The Geopolitics of Sumerian Mythology

 – For over one thousand years the cities of Sumer and their rulers vied for hegemony in southern Iraq. These dynastic wars were fought on behalf of each city’s gods and as a city gained prestige so did its gods. When the Fara god-list was written around 2600 BCE almost all the major gods of Sumer had assumed their place in the pantheon and this was in accordance to the success of their cities in the ongoing dynastic struggles.

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Click on map for full article.

The Bronze Age World System

– Today globalization of the economy seems like a modern innovation but in fact people have been struggling to build such trade networks for as far back into the past as we can trace the rise of civilization. We know this because five thousand years ago humanity had a cosmopolitan culture that spanned the Near East from East Asia to the Aegean Sea and this is evidenced by works of ancient art and records of trade goods.

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Click on image for full article

The Kurds – One of the World’s Most Ancient Peoples

 – I had a chat recently with my friend Kawa Resid who lives in Qamishli Syria. He has been telling me about the tense situation in his hometown for the last few years since the Syrian Civil War began. He is an ethnic Kurd as are most of the people in far Eastern Syria. Today he is on the front line in the fight against the Islamic State. So with the fate of my friend and the Kurdish people now in the balance the time seemed right to tell some of their very ancient tale.

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Click on map for full article.

 

The Priest Kings of Ancient Iraq

 – At the dawn of history the institution of kingship emerges fully intact from our prehistoric past. How the kings of the Ancient Near East came to dominate their fellow men is a subject open for debate. What we do know is that when the first historic kings emerge onto the scene they are empowered with as much religious as secular power. Leading us to question whether there was any difference between the two 5,000 years ago during the time when priest kings ruled in ancient Iraq.

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Click on image for full article.

The Four Rivers of Eden

 – One of the most invoking of all cosmology stories is in Genesis chapter 2. The tale of how God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden. To be certain Eden has now become everything that has ever been written or sung about it and it is a great piece of composite mythology. However is it possible that lurking in the background of this great story is a historical echo of a real event, a real time and place where man confronted divinity and was found wanting? There is no better place to begin this quest than with the physical description of the garden and its rivers given to us by the writers of Genesis.

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Click on image for full article.

Eridu and the First Cities

-Today it is a mound in the desert that causes people to wonder how anyone had ever lived in such an inhospitable climate. Once it was the mighty city of Eridu and it was surrounded by canals and greenery and connected to the ancient world through watery trade routes. Historians usually credit Eridu as being the world’s first city but its history is uncertain and whatever glory it once held is now obscured, unless we piece together archeology and myth and cipher a story of a lost world.

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There were giants in the earth in those days?

One of the most important primary texts from the ancient Near East is the Hebrew Bible. Filled with fantastic stories and rich with history it was for centuries all that the Western World knew of the lost civilizations of the Levant. Nowadays we are fortunate enough to be able to put the Bible into historical context with archeology and comparative texts. Yet some passages remain enigmatic, the intent of the original writers is elusive. So in keeping with our theme of “in the beginning” I am going to take us back to before the Great Flood and ponder on the nature of the mysterious giants of Genesis, the Nephilim. So were there really giants in the earth in those days?

fallenangel

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In the beginning…

It seems fitting that the first article for theAncientNearEast.com should set the stage for all the rest and naturally a site dedicated to history needs to start with a little prehistory. That is what I intend to do with the article Climate Change and the Rise of Civilization. It is important to put into context our short historical period which appends such a long period of prehistoric human culture. Much of that prehistoric culture found ways to transition into recorded history and as we will see in future articles it may have been some of those struggles on the path to civilization which set the foundation for what became myths and legends for later generations.

So to start let us go back to the beginning of modern human culture, with its reliance on symbols, agriculture, and organized societies and we shall see what the weather has made us into.

 

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Click on graphic to see full article.