Where did the Sumerians come from is not clear. Language researchers suggest that the Sumerian language is associated with Mongolian, Turkish or Hungarian and conclude that the Sumerians immigrated to Mesopotamia from the east.
The Sumerians irrigated their lands with the help of an extensive canal system created by the priests. The sacred princes ruled the country and headed the “temple economy”.
At the end of the 4th millennium, larger cities were formed, which ensured more effective irrigation of the country. Cities have become prosperous, trade has become increasingly important. The settlements retained their independence, there was no single empire at that time.
Increasing demands for the organization of the temple economy caused changes. Around 2700 BC. the writing was improved. Originally this sphere was intended only for bookkeeping.
Other inventions that were crucial to the economy were the wheel and the potter’s wheel. The most important city of the Sumerians was Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh. The epic about this ruler is considered the first literary document of the people.
Since 3000 BC. nomads from the north immigrated to southern Mesopotamia. The records of the Sumerian king, who also reports on the Flood, document these migrations by the appearance of Semitic names.
Historians refer this era to the early dynastic period, which ended in the 23rd century. In this era, the unity of spiritual and temporal power has collapsed. The palaces were built for kings, who not only served as representations. The kings of this time were called “lugal” (great man). The rulers also declared the supremacy of their power, in part and by affirming it in the form of a burial after death with their entourage. Some of these royal tombs were found near Uruk.
Sargon Akkad finished the early dynastic era. Sargon created the first empire of the Middle East, combining many city-states. All of Mesopotamia, parts of Syria, Iran and Asia Minor, belonged to his sphere of influence.
The city of Akkad became its seat of government. The Akkadian language replaced the Sumerian language. Conquests led to economic and cultural ties with actors or new neighbors. Access to the Persian Gulf has led to a flourishing sea trade.
Culture influenced the life of Egypt in the empire of Sargon I. This was reflected in the picturesque images, as well as in the position of the ruler as God or his deputy.
Akkad did not rule for long, numerous riots and the invasion of the Gutegers ended the era. However, this first great civilization survived, in the myths of peoples, therefore the Assyrians reminded of Sargon I, and after almost 100 years Guteger was expelled, and Sumerian city-states regained their strength and greatness. The city of Uruk again became the center.
The so-called Uruk III dynasty lasted from 2047 to 1939 BC. This time was characterized by strict management and the establishment of statutory relations. This ended the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia. The cities have lost their power.
It is unknown when the city of Babylon was founded. It was only under the rule of Hammurabi that the city became the center of attention and became so important that the Greeks mentioned Mesopotamia as Babylonia.
Hammurabi was known to descendants, because he wrote one of the first collections of laws. In its 280 points, labor regulated civil law, criminal and administrative law.
It included individual solutions, often characterized by sharpness. However, historians are not sure whether this code of law has always been respected. The empire of Hammurabi broke up in the next centuries. The cassites entered the throne, and the Hittites became stronger in the west.
Since the 15th century, Babylon has returned to world positions. Especially with Egypt, there were closer relations, as numerous Babylonian princesses were married to the Egyptians.
In the 14th century, Assyria became a new power. The city of Assur lay on the upper Tigris. Historians suspect that the city was originally under the control of Akkad. At the head was a king who also saw himself as the representative of the Assyrian god. In addition, traders used significant claims to power in the country.
Assur, geographically located on the main trade routes, traded with Iran, Babylon and modern Turkey. In the 18th century, Shamshi Adat united the whole of Assyria in the north of Mesopotamia. In the first half of the 17th century, Assyria again disintegrated and the Old Assyrian Empire disappeared.
At Assur-Uballite I (1353-1318 BC) Assyria regained its influence. Numerous conquests again led to economic recovery.
King Tukulti-Ninurta considered himself a representative of the Assyrian god. He called himself “the ruler of four continents” and clearly stated his demand for power. But with his death ended this era of the Middle Assyrian Empire. The last upheaval was experienced by the empire with King Assur-dan III (935-912 BC), who was able to liberate many cities from the ruling Aramaic.
However, the Assyrians have already adopted elements of scripture and language from their Aramaic conquerors. Kings Aspernasirpal II (883-859 BC) and Salamanissar III (858-824 BC) extended the Assyrian sphere of power to Syria. After some setbacks and internal strife, Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BC), coming to power decided to conquer Babylon, Phenicia, Palestine and Israel.
The desire for victory reached its apogee 50 years later in the conquest of Egypt by Asarhaddon (681-669 BC). Assurbanipal (669-627 BC) was the last important ruler.
Greek historians have estimated this ruler as a weak politician. Today’s historians can not confirm this verdict. We see in him an experienced politician who read a lot. His library is an important source of the history of Mesopotamia. 18 years after the death of Assuribanip, the Assyrian empire finally died.