Our story


This Chapter

Dawn of history
School days
Juvenile behavior
A farmer's handbook
Use of shade-trees
and the wrath of a goddess

Crafty state craft
Laying down the laws
Morality and the lack theref

Valid XHTML 1.0!  tux

From Merkelbeek to Märckelbach:
A Social History with Deep Roots

February 10, 2015
Chapter 11. History begins at Sumer  

Sumerians invented writing around 3500 BCE, that is well before this snippet of history was put on clay. Initially it took on the form of logograms, little pictures, which over time evolved into letters. The letters seen here were made by a reed, cut for the purpose of making these markings on clay tablets. This type of script is known as cuneiform (meaning "wedge shaped") and has since been used by other peoples, speaking other tongues, notably Akkadian:  4

That Sumerian snippet is taken from a poem about the hero Enmerkar who lived in the city-state Erech many centuries before it was written. Enmerkar had an eye on the riches of another city-state, Aratta, and wished it to become a vassal-state to Erech, thereby extracting a rich tribute in the form of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and precious stones, and the building for him varous shrines and temples. Being the son of the sun-god Utu, Enmerkar sought help of his sister Inanna, the powerful goddess of love and war. He then, instead of unleashing a war, threatened Aratta with utter destruction. A messenger went back and forth between the two cities, and it was on one of these occasions that he got tongue-tied. For that reason t was, wrote to the poet, that Enmerkar, the Lord of Kullab, put words on a clay tablet.  6

The story is told in far more detail by Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer († 1990) in his wonderful book History begins at Sumer (1956). He presents this "war of nerves" as one of some 39 "firsts" in human history, collectively making a strong connection between the way people thought and acted more than 50 centuries ago and in the present. Sure, we see lots and lots differences when focusing on finer details, but in this broadwe overview really not all that much. Our genealogy seeks to grasp why we think they way we do and this one-chapter historical stop-over in Sumer tends to affirm what evolutionary psychologist Barkow wrote: "beneath new culture is old psychology." History permits us to look at details whereas prehistory is still mostly patches in the undergrowth. In this chapter, I ll unashamedly crib from the writings by Kramer, but do yourself a favor if you can find the time: read the book!  7

Schools are a good place to start. They had teachers, teaching assistants, management, disciplinarians, writing materials. Students, we know, were boys from the upper classes of society. The subjects? Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic, apparently taught to the tune of something akin to a hick'ry stick. But no sign of girls going to school. Thousands of fragments of clay tablets have been found that show exercises in writing, student exercises in copying material prepared by their masters. It was tough sledding, schooldays lasted from sunrise to sundown. Records have been found not only listing students, but also the status of their fathers. Schools not only taught reading and writing, but thereby also subject matter. A typical schoolday: reciting a tablet, eating lunch, preparing a tablet and writing on it, receiving assigments for oral and written work. And the masters, over time, contributed to improving the script for greater ease and utility, shifting from logograms to characters.  8

Written language was the product of an agrarian society, centered on growing grain. A natural result is the production of beer; not surprising, therefore, that some of the very oldest written inscriptions concern the celebration of beer and the daily rations alotted to each citizen.*  11

Where their are masters and pupils, there is apple polishing. A story written by a teacher around 2000 tells us about a schoolboy who, afraid of the caning that awaits him for coming late, tells his mother to hurry up with making his lunch. Boy got caned for the slightest indiscretion: talking, standing up.... It just became too much for one boy; he suggested his father invite the teacher over and mollify him with some presents—the first recorded case of apple polishing.  12

Juvenile delinquency was a problem then as well as today. A father admonishes his son,"You who wander about in the public square, would you achieve success? Then seek out the first generations. Go to school; it will be of benefit to you. My son, seek out the first generations, inquire of them. Perverse one over whom I stand watch—I would not be a man if I did not stand watch over my son. I spoke to my kin, compared its men, but found none like you among them.... Others like you support their parents by working. If you spoke to your kin, and appreciated them, you would emulate them. They provide 10 gur (72 bushels) barley each .... But you, you're a man when it comes to perverseness, but compared to them you are not a man at all."  13

