views updated May 14 2018

Sumer an ancient region of SW Asia in present-day Iraq, comprising the southern part of Mesopotamia. From the 4th millennium bc it was the site of city states which became part of ancient Babylonia.

The Sumerians, an indigenous non-Semitic people of the region, had the oldest known written language, whose relationship to any other language is unclear. Theirs is the first historically attested civilization and they invented cuneiform writing, the sexagesimal system of mathematics, and the socio-political institution of the city state with bureaucracies, legal codes, division of labour, and a form of currency.