Time Life Great Ages Man Cradle Civilization Mesopotamia Ur Sumer Byblos Akkad

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,283) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 125072635467 Time Life Great Ages Man Cradle Civilization Mesopotamia Ur Sumer Byblos Akkad. Time-Life Great Ages of Man Series – Cradle of Civilization. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR JACKET DESCRIPTION(S) AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. CONDITION: Hardcover with quarter-cloth pictorial covers. Light shelf wear, otherwise in Very Good to Like New condition. Seemingly never read, at worst flipped through a few times. Pages are pristine; clean, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! DESCRIPTION: Hardcover: 183 pages. Publisher: Time-Life Books Inc.; (1969). Size: 10¾ x 8¾ inches; 2 pounds. The “Great Ages of Man” series was released in the mid-1960’s. Each volume undertakes to describe the major events that happened in one specific time period (or “age”) in the development of mankind’s civilization(s). The volumes are richly illustrated, and designed as an introduction to the time frame covered. Especially compelling are the artists interpretations or recreations of what various ancient civilizations would have looked like – their architecture, homes, monuments, cities, daily life, jewelry, food, family life, dwellings, occupations, etc. As just one instance, the ruins of Babylon and Ur, Athens and Rome hint at the incredible richness of those fabled cities. The artist’s recreations in this series are simply mind-numbing. This is as close as you can be to actually having been there. Equally noteworthy are the photographic collections of artifacts and relics attributed to the specific age, really exceptional. The entire series is truly a magnificent introduction to the history of the era. If you could have just one book (or series of books) to introduce the history of humankind, this would have to be it. The overviews are concise and well-written. Together with the illustration and pictures they impart a wonderful mental and emotional “picture” of what life must have been like in various civilizations and at various times. Done in a style so wonderfully characteristic of Time-Life’s publications, these are over-sized “coffee table” type books full of impressive imagery. The pictures of the world’s greatest art and architecture alone are worth the cost of these books. But don’t get the impression that these volumes are “fluff”. While a particular volume might not quite take the place as a university degree, the material is well-written, informative, and immensely intellectually gratifying, overview though it might be. Some of the subject material included is enumerated below so as to give you an idea of the rich content: INTRODUCTION: An Atlas: The Sites and Cities of the Cradle of Civilization. Geographical and Political Features: the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus, Anatolia, Taurus Mountains, Amanus Mountains, Syria, Syrian Desert, Palestine, the Dead Sea, Arabian Desert, Babylonia, Armenia, Lake Urmia, Caspian Sea, Elburz Mountains, Zagros Mountains, Elam, Persian Gulf, Akkad, Sumer, Assyria, Euphrates River, Tigris River, Khabur River, Karun River. Cities and Sites: Carchemish, Ugarit, Byblos, Jericho, Mari, Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Dur-Sharrukin, Galah, Nineveh, Tell Hassuna, Assur, Jarmo, Karim Shahir, Eshnunna, Tell Harmal, Tell Uqair, Khafaje, Eshnunna, Jemdet Nasr, Kish, Babylon, Nippur, Susa, Isin, LagashLarsa, Erech, Ur, Eridu, Tell Al-Ubaid. CHAPTER ONE: The Land Between the Rivers. A Votive Figure from Nippur 2800BC. Picture Essay: Unearthing the Past (A Bastion of Civilization: The Sumerian City of Nippur. The Modern Archaeological Team: An Army of Expert Diggers. Uncovering and Charting the Strata of History: Deepening a Trench, Labeling Layers, Exposing Pavement. Preserving a Find: Gathering to See a Discovery, A Latex Mold. Pottery: “ABC” of Archaeology; water jugs, storage vases, drinking vessels, and dishes. New Techniques.). CHAPTER TWO: Man’s First Cities. Sargon the Great (Akkadian Dynasty): A Ruler’s Portrait (Sumer and Mesopotamia). A Variety of Building Bricks in Mesopotamia. Herringbone Patterns of Sumerian Loaf-Shaped Bricks. A Fortress-Like Dwelling in Northern Mesopotamia. Irrigating Mesopotamian Fields with Sweeps. Field Patterns in Nippur. The Realms of Sumer and Akkad: Clustered Cities Along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Elamites, Gutians, Amorites. Picture Essay: The People of Sumer (The Standard of Ur: Peoples from All Walks of Life 2500BC. Prosperity in Mesopotamia: A Land of Farmers. A Sumerian Agricultural Manual (the World’s Oldest). A Wealth of Trade: Merchant Caravans to and From Asia Minor and Iran. The Luxury and Power of Court: The Sumerian State; King and the Bureaucrats of Court. Soldiers of the King: A Specialized Class of Professional Soldiers; Formations of Armed Infantrymen and Wheeled Charioteers.). CHAPTER THREE: The Sweep of Empire. A Winged Deity in the Palace of Assyrian King Assurnasirpal II. Prominent Near East Cultures: Egyptian, Elamite, Sumerian, Akkadian, Mitanni, Hurrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Hittites, Hebrews, Persians, Kassires. Significant Empires: The Babylonian Empire (Hammurabi’s Realm 18th Century BC); Near Eastern Disunity (15th Century B.C. – Hittite, Mitanni, Kassite, and Egyptian Empires); The Assyrian Empire (Assurbanipal’s Real – 7th Century B.C.); The Neo-Babylonian Empire (Nebuchadrezzar’s Realm – 6th Century B.C.). Picture Essay: A Monarch’s Mighty Deeds (Assyrian Assurbanipal’s Horse-Mounted Hunts in Nineveh. Assurbanipal’s Lion Hunt. A Successful Hunt:: Thanking the Gods – Assurbanipal as High Priest. The Goddess Ishtar’s Bow. Assyria’s Crack Infantry Troops. War: Assurbanipal’s Assyria versus Shamashshumukin’s Babylon and Allies (Uaite, King of Arabia and Teumman, King of the Iranian Elamites) . The Sack of the Elamite Capital City Hamanu.. A Victory Gala: King Assurbanipal and Queen Assursharrat.). CHAPTER FOUR: The Bustling People. Stylized Portraits: Vot5ive Statuettes of Mesopotamians (Bearded Men, a Shaven Priest, a Woman). A 4,000 Year Old Mesopotamian Townhouse Floorplan. Sumerian Statuettes and Women’s Headdress Styles. Commerce and Mesopotamia’s Sailing Cargo Galleys. Picture Essay: A Timeless Life in the Marshes (Dawn on a Marsh Lagoon: Paddling a Canoe. A World on Water: Artificial Islands of Mud and Reed. An Ancient Herd of Buffalo in an Ancient Sumerian Reed Barn. A Lasting Legacy of Reed Architecture., An Ancient Façade: A Sumerian Reed House. A Modern Pre-Fabricated Reed House.. The Daily Tasks of Survival: Grinding Flour, Waterproofing Canoes, Winnowing Rice. An Age-Old Refuge Among the Reeds: Poling an Ancient Reed Canoe. Fishing with Spears. Iraq at the End of the Work Day.). CHAPTER FIVE: Faith, Myths and Rites. Sumerian Ur Grave Goods: A Golden Goat in a Thicket/Flowering Tree: Gold, Shell, and Lapis Lazuli. The Pantheon: Sun God Utu; Mother Earth Goddess Ninhursag; Lord of Water and Wisdom Enki; Goddess of Love and War Inanna. A Syrian “Eye Idol”: An All-Seeing Deity? Picture Essay: Tales of Gods and Heroes (Gilgamesh: King of Erech and His Quest for Immortality. The Creation of the Universe: Sumerian Legends of Enlil, the God of Air and Storms. The Birth of Man and Beast: The Sumerian Legend of the Anunaki, the Divine Children of the Heaven God “An”. The Perilous Adventures of an Ancient Love Goddess Inanna and Ereshkigal, the Goddess of Darkness, Gloom and Death. The Strange Odyssey of a Mighty King: The Adventures of Endiku and Gilgamesh (Against Humumba, Fire-Breathing Guardian and the Cedar Forest ; the “Bull of Heaven, the Scorpion People, and Utnapishtim, the Immortal). The Mesopotamian Ancestors of Noah and Job: Utnapishtim and the Gods “Enlil” and “Ea”). CHAPTER SIX: The Literate Man. The Seated Scribe: Gudea, Ruler of Lagash, a Patron of Letters. The Rock of Behistun, Ancient “Place of the Gods” and a Message from the Past. Translator of Cuneiform: Henry Rawlinson, the Key to Mesopotamian History. A Not-So-Proper Schoolmaster: Sumer’s Teacher-Scribes. Proverbs and the Wisdom of Mesopotamia. Picture Essay: How Writing Began (The Assyrian Scribes of Nimrud. Cuneiform: Shaping the Written Symbol. From Pictograph into Script. The Many Uses of Cuneiform: Recipes, Commercial Records, Maps, Dedications, and Prayers from the Ancient Past. Darius the Great: A King’s Words at Behistun, Iran.). CHAPTER SEVEN: The Beautiful, the Practical. A Decorative Plaque of Mythological Figures and Animals from Ur. The Temple of Marduk: Babylon’s Monumental Shrine. Picture Essay: A City’s Massive Splendor (The Glazed-Brick Walls of Babylon: A Snarling Lion’s Head. Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon’s Might Walls. A Gateway of the Gods: Babylon’s Main Entrance, the Ishtar Gate. An Architecture to Defy the Sun: Insulation Against the Heat. Nebuchadrezzar’s Throne Rome. A Patrician’s Home. A Tower to Rival Heaven: The Tower of Babel, the Temple of Marduk.). CHAPTER EIGHT: Mesopotamia’s Radiant Light. The Tower of Babel: An Enduring Symbol. An Archetypal Ancient Wheel of Susa and Kish. A Copper Bust of a Serene King of Elam. Picture Essay: Pillars of Civilization (A Sumerian Masterpiece: An Elegant Marble Bust. The Written Word From Pictographs to Cuneiform to Alphabetical Writing. The Wheel: From Solid Wooden Wheels of Fourth Millennia Sumer, to Second Millennia Spoke Wheels of Ancient Egyptian Charioteers, to Medieval Wheels of Swiveling Axles, to the Industrial Revolution. The Concept of Kings: The Transition from Elected Monarchs to Hereditary Kingship. A Society of Laws: The Code of Babylon’s King Hammurabi.). A Chronology: Early Farming Communities; Pre-Sumerians; Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. How the Archaeologist Dates Sites and Findings: Stratigraphy; Carbon 14 Dating; An Analysis of Pottery. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: History of Mesopotamia: The oldest known communities in Mesopotamia are thought to date from 9,000 B.C., and include the ancient city of Babylon. Several civilizations flourished in the fertile area created as the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow south out of Turkey. The river valleys and plains of Mesopotamia, often referred to as the “fertile crescent”, lay between the two rivers, which are about 250 miles apart from one another. The ancient Sumerians and Babylonians were inhabitants of Mesopotamia, located in a region that included parts of what is now eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and most of Iraq, lay between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. According to the Bible, Abraham came from this area. The area is commonly referred to as "the fertile crescent" by historians and archaeologists. By 4,000 B.C. large cities had grown up in the region. Considered one of the cradles of civilization, the region is referred to frequently in The Bible, and is mentioned as the birthplace of Abraham. The region produced the first written records, as well as the wheel. The region was conquered by the Akkadians in the 24th century B.C. who ruled for about two centuries. The ancient city of Ur controlled the region for the next two centuries until about 2,000 B.C. Mesopotamia was not again united until about 1750 B.C., then the Kingdom of Babylon arose and reigned supreme in the area for about one and one-half centuries. The Babylonians in turn were conquered by Hittites from Turkey in about 1595 B.C. The longest control of the area was by the ancient Assyrians, who ruled the area from about 1350 B.C. through about 600 B.C. After a brief interlude of chaos, the Persians conquered the area and held it for three centuries until Persian and all of its territories were conquered by Alexander the Great in the last 4th century B.C. However the Greeks only held the region for about one century, before it again fell to the Persians. The Persians and Romans wrestled over the area for a number of centuries. Finally in the 7th century A.D. the area of Mesopotamia fell to the Islamic Empire [AncientGifts]. Mesopotamia, Land Between the Rivers: The term “Mesopotamia” is from the Greek, meaning 'between two rivers’. Mesopotamia was a region in the ancient world located in the eastern Mediterranean. It was bounded in the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and in the southeast by the Arabian Plateau. The region corresponds to the greatest degree to today’s Iraq, but also includes parts of modern-day Iran, Syria and Turkey. The 'two rivers' of the name referred to the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers and the land was known as 'Al-Jazirah' (the island) by the Arabs. The classical term for the region was the “Fertile Crescent” as coined by Egyptologist J.H. Breasted. Unlike the more unified civilizations of Egypt or Greece, Mesopotamia was a collection of varied cultures. Their only real bonds were their script, their gods, and their attitude toward women. The social customs, laws, and even language of Akkad, for example, cannot be assumed to correspond to those of Babylon. It does seem however, that the rights of women, the importance of literacy, and the pantheon of the gods were indeed shared throughout the region. However even the gods had different names in various regions and periods. As a result of this Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any single civilization. Even so Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” primarily because of two developments that occurred there in the region of Sumer in the 4th millennium BC. First was the rise of the city as we recognize that entity today. Second was the invention of writing. It is important to note however that writing is also known to have developed in Egypt, in the Indus Valley, in China, and to have taken form independently in Mesoamerica. The invention of the wheel is also credited to the Mesopotamians. In 1922 the archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley discovered at the site of the ancient city of Ur, “the remains of two four-wheeled wagons, the oldest wheeled vehicles in history ever found, along with their leather tires”. Other important developments or inventions credited to the Mesopotamians include, but are by no means limited to, domestication of animals, agriculture, common tools, sophisticated weaponry and warfare, the chariot, wine, beer, demarcation of time into hours, minutes, and seconds, religious rites, sails for sailboats, and irrigation. In fact Orientalist Samuel Noah Kramer has listed 39 `firsts' in human civilization that originated in Sumer. Archaeological excavations starting in the 1840s have revealed human settlements dating back to 10,000 BC in Mesopotamia. The settlements indicate that the fertile conditions of the land between two rivers allowed an ancient hunter-gatherer people to settle in the land, domesticate animals, and turn their attention to agriculture. Trade soon followed, and with prosperity came urbanization and the birth of the city. It is generally thought that writing was invented due to trade, out of the necessity for long-distance communication, and for keeping more careful track of accounts. Mesopotamia was known in antiquity as a seat of learning. Historians believe that “Thales of Miletus”, known as the 'first philosopher', studied there around 585BC. As the Babylonians believed that water was the 'first principle' from which all else flowed, and as Thales is famous for that very claim, it seems probable he studied in the region. Intellectual pursuits were highly valued across Mesopotamia. Schools were devoted primarily to the priestly class. Historical accounts state that schools were as numerous as temples. The schools taught reading, writing, religion, law, medicine, and astrology. There were over 1,000 deities in the pantheon of the gods of the Mesopotamian cultures. There were as well many stories concerning the gods. Principal amongst them was the creation myth, the “Enuma Elish”. It is generally accepted that biblical tales such as the Fall of Man and the Flood of Noah, among many others, originated in Mesopotamian myth. These tales first appear in Mesopotamian works such as “The Myth of Adapa” and the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, and were adopted by and adapted to Christianity. The “Epic of Gilgamesh” is the oldest written story (known) to the modern world. The Mesopotamians believed that they were co-workers with the gods and that the land was infused with spirits and demons. The beginning of the world they believed was a victory by the gods over the forces of chaos. However even though the gods had won, this did not mean chaos could not come again. Through daily rituals, attention to the deities, proper funeral practices, and simple civic duty, the people of Mesopotamia felt they helped maintain balance in the world. By so doing they kept the forces of chaos and destruction at bay. Along with expectations that one would honor one’s elders and treat people with respect, the citizens of the land were also to honor the gods through the jobs they performed every day. Men and women both worked. Because ancient Mesopotamia was fundamentally an agrarian society the principal occupations were growing crops and raising livestock. Other occupations included those of the scribe, the healer, artisan, weaver, potter, shoemaker, fisherman, teacher, and priest or priestess. As one historian wrote, “…At the head of society were the kings and priests served by the populous staff of palace and temple. With the institution of standing armies and the spread of imperialism, military officers and professional soldiers took their place in Mesopotamia’s expanding and diverse workforce…” Women enjoyed nearly equal rights and could own land, file for divorce, own their own businesses, and make contracts in trade. The early brewers of beer and wine, as well as the healers in the community, were initially women. It seems these trades were later taken over by men when it became apparent they were lucrative occupations. Whatever work one did however was never considered simply a `job’. Rather it was considered to be one’s contribution to the community. By extension, it was also one’s contribution to the gods’ efforts in keeping the world at peace and in harmony. The temple at the center of every city was often on a raised platform. The temple symbolized the importance of the city’s patron deity. That deity would also be worshipped by whatever communities the city presided over. Mesopotamia gave birth to the world’s first cities which were largely built of sun-dried brick. In the words of one historian, “…the domestic architecture of Mesopotamia grew out of the soil upon which it stood. Unlike Egypt, Mesopotamia, especially in the south, was barren of stone that could be quarried for construction…” The land was equally devoid of trees for timber, so the people, “…turned to other natural resources that lay abundantly at hand: the muddy clay of its riverbanks and the rushes and reeds that grew in their marshes. With them the Mesopotamians created the world’s first columns, arches, and roofed structures…” Simple homes were constructed from bundles of reeds lashed together and inserted in the ground. More complex homes were built of sun-dried clay brick. This technology was later adopted by the ancient Egyptians. Cities and temple complexes, with their famous ziggurats were all built using oven-baked bricks of clay which were then painted. Ziggurats were the step-pyramid structures commonplace within the region. Prior to the concept of a king the priestly rulers are believed to have dictated the law according to religious precepts. The gods were thought to be present in the planning and execution of any building project. Very specific prayers were recited in a set order to the proper deity. The prayers were considered of utmost importance in the success of the project and the prosperity of the occupants of the home. The vital role of the gods in the lives of the people remained undiminished. This was true regardless of which kingdom or empire held sway across Mesopotamia, in whatever historical period. This reverence for the divine characterized the lives of both the field worker and the king. As one historian recorded, “…The precariousness of existence in southern Mesopotamia led to a highly developed sense of religion. Cult centers such as Eridu, dating back to 5000 BC, served as important centers of pilgrimage and devotion even before the rise of Sumer. Many of the most important Mesopotamian cities emerged in areas surrounding the pre-Sumerian cult centers, thus reinforcing the close relationship between religion and government…” The role of the king was established at some point after 3600 BC. Unlike the priest-rulers who came before, the king dealt directly with the people and made his will clear through laws of his own devising. Prior to the concept of a king, the priestly rulers are believed to have dictated the law according to religious precepts and received divine messages through signs and omens. For the king it was still important