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Beer: its been good for you since they brewed it in Ancient Sumer.

KS2 pupils and teachers are just so lucky – they get to study heaps of interesting things in the History curriculum. One of these can be Ancient Sumer. What, I hear you ask is Ancient Sumer? Well I’m glad you asked me.

Ancient Sumer was the region where the first cities developed. Anywhere in the world. In fact, Sumer was the site of a considerable number of ‘firsts’ including writing. Sumer has often been called the ‘cradle of civilisation’ as many of the things we associate with the idea of being civilised first emerged here.

So how come we don’t hear of it and why is it in the curriculum? Well, one reason is our contining fascination with Ancient Egypt, which dominates our imagination of the past through books, films, tv programmes and museum displays. Sumer on the other hand is in a sense taken for granted. Phrases such as ‘the fertile crescent’ and ‘Mesopotamia’ hide the extent and importance of Sumer in human history.

Besides being famous for all these things, the written records the Sumerians left behind tell us a great deal about daily life, perhaps more so than Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on temples and tombs. Among these records there is, you may be pleased to know, a recipe for beer! back in the 1990’s someone even made some from the recipe – the story can be seen here:

If you would like to know more about Ancient Sumer you could begin by reading my article in this month’s Primary History magazine which contains tips and activities for teaching more about this really interesting and important part of the human journey


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