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Episode 55 - Babylon 12 Days of Quiet Prosperity

In a sense, not much happens in this episode. Covering a bit over a century, the borders of Babylon are going to remain more or less stable for most of this episode, and the people are going to enjoy a century of generalized quiet prosperity. Covering the later successors of Hammurabi, Abi-Eshuh, Ammi-Ditana, Ammi-Saduqa, and Samsu-Ditana, we will see scientific and legal advances, good government, and also the quite sudden and total destruction of Babylon, both city and empire. 
I am, in all of my discussions of succession today, assuming that each new king is the son of the previous king. Given the extremely long reigns of each monarch, this is almost certainly not the case in at least one or two of them, and at some point a son must surely have been passed over for a grandson. However, it isn't clear which of the kings was a grandson of their predicessor and which was a son, so for simplicity I am just going with son for each, which is what seems to be the standard assumption fo…
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Episode 54 - Babylon 11 Soldier of Babylon, Ubarum

Ubarum was just a man living in a small village in north Babylonia, one among possibly a few million. He was a soldier by trade, but also managed a little bit of side business and by the end of his life became comfortably middle class. Today we will not be telling the story of gods or kings, but the life of this simple man as best as can be understood from a collection of business receipts and legal documents found together in what archaeologists call the Ubarum Archive. It is only one part of his life, but it is still a perspective we don't see too often.
I am working off four reputable papers dealing with the Ubarum archive, and each one of them presents a fairly different picture of how things work. The plain reading of these contracts is that 
With the year names, they really are a bit difficult, but I am generally using the list found at CDLI from UCLA, with the exception that I am equating the year A with year f, which makes the two disputes with Ili-Iqisam occurring in two co…

Episode 53 - Wisdom 4 Poem of the Righteous Sufferer

The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer, or Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi, is one of the oldest works of theodicy in history, and part of a long running philosophical tradition in Mesopotamian society. Marduk, clad in splendor and robed in dread brings first suffering and then relief on a man for seemingly no reason, and in this tale we will see both the events that occurred to him and his attempts to make sense of it all.
This poem might actually be from the Kassite period, but that is pretty well continuous with the literary tradition begun in the old Babylonian period.
The translation used here is from Benjamin Foster's collection called Before the Muses, available online at the excellent Gateways to Babylon site:

Episode 52 - Anunnaki 8 Theogony of Dunnu and The Education of Scribes

Incest and Patricide are the highlights of today's tale, sometimes also called the Dynasty of Dunnum or the Harab Myth. The ancient Mesopotamian religious tradition was far from unified, and from an obscure town survives a creation story that has pwerful resonances all the way to ancient Greece. And while we are on the topic, this is a good chance to look at the men who wrote all these strange and wonderful stories and histories that the show has been depending on. How did they come to be educated, and what were their lives like?
Translation for the Theogony of Dunnu comes primarily from Stephanie Dalley, also consulting with Wilfred Lambert and Peter Walcot and Wikipedia.
When was the Theogony of Dunnu written? That is an open question, with dates proposed as early as 1900 BCE and as late as 1200 BCE, but I personally prefer the idea that it was written sometime during the Late Old Babylonian period, under one of the kings following Hammurabi, which is why is is being featured at t…

Episode 51 - Babylon 10 The New Order

Finally, we have finished with Hammurabi, and it is time for his successor Samsu-Iluna to take over. At first, things are much the same as they were under his father, but the appearance of a strange new enemy with superior weaponry and tactics throws the empire into chaos. Samsu-Iluna is faced with the largest rebellion in three hundred years, and will do quite respectably for himself. The geopolitical order in general, however, will be shattered utterly. Kassites, Sealand, a weakened Yamhad, and horsies! are all in store for us today.

Episode 50 - Babylon 9 Hammurabi's Code of Laws

The entire code of Hammurabi, start to finish. This is the show's fiftieth episode, and will run quite long as something of a special edition. I am going to go through the entire law code of Hammurabi, start to finish, with commentary and extensive quotes. Not kidding, this is going to be seriously long, fair warning here. I did say I wasn't going to do this because it would be long and boring, but here I am doing it anyway. It is definitely long, but hopefully I have kept the boredom to a minimum. Feel free to skip over this episode if you are not interested in this sort of thing or if it gets dull halfway through.
The code itself:

And a link to a readable version with some more professional commentary: I have already forgotten the link. I will come back and post it before this episode goes live.

Episode 49 - Babylon 8 Hammurabi's Death and Legacy

The final decade of Hammurabi's life would be peaceful and prosperous, and was in many ways the foundation of the rest of the Old Babylonian Empire. We have actual letters from Hammurabi himself as he micromanages his administrators, establishes the Ilkum system, and handles the complaints of common citizens, that are quite revealing of his character and ambitions. This will also be the episode where we lay Hammurabi to rest, but once he is in the ground we follow the path of his legacy throughout the centuries, both in ancient Mesopotamia and his rediscovery in the modern era.