that he still honor and placate the gods. However the king was considered a powerful enough representative of those gods to be able to speak their will through his own dictates, using his own voice. This is most clearly seen in the famous laws of Hammurabi of Babylon, who ruled from 1792 to 1750 BC. A ruler claiming direct contact with the gods was quite common throughout Mesopotamian history. It was perhaps most prominently on display during the 2261 to 2224 BC reign of the Akkadian king Naram-Sin. This king went so far as to proclaim himself a god incarnate. In general the king was responsible for the welfare of his people. A good king who ruled in accordance with divine will, was recognized by the prosperity of the region he reigned over. However even very efficient rulers such as Sargon of Akkad who reigned from 2334 to 2279 BC encountered difficulties. Sargon still had to deal with perpetual uprisings and revolts by factions, or whole regions, contesting his legitimacy. Mesopotamia was a vast with many different cultures and ethnicities within its borders. A single ruler attempting to enforce the laws of a central government would invariably be met with resistance from some quarter. The history of the region, and the development of the civilizations which flourished there is most easily understood by dividing it into periods. First the “Pre-Pottery Neolithic Age”, also known as the Stone Age. This was up to around 10,000 BC, though there is evidence of scattered agriculture and urbanization prior to that time. There is archaeological confirmation of crude settlements and early signs of warfare between tribes. The friction was most likely over fertile land for crops and fields for grazing livestock. Animal husbandry was increasingly practiced during this time with a shift from a hunter-gatherer culture to an agrarian one. One historian noted of the time, “…There was not a sudden change from hunting-gathering to farming, but rather a slow process during which people increased their reliance on resources they managed directly, but still supplemented their diets by hunting wild animals. Agriculture enabled an increase in continuous settlement by people…” As more settlements grew, architectural developments slowly became more sophisticated in the construction of permanent dwellings. The second period is known as the “Pottery Neolithic Age” and was centered around 7,000 BC. In this period there was a widespread use of tools and clay pots. A distinct, specific culture begins to emerge in the Fertile Crescent. As one scholar wrote, “…during this era, the only advanced technology was literally 'cutting edge'” as stone tools and weapons became more sophisticated…the Neolithic economy was primarily based on food production through farming and animal husbandry…” This period in time witnessed urban populations which were much more settled. This was in contrast to the Stone Age in which communities were more mobile and migratory. Architectural advancements naturally followed in the wake of permanent settlements as did developments in the manufacture of ceramics and stone tools. The next period is known as the “Copper Age”, and ran from approximately 5900 BC through 3200 BC. It is also known as the “Chalcolithic Period” owing to the transition from stone tools and weapons to ones made of copper. This era includes the so-called “Ubaid Period” of about 5000 to 4100 BC. This period was named for Tell al-`Ubaid. This is the location in Iraq where the greatest number ever of ancient artifacts were found from the period during which the first temples in Mesopotamia were built. Unwalled villages developed from sporadic settlements of single dwellings. These villages then gave rise to process during the Uruk Period from about 4100 through 2900 BC when cities rose. The urbanization process was most notable in the region of Sumer, including Eridu, Uruk, Ur, Kish, Nuzi, Lagash, Nippur, and Ngirsu, and in Elam with its city of Susa. The earliest city is often cited as Uruk, although Eridu and Ur have also been suggested by many historians. One historians wrote, “…Mesopotamia was the most densely urbanized region in the ancient world, and the cities which grew up along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, as well as those founded further away, established systems of trade which resulted in great prosperity…” This period saw the invention of the wheel around 3500 BC and a system of writing around 3000 BC. Both of these innovations are attributable to the Sumerians. The same time period witnessed the establishment of kingships to replace priestly rule. An account of the first recorded war in the world between the kingdoms of Sumer and Elam was preserved in writing for posterity. It occurred around 2700 BC, and Sumer was the victor. The following period is known as the “Early Bronze Age” which lasted from about 3000 through 2119 BC. During this period bronze supplanted copper as the material from which tools and weapons were made. The Early Bronze Age included the “Early Dynastic Period”, which lasted from about 2900 through 2334 BC. Within this period all of the advances of the Uruk Period were developed. Cities and government in general stabilized. Increased prosperity in the region gave rise to ornate temples and statuary, sophisticated pottery and figurines. This period also witness the development of toys for children, including dolls for girls and wheeled carts for boys. As well the use of personal seals became widesporead. Known as “cylinder seals” the imprint they created denoted ownership of property stood for an individual’s signature. Cylinder seals would be comparable to one's modern-day identification card or driver's license. In fact the loss or theft of one's seal would have been every bit as significant as modern-day identity theft or losing one's credit cards. The rise of the city-state laid the foundation for economic and political stability which would eventually lead to the rise of the Akkadian Empire during the time period between 2334 and 2218 BC. This period gave rise to the rapid growth of the cities of Akkad and Mari, two of the most prosperous urban centers of the time. The cultural stability necessary for the creation of art in the region resulted in more intricate designs in architecture and sculpture. It also fostered a number of specific and momentous inventions including the plow, the wheel, the chariot, the sailboat, and as described above, the cylinder-seal. The cylinder seal became the single most distinctive art form of ancient Mesopotamia. The cylinder seal also evolved into a pervasive demonstration of the importance of property ownership and business in the country’s daily life. During the pertiod the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great was the first multi-national realm in the world. Sargon's daughter, Enheduanna, who lived from 2285 to 2250 BC, was the first author of literary works known by name. The library at Mari contained over 20,000 cuneiform tablets (books) and the palace there was considered one of the grandest in the region. The next period was the “Middle Bronze Age”, which lasted from 2119 to about 1700 BC. The period was noteworthy for the expansion of two kingdoms. The first was the Assyrian Kingdoms, including the cities of Assur, Nimrud, Sharrukin, Dur, and Nineveh. The second was the rise of the Babylonian Dynasty, centered in Babylon and Chaldea. The expansion of these two kingdoms created an atmosphere which not only stimulated trade, but with it, increasingly conducive conditions for warfare. The Guti Tribe were fierce nomads who succeeded in toppling the Akkadian Empire. They dominated the politics of Mesopotamia until they were defeated by the allied forces of the kings of Sumer. Hammurabi, King of Babylon from 1792 to 1750 BC, rose from relative obscurity to conquer the region and reign for 43 years. Among his many accomplishments was his famous code of laws, inscribed on the stele of the gods. Babylon became a leading centre at this time for intellectual pursuit and high accomplishment in arts and letters. This cultural centre was not to last, however, and was sacked and looted by the Hittites who were then succeeded by the Kassites. The next period was known as the “Late Bronze Age”, which lasted from about 1700 to 1100 BC. The rise of the Kassite Dynasty leads to a shift in power and an expansion of culture and learning after the Kassites conquered Babylon. The Kassites were a tribe who came from the Zagros Mountains in the north, and are thought to have originated in modern-day Iran. The collapse of the Bronze Age followed the discovery of how to mine ore and make use of iron. This was a technology which the Kassites and, earlier, the Hittites made singular use of in warfare. The period also saw the beginning of the decline of Babylonian culture due to the rise in power of the Kassites until they were defeated by the Elamites and driven out. After the Elamites gave way to the Aramaeans, the small Kingdom of Assyria began a series of successful military expansionist campaigns. The Assyrian Empire became firmly established and prospered under Tiglath-Pileser I who ruled from 1115 to 1076 BC. After him came Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled from 884 to 859 BC and consolidated the empire further. Most Mesopotamian states were either destroyed or weakened following the Bronze Age Collapse around 1250 though 1150 BC. This collapse led to a brief "dark age". The Iron Age followed from about 1000 to 500 BC. This age saw the rise and expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser III who ruled from 745 through 727 BC. His rule initiated the meteoric rise to power and conquest for Neo-Assyrian Empire under the rule of a succession of great Assyrian kings. These included such as Sargon II who ruled from 722 to 705 BC; Sennacherib who ruled from 705 to 681 BC; Esarhaddon who ruled from 681 to 669 BC; and Ashurbanipal who ruled from about 668 to -627 BC. During this period of time the Neo-Assyrians conquered Babylonia, Syria, Israel, and Egypt). The Empire suffered a decline as rapid as its rise due to repeated attacks on central cities by Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians. The tribes of the Hittites and the Mitanni consolidated their respective powers during this time which resulted in the rise of the Neo-Hittite and Neo-Babylonian Empires. King Nebuchadnezzar II reigned as King of Babylon from about 605 (or 604) to 562 BC. It was during hios reign that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 588 BC and forced the inhabitants of Israel into the “Babylonian Exile”. Nebuchadnezzar II was also responsible for extensive construction in Babylon, creating famous buildings such as the Ishtar Gate and the Great Ziggurat, also known as the "Tower of Babel". The fall of Babylon to King Cyrus II of Persia in 539 BC effectively ended Babylonian culture. After Cyrus II took Babylon the bulk of Mesopotamia became part of the Persian Empire and a rapid cultural decline ensued. The next period of Mesopotamian history is during what historians refer to as “Classical Antiquity” a period which ran from about 500 BC into the 7th century AD. After Cyrus II took Babylon in 539 BC, the bulk of Mesopotamia became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This period witnessed a rapid cultural decline in the region, most notably in the loss of the knowledge of cuneiform script. The conquest of the Persians by Alexander the Great in 331 BC brought (Greek) Hellenization of the culture and religion. However even though Alexander tried to again make Babylon a city of consequence, its days of glory were now in the past. After his death, Alexander’s general Seleucus took control of the region and founded the Seleucid Dynasty. The Seleucids ruled until 126 BC when the land was conquered by the Parthians. The Parthians were in turn dominated by the Sassanians. The Sassanians were of Persion origin. As one historian wrote, “…under Sassanian domination, Mesopotamia lay in ruins, its fields dried out or turned into a swampy morass, its once great cities made ghost towns”. By the time of the conquest by the Roman Empire (around 115-117 AD) Mesopotamia was a largely Hellenized region. It lacked any political unity, and had long forgotten the old gods and the old ways. The Romans improved the infrastructure of their colonies significantly through their introduction of better roads and plumbing and brought Roman Law to the land. Even so the region was constantly caught up in the wars various Roman emperors waged with other nations over control of the area. The entire culture of the region once known as Mesopotamia was swept away in the final conquest of the area by Muslim Arabs in the 7th century AD which resulted in the unification of law, language, religion and culture under Islam. As one historian noted, “…with the Islamic conquest of 651 AD the history of ancient Mesopotamia ends”. Today the great cities that once rose along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are largely unexcavated mounds or broken bricks on arid plains. The once fertile crescent has steadily dwindled to a wasteland due to human factors. Those factors are many, and include overuse of the land in agricultural pursuits and urban development. In large part it is also due simply to natural climate change. However the legacy of Mesopotamia endures today through many of the most basic aspects of modern life such. The sixty-second minute and the sixty-minute hour are both innovations from ancient Mesopotamia. As one historian concludes, “…because the well-being of the community depended upon close observation of natural phenomena, scientific or protoscientific activities occupied much of the priests' time. For example, the Sumerians believed that each of the gods was represented by a number. The number sixty, sacred to the god An, was their basic unit of calculation. The minutes of an hour and the notational degrees of a circle were Sumerian concepts. The highly developed agricultural system and the refined irrigation and water-control systems that enabled Sumer to achieve surplus production also led to the growth of large cities…” Urbanization, the wheel, writing, astronomy, mathematics, wind power, irrigation, agricultural developments, and animal husbandry, all came from the land of Mesopotamia. This even includes and the narratives which would eventually be re-written as the Hebrew Scriptures and provide the basis for the Christian Old Testament. Noah Kramer, the noted historian, lists 39 `firsts' from Mesopotamia in his book “History Begins at Sumer”. Yet as impressive as those `firsts' are, Mesopotamian contributions to world culture do not end with them. The Mesopotamians influenced the cultures of Egypt and Greece through long-distance trade and cultural diffusion. In turn through these cultures Mesopotamia influenced the culture of Rome. Rome of course set the standard for the development and spread of western civilization. Mesopotamia in general and Sumer specifically gave the world some of its most enduring cultural aspects. Even though the cities and great palaces are long gone, that legacy continued into the modern era. In the 19th century archaeologists of varying nationalities arrived in Mesopotamia to excavate. They were seeking evidence which would corroborate the biblical tales of the Old Testament. At the time the Bible was considered the oldest book in the world and the stories found in its pages were thought to be original compositions. The archaeologists who sought physical evidence to support the biblical stories found exactly the opposite once cuneiform was deciphered. The story of the Great Flood and Noah's Ark, the story of the Fall of Man, the concept of a Garden of Eden, even the complaints of Job had all been written centuries before the biblical texts by the Mesopotamians. Once cuneiform could be read the ancient world of Mesopotamia opened up to the modern age and transformed people's understanding of the history of the world and themselves. The discovery of the Sumerian Civilization and the stories of the cuneiform tablets encouraged a new freedom of intellectual inquiry into all areas of knowledge. It was now understood that the biblical narratives were not original Hebrew works. The world was obviously older than the church had been claiming. There were civilizations which had risen and fallen long before that of Egypt. If the claims by authorities of church and schools had been false, perhaps others were as well. The spirit of inquiry in the late 19th century was already making inroads into challenging the paradigms of accepted thought. With the deciphering of and the discovery of Mesopotamian culture and religion this process was accelerated. In ancient times Mesopotamia impacted the world through its inventions, innovations, and religious vision. In the modern world it literally changed the way people understood the whole of history and one's place in the continuing story of human civilization [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Early Dynastic Mesopotamia: The Early Dynastic Period of Mesopotamia is dated from 2900 through 2334 BC. It is the modern-day archaeological term for the era in Mesopotamian history during which some of the most significant cultural advances were made. These included the rise of cities, the development of writing, and the establishment of governments. This era was preceded by the Uruk Period which ran from about 4100 through 2900 BC. This was when the first cities were established in the region of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia). The Uruk Period was so named for the central archeological site which defines the era, the city of Uruk. The Early Dynastic Period was followed by the Akkadian Period, which ran from 2334 to 2218 BC. The Akkadian Period was when Mesopotamia was conquered by Sargon of Akkad, who ruled from 2334 to 2279 BCE. The Akkadian Period however stretched from his conquest and then throughout the rule of his successors in the form of the Akkadian Empire. The term “Akkadian” was coined by Orientalist Henri Frankfort (1897-1954 AD) to mirror the Early Dynastic Period in Egypt, a similar period of development. It should be noted however that the advances of Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period differed from Egypt’s in significant ways. Most notably in that Mesopotamia was never the cohesive ethnic or political entity Egypt was. This was true even under the rule of Sargon or later empires. Furthermore the kinds of cultural developments during the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia were not as uniform as they were in Egypt. The city-states of Sumer were for much of their history each independently governed. They were generally not united under the reign of a single king as in the case of Egyptian government. So a city like Uruk or Ur might have developed some important cultural advance which was not readily shared with other city/states in Mesopotamia. The era is divided by archaeologists into three sub-periods: Dynastic I from 2900 to 2800 BC; Dynastic II from 2800 to 2600 BC; and Dynastic III from 2600-2334 BC. These are considered arbitrary divisions by some scholars and historians as there is no clear demarcation line separating one from the next. Even so, there is enough of a subtle difference that division is considered justified. Again, the Uruk Period preceded the Early Dynastic Period. Major advances during the Uruk Period were urbanization, monumental architecture, cylinder seals, writing and governmental bureaucracy. Going back even further, the earliest era in Mesopotamian history is the Ubaid Period, which ran from about 5000 to 4100 BC. Little is known about this period. little is known. The Ubaid people are so named because of the modern-day site, Tell al’Ubaid, where the major finds of the culture were located). Their origins are obscure. As they left no written records the little information archaeologists have learned about them comes from their pottery and artwork. They had already shifted from a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian culture and had established small rural communities before the rise of Sumer. These villages developed during the Uruk Period (4100 to 2900 BC) and in time became the first cities. In addition to urbanization the major advances of this period were monumental architecture (from about 3500 to 3300 BC), the widespread utilization of cylinder seals (around 3600 BC), the development of writing (around 3600-3500 BCE), and the utilization of a written language (around 3200 BC). The utilization of a written language is exemplified in lexical lists. The lexical lists were essentially scribal dictionaries of cuneiform signs and their meaning in Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hittite. Although cylinder seals were known before 3600 BC, their use was not widespread. Last, the period was also notable for the advance of governmental bureaucracy. All of these advances became more highly developed during the Early Dynastic Period. Between the Uruk Period and the Early Dynastic Period the rivers around the region of the city of Shuruppak overflowed. This caused