< Back   Home


Ancient Man and his First Civilizations

Additional photos of artifacts from Sumer, Elam and Assyria (2).







Herodotus speaking about Babylon;
But that which surprises me most in the land, after the city itself, I will now proceed to mention. The boats which come down the river to Babylon, are circular, and made of skins. The frames, which are of willow, are cut in the country of the Armenians above Assyria, and on these, which serve for hulls, a covering of skins is stretched outside, and thus the boats are made, without either stem or stern, quite round like a shield. They are then entirely filled with straw, and their cargo is put on board, after which they are suffered to float down the stream. Their chief freight is wine, stored in casks made of the wood of the palm-tree.

These boats are managed by two men who stand upright in them, each man plying an oar, one pulling and the other pushing. The boats are of various sizes, some larger, some smaller; the biggest carry as high as five thousand talents' burthen. Each vessel has a live ass on board; those of larger size have more than one. When they reach Babylon, the cargo is landed and offered for sale; after which the men break up their boats, sell the straw and the frames, and loading their Asses with the skins, set off on their way back to Armenia. The current is too strong to allow a boat to return upstream, for which reason they make their boats of skins rather than wood. On their return to Armenia they build fresh boats for the next voyage.



































Foundation figures and pegs were made for burial in the foundations of temples. It was one of the duties of a Sumerian king to care for the gods and build, rebuild or restore their temples. In the late third millennium B.C, rulers in Sumer depicted themselves carrying out these pious tasks with foundation figures and pegs. Here king Ur-Nammu lifts up a large basket of earth for making bricks. These copper figures and acted as a record for posterity and to receive the god's blessing.