Seven thousand years ago you came from the north.

 

You settled between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. With little rain the land was hard to farm but you found a way: you built massive levees to collect water in spring and store it for the autumn planting. You transformed the desert into an oasis. You were the first people in history who could count on a surplus.

You built wondrous cities, filling the plain. Your civilisation was stable and creative. You made breathtaking advances in science and technology and in writing and mathematics. You loved above all else the music of the lyre.

It was the intensity of your culture that was its undoing. The land needed to rest, but there were too many mouths to feed. The soil became water-logged, drawing salts to the surface, made worse by summer evaporation.

After two thousand years of slowly-declining yields, you wrote how finally the ‘earth turned white’.

And then, when you were at your weakest, the conquerors came. First Sargon of Akkad, then the Gutians, followed by the Elamites and the Amorites; until all that was left was dust. Raised mounds where cities once stood. And buried within them, clay tablets inscribed in a language long dead, a last echo of great times gone.

 

Sumer