Early Civilizations

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The world's first civilization emerged about 3500 B.C. along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of Iraq. There, in ancient Sumer, in southern Mesopotamia ("land between the rivers") the rich alluvial soils yielded harvests large enough to support a relatively dense population. Urban living and literacy flourished in cities such as Ur (birthplace of Abraham), Lagash, Eridu and Nippur. The Sumerians were the first to invent and use writing which evolved as a means of record keeping. Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of clay tablets incised with a reed stylus in a wedge-shaped script called cuneiform. The Sumerians were early users of wheeled vehicles and were among the first metallurgists, blending metals into alloys, extracting silver from ore and casting bronze in complex molds.