What did the Sumerians invent? | 2023

The Sumerians are considered the oldest civilization in the world, they were located in Mesopotamia and stood out for being pioneers in the field of writing, in the development of the first laws or for being considered the inventors of the wheel.

Not only are they at the origin of writing, but they also brought great contributions to civilization in areas of knowledge such as mathematics and astronomy. In fact, it is considered that they were the ones who established the division of the day into night and day and who developed a sexagesimal system that currently facilitates the measurement of time.

Furthermore, their mode of social organization gave rise to the first cities, while they developed the first legal regulations and came to register agreements between individuals in writing.

Now, let’s take a look at what were the most important inventions of the Sumerian civilization.

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cuneiform writing

Through a wedge-shaped writing system, also called cuneiform, the Sumerians recorded their legal texts and agreements. Its origin dates back to between 3,500 and 300 BC Thus, the written record of the word marked the end of prehistory and the beginning of history.

Thanks to this cuneiform system, legal codes could be elaborated, it was possible to carry out mathematical calculations or write letters.

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the first laws

The origin of the law is found in a civilization like Sumer, because there are the first regulations. Precisely these rules allowed them to organize their society.

Among its laws, the oldest text that has been found is the Code of Ur-Nammu. This set of laws was applied to impose a series of punishments related to crimes, as well as regulated important issues of slavery.

The wheel

Such a simple and decisive element in history, society and the economy was the wheel. We owe its creation to the Sumerians around 3,500 BC Thus, thanks to the use of circular-shaped fragments of trunks, the Sumerians were able to move the heaviest objects.

But they did not only create trunks that rolled, because, later, the great discovery arose: the wheels with axles. In this way, the wheel was a disk fixed to an axis that functioned as an element that stabilized it.

Contributions in the field of mathematics

The development of trade, the need to manage an economy and the establishment of taxes brought with them the development of mathematics. All this led them to create a sexagesimal mathematical system, to develop an abacus and to assign symbols that served to represent numbers.


Not only mathematical science had the important contributions of the Sumerians. Also astronomy benefited from his discoveries and inventions. Thus, the Sumerians captured various constellations on their maps, recorded planetary movements, and divided day into night and day.

On the other hand, the knowledge they showed of astronomy allowed them to establish a lunar calendar organized in a total of twelve cycles.

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The origin of the monarchy

Before the monarchy operated as a system of government, political power had been in the hands of the priests. Later, the priest kings arose, who administered the land, the economy and the defense.

The figure of the tribal chiefs was left behind, the monarch being someone special, a chosen one with divine powers to whom they had to submit. In this way, the monarch, endowed with vast powers, was legitimized to govern. In this sense, it is believed that the first monarch was Etana of Kish, around 2,600 BC.


The first metal used was copper, around the year 5,000 BC, its pioneering use corresponding to the Sumerians. Initially, copper was used to build weapons and utensils, although later it was also used to manufacture handicrafts such as pitchers and vessels.

Table games

Something so trivial and that has been a magnificent form of entertainment are board games. This is where we again find the Sumerians, who invented the so-called Royal Game of Ur between 2,600 BC and 2,400 BC. This game underwent modifications, changing its rules and it is considered that it could have served as a source of inspiration for the development of backgammon.

sailing boats

The evolution of maritime transport has been decisive when it comes to establishing political and commercial relations between peoples. In this area, the Sumerians were able to invent the sailing ship. Using papyrus and wood, they created sailing vessels that lightened trade and also spawned the first warships.

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