The Sumerian World
Edited by Harriet Crawford
Routledge – 2013 – 688 pages
Series: Routledge Worlds
The Sumerian World explores the archaeology, history and art of southern Mesopotamia and its relationships with its neighbours from c.3,000 - 2,000BC. Including material hitherto unpublished from recent excavations, the articles are organised thematically using evidence from archaeology, texts and the natural sciences. This broad treatment will also make the volume of interest to students looking for comparative data in allied subjects such as ancient literature and early religions.
Providing an authoritative, comprehensive and up to date overview of the Sumerian period written by some of the best qualified scholars in the field, The Sumerian World will satisfy students, researchers, academics, and the knowledgeable layperson wishing to understand the world of southern Mesopotamia in the third millennium.
'[T]he last part of the volume deals with the impact the Sumerians had on their neighbours. This is a fascinating section, and one that does not disappoint … this book can be considered essential reading for anyone interested in the ancient world.' - Minerva: The International Review of Ancient Art & Archaeology
'An impressive work that is a godsend for everyone and anyone seeking to understand Sumerian culture.' - Antike Welt, Zeitschrift für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte
'Coming at a crucial time for the archaeology of Iraq, The Sumerian World breathes new life into the study of the earliest known urban civilization. Its chapters combine the best of established scholarship with fresh perspectives from a new generation of experts. Especially impressive is its broad definition of the ‘Sumerian world’ as encompassing relations with neighboring cultures and societies, a refreshing departure from the more inward-looking approaches of the past. This skillfully crafted volume will be required reading for students and researchers of the ancient world, and also for art historians and archaeologists with an interest in this formative period of world history'. - David Wengrow, Professor of Comparative Archaeology, University College London, UK
'This magnificent volume, written by an impressive group of scholars—both senior and up-and-coming—shows that knowledge of ancient Mesopotamia has not only been maintained, it continues to grow. Far more than a summary of scholarly consensus, this volume presents significant new insights into the cities and landscapes of Sumer and the trade relationships with the areas and cultures that were its neighbors. The volume’s discussions of city plans, art, cuneiform texts, cultural traditions, administrative systems, and satellite images showing natural landscapes present a rich and authoritative view of this ancient civilization. Like any volume of this scale, students and scholars will learn a great deal at the same time as they find challenging ideas to debate. When Iraq is once again accessible to archaeological and historical research, this volume will provide a significant starting point for new generations of scholarship. In the meantime, it is the state of the art in Sumerian studies.' - Geoff Emberling, University of Michigan, USA
'The renowned archaeologist Harriet Crawford has gathered 32 specialists on the history, archaeology and languages of early Mesopotamia who approach the 'Sumerian Problem' from different angles, succeeding to present a colorful and comprehensive picture of the present state of knowledge on the Sumerians. Anyone interested in the early history of Mesopotamia will find here competent answers to many open questions.' – Hans Nissen, Freie Universität Berlin (emeritus), Germany
'The clarity of writing and up-to-the-minute research make it [The Sumerian World] compelling for anyone fascinated by the oldest recordered Mesopotamian civilisation.' - James McCall, World Archaeology
"This may well be the definitive volume on the Sumerians, inhabitants of Mesopotamia (the land between the rivers) during the third millennium BCE…. The book includes much new material, despite the difficulties involved in working in Iraq in recent decades. Remote sensing techniques have played a large role, as have reexaminations of the role of women and the use of space in settlements and houses. Work in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Iran, has also shed light on the Sumerians and their world, placing it in a larger global context. Summing Up: Essential." - E. H Cline, George Washington University, CHOICE
Part 1 The background. 1. Physical geography, Jennifer Pournelle. 2. Hydraulic Landscapes and Irrigation Systems of Sumer, Tony J Wilkinson. 3. Sumerian Agriculture and Land Management, Magnus Widell. 4. The end of prehistory and the Uruk period, Guillermo Algaze. 5. The Sumerian language, Graham Cunningham. 6. History and Chronology, Nicole Brisch.
Part 2 Sumerian society: the material remains. 7. Patterns of Settlement in Sumer and Akkad, Jason Ur. 8. The organisation of a Sumerian town: the physical remains of ancient social systems, Elizabeth C. Stone. 9. Public buildings, palaces and temples, Marlies Heinz. 10. Kings and Queens: Representation and Reality, Claudia E. Suter. 11. Sacred Marriage, Kathleen McCaffrey. 12. In the service of the gods: the ministering clergy, Joan Goodnick Westenholz.
Part 3 Systems of government. 13. Democracy and the rule of law, the assembly and the first law code, Marc Van de Mieroop.14. Administrators and Scholars: The first scribes and their ethos, Jon Taylor. 15. Calendars and counting, Tonia Sharlach. 16. Seals and Sealings in the Sumerian World, Holly Pittman.
Part 4 Life and death. 17. Archaeology of the Sumerian Home: Reconstructing Sumerian daily life, Paul Collins. 18. Women and agency: A Survey from Late Uruk to the End of Ur III, Julia M. Ascher-Greve. 19. A note on Sumerian fashion, Lamia al Gailani. 20. Sumerian Industries and Their Makers: Crafting Textiles, Rita P. Wright. 21. Death and burial, Helga Vogel. 22. Sumerian Mythology, Benjamin R. Foster.
Part 5 The neighbours. 23. Trade in the Sumerian World, Harriet Crawford. 24. North Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC, Augusta McMahon. 25. Cultural Developments in Western Syria and the Middle Euphrates Valley During the Third Millennium BC, Lisa Cooper. 26. Sumer, Akkad, Ebla and Anatolia, Christoph Bachhuber. 27. The Kingdom of Mari, Jean-Claude Margueron, translated by Harriet Crawford. 28. Ebla, Frances Pinnock.
Part 6 The ends of the Sumerian world. 29. Iran and its neighbours, C.C.Lamberg-Karlovsky. 30. The Sumerians and the Gulf, Robert Carter. 31. Mesopotamia, Meluhha, and Those In Between,Christopher P. Thornton. 32. Egypt and Mesopotamia, Alice Stevenson.
Postscript: The Mesopotamian Marshlands, a Personal Recollection
Harriet Crawford is Reader Emerita at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology and is currently an honorary Visiting Professor at UCL and a senior fellow at the McDonald Institute, Cambridge. She is a specialist in the archaeology of the Sumerians and has worked widely in Iraq and the Gulf. She is the author of Sumer and the Sumerians (second edition, 2004).