Let's hope this father had more luck with his son. A clay document dating back to about 1800 BCE begins, "In days of yore, a farmer gave (these) instructions to his son." Consider it the first known treatise on forming. When the land is irrigated, care must be taken that the water does not rise to high over the field and when the water subsides, the wet ground must be carefully guarded against trampling animals; the field must be cleared of weeds and stubble, and it must be fenced in. And so on. Truly a handbook and one that also gives us an insight into the farming tools available and how to use them.  14

Another clay tablet tells us about shade-tree gardening and the why of it: to protect the plants from wind and sun. The instructions are woven into a myth of crime and punishment. A farmer raped the goddess Inanna while she was asleep. For punisment she filled all the wells of the land with blood so that all the palm groves and vinyards became saturated with it. And she sent destructive winds and storms against the land. There was a third punishment as well, but the tablet was too fragmentary to enlighten us about that one. The interesting part is that the story is reminiscent of the punishments meeted out to an Egyptian pharao for not letting the Israelis go. Our next chapter will provide more parallels between Sumerian myths and stories the Bible tells us.  15

A "first" in state craft: a bicameral congress, about 3000 BCE Elders made up the one party; arms-bearing male citizens th other. At issue: war or independence. The conservatively cautious elders declared for peace; the armed citizens declared for war and freedom. The king wasn't amused by the elders' choice and this time brought the matter for an combined assembly. The decision then went in favor of going to war. All this happened in Erech, which was threatened by another city-state, Kish. Erech's king was Gilgamesh, the hero of the oldest literature now extant. The story is told in an epic poem of which this part translates as:  16

    The envoys of Agga, the son of Enmebaraggesi,
    Proceeded from Kish to Gilgamesh in Erech.
    The lord Gilgamesh before the elders of his city
    Put the matter, seeks out the word:
    "Let us not submit to the house of Kish, let us smite it with weapons."
    The convened assembly of the elders of his city
    Answers Gilgamesh:
    "Let us submit to the house of Kish, let us not smite it with weapons."
    Gilgamesh, the Lord of Kullab,
    Who performs heroic deeds for the goddess Inanna,
    Took not the words of the of the elders of the city to heart.
    A second time Gilgamesh, the lord of Kullab,
    Before the fighting men of his city put the matter, seeks out the word:
    Do not submit to the house of Kisk, let us smite it with weapons."
    The convened assembly of the fighting men of his city
    Answers Gilgamesh:
    The convened assembly of the fighting men of his city
    Then Gilgamesh, the lord of Kullab.
    At the word of the fighting men of his city his heart rejoyced, his spirit brightened.
*  17

Another "first" in state craft: a tax reduction. This first case of social reform occurred in the Sumerian state Lagash, in the 24th century BCE It served to correct abuses by an ubiquitous bureaucracy. The Lahgahites felt so victimized that they threw off their old Ur-Nanshe dynasty and selected another ruler, Urukagina. The new ruler restored law and order and established the freedom of his citizens. History was kind to Urukagina: the story has been told by his own archvists to commemorate the dedication of a new canal. Kramer tells us, "Nominally the city of Lagash, like the other Sumeran city states [at that time], was under the overlordship of the king of the entire land of Sumer. Actually its secular ruler was the ishakku, who ruled the city as the representative of the tutelary deity to whom, in accordance `with the Sumerian world view, the city had been allotted after the creation.... By and large, te inhabitans of Lagash were farmers and cattle-breeders, boatmen and fishermen, merchants and craftsmen. Its economy was mixed—partly socialistic and state-controlled, and partly capitalistic and free. In theory, the soil belonged to the city god, and therefore, presumably, to his temple, which held it in trust for all its citizens. In actual practice, while the temple corporation owned a great deal of land, which it rented out to some of the people as sharecroppers, much of the soil was the private property of individual citizens. Even the poor owned farms and gardens, houses and cattle. Moreover, because of Lagash's hot, rainless climate, the supervision of the irrigation projects and waterworks, which were essential to he life and welfare of the entire community, necessarily had to be communally administered. But in many other respects the economy was relatively free and unhampered. Richess and poverty, success and failure, were, at least to some extent, the result of private enterprise and individual drive."  18

