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Showing posts from March, 2020

Episode 26 - Wisdom 2 The Oldest Debates

Today we return to Sumerian Wisdom literature and see some of the oldest philosophy ever recorded, with the debates on creation and the oldest investigation of the problem of evil in A Man and His God. We also dig into the famous proverb collections and look at one of the diatribes, literally just a man writing down swears and insults about someone else in their life. It amuses me that an episode on wisdom would come out on April fools day, but I recorded it a few days ago before realizing when it would go up, so no joke here. I mentioned a fun debate between a bird and a fish, so here is the link I don't really have a good picture today, so here is a random cunieform tablet off the internet.

Mesopotamian New Year Akitu Festival and You

So I wrote a little post on Reddit about Akitu, which is a twelve day new years and harvest festival that began yesterday. Reproducing it here for posterity. The first day of the month of Nisan on the modern Jewish calendar was the beginning of the new year for the people of Mesopotamia. We usually think of the Jewish New Year Festival being Rosh Hashanna in the fall, and it is, but Nisan remains month one for their calendar, a holdover from the fact that this is the last surviving remnant of the old Sumerian calendar system. This year it falls on March 26, though the day properly begins at sunset the following day. Akitu is the ancient name for the twelve day holiday which used to begin at the start of each calendar year, celebrated partly for the Barley harvest which occurred around this time each year, the vernal equinox during which heaven and earth were in balance, and to wish well for the coming year in general.

Episode 25 - Ur 3 The Last Sumerian Ibbi-Sin

Sumer is in a bad state, with enemies on all sides, and just as they are crying out for good fortune they instead receive Ibbi-Sin, a blustering fool. We will read the letters he wrote as the world collapsed around him and then part of the famous lament for Sumer and Ur. There are some who claim the letters, including those written by king Shulgi, are purely literary in nature, later fabrications and purely fictional. It is clear that the letters were used as common examples in schools to be copied and learned from by scribal students, but I am of the opinion that at the very least the look like what real letters would have looked like and they contain accurate information as to the events they portray, and are therefore useful and valid, and more than that I suspect they originate from real letters written by the actual people they claim to be from, and since we have no other "voice" from history, I stand by my use of these letters as the authentic voices of Ibbi-Sin, Is

Episode 24 - Ur 1 The rebirth of Sumer

The Sumerian Renaissance, a fruitful period of literary achievement and military conquest. We are going to see the first Sumerian kings in 250 years as they revive their ancient culture and leave their mark on history. Parts of this episode overlap with episode 10, King Shulgi's mailbag . You don't have to listen to them in any particular order, but there are some nice stories in the earlier episode that compliment this one. The poem The death of Ur-Nammu   is a pretty good resource for those among you who are trying to revive the worship of the ancient Mesopotamian gods. Unlike many later kings, he never was elevated to godhood, either during or after his life despite being well regarded and successful. So the account of his funeral and details of his passage through the netherworld are good models for an average but successful man. The war against Der may have simply been an attack on Barbarians. But we have preceding year names in which Der is given a temple, a year

Episode 35 - Amorite 4 Middle Bronze Age Warfare

The main narrative of the Isin Larsa period is full of battles both stated and implied, but what do those battles actually look like? What sort of equipment and organization was common in this part of the middle bronze age? Honestly, quite a lot is similar from when we last looked deeply at military organization under Sargon the Great, but a number of things have changed as well, with the introduction of many Amorite battlefield innovations, so this episode will take a break from linear narrative and sketch an example battle of what it could have looked like to be a soldier in a Mesopotamian middle bronze age battle.

Episode 23 - Akkad 7 The Fall of Akkad

Today the Akkadian empire will collapse, brought low by climate change, foreign invasion, and civil war. A dark age of Gutian domination will descend upon Mesopotamia. This episode will cover the fall, the gutian dynasty, and even a bit the cities that did survive the Gutians, mostly Lagash.

Episode 22 - Akkad 6 Slanderous Legends of Naram-Sin

Today the fall of Akkad begins. We start with how the Mesopotamians themselves remembered the fall of their first great empire, with the Curse of Agade and the Cuthean Legend, and see that they slanderously put all the blame on the great king Naram-Sin. Still, though it is untrue, it makes for good stories and reveals a lot about the bronze age mindset.