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Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia$
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Jean Bottero

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780748613878

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748613878.001.0001

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Did the Sumerians Emerge from the Sea?

Did the Sumerians Emerge from the Sea?

(p.3) Chapter 1 Did the Sumerians Emerge from the Sea?
Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Georges Roux


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

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