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Ten Caesars

by August 17, 2021

by Sean Kelly, Managing Editor, Classical Wisdom
You know the names…
…but do you know the men behind them?
There are few, if any, names more consequential in the ancient world than Caesar.
Centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the name Caesar still means one thing: leader.
As late as the twentieth century, the German head was called the Kaiser, and the Russian title was the Czar… both variations on Caesar.
The name casts a long shadow….as do the men who held it. But who were they? And what can their stories tell us about today?
Augustus Caesar Coin
Coin depicting Augustus Caesar
Barry Strauss, Professor of History and Classics at Cornell University, gives us the untold histories of these ten men and leaders.
Author of eight books on ancient history, including The Death of Caesar, The Battle of Salamis, and The Trojan War: A New History, Barry is the Series Editor of Princeton’s Turning Points in Ancient History.
In his most recent book, Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine, Barry Strauss takes us on a tour of the most powerful men in Ancient Rome.
From the first Roman Emperor, who “found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble”…. through to Marcus Aurelius, emperor, philosopher, and author of the still popular Meditations…. to Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity….
Learn the stories of their lives, the secrets of their leadership, and how their collective legacies shaped our modern world.
The tales of the Caesars is, quite literally, the story of the Rise and Fall of one of the mightiest empires the earth has ever seen.
If you want to learn even MORE about the history of the Caesars, Barry Strauss’ next book The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium will be available next March!
Barry Strauss will also be speaking LIVE at our Symposium this weekend! 
As part of our theme End of Empires and Fall of Nations, he will be discussing Julius Caesar in his talk How Caesar Ruined a Republic and Started an Empire.
Best of all, it’s at a price of YOUR choice. Get your tickets now HERE.

Feeling a Sense of Doom? Time to turn to the Ancients

by August 11, 2021

by Sean Kelly, Managing Editor, Classical Wisdom
It’s easy these days to feel overwhelmed by a sense of catastrophe. Whether it’s the on-going pandemic, worries about floods, wildfires and other natural disasters, or just the normal concerns of our daily lives… the world seems filled with doom. 

It is in these trying times that we should turn to the ancients. 

This is because such concerns are nothing new: People, centuries and millennia ago, confronted catastrophes that resonate with us still today. The Iliad starts with a plague. So does Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, another of the most celebrated works of ancient literature… and of course Thucydides’ description of the plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, with its subsequent moral decay, carries a heavy, but important message to those willing to learn it. 

Likewise there were natural disasters from Pompeii to the Theran Eruption and the famous flood of ancient myths; pivotal moments in our collective history.  

The ancients confronted disasters like these and emerged the other side with wisdom to share with us all.

But where can we find this knowledge? How can we glean these essential lessons in a time when it’s so necessary? 

Fortunately for us, one of the most celebrated historians active today is on the case. 

Niall Ferguson, ‘the most brilliant British historian of his generation’, takes us on a journey through these disasters and what we can learn from them in his most recent book Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.
Niall Ferguson applies the thoroughness and attention to detail he’s known for in a book that will have a resonance with anyone who has looked at the problems assailing the world and wondered to themselves “How am I meant to deal with this?”

Recently published, Doom has been described as, “Insightful, productively provocative and downright brilliant.” by none other than the New York Times Book Review
When disaster hits, we should be better prepared than the Romans when Vesuvius erupted… but are we? And if we aren’t, what do we need to learn? 
Make sure to read Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe for this important lesson. 
Get your own copy HERE
Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson
But wait! There’s more… 
You can see Niall Ferguson LIVE this August at Classical Wisdom’s Symposium 2021: The End of Empires and the Fall of Nations. 
A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, an award-making filmmaker,  as well as a New York Times best selling author of numerous books, including The Square and the Tower and The Ascent of Money, Niall’s speech on The Politics of Catastrophe in the Ancient and Modern Worlds is not to be missed. 
This is an opportunity of a lifetime to hear one of the world’s most celebrated intellectuals discuss the greatest issues facing our world today…
Not only that, but Niall will be joining our keynote panel discussion on Saturday night with famed philosopher Angie Hobbs and Harvard Professor of classics, James Hankins. They will address whether States and Empires Die Differently. And what can their deaths teach us today?
Reserve your tickets HERE!
(Please note – if you can’t afford the tickets, feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will help you out. We think this topic is too important to preclude anyone.)

The Top 8 Greatest Inventions of the Mycenaeans

by August 3, 2021

By Ed Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
This month’s Classical Wisdom Litterae Issue is dedicated to the Mycenaeans! Get a subscription and learn more about these fascinating Bronze Age people HERE.
Who were they?
The Mycenaeans are often regarded as the first Greeks. They were the descendants of the first Neolithic farmers who settled in what is now Greece, and they were influenced by the Minoans. They developed cities and kingdoms, and in the late Bronze Age, these developed into a spectacular and sophisticated culture and civilization (1700-1100 BC). Their states were based on vast palaces and ruled by kings known as wanax. The Mycenaeans controlled the Peloponnese in Greece and eventually occupied Crete and the many Aegean Islands. Their influence was felt as far away as Cyprus and Asia Minor. The Iliad and the Odyssey, two of the most celebrated works on ancient literature, depict the Mycenaeans and their wars. Yet in about 1100 BC the Mycenaean culture had collapsed, for reasons that remain unclear. It was possibly due to natural disasters, foreign invasion, or civil wars. Here are some of their greatest achievements…
1. Mycenaean Architecture
The Mycenaeans were great builders and they engaged in some of the largest construction projects in Europe before the Roman Empire. These Bronze Age Greeks profoundly influenced the development of Archaic and Classical Greek architecture. The Mycenaean megaron, or palace complex, were monumental royal residencies that were enclosed by massive walls. These massive structures had porches, a vestibule, halls and arched corbel galleries. These were all elements that were extensively used by later Greeks. The Mycenaean Palace greatly influenced the evolution of the Classical temples and public buildings, which have significantly influenced the development of Western architecture.
'The Mask of Agamemnon'
‘The Mask of Agamemnon’
2. Mycenaean Engineering
The Mycenaeans were also great builders. Archaeologists have found that they were among the first to build stone bridges in Europe. They were also the first European civilizations that developed flood defences and even terraced agriculture. Sadly, however, much of their engineering knowledge was lost during the so-called Greek Dark Ages.
3. Mycenaeans factories
The Mycenaeans were also the first European Bronze Society who developed large scale manufacturing. These were much more advanced than other Bronze Age European cultures. They had large scale enterprises that made textiles, pottery and metalwork that were exported all over the Mediterranean World.
4. Mycenaean Writing
The Mycenaeans developed the first form of written Greek. This script is known as Linear B, and it was influenced by the mysterious Minoan script known as Linear A. Archaeologists have found many clay tablets with Linear B. The script was mainly used for record-keeping and administrative purposes. However, the Archaic Greeks alphabet was not based on Linear B, but was based on the phonetic Phoenician alphabet. Yet phrases and words from Linear B do appear in the works of Hesiod and Homer.
Linear- B script on a baked clay tablet
Linear- B script on a baked clay tablet
5. Mycenaean Cultural Achievements
The Mycenaeans had many cultural achievements. Their religion played a crucial role in the development of later Greek mythology and beliefs. They worshipped the first known representations of Zeus and Poseidon. The origin of many Archaic and Classical Greeks religious practices originated in the Late Bronze Age culture. Mycenaean stories played a key role in the evolution of Greek mythology. The Iliad and the Odyssey are both probably based on Mycenaean stories that may have been once recited in the great palaces to entertain the wanax and his court.
6. Mycenaean Military armor
The Mycenaeans were a society of warriors, which is very well shown in the Homeric epics. The Mycenaeans developed a new type of helmet made out of boars’ tusks. They used their considerable metalworking skills to develop new types of armor which were very advanced for the time. The best-known, example of this is the Dendra Panolopy (1450 BC) which is a full-body suit of armor.
Mycenaean soldiers from a fresco c 1300 BC

