800px-Fertile Crescent map

Generally defined area of the Fertile Crescent in red

The Age of Man occurs in the Holocene period (9,700 BCE–present), a geological epoch, that gives evidence for the growth and impact of humans worldwide. It concerns: the human History of writing, development of major civilizations, and overall significant transition toward urban living in the present. Human impacts on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for the future of all matter within our system's habitable zone. Evidence of human impacts is monitored in approximate synchronous lithospheric changes, or more recently atmospheric changes.

Evidence for the earliest human civilizations have been unearthed in and around the Fertile Crescent (also known as the cradle of civilization) a crescent-shaped region in Mesopotamia. The civilizations in this area made various technological advancements in the development of writing, glass, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation. Linguistically, the Fertile Crescent was a region of great diversity. Historically, Semitic languages generally prevailed in the lowlands, whilst in the mountainous areas to the east and north a number of generally unrelated languages were found including Elamite, Kassite, and Hurro-Urartian. The Sumerian language, although a non-Semitic language, did display a Sprachbund-type relationship with neighbouring Akkadian. Some of the oldest ritual sites and settlements are Göbekli Tepe, Jericho and Sumer.


Sumer, taken to include the Ubaid and Uruk periods, spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BCE, ending with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BCE, followed by a transitional period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BCE. The first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was Eridu. Their civilization included the Sumerian king list, which is an ancient text in the Sumerian language that lists the monarchs of Sumer, including a few foreign dynasties.

Sumerian King List

Stone tablet inscribed with the Sumerian King List

The Sumerian King List is an ancient stone tablet originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of the kingship. Kingship was seen as handed down by the gods and could be transferred from one city to another, reflecting perceived hegemony in the region.[1] Throughout its Bronze Age existence, the document evolved into a political tool. Its final and single attested version, dating to the Middle Bronze Age, aimed to legitimize Isin's claims to hegemony when Isin was vying for dominance with Larsa and other neighboring city-states in southern Mesopotamia.[1][2]

Antediluvian rulers

The Sumerian King List attests to predynastic antediluvian (Pre-flood) rulers. However, none have been verified as historical by archaeological excavations, epigraphical inscriptions or otherwise. While there is no evidence they ever reigned as such, the Sumerians purported them to have lived in the mythical era before the great deluge. Some modern scholars believe the Sumerian deluge story corresponds to localized river flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq,) and various other cities as far north as Kish, as revealed by layer of riverine sediments, radiocarbon dated to c. 2900 BC, which interrupt the continuity of settlement. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (c. 3000–2900 BC) was discovered immediately below this Shuruppak flood stratum.[3]


The Sumerian King List boasts of presumable predynastic rulers enjoying lengthy reigns with later, more historical dynasties. Although the primal kings are historically unattested, that does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were later mythicized. Some Assyriologists view the predynastic kings as a later fictional addition.[1][4] Only one ruler listed is known to be female: Kug-Bau "the (female) tavern-keeper", who alone accounts for the Third Dynasty of Kish. The earliest listed ruler whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is Enmebaragesi of Kish, c. 2600 BC. Reference to him and his successor, Aga of Kish, in the Epic of Gilgamesh has led to speculation that Gilgamesh himself may have been a historical king of Uruk. Three dynasties are absent from the list: the Larsa dynasty, which vied for power with the (included) Isin dynasty during the Isin-Larsa period; and the two dynasties of Lagash, which respectively preceded and ensued the Akkadian Empire, when Lagash exercised considerable influence in the region. Lagash, in particular, is known directly from archaeological artifacts dating from c. 2500 BC. The list is important to the chronology of the 3rd millennium BC. However, the fact that many of the dynasties listed reigned simultaneously from varying localities makes it difficult to reproduce a strict linear chronology.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Van De Mieroop, Marc (2004). A History of the Ancient Near East. Blackwell. pp. 41. ISBN 0-631-22552-8.,M1. 
  2. The spelling of royal names follows the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
  3. Harriet Crawford (2004), Sumer and the Sumerians, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-53338-6, 
  4. von Soden, Wolfram (1994). The Ancient Orient. Donald G. Schley (trans.). Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 47. ISBN 0-8028-0142-0.,M1.