The Sumerians (or Sumer) are widely regarded as the first civilization to develop real cities, as well as the wheel and a writing system. The Sumerian civilization was based in southern Mesopotamia, or what is today known as southern Iraq.
They are believed to have been of either Near-Eastern or Dravidian origin. Located along the Tigris and Euphrates valley, the Sumerian hegemony had its initial beginnings under the leadership of a conqueror by the name of Lugal-anne-mundu sometime around 2900 BCE. During his time the power of Sumer extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. He seems to have lacked heirs for the empire collapsed upon his death. It wasn't until the high priests of Lagash set themselves up as kings that the Sumerian Empire was re-established on a more long-lasting basis.
In 2334 BCE, the Lagash dynasty gave way to Sargon of Akkadia, who hailed from the Semitic Akkadians who came from the Arabian Peninsula. Sargon took over and started his own dynasty that gave rise to the first empire, the Akkadian Empire, which lasted until about 2193 BCE or thereabouts. It's not entirely clear what happened except that the Sargonian dynasty appears to have suffered decay from within. Suffice to say, it was unable to adequately respond to the Gutian Barbarians, and like Rome over a thousand years later, it was overrun and collapsed. Notwithstanding the resulting chaos, Sumer was not done with being an empire.
Circa 2112 BCE, it is recorded that King Utukhegal of Ur finally got rid of the Gutians and effectively establish what would be the third dynasty of Ur. This lasted until about 2002 BCE, when the Elamites finally put an end to Sumerian influence once and for all.
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