Mesopotamia refers to the area extant between the Euphrates and Tigris river system and corresponds with the present day Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and northeastern part of Syria. Mesopotamia rightly regarded as the cradle of civilization for it played a critical role in the emergence of the Iron and Bronze Age. Again, Mesopotamia included empires such as the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and the Persian empires. Since these empires all existed in Mesopotamia, they had striking similarities among themselves, yet their identity and autonomy granted them differences, as shall be seen in the ensuing discussion, vis-à-vis the Sumerians and Babylonians.
Similarities and Differences between Babylonians and Sumerians
One of the points of commonality between Sumerians and Babylonians is religion. Babylonians and Sumerians were both highly polytheistic. At some points, as neighboring city states, Babylonians and Sumerians shared the same gods. All these gods were based on the perceptions that people had towards forces of nature. To this extent, both the Sumerians and Babylonians had the god(s) of air, sun, moon, rain and sea. Both civilizations also had towers or ziggurats in the middle of their cities. Sacrifices were offered to the pantheon of gods in Sumeria and Babylon. Nevertheless, in the offering of sacrifice, there is a parting point since the Sumerians offered only crop harvests while the Babylonians sacrificed even their children.
Both civilizations were city-states. Again, both civilizations had all-dispensing rulers. In Sumeria, the powerful political ruler, Gilgamesh was also a priest. However, in Babylon, Hammurabi (fl. ca. 1792 – 1750 BC) the ruler was a king, priest and lawgiver. Both civilizations used the Sumerian language, though the Babylonians limited their use of the Sumerian language to religious purposes. The Babylonians used the Akkadian language for official purposes while the Sumerians had their own language.
Accomplishments of the Respective Civilizations
According to Finkel and Reade, Babylonians is no doubt one of the biggest city-states in Mesopotamia. For one, as touching architecture, Babylonians erected massive buildings and architectural structures such as the Hanging Gardens and the Ishtar Gates. The Babylonians among many other things invested advanced techniques of irrigation along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This helped the Babylonians grow a lot of crops (Finkel and Reade, 31-33).
Gadotti observes that the Sumerians also had their inventions, even in the field of architecture and art. One of the most remarkable works of Sumerian art is the Erech vase in alabaster (c. 3500, Iraq Mu., Baghdad) which portrays a detailed and clear ceremonial procession (of people and animals) to Inanna, the fertility goddess. The vase is carved in four bands, and on an elegant vase shape. The peak of this work of art is a representation of a female head known as the Lady of Warka. All this is carved on a white marble and is a testimony of both simplicity and cleverly and artistically interwoven together (Gadotti, 196-8).
Again, at Lagash, there is a towering modeled head of stone which portrays a Sumerian man. The head of stone is set on a humongous circular skull which is presented in bas-relief.
Finkel, I. L and Reade, J. E. “On Some Inscribed Babylonian Alabastra.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 12.1 (2002): 31 – 46. Print
Gadotti, Alhena. “Portraits of the Feminine in Sumerian Literature.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 131.2 (2011): 195 – 206. Print