History of Ancient Sumer

Timelines 5000-1595 B.C.

Archaeological site of the ancient city of Kish, south of Baghdad, Iraq, Sumerian civilization, 4th-1st millennium BC
De Agostini / C. Sappa / Getty Images

Dates are very approximate.

Sumerian Developments and Events

5th Millennium beginning 5000 (Also see Sumer - 4000-1000 B.C.)

Early development of Sumer
Ubaid Culture

4th Millennium beginning 4000

Protoliterate period - High civilization developing

3rd Millennium beginning 3000

Political & military rivalries
Rival kings & periods of unification includes Early Dynastic [see Tell Asmar Sculpture from the Early Dynastic period], Sargonic, & Ur III periods

Mesopotamian Kings Lists

Before Gilgamesh ruled Uruk, as its 4th king (sometimes considered historical), the Sumerian King list provides the following data, with some even more improbable lengths of reigns (highlighting added) than the 126 years attributed to Gilgamesh:

"In E-ana, Mec-ki-aj-gacer, the son of Utu, became lord and king; he ruled for 324 ... years. Mec-ki-aj-gacer entered the sea and disappeared. Enmerkar, the son of Mec-ki-aj-gacer, the king of Unug [Uruk], who built Unug..., became king; he ruled for 420... years. ... 745 are the years of the dynasty of Mec-ki-aj-gacer. .... Lugalbanda, the shepherd, ruled for 1200 years. Dumuzid, the fisherman, whose city was Kuara, ruled for 100 ... years."
From © Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E, Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/), Oxford 1998- .

2750 - Legendary Gilgamesh rules Uruk; Enmebaragesi & Agga rule Kish

2550 - Mesalim rules Kish

2475 - Ur-Nanshe rules Lagash, Meskalamdug rules Ur, military conflict between Lagash & Umma continues a long time.

2375 - Lugalzagesi of Umma unifies Sumer briefly

2350 - Sargon of Agade defeats Umma & takes over Sumer & Akkad & creates significant political & economic empire.

Sargon tries to unite the area cults and makes his daughter Enheduanna the priestess/wife of the moon god Nanna. Enheduanna is the first known and named author.
Akkadian Period

2300 - Gutian invasion disrupts unity of Sumer & Akkad

2175 - Gudea rules Lagash

2110 - Ur-Nammu of Ur unifies Sumer & Akkad

2030 - Elamites disrupt unity of Sumer & Akkad

2020 - Ishbi-Erra the Amorite ruler of Isin seeks to rebuild unity in the land

2nd Millennium - 1st Half

The ascendancy of Amorite dynasties of Isin, then Larsa, then Babylon. This period ends with devastating Hittite raid around 1600 B.C.

1795 - Rim-Sin of Larsa defeats Isin & takes over Sumer & Akkad

1760 - Hammurapi (Hammurabi) of Babylon defeats Larsa & takes over Sumer & Akkad

1720 - Shift of Euphrates River & collapse of life at Nippur & some other cities of Sumer

1595 - Hittite raid disrupts unity of Sumer & Akkad