We shall encounter much of these types of events in "Europe's" feudal system, the subject of Chapter 20, which just goes to show that the way people think and act does not change much over a long stretch of time. Apart from the word "socialism," the story lines up well with much of our modern western world's republican/conservative mode of thought. Which is my reason for the previous paragraph's extensive quote.  19

But back to the Lagash story. Lagash's rulers had great ambitions in the directon of empire building. Initially victorious, their enemies eventually got the better of them and Lagash became weak and prey to being subjected by others. The defense of Lagash required ever more resources and the bureaucracy kept on raising the taxes of the citizens and began appropriating temple property. All this went on after the external threat had subsided; the bureaucrats kept enriching themselves. The citizens rebelled and Urukagina stepped in and turned he tide by relieving them from excessive economic burdens, like a lowering of taxes.  20

Didn't we learn in school that the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi's lasting achievement is his law code, and that it was the first written law code ever? Well, no longer. Today, the earliest law code known goes back to 2100 BCE, or earlier still. That makes it at least 300 years older than Hammurabi's. Yes, Moses' Ten Commandments would be older still, but that is a different cattle of fish.  22

Quoting Kramer: "After the world had been created, and after the fate of the land Sumer and of the city Ur had been decided, An and Enlil, the two leading deities of the Sumerian pantheon, appointed the moon-god Nanna as the king of Ur. One day, Ur-Nammu was selected by the god to rule over Sumer and Ur as his earthly representative. The new king's first acts had to do with the political and military safety of Ur and Sumer. In particular he found it necessary to do battle with the bordering city-state of Lagash, which was expanding at Ur's expense. He defeated and put to death its ruler, Namhani, and the, 'with the power of Nanna, the king of the city,' he reestablished Ur's former boundaries.  23a

Now came the time to turn to internal affairs, and to institute social and moral reforms. He removed the 'chiselers' and the grafters, or as the code itself describes them, the grabbers of the citizens' oxen, sheep, and donkeys. He then established and regulated honest and unchangeable weights and measures. He saw to it that 'the orphan did not fall prey to the wealthy'; the widow did not fall prey to the powerful'; the man of one shekel did not fall prey to the man of sixty shekels'."  23b

Because of damage, only five laws can be restored with some degree of certainty. "One of them seems to involve a trial by water ordeal; another seems to trat of a slae to his master. But it is the other threelaws, fragmentary and difficult as their contents are, that are of very special importance for the history of man's social and spiritual growth. For they show that, even before 2000 BCE, the law of 'eye for eye' and 'tooth for tooth'—still prevalent to a large extent in the Biblical laws of a much later day—had already given way to the far more humane approach in which a money fine was substituted as a punishment." What brought this enhanced hunaness about? I have no idea, but I suspect that the wealthier upper crust preferred to pay a fine they could afford over other punishments. Or, maybe, the thought struck people, "there, but for the grace of *, go I."  23c

Many tablets have been found that show that advanced students devoted much schooltime to matters of law. It appears again that we are en route to the answer for the question "why do we, or what makes us, think the way we think."  24

Ethics was big with the Sumerians, even though there were plenty of bad eggs among them. How little has changed over the last 60 centuries! Well, not quite: there were no nice Heaven or Walhalla awaiting them after dead. We are told Sumerians believed that mortals were there simply for the pleasure of the gods, to serve them, to provide them with food, drink and shelter so that they might have full leasure for their divine activities. The dead were disposable, their spirits descending into a dismal neitherworld. Free will was something unheard of there and then. Any divine punishment was meeted out during life, not after. Man, it appeared, was a plaything of the gods and the world was the way it was and had always been ever since creation. By and large, anyway. Nevertheless, there was a goddess of the dead, Inannu's older sister Ereshkigal.  25

Both the gods and their mortal servants much preferred good over evil. By their own records, Sumerians cherished goodness and truth, law and order, justice and freedom, righteousness and straightforwardness, mercy and compassion. They credited their gods for those high moral qualities while their rulers boasted about upholding them.

Just took a short tea-break and looked at the TV. The program got suddenly interrupted by a commercial. Viewers were invited to donate to some charitable fund in the advertiser's name, something that has become quite common among today's increasingly powerful corporations; making charity a byproduct of self-promotion. 5000 Years gone by; no change!

