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The Ancient Middle East:
Sumerian Proverbs

When you read what people wrote, especially ancient peoples, you discover things about them.

The writing that the Sumerians used is known as cuneiform. Cuneiform has been deciphered, mean that we can now read it.

When you read what people wrote, especially ancient peoples, you discover things about them. By deciphering cuneiform tablets, we found out about Sumerian culture and daily life. There were legends about gods and kings, love songs, ceremonies, funeral services, and proverbs or sayings.

The following are Sumerian proverbs that were deciphered from cuneiform tablets. Read each one. Are there similar sayings or proverbs in our society today? Rewrite each proverb in your own words, to explain what the proverb means.

“He who eats much can’t sleep.”

“Tell a lie, then if you tell the truth it will be deemed a lie.”

“In an open mouth, a fly enters.”

“Friendship lasts a day, kinship lasts forever.”

“A scribe whose hand moves as fast as the mouth, that’s a scribe for you.”

“Who possesses much silver may be happy, who possesses much barley may be happy, he who has nothing at all can sleep.”

Can you think of any modern proverbs that are used in your home? Or, that you have heard recently?

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