Chapter

Did the Sumerians Emerge from the Sea?

Georges Roux

in Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780748613878
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653584 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748613878.003.0001
Did the Sumerians Emerge from the Sea?

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The problem of the Sumerians' origin presents a remarkable special feature: it goes back to an era when absolutely nothing was known about them or about the civilisation that flourished in Lower Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC. By the 1850s, enough was known about inscriptions to be able to state that the great majority of them, coming from cities in Assyria as well as the still-unexplored ruins of Babylon and its environs, had been composed in Assyrian or Babylonian. In 1877, when Ernest de Sarzec commenced excavations at Tello in Sumer, the Sumerians suddenly became real, almost alive. Not only did they enter history, but it was soon learnt that they had ‘created’ it, being the authors of the oldest-known historical inscriptions. However, the problem of their origin was posed in new terms, because these people were immediately perceived as ‘foreign’ to Mesopotamia, where they were nevertheless firmly entrenched.

Keywords: Sumerians; civilisation; Mesopotamia; Assyria; Babylon; Ernest de Sarzec; Tello; Sumer

Chapter.  6559 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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