Southern area = sumer cradle of civilization (oldest in world) By 3000bc: settlement grows to as many as 10,000. By 2800bc some with 50,000 complex chiefdoms. Huge defensive walls and temples stepped pyramids and ziggurat developed. By 2800bc: dynastic/empire period creation of states . Wealthy secular administrators but with divine right to lead. Leaders have absolute power and very high status. Eg: burial of queen shub-ad, also with retainers. Queen on wooden bier, covered in mass of gold, agate and silver beads with elaborate headdress. Incised on clay tablets with wedge-shaped instrument cuneiform (greek for wedge) Partly phonetic symbol represents sound rather than object. Beyond accounting recording myths, political events, laws, etc . 2350bc: united by king sargon of akkad in north. 34 war campaign united all of mesopotamia earliest empire. Most think of aztecs overthrown by cortez or lowland maya. However, complex societies have long history in general area of 12000bc.