As we toured the ancient city-states of Mesopotamia, students in
world history wrote letters to family and friends describing
their experiences on about the sights on this journey.
Travel with us and listen to their voices as they share their
Letters from Mesopotamia
World History, 2010
Greetings from the city-state of Ur, one of the
20-city-states in Mesopotamia! As far as I have
seen, it has been a very unique city. Everything
is so different than what we have today.
When I arrived, I could see that there was a humongous
wall surrounding the city and a bronze metal gate in the
middle. As I entered, I could see many unusual
things that we don't have today. The houses were
all made from mud bricks and were both one and two story
houses. These houses made me remember that the
people were living inside the city-state walls. As
I walked around the city-state, I saw many men and women
with their children. I had heard that men have
more rights than women. For example, if a man did
not have enough money to pay a debt he could rent out
his wife and child until he could repay the debt.
A man can also be divorced from their wife if he said,
"you are no longer my wife." Women
didn't have as many rights as men so when the husband
argued with the wife he could just send her away.
If a husband was away, the wife could temporarily run
his business until he comes back. Now, children,
of course, had fewer rights than anyone. They had
to always obey their parents or get punished.
As I finally arrived at the center of the town, I saw a
gigantic ziggurat made from mud bricks. The
ziggurat had a place on the very top just to worship and
pray for their gods or goddesses. Each city-state
had their own gods or goddesses. Priests would go
in and pray in this part of the ziggurat. The king
was the ruler of the city-state and lived near the
ziggurat as did the nobles.
There were three different classes of people that I
observed around this area. The higher class
included the kings, nobles, priests, and government
officials. They would live near the ziggurat and
could own slaves. They alwo lived in two-story
homes like the ones I saw earlier. The middle
class included farmers, fishermen, artisans, and scribes
had one-story homes. They lived further from the
ziggurat. The lower classes lived on the outside
of the area and were commoners and farmers. This
class had a harsher life. Many people did not live
past the age of 40.
I have learned a lot about this place but am looking
forward to seeing you again. The Sumerian people
are interesting but so different than the year 2010.
Hi! I am
writing to you from Ur. Everything here is so
different. Each city state has its own go or
goddess. Where I am, our god is the god of
homes. Everyone goes to the ziggurat to praise
look, I see slaves, children, women and men. I
even caught a man selling his 11-year old daughter for
two dollars. Sad, isn't it. I read here that
a man also gave his 12-year old girl to a 70-year old
man to be married. The children have to obey their
Did you know the
men here are the head of the house? Girls and
women also could not go to school. The boys could
I will send you
I just arrived in
ancient Mesopotamia. I am in Ur, the greatest
city-state in Sumer. Did you know that each city
state had its own god or goddess and government?
Also each city state is surrounded by walls with a
bronze gate. At the center of the city is a temple
called a ziggurat. At the top of the ziggurat, the
people believe it is the home of the city's chief
god. Only the priests can enter this area of the
ziggurat. There are also narrow streets that all
lead to the center of the city. Mesopotamia is
made up of about twenty city states. Each one has
its one culture, too. I am really enjoying the
visit and would love to visit again. I have
enclosed some pictures from my trip for you.
I am in Sumer on
my journey in Mesopotamia. I am now in Ur, one of
the greatest cities in Sumer. Sumer is
amazing. This was the earliest civilization.
They were the first to control their physical
environment. They built irrigation canals for
their fields which helped them to grow barley, wheat,
sesame, flax, fruit trees, date palms and
vegetables. They set up governments and made
laws. The population increased and city states
began to develop. This culture made bricks.
I learned how to do this and it was fun. We had to
put the wet mud into molds and put them into the sun to
dry. After that, we stacked the bricks to build
There are over 20
city states in Mesopotamia. Each one acts as its
own country. There are similarities and
differences. Each has its own rules, king, and a
favorite god or goddess. All people in the city
state shared the same culture in dress, belief in gods
or goddesses, and built temples and homes. In this
time, the city states never formed into one country.
The Sumerians are
very religious. They built ziggurats which means
"mountains of god" or "hill of
heaven." It is a temple for the priests
to go to talk with the gods.
I have a lot of
work to do and need to go now. I hope you are
having a good time there. I am enjoying
Mom and Dad,
I just arrived in
ancient Mesopotamia and I am in the city state of
Ur. Here we worship many gods but not
the same ones we do at home. I wish I could go to
school here but only the wealthy boys can learn.
Life is completely different here.
I just found out
that a married woman could be sold as a slave by her
husband. If you husband is done with you (does not
want you any more) he can say, "you are not my
wife!" and they are divorced. I hope that
never happens to me.
Today I am going
to go to my new home. I don't live by the temple
or in a two story home because I am not a noble or or
that class. I live by the one story homes because
I farm. I am so glad that I get to live better
than others who live near the city walls. The
closer you are in power, the closer you live to the
Time goes by fast
here. It feels as though there are only five hours
in a day since I am so busy. I hope that I can
write back soon. If not, you know I have a tight
schedule. I cannot wait until you come and visit
me. We will visit the
PS The currency
you gave me does not work here.
I am having an
incredible time of my life here in ancient Mesopotamia.
Right now, I'm in Ur, the greatest city of Sumer.
