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Ancient Sumerians

The Ancient World and Fashion > Early People

One of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East was the kingdom of Sumer, which lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq.The civilization began around 3500 BCE with a collection of villages, and by 3000 BCE it contained several large city-states, each ruled by a warlike king with his own army.

The ancient Sumerians learned how to make objects from copper, silver, and gold by heating metal ore and pouring it into molds.Their metalworkers became very skilled, producing engraved necklaces, daggers, and helmets.The Sumerians made another important discovery: by combining copper and tin, they created bronze, a very strong alloy that could be used to make axes, spears, and more robust helmets.


A bronze head of King Sargon of Akkad, showing the elaborate hairstyle and carefully trimmed beard favored by the nobles of Sumer.

The production of cloth for export was very important to the economy and culture of ancient Sumeria.They even had a goddess of weaving and clothing, named Uttu.

Sumerian men paid a lot of attention to their hair.A golden helmet found in a royal tomb in the ancient city of Ur is engraved with hair and ears, revealing that warriors wore their hair in an elaborate style: hanging down in curls around the ears, braided at the front, and fastened in a knot at the back of the head.A similar braided hairstyle is shown in a bronze head of King Sargon (reigned c. 2334–c. 2284 BCE), who ruled the land of Akkad, just to the north of Sumer. In addition to his elaborate hairstyle, the king also sported a splendid curled beard, carefully trimmed to fall in two tiers. The ancient Sumerians wore colorful robes with scalloped hems. Rulers had tall headdresses, while dancers and musicians wore sleeveless robes with multi-tiered skirts. Soldiers wore knee-length tunics with scalloped hems and long cloaks fastened at the neck.They fought with long spears and wore pointed helmets.

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