Sumerian Empire Leaders: Gilgamesh Starting technologies: Agriculture The Wheel Unique unit: Vulture Unique building: Ziggurat First colony: Babylonian Empire DESCRIPTION: Strategy:
The Sumerian Empire is a balanced nation. Gilgamesh`s "Creative" trait provides Sumerian cities with extra culture and extra-large borders, while his "Protective" trait makes life difficult for any enemies foolish enough to cross them. This is especially true once they encounter the "Vulture," the powerful Sumerian replacement for the Axeman. Finally, the Sumerian Ziggurat, an easily-produced Courthouse, will bring speedy stability to Sumerian cities.Background:
The Sumerian Empire was founded along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in modern day Iraq, in roughly 3000 BC. Sumeria was the world`s first civilization and created the world`s first historians through the invention of cuneiform, the original written language.
The Sumerian people were organized into a series of carefully irrigated city-states, each with its own ruler and local deities. The surplus of wheat grown from the verdant fertility of the Tigris and Euphrates allowed the Sumerians to create an exceptional urban civilization. Never numbering more than a dozen or so, the cities of Sumeria were major centers of commerce, culture and defense, and the Sumerians were the first truly metropolitan population. In fact, the Sumerian creation myth states that first there was nothing then there was a city - Eridu.
Sumerian cities were seas of sun-cooked brick, rushing irrigation ditches and mountainous ziggurats (the Sumerian temples to the gods). Facing near-constant warfare, each city was defined by a series of intimidating walls and well-placed canals. Indeed, the Sumerians are the first people known to employ a professional army, necessary to fight the perpetual skirmishes that characterized Sumerian daily life.
Unity in Sumeria was only established at the end of a spear. The first Sumerian King to lay claim over a number of cities was Eannatum of Lagash. Initiating a campaign against the city of Umma (Lagash`s ancient rival) over a border dispute, Eannatum followed up his victory by sweeping over and conquering the remainder of Sumeria. An uprising within Umma would later shatter this new empire, but a mutual treaty would again bring peace to Sumeria.
However, the Sumerians were not alone in the Fertile Crescent. Their competitors included the Akkadians, a Semetic people to the North. In 2334 BC, Sargon, a highly skilled military strategist, was born in Akkadia. Upon reaching maturity, Sargon would found his own dynasty - the Akkadians - bringing all the peoples of the Fertile Crescent, including the Sumerians, under his rule.
In roughly 2250 BC, a new people, the Gutians, thundered into the Fertile Crescent, deposing the Akkadians and establishing themselves as the new rulers of the land. But the rigors of invasion severely weakened the new overlords of Mesopotamia, allowing the long-dominated Sumerians the chance for rebellion. With the rise of a new leader, Utu-khegal, the Sumerians threw off their Gutian overlords and reestablished the supremacy of Sumerian culture throughout the Fertile Crescent.
Under Ur-Nammu, a successor of Utu-khegal, order was restored in the fractured state, and the period of The Third Dynasty of Ur began. Ur-Nammu was a reformer and builder as well as a warrior, and he created roads and walls throughout his new empire. This golden age would last until 2004 BC, when internal feuding fractured the Sumerian nation decisively.
The story of Sumeria comes to us through the many cuneiform tablets that have been discovered. Unfortunately, many of these tablets aren`t especially evocative: tireless record-keepers, the Sumerians would just as often record the season`s flock of sheep as the reign of ancient kings. Several tablets, though, have been of a religious nature and have provided great insights into the foundation of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Tales of a great flood abound in Sumerian myth. Man, they said, was formed from clay.
Although the first great empire vanished from history, Sumerian culture would survive to influence the next great civilization to spring from the Tigris-Euphrates Valley - Babylon.