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Sumeri

La terra abitata dai Sumeri circa 5.000 anni fa non era certo un paradiso: piatta, arida, povera di minerali, sembrava poter offrire solo una vita precaria.

Tuttavia i Sumeri, dotati di risorse e di inventiva, svilupparono un sistema molto complesso e perfezionato di irrigazione, con canali che convogliavano le acque del Tigri e dell’Eufrate nei loro terreni rendendoli fertili.

Si organizzarono, inoltre, in città-stato, con leggi che garantivano l’equilibrio sociale.

Nonostante l’alto livello organizzativo, la loro prosperità era sempre appesa ad un filo. Erano consci che le inondazioni e altre calamità naturali avrebbero potuto annientarli.

Sumeri: ziggurat
Ziggurat

Sapevano bene che la loro esistenza era nelle mani di un potere sovrannaturale.

Questo potere si identificava nel dio che regnava su ciascuna città, il sovrano terreno, la cui autorità derivava dalla scelta di un’assemblea ed era in realtà un servitore di dio.

Il tempio del loro dio veniva generalmente innalzato sulla cima di una grande piramide a gradini (ziggurat).

Dal momento che nella Mesopotamia del sud mancavano le cave di pietra, i Sumeri costruivano le ziggurat e le case con mattoni seccati al sole. Lo stampo per i mattoni fu una delle tante invenzioni sumere.

Altre invenzioni furono il tornio, l’aratro, la barca a vela, la clessidra od orologio ad acqua.

Sumeri: gioielli
I gioiellieri sumeri creavano raffinati oggetti d’oro, argento e pietre dure.

Gli scultori intagliavano oggetti in legno e avorio, come pure i sigilli cilindrici, costruiti in pietra, dove erano incise immagini di persone, animali e altri soggetti, che poi servivano come timbro da premere contro la creta umida.

L’argilla ebbe un ruolo molto importante in quella che fu la più grande invenzione sumera: la scrittura.

La loro prima forma consisteva in ideogrammi incisi su pietra.

Ma l’argilla abbondava rispetto alla pietra, e si prestava maggiormente all’incisione, che veniva pratica con un semplice stilo di canna, e quindi si lasciava seccare al sole. L’unico problema era che lo stilo rigido usato sull’argilla non era adatto a riprodurre le linee curve necessarie a rendere “leggibili” gli ideogrammi.

Così, col tempo, i simboli vennero talmente stilizzati da divenire irriconoscibili. Ne risultarono i caratteri tozzi, lineari, a forma di cuneo, che noi ora chiamiamo “cuneiformi”.

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