Letters From Mesopotamia
    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 learning experiences. 

                                         Miss Froehlich


                              Letters from Mesopotamia

                                World History, 2010

Dear Ms. Froehlich,

    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.

                                                                                                          Yours truly,




Dear Mom,

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 him.

Everywhere I 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 parents.

Did you know the men here are the head of the house?  Girls and women also could not go to school.  The boys could learn.  

I will send you pictures soon.

                                             Your daughter,


Dear Ms. Froehlich,

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.





Dear Ms. Froehlich,

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 houses.

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 Mesopotamia.

                                        Your student,


Dear 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 ziggurat.

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 temple.                



PS The currency you gave me does not work here.

Dear Mother,

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.








Dear 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.

                                            Your son,




Dear Mom,

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 city.  

I will write more to you later.

                                                                                                            Your son,



Dear Mom,

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.

                                                       Sincerely ,






Dear Mom,

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 their owner.

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 temple.  

Please write soon.



Dear Dad,

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.

                                                     Your son,


Dear Froehlich family,

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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