Mycenaean soldiers from a fresco c 1300 BC
7. Mycenaean Military Revolution
Homer describes the Mycenaean armies fighting outside the walls of Troy. The aristocratic elite fought in chariots but the Mycenaean army was composed of heavy infantry, typically armored. They used long spears and round shields. The Mycenaean military equipment and tactics were very effective and probably influenced the development of the hoplite style warfare, which was used by the Spartans and Athenians to defeat the Persians in the 5th century BC.
8. Advanced shipbuilding.
The Mycenaeans were not only great warriors they were also great mariners. We can get a glimpse of this in the adventures of Odysseus. It appears that the Mycenaeans developed trade networks over the Mediterranean. They develop new galleys that were probably based on Minoan models. The Mycenaean ships had seats with rowers and sails AND were steered by triangle rudders. Their ships, which were very large for the time, decisively influenced Archaic age vessels.
The Mycenaeans had many remarkable achievements in architecture, engineering, military tactics and shipping. These Bronze Age Greeks also helped to shape the evolution of later Greek culture, which has profoundly influenced the modern world. Sadly, some of their achievements have been lost to us. Yet nevertheless, it can still be confidently said that Mycenaean Greece was one of the cradles of civilization.
Kelder, Jorrit (2005). “Greece During the Late Bronze Age”. Journal of the Ancient Near East Society: Ex Oriente Lux. 39: 131–179.
Chadwick, J., 1976. The Mycenaean World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Rise and Fall of the Mycenaeans, Classical Wisdom Litterae
If you want to learn more about the Mycenaeans, check out our latest, new-look edition of our magazine, Classical Wisdom Litterae. Get a subscription and learn more about these fascinating Bronze Age people HERE.

Can drinking ever be a virtue?

by July 22, 2021

We, here, at Classical Wisdom like to address the important stuff. We strive to tackle big issues, philosophical inquiries and historical investigations.
We also like to have a good time.
That’s why wine exists (in moderation, of course).
But it’s not just something to do… or consume… it’s been literally interwoven into innumerable cultures and histories… for thousands of years!
In fact, the earliest evidence of wine is from ancient China (7000 BC), Georgia (6000 BC), Iran (5000 BC)… and Sicily (4000 BC).

Pottery showing Dionysus drinking Wine

So it’s not like we are the first -or last- ones to enjoy a wee tipple… but as always, just because we have done something for a long time doesn’t mean we should continue to do so. Indeed, we should question the whys, wheres and hows of every major ritual. 
Which brings us to our philosophical inquiry of the day:
Is there an art to drinking alcohol? Can drinking ever be a virtue?
In turns out, the Renaissance humanist and neoclassical poet Vincent Obsopoeus (ca. 1498–1539) thought so.
Let me explain… In the winelands of sixteenth-century Germany, he witnessed the birth of a poisonous new culture of bingeing, hazing, peer pressure, and competitive drinking (actions that would make a frat boy blush!)
Alarmed, and inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s Art of Love, he wrote The Art of Drinking (De Arte Bibendi) (1536), a how-to manual for drinking with pleasure and discrimination.
It’s a fantastic read – one that illuminates both the history of drinking as well as an important way to think about your favorite go-to drink. 
But don’t worry, you don’t have to find a rare book store or brush up on your Latin to enjoy this gem.
Fortunately for you, Michael Fontaine, Professor of Classics at Cornell University and one our Symposium’s Keynote speakers, has done all the hard work.
In How to Drink, Michael Fontaine offers the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus’s text, rendering his poetry into spirited, contemporary prose and uncorking a forgotten classic that will appeal to drinkers of all kinds and (legal) ages.
Arguing that moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits, Obsopoeus teaches us how to manage our drinking, how to win friends at social gatherings, and how to give a proper toast.
But he also says that drinking to excess on occasion is okay―and he even tells us how to win drinking games, citing extensive personal experience.
But wait! There’s More!
All Classical Wisdom Symposium Attendees will get an additional 30% OFF “How to Drink” as well as free shipping!

