he adds that the Sabaeans in Harran and Babylonia still lamented the loss of Tammuz every July, but that the origin of the worship had been lost.

Al-Nadim in his 10th century work Kitab al-Fehrest drawing from a work on Syriac calendar feast days, describes a Tâ’ûz festival that took place in the middle of the month of Tammuz. Women bewailed the death of Tammuz at the hands of his master who was said to have “ground his bones in a mill and scattered them to the wind.”

Consequently, women would forgo the eating of ground foods during the festival time. The same festival is mentioned in the 11th century by Ibn Athir as still taking place at the appointed time on the banks of the Tigris river.

Eridu

The ruins of Eridu in 2011

Re-creation of the port at Eridu

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eriduki; Akkadian: irîtu), also transliterated as Eridug, meaning “mighty place” or “guidance place”, an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq, was long considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia.

Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another. In Sumerian mythology, it was said to be one of the five cities built before the Deluge occurred.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu, in the Sumerian king list named as the city of the first kings, was originally the home of Enki, later known by the Akkadians as Ea, who was considered to have founded the city. His temple was called E-Abzu, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu, an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem.

The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer (Cuneiform: E2.ZU.AB; Sumerian: e-abzu; Akkadian: bītu apsû), which in later history was called House of the Waters (Cuneiform: E.LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: e-engur; Akkadian: bītu engurru). The name refers to Enki’s realm. His consort Ninhursanga had a nearby temple at Ubaid. During the Ur III period a ziggurat was built over the remains of previous temples by Ur-Nammu.

According to the king list Alulim, the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List, became king in Eridu; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”. Shea, however, suggests that Alulim may be the same man as the biblical Adam.

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country. Adapa U-an, elsewhere called the first man, was a half-god, half-man culture hero, called by the title Abgallu (ab=water, gal=big, lu=man) of Eridu. He was considered to have brought civilization to the city from Dilmun (probably Bahrain), and he served Alulim.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was the home of the Abzu temple of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the Akkadian water-god Ea. Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the waters that surrounded the World and lay below it (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).

The stories of Inanna, goddess of Uruk, describe how she had to go to Eridu in order to receive the gifts of civilization. At first Enki, the god of Eridu attempted to retrieve these sources of his power, but later willingly accepted that Uruk now was the centre of the land. This seems to be a mythical reference to the transfer of power northward, mentioned above.

Babylonian texts also talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

Eridu appears to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation.

According to Gwendolyn Leick, Eridu was formed at the confluence of three separate ecosystems, supporting three distinct lifestyles that came to an agreement about access to fresh water in a desert environment.

The oldest agrarian settlement seems to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture to the north, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings.

The fisher-hunter cultures of the Arabian littoral were responsible for the extensive middens along the Arabian shoreline, and may have been the original Sumerians. They seem to have dwelt in reed huts.

The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic Semitic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas.

All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

Kate Fielden reports “The earliest village settlement (c.5000 BC) had grown into a substantial city of mudbrick and reed houses by c.2900 BC, covering 8-10 ha (20-25 acres). Mallowan writes that by the Ubaid period, it was as an “unusually large city” of an area of approx. 20¬25 acres, with a population of “not less than 4000 souls”.

Jacobsen describes that “Eridu was for all practical purposes abandoned after the Ubaid period”, although it had recovered by Early Dynastic II as there was a Massive Early Dynastic II palace (100 m in each direction) partially excavated there. Ruth Whitehouse called it “a Major Early Dynastic City”.

By c.2050 BC the city had declined; there is little evidence of occupation after that date. Eighteen superimposed mudbrick temples at the site underlie the unfinished Ziggurat of Amar-Sin (c. 2047 – 2039 BC).

The finding of extensive deposits of fishbones associated with the earliest levels also shows a continuity of the Abzu cult associated later with Enki and Ea. This apparent continuity of occupation and religious observance at Eridu provide convincing evidence for the indigenous origin of Sumerian civilization.

Eridu was abandoned for long periods, before it was finally deserted and allowed to fall into ruin in the 6th century BC. The encroachment of neighbouring sand dunes, and the rise of a saline water table, set early limits to its agricultural base so in its later Neo-Babylonian development, Eridu was rebuilt as a purely temple site, in honour of its earliest history.