A Sumerian hymn, pieced together from nineteen tablets and fragments, is very explicit about high moral standards. Several deities supervised their maintenance as their principal concern. Among them the goddess Nanshe. Copying Kramer, the hymn paints her attitude thus:  27

    Who knows the orphan, who knows the widow,
    Knows the oppression of man over man, is the orphan's mother,
    Nanshe, who cares for the widow,
    Who seeks out (?) justice (?) for the poorest (?),
    The queen brings the refugee to her lap,
    Finds shelter for the weak.  

Those evil types who suffer her displeasure are depicted thus:  29

    (People) who walking in transgression reached out with high hand, ...,
    Who transgress the established norms, violate contracts,
    Who looked with favor on the places of evil, .... ,
    Who substituted a small weight for a large weight,
    Who substituted a small measure for a large measure, .... ,
    Who having eaten (not belonging to him), did not say, "I have eaten it."
    Who having drunk did not say, "I have drunk it," .... ,
    Who said, "I would eat that which is forbidden."
    Who said, "I would drink that which is forbidden."  

The goddess's social conscience is further revealed in lines which read:  31

    To comfort the orphan, to make disappear the widow,
    To set up a place of destruction for the mighty,
    To turn over the mighty to the weak, .... ,
    Nanshe searches the heart of the people.
    Hasn't been said that the meek inherit the world?  

But where did evil come from? (A question philosophers are still pondering today.) This is a question of which Sumerian sages, as far as available evidence went at the time Kramer's book went to press, confessed their ignorance. They taught the doctrine that man's misfortunes are the result of his own sins; can't blame for those. Gods' wills are inscrutable. Plead and wail, lament and confess one's sins.  33

As shown above, Sumerian script has a logogram for a slave-girl. As for slaves' status, scholars differ. Documents and analysis pertaining to around 2000 BCE draw a picture of certain groups working under compulsion. Other laborers work in order to keep property or get rations from the state. Still others were free men and women for whom social mobility was a possibility. Many families travelled together in search of labor. Such laborers could amass private property and even be promoted to higher positions. It has been estimated that two-fifths of slaves had become slaves due to accumulating debt—sold by family members, or for other reasons. Slaves seem to have been able to accumulate some assets and even property during their lifetimes such that they could buy their freedom. Extant documents give details about specific deals for slaves' freedoms negotiated with slaveowners.  34

Proverb: A simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. (From Wikipedia. By that token, Sumerians were not wanting for common sense. Here are a few passed on by Kramer, but there are more where these come from. They were written down more than 3500 years ago and resumably been passed on orally long and long before. Just a few ought be suffice here:  36

    We are doomed to die, let's spend,
    We will live long, let's save.

    The poor man is better dead than alive;
    If he has bread, he has no salt,
    If he has salt, he has no bread.
    If he has meat, he has no lamb,
    If he has a lamb, he has no meat.

    A scribe who does not know Sumerian,
    What kind of a scribe is he?

    A joyful heart: the bride,
    A sorrowful heart: the groom.

    Friendship lasts a day,
    Kinship lasts forever.

    You can have a lord, you can have a king,
    But the man to fear is a tax collector.
    You have been warned!  

By and large, people are quite concerned about what their attire. Going back to ancient Sumer, what did people wear then? Well, not much to write home about until, that is, weaving was invented. That changed things drastically and, interestingly, ancient Sumerians wouldn't look any longer all that much out of place in modern society. Initially, men began to wear kilts, but later they wore clothing from the neck down. Materials used were flax and wool; flax for hot periods, wool when the weather was cooler. Sumerian women dressed in lengthy, close-fitting dresses down to their ankles. Their right arms and shoulders were usually bare.  38

Men were either clean shaven or had long hair and beards. Women wore their hair long, but usually braided it and wrapped it around their heads. Well-off Sumerians, men and women, wore jewelry as well; the weller-off, the more they wore. Bracelets, pendants, headdresses and necklaces were common. Their jewelry was often made of silver or gold, gemstones as well: lapis lazuli, but mostly carnelian, a reddish-orange gemstone. These types of accessories were especially worn during religious celebrations—except by the priestesses. They did not wear woven clothes at all. In the interest of upholding religious tradition, they kept on wearing animal hides. The oldest epic in the world, Gilgamesh, refers to temple harlots. Herodotus has some unfriendly gossip about them, but let's not get int that.  39