The History of the Jews in the Ancient World

by May 18, 2021

Written by Ed Whalen, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
It is widely recognized that Jewish culture and thought has had a major impact on the world. The history of Jews in the ancient world is particularly important, especially in regards to religious development — their Monotheism was critical in the history of civilization. 
Biblical sources and archaeology provide us with a good understanding of the evolution of the Jewish people and their religion since the earliest times. 
The Origin Of The Jews

Jews Mourning in a Synagogue, by Sir William Rothenstein, 1906
The Biblical story of the origin of the Jews is well-known, especially the story of Exodus where Moses led god’s chosen people out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land. However, many historians now believe that there was no real Exodus. It is most likely that the Hebrews (precursors of the Jews) were pastoralists who lived in a marginal area in the land of Canaan. 
The first possible reference to them is in the Merneptah Stele, which was carved on the orders of Pharoah Merneptah, (c 1200 BC). It is believed that the Hebrews were related to the Canaanites. They became a distinct people and eventually conquered the land of Canaan (modern-day Isreal, Jordan and Lebanon). 
Various Hebrew tribes formed a confederation under leaders known in the Hebrew Bible as Judges. They regularly fought the Philistines and other ethnicities for control of land and resources. 
The Kingdom of Israel and Judah
Ashkenazi Jews praying in the synagogue on Yom Kippur, by Maurice Gottlieb 1878
In about 1030 BC, the twelve tribes united under Saul and the Kingdom of Israel and Judah came into being. Saul was succeeded by King David, who created a powerful kingdom which he left to his son Solomon. 
During the reigns of these kings, a single god was worshipped. This was a crucial step in the history and development of Monotheism. King Solomon built the First Temple, which became the centre of the Hebrew religion. 
It should be noted that many Hebrews continued to worship many gods from the Canaanite pantheon, especially in rural areas. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom splintered. 
Ten northern tribes formed the state of Israel, and the two remaining tribes formed the kingdom of Judah. This was the time in which the Hebrew religion took on many of its later characteristics. It appears that Yahweism, the belief in one god, was rivaled by Canaanite polytheism. 
The powerful Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 720 BC. The ten tribes were deported, and their fate is a great mystery. The King of Judah was able to withstand the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem (701 BC), and this may have saved the Jewish people. 
The Babylonian Exile
The Flight of the Prisoners (1896) by James Tissot; The exile of the Jews from Canaan to Babylon
The Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC, and the First Temple was destroyed. The elite were deported to Babylon while a small Hebrew population survived in the rural areas. 
During the Babylonian exile, the faith of the Hebrews underwent extraordinary changes. This was a crucial period in the development of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. 
After the conquest of Babylon by the Persian King Cyrus, Jewish exiles were permitted to return to Jerusalem. They rebuilt the city and the Second Temple. Jerusalem and its surrounding areas became a self-governing area within the Persian empire. At first, the people were led by prophets, and then became a theocracy. 
The Jewish people prospered under Persian rule. In 333 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire and conquered it. The Jews were folded into the Seleucid Empire and continued to prosper. At this time, various schools of thought—such as the Sadducees and the Pharisees—emerged, influencing the development of Rabbinical Judaism. 
Also during this time, many Jews settled in other areas of the Hellenic World. In Alexandria, Jews compiled the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.
The Hasmonean Kingdom (110–63 BCE)
The Maccabean Revolt 
Greek civilization greatly influenced the Jews, and many adopted Hellenic practices and beliefs. This created tensions between traditional and Hellenized Jews. 
When a Seleucid ruler attempted to suppress Jewish religious practices, it led to a rebellion known as the Maccabean Revolt. The rebels drove the Greeks out of Jerusalem and established the Hasmonean Kingdom. This kingdom re-established a traditional form of Judaism, but was riven by civil and religious strife. 
The Roman Era
Roman Triumphal arch panel, copy from Beth Hatefutsoth
By 63 AD, the Hasmonean Kingdom was devastated by civil war. One party invited Pompey the Great, a Roman general, to intervene. This led to the conquest of the kingdom. 
Herod the Great ruled Judea as a client king of the Romans, as did his successors. The monotheistic Jews found it difficult to accommodate the polytheistic Romans, and Judea was very turbulent. About 30 AD, a Jewish rabbi known as Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. His teachings led to the development of a Jewish sect which later became a distinct religion, Christianity. 
Judea became a Roman province, leading to further tensions and in 66 AD, the Jews revolted. Their rebellion was finally put down in 70 AD, when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the future Emperor Titus. 
At this point, there was a significant shift in Judaism as it started to prioritize religious texts over rituals. 
After the First Jewish Revolt, the Jews continued to resist Roman rule. The Kitos Revolt (115-117 AD) and the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-136 AD) were brutally repressed by the Romans, and many Jews fled Judea. This period saw the establishment of Jewish communities around the Mediterranean world and the near East. 
Many Jews found refuge in the Persian empire, where they established flourishing self-governing communities. By the second century, only a small number of Jews lived in their ancient homeland. Despite the rise of Christianity, the majority of Jews continued to maintain their religion and identity. 
The origin of the Jews remains a mystery; it is much more complex than the Biblical narrative. 
What we do know is that various Hebrew tribes formed a powerful kingdom, which eventually fell apart. Their story following its collapse is one of war, siege, exile and triumph over adversity. It was during this turbulent period that Judaism emerged and was to have a decisive influence as one of the great monotheistic faiths. 
The destruction of the Second Temple and the subsequent Jewish rebellions created the Jewish diaspora that went on to play a remarkable role in world history. 