Did you know that each city state has it's own rules,
king and god? Well, they even have tall walls
around the cities to protect themselves from
invaders. people live along thin, winding roads
and have their homes built inside the walls. They
have a ziggurat where they worship and serve their
gods. It seems as though all of the people dress
alike. The villagers travel to the city to buy
goods and trade. Every time I walk around the
villages, I see men and women working. Some people
stay inside the city walls if there is a war coming or
going on. If you could see ancient Mesopotamia,
you would see how unique it is from other
countries. I also am sending some amazing pictures
for you to enjoy.
Mom and Dad,
I think I
understand know what it means when people say something
like it felt like it was just yesterday. The other
day, I woke up in what seemed to be a little, one story
house made of dried clay bricks. As soon as I woke
up, I crept carefully to the door, careful not to wake
up anyone inside. When I stepped outside of the door, I
couldn't believe my eyes.
I stood in amazement
as I witnessed something so incredible I nearly
fainted. It looked as if there was a colony that
hadn't eaten in two weeks racing to a free all you can
eat buffet. I pulled over a man in a strange
costume with a sword and shield who was racing to the
city. This city was protected by a huge wall and
he was going to take over the city state.
While I was
walking around the little city state I bumped into three
men. One looked like a king who said to me,
"you are lucky I don't put you into slavery.
Watch what you are doing." The other one, a
priest, asked me where my offering for their god
was. They both gave me a dirty smirk and walked
away. As I turned the corner by a two-story home,
I saw a pyramid-like tower with different levels.
Each level was smaller than the one previous to
it. I later found out it was called a
ziggurat. At the top level was the home to the god
of the city-state. There were twenty city states
in Mesopotamia each with their own god.
Later, I found
out I was in the city of Ur. A nice friend I made
took me to see the Tigris and Euphrates river. I
helped him farm and trade with other city states.
I also met some scribes who were learning to write.
I am in the year
3000 B.C. The city I am in has a wall around
it. The only way you can get in is through a
bronze gate. They barely let me in the
place. i found a wealthy man who would take me in
as his son. My step dad told me that there are 20
city states. Also he told me that every city state
has its own government and a king. The king makes
the rules. Also, each city state has its own god
or goddess. They built temples for their
god. Life is really different in each city
state. Mesopotamian city states had things in
common. The people dressed alike and had their
gods and goddesses. Homes and temples were
built. People visit other city states to buy and
sell goods. The city states never joined
together. They also fought to gain more land or to
control the water supply. Sometimes a city state
became more powerful than others. The army would
capture other city states. They would make the
people pay them money and they also took others as slaves. Giant
walls surrounded the city to keep the people safe.
Large ziggurats were built in the center of the
I will write more
to you later.
I know you might be worried sick about me, but I'm in
a wonderful place called Mesopotamia. It is a city
state. A city state is a tiny nation built around
a central town. Here in Mesopotamia they have a
ziggurat in the middle of the city. We have
leaders, kings, and priests.
Here in Mesopotamia we have a school. Girls
don't have as much freedom as they do now. They
have a government and a ruler. People are divided
by jobs. There are also farm lands. Mesopotamia
is a patriarchal world. There are two rivers
called the Tigris and Euphrates.
Well, don't be worried. I'll be home soon.
Please help me! I am in the time 2,500 B.C. and
am facing a gigantic wall. It feels as though I
have been evicted from the city state right here in
Sumer. Although it is really dry here, I see that
they can grow on their farm land in the summer.
There are three classes of people. The city
state's goddess is Athena. I may be sold into
slavery. The first government is really strict
because of the potential for war, water supply and
land. Even though I am standing outside of the
city, I can tell you what is on the inside.
First, all of the roads lead to the ziggurat in the
center of the city. The nobles and workers for the
king live in two-story houses next to the palace. Merchants
and commoners live in the middle. Slaves live with
Right now, it's the summer time and it's blazing hot
out here. The city state is along the Tigris
River. The fields are filled with slaves with
marks. The king must be mad.
The King is said to be a descendent of their
god. While he sits on his throne, the priest is
said to talk to the gods in the highest level of the
Please write soon.
I am in the
greatest ancient Mesopotamian city state called
Ur. Here, the people are very different. The
most important place in every city state is the
ziggurat. It is where their favorite god lives, up
in the highest platform on the temple. priests go
there to serve the gods with food and other goods.
Only they are allowed to go up. Rich people,
nobles, live in two story homes while the middle class people
live in one story homes. Husbands can do whatever
they want with their wife and children. They could sell,
rent or just get rid of them into slavery for a debt
they owed. There are also narrow streets that all
lead to the center of the city. Farmland is
outside of the walls and bronze gates. The walls
are there to keep out invaders. These people get
their crops watered by irrigation. The water comes from
the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Wars aren't an
unusual thing. City states are always fighting
with each other. Prisoners of war would be taken
to work for the other city state.
It is great and
unusual here. I made it through and hope that I am
not taken as a prisoner.
I just arrived in ancient Mesopotamia. I went to
the center of the city and saw a huge pyramid type of
building that is called a ziggurat. I heard that
the priest and the people who help the government live
close to the ziggurat and in a two story house.
Behind that is a one story home and then homes by the
farmers who grow food. Those are closer to the
wall. I saw a bronze gate with an arch and a
temple for the gods. I had fun.
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