    Samuel Noah Kramer, History begins at Sumer: Thirty-nine firsts in recorded history (University of Pennnsylvania Press, 3rd edition 1981).
    Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the word: A language history of the world (Harper Perennial, 2006).
    Gerald J. Davis, Gilgamesh: A new translation Insignia Publishing (2014).
    Herbert Mason, Galgamesh: A verse narrative New American Library (1970).
Epic of Gilgamesh.
    Gilgamesh in popular culture.
    The history of writing.
    Ancient languages and scripts
    Sumerian language page: A list of references.
    Sumerian literature.
    Sumerian Deities.
    Proverbs in Sumerian cuneiform.
    Sacred prostitution
Some additional references are given in the timeline section, below.  40

Timeline, BCE, with emphasis on Near East
(to be taken with a grain of salt, earlier dates mostly very approximate, sources consulted not always in agreement!)  

10,000–9000 First permanent settlement on the site of Jericho, the oldest continuously occupied city in the world that we know of.  41A

8500 Natufian culture of Western Mesopotamia is harvesting wild wheat with flint-edged sickles. About this time, boats are invented, and dogs domesticated in Europe. Andean peoples domesticate chili peppers and two kinds of bean.  41B

8000 Neval Çori, an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in Anatolia, Turkey. Has some of the world's oldest known temples and monumental sculpture. Clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines made in western Iran. In Jericho, bricks made of clay, then hardened them in the sun. Domestication of goats in the Middle East. Domestication of the pig in China and Turkey. In Asia, evidence of domestication of dogs from wolves.  41C

7500–5700 Çatal Höyük in southern Anatolia (Turkey), the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to-date. Obsidian mined for tools. Evidence of domesticated cattle.  41D

7500 Extensive settlement at Jericho. Weaving. Fortification. Remains of cultivated cereals.  41E

7000 Pottery begins.  41F

6800–4800 Earliest domesticated pigs in Europe, which many archaeologists believe to be descended from European wild boar, were introduced from the Middle East by Stone Age farmers.  41G

6500 Copper used in Turkey for trinkets. A dugout canoe used in Holland.  41H

6000 Farming in Macedonia. Pottery plentiful.  41I

5400 Irrigation in Mesopotamia.  41J

5000 Use of copper in Mesopotamia begins.  41K

4570-4250 Merimde culture on the Nile.  41L

4200 Beginnings of the proto-Elamite city Susa as a discrete settlement.  41M

4004, Oct. 23 (Julian calendar*)First day of creation as calculated by Bishop James Ussher. Ussher's work was his contribution to the long-running theological debate on the age of the Earth. This was a major concern of many Christian scholars over the centuries. The date proposed by Ussher differs little from other Bible-based estumates made by, among others, the astronomer Johannes Keppler (3992) and physicist/mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (~4000).  41N

4000 Sumerians moved into Semitic Mesopotamia, perhaps from around the Caspian Sea.  41O

3800 Beginning of Ur Recorded in written history as a Sumerian city-state from the 26th century.  41P

3300–2900 Construction of the Newgrange solar observatory/passage tomb in Ireland. Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along a long passage, illuminating the inner chamber and revealing the carvings inside, notably the triple spiral on the front wall of the chamber. A number of other Sun-related monuments have been found in Ireland. The triple spiral predates the arrival of Celts on the island. With the arrival of Christianity in the 5th century CE, the spirals came to symbolize the Holy Trinity.  41R

3300 Writing begins in Sumer. Wheel-made pottery. Wheeled vehicles. Sailboats. Animal-drawn plows in Sumer.  41S

3100 Invention of hieroglyphic writing in Egypt.  41T

2800 Akkadian conquest of the Diyala region (North-east of Mesopotamia).  41U

2800–2000 Although mining and use of copper and bronze go back into prehistoric times, this period might be named the golden age of copper in Sumer.  41V

2700 Agriculture in China. Royal inscriptions appear in Sumer. Sumerian script used in Akkad. The legendary king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BCE. Sumerian fashions prevalent in Mari.  41W