severe flooding from the southern plains up through the north. This event severely disrupted the society. It is considered the origin of the Great Flood story as reimagined as the gods’ wrath in the Eridu Genesis and the Atrahasis. These are the Mesopotamian works now recognized as the inspiration for the famous Biblical tale of Noah and his ark from the Bible. The exact date of the flood is sometimes debated, but most scholars set it at about 2900 BC. This would have been at the very beginning of Early Dynastic Sub-Period I. The cities which existed before the flood were Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak. The cities established after the flood were Adab, Akshak, Awan, Hamazi, Kish, Lagash, Mari, Nippur, Umma, Ur, and Uruk. The Sumerian King List composed around 2100 BCE at Lagash claims the first city established by the gods was Eridu. The list claims that the first king was Alulim, who allegedly reigned for 28,800 years. The kings who follow Alulim are mostly all given equally improbable lengths of reign. The first king on the list considered historical is Etana of Kish. He is best known from “The Myth of Etana” This was a literary work belonging to the genre of Mesopotamian Naru Literature. In the story Etana flies to heaven on the back of an eagle to win what he desires most from the gods. The Sumerian King List notes that the kingship passed from Eridu to other cities. The list was composed to create an unbroken line between the present kingship and the illustrious past going all the way back to Eridu. The dates of most of these kings are doubtful and their length of reign is impossible. However the list does make it clear that the cities of Mesopotamia developed steadily from the foundation of Eridu from about 5400 BC throughout Early Dynastic I. As noted earlier these cities grew from small villages. But the core of those villages was a social organization known as a 'household'. This is quite clearly evidenced by administrative records of the time. As one scholar explained, households were, “…social units larger than nuclear families whose members reside together. An important aspect of the household is the fact that it acted as a single unit of production and consumption: most goods needed for its survival were produced in the household itself. Households may have originated in economically autonomous kinship groups and eventually coalesced into institutions centered around a god or the king…” Households were associated either with the god of the city as represented by the city’s temple, the king, the queen, or someone of substantial wealth and power. Each household held its particular land and assets such as boats and tools in common. In the Uruk Period the priests essentially ruled but kingship had been established by about 3600 BC. By the time of Dynastic Subperiod I kingship was a firmly established institution. Each household followed the same hierarchy with the king at the top, then the queen, who sometimes had her own household. Following the Queen were the priests of the city’s god, the military, administration/bureaucracy, merchant and artisan class (skilled workers), and the unskilled workers (laborers) at the bottom. Laborers were paid through rations distributed by the administrator of the king, queen, or temple and usually consisted of barley, wool, and oil. People also fished and cultivated private gardens to supplement their income. As one scholar commented on the rations provided, “…it is clear that these rations constituted the support given to the household’s dependents, whether productive or not. The amounts were provided according to the sex and status of the worker. A male worker regularly received double the amount of grain given to a female worker. Supervisors received more than their subordinates. Specialized craftsmen received more than unskilled laborers, and so on…” Although Sumerian women had nearly equal rights, this paradigm did not extend to the lowest classes who had few rights overall. The policy and practices of the household would remain a constant as the early cities of Dynastic I developed and became the powerful city-states of Dynastic Subperiod II. The earliest phases of Dynastic II Period saw the development of these earlier advances as the individual cities expanded. Technology was improved and the household paradigm maintained a cohesive structure for the developing culture. One scholar comments, the culture was based on “…the formation of a society based on a division of labor which freed large groups of the population – such as artisans, merchants, and cultic and administrative personnel – from the production of food, as well as on an advanced technology for the production of clay vessels using the potter’s wheel, metallurgy, and the mass production of heavily used objects…” The stability provided by the household model allowed for the cultural expansion which fostered invention and innovation. Ceramics and metallurgy were produced en masse, Jewelry of precious gems became a mainstay for the upper class, as did fine cloth woven by the laborers. This model worked well for the upper class. The mass-produced items, bread, and woven cloth were also lucrative trade items. However this wealth never trickled down to the lower class laborers who produced the merchandise. As one scholar commented, “…the majority of workers provided repetitive manual labor. Women were especially used as millers and weavers. Milling at this time was a backbreaking task which required that grain be rubbed back and forth over a stone slab with a smaller hand-held stone. The women were supposed to produce set quotas on a daily basis…[later] weaving quotas could easily be as high as 2 square meters a day. Those were heavy tasks, that could lead to physical injuries, as is shown by the skeletons of women. As the wealth and power of the cities grew they attracted more and more people from rural areas. Cities afforded protection from raiders, slavers, and the elements. In addition the cities provided opportunities for work. At first the opportunity for work in the city may have seemed preferable to trying to scratch out a living as an independent farmer. Those who remained in rural communities were left with the burden of providing at least the same amount of grain to the cities. But eventually those left in rural areas had to produce increasing more than they had before in order to support the populations of the cities. As one scholar noted, “…as the city grew larger and more populous, attracting more and more people eager to escape the drudgery of subsistence farming, and perhaps also the narrow horizons of traditional communities, the demands on the remaining rural population increased. Tension and unrest seem to have been met with violent repression; pictorial scenes on seals and other objects show groups of prisoners, their hands bound behind their backs…” These scenes clearly depict fellow citizens held as slaves. These were not depictions of foreign prisoners. However nothing was done to stop this practice because the model of the household which held society together required that laborers labor. The upper-class heads of the households maintained large estates and the workers on those lands were expected to produce to the households’ expectations. This placed a tremendous burden on the workers to the extent that they seem to have viewed the mundane work in the city as preferable. Further as one historian noted, “…the climate changed so that much less water was carried by the rivers [and] may have prompted even more people to seek their survival in the city…” Each city rivaled the next in population growth. As the cities became wealthier they desired even more wealth. Around 2700 BC Enmebaragesi of Kish led the Sumerian cities in a war against Elam. This was the first war ever recorded in history. The Elamites were defeated, and the spoils of war were carried back to Sumer. This is one example of the city-states working together for a common goal but. However as one scholar pointed out, they had needed to find a way to work toward a common good long before the war. It was this need for cooperation, individually and collectively, which had given rise to the city-states to begin with. As this scholar pointed out: “…While the Sumerians set a high value on the individual and his achievement, there was one overriding factor which fostered a strong spirit of cooperation among individuals and communities alike: the complete dependence of Sumer on irrigation for its well-being – indeed, for its very existence. Irrigation is a complicated process requiring communal effort and organization. Canals had to be dug and kept in constant repair. The water had to be divided equitably among all concerned. To ensure this, a power stronger than the individual landowner or even the single community was mandatory: hence, the growth of governmental institutions and the rise of the Sumerian state…” When they had to the city-states cooperated and were able to accomplish their goals. They certainly cooperated when survival necessitated. This would include for instance the negotiation of trade agreements. However otherwise the cities pursued their own self-interest, often to the detriment of others. The Early Dynastic III Subperiod witnessed the rise of Kish in the north and Uruk in the south as the two dominant political powers. This is the era in which the kings are best historically/archaeologically attested. Nonetheless the dynasties of some cities, such as Lagash, are not included in the Sumerian King List. And the dates given by that list for other kings often do not correspond to dates in other documents or the archaeological record. The great kings of Uruk are all listed toward the beginning of the Early Dynastic III Period around 2600 BC. The include for example Meshkianggasher, Enmerkar, Lugalbanda, Dumuzi, and the great hero-king Gilgamesh. In fact Meshkianggasher was reputed to have first founded Uruk). Nonetheless they are also associated with earlier rulers such as Enmebaragesi as well as later kings like Eannatum, who ruled somewhere around 2500 to 2400 BC. It’s impossible to reconcile these differences in chronology. It is known that the first king of the First Dynasty of Lagash, Ur-Nanshe, established Lagash as a strong political presence. His son Eannatum would expand on his policies and conquer all of Sumer. Eannatum called upon Enlil the patron god of Lagash and Ninurta, the god of war. He led his armies against the other city-states and conquered all of Sumer, including Uruk and Kish. He then moved against the Elamites and took large portions of their territory. By the time his campaigns were over he had created the first empire in Mesopotamia. It was largely comprised of the city-states of his former-fellow-monarchs. His empire was challenged shortly after his death however, and his successors could not maintain it. One of the most interesting and mysterious of the monarchs who are said to have freed their cities from the empire of Lagash is the only female ruler on the Sumerian King List. Kubaba founded the Third Dynasty of Kish. The Sumerian King List describes her briefly as “the woman tavern-keeper who made firm the foundations of Kish”. Who Kubaba was, where she came from, and how she came to power is unknown. Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa were both successful kings. Kubaba herself was deified after her death. In fact her cult would inform the later goddess of the Hurrians, Hepat. Also most famously the Phrygian mother goddess Matar Kubileya. Matar Kubileya (“Mother Cybele”) was eventually worshipped by the Ionian Greeks of Anatolia/Cilicia as Cybele. Whatever the royal accomplishments of her grandson Ur-Zababa were they were eclipsed by the legends which came to define the reign of the man who enters history as his cupbearer. Sargon of Akkad’s 'biography' is considered by historians to be highly mythologized. Nonetheless it is claimed that he was born in the north the illegitimate son of a “changeling”, who gave birth to him in secret. After birth he was set afloat on the river in a basket of reeds. The basket brought him to the city of Kish where he was found by the royal gardener Akki. Sargon grew up in the palace and rose to the prestigious position of cupbearer to King Ur-Zababa who favored him until the king had a disturbing dream suggesting Sargon would depose him. At about this same time the king of the city-state of Umma, Lugalzagesi, embarked on a campaign of conquest to reunite Sumer under a single ruler (himself) just as Eannatum had earlier. Ur-Zababa sent Sargon as an emissary to Lugalzagesi. Lugalzagesi who was on the march toward Kish. Sargon was possibly to convey an offer of terms from Ur-Zababa to Lugalzagesi. But according to legend, unbeknownst to Sargon the message from Ur-Zababa to Lugalzagesi a request to kill Sargon. Given the dream he had, Ur-Zababa was anxious to rid himself of Sargon. However Sargon so impressed Lugalzagesi that the king ignored the request and asked Sargon to join him. They marched on Kish together and took it. Ur-Zababa fled the city and nothing more is known of him. Shortly after this Sargon turned on Lugalzagesi, his benefactor and defeated him. Lugalzagesiwas dragged in chains with a rope around his neck to the city of Nippur. There he was publicly humiliated by being marched through the sacred gate of the god Enlil. Enlil was the god in whom Lugalzagesi had trusted for victory. Lugalzagesi was then presumably executed. Sargon then proclaimed himself king and went on to conquer all of Mesopotamia. In so doing Sargon founded the Akkadian Empire, the first multi-national political entity in history. The Akkadian Empire brings the Early Dynastic Period to a close. Contrary to Sargon’s later boasts and the legends that grew up around him, he could not have established his empire without the foundation laid by his predecessors. One of Sargon’s greatest strengths was learning from the mistakes of the earlier conquerors. He also excelled at placing people he could trust in positions of authority throughout his empire. This included his daughter Enheduanna who was high priestess of the temple of Inanna at the city of Ur. She was also the first author in history known by name. Another of Sargon’s greatest strengths was routinely sending trusted officials throughout his realm to maintain order. Sargon’s examples would be followed both by the later Assyrian and Roman Empires in terms of a cohesive form of government. The model of that government however was established by the earlier Sumerian kings of the Early Dynastic Period. These monarchs established a society which in spite of its weaknesses and rivalries, allowed for the development of many of the most fundamental aspects of civilization. Even until today these fundaments of civilization are still so often taken for granted [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Rise of the Cities: Once upon a time, in the land known as Sumer, the people built a temple to their god . Their god had conquered the forces of chaos and brought order to the world. They built this temple at a place called Eridu. Eridu was one of the most southerly sites of Sumer. It was at the very edge of the alluvial river plain and close to the marshes. This was within the transitional zone between sea and land, with its shifting watercourses, islands and deep reed thickets”. This marshy area, hemmed about by hard land and sand dunes, represented to the people the life-giving force of the god. The area provided a physical manifestation of the order their god had created from chaos. The sweet waters of life were celebrated at Eridu as they were associated with what the Sumerians called the abzu. The abzu was the primordial source of all existence. It was th realm in which the gods lived and from which they emerged. The god Enki came forth from the abzu and dwelt at Eridu. The Sumerian King-list states, “…after kingship had descended from heaven, kingship was in Eridu...” This cultural center became the first city to the Sumerians. As one historian put it, “…thus the Mesopotamian Eden is not a garden but a city, formed from a piece of dry land surrounded by the waters. The first building is a temple…This is how Mesopotamian tradition presented the evolution and function of cities, and Eridu provides the mythical paradigm. Contrary to the biblical Eden, from which man was banished forever after the Fall, Eridu remained a real place, imbued with sacredness but always accessible…” Eridu was not only the first city in the world to the Sumerians, but the beginning of civilization. Every other city ever raised, they believed, had its origin in the sand and waters which surrounded Eridu. Modern scholars disagree on why the first cities in the world rose in the region of Mesopotamia instead of elsewhere. Theories range from the ancient alien hypothesis to social, to the advent of agriculturalism, to natural upheavals that forced people to band together in urban centers. There are also those who theorize the impetus may have been created by environmental issues, and there are speculative theories of forced migration of rural communities to cities. None of these theories are universally accepted while the ancient alien hypothesis is rejected by virtually all scholars and historians. What is agreed upon however is that the moment the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia decided to engage in the process of urbanization, they changed the way humans would live forever. As summarized by one historian, “…this was a revolutionary moment in human history. The [Sumerians] were consciously aiming at nothing less than changing the world. They were the very first to adopt the principle that has driven progress and advancement throughout history, and still motivates most of us in the modern times: the conviction that it is humanity’s right, its mission and its destiny, to transform and improve on nature and become her master…” This “principle” referred to is perhaps no more than the natural inclination of human beings to gather together for safety from the elements. Or it could have its roots in religion and communal religious practices. These provide an assurance that there is order and meaning behind the seemingly random events of life. Alternatively urbanization count be a natural corollary to the agriculturalism and pastoralism which marked the gradual transition away from the haunter-gatherer culture of the Stone Age. One historian suggests that, “…the habit of resorting to caves for the collective performance of magical ceremonies seems to date back to an earlier period, and whole communities, living in caves and hollowed-out walls of rock, have survived in widely scattered areas down to the present. The outline of the city as both an outward form and an inward pattern of life might be found in such ancient assemblages…” Whatever it was that first gave rise to the development of the cities in Mesopotamia, the world would never be the same. From before 4,000 BC and over the next ten to fifteen centuries, the people of Eridu and their neighbors laid the foundations for almost everything that we know as civilization. It has been called the Urban Revolution, though the invention of cities was actually the least significant constituent. With the city came the centralized state, the hierarchy of social classes, the division of labor, organized religion, monumental building, civil engineering, writing, literature, sculpture, art, music, education, mathematics and law. In addition it brought a vast array of new inventions and discoveries. These included items as basic as wheeled vehicles, sailing boats, potter’s kilns, metallurgy and the creation of synthetic materials. On top of all that was the huge collection of notions and ideas so fundamental to our way of perceiving the world. This would include the conceptually abstract use of numbers, or weight, independent of actual items counted or weighed. We have long forgotten that the use of numbers or weights independent of an actual objects being counted or weighed is an abstract concept that had to be discovered or invented. Southern Mesopotamia was the place where all that was first achieved. As first manifested in the construction of Eridu the concept of the city did not remain bound by that single area for long. Urbanization spread across the region of Sumer rapidly. The process began about 4500 BC with the rise of the city of Uruk. Uruk is now considered the world’s first city. It may well be that Eridu is in fact the world’s first city as the Sumerian myths maintain. However Eridu was founded around 5400 BC. This was long before the advent of writing which occurred about 3000 BC. By that time Uruk was long established and left archaeologists artifacts which in the present day attest to its size and population. These artifacts substantiate the claim that Uruk is the world’s first city. The site of Eridu on the other hand has yielded little to suggest it was ever any more than a sacred center. Perhaps it could be described as a large village or town by modern-day standards of scholarship. Sumerian mythology supports the contention that Uruk superseded Eridu in the poem “Inanna and the God of