The Extraordinary History of Mesopotamia

by May 12, 2021

Written by Michael C. Anderson, PhD, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Greek and Roman cultures are universally recognized as the greatest Western civilizations from the time we consider “ancient.” Their cultural and political influence provided a foundation for modern society and its political frameworks inspired post-Enlightenment governments.
The Greeks were specialists in ideas, pioneering modern philosophy, art, theater, poetry, mathematics, and science. The Romans, a more practical people, contributed engineering, law, and a political system called the Republic.
The accomplishments of Greece and Rome cast a long shadow over their predecessors. Older civilizations were seen as less important. That line of thinking is a serious mistake because Mesopotamia was one of the most important civilizations in all of human history. It was the world’s first true civilization, making it the father of all cultures in the West. Mesopotamia served as the crucible for mankind to develop agricultural, pre-dynastic, and monarchical cultures.
The word Mesopotamia is a collective term for several ancient cultures located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq. These societies prospered independently from 5000 BCE to 1800 BCE. 
Their advent was facilitated by the presence of an alluvial plain–a gently sloping land surface formed by sediment left from rising and falling water levels–which inspired them to begin irrigation farming. Planting in an alluvial plain allowed for easier sowing and watering. The softness of the ground allowed seeds to be pressed into the soil by hand without difficulty.
Alluvial plain, Tigris River
The history of the Mesopotamian region is too expansive to describe in a short article because its many separate cultures existed over a span of four millennia. To simplify the story, we will focus our discussion on Sumer, arguably the most important of the Mesopotamian cultures. The term Sumer refers to a specific southern region of Mesopotamia, near the point where the Tigris and Euphrates empty into the Persian Gulf. This is the place that gave rise to one of the world’s great ancient cultures.
The map above shows ancient Sumer and its cities. At the time when Sumer was established (6500BC), the Persian Gulf extended farther north than it does today. Baghdad and Babylon are shown as reference points only. Neither existed during the time of Sumerian domination.
The Ubaidians were the first to exploit the alluvial plain of Sumer and build a civilization between the great rivers.
The cities shown on the map, which would later become the jewels of Sumer, were originally Ubaidian. We know this because their names predate the Sumerian language. The Ubaids developed a civilization of farmers, cattle raisers, and fishermen. Their craftsmen included weavers, leatherworkers, carpenters, smiths, potters, and masons. Excavated remains from the period include hoes, adzes, and knives, along with clay artifacts such as sickles, bricks, loom weights, figurines, and painted pottery. Together, these artifacts provide a record of stunning accomplishments for a people who predated the Greeks by 4,000 years.
As the Ubaid culture matured, outsiders from the Syrian desert region and Arabian Peninsula began to settle in their territory after 4500 BCE. They gradually gained control via assimilation and military conquest. The result was an ethnic fusion that became Sumer. By 3800 BCE, the Sumerian civilization had reached its peak.
Reconstructed ziggurat at Ur
The ziggurat is a Mesopotamian temple and one of the most important symbols of the Sumerian civilization. They were the largest-known structures built by man at the time and represent the power and sophistication of the great Sumerian cities. The Sumerians believed the gods resided in their temples and so they prohibited the public from entering their sanctuaries. The ziggurat also contained separate structures for grain storage, recalling the time when Sumarian cities were theocracies, and the priests served as municipal administrators in addition to their religious duties.
The first phase of the Sumerian Era is known as the Uruk period (4100-2900 BCE), named after the Sumerian city of the same name. Uruk seems to have been the cultural centre of Sumer because it housed the principal monuments of the region and exhibited the most obvious traces of an advanced urban society. By 3500 BCE, the world’s first system of writing had been developed and Uruk exerted influence over the entire Near East. The written form of the Sumerian language, Cuneiform, was developed through the evolution of representative characters (pictograms) into non-representative forms.