2500 Writing in Mari (Sumerian script). Keeping of daily accounts in Sumer.  41X

2400 Writing in Assyria (Sumerian script).  41Y

~2334–2279 Sargon of Akkad, builder of the first known empire. Legend has it that he was the illegitimate son of a priestess placed him in a basket of reeds on the river. He was found by Akki the irrigator who raised him as his own son. Came to power in Kish upon killing his employer, the previous king Kish. Sargon soon captured Uruk (Erech) and dismantled its famous walls. To limit the chance of revolt, Sargon appointed in Sumer 5400 men he knew would be loyal to him as administrators, but under Akkadian governors. The Semitic Akkadian language became the Lingua Franca of inscriptions in all Mesopotamia, but the former religious institutions of Sumer, already well-known and emulated by the Semites, were respected. Sumerian remained, in large part, the language of religion and Sargon and his successors were patrons of the Sumerian cults. Sargon styled himself "anointed priest of Anu" and "great ensi of Enlil. (In later traditions, one became an ensi by marrying the goddess Inanna, legitimising the rulership through divine consent.) One of the empire's outstanding features: it was bound together by roads, along which there was a regular postal service.  41AA

2300 Writing in the Indus valley (local script).  41AB

2198 Shar-Kali-Sharri, the last known ruler of the Akkadian empire, dies. The empire falls into disarray and history eventually loses track of it.  41AC

2100–2000 Supremacy of Ur over a neo-Sumerian empire. Most of Assyria briefly became part of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. A noteworthy legacy: The laws of Ur-Nammu, the earliest preserved lawbook (Ref. Most of Assyria briefly became part of the Neo-Sumerian Empire).  41AD

1800 Assyrian temple built for the Sumerian god Enlil.  41AE

1813The patriarch Abraham from "Ur of the Chaldees" born in Cutha, Mesopotamia. Who says? Chabad.  41AF

~1792–1750 Hammurabi, king of Babylonia and known for the (law) Code of Hammurabi. Significant laws in Hammurabi's code of which here follow a number of significant provisions: (source)
    If a man cut down a tree in a man's orchard, without the consent of the owner of the orchard, he shall pay one-half mina of silver.
    If a man open his canal for irrigation and neglect it and the water carry away an adjacent field, he shall measure out grain on the basis of the adjacent fields
    If a man set his face to disinherit his son and say to the judges: "I will disinherit my son," the judges shall inquire into his antecedents, and if the son have not committed a crime sufficiently grave to cut him off from sonship, the father may not cut off his son from sonship.
     If he have committed a crime against his father sufficiently grave to cut him off from sonship, they shall condone his first (offense). If he commit a crime a second time, the father may cut off his son from sonship.
    If any one steal cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if it belong to a god or to the court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold therefor; if they belonged to a freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which to pay he shall be put to death.
    If a man destroy the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man's bone, they shall break his bone. If one destroy the eye of a freeman or break the bone of a freeman he shall pay one mana of silver. If one destroy the eye of a man's slave or break a bone of a man's slave he shall pay one-half his price. If a man knock out a tooth of a man of his own rank, they shall knock out his tooth. If one knock out a tooth of a freeman, he shall pay one-third mana of silver.
    If a physician operate on a man for a severe wound with a bronze lancet and cause that man's death; or open an abscess (in the eye) of a man with a bronze lancet and destroy the man's eye, they shall cut off his fingers. If a physician operate on a slave of a freeman for a severe wound with a bronze lancet and cause his death, he shall restore a slave of equal value.
    If a builder build a house for a man and do not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapse and cause the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death. If it cause the death of a son of the owner of the house, they shall put to death a son of that builder. If it cause the death of a slave of the owner of the house, he shall give the owner of the house a slave of equal value. If it destroy property, he shall restore whatever it destroyed, and because he did not make the house which he built firm and it collapsed, he shall rebuild the house which collapsed from his own property (i.e., at his own expense).
    If a man make a breach in a house, they shall put him to death in front of that breach and they shall thrust him therein.
    If a son strike his father, they shall cut off his fingers.  41AH