Wisdom”. In this work the home of the goddess Inanna is described as being in Uruk. The goddess goes to Eridu to visit her father Enki. As one historian explains, “…Mesopotamians recognized Enki as the god who brings civilization to humankind. It is he who gives rulers their intelligence and knowledge. He `opens the doors of understanding’…he is not the ruler of the universe but the gods’ wise counselor and elder brother…Most importantly, Enki was the custodian of the meh, which the great Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer explained as the `fundamental, unalterable, comprehensive assortment of powers and duties, norms and standards, rules and regulations, relating to civilized life'.” At the beginning of the poem, Inanna says, “I shall direct my steps to Enki, to the Apsu, to Eridu, and I myself shall speak coaxingly to him, in the Apsu, in Eridu. I shall utter a plea to Lord Enki” indicating clearly that she wants something from her father. Enki seems to be aware of her coming and instructs his servant to make her welcome, to “pour beer for her, in front of the Lion gate, make her feel as if she is in her girl-friend’s house, make her welcome as a colleague.” Inanna sits down to drink beer with her father and, as they become progressively more drunk together, Enki offers his daughter one meh after another until she has over a hundred. Enki then seems to pass out from the drinking and Inanna, with the meh, hurries from Eridu back toward Uruk. When Enki wakes and finds he has lost his meh, he sends his servant Isimud to get them back. The rest of the poem relates Isimud’s futile attempts to keep Inanna from reaching Uruk with the meh. She succeeds in bringing “the Boat of Heaven to the Gate of Joy” at Uruk, and “where the boat came to dock at the quay, she named that place with the name White Quay” to commemorate her triumph. The poem has been interpreted to render, in symbolic form, the transfer of power and prestige from the city of Eridu to Uruk. Of course this version of events comes from Sumerian mythology. However since serious excavations began in the mid-19th century but there has been uncovered ample evidence to suggest that there is some historical truth behind the poem. Eridu did seem to decline as Uruk rose in prestige, even though the older city always was and always remained principally a sacred centre and place of pilgrimage. However as further archaeological excavations have proceeded in the Near East scholars have come to question whether the traditional view of urbanization beginning in Sumer and spreading north can still be considered valid. Recently the settlement of Tell Brak in modern day Syria was discovered. Tell Brak was founded about 6000 BC. The discovery of Tell Brak suggests to some scholars that the Urban Revolution may have begun further to the north. The claim that urbanization originated in Sumer has been historically accepted as fact only because the Sumerians invented writing. So the Sumerian version of history is accepted as truth. Further of course the earliest excavations of the 19th century were of Sumer. There’s no dispute that the settlement at Tell Brak is older than Eridu. However the question of where cities first rose is best addressed by defining what was meant in the ancient world by the term “city’”. As one scholar recently wrote, “…the earliest large urban settlement was Tell Brak in the dry farming zone of northern Mesopotamia. During the Uruk period (3800-3100 BC). This city consisted of a central zone of public architecture surrounded by sprawling suburban settlement over 1 square kilometer in extent. At the end of this period, the site declined and the focus of urban development shifted to southern Mesopotamia…” The problem with this assertion is that it fails to address the definition of “city”. Was Tell Brak a “city” or a large town or village? Another scholar voices a different perspective and maintains that it was not a city and bases the claim on the 1987 work of the historian Tertius Chandler, “Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth”. Chandler claims that an ancient city should be defined by the size of its population. According to this definition of a “city” Tell Brak would be regarded as more of a settlement. This is because the population does not seem to have been great enough to qualify it as an urban center. This is of course a modern method of determining what is and is not a “city”. But there’s no way of knowing how the ancient Mesopotamians would have defined the entity of the city or how they regarded a settlement such as Tell Brak. But based on population Uruk was the largest city of the very early period. Regardless of the differences of academic opinion, what is certain is that for whatever reason the Urban Revolution began in Mesopotamia. It seems equally certain that it began within the Mesopotamian region of Sumer. The earliest historical mentions of cities are of Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larak, Sippar, and Shuruppak. All of these cities are located in Sumer. With respect to the various competing theories as to why Sumer and not elsewhere, some scholars see the emergence of civilization as an inevitable consequence of evolutionary changes in human mentality since the end of the last ice age. But we humans aren’t really like that. We don’t react so unthinkingly. The actual story would have to allow for the everlasting conflict between progressives and conservatives. It would have to allow for the differences between the forward and backward looking. It wopuld have to allow for the differences between those who propose “let’s do something new” and those who think “the old ways are best”. It would have to account for the conflict between those who say, “let’s improve this” and those who think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. No great shift in culture ever took place without such a contest. Once upon a time in the land known as Sumer the people built a temple to their god. Their god had conquered the forces of chaos and brought order to the world. Those people then continued the work of their god. They established order throughout the land in the form of the city. The answer to the question of why it happened in Mesopotamia instead of elsewhere can best be found in considering the culture of that particular society. Regardless of the region or ethnicity the people of Mesopotamia shared the common concern of establishing and maintaining order. Because of their religious beliefs they shared a near-obsession with control of the natural world. It should not be surprising then that such a culture would have been the first to conceive of and construct an urban entity. An urban entity which most completely separates human beings from their natural environment: the city [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Daily Life in Mesopotamia: Daily life in ancient Mesopotamia cannot be described in the same way one would describe life in ancient Rome or Greece. Mesopotamia was never a single, unified civilization. This was true even when “unified” under the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great. It is possible however to make some generalizations in reference to the time period encompassed from the rise of the cities in around 4500 BC to the downfall of Sumer in 1750 BC. In many respects the people of the regions of Mesopotamia did live their lives in similar ways. The civilizations of Mesopotamia placed a great value on the written word. Once writing was invented somewhere between 3500 and 3000 BC, Mesopotamian scribes seem almost obsessed with recording every facet of the cities in which they lived. Because of this archaeologists and scholars in the present day have a fairly clear understanding of how the people in ancient Mesopotamia lived and worked. The population of ancient Mesopotamian cities varied greatly. In about 2300 BC estimates are that Uruk had a population of 50,000. Mari to the north had a population of 10,000. Akkad had a population of about 36,000. The populations of these cities were divided into social classes. Like societies in every civilization throughout history the social classes were hierarchical. These classes were: the King and Nobility; Priests and Priestesses; the Upper Class (merchants, artisans, and skilled workers); the Lower Class (laborers); and Slaves. The king of a city, region, or empire was thought to have a special relationship with the gods. He or she it was believed served as an intermediary between the world of the divine and the earthly realm. The depth of a king’s relationship with his gods, and the god’s pleasure with his rule, was gauged by the success of the territory he ruled over. A great king would enlarge his kingdom and make the land prosperous. By doing he demonstrated that the gods favored him. Many of the regions of Mesopotamia rebelled repeatedly against the rule of Sargon of Akkad, who ruled from 2334 to 2279 BC. They rebelled against the dynasty he founded. Still Sargon became a legendary figure because of his successful military conquests and the expanse of his empire. Regardless of how an individual human being or community felt about Sargon’s rule, these accomplishments would have meant that he was favored by Inanna, the god that he served. The priests and priestesses presided over the sacred aspects of daily life and officiated at religious services. They were literate and considered adept at interpreting signs and omens. They also served as healers. The first doctors and dentists of Mesopotamia were priestesses who attended to people in the outer court of the temple. Among the most famous priestesses was Enheduanna, who lived from 2285 to 2250 BC. She was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad. She served as High Priestess at Ur and is also the world’s first author known by name. Enheduanna would not have served as a healer. Her day would have been spent in taking care of the business of the temple and that of the surrounding complex. As well she would have officiated at ceremonies. The upper classes in ancient Mesopotamian society included merchants who owned their own companies, scribes, private tutors. In time this also included high-ranking military men. Other occupations of the upper class were accountants, architects, astrologers (who were usually priests), and shipwrights. The merchant who owned his own company and did not need to travel was a man of leisure. He could enjoy the best beer in the city in the company of his friends while attended by slaves. In ancient Mesopotamia every teacher was a scribe. Scribes were highly respected and served at court, in the temple, and in the schools. Schools were often run by a local temple. One of the most important disciplines they taught in every school was writing. However only boys attended school and were taught to read and write. Women did enjoy almost equal rights in ancient Mesopotamia. Nonetheless they were not considered intelligent enough to be able to master literacy. This paradigm remained in place even after the notable career of Enheduanna. Private tutors were also held in high regard. They were well paid by the wealthy families of the cities to help their sons excel at their school work. Private tutors not in the employ of a school were considered men of exceptional intelligence, virtue, and character. They devoted themselves completely to the student or students under their tutelage. If the tutor had a client of high means, the tutor lived almost as well as he did. The lower class was made up of those labor-type occupations which kept the city or region actually operating. This would include farmers, construction workers, canal builders, bakers, basket makers, butchers, fishermen, cup bearers, brick makers, brewers, tavern owners, metallurgists, carpenters, potters, cart and, later, chariot drivers, soldiers, sailors, and merchants who worked for another man’s company. Artists and musicians were also considered lower class. In addition jewelry makers, goldsmiths, and prostitutes while considered lower class, could also be considered upper class professions under the right circumstances. Such circumstances were generally either possession exceptional skill and/or finding favor in a wealthy patron or the king. Any member of the lower class could however climb the social ladder. As one Assyrian scholar noted, “…the town of Kish was ruled not by a king but by an energetic queen called Ku-baba, a former tavern keeper, about whom we know nothing else…" For the most part, women were relegated to the lower class jobs. However clearly history informs us that they could hold the same esteemed positions as males. Women were the first brewers and tavern keepers. Women were also the first doctors and dentists in ancient Mesopotamia. However as those occupations proved lucrative they were taken over by men. The lowest social order was the slaves. One could become a slave in a number of ways. These included being captured in war. One could also sell oneself into slavery to pay off a debt, or be sold by a family member to repay a debt. One could be sold as punishment for a crime. It was not uncommon to be kidnapped and sold into slavery in another region. Slaves had no single ethnicity nor were they solely employed for manual labor. Slaves kept house, managed large estates, tutored young children, tended horses, served as accountants and skilled jewelry makers. They could be employed in whatever capacity their master saw they had a talent in. A slave who worked diligently for his or her master could eventually buy their freedom. So where and how did people live in ancient Mesopotamia? The king and his court of course lived in the palace and the palace complex. In the cities homes were built out from the center of the settlement. The center of the settlement was the temple with its ziggurat. The wealthiest and highest on the social ladder lived closest to the center. The homes of the affluent were built of sun-dried bricks while those of people of lesser means would have been constructed from reeds. It should be noted even reed buildings were still considered houses and were not the `huts’ so often imagined. A described by one specialist of ancient Mesopotamian history wrote describing the construction of such homes: “…To build a simple house, tall marsh plants would be uprooted, gathered together, and tied into tight bundles. After holes were dug in the ground, the bundles of reeds would be inserted, one bundle per hole. After the holes were filled in and firmly packed, pairs of bundles that faced each other would be bent over and tied together at the top, forming an archway. The remaining bundles would then be joined together in similar fashion…Reed mats would then be draped over the top to cover the roof, or hung from a wall opening to make a door…” The same historian also described the construction of a mud brick home: “…Clay from the riverbanks would be mixed with straw for reinforcement and packed into small brick-shaped wooden molds, which would then be lifted off so the mud bricks could dry on the ground in the hot sun…Sun-dried brick was notoriously impermanent, especially as a consequence of yearly downpours. The alternative, oven-baked brick, was expensive, however, because of the fuel and skilled labor required for its manufacture. As a result, it tended to be used for the houses of kings and gods rather than the homes of ordinary people…” Light in the home was provided by small lamps fueled by sesame seed oil and sometimes in more expensive homes by windows. Windows were constructed of wooden grill work. As wood was a rare commodity, windowed homes were uncommon. The exterior of brick homes was whitewashed…as a further defense against the radiant heat…(and) there would be only one exterior door, its frame painted bright red to keep out evil spirits…” Another historian of ancient Mesopotamia noted that, “…the purpose of a house in southern Iraq was to provide shelter from the twelve hours of unrelenting heat – the climate from May to September…” After September came the rainy season of cooler weather when homes would be heated by burning palm fronds or palm wood. Palaces, temples, and upper-class homes had ornate braziers for heating the rooms. The lower classes made use of a shallow pit lined with hardened clay. Indoor plumbing was in wide use by at least the 3rd millennium BC. Much as today, toilets could be found in separate rooms of upper class homes, palaces, and temples. Tiled drains were built at a slant. The tiled drains would carry waste from the building’s toilet(s) to a cesspool or a sewer system of clay pipes. The clay pipes in turn would transport the waste to the river. All homes in the region of Sumer, whether of the rich or poor, needed the blessing of the brother-gods Kabta and Mushdamma. These two deities presided over foundations, buildings, construction, and bricks. Before any building project could begin and then again upon completion, offerings were made in gratitude to the Arazu, god of completed construction. Every region of Mesopotamia had some form of these same gods. Their blessing, however, did not always guarantee a secure home. As one historian noted, “…ancient houses, particularly those made of sun dried brick, often collapsed. The Laws of Hammurabi devoted five sections to this problem, noting in particular the builder’s responsibility: `If a builder constructs a house for a man, but does not make his work sound, and the house that he constructs collapses and causes the death of the householder, that builder shall be killed. If it should cause the death of a son of the householder, they shall kill a son of that builder’…” Homes were furnished in much the same way they are today. This included chairs tables, beds, and kitchen ware. Chairs had legs, backs, and in wealthier homes, arms. In affluent homes beds were made from a wooden frame. The frame was underlaid with crisscrossed rope or reeds. The underlayment was then covered by a mattress stuffed with wool or goat hair, atop which were linen sheets. These beds were often intricately carved. By the 3rd third millennium the beds were according to one historian, sometimes “…overlaid with gold, silver, or copper…(and) had legs that often terminated with an ox foot or claw…” The lower classes of course could not afford such luxury. They slept on mats of woven straw or reeds which were laid on the floor. Tables were constructed in the same way they still are today. Families gathered at the table for the evening meal in the same way many still do presently. The more prosperous homes had linen tablecloths and napkins. The family was constituted as it is in the modern day with a mother, father, children, and extended family. Both men and women worked while the children's lives were directed according to their sex and social status. Male children of the upper classes were sent to school. Their sisters remained at home and acquired domestic skills. Sons of the lower classes followed their fathers into the fields or whatever other line of work they pursued. Daughters of the lower classes, as with those of the upper classes, emulated their mother’s role in her domestic chores. The toys these children played with were likewise similar to toys in the present day such as toy trucks and dolls. For infants and toddlers there were terra-cotta rattles. These were filled with pellets and pinched closed at the edges like piecrust. They typically also had a small hole for a string. For boys dreaming of hunting or soldiering there were slingshots and little bows and arrows and boomerangs to throw. For girls hoping to raise their own children someday there were dolls and miniature pieces of furniture for playing house. Miniature furnishings ranged from tables and stools to beds. Model ships and chariots as well as tiny draught animals and wagons let the young travel through the world of their imagination. For more amusement there were also balls and hoops and a game of jump rope named curiously for the love goddess Ishtar. Families also enjoyed board games and games of dice. The most popular board game was much like the game of Parcheesi. Ancient images depict families at leisure in much the same way family photographs do today. Sports seem to primarily have involved males. The most popular sports were wrestling and boxing among the lower classes. Among the nobility hunting was the most popular sport. The family meal was similar to that in the present day. The major difference between then and now was the forms of entertainment during and after the dinner. Storytelling was an important aspect of an evening meal as was music. In poorer homes a family member would play an instrument, sing, or tell a story after dinner. The wealthy had slaves for this purpose or professional entertainers. The instruments employed in the production of music would be familiar to anyone in the modern day. Ancient inscriptions describe and ancient images depict Mesopotamians listening to music while drinking beer or reading or relaxing in their home or garden. The Mesopotamians had singers of course. Musical instruments included those of percussive varieties such as drums, bells, castinets, sistrums, and rattles. There were also wind