History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-nine Firsts in Recorded History

History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-nine Firsts in Recorded History


By (author) Samuel Noah Kramer

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  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 36mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 1 April 1988
  • Publication City/Country: Pennsylvania
  • ISBN 10: 0812212762
  • ISBN 13: 9780812212761
  • Edition: 3, Revised
  • Edition statement: 3rd Revised edition
  • Illustrations note: 62 illus.
  • Sales rank: 189,876

Product description

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.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

"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

Table of contents

Preface to the First Edition List of Illustrations Photographic Sources Introduction 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 Glossary 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