1750 Financial transactions in Sumer and Addad now commonly in silver.  41AI

1595 Babylon sacked and conquered by the powerful Hittite Empire. However, the Indo-European-speaking Hittites did not remain, turning over Babylon to their Kassite allies, a people speaking a language isolate, from the Zagros mountains region. They ruled Babylon for over 400 years, adopting parts of the Babylonian culture, including Hammurabi's code of laws.  41AJ

1393–1273 Moses. (Source.)  41AK

1051 !!!! Saul becomes the first King of Ancient Israel.  41AL

~1050 Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant from Israel in battle. Proto-Geometric period starts in Ancient Greece.  41AM

1041 King David captures Jerusalem and designates it the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel. But, see the next entry!  41AP

1040–970 King David, according to Chabad. Observe how this date conflicts with the above date, 1041, when David is said to capture Jerusalem. The Oxford Companion to he Bible perceives David as an elusive figure.  41AO

1026 !!!! Saul becomes the first King of the Israelites.  41AP

~1020 Destruction of Troy.  41AQ

1004 King Solomon lays the foundation for the First Temple.  41AR

927 Jerusalem becomes the capital of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah after the split of the United Monarchy.  41AS

911–609 New-Assyrian Empire. Under Tighlat-Pileser III, it became the most powerful empire anywhere. Invaded Israel in 738 at the behest of the king of Judea and deported many of its inhabitants. It was Sargon II that the Israeli king refused to continue paying tribute to the Assyrians that 27,000 Isrealis were taken into captivity into the Israelite diaspora.  41AU

~642 The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal destroyed Susa to avenge the perceived wrongs the people of Mesopotamia had suffered at the hands of the Elamites. Rebuilt shortly after.  41AV

612 Medes and Persians captured Nineveh, which accelerated the downfall of the New-Assyrian Empire.  41AW

576–530 Cyrus II of Persia. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia and the Caucasus. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, this Cyrus created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria–Pannonia) and Thrace–Macedonia in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. It is said that he proclaimed the oldest known declaration of human rights, but it has also been said that statements of this sort were traditionally made by new monarchs at the beginning of their reign.  41AX

550 Cyrus the Great conquers the Median kingdom.  41AY

~538 Susa conquered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great. Became Persia's capital not long after.  41AZ

537 Cyrus ends the Babylonian captivity. Strife ensued between Babylonian returnees and those who stayed in Israel; priests provided no moral leadership. To settle things, the Persian king send his minister of Jewish affairs, the scholar/priest Ezra, by him mandated to enforce the Torah and Moses' laws. (Nehemiah 8:7-8.) Ezra began to craft a spiritual discipline based on sacred texts. Hence, the Torah became sacred text although he earlier Torah was radically revised and made to accord with Persian jurisprudence.  41BA

515 A second temple is built where the previous had been destroyed by the Assyrians.  41BB

330s Alexander the Great conquered Persia. Hellenic Greek culture began to spread throughout the Mediterranean region.  41BC


A substantial assortment of translated Sumerian stories is avalaible from ETCSL, here.  *   fn1

The discovery of artifacts (~2600 BCE) associated with Enmebaragesi of Kish, mentioned in the legends as the father of one of Gilgamesh's adversaries, has lent credibility to the historical existence of Gilgamesh. The epic has influenced both ancient and modern literature and culture, and themes from the Epic can be found in later biblical and classical literature. (Source.)  *   fn2

The Julian calendar assumes a 365-day year. Problem is that the year last just a little longer, consequently the calendar got badly out of step with the seasons. The Gregorian calendar makes a substantial improvement by inserting "leap years" of 366 days. Proposed in 1582, the calendar was adopted by the Roman Catholic European countries in that and the following years, in the Protestant parts of the Holy Roman Empire in 1700, and later still by England, Scotland and Ireland (1752). For further details, turn to this site.  *   fn3

The space below serves to put any hyperlinked targets at the top of the window


Above space serves to put hyperlinked targets at the top of the window

Page maintenance:
Page format:monh xx, 2015
Story edit:
To be checked for timeliness:
     ¶ none
     ¶ none
Linkcheck: not done
XHTML verify: April 7, 2015
Backups: month. 25, 2011