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

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

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

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

Synopsis

"Kramer ranked among the world's foremost Sumerologists.... The book will interest both the scholar and the general educated reader."--Religious Studies Bulletin

Excerpt

For the past twenty-six years I have been active in Sumerological research, particularly in the field of Sumerian literature. The ensuing studies have appeared primarily in the form of highly specialized books, monographs, and articles scattered in a number of scholarly journals. The present book brings together--for the layman, humanist, and scholar--some of the significant results embodied in those Sumerological researches and publications.

The book consists of twenty-five essays strung on a common thread: they all treat of "firsts" in man's recorded history. They are thus of no little significance for the history of ideas and the study of cultural origins. But this is only secondary and accidental, a by-product, as it were, of all Sumerological research. The main purpose of the essays is to present a cross section of the spiritual and cultural achievements of one of man's earliest and most creative civilizations. All the major fields of human endeavor are represented: government and politics, education and literature, philosophy and ethics, law and justice, even agriculture and medicine. The available evidence is sketched in what, it is hoped, is clear and unambiguous language. Above all, the ancient documents themselves are put before the reader either in full or in the form of essential excerpts, so that he can sample their mood and flavor as well as follow the main threads of the argument.

The greater part of the material gathered in this volume is seasoned with my "blood, toil, tears, and sweat"; hence the rather personal note throughout its pages. The text of most of the documents was first pieced together and translated by me, and in not a few cases I actually identified the tablets on which they are based and even prepared the hand copies of their inscriptions.

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