The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character by Samuel Noah KramerThe Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character by Samuel Noah Kramer

The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character

bySamuel Noah Kramer

Paperback | February 15, 1971

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The Sumerians, the pragmatic and gifted people who preceded the Semites in the land first known as Sumer and later as Babylonia, created what was probably the first high civilization in the history of man, spanning the fifth to the second millenniums B.C. This book is an unparalleled compendium of what is known about them.

Professor Kramer communicates his enthusiasm for his subject as he outlines the history of the Sumerian civilization and describes their cities, religion, literature, education, scientific achievements, social structure, and psychology. Finally, he considers the legacy of Sumer to the ancient and modern world.

"There are few scholars in the world qualified to write such a book, and certainly Kramer is one of them. . . . One of the most valuable features of this book is the quantity of texts and fragments which are published for the first time in a form available to the general reader. For the layman the book provides a readable and up-to-date introduction to a most fascinating culture. For the specialist it presents a synthesis with which he may not agree but from which he will nonetheless derive stimulation."—American Journal of Archaeology

"An uncontested authority on the civilization of Sumer, Professor Kramer writes with grace and urbanity."—Library Journal
Title:The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and CharacterFormat:PaperbackDimensions:372 pages, 9.02 × 6 × 1 inPublished:February 15, 1971Publisher:University Of Chicago Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226452387

ISBN - 13:9780226452388

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from More micro than macro, but still a very worthy read. There can be no doubt this book was written by an eminent archeologist—he makes few statements not directly backed by historical texts and first sources; he exhaustively catalogs everything down to minutae and can often deluge the reader with obscure names and places which obscure bigger concepts, interpretations and unifying theories; he makes few sweeping statements about the Sumerians and their world beyond what he has been able to observe directly from his direct sources; and finally he speaks with a simple, unaffected English that is completely without the unnecessarily convoluted airs of self-importance—very refreshing. The book is focused on the “micro” – down to minute details about the Sumerians as people and the writings and art they left behind, with many long passages quoted. The “macro”, or geopolitical/military history stuff that I personally gravitate toward, is largely absent save for the final chapter, “The Legacy of Sumer”, which is as interesting as it is brief. This book will appeal most to those more interested in the sociological aspects of Sumerian society rather than the geopolitical. I found myself skimming large sections of the book for this reason. Frankly, I probably only read about a third of the book, but it was still well worth it! Cheers.
Date published: 2010-03-27

Table of Contents

1. Archeology and Decipherment
2. History: Heroes, Kings, and Ensi's
3. Society: The Sumerian City
4. Religion: Theology, Rite, and Myth
5. Literature: The Sumerian Belles-Lettres
6. Education: The Sumerian School
7. Character: Drives, Motives, and Values
8. The Legacy of Sumer
A. The Origin and Development of the Cuneiform System of Writing
B. The Sumerian Language
C. Votive Inscriptions
D. Sample Date-Formulas
E. Sumerian King List
F. Letters
G. Ditilla's (court decisions)
H. Lipit-Ishtar Law Code
I. Farmers' Almanac
Selected Bibliography