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Showing posts from January, 2020

Episode 17 - Akkad 1 Sargon Rising

Today we look at the rise of the world's first empire, following the story of Sargon of Akkad's rise from the son of a gardener to the king of Sumer and Akkad. His rise and empire is bigger than can be fit into a single episode, but the Legend of Sargon's rise to power should be enough to whet your appetite for the coming Akkadian series. His rise to power has a lot of uncertainty. One note during the initial war against Lugalzagesi, some think that Lugalzagesi actually conquered Kish with Sargon's help, but that Sargon revolted and conquered Uruk, then the two armies marched and met in battle. I can almost sort of see where this idea comes from, but as far as I can tell it involves pretty heavy interpretation of very fragmentary texts, and while it would make a nice story, I think it is too complicated and unlikely to consider the best interpretation of events. I am not saying it didn't happen like this, it could well have, and would make for an even better sto

Episode 16 - Lagash 2 Reform and Corruption in Lagash

Last time was the rise, this time is the fall of the city of Lagash, into corruption and military defeat. Can the hero of the people, great reformer Urukagina, save his city from certain destruction? No, he can't, but he will try. The three big names today are Enmetena, Urukagina, and Lugalzagesi as witness the dramatic end of an era. Again, I need to put my disclaimer up saying that many of these events have different interpretations, I have just chosen the one that seems best to me. I am not a scholar and am only working from other people's translations, but the story I am telling seems like the best interpretation here. So have a picture of Enmetena from Wikipedia: Look at this, he hasn't even got a head. The name is inscribed though, so we know who the body is supposed to be. Look at this, a good hundred years of history, the golden age of Lagash, dismissed in a pair of episodes and almost completely forgotten outside dusty books and whatever the internet e

Episode 15 - Lagash 1 Kings and Wars in Lagash

War; war never changes. Forty five hundred years ago the men of Lagash made war against the city of Umma over water rights, the very first battle for which we have recorded details. This episode begins the history of the city of Lagash and looks at the rough reality of ancient battle. So, I dun goofed. There were many battles and campaigns between Lagash and Umma over about 150 years, and in this episode I mistakenly conflated a campaign fought by king Eannatum with a campaign fought by the subsequent king Enannatum. The specifics of the battle of Black Dog Hill are from the later Enannatum tablet and speak of his victory there, and while other of the details here are from the first campaign recorded in the Stele of Vultures. Honestly, the course of the two campaigns, and indeed most Sumerian military actions of the early dynastic period, followed a pretty similar flow. March out, have a battle, attack the now defenseless city, return with plunder, or be defeated in the battle an

Episode 14 - Anunnaki 5 Ea, Tales from Creation

The god of wisdom and crafting is the chillest of the gods, that is when he is not turning his family tree into a family telephone poll. The most generous and the most distressingly criminal of the gods, Ea has some of the most unique stories. It is really hard to make a story about the god of semen family friendly, but he is one of the top 3 gods in the pantheon and shows up all the time, and it would honestly be misleading to just tell the myths of him being gentle without also telling about the time he raped six generations of his own daughters in a swamp. Because he is a very good person, as far as gods go, it is just that women have a certain place in bronze age society, and it is easy to forget that this place is very, very, very low. I seriously can't express how hilarious and fascinating I find the Sumerian meaning of life to be. They literally believed that they were basically clay robots who existed solely to provide luxuries so that the gods could leisure, and a