Jobs included pottery makers, stonecutters, bricklayers, metal smiths, farmers, fishers, shepherds, weavers, leather-workers, and sailors.

The wheel was invented for carts, chariots, and pottery making.

Iron was smelted about 2500 BC.

Seals had been used to stamp a carved insignia on clay before cylindrical seals became widespread for labeling commodities and legal documents.

Pictographic writing was first used by the Sumerians about 3400, and by 3000 BC this had evolved into cuneiform words and syllables.

The Sumerian economy was based on agriculture, which was influenced by major technological advances in Mesopotamian history.

Early Sumerian homes were huts built from bundles of reeds, which went on to be built from sun-baked mud bricks because of the shortage of stone.


Sumerians would have ploughed with stone and cut with clay sickles, and went on to using metal ploughs with the development of metal-working skills. A significant invention (one of many by the Sumerians) was the wheel, which at first was made of solid wood.

Discoveries of obsidian from far-away locations in Anatolia and lapis lazuli from northeastern Afghanistan, beads from Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and several seals inscribed with the Indus Valley script suggest a remarkably wide-ranging network of ancient trade centered around the Persian Gulf.

The Epic of Gilgamesh refers to trade with far lands for goods such as wood that were scarce in Mesopotamia. In particular, cedar from Lebanon was prized.

The Sumerians used slaves, although they were not a major part of the economy. Slave women worked as weavers, pressers, millers, and porters.

Sumerian potters decorated pots with cedar oil paints. The potters used a bow drill to produce the fire needed for baking the pottery. Sumerian masons and jewelers knew and made use of alabaster (calcite), ivory, gold, silver, carnelian and lapis lazuli.