instruments such as recorders, flutes, horns, and panpipes. Last, there were also stringed instruments such as the lyre and the harp. Images throughout Mesopotamia attest to the people’s great love of music. As written by a contemporary historian, “…so great, in fact, was a queen of Ur’s love of music, she could not bear the thought of being in the afterworld without it; so, with the help of a sleeping potion in the tomb, she took her royal musicians with her into the beyond…” The historian continued, “…music was an integral part of ancient Mesopotamian life. The images on inlaid plaques, carved seal-stones, and sculpted reliefs transport us back to a world of sound. We watch a shepherd playing his flute as his dog sits and attentively listens…”. At least for the wealthier citizens of ancient Mesopotamia music was also an integral part of the banquet and even private meals. The chief grain crop in Mesopotamia was barley, and so it is no wonder that they were the first to invent beer. The goddess of beer was Ninkasi whose famous hymn from around 1800 BC is also the world’s oldest beer recipe. Beer is thought to have originated from fermented barley bread. The Mesopotamians also enjoyed a varied diet of fruits and vegetables. These included apples, cherries, figs, melons, apricots, pears, plums, and dates as well as lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beans, peas, beets, cabbage, and turnips. As well they consumed fish from the streams and rivers, and livestock from their pens. The livestock consisted mostly of goats, pigs, and sheep. Cows were expensive to keep and were too precious to be slaughtered for their meet. The ancient Mesopotamians would have augmented this diet through hunting game such as deer and gazelle and birds. They also kept domesticated geese and ducks for eggs. Comments from one historian noted that the Mesopotamians had “…an impressive inventory of goods…” which made up their daily meals. Further that they flavored their food with ingredients such as sesame seed oil and salt. The historian further noted that “…all these indigenous ingredients were so varied that, as far as we know, the Mesopotamians never imported from abroad, so to speak, in spite of the intensity and geographical extent of their trade…” Beer was so greatly valued it was used to pay workers' wages. Along with beer the people drank strong wine or water. Beer however was the most popular beverage in ancient Mesopotamia. Due to its high nutrient content and thickness it was often served as the largest part of the mid-day meal. Mesopotamians would wash and dress for the evening meal. Before eating anything prayers of gratitude would be offered to the gods who had provided the food. Religion was an integral part of the lives of all Mesopotamians. Their religion was centered on a human beings being in a sense, “co-workers” with the gods. Thus the deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were a routine part of one’s daily existence. The gods provided the people with all their needs. In return the people labored in the service of the gods. As one historian related, “…not only were these gods the originators of the universe and mankind, but they remained their supreme masters and guided their existence and evolution from day to day. For that reason, they were regarded as the promoters and guarantors of all the infinite obligations – positive and negative – that govern human life…” All aspects of Mesopotamian existence were imbued with a sense of the divine at work, even the clothes that they wore. Like everything else clothing in Mesopotamia was dictated by and reflected one’s social standing. Archaeologists confirm that historically textiles were among the first of human inventions. Plant fibers may have been twisted, sewn, and plaited to make clothing as far back as the Old Stone Age, some 25,000 years ago or even further back in time. However wool seems to have been Mesopotamia’s most common cloth fabric, along with linen which was reserved for more expensive garments. Cotton wasn’t introduced until the age of the Assyrians. The ancient Assyrians imported the cotton plants from Egypt and the Sudan around 700 BC. Silk was perhaps not introduced to the region of Mesopotamia until the age of the Romans, who imported it from China. Men generally wore either a long robe or pleated skirts of goatskin or sheepskin. Women dressed in one-piece tunics of either wool or linen. Soldiers are distinctive in the ancient depictions in that they always wore hooded capes over their uniforms. Older men are always seen in one-piece robes which fall to their ankles. Younger men seem to have worn either the robe or the skirt. Women are always depicted wearing the robe but these robes were not uniformly mono-colored. Many different patterns and designs are seen in the dress of Mesopotamian women. Men on the other hand are routinely depicted in monotone robes. Exceptions would be kings and soldiers and sometimes scribes. Shawls, hooded capes, and wraps were used in bad weather and these were often embroidered and tassled. Girls dressed like their mothers. Boys dressed like their fathers. Everyone wore sandals of greater or more modest design. Women’s sandals were generally more likely to be ornamented than those of men. Women and men both wore cosmetics. As one scholar noted, “…the desire to enhance one’s natural beauty and allure through the use of cosmetics and perfume is attested as far back as Sumerian times…” Men and women would outline their eyes with an early form of mascara, much as the Egyptians were famous for doing, Perfumes were used by both sexes after bathing. Perfumes were made by “steeping aromatic plants in water and blending their essence with oil. Some of these recipes became so popular that were closely guarded. A successful recipe could raise a perfume maker from a lower class worker to almost the level of nobility. The daily life of the ancient Mesopotamians was not so different from the lives of those who live in that area today. Like those of the modern world, the people of the ancient regions of Mesopotamia loved their families, worked their jobs, and enjoyed their leisure time. Advances in technology give one the impression today that we are much wiser and vastly different from those who lived thousands of years before us. However the archaeological records tell a different story. Within the historical record human beings have never been very different than we are today. This applies to both in human attributes and detriments. The basic needs and desires, as well as the daily lives of the people of ancient Mesopotamia adhere to a pattern that is easily recognizable [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Love, Sex and Marriage in Ancient Mesopotamia: Medical texts from ancient Mesopotamia provide prescriptions and practices for curing all manner of ailments, wounds, and diseases. There was one malady, however, which had no cure: passionate love. From a medical text found in Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh comes this passage: “…when the patient is continually clearing his throat; is often lost for words; is always talking to himself when he is quite alone, and laughing for no reason in the corners of fields, is habitually depressed, his throat tight, finds no pleasure in eating or drinking, endlessly repeating, with great sighs, `Ah, my poor heart!’ – he is suffering from lovesickness. For a man and for a woman, it is all one and the same…” Marriage in ancient Mesopotamia was of vital importance to the society, literally, because it ensured the continuation of the family line and provided social stability. Arranged marriages were the norm, in which the couple had often never met. According to Herodotus there were even bridal auctions where women were sold to the highest bidder. However generally human relationships in ancient Mesopotamia were just as complex and layered as those today. Part of that complexity was the emotion of love. Like people the world over and throughout time, ancient Mesopotamians fell deeply in love. The popularity of what today would be called “love songs” also attests to the commonality of deep romantic attachment between couples. A few of the titles of these poems illustrate this: “Sleep, begone! I want to hold my darling in my arms!”. “When you speak to me, you make my heart swell till I could die!” And “I did not close my eyes last night; Yes, I was awake all night long, my darling thinking of you”. There were also romantic poems. One example is an Akkadian composition from about 1750 BC. It depicts two lovers arguing because the woman feels the man is attracted to another. In turn he must convince her that she is the only one for him. The couple discusses the problem and in the end the couple reconciles. The ending of the poem makes it clear that they will now live together happily ever after together. Contrasted with romantic love and a couple sharing their lives together however is the “business side” of marriage and sex. Herodotus reports that at least once in her lifetime every woman had to sit outside the temple of Ishtar (Inanna) and agree to have sex with whatever stranger chose her. This custom was thought to ensure the fertility and continued prosperity of the community. As a woman’s virginity was considered requisite for a marriage it would seem unlikely that unmarried women would have taken part in custom. Yet Herodotus states that “every woman” was required so to. The practice of sacred prostitution as described by Herodotus has been challenged by many modern-day scholars. However his description of the bride auction has not been so challenged. Herodotus writes: “…once a year in each village the young women eligible to marry were collected all together in one place. The men stood around them in a circle. Then a herald called up the young women one by one and offered them for sale. He began with the most beautiful. When she was sold for a high price he offered for sale the one who ranked next in beauty. All of them were then sold to be wives. The richest of the Babylonians who wished to wed bid against each other for the loveliest young women. The commoners who were not concerned about beauty received the uglier women along with monetary compensation…All who liked might come and bid for the women, even from distant villages. This was the best of all their customs but it has now fallen into disuse…” Romantic love did play a part in Mesopotamian marriages. However it is also true that according to the customs and expectations of Mesopotamian society, marriage was a legal contract. The contract was between the father of a girl and another man. As in the case of the bride auction the contract would be with the groom whereby the groom paid the girl's father the bride-price. More commonly the contract would be between the between two families, which functioned as the foundation of a community. In the language of the Sumerians, the word for “love” was a compound verb. In its literal sense, meant “to measure the earth” or to “to mark off land”. Among both the Sumerians and the Babylonians marriage was fundamentally a business arrangement. The arrangement was designed to assure and perpetuate an orderly society. It’s very likely that the same held true among the Assyrians as well. True there was an inevitable emotional component to marriage. However the prime intent in the eyes of the state was not companionship but procreation. The concern was not with personal happiness in the present but communal continuity for the future. This was no doubt the “official” view of marriage. There is no evidence to suggest that a man and woman decided to simply get married on their own. There is evidence however of couples living together without marrying). As one historian writes, “…every marriage began with a legal contract. Indeed, as Mesopotamian law stated, if a man should marry without having first drawn up and executed a marriage contract, the woman he “marries” would not be his wife…every marriage began not with a joint decision by two people in love but with a negotiation between representatives of two families…” Once the marriage contract was signed in the presence of witnesses, the ceremony could be planned. The wedding ceremony had to include a feast in order to be considered legitimate. The course of the marriage process had five stages which needed to be observed in order for the couple to be legally married. This includes the engagement/marriage contract. Also then payment of the families of the bride and groom to each other, i.e., the dowry and bride-price. This is followed by the ceremony and feast. Then the bride moves to her father-in-law’s home. Finally sexual intercourse between the couple with the bride expected to be a virgin on her wedding night and subsequently to become pregnant. If any one of these steps was not performed, or not performed properly the marriage could be invalidated. This was true in the case of the bride not becoming pregnant. In the event the bride turned out not to be a virgin, or could not conceive, the groom could return her to her family. He would have to return her dowry to her family but would get back the bride-price his family had paid. Prior to the marriage special attention was paid to the engagement. Engagements were serious business in Babylonia, especially for those who might have a change of heart. According to Hammurabi’s Code, a suitor who changed his mind would forfeit his entire deposit (i.e., the betrothal gift) and bride-price. If the prospective father-in-law changed his mind, he had to pay the disappointed suitor double the bride-price. Futhermore if a rival suitor persuaded the father-in-law to change his mind, not only did the father-in-law have to pay double, but the rival wasn’t allowed to marry the daughter. These legal penalties acted as a potent deterrent against changes of heart and a powerful incentive for both responsible decision making and orderly social behavior. These incentives and penalties were particularly important because as in the present day young people in Mesopotamia did not always wish to comply with their parents' wishes. A young man or woman might well love someone other than the “best match” chosen by their parents. One ancient poem features the goddess Inanna and her lover Dumuzi. Ianna was reputed to possess a penchant for “free love” and doing as she pleased. The poem is thought to illustrate the problems parents had in guiding their children, daughters in particular, in the proper conduct necessary to produce a happy marriage. However as Inanna and Dumuzi were a very popular couple in religious and secular literature, it is doubtful that young people interpreted the poem in quite the same way their parents may have. In the poem Inanna was encouraged to marry the successful farmer god Enkimdu. However she loved the shepherd god Dumuzi and so chose him. As one historian elaborates, “…she furtively left the house, like an amorous teenager, to go to meet her beloved beneath the stars, ‘which sparkled as she did’, then to dally beneath his caresses and suddenly wonder, seeing the night advance, how she was going to explain her absence and lateness to her mother: ‘Let me go! I must go home! Let me go, Dumuzi! I must go in! What lie shall I tell my mother? What lie shall I tell my mother Ningal?’ And Dumuzi suggests an answer: she will say that her girl companions persuaded her to go with them to listen to music and dance. The penalties and incentives were supposed to keep a young couple on the desired path toward the marriage and prevent them from engaging in romances under the stars. Once the couple was properly married, they were expected to produce children quickly. Sex was considered just another aspect of one’s life and there was none of the modern-day embarrassment, shyness, or taboo involved in Mesopotamians' sex lives. Homosexual love could be enjoyed without fear of social stigma. Texts mention men “preferring to take the female role” in sex. One historian comments, “…various unusual positions could be adopted; standing, on a chair, across the bed or the partner, taking her from behind or even sodomizing her…” Sodomy, defined as anal intercourse, was a common form of contraceptive. The historian further notes that from ancient texts love-making could happen that an eccentric setting was chosen. Instead of keeping to your favorite place, the bedroom, you might take it into your head to “make love on the roof-terrace of the house”, or “on the threshold of the door”, or “right in the middle of a field or orchard”, or “in some deserted place”, or a “a no through road”, or even “in the middle of the street”. This could be with just any woman on whom you had “pounced” or with a prostitute. Making love was a natural activity, as culturally ennobled as food was elevated by cuisine. Why on earth should one feel demeaned or diminished or guilty in the eyes of the gods? Sex was guiltless when practiced it in whatever way one pleased, though always provided that no third party was harmed or that one was not infringing any of the customary prohibitions which controlled daily life. This is not to say that Mesopotamians never had affairs or were never unfaithful to their spouses. There is plenty of textual evidence which shows that they did and they were. However when discovered, these crimes were severely punished by the judges. Punishment could even take the form of the death penalty. The trespass of men was in so far as they did serious wrong to a third party. The trespass of women in that even when secret, they could harm the cohesion of the family. In Mesopotamia amorous impulses and capabilities were traditionally channeled by collective constraints with the aim of ensuring the security of what was held to be the very nucleus of the social body, the family. These constraints thus ensured the continuity of the family. The fundamental vocation of every man and woman was therefore marriage. Marriage was his or her `destiny’, a wish on the part of the gods. As it was written in an ancient text, “the young man who has stayed solitary…having taken no wife, or raised children, and the young woman who has not been either deflowered, or impregnated, and of whom no husband has undone the clasp of her garment and put aside her robe, to embrace her and make her enjoy pleasure, until her breasts swell with milk and she has become a mother” were looked upon as marginal, doomed to languish in an unhappy existence. Children were the natural and greatly desired consequence of marriage. Childlessness was considered a great misfortune and a man could take a second wife if his first proved infertile. One historian wrote of a wife’s subservient role, “…once settled in her new status, all the jurisprudence shows us the wife entirely under the authority of her husband, and social constraints, giving the husband free rein, were not kind to her. In the first place, although monogamy was common, every man according to his whims, needs, and resources could add one or more ‘second wives’, or rather concubines, to the first wife…” The first wife was often consulted in choosing the second wives. It was her responsibility to make sure they fulfilled the duties for which they had been chosen. If a concubine had been added to the home because the first wife could not have children, the concubine’s offspring would become the children of the first wife. They would be able to inherit and carry on the family name. As far as society was concerned the primary purpose of marriage was to produce children. Consequently a man could add as many concubines to his home as he could afford. The continuation of the family line was most important and so concubines were fairly common in cases where the wife was ill, in generally poor health, or infertile. However a man could not divorce his wife because of her state of health. He would continue to honor her as the first wife until she died. Under these circumstances the concubine would become first wife upon the original wife’s death. If there were other women in the house they would each move up one position in the home’s hierarchy. Divorce carried a serious social stigma and was not common. Most people married for life even if that marriage was not a happy one. Inscriptions record women running away from their husbands to sleep with other men. If caught in the act the woman could be thrown into the river to drown along with her lover, or could be impaled. Both parties had to be either spared or executed. Hammurabi’s Code states, “…if, however, the owner of the wife wishes to keep her alive, the king will equally pardon the woman’s lover...” Divorce was commonly initiated by the husband. However wives were allowed to divorce their husbands if there was evidence of abuse or neglect. A husband could divorce his wife if she proved to be infertile. However under such circumstances he would then have to return her dowry. Thus husbands were much more likely to simply add a concubine to the family. It never seems to have occurred to the people of the time that the man could be to blame for a childless marriage. The blame for a childless marriage was always attributed to the woman. A husband could also divorce his wife on grounds of adultery or neglect of the home. However again he would have to return her property and also suffer the stigma of divorce. Both parties seem to have commonly chosen to make the best of the situation even if it was not optimal. As opined by one scholar, “…as for the married woman, provided she had a little ‘guts’ and knew how to make use of her charms, employing all her guile, she was no less capable of making her husband toe the line. A divinatory oracle mentions a woman made pregnant by a third party who ceaselessly implores the goddess of love, Ishtar, repeating: ‘Please let the child look like my husband!’ [and] we are told of women who left their home and husband to go gallivanting not just once, but two, three…as many as eight times, some returning later, crestfallen, or never coming back at all...” Women abandoning their families was uncommon but happened enough to have been written about. Unless she was a prostitute a woman traveling alone to another region or city to begin a new life was rare. However such incidents did occur. It seems to have been an option taken by women who found themselves in an unhappy marriage who chose not to suffer the disgrace of a public divorce. Since divorce favored the man if a woman expressed the desire to divorce, she could be thrown out of her husband’s home penniless and naked. The man was the head of the household and the supreme authority. A woman had to prove conclusively that her husband had failed to uphold his end of the marriage contract in order to obtain a divorce. Even so it should be noted that a majority of the myths of ancient Mesopotamia, especially the most popular myths portray women in a very flattering light. These myths would include “The Descent of Inanna”, “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree”, and “Ereshkigal and Nergal”. These myths often even portrayed women as having an advantage over men. Men were recognized as the authority in both government and in the home. Nonetheless women could own their own land and businesses, buy and sell slaves, and initiate divorce proceedings. There is considerable evidence which indicate women in Sumer enjoyed greater freedoms than women did after the rise of the Akkadian Empire in about 2334 BC. That evidence includes not only the myths named hereinabove as well as surviving business contracts. Prior to the influence of Akkad women in ancient Mesopotamia were undeniably regarded at all levels as inferior to men and treated as such. Nevertheless they seem to have also enjoyed consideration, rights, and freedoms. Those were merely a vestige of the older Sumerian culture in latter times. Nonetheless this culture remained prevalent enough throughout the entire history of Mesopotamia to allow a woman the freedom to escape from an unhappy homelife and travel to another city or region to begin a new one. Throughout all of the difficulties and legalities of marriage in Mesopotamia, however, then as now, there were many happy couples who lived together for life and enjoyed their children and grandchildren. In addition to the love poems mentioned above, letters, inscriptions, paintings, and sculpture attest to genuine affection between couples, no matter how their marriage may have been arranged. The letters between Zimri-Lim, King of Mari, and his wife Shiptu, are especially touching in that it is clear how much they cared for, trusted, and relied on each other. Happy marriages flourished in ancient times. A Sumerian proverb mentions a husband boasting that his wife had borne him eight sons and was still ready to make love. A stone Sumerian statue of a seated couple from around 2700 BC is particularly noteworthy. As described by a contemporary historian, “an elderly Sumerian couple sit side by side fused by sculpture into a single piece of gypsum rock. His right arm is wrapped around her shoulder, his left hand tenderly clasping her right. Their large eyes look straight ahead to the future, their aged hearts remembering the past. The customs of the Mesopotamians may seem strange or even cruel to a modern-day western mind. However the people of the ancient world were no different from those living today. Many modern marriages begun with great promise, end badly. Many other marriages which initially struggle, endure for a lifetime. The practices which begin such unions are not as important as what the individuals involved make of their time together. In ancient Mesopotamia, as in the present, marriage presented many challenges which a couple either overcame or succumbed to [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Health Care in Ancient Mesopotamia: In ancient Mesopotamia, the gods infused every aspect of daily life. This of course extended to health care. The goddess Gula presided over health and healing. She was also known as Ninkarrak and Ninisinna. Gula was aided by her consort Pabilsag, who was also a divine judge. Gula was also aided by her sons Damu and Ninazu, and daughter Gunurra. Gula was the primary deity of healing and health. She was known as the “great physician of the black-headed ones”. The “black headed ones” was a reference to the Sumerians. The rod intertwined with serpents is today the insignia of the medical profession. However this symbol originated not with Gula, but with her son Ninazu. Ninazu was associated with serpents, the underworld, and healing. Ninazu's name means `Lord Healer’. He was the steward of the underworld. Inscriptions differ as to whether he was the son of Gula or Ereshkigal. However either way the inscriptions are uniform in their presentation of Ninazu and his serpents. He is consistently associated with health and healing and the continuation of mortal life. He was of course also associated with death and dying and the life which came after. The serpent symbolized regeneration and transformation because it sheds its skin. Ninazu was associated with the serpent because he helped people to pass over to the afterlife and/or enabled them to recover from whatever ailed them. Doctors in Mesopotamia were simply the agents through which these deities worked in order to maintain the health of the people of Mesopotamia. As today the primary function of the physician then was to heal people of illnesses and keep them in good health. Just as today the first step in treating a sick person was diagnosing the cause of the illness. In ancient Mesopotamia that cause was always attributable to a sin the patient had committed, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Every breach of whatever norm became an offence against the rule of the gods, a “misdeed” against them, a “sin”. This could be a violation of immemorial cultural “bans”; customary imperatives, implicit instructions of the law, or explicit instructions of the authorities. As a sovereign would punish anything that defies their authority, it was now up to the gods to suppress such unruliness with suitable punishments. These punishments were the ills and misfortunes of life. And the punishments were not inflicted by “demons” on a whim, as was previously believed, but were rather inflicted upon the orders of the gods. The Mesopotamians patterned their gods on themselves and their own communities. Just as a king might choose to pardon one’s offense, so could the gods. In order for them to do so, a person who was suffering simply had to first confess to the sin. Then it was required that the offender submit to the proper treatment to remove the hand of whatever demon had been sent by the gods to inflict the punishment. Illness in fact was often referred to as “the hand of…”, as in perhaps, “the patient is touched by the hand of the god Shamash”. Or it might be expressed as, “the hand of the demon Lamashtu is upon her” or the hand of this or that unhappy ghost. It did not matter what bmalady the patient presented with. It did not matter whatever the final cure. The diagnosis always referenced the will of the gods and their intervention in human affairs. Illness then was a manifestation of sin. A cure for that illness required a number of elements. The first requirement was some form of confession of that sin. Then it required an acknowledgment that one had done wrong. Finally it required an affirmation to do right in the future. Still the gods reigned supreme. It was entirely possible for a sick person to do everything right, and yet the patient would still die. This was true even if the doctors performed every incantation correctly and applied the proper medicines. One god might intend only the best for the sick person. Yet another god could have been offended. That god might then refuse to be placated, no matter what offerings were made. To further complicate the situation, one also had to consider that it was not the gods causing a problem. It could be instead a ghost whom the gods allowed to cause the trouble to rectify some wrong committed by the patient against the ghost. As one scholar comments, “…the dead, especially dead relatives, might also trouble the living. This might be particularly if family obligations to supply offerings to the dead were neglected. Especially likely to return to trouble the living were ghosts of persons who died unnatural deaths or who were not properly buried. For example death by drowning or death on a battlefield might yield a troublesome ghost. Medical books from the library of Ashurbanipal make it clear, however, that doctors had an impressive amount of medical knowledge. They applied this medical knowledge regularly in caring for their patients and appeasing the gods and the spirits of the dead. Prior to the discovery of ancient Mesopotamian inscriptions like those found at Nineveh and Mari, scholars believed that the Mesopotamians had no doctors at all. This was due to the account given by the Greek historian Herodotus. In his “Histories” he writes about health care in Mesopotamia: “…they bring out all their sick into the streets, for they have no regular doctors. People that come along offer the sick man advice, either from what they personally have found to cure such a complaint, or what they have known someone else to be cured by. No one is allowed to pass by a sick person without asking him what ails him…” While this custom may have prevailed in parts of Mesopotamia, and at different times, the claim that Mesopotamians had no doctors is incorrect. There were two primary kinds of doctors throughout Mesopotamia’s history. First was the “Asu”. An “Asu” was a medical doctor who treated illness or injury empirically. Second was the “Asipu”. An “Asipu” was a healer who relied upon what one would call “magic”. There were also surgeons who seem to have come from either of these medical backgrounds. Additionally there were veterinarians who might be either “Asu” or “Asipu”. Dentistry was practiced by both kinds of doctors. Both kinds of doctors may also have presided at births, although history is unclear regarding their role in childbirth. It is certain that mid-wives (“sabsutu”) delivered the child, not the doctor. Yet the doctor was paid a fee for providing some kind of service at births. Historical records make it clear that they were paid more for the birth of a male child than a female. It is possible that the Asipu could have recited prayers to the gods or chants to ward off demons. This would have included most notably the demon Lamashtu, who killed or carried off infants. The Asu may have eased labor pains with herbs but not assisted with the actual birth. As there is no mention of what precise purpose they served at a birth, however, this remains speculation. It is known that a pregnant woman, and one who was in labor, wore special amulets to protect her unborn child from Lamashtu. The special amulets invoked the protection of another demon called Pazuzu, who was a protective entity. It should be remembered that the term “demon” did not always carry the connotation of evil that it does in the modern day. A “demon” could be a benevolent spirit. Although modern-day scholarship sometimes refers to the “Asipu” as a “witch doctor” and the “Asu” as a “medical practitioner”, the ancient Mesopotamians regarded the two with equal respect. There is not even a hint in the ancient texts that one approach was more legitimate than the other. In fact the two types of healers seem to have had equal legitimacy. Within the ancient medical texts frequently occur such phrases as, “…if neither medicine nor magic brings about a cure’. The significant difference between the two types was that the “Asipu” relied more explicitly on the supernatural. The “Asu” dealt more directly with the physical symptoms the patient presented with. Both types of healers would have accepted the supernatural source for illness. The “Asu” should not be considered more “modern” or “scientific” than the “Asipu”. Both types of physician operated out of the temples and treated patients there. However more frequently both types of physicians made house calls. Most patients were treated in their homes. The city of Isin was the cult center for the goddess Gula. Though not entire certainly it is thought that Isin served as a training center for physicians who were then sent to temples in various cities as needed. There is no evidence of private practice per se, although kings and the more affluent had their own physicians. Doctors were always associated with some temple complex. Women and men could both be doctors though, as noted by one historian, “…women scribes or copyists, exorcists or experts in deductive divination [the Asipu and Asu] could be counted on the fingers of one hand…” It seems as though there were more female physicians in Sumer than elsewhere. It also seems likely that women played a larger role in medicine prior to the advent of the Akkadian Empire. The view of women disseminated within the Akkadian Empire was that of women being subordinate to men. From ancient texts it is known that the doctor shaved his head so as to be easily identifiable. There has been some speculation amongst historians that perhaps there were fewer female doctors because women were not as inclined as men to shave their heads. This speculation is really unfounded however as both women and men both routinely shaved their heads and wore wigs in ancient Mesopotamia. This was a custom widely practiced later in ancient Egypt as well). From the Gula Hymn written around 1400 BC we know that doctors traveled about their city daily and carried with them the tools of their trade. Part of the hymn reads, “…I am a physician, I can heal, I carry, around all healing herbs, I drive away disease, I gird myself with the leather bag containing health-giving incantations, I carry around texts which bring recovery, I give cures to mankind. My pure dressing alleviates the wound, My soft bandage relieves the sick…” Physicians of both types but primarily the Asu, the “medical practitioner”, may also have made use of a portable bed. A categorized list of physician’s equipment from Ugarit details among surgical instruments and other medical trappings, a bed and coverlet. Seriously afflicted patients were examined and treated in bed which also doubled as the operating table. A coverlet could well be utilized in post-operative recovery. Whether this list means that doctors carried a portable bed with them or simply made use of patients' own beds is unclear. The Mesopotamians had an understanding of sickness being associated with uncleanliness. That is not to say however that they recognized “germs” as one commonly does today. Since the poorer people of the cities slept on mats on the dirt floor a bed to elevate a sick person for treatment would make sense. How along with everything else the lone physician would have carried this through the city does however present a problem for this suggestion. Fees for services were on a sliding scale depending on one’s social status. A doctor presiding over the birth of a noble was paid more than for a common birth. Prescriptions were on this same sliding scale of payments. A doctor might be paid in gold for mixing a prescription for a prince. The payment for doing the same for a common person might be a bowl of soup or a clay cup. However there is no evidence that doctors refused to treat the poor. Furthermore the same prescriptions were given, with the same ingredients, without regard for a patient’s social status. Prescriptions were ground by the doctor while some incantation was recited. This was usually done in the presence of the patient. A prescription from Babylon for an injury to the face reads, “…if a man is sick with a blow on the cheek, pound together fir-turpentine, pine-turpentine, tamarisk, daisy, flour of Inninnu; mix in milk and beer in a small copper pan; spread on skin, bind on him, and he shall recover…” Antiseptics were made from a mixture of alcohol, honey, and myrrh, and surgery was more advanced than in other regions of the time. In the treatment of all wounds, there were three critical steps. First was washing the wound, second was applying a plaster, third was binding the wound”. The Mesopotamians recognized that washing a wound with clean water prevented infection and hastened healing. That knowledge even extended to the necessity of ensuring the doctor’s hands were also clean. Hands and wounds were cleaned with a mixture of beer and hot water though by the time a liquid soap was already available. Some aspects of ancient Mesopotamian wound dressing are completely lacking as seen through the lens of modern biomedical practices. Other practices however were surprisingly advanced, such as the washing and the preparation of poultices for wounds. Of course in addition to these poultices were always the recitations of prayers to the gods and incantations to ward off demons. The ancient therapeutic medical texts frequently combined the two types of treatment, the medical (“Asu”) and the magical (“Asipu”). The standard therapeutic texts normally describe a complaint. It then gave a list of ingredients with instructions for their preparation. Last it gave instructions for administering the medication. However these ancient medical texts do not give the specific amounts or ratios of ingredients to be mixed. Scholars believe that this is either because the physicians did not wish to give away trade secrets by having them written down. Of course it is also possibly be because the texts presumed such information was not considered necessary. He presumption would be that a doctor would already know how much of which herb to use from early training. Many of the plants and herbs mentioned in the texts cannot be identified today. So modern researchers are not in a position to reproduce most of the prescriptions history has left us. Nor are modern researchers then able to understand the effects of specific medications. Nonetheless that the treatments were effective seems relatively certain. The medical texts which have been discovered list treatments over a considerable span of centuries along with their efficacy. Historians note that there is little evidence for the practice of dentistry as such. However there is evidence of healers who would be called “dentists” in the contemporary world. They were skilled at pulling teeth and/or allaying the pain of toothaches. In ancient Mesopotamia a toothache was thought to be caused by a “tooth worm”. After its creation by the gods, the tooth worm would refuse all form of food except the blood from teeth. The worm cried out to the gods, “Let me live between the teeth and jaw! I will suck the blood from the teeth! I will chew upon the food in the jaw!” A dentist would recite the incantation of the tooth worm. Then dentist would then perform a procedure. It could involve the administration of herbs or pulling the tooth. The gods were called upon to smite the tooth worm and drive it from the patient. This seems to have been a standard and effective procedure. Like many other medical procedures it was consistently practiced. Doctors also treated gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract infections, skin problems, heart disease and mental illness. There were even eye, ear, nose, and throat specialists. There is one ancient medical text that apparently gives prescriptions for aborting a fetus. The relevant line reads, “to cause a pregnant woman to drop her fetus”. The prescription consist of eight ingredients to be administered to the woman in wine and be drunk on an empty stomach. The section ends with the words, “that woman will drop her fetus”. In addition to dealing with illness of various sources as above the Asipu (“witch doctor”) was a sort of sex therapist. There was a special collection of texts known by its Sumerian name literally translating to “lifting of the heart”. The use of the term “heart” seems to be a euphemism for penis. These texts also deal with fertility problems in women. However the texts seem primarily focused on sexual potency in males and arousal in females. An example is the following passage from a Middle Babylonian text: “If a man loses his potency you dry and crush a male bat that is ready to mate. You put it into water which has sat out on the roof. You give it to him to drink. That man will then recover his potency.’ A quite different approach is involved when the man’s and the woman’s sexual organs are to be rubbed with a specially prepared oils. These oils were sometimes mixed with magnetic iron ore. This procedure was intended to improve the couple’s sex life. There is even a pregnancy test mentioned in the medical texts. Certain herbs were worn by a woman in her underwear. The herbs would absorb vaginal secretions and change color if the woman was pregnant. There were also practices to ensure fertility. There were optimal days during which a woman was more likely to conceive. And finally there were treatments designed to increase a woman’s sexual desire after giving birth. Doctors were not held liable if these medical procedures did not work. Gods were the direct causes and curative agents of disease. A physician could only be held accountable for what he or she did or did not do in administering a procedure. If a prescription was followed precisely as written, even if the patient was not cured, the doctor had acted properly. The only exception to this rule concerned surgery. If the surgical procedure failed the doctor would have a hand amputated. Surgery was performed as early as 5000 BC even though the Mesopotamians knew little about anatomy and physiology. Their knowledge was restricted by the religious taboo against dissecting a corpse. Animal anatomy may have helped. However the ancient Mesopotamians dissected only the liver and lungs of healthy animals for divinatory purposes. Doctors in ancient Mesopotamia understood the importance of taking a patient’s pulse to determine one’s state of health. They also recognized the importance of antiseptics and cleanliness. Nonetheless they never equated pulse with a circulatory system which pumped blood through the body. Nor did they completely recognize uncleanliness as encouraging germs or infection. As one historian commented, “…in its two thousand years or so of existence, Mesopotamian medicine made little progress. The doctors still resorted to superstition and magical explanations. Though they could offer rational explanations for many symptoms and diseases, they never tried to collect data and theorize…” Proof of this is seen through certain medical texts themselves, known as the omen series. These were written down over many centuries. They prophesize how successful an Asipu will be with a patient based upon what sights the doctor sees while en route to the patient’s home. If the exorcist saw either a black dog or a black pig, the sick patient the Asipu is about to visit will die. If the exorcist sees a white pig, the sick man will live. If the exorcist sees pigs which keep lifting up their tails, as to the prospective patient the Asipu is traveling to see, anxiety will not afflict him. Following these predictions are others which describe certain diseases and symptoms. Again based upon what the Asipu observes, the writings prophesize as to whether the patient will either live or die. The dreams and visions of the patient were also taken into account. If while the patient as suffering from a long illness he saw a dog, his illness will return to him and he will die. If when he was suffering from a long illness he saw a gazelle that patient will recover. If when he was suffering from a long illness he saw a wild pig, if the Asipu were to recite an incantation for him, he would recover. Nonetheless at the same time as these “magical” practices were in place there was the continued practice of diagnoses based on empirical observation. What we would today described as a “rational explanation” for both diagnosis and prognosis. The most famous recorded instance of this is a letter from Zimri-Lim, King of Mari, to his wife. The letter concerned a woman of the court named Nanna who was suffering from some communicable disease. The king instructs his wife to keep Nanna from the others at court because the disease she has is contagious. This concept of contagion was never equated with the spread of germs. Instead it was concluded that Nanna had committed some sin which made her ill. That by proximity to the sick person the gods would allow that disease to spread to others. It would fall to the ancient Egyptians to emphasize empirical observation and apply what one would term more “empirical” procedures in medicine. From Egypt medical practice came to Greece and was codified by Hippocrates who is known as “the father of western medicine”. Hippocrates lived from about 460 to 370 BC. Nonetheless some parallels do exist between Mesopotamian medicine and medicine as attested in ancient Greece. However unlike some fields such as mathematics and astronomy, it does not appear that Greek medicine was in any way derivative of Mesopotamian medicine. However the medical practices of the Mesopotamians certainly influenced the Egyptians. And it was in turn from the Egyptians whom the Greeks received their understanding of medical practice and general health care. So in a sense, perhaps indirectly, but at least in part, our traditional of modern medicine traces back to the ancient Mesopotamians. Medicine in pre-1000 BC ancient Mesopotamia was a well-established profession. It included diagnosis, pharmaceutical applications, and the proper treatment of wounds. This was more than a thousand years prior to the lifetime and teaching of Hippocrates. It was prior to Homer’s the description of the acquisition and treatment of wounds in the Iliad. The staff with intertwining serpents is the symbol of the medical profession in the modern day. It is notable that while it is associated with Hippocrates and the Greek. In actuality, like medical practice itself, it originated in Mesopotamia [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals: Among the most interesting and revealing artifacts discovered from ancient Mesopotamia are the objects known as cylinder seals. These fairly small items may be seen today in museum exhibits around the world. Nonetheless perhaps owing to their diminutive size they are not given the kind of consideration which larger and more commanding artifacts, such as reliefs or statuary, enjoy. The cylinder seal however was an integral part of daily life in ancient Mesopotamia. They tell the story of the people more completely than royal reliefs or towering statues ever can. Cylinder seals were impression stamps, often intricate in design, used throughout Mesopotamia. Cylinder seals were impression stamps, often quite intricate in design, used throughout Mesopotamia. They were known as “kishib” in Sumerian and “kunukku” in Akkadian. They were used by everyone from royalty to slaves in the transaction of business and sending correspondence. They originated in the Late Neolithic Period, roughly somewhere around 7600 to 6000 BC. Most archaeologists believe they originated in the area which is now present-day Syria. However there are competing minority claims that they originated in Sumer, modern-day Iraq, at a later point in time. They were most often made from semi-precious stones such as marble, obsidian, amethyst, or lapis lazuli. Less often they were produced from gold or silver. These seals were worn by their owners on strings of leather or other material around the neck or wrist or pinned to a garment. Just as one signs a letter or form in the present day, their purpose was to serve as a personal signature on a document, on a package to guarantee the contents, or to legitimize a business deal. The seal was rolled onto moist clay on a document or seal as an official, binding signature. Contemporaneous with cylinder seals were stamp seals which were smaller and less ornate in design. The typical cylinder seal was between 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 centimeters) in length while stamp seals were typically less than an inch (2 centimeters) in on a side. Stamp seals more closely resembled the signet rings which appeared later in history. Some scholars claim the stamp seal preceded the cylinder seal. Others postulate that stamp seals and cylinder seals were used contemporaneously. The theory that the stamp seal came first would seem to make sense as it is a less refined means of sealing a document. One would logically assume that the more refined and ornate cylinder seal developed from the more primitive stamp seal. While this may prove to be correct, the evidence suggests that stamp seals were popular throughout Mesopotamia at the same time as cylinder seals. Stamp seals were particularly popular in the areas corresponding to present-day Syria and Turkey. The question of whether the cylinder seal replaced the stamp seal, or simply became more popular, may seem inconsequential. The significance comes into play owing to disagreement among scholars as to what, precisely, was being sealed. Some scholars argue that cylinder seals developed from stamp seals owing to the need to seal bullae. Bullae were hollow, rounded balls of clay which held tokens representing a financial transaction. An example might be that four white pebbles represented four sheep. Stamp seals on the other hand were used to secure flat clay envelopes which would be broken open upon receipt. The theory goes that flat envelopes were used before the development of the bullae, and so the stamp was an efficient means of securing a message or transaction. With the development of the bullae, which was not flat, a seal which could be rolled onto rounded clay was required. So the cylinder seal developed. The problem with this theory is that the broken envelopes discovered in the present day are clearly stamped by cylinder seals. Conversely there are also excavated bullae which were marked by stamp seals. The safest answer seems to be that while the stamp seal may have preceded the cylinder seal, the stamp continued in use perhaps owing simply to personal attachment. One historian noted that cylinder seals, “…sometimes became heirlooms and as such were passed on from one generation to the next…" The same situation could have been the case with stamp seals. However one must take into account the very wide-spread use of stamp seals as opposed to cylinder seals in ancient Syria and Turkey. Both in Turkey and in Syria bopth stamp seals and cylinder seals were used both on both bullae and clay envelopes. It seems to make sense that the cylinder seal developed from the stamp seal. Perhaps it did. But one cannot argue this claim conclusively. The archaeological evidence makes clear that both kinds of seals were used by the people of Mesopotamia. Equally clear is that they were used for both envelopes and bullae containers pre-dating the invention of cuneiform writing. One answer to the question is given by scholars is that the answer to the 'which came first' question is as simple as the particular needs of the regions of Mesopotamia in sealing correspondence or containers. Unlike the northern sealing tradition of using stamp seals, southern Mesopotamians used cylinder seals. These were stone cylinders into which seal designs were engraved. The difference between stamp seal and cylinder seal is much more than merely technical. In fact it tells us about the very nature of scribal agency behind the seal. The limited space on the reverse side of a stamp seal also limited the potential variability in the iconographic repertoire of seal designs. Accordingly the number of easily discernible variations on a theme is limited. By comparison the surface of a cylinder seal provides the "canvas" for a long rectangular image. This made it a perfect place to apply an elaborate design with "narrative" depictions. Sufficient room meant that the same theme easily could be varied without confusion or mix-up. Therefore this medium suited the requirements of an increasingly complex bureaucratic entity which required subtle details to identify individual agents within its system. The relative level of bureaucracy of Uruk, Sumer, and the rest of southern Mesopotamia was more complex and widespread than that of the north. It would then make sense that southern Mesopotamia would have favored the cylinder seal while the stamp seal remained popular in the north. It also resolves the issue of where the seals first originated since Sumer would have developed the cylinder seal and ancient Syria the stamp seal independently, perhaps even roughly contemporaneously, owing to their varying respective needs. The cylinder seal came into popular use during the fourth millennium BC in the Middle and Late Uruk Period. The rise in bureaucracy during this period necessitated the kind of guarantee of authenticity which these seals provided. In time they became increasingly intricate in design and scope. Unlike the smaller stamp seals, cylinder seals provided an artist with the room to explore a certain motif. These motifs not only make clear the identity of the individual who bore the seal but give significant details about their jobs and way of life. As related by one historian, “…the pictorial scenes that refer to activities such as weaving, attending domestic animals, hunting, and apparently ritual actions may indicate spheres of administrative competence within the Uruk economy…" This "administrative competence" was demonstrated through the sophisticated work of the artists who created the seals. Cylinder seals were made by a sealcutter known as a burgul in Sumerian and as a purkullu in the Akkadian language. One apprenticed with a master sealcutter for four years minimum before setting up one's own shop as a professional. One archaeologist provides a written description of a sealcutter's toolkit excavated in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit, Syria. “…In a clay jar were found a small copper chisel, two pointed copper gravers (for detail), a whetstone, a borer (for drilling holes), and some seals that had not yet been completed…" The sealcutter also used bronze and flint engraving tools as well as drills and blades to work the stone into a seal. The archaeologist goes on to explain, "…rather than cutting rough cylinders from stone, the sealcutters may have bought blanks from dealers, adding the finishing touches in their workshops…" If so this would mean there were two types of artisans at work on the seals. First would have been those who crafted the blank cylinders from quarried stone. They would have been followed by those who did the intricate engraving to personalize the cylinder for a customer. At some point in the process holes were drilled into the cylinder so that the owner could wear it on a string or pinned to a garment. These holes may have been created either when the blank was created or after it was engraved. Just such a pinned seal was found resting on the skeletal chest of Queen Puabi in her grave at Ur. The seal of a queen like Puabi had a gold cap at one end fastened on with bitumen. Those of less noble status would have their seals capped with less expensive metal. The seals were carved in intaglio. This was a process of carving beneath the surface of the stone. It creates an impression of that carving creates an image in relief. The easiest way to think of this is as a photographic negative. In order to achieve this effect, the artist would have had to reverse the image he wanted in his mind and carve accordingly. This required enormous skill. Seal cutters were highly paid and greatly respected for their craft. There was no shortage of demand for cylinder seals by the people of Mesopotamia. 2,000 cylinder seals have been recovered in Mesopotamian digs thus far. Based on the general rule of thumb that for every archaeological object in a museum at least a hundred still lie buried, some 200,000 such seals from the Uruk period alone still await excavation". The seal cutter was very much in demand and a highly skilled cutter would have lived very comfortably. There are two styles of cylinder seal: the Uruk-style and the Jemdet Nasr-style. The distinction between the two refers to the motifs used and the way the seals were carved. The Uruk-style seals show animals and figures depicted in an exceptionally naturalistic fashion. This suggests that the seal carvers were aiming for expressive clarity. The motifs include ritual narratives involving temples, boats and offerings to gods, as well as depictions of the natural world in hierarchical arrangements. They are skillfully cut, detailed, and their composition tends to be balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The Jemdet Nasr-style seals are less detailed than Uruk-style seals and are characterized by the heavy use of drills and cutting discs, which produce round and linear marks respectively. Common motifs from the Jemdet Nasr-style include women with pigtails involved in domestic labor and herds of animals in front of temples. The Jemdet Nasr-style is not necessarily associated with or restricted to the Jemdet Nasr Period of 3100 to 2900 BC. They can be found in Late Uruk period contexts as well. Regarding the differences between the two styles and their meaning, the two styles have two distinct functions. The Uruk-style seals were the property of and used to identify individuals. Thus it was necessary for each seal to be visually distinct. They were used to authorize transactions and control the movement and storage of goods. Inasmuch as , they were more complex and therefore time-consuming to produce. Some historians therefore posit that they were property of elite members of society who were at the top of the administrative hierarchy. In contrast it is believed that the Jemdet Nasr seals were used to identify a ‘fictional person’ (or ‘legal p-erson’), such as an institution, and not a private individual. In this case, it was less crucial for different seals to be distinguishable from each other, which allowed the use of repetitive motifs. Cylinder seals were used by people in every strata of Mesopotamian society from the ruling class to the merchant. Even slaves used cylinder seals. Archaeologists have identified four uses for the seals: (1) authenticating or legitimating a transaction, similar analogous to a modern-day signature; (2) preventing/restricting access to containers, rooms or houses by requiring the breaking of a seal for entry; (3) worn as an amulet; (4) as a sign of personal identity, authority, or professional affiliation. The uses of the seals were both practical and spiritual. The fact that they were used as amulets speaks to the Mesopotamian belief that such a seal could ward off evil spirits and protect one from harm. The seal could also work as well to bring one luck and prosperity. A seal may have been engraved with a certain scene from a story or legend about the gods. Perhaps it might be engraved with the image of a demon. A “demon” in ancient Mesopotamia would have meant a 'powerful spirit'. The term “demon” did not have the universal negative connotation it has today. The demon Pazuzu for example was a frightening looking creature but protected pregnant women and their unborn children from harm. All that was required to invoke his protection was to wear an amulet with his face carved on it. The handful of individuals today who recognize the name “Pazuzu” associate him with evil, owing to the 1973 Hollywood film “The Exorcist”. However in reality, to the ancient Mesopotamians, he was a guardian of human beings. His abilities even included the ability to draw the worst smells away from the cities and out into barren areas to dissipate. Whatever the use one put the seal to, it was a prized possession. Its loss was taken as seriously in ancient Mesopotamia as one today would view the loss of their credit cards. As one historian noted, after finding one had lost one's seal, "the former owner would record the date and time of loss with an official to insure that transactions made after the loss would be invalid..." As noted above some seals depicted one's occupation. However others were more intimate and revealed one's personal identity, even one's name. It is no wonder then that people were so worried over the loss of their seal. One's personal identity was made clear either by the likeness engraved on the seal or by symbols surrounding an image. For example if one were a weaver one's occupation would be symbolized by a spider, which of course weaves a web. Symbols around the spider image would give the individual's name. In the case of such seals the loss of one's personal identification could lead to the threat of "identity theft" in ancient Mesopotamia was just as great then as it is now. The seals' use as personal identification is one of the most fascinating aspects about them to archaeologists and scholars in the present day. Such seals hold for modern day scholarship great interest as the images carved on seals accurately reflect the pervading artistic styles of the day and the particular region of their use. In other words each seal is a small time capsule of what sorts of motifs and styles were popular during the lifetime of the owner". Further the identity of the owner is also of interest to the modern-day historian as in a sense it involves the chance to “meet” someone "in person" who lived over 2,000 years ago. Regarding the iconography of the seals, each character, gesture, and decorative element can be 'read' and reflected back on the owner of the seal. The analysis can reveal the owner’s social rank, and sometimes even