Tower of Babel

The Egyptologist David Rohl, has conjectured that Eridu, to the south of Ur, was the original Babel and site of the Tower of Babel, rather than the later city of Babylon. This because the ziggurat ruins of Eridu are far larger and older than any others, and seem to best match the Biblical description of the unfinished Tower of Babel

One name of Eridu in cuneiform logograms was pronounced “NUN.KI” (“the Mighty Place”) in Sumerian, but much later the same “NUN.KI” was understood to mean the city of Babylon. The much later Greek version of the King-list by Berossus (c. 200 BC) reads “Babylon” in place of “Eridu” in the earlier versions, as the name of the oldest city where “the kingship was lowered from Heaven”.

Rohl further equate Biblical Nimrod, said to have built Erech (Uruk) and Babel, with the name Enmerkar (-KAR meaning “hunter”) of the king-list and other legends, who is said to have built temples both in his capital of Uruk and in Eridu.

Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for “420 years” (some copies read “900 years”).

The king list adds that Enmerkar became king after his father Mesh-ki-ang-gasher, son of Utu, had “entered the sea and disappeared.”

Enmerkar is also known from a few other Sumerian legends, most notably Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, where a previous confusion of the languages of mankind is mentioned. In this account, it is Enmerkar himself who is called ‘the son of Utu’ (the Sumerian sun god).

Aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is said here to have had a temple built at Eridu, and is even credited with the invention of writing on clay tablets, for the purpose of threatening Aratta into submission. Enmerkar furthermore seeks to restore the disrupted linguistic unity of the inhabited regions around Uruk, listed as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad), and the Martu land.

Three other texts in the same series describe Enmerkar’s reign. In Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana, while describing Enmerkar’s continued diplomatic rivalries with Aratta, there is an allusion to Hamazi having been vanquished.

In Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, Enmerkar is seen leading a campaign against Aratta. The fourth and last tablet, Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird, describes Enmerkar’s year-long siege of Aratta. It also mentions that fifty years into Enmerkar’s reign, the Martu people had arisen in all of Sumer and Akkad, necessitating the building of a wall in the desert to protect Uruk.

In these last two tablets, the character of Lugalbanda is introduced as one of Enmerkar’s war chiefs. According to the Sumerian king list, it was this Lugalbanda “the shepherd” who eventually succeeded Enmerkar to the throne of Uruk. Lugalbanda is also named as the father of Gilgamesh, a later king of Uruk, in both Sumerian and Akkadian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

David Rohl has claimed parallels between Enmerkar, builder of Uruk, and Nimrod, ruler of biblical Erech (Uruk) and architect of the Tower of Babel in extra-biblical legends. One parallel Rohl noted is the description “Nimrod the Hunter”, and the -kar in Enmerkar also meaning “hunter”. Rohl has also suggested that Eridu near Ur is the original site of Babel, and that the incomplete ziggurat found there – by far the oldest and largest of its kind – is none other than the remnants of the Biblical tower.

In a legend related by Aelian (ca. AD 200), the king of Babylon, Euechoros or Seuechoros (also appearing in many variants as Sevekhoros, earlier Sacchoras, etc.), is said to be the grandfather of Gilgamos, who later becomes king of Babylon (i.e., Gilgamesh of Uruk).

Several recent scholars have suggested that this “Seuechoros” or “Euechoros” is moreover to be identified with Enmerkar of Uruk, as well as the Euechous named by Berossus as being the first king of Chaldea and Assyria. This last name Euechous (also appearing as Evechius, and in many other variants) has long been identified with Nimrod.

Other scholars have discussed at length a number of additional correspondences between the names of “Babylon” and “Eridu”. Historical tablets state that Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2300 BC) dug up the original “Babylon” and rebuilt it near Akkad, though some scholars suspect this may in fact refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II.

Aside from Enmerkar of Uruk (as mentioned in the Aratta epics), several later historical Sumerian kings are said in inscriptions found here to have worked on or renewed the e-abzu temple, including Elili of Ur; Ur-Nammu, Shulgi and Amar-Sin of Ur-III, and Nur-Adad of Larsa.

Greek City States

A city-state, in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, was an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece.

Historical examples includes:

Sumerian cities of Uruk and Ur

Ancient Egyptian city states, such as Thebes or Memphis

Phoenician cities, such as Tyre and Sidon

Berber city-states of the Garamantes

Ancient Greece, such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth

Roman Republic, which grew from a city-state into a great power

Maya, Aztecs, and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica 

(including cities such as Chichen Itza, Tikal, Monte Albán and Tenochtitlan)

Central Asian cities along the Silk Road

Venice; Ragusa and many others

Viking colonial cities in medieval Ireland, such as Dublin

Athens is regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy because the Athens were the first people to act out the government in a democratic way.

