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Chapter 2 – Early Sumerian cities

Chapter Summary

A look at the early cities of the Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia, from their origins in the fourth millennium BC through the Early Dynastic period, to ca. 2350 BC.



Study guide

1) Learn the basics about the Sumerians and their environment. Who were they? Where and when did they live? What sort of language did they use? Why did cities develop in their region?

2) What is the importance of Uruk during the Protoliterate period?  Describe the city’s architectural features from this period, especially its religious architecture: the “high temple” (the White Temple) and the “ground-level temples” (found in the Eanna Precinct).

3) How does pictorial imagery give evidence about religious beliefs and practices in the Sumerian cities? Illustrate your answer by referring to the Uruk Vase, the Stele of the Vultures, and the stone figurines of worshippers from Tell Asmar.

4) Where was Habuba Kabira located?  Who built it, and why? When was it inhabited? Describe its architecture: the city layout and streets, fortifications, and houses.

5) What evidence do the Royal Tombs at Ur give about Early Dynastic burial practices?

6) Describe the architecture of the Royal Tombs at Ur. What kind of roofing was used?  Do you clearly understand the differences between a corbelled arch and a true arch, between a barrel vault and a groin vault?  What is a dome? What is the pitched brick technique of roofing?


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