History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History / Edition 3

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Which civilization had the first system of law? The first formal educational system? The first tax cut? The first love song? The answers were found in excavations of ancient Sumer, a society so developed, resourceful, and enterprising that it, in a sense, created history. The book presents a cross section of the Sumerian "firsts" in all the major fields of human endeavor, including government and politics, education and literature, philosophy and ethics, law and justice, agriculture and medicine, even love and family.

History Begins at Sumer is the classic account of the achievements of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq during the third millennium B.C. They were the developers of the cuneiform system of writing, perhaps their greatest contribution to civilization, which allowed laws and literature to be recorded for the first time.

Which civilization had the first tax cut? the first love song? Ancient Sumer was so developed that it may have created history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kramer ranked among the world's foremost Sumerologists. . . . The book will interest both the scholar and the general educated reader."—Religious Studies Bulletin

"[Kramer] possesses the enviable ability to speak authoritatively in a lively and captivating style."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812212761
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1988
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 380,067
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel Noah Kramer was Clark Research Professor Emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was also Curator Emeritus of the Tablet Collections.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the First Edition
List of Illustrations
Photographic Sources

Chapter 1 Education: The First Schools
Chapter 2 Schooldays: The First Case of "Apple-Polishing"
Chapter 3 Father and Son: The First Case of Juvenile Delinquency
Chapter 4 International Affairs: The First "War of Nerves"
Chapter 5 Government: The First Bicameral Congress
Chapter 6 Civil War in Sumer: The First Historian
Chapter 7 Social Reform: The First Case of Tax Reduction
Chapter 8 Law Codes: The First "Moses"
Chapter 9 Justice: The First Legal Precedent
Chapter 10 Medicine: The First Pharmacopoeia
Chapter 11 Agriculture: The First "Farmer's Almanac"
Chapter 12 Horticulture: The First Experiment in Shade-Tree Gardening
Chapter 13 Philosophy: Man's First Cosmogony and Cosmology
Chapter 14 Ethics: The First Moral Ideals
Chapter 15 Suffering and Submission: The First "Job"
Chapter 16 Wisdom: The First Proverbs and Sayings
Chapter 17 "Aesopica": The First Animal Fables
Chapter 18 Logomachy: The First Literary Debates
Chapter 19 Paradise: The First Biblical Parallels
Chapter 20 A Flood: The First "Noah"
Chapter 21 Hades: The First Tale of Resurrection
Chapter 22 Slaying of the Dragon: The First ''St. George"
Chapter 23 Tales of Gilgamesh: The First Case of Literary Borrowing
Chapter 24 Epic Literature: Man's First Heroic Age
Chapter 25 To the Royal Bridegroom: The First Love Song
Chapter 26 Book Lists: The First Library Catalogue
Chapter 27 World Peace and Harmony: Man's First Golden Age
Chapter 28 Ancient Counterparts of Modern Woes: The First "Sick" Society
Chapter 29 Destruction and Deliverance: The First Liturgic Laments
Chapter 30 The Ideal King: The First Messiahs
Chapter 31 Shulgi of Ur: The First Long-Distance Champion
Chapter 32 Poetry The First Literary Imagery
Chapter 33 The Sacred Marriage Rite: The First Sex Symbolism
Chapter 34 Weeping Goddesses: The First Mater Dolorosa
Chapter 35 U-a A-u-a: The First Lullaby
Chapter 36 The Ideal Mother: Her First Literary Portrait
Chapter 37 Three Funeral Chants: The First Elegies
Chapter 38 The Pickaxe and the Plow: Labor's First Victory
Chapter 39 Home of the Fish: The First Aquarium

Corrigenda and Addenda to the Second Edition
Appendix A. A Curse and a Map: New Gleanings from the Tablets of Sumer
Appendix B. The Origin and Development of the Cuneiform System of Writing and Other Comments on the Illustrations

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    L'Histoire commence a Sumer

    Which civilization used the first law system, the first discount on customs tax? The first proverbs and the first love song? The answer is Sumer. Most of the stories of Sumerians can be linked to the Bible and Quran stories. In 39 different areas of Sumerian contributions to the humanity can be found in the book. The book is great if you are interested in the first greatest nation of the world. I hope they may excate more tablets which can be found in Turkey.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2006


    Sumer was Armenia, not some country that never existed. The Armenian king Aram lived at the same time as the Sumerian king Sargon, and was known for the same exact achievments that Sargon had. There is not one history book that tells of Armenia fighting Sumer, (although we did fight Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt) which shows that we were as old as the other countries and that Armenia was Sumer. At about 1700 BC, the Sumerians spread out into Egypt (Hyksos) and India (Aryans). At that same time, the first ever people on Anatolia, the Armenians, had migrated from their homeland in the south. That just proves that Sumer was Armenia.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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