Ancient Greece, in its early period, was a loose collection of independent city states called polis, plural poleis, literally meaning both city and city-state in Greek. It can also mean citizenship and body of citizens.

In modern historiography, polis is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, and thus is often translated as “city-state”. The Greek term that specifically meant the totality of urban buildings and spaces is ásty.

The Ancient Greek city-state developed during the Archaic period as the ancestor of city, state, and citizenship and persisted (though with decreasing influence) well into Roman times, when the equivalent Latin word wascivitas, also meaning “citizenhood”, while municipium applied to a non-sovereign local entity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, many Italian cities (e.g., Florence, Genoa, Venice) were city-states until the 19th cent., as were such North German cities as Bremen and Hamburg.

The term “city-state”, which originated in English (alongside the German Stadtstaat), does not fully translate the Greek term. The poleis were not like other primordial ancient city-states like Tyre or Sidon, which were ruled by a king or a small oligarchy, but rather political entities ruled by their bodies of citizens.

The traditional view of archaeologists—that the appearance of urbanization at excavation sites could be read as a sufficient index for the development of a polis—was criticised by François Polignac in 1984 and has not been taken for granted in recent decades: the polis of Sparta, for example, was established in a network of villages.

The term polis, which in archaic Greece meant “city”, changed with the development of the governance center in the city to signify “state” (which included its surrounding villages). Finally, with the emergence of a notion of citizenship among landowners, it came to describe the entire body of citizens.

The ancient Greeks did not always refer to Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other poleis as such; they often spoke instead of the Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Thebans and so on. The body of citizens came to be the most important meaning of the term polis in ancient Greece.

Since the city-state was independent, different states—and the same state at different times—had a variety of governments, ranging from absolute monarchy to pure democracy. Many of these poleis were oligarchies.

A polis was independent of its neighbors and had political unity among its settlements. Together the members of these settlements made up a community of citizens comprising a political state, and it was this partnership among citizens that represented the distinctive political characteristic of the polis. Only men had the rights of political participation, but women still counted as citizens of the community legally, socially, and religiously.

Only citizens participated in the government of the city-state, and citizenship was limited to those born of citizen parents. In the classical era, a large proportion of the city-state’s population consisted of slaves. Participation by citizens in government was often limited by class distinctions.

The government usually consisted of an assembly and council; the former predominated in democracies, the latter in oligarchies. Although the various city-states combined into religious or military federations, most did not endure for long in Greece, leaving it open to foreign attack by large centralized states to which it eventually submitted.

The distinctiveness of citizenship as an organizing concept was that it assumed in theory certain basic levels of legal equality, essentially the expectation of equal treatment under the law, with the exception that different regulations could apply to women in certain areas of life such as acceptable sexual behavior and the control of property. But the general legal equality that the polis provided was not dependent on a citizen’s wealth.

Since pronounced social differentiation between rich and poor had characterized the history of the ancient Near East and Greece of the Mycenaean Age and had once again become common in Greece by the late Dark Age, it is remarkable that a notion of some sort of legal equality, no matter how incomplete it may have been in practice, came to serve as the basis for the reorganization of Greek society in the Archaic Age.

The polis based on citizenship remained the preeminent form of political and social organization in Greece from the time of its earliest appearance about 750 B.C. until the beginning of the Roman Empire eight centuries later. The other most common new form of political organization in Greece was the ethnos (“league” or “federation”), a flexible form of association over a broad territory which was sometimes composed of city-states.

From the beginning of Greek history to its climax in the 500-400 BC., the Greeks were organized into city-states, of which there were several hundred. The first Italian city-states were Greek colonies. Later Etruscan and native city-states emerged, including Rome.

Athens, regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy, emerged in the 7th century BC, like many other poleis, with a dominating powerful aristocracy. However, this domination led to exploitation, causing significant economic, political, and social problems. These problems were exacerbated early in the sixth century and as “the many were enslaved to few, the people rose against the notables”.

At the same period in the Greek world, many traditional aristocracies were disrupted by popular revolutions, like Sparta, the most prominent Greek oligarchy, and the state with which democratic Athens is most often and most fruitfully compared, in the second half of the 7th century BC.

Yet Sparta, in its rejection of private wealth as a primary social differentiator, was a peculiar kind of oligarchy and some scholars note its resemblance to democracy. Sparta’s constitutional reforms by Lycurgus introduced a hoplite state and showed how inherited governments can be changed and lead to military victory.

In Spartan government, the political power was divided between four bodies: two Spartan Kings (diarchy), gerousia (Council of Gerontes (Elders), including the two kings), the ephors (representatives who oversaw the Kings) and the apella (assembly of Spartans).