the name of the owner. Certainly the same iconography found on seals can be found on carved stelae, terra cotta plaques, wall reliefs, and paintings. However the most complete compendium exists on the thousands of seals which have survived from antiquity". Archaeologists have noted that the meaning of the seals' imagery related to three areas: (1) specific families, administrative department, or specific events related to the administration. (2) Different stages of the administrative hierarchy, the object or persons involved in the transaction. (3) The owner or the user of the seal, or details of the transaction. Also the commodity in question, its source or destination, or a specific event relating to its use. Even after the invention of cuneiform writing around 3200BC the seals remained in popular use. One scholar who was translating Mesopotamian legal documents noted that the details of a transaction were recorded in writing on a clay tablet. Then the names of the persons involved were recorded, and the “signature block” of each included and was preceded by “The seal of..." The cylinder seal then remained as significant to its owner after the advent of writing as it had been previously. The symbols which once indicated the name of the owner were by then replaced by cuneiform script. The seal might also include additional data including the name of the owner's father, the owner's title and/or occupation, and the ruler or god he served. So although the style and details of the seals changed after the invention of writing, the significance of the seals did not. Te ancients were intimate with something that more and more has come to characterize our lives today: impermanence. Ancient Mesopotamia was a land where a raging flood could wash away an entire city. Thus its people understood that few things, including life itself, are guaranteed and secure. Gilgamesh we remember held the fragile secret of eternal life in his hand only to see it snatched away. For the people of Mesopotamia then, the stone cylinder seal was the ultimate symbol of permanence in an impermanent world. Perhaps that is why it occupied such an important position in their lives and was worn as a badge of honor. Cylinder seals in the present day continue to intrigue and fascinate scholars, historians, and any who pause to spend time with them in the exhibits at the many museums around the world. Cylinder seals hold such fascination because they are a glimpse into the past. And not just of a civilization, but of an individual who lived and worked and worried over and enjoyed life in much the same way as people do today [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Ancient Hittites of Mesopotamia: While its origins remain mysterious even today, the Hittite Empire was one of the most significant of the Mesopotamian kingdoms. It was powerful enough to bring down the commanding Babylonians and their strict ways of life. The Hittites burst on to the Mesopotamian scene sometime around the late 18th century BC. At its height the Hittite Empire covered Anatolia, northern Syria, and the northern regions of Mesopotamia. Its capital was located at Hattusas, in northern Anatolia. The Hittite people were seemingly enigmas. Their geographic origins are still not completely understood. Their language was obscure and indecipherable for a very long time. Today though we know that the language of the Hittite peoples was one from the Indo-European language family. Specifically it was from the Anatolian branch. This language family also includes the Indian languages, Latin, German, Greek, and English. Very little evidence of the language remains, other than in the form of laws and administrative announcements. When the Hittites invaded Mesopotamia they adapted many of the ways of life of the Babylonians and even of the Sumerians. These had been in place for centuries prior. Specifically they adopted the religion of the region. They began worshipping and embracing the gods of Babylonia and Sumeria as their own. One governmental modification they made was to modify the stringent laws that had been put into place by former kings like Hammurabi. The strictness of the legal system was eased, and far fewer deaths resulted from crimes. The king also became sole owner of all the land in his territory. This was vastly different from empires like the Sumerians, whose king allowed the ownership of private property. In order for a person to control (not own) land of any kind under the Hittites he had to serve in the army of the king. While much of the history of the Hittites is quite mysterious we know now that their empire is one of the most important from Mesopotamia. The Hittites were very skillful in the construction of chariots and were vanguards of the Iron Age. They were among the earliest peoples to produce iron tools and artifacts, as early as the 14th century BC. Consequently they were able to establish a successful economy of trade and commerce. The size of the Hittite territory allowed them to trade with peoples throughout the Mediterranean and into Egypt. With this ability to trade also came the exchange and teaching of Mesopotamian ideas, history, politics, and economic and social concepts. Thus the Hittites were hugely responsible for passing on the thoughts and ideas of all the Mesopotamian people that had come before them. This included the Babylonians, the Sumerians, and the Amorites. Thus the Hittites enlightened the rest of the world, and history, about themselves and their heritage. The Hittite Empire flourished from around 1600 to 1200 BC. This was until the Assyrians came through and took control of Mesopotamia. However the cities of the Hittites managed to retain some independent control over Mesopotamia and prosper economically. At least they were until the Assyrians finally overcame them all by 717 BC. Though they are not among the most notorious of the Mesopotamians, the Hittites were certainly among the most influential. They revolutionized ironworking and educated other civilizations about the Mesopotamian ways of life [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Ancient Babylonians of Mesopotamia: The Babylonians began their rise to power in the region of Mesopotamia around 1900 BC. This was at a time when Mesopotamia was largely unstable, prone to conflict and invasion, and not at all unified. Known as the Old Babylonian Period this early period was characterized by over 300 years of rule of the Amorites. The Amorites had come from west of the Euphrates River. They formed an empire based in the city-state of Babylon. The empire was a monarchy. It had conquered the outer Amorite territories and united them into one kingdom. The Babylonian Empire thrived on an economy of trade with the city-states west of the Euphrates. Under the strict rule of Hammurabi sometime around 1750 BC the city of Babylon became the political and religious capital of the entire empire. King Hammurabi ran a tight ship, with his famous code of laws providing a steady environment where taxes were collected and affairs were run quite efficiently. Babylonia was quite successful at taking control of nearby city-states. This was due in large part to their strong and disciplined army. Babylon’s influence was felt far and wide, as far away as the eastern Mediterranean regions. This phase of the Babylonian empire ended after a century and a half of thriving economy and cultural stimulus. This occurred when the city of Babylon fell to the Hittites in 1595 BC. Though Babylon was invaded by Hittite forces led by King Mursilis I, it remained capital of the foreign-led empire that replaced the former glory of the Babylonians. Succeeding the Hittites, the Kassites of Iran took over and renamed the city Kar-Duniash. For nearly 600 years this faction ruled over the western parts of Asia. Babylon was considered its holy city during this time known as the Kassite Period. Elsewhere in Mesopotamia the Assyrians continued to dominate. There was a relatively peaceful coexistence between the Assyrians and Babylonians. Essentially the Assyrians gave Babylonia the latitude to enjoy quite a bit of power. When Babylonia felt its power and privileges were being strangled, they often attempted to rebel against Assyrian rule. When the last Assyrian king Ashurbanipal died in 627 BC, under the influence of Nabopolassar the Chaldean the Babylonians finally succeeded in a rebellion. The Assyrian city of Nineveh was taken in 612 BC., and Babylonia was gain in control of the entire region. It was the nearly half-century rule of Nabopolassar’s son Nebudchadnezzar that again cemented Babylon as the center of the substantial Babylonian empire. This period of Babylonian history was known as the Chaldean Era of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. In 539 BC Persian king Cyrus mounted an invasion against the Babylonians. One of his first acts as the self-proclaimed successor of the Babylonian kings was to let the exiled Jews return to their homeland. Cyrus transferred power to his son Cambyses in 529 BC and died the following year. Immediately after Darius the Great siezed power in Persia Babylonia briefly recovered its independence. Babylon was thus briefly under a native ruler, Nidinta-Bel, who took the name of Nebuchadnezzar III. During this period Assyria to the north also rebelled. Nidinta-Bel/Nebuchadnezzar III purportedly reigned from October 521 to August 520 BC, when Darius’s Persian Achaemenid Empire retook Babylon by storm. A few years later in 514 BC Babylon again revolted and declared independence under the Armenian King Arakha. On this occasion after its recapture by the Persians, the walls of the city were partly destroyed. The Baylonian Kingdom effectively came to an end and the cityu fell into ruin. E-Saggila the great temple of Bel however still continued to be maintained and was a center of Babylonian patriotism [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Ancient Assyrians of Mesopotamia: Assyrians trace their heritage to an ancient race of the same name. The Assyrians were one of the few major factions which appeared after the collapse of the Akkadian Empire, the world's first Semitic empire created under Sargon I. At its peak, the Assyrian empire encompassed what is now western Iran, all of Mesopotamia and Syria, Israel, the Armenian highlands, and even threatened Egypt in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. The ancient Assyrians were masters of siege warfare, and subdued many other ancient peoples of the region. For these reasons, the ancient pre-Christian Assyrians were greatly feared by other ancient peoples of the region. Eventually however the Assyrians were one of the first nations to adopt Christianity as their state religion almost two thousand years ago. Assyria proper was located in a mountainous region, extending along the Tigris as far as the high Gordiaean or Carduchian mountain range of Armenia, sometimes called the "Mountains of Ashur". Little is known about the ancient Assyrians prior to the 25th century BC. The original capital city of ancient Assyria was Ashur, and was originally part of Sargon the Great's Persian Empire (circa 24th century BC). Destroyed by barbarians, Assyria ended up being governed as part of the Third Dynasty of Ur, before eventually becoming an independent kingdom about 1900 BC. The city-state of Ashur had extensive contact with cities on the Anatolian plateau (present-day Turkey). The Assyrians established "merchant colonies" in Cappadocia which were attached to Anatolian cities, but physically separate, and had special tax status. They must have arisen from a long tradition of trade between Ashur and the Anatolian cities. The trade consisted of metal and textiles from Assyria that were traded for precious metals in Anatolia. The city of Ashur was conquered by the Hammurabi of Babylon. It ceased trading with Anatolia because the goods of Assyria were now being traded with the Babylonians' partners. In the 15th century BC the Hurrians of Mitanni sacked Ashur and made Assyria a vassal. Assyria paid tribute to the Mitanni until they collapsed under pressure from the Hittites. Assyria once again became an independent kingdom in the 14th century BC, though at times as a tributary of the Babylonian kings to the south. As the Hittite empire collapsed from onslaught of the Phrygians, Babylon and Assyria began to compete with one another for the Amorite lands formerly under firm Hittite control. The Assyrians defeated the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar when the forces encountered one another in this region. By 1120 BC the Assyrians had advanced as far as the North Sea on one side, the Mediterranean on the other, conquering Phoenicia, and had also subjugated Babylonia as well. Thereafter for nearly two centuries however the Assyrian’s grip over this vast empire steadily weakened until when in 911 BC a strong ruler consolidated the Assyrian territories, and his success then embarked on a vast program of merciless expansion. In the mid ninth century BC the King of Israel marched in alliance with the Aramaic Kingdom against Assyria, the conflict ending in a deadlock, but a deadlock which presaged a withdrawal of Assyrian forces from the region of the Levant. The following centuries saw a continued decline of Assyria, the only exception being expansion on one front as far as the Caspian Sea. However by the eight century BC Assryia had again become strong under Sargon the Tartan, again conquering Philistine, Israel, Judah, and Samaria. In 705 BC, Sargon was slain while fighting the Cimmerians and was succeeded by his son who moved the capital to Momrveh. By 670 BC Assyria even briefly conquered Egypt, installing Psammetichus as a vassal king in 663 BC. This proved to be the high water mark for ancient Assyria however. The Assyrian King Ashurbanipal had promoted art and culture and had a vast library of cuneiform tablets at Nineveh, but upon his death in 627 BC the Assyrian Empire began to disintegrate rapidly. Babylonia became independent; their king destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC. The mighty Assyrian Empire fell and ceased to exist as an independent nation. [AncientGifts]. Ancient Assyrian Mesopotamia: The foundation of the Assyrian dynasty can be traced to Zulilu, who is said to have lived after Bel-kap-kapu (around 1900 BC), the ancestor of Shalmaneser I. The city-state of Ashur rose to prominence in northern Mesopotamia, founding trade colonies in Cappadocia. King Shamshi-Adad I (who reigned from 1813 to 1791 BC) expanded the domains of Ashur by defeating the kingdom of Mari, thus creating the first Assyrian kingdom. With the rise of Hammurabi of Babylonia (around 1728 to 1686 BC) and his alliance with Mari, Assyria was conquered and reduced to a vassal state of Babylon. In the 15th century BC Hurrians from Mitanni sacked Ashur and made Assyria a vassal. When Mitanni collapsed under pressure from the Hittites in Anatolia, Ashur again rose to power under Ashur-uballit I (who reigned from 1365 to 1330 BC). He married his daughter to the Kassite ruler of Babylon with disastrous results. The Kassite faction in Babylon murdered the king and placed a pretender on the throne. Ashur-uballit promptly marched into Babylonia and avenged his son-in-law. Shalmaneser I (who ruled from 1274 to 1245 BC) declared that Assyria was no longer a vassal of Babylon and claimed supremacy over western Asia. He fought the Hittites in Anatolia, conquered Carchemish, and established more colonies in Cappadocia. His son Tukulti-Ninurta I (who reigned from 1243 to 1207 BC) conquered Babylon, putting its King Bitilyasu to death. This resulted in Assyria being the dominant power in Mesopotamia. Tukulti-Ninurta ruled at Babylon for seven years and assumed the old imperial title "king of Sumer and Akkad". During a Babylonian revolt, he was murdered by his son, Ashur-nadin-apli. Babylon was once more independent from Assyria. Tiglath-pileser I (who ruled from 1114 to 1076 BC) was one of the great conquerors of Assyria. He extended the remaining empire to Armenia in the north and Cappadocia in the west. He hunted wild bulls in Lebanon and was presented with a crocodile by the Egyptian pharaoh. Little is known of Tiglath-pileser's direct successors, and it is with Ashurnasirpal II (who ruled from 883 to 858 BC) that history’s knowledge of Assyrian history continues. The empire of Assyria was again extended in all directions. The palaces, temples, and other buildings raised by Ashurnasirpal II bear witness to a considerable development of wealth and art. Nimrud (also known as the Biblical city of Calah or Kalakh) became the favorite residence of the monarch, who was distinguished even among Assyrian conquerors for his revolting cruelties. His son, Shalmaneser II (who ruled from 1031 to 1019 BC) continued the expansion of Assyria and even further militarized the country. During the Middle Assyrian Period the cities of Ashur, Nimrud, and Nineveh rose to prominence in the Tigris River valley. Babylon remained the most important and probably the largest city of the period. When Nabu-nazir ascended the throne of Babylon in 747 BC Assyria was in the throes of a revolution. In 746 BC Calah joined the rebels. The rebel leader Pulu took the name of Tiglath-pileser III, seized the crown, and inaugurated a new and vigorous policy. Tiglath-pileser III ruled from 745 to 727 BC. Under his rule the Neo-Assyrian Empire arose. This differed from the first Assyrian Empire in its greater consolidation. For the first time in history the idea of centralization was introduced into politics. Conquered provinces were organized under an elaborate bureaucracy. Each district paid a fixed tribute and provided a military contingent. The Assyrian forces became a standing army creating an irresistible fighting machine. Assyrian policy became geared towards conquering the known world. With this goal in mind. Tiglath-pileser III secured the high-roads of commerce to the Mediterranean together with the Phoenician seaports. He thus made himself master of Babylonia. In 729 BC the summit of his ambition was attained. He was invested with the sovereignty of Asia in the holy city of Babylon. With his conquest of Israel which occurred from 745 to 727 BC the first wave of Israelite deportations had begun. Tiglath-pileser was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V who died shortly after. Shalmaneser V only reigned from 727 to 722 BC. The throne was seized by the general Sargon II who ruled from 722 to 705 BC. Sargon II conquered the Hittie stronghold of Carchemish and annexed Ecbatana. He was seen as the successor of Sargon of Akkad. His son Sennacherib ruled from 704 to 681 BC. Sennacherib was a less skilled king who was never crowned in Babylon and eventually destroyed the holy city. Under his reign Nineveh was built to become a new center of Assyrian power. Nineveh became famed for its library of cuneiform tablets. Sennacherib’s reign however was one of terror. Upon his assassination both his subjects and enemies were relieved. Esarhaddon who ruled from 681 to 669 BC) succeeded Sennacheri. Esarhaddon restored Babylon to its former glory, making it the second capital of the Assyrian Empire. In 674 BC he sent the Assyrian armies to invade Egypt which was subsequently conquered. Two years later the Egyptians revolted and in his march to deal with the revolt, he fell ill and died. Ashurbanipal succeeded Esarhaddon as king of the Assyrian Empire and ruled from 685 to 627 BC. His brother Samas-sum-yukin was made viceroy in Babylonia. The arrangement failed, as Samas-sum-yukin did not prove to be popular with the Babylonians, who revolted. After several years of war the Babylonian rebellion was put down. Though the Baylonian rebellion was successfully squelched, during the rebellion Egypt had regained its independence. The Egyptians had been aided by mercenaries sent by Gyges of Lydia. Shortly thereafter Elam rebelled. Its capital city of Susa was razed, and the Neo-Assyrian Empire was finally drained of all its resources. The Scythians and Cimmerians invaded Assyria from the east and from the north. By the time Ashurbanipal died his empire was close to collapse under external pressure. The Babylonian king Nabopolassar who ruled from 625 to 605 BC, together with Cyaxares of the Medes who ruled from 625 to 585 BC), finally destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC. The destruction of Nineveh marked the end of the Assyrian Empire. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $17.99 to $48.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable eBay payment processing fees. Please note that eBay does NOT refund payment processing fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, eBay will not refund their processing fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include eBay payment processing fees (typically between 5% and 15%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: Very good to like new. Please see detailed condition description below., Publisher: Time-Life Books (1969), Format: Hardcover w/quarter cloth laminated printed covers, Length: 183 pages, Dimensions: 10¾ x 8¾ inches; 2 pounds

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