Name given to the people responsible for the first Mesopotamian empire, established in the later 3rd millennium bc. The period is noted for a high degree of artistic and technical achievement in statues, carved stelae, cylinder seals and cast metalwork (see fig.).
During the first two-thirds of the 3rd millennium bc, southern and central Mesopotamia (bibl. Chaldaea) were divided into a number of independent Sumerian city states. The Sumerians had established the first urban civilization and had developed a script into which they transcribed their language. They co-existed peacefully with the Semitic-speaking population of nomads or settled descendants of nomads who formed the majority in the north. The Semitic capital was the city of Kish (close to the future site of Babylon), which exercised a theoretical sovereignty over the country as a whole; in fact each state was governed by an independent ruler. Various ill-fated attempts were made to unite the country until, towards the middle of the 24th century ...
Reference Entry. 2383 words.
Subjects: Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Art ; Prehistoric Art ; Art of the Middle East and North Africa
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