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Showing posts from October, 2020

Episode B2 - Modern 1 Fanciful Notions of Antiquity

 An interlude in our story. We pause today to read a story by HP Lovecraft, the Nameless City, which brings us back to how absolutely incredible it was when modern archeologists re-discovered the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. This is a work of fiction of course, meant to shock, amaze and horrify, but it is a fun little story as well as a nice reminder that until very, very recently, almost nothing at all was known about things which occurred prior to the Biblical histories. This was a pre-recorded episode saved in case an episode didn't make it out on time, but since tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the show, and halloween is coming up, and we are at a nice break between the end of the Old Babylonian series and the start of the next series, this seemed like a good thing to post. Next week will also have an interlude, but one which comes from ancient Mesopotamia itself. I hope you enjoy these little bits of literature. If anyone wants to follow along with the story, the

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

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 tw

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: