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Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq), during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages, and one of the first civilizations in the world, along with Ancient Egypt, Norte Chico, Ancient Greece, Ancient China and the Indus Valley. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers grew an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus from which enabled them to form urban settlements. Prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC.


  • By the end of the fourth millennium B.C. the material culture of Abydos, Ur, or Mohenjo-daro would stand comparison with that of Periclean Athens or of any medieval town. . . . Judging by the domestic architecture, the seal-cutting, and the grace of the pottery, the Indus civilization was ahead of the Babylonian at the beginning of the third millennium (ca. 3000 B.C.). But that was a late phase of the Indian culture; it may have enjoyed no less lead in earlier times. Were then the innovations and discoveries that characterize proto-Sumerian civilization not native developments on Babylonian soil, but the results of Indian inspiration? If so, had the Sumerians themselves come from the Indus, or at least from regions in its immediate sphere of influence?”
    • V. Gordon Childe .Quoted in Durant, Will (1963). Our Oriental heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Von Soden observes that “since the discovery of the Indus civilization … it has been almost universally accepted that the Sumerians immigrated from the east.” The immigrants are regarded as having arrived in lower Mesopotamia either at the beginning of the Ubaid period (c. 5000 B.C.) or at the beginning of the Uruk period (perhaps c. 3500 B.C., but perhaps as late as 3250). In either case, the Sumerians seem to have fitted easily into an advanced Chalcolithic culture where writing was already in the early stages of development. Therefore, the implication is that they must have been from another advanced culture, and that points to the East. Bottero agrees that “the Sumerians must have arrived in Mesopotamia during the fourth millennium, apparently from the southeast.” Von Soden further observes that “this immigration could have succeeded entirely by land if the Sumerians immigrated from somewhere in northern India,” and refers suggestively to “the westward migration of the Sumerian groups, whose language may have been related to the Dravidian languages of India.”
    • Thomas C. Mcevilley - The Shape of Ancient Thought_ Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (2001, Allworth Press) chapter 10 . quoting Wolfram von Soden, The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East, trans. Donald G. Schley (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William R. Eerdmans, 1994), p. 17. and Jean Bottero, Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and the Gods, trans. Zainab Bahrani and Mac Van De Mieroop (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 68.

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