The world's earliest cities formed in Mesopotamia. As people began to live and work together in these cities, they formed a complex society, or civilization. A civilization is a centralized society with developed forms of religion, ways of governing, and learning. A civilization also depends on a stable food supply and on division of labor. Along with its many advances, city life also brought new problems.
The need arose to find creative ways to solve them.
Farmers in the southern part of Mesopotamia, which was called Sumer (SOOmer), used the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to water their crops. But when these rivers flooded the land without warning, the results could be disastrous. For people who depended on agriculture, the loss of crops meant starvation.
Using their knowledge of irrigation, farmers in Sumer built dikes and dug canals. Dikes, or walls made of earth, held the flooding rivers within their banks. Canals carried some of the extra water back to the rivers after floods. Reservoirs stored the remaining floodwater. Building dikes, canals, and reservoirs took special knowledge of making and using tools. The skills and knowledge to make products or meet goals is called technology. By about 3500 B.C. the early settlers of Sumer developed the technology to carry out successful agriculture and to build cities.
The technology of Sumer was greatly advanced by the use of the wheel, which may have been invented by an earlier people. Farmers in Sumer made their wheels by attaching boards together and rounding them off. To make the wheels last longer, the Sumerians covered the rims with pieces of copper.
Wheel technology made possible other inventions, including the wheeled cart.
With a wheeled cart, a domesticated animal such as an ox or a donkey could pull a heavy load. Wheeled carts were needed to move construction materials for houses and other buildings in Sumer's growing cities. To help them move goods and travel, the Sumerians also built some of the world's first sailboats.
What were two inventions that helped Sumerian people move things?