After a period of unrest between the rich and the poor, the Athenians of all classes turned to Solon to act as a mediator between rival factions, and reached a generally satisfactory solution to their problems.

Solon, an Athenian (Greek) of noble descent but moderate means, was a Lyric poet and later a lawmaker; Plutarch placed him as one of the Seven Sages of the ancient world. Solon attempted to satisfy all sides by alleviating the suffering of the poor majority without removing all the privileges of the rich minority.

Solon divided the Athenians into four property classes, with different rights and duties for each. As the Rhetra did in the Lycurgian Sparta, Solon formalized the composition and functions of the governmental bodies.

Now, all citizens were entitled to attend the Ecclesia (Assembly) and vote. Ecclesia became, in principle, the sovereign body, entitled to pass laws and decrees, elect officials, and hear appeals from the most important decisions of the courts.

All but those in the poorest group might serve, a year at a time, on a new Boule of 400, which was to prepare business for Ecclesia. The higher governmental posts, archons (magistrates), were reserved for citizens of the top two income groups.

The retired archons became members of the Areopagus (Council of the Hill of Ares), and like the Gerousia in Sparta, it was able to check improper actions of the newly powerful Ecclesia. Solon created a mixed timocratic and democratic system of institutions.

Overall, the reforms of the lawgiver Solon in 594 BC were devised to avert the political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens and gave Athens its first comprehensive code of law.

The constitutional reforms eliminated enslavement of Athenians by Athenians, established rules for legal redress against over-reaching aristocratic archons, and assigned political privileges on the basis of productive wealth rather than noble birth. Some of his reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.

By the 5th century BC, in Athens and scores of other Greek city states, democracy meant self-government through an assembly of equal male citizens who gathered in a marketplace or town district for the purpose of discussing some matter, putting different opinions to the vote and deciding, often by a majority of raised hands, what course of action was to be taken.

According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), democracy was self-government among equals, who rule and are ruled in turn. Democracy was the lawful rule of an assembly of male citizens – women, slaves and foreigners were normally excluded – whose sovereign power to decide things was no longer to be given over to imaginary gods, or an aristocracy, or to bloodthirsty tyrants.

In recent decades scholars have explored the possibility that advancements toward democratic government occurred somewhere else (i.e. other than Greece) first, as Greece developed its complex social and political institutions long after the appearance of the earliest civilizations in Egypt and the Near East.

The Greeks may have been influenced in the organization of the polis by their contacts with the Near East, where the city-monarchies of Cyprus and the states of Phoenicia, situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, provided possible precedents.

Sumerian city states

Ubaid culture (5000-4000 BC) originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

During the Ubaid Period the movement towards urbanization began. The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism.

Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility. Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

The Sumerian city-states rose to power during the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods. By the late 4th millennium BC, Sumer was divided into about a dozen independent city-states, which were divided by canals and boundary stones.

Each city had their own government which not only controlled the city but the terrain and croplands around the city. Each was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or goddess of the city and ruled over by a priestly governor (ensi) or by a king (lugal) who was intimately tied to the city’s religious rites.

The government of Sumerian cities more or less was closely linked to religion. The leader of a city ruled by divine right (the people believed that the gods gave their kings permission to rule the city). Along with the kings, there were also a group of high ranking priests that influenced state affairs. There was also a noble class based on kinship (family ties) to the king.

Law during this period would had been very much “eye-for-an-eye”. Example, if you broke your neighbor’s cart, you have to give him yours. If you killed a man’s daughter, one of your daughters must be sacrificed (lol).

The king would had be in charge of religious rituals, upkeep of the irrigation canals, defense, law, and other duties. For the most part, he had it pretty good compare to his lower subjects (mostly farmers) who paid taxes of crop to him. The king will employ scribes to collect these taxes and keep track of the treasury.

Democratic forms of government did exist early on within Sumer, but as settlements got bigger and defense became an issue, the people chose to forfeit this and adopt the more stable religious kingship.

The archaeological transition from the Ubaid period to the Uruk period is marked by a gradual shift from painted pottery domestically produced on a slow wheel to a great variety of unpainted pottery mass-produced by specialists on fast wheels.

By the time of the Uruk period (4100–2900 BC), the volume of trade goods transported along the canals and rivers of southern Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large, stratified, temple-centered cities (with populations of over 10,000 people) where centralized administrations employed specialized workers.

It is fairly certain that it was during the Uruk period that Sumerian cities began to make use of slave labor captured from the hill country, and there is ample evidence for captured slaves as workers in the earliest texts.

