Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids
Daily Life in Ancient Sumer
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Sumerians built towns and cities along the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers. There were four main classes of people - the priests, an upper class that included the royals, a lower class, and slaves. The ancient Sumerians believed that everything that happened to them - good and bad - was the result of a god's pleasure or displeasure. The daily life of every person was spent seeking ways to please and appease their many (many!) gods.
The center of daily life was a very tall temple, the ziggurat. You could find a ziggurat in the center of every town. Around the base of the ziggurat was a large courtyard or town square that bustled with life. You might see an artist painting, a boy racing by on his way to school, or someone milking a cow or making a basket. There were steps up the side of a ziggurat, ending in a flat top where religious ceremonies were held by the priests. From the top, you could see the protective wall built around the city, and over the wall to the farmlands beyond.
Most Sumerians were farmers. But some were craftsmen, teachers, traders, fisherman, and hunters. Kids went to school. Women kept their homes clean and tidy. Women had many freedoms. They could work in a shop or own their own business. People were paid for their work. Even the king had to pay for what he wanted. Whatever their class, all the people, every day, tried to keep their cranky, fussy, gloomy gods happy by being happy themselves. Everything they did was done in honor of their gods.
See also: The Legend of Gilgamesh