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“Sumer, its rise and fall, provides the historian with the most ancient example of the poignant irony inherent in man’s fate. As the Sumerian literary documents make amply manifest, it was the competitive drive for superiority and preeminence, for victory, prestige, and glory, that provided the psychological motivation sparking the material and cultural advances for which the Sumerians are justifiably noted: large-scale irrigation, technological invention, monumental architecture, writing, education, and literature. Sad to say, this very passion for competition and success carried within it the seed of destruction and decay. In the course of the centuries, Sumer became a ‘sick society’ with deplorable failings and distressing shortcomings: it yearned for peace and was constantly at war; it professed such ideals as justice, equity, and compassion, but abounded in injustice, inequality, and oppression; materialistic and short-sighted, it unbalanced the ecology essential to its economy; it was afflicted by a generation gap between parents and children, and between teachers and students. And so Sumer came to a cruel, tragic end, as one melancholy Sumerian bard bitterly laments: Law and order ceased to exist; cities, houses, stalls, and sheepfolds were destroyed; rivers and canals flowed with bitter waters; fields and steppes grew nothing but weeds and ‘wailing plants.’ The mother cared not for her children, nor the father for his spouse, and nursemaids chanted no lullabies at the crib. No one trod the highways and the roads; the cities were ravaged and their people were killed by the mace or died of famine. Finally, over the land fell a calamity ‘undescribable and unknown to man.’ – Samuel Noah Kramer, “Sumerian History, Culture, and Literature”

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