The kingdom of Sumer, based in the lower Tigris-Euphrates River valley of Mesopotamia, was one of the first major cultural and political centers of influence. Emerging city-states and regional empires such as Akkad further north and west along the valley borrowed many ideas from Sumer, such as writing, religious practices, agricultural techniques, city planning, government administration, and standing armies.
Babylon's emergence as a regional power in the Old Babylonian period came well after Sumer had begun its decline. Babylon had been a religious and cultural center only at first, but became an independent state following the collapse of the Akkadian empire. The religious language used at first was Sumerian; although this language was no longer used when Babylon moved towards dominance of Mesopotamia, Babylon still used many of the ancient practices of Sumer regarding culture, society, politics, and religion.