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Showing posts from December, 2019

Episode 13 - Anunnaki 4 God of Action Heroes Ninurta

The mountains will crumble and cities will tremble as Ninurta comes to put down a rebellion with maximum casualties and no geneva convention. Then he will teach us geology. The Sumerians are a funny bunch, which is why their four thousand year old stories still have the capacity to surprise us. Online at The Lugal-e is a bit confused in places, with different translations giving very different interpretations. I have, as usual, mixed and matched between versions to produce what I think is the most interesting version, but a lot of the action is simply hard to follow in the original. This is in part because Cunieform has a remarkable economy to it, using very few words to express an idea, which creates ambiguity if you don't have all the context, and add to that the fact that so much of the work is damaged and hard to read. In any case, I am pretty sure the listing of the rocks is the important part of the story, and that survived pretty well. We will def

Episode 12 - Anunnaki 3 Enlil Lord of Wind

He is a little bit creepy and king of the gods. He is Enlil, lord of wind, and today's episode is focused on the him as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. Curiously, Enlil was never depicted personally in ancient art. Rather, he was represented by a horned helmet, which would be worn by rulers. The horned helmet on the Achemanid king is a very late surviving example of this tradition. Looking at academic secondary sources for the two main stories today, the two marriage tales, and scholarship seems to be pretty universally more positive on the interpretations of these than I am, and honestly I have looked through every translation I could find (2 of them, it is a pretty small field) and simply can't see the second as anything but a serial rape being celebrated as a win for masculinity. The first I can maybe see as a standard marriage, though with a slightly creepy suitor, but seriously either I am missing something here or the academics are being way to generous to E

Episode 11 - Wisdom 1 Instructions Manual

This week we look at the wisdom literature of Ancient Sumeria with a genre called instructions which are just that, instructions for how to live, from the ethical to the deeply practical. We will learn how to live a good life and how to farm barley, as well as other things. As to the mention in the show that actual philosophy doesn't start until the greeks, yes, an expert can tell you why these things don't count as Philosophy and how they are less sophisticated than later greek writings, but I find them valuable and philosophical all the same. Not so many notes today, except to say that while I breezed through these, there is quite a lot here that is worth pausing and pondering on. Also know that there is quite a lot that isn't here, the genre is much bigger that just these four instructions and while I may come back to it later know that there is a lot I haven't covered.

Episode 10 - Mailbag 1 King Shulgi's Mailbag

This week we will read the actual mail of a real person from 2100BCE and hear his actual words as he manages his empire. King Shulgi of Ur is our hero, but we will also hear from other characters like his commander Aradgu and his father Ur-Nammu. I found a little reference map for you of the Ur III period. Sadly, basically none of the places mentioned here are on any map I have been able to find  I should say that Ur-nammu is the oldest surviving law code, but the oldest law code we know of at all was written a few hundred years before by a fellow named Urukagina. We don't have the code surviving, but we do have some neat little bits about him which I am looking into, and if there is enough there I might make an episode about him. There are many more letters, including a natural sequel to this episode following Shulgi's grandson Ibbi-suen while the empire falls apart around him. Is anyone interested in that? Other sources of daily life include reciepts for loans,

Episode 9 - Anunnaki 2 Ishtar and Dumazid

This week, we follow the twists and turns of an odd love story, Ishtar and Dumazid, who despite the sometimes questionable nature of their relationship were considered the archetype of lovers in ancient Mesopotamia Ah! Divine marriage did not make it into the show! I meant to have a section on it, but forgot. I even promised I would get to it in the show!