Ancient Sumerian cities and gods

ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS - Sumer in ancient Mesopotamia was probably the earliest civilization on Earth. After millions of years of hunting and gathering, man came together in city-states and created a highly developed civilization, with law, order and peace, division of labour, a writing system, arts and sciences.

Sumeria and Sumerians

The first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was at Eridu, some 7300 years ago. Opinions differ as to whether the people that founded Eridu were actually Sumerians or some older people, with a language other than Sumerian. Eridu became an important religious centre and remained so for a period of time. Then, from around 4100 BC, Uruk became more significant.

The Sumerians inhabited various city-states, each centered around a temple called a ziggurat. They believed that a god owned each city. Some of their major cities included Eridu, Kish, Uruk and Ur. Kings who controlled the army and commerce ruled the cities. From 4000 BC, large cities had emerged with over 10,000 inhabitants.

The original Sumerian cities were theocratic. They were ruled by a priest-king with a council of elders. Later the Sumerians referred to these rulers as ‘Gods’. Each God was associated with some gift of specialty, like education or agriculture. One of the most important achievements of these Gods, according to Sumerian legend, is the passing of the "me", the laws or rules of civilization. It is remarkable how peaceful Sumerian cities were. There don’t seem to have been any defence walls, for example.

The ziggurat in each city was surrounded with mystery. Only the priests had access to them. The Sumerians suggest that their Gods traveled to and from the cities. So what were the Sumerian cities and ziggurats really? We could just say this is ancient history, old religion and legend. But what if we take it all more literally? The ziggurats seem designed as landing stations for air travel. The priests must have seemed supernatural to ordinary Sumerians in some way, or they would not have seen them as godlike. Could the Sumerian cities have formed some giant system for space travel?