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How important are journalists really?

February 8, 2016

Journalists, or scribes, used to be very important to ancient Sumer and Egypt societies. You probably just read this sentence and are thinking what is this lady talking about? Well, I’ll tell you.

Sumer (soo-mur) was the very first civilization. Now, that’s a big deal. Sumer was located in the Fertile Crescent, a chunk of fertile land used for farming. Sumerian people invented smart technologies like irrigation, seed droppers, and more. But there’s one thing that’s interesting. The priests used to be the leaders of Sumer, but the kings replaced their jobs and the priests became one step lower than the king in social class pyramid. But Sumer had its ups and downs. Leaders and warriors tried to take over its important city-states, and the Sumer civilization didn’t have balance. But its legacy will not be forgotten. Ancestors from Sumerian people learned the technologies they used and still use it today.


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The Fertile Crescent, next to the Mediterranean Sea

Ok, we’ve all heard of ancient Egypt. But the social classes of ancient Egypt were very similar to Sumer’s ranks. For example, the top of the pyramids both include the leaders, the Egypts had the pharaohs and the Sumers had the king.

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Egyptian Social Class Pyramid, very similar to Sumer’s

Anyways, the scribes would be ranked third place in Egypt, and in Sumer ,too.  Scribes in Sumer (because it was an early civilization) used clay and a stylus to write. Unlike the Sumerian scribes, Egyptian scribes used papyrus (pa-pie-rus) [papyrus was very similar to paper] to write down what happens everyday.

Sumerians used a type of writing called cuneiform (coo-neigh-a-form) to write. Cuneiform was a writing system using triangular-like symbols. Scribes had to memorize thousands of letters to write. Cuneiform was widely used in the Mesopotamia area until the Phoenicians invented the alphabet. Here are some facts about scribes:

  • They had to work sunrise to sunset, everyday


  • Scribes were picked out from the priests’ or nobles’ kids most of the time


  • It didn’t matter if you were a good writer or not, you’re just writing down the information that happens everyday


  • You write nothing but the facts of an everyday life of a Sumerian


  • Mostly boys were picked for this job


  • If you were picked for this job and you were a girl, that was a big deal

This all proves that scribes were extremely important at the time. Journalists now don’t have as much responsibility, which is kind of sad, but at least (to all journalists) you don’t have to work at least 12 hours a day!! I want to be a journalist, because I love to write. But a scribe’s job was 50x more important. I mean, without scribes, we wouldn’t know as much about Sumer and ancient civilization.

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