Civilization VI: Gilgamesh Leads Sumeria

Little is known about the real Gilgamesh, the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh and other Sumerian poems. In the epic, Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk, is described as part god and part man, and has several run-ins with various gods as well as a sage who is said to have survived the Great Flood depicted in the Bible.

Scholars generally concur that Gilgamesh was in fact a real person, as several individuals referenced in the epic are confirmed to have lived in the region at the time, between 2800 and 2500 BC. An ancient manuscript, called the Sumerian King List, posits that Gilgamesh ruled over the city of Uruk for 126 years.

 

Unique unit: War-Cart

The constant conflicts between Sumerian city-states helped spread several war innovations throughout the ancient world, one of which being the War-Cart. This cart – a crude woven basket atop four sturdy wooden wheels - was pulled by donkeys and crewed by two warriors wielding battle axes and lances. Even though the War-Cart’s existence has gone undisputed, its purpose has not; some believe it was used in combat, while others believe it was simply used to ferry warriors to the place of battle.

Unique Improvement: Ziggurat

While Egypt was constructing its smooth, sloped pyramids, other ancient peoples such as the Sumerians were constructing a more terraced version of the same structure, called a ziggurat. First evidence of these rectangular stepped towers can be seen as early as 3000 BC. None of these ancient structures have survived to this day, though many are said to have been great in size – the greatest being the one in Babylon dedicated to the god Marduk, which may have inspired the parable of the Tower of Babel from the Book of Genesis.

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