The 'Enuma Elish' epic of creation, describes the 'Half fish God' Eanna coming from the water following the 'great deluge' to bring knowledge to the Sumerians.
I said it before, I'll say it again, it is truly astounding how advanced this culture became in roughly 2000 years. Remember this is right out of the Neanderthal stage of our development. You know, cave men with tools. It's hard to believe they got to this level all by themselves in the short years of their existence.
Considering it took our culture 2000 years from Rome just to get to the horseless carriage... And most of our explosive advancement has just been in the last 100 years... its amazing.
In the Sumerian writings these indigenous people from time to time state they were taught these things or based it on somethings they witnessed. Hmmm...?.
The Sumerians knew that they had to control the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. In the spring the rivers flooded, and when they receded and left natural levees behind. The Sumerians built the levees higher and used them to keep back the flood waters. In the summer, when the land was dry, the Sumerians poked holes in the levees. The river water ran through the holes and made irrigation channel in the soil. An irrigation system took which took planning in draining the marshes for agriculture.
Wheat, barley, sheep, and cattle were foremost among the species cultivated and raised for the first time on a grand scale.
Math & Astronomy
They invented and developed arithmetic by using several different number systems including a mixed radix system with an alternating base 10 and base 6. This sexagesimal system became the standard number system in Sumer and Babylonia. They made a system of numbers that, unlike today's Base-10 System, was Base-60.
For example: how we tell time, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. It is amazing they invented something so critical that we still use today.
They also invented the calendar. By studying the phases of the Moon, Sumerians created the first calendar. It had 12 lunar months and was the predecessor for both the Jewish and Greek calendars. A Lunar calendar that is more accurate then the Gregorian Calendar we use today. The Babylonian calendar was a lunisolar calendar with years consisting of 12 lunar months, each beginning when a new crescent moon was first sighted low on the western horizon at sunset, plus an intercalary month inserted as needed by decree. The calendar is based on a Sumerian (Ur III) predecessor preserved in the Umma calendar of Shulgi (c. 21st century BC).
Let me count the planets... hmmm? 9? Looks like they think Pluto is a planet.
The Sumerians were among the first astronomers, mapping the stars into sets of constellations, many of which survived in the zodiac and were also recognized by the ancient Greeks.
They were also aware of the planets that are visible to the naked eye. Their astronomers developed advanced mathematical functions to permit them to accurately plot and forecast - for many hundred years ahead - cyclical planetary orbital movements and alignments. Some of our familiar zodiacal `animal' names are found in Sumerian records.
Babylonians and the Chinese were using the 19 year Sun-Moon cycle in their calculations - by the 6th Century BCE. Today it is called the 'Metonic' cycle after a Greek who wrote of it some hundred years or so afterwards.
I found my sign...
Government & Military
The US government is based roughly on this Sumerian government. You could have a dispute with your neighbor in Sumer and take them to court before your peers to decide a judgement...
There are even a set of laws that citizens must abide by...(remember this is straight out of the Neanderthal stage) Even the poor were fed at the temple as a form of the governments civil service program.
Because they were constantly at war with one another, they may have invented military formations and introduced the basic divisions between infantry, cavalry, and archers.
According to Archibald Sayce, the primitive pictograms of the early Sumerian (i.e. Uruk) era suggest that "Stone was scarce, but was already cut into blocks and seals. Brick was the ordinary building material, and with it cities, forts, temples and houses were constructed. The city was provided with towers and stood on an artificial platform; the house also had a tower-like appearance. It was provided with a door which turned on a hinge, and could be opened with a sort of key ; the city gate was on a larger scale, and seems to have been double. The foundation stones - or rather bricks - of a house were consecrated by certain objects that were deposited under them."
The most impressive and famous of Sumerian buildings are the ziggurats, large layered platforms which supported temples. The Sumerians also developed the arch, which enabled them to develop a strong type of roof called a dome. They built this by constructing several arches. Sumerian temples and palaces made use of more advanced materials and techniques, such as buttresses, recesses, half columns, and clay nails.
They used logic and recorded medical history to be able to diagnose and treat illnesses with various creams and pills.
Lets not discount the making bronze from copper and tin.
Or Beer Brewing. Chemical analysis has identified a 6,000-year-old brewery at an archaeological site in what is now modern Iran. The evidence, which was published recently in the scientific journal Nature, suggests that fermentation of barley was first practiced in Sumer between 4000 and 3000 BC.
Writing & Schools
Several centuries after the invention of cuneiform, the use of writing expanded beyond debt/payment certificates and inventory lists to be applied for the first time, about 2600 BC, to messages and mail delivery, history, legend, mathematics, astronomical records, and other pursuits. Conjointly with the spread of writing, the first formal schools were established, usually under the auspices of a city-state's primary temple.
The Sumerian language remained in official and literary use in the Akkadian and Babylonian empires, even after the spoken language disappeared from the population; literacy was widespread, and the Sumerian texts that students copied heavily influenced later Babylonian literature. Some Mesopotamian words are still in use today. Words like crocus, which is a flower, and saffron, which is a spice, are words borrowed from the ancient Mesopotamia.
How could a culture, brand new to Earth, have this much know-how, so quickly? They invented so many things we still use, that are so critical to our everyday life in the 21st century. Just astounding!
Want a more in-depth analysis? This guy goes very technical on their inventions.