I am asking this question as I remember reading somewhere that there was knowledge among the people living in one of those cities or the cities in vicinity which accurately traces back 6500 years ago. This made me wonder if the people living in this cities, say after 2000 BCE, knew how old their cities were? Do we have any records for this?

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    I'm sorry that I annoyed you. I had hoped that it would be helpful to be informed that we have community standards and that the question might be judged to be outside those standards. Personally, I find it much more annoying when nobody tells me that I've violated community standards. Years of participation have enabled us to identify that best practices that are most likely to lead to getting an acceptable answer, but perhaps that information isn't valuable to you. Best of luck.
    – MCW
    Jun 23 at 16:13
  • @MCW I have acknowledged the existence of your comment.
    – setszu
    Jun 23 at 16:17
  • They had long lists of kings and some of these were associated with particular cities, though some of the early reigns were incredibly long
    – Henry
    Jun 24 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


They thought they were much older than they could have been. The very beginning of the Sumerian King List has the very first king of the very first royal city in Sumer reigning for nearly 30,000 years:

After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridu.
In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years.
Alalgar ruled for 36,000 years.
Two kings; they ruled for 64800 years.

This is of course, as we know, impossible. 64,800 was likely chosen for any sort of reason other than historical.

That said, you must be misremembering information about "accurately knowledge." There might be some memories that had been passed down along the ages, but no records existed before ~3300 BCE, because writing was only invented around that time. Eridu was around at least a whole millennium before writing even existed, so there wouldn't be any records of its foundation.

So without records and oral tradition, I would say no, the Sumerians didn't know how old their cities were.

  • @setzu Major events can be passed down beyond the ages, but I'd hardly call it "accurate." It's more like those traditions contain a kernel of truth to them. So no, there are no oral traditions that accurately represent the date of the foundations of Sumerian cities.
    – cmw
    Jun 24 at 4:10
  • Is there some consensus among historians on how much of that list is historically accurate? The early kings clearly didn't rule for thousands of years but do historians believe that most them actually existed and that this is a mostly correct list of all kings?
    – quarague
    Jun 26 at 13:07
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    @quarague Some scholars have argued that at least some of the kings on the list are historical, although the evidence doesn't decisively weigh in that direction. Most scholars, I'd say, think it's mostly mythological but leave a door open for some historical figures to have been remembered. That is the consensus given in Kuhrt's Routledge history as well.
    – cmw
    Jun 26 at 13:20
  • @quarague There are potsherds bearing the name of Enmebargesi, and I think that's the one that scholars think is the oldest verifiable historical king.
    – Spencer
    Jun 28 at 17:20
  • @Spencer There aren't coins (coins wouldn't be invented for another 2000 years, depending on when exactly he would have lived), but there are some inscriptions. Unfortunately, they don't support a reign of nearly a thousand years.
    – cmw
    Jun 28 at 17:26

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