Sumer was the most agriculturally productive region of Mesopotamia, the result of an irrigation system that focused on the cultivation of barley and the pasturing of sheep for wool. Although it lacked mineral resources and its climate was arid, the region had undeniable geographic and environmental advantages, including a vast delta with a flat region transected by waterways. This vast area of cultivable land allowed easy transit by river or land. Sumer became a highly populated and urbanized region by 3500 BCE, with a social hierarchy, an artisan economy, and long-distance commerce.
During Sumer’s Uruk period, trade along the canals and rivers of southern Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large, stratified, temple-centered cities with populations of over 10,000 people. These cities featured centralized administrations that employed specialized workers. It was during the Uruk period that Sumerian cities began to make use of slave labor, of which there is ample evidence from written texts.
Following Sumer’s Uruk period, an early dynastic period evolved in 2900 BCE. Political systems became centralized and were controlled by small groups of individuals. Multiple city-states developed and solidified during this period, which was associated with a shift from the temple establishment led by a council of elders headed by a priest towards a more secular establishment. 
Legendary leaders such as Dumuzid the Fisherman, as well as Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh, appeared. The center of Sumerian culture remained in southern Mesopotamia, even though rulers soon began expanding into neighboring areas. Local Semitic groups adopted much of Sumerian culture.
The earliest recorded dynastic Sumerian king is Etana, 13th king of the first dynasty of Kish. As the Epic of Gilgamesh shows, this period was associated with increased war. Cities became walled and increased in size, and undefended villages in southern Mesopotamia disappeared. Both Enmerkar and Gilgamesh are credited with having built the walls of Uruk.
Ruins of the ancient city of Harran in Mesopotamia
In the year ~2350 BCE, the Sumerian dynasties were overrun by Sargon, king of the Akkadian Empire. Akkad and its capital Agate were located to the north of Sumer, just beyond Kish. The Akkadian Empire is considered the first empire in human history. Sargon’s rule expanded to include the territory from the Persian Gulf to Cyprus, but his empire proved to be unstable and collapsed after two hundred years.
After the fall of the Akkadians, the Sumerians tried to regain power. The 3rd dynasty of Ur under Ur-Nammu and Shulgi was able to extend its power northward into Akkadian territory, but Ur III only survived for 100 years before being absorbed into the growing Babylonian Empire. By then, the region had become more Semitic than Sumerian, with the resurgence of the Akkadian-speaking Semites in Assyria and elsewhere. The Sumerian language continued as a sacerdotal language taught in schools in Babylonia and Assyria, much as Latin was taught in the Medieval period.
The period of Ur III coincided with a major population shift from south to north. Ecologically, the agricultural productivity of the Sumerian lands had been compromised by rising salinity. Poorly drained irrigated soils, in an arid climate with high levels of evaporation, led to the buildup of dissolved salts in the soil, severely reducing agricultural yields over time. During the Akkadian and Ur III phases, there was a shift from the cultivation of wheat to the more salt-tolerant barley, but this change was ineffective. From 2100 BCE to 1700 BCE, it is estimated that the population of Sumer declined by nearly three fifths.
This greatly upset the balance of power within the region, weakening the areas where Sumerian was spoken, and strengthening those areas where Akkadian was the major language. From that point on, Sumerian would survive as a literary and liturgical language.
The story of the Sumerians is only one piece of the extraordinary history of the Mesopotamian region, which changed mankind forever by establishing agriculture and animal husbandry as essential components of human society. These accomplishments place them beside Greece and Rome in the pantheon of the world’s great ancient civilizations.
Climate Change Post. Climate change impacts in the Euphrates–Tigris Basin. March 27,2021.
Arch Eyes: Timeless Architecture. Religious Architecture. Urban Design. Ziggurat Architecture in Mesopotamia, April 18, 2016.