The Sumerian Times

What makes up a civilization?


On this page you can learn about the characteristics of a civilization and how our civilization has each characteristic.

Priya the Leader

Characteristic #1: The Arts

The Arts consists of weapons, everyday objects, buildings, and music. Craftspeople, musicians, and architects create these for us. The image to the left is a lyre, like the ones you might have seen in your village. We use lyres and other musical instruments to entertain each other and our gods. All of our wonderful art is beautiful!

Characteristic #2: Technology

We have improved our old tools to make wheels and arches. The image to the left includes two wheels. Do you remember what happened before we invented wheels? We had to drag things around on sledges, and they would sometimes get stuck in mud. Once we invented the wheel, we could get around in carts with all of our belongings safely. We invented the arch to help make our buildings stronger and more beautiful. Our technology has rewarded us greatly!

Characteristic #3: Stable Food Supply

A stable food supply is important because it will give us enough food to eat. We have created irrigation systems and plows for us to do that. Irrigation systems are used to control a water supply. We have used canals, dams, and reservoirs to help us do that. Plows are used to make spaces in the soil for seeds. We have a stable food supply because of these things!

Characteristic #4: Writing

We have communicated in many different ways throughout our lives. We first used pictographs, which are pictures of real-world objects and people used to explain something. Now we use cuneiform, which are wedge shaped characters. We used to have 2,000 characters, but now we have about 700, because it was too confusing with so many characters! To the left is an image of cuneiform characters.

Characteristic #5: Religion 

Religion is a very important characteristic of a civilization. It's important because it has told everyone what to do in our everyday life, such as doing chores and preparing offerings for gods. We have expressed our religious beliefs by building statues and ziggurats. The image to the left is a ziggurat.

Characteristic #6: Government

There are many jobs in the government. Some are making laws, collecting taxes, building temples, maintaining irrigation systems, and patrolling canals. All of these things are important for keeping everything in order, and everyone safe. If no one controlled the irrigation system, there wouldn't be enough water and the water could flood the city-states. If there weren't any laws, everything would be out of control.

Characteristic #7: Social Structure

To learn about social structure, visit the social structure page on this website.