Student Reader

Sumerian Civilisation

At a conference in 1930, scholars working in Mesopotamia agreed upon the definition of several pan-Mesopotamian chronological periods based on styles of pottery and other artifacts. These periods, which still form the core of the chronological framework for ancient Mesopotamia, were named the Ubaid, the Uruk, the Jemdet Nasr, and the Early Dynastic. An underlying reason for the interest in chronology was the so-called Sumerian question. ... The fundamental premise of research on the Sumerian question was that both language and styles of artifacts and architecture could be equated with distinct groups of people. It was therefore necessary only to search for a stylistic break in material culture in order to identify the time when the Sumerians entered southern Mesopotamia. ... On a darker note, early-twentieth-century racist notions were projected onto the past by portraying the people who wrote in the Semitic language, Akkadian, as inferior to those who used Sumerian. Pollock, p 20
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