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Ancient Sumerian Inventions Used in Modern Day Society

posted on: Feb 1, 2023

By: Arab America Contributing Writer / Alana Rehman

Who are The Sumerians?

The Sumerians were the very first inhabitants of Sumer, which we know today as being modern Iraq. Sumer is often considered to be one of the worlds earliest civilizations, being located in southern Mesopotamia. The land of Sumer was between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and many of the Sumerians utilized this resource to develop new technologies. The Sumerians are credited with the creation of many important inventions that modern society and civilizations use on a daily basis.

Sumerian Inventions:


Ancient Sumerians built the first school in history, known as Edubba or Tablet House. They were very fond of education. They sent their children to school from early morning to late afternoon so that they could learn how to read and write, and the curriculums at the schools were known to be quite harsh. They used to demonstrate the purpose of education through the following phrase:

He whose eyes are not open enters it,

He whose eyes are wide open comes out of it”

Sumerians are even considered the developers of the earliest known form of writing, known as Cuneiform. This is evident through the clay tablets discovered in modern Iraq that contain the Cuneiform script. The Cuneiform characters were imprinted on the clay tablets and then were either dried in the sunlight or were air dried. Cuneiform was important for Sumerians not only in order to be used for educating but because they could record trades and important events that needed to be remembered. The Cuneiform writing system is even important in modern society given that our current alphabet originated from it.

Cylinder Seals

In addition to creating the world’s first school, Sumerians also invented cylinder seals (a small impression stamp) called kishib. The seals were used as a form of identification and every person owned their own unique cylinder seal. They imposed the seal on clay that was used to create jars, doors, baskets or they were used to seal the important information rolled in a clay tablet that needed to be transacted.

The wheel

The wheel was invented by the Sumerians in 3500 B.C.E. They were able to create this invention by using simple wooden disks with a hole for the axle. At first, they used the wheel as a surface to make clay pots. Later on, they discovered different ways to utilize the wheel and were able to make carts for farmers to transport their crops in. They also used the wheel for their chariots for battles.  

Irrigation System

In ancient times, Sumerians had a distinct irrigation system. They constructed dams, canals, levees and more to save their agriculture. They even developed a unique farming system in order for stable water supply to reach crops, which inevitably led to an increase in food supply. Sumerians were even able to prevent flooding by creating levees along the sides of rivers. This allowed farmers the opportunity to develop economically. This ancient irrigation system has a significant impact on the processes used for agriculture in modern day Iraq.

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