Artifacts, and even colonies of this Uruk civilization have been found over a wide area—from the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and as far east as Central Iran.

The Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. The cities of Sumer could not maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force.

Sumerian cities during the Uruk period were probably theocratic and were most likely headed by a priest-king (ensi), assisted by a council of elders, including both men and women. It is quite possible that the later Sumerian pantheon was modeled upon this political structure.

There was little evidence of institutionalized violence or professional soldiers during the Uruk period, and towns were generally unwalled. During this period Uruk became the most urbanised city in the world, surpassing for the first time 50,000 inhabitants.

The ancient Sumerian king list includes the early dynasties of several prominent cities from this period. The first set of names on the list is of kings said to have reigned before a major flood occurred. These early names may be fictional, and include some legendary and mythological figures, such as Alulim and Dumizid.

The end of the Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period from 3200 – 2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 7000-3000 BC, called the Holocene climatic optimum.

The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, was the world’s first city, where three separate cultures fused — that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.

The irrigated farming together with annual replenishment of soil fertility and the surplus of storable food in temple granaries created by this economy allowed the population of this region to rise to levels never before seen, unlike those found in earlier cultures of shifting cultivators.

This much greater population density in turn created and required an extensive labour force and division of labour with many specialised arts and crafts. At the same time, historic overuse of the irrigated soils led to progressive salinisation, and a Malthusian crisis which led to depopulation of the Sumerian region over time, leading to its progressive eclipse by the Akkadians of middle Mesopotamia.

Thorkild Jacobsen has studied the pre-Babylonian Mesopotamia and uses Sumerian epic, myth, and historical records to identify what he calls primitive democracy. By this he means a government in which ultimate power rests with the mass of free male citizens, although “the various functions of government are as yet little specialised [and] the power structure is loose”.

In the early period of Sumer, kings such as Gilgamesh did not hold the autocratic power which later Mesopotamian rulers wielded. Rather, major city-states had a council of elders and a council of “young men” (likely to be composed of free men bearing arms) that possessed the final political authority, and had to be consulted on all major issues such as war.

This pioneering work, while constantly cited, has invoked little serious discussion and gained little outright acceptance. The criticism from other scholars focuses on the use of the word “democracy”, since the same evidence also can be interpreted convincingly to demonstrate a power struggle between primitive monarchs and the nobility, a struggle in which the common people act more as pawns than as the sovereign authority.

Jacobsen concedes that the vagueness of the evidence prohibits the separation between the Mesopotamian democracy from a primitive oligarchy. Each city in Sumer was ruled at first by a council of elders, although a war leader, called a lugal, was selected to lead the army during conflict. Eventually the lugals assumed power as kings and established dynasties.

Evidence suggests that the Sumerians may have taken the first steps toward democracy by electing a representative assembly. This consisted of two houses – a senate of important citizens and a lower house made up of those available for military duty.

Preserved clay tablets reveal that the Sumerians maintained courts of justice where people could expect a fair trial. One table recorded the oldest murder trial in history. Most of the food production and distribution was controlled through the temple. A noble class arose based on land ownership, control of trade, and manufacturing. Most trade and manufacturing was outside the temple’s control.

Sumerian written history reaches back to the 27th century BC and before, but the historical record remains obscure until the Early Dynastic III period, c. the 23rd century BC, when a now deciphered syllabary writing system was developed, which has allowed archaeologists to read contemporary records and inscriptions.

Classical Sumer ends with the rise of the Akkadian Empire in the 23rd century BC. Following the Gutian period, there is a brief Sumerian Renaissance in the 21st century BC, cut short in the 20th century BC by Semitic Amorite invasions.

The Amorite “dynasty of Isin” persisted until c. 1700 BC, when Mesopotamia was united under Babylonian rule. The Sumerians were eventually absorbed into the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) population.

Sumerians believed in an anthropomorphic polytheism, or the belief in many gods in human form. There was no common set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings, however they were not exclusive. The gods of one city were often acknowledged elsewhere. Sumerian speakers were among the earliest people to record their beliefs in writing, and were a major inspiration in later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology.

Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (a.k.a. Ashur) which dates to c. 2600 BC (located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq), originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.

In the late 24th century BC, Assyrian kings were regional leaders only, and subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. Following the fall of the Akkadian Empire c. 2154 BC, and the short lived succeeding Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur which ruled southern Assyria, Assyria regained full independence.

Democracy – A Short History

A Comparative ‘Study of Thirty City-State Cultures

History of democracy

City states

City state

Citizenship and the City-state

Polis

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