Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mesopotamia Religious spirit.......

Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation, was a hot spot of human activity five thousand years ago.

Nurtured by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the lands of Sumer and Akkad bloomed with fertile thought. It was Sumertime and the living was easy - with plenty of spare time to doodle with amazing inventions such as commerce, writing and politics.

Of course, this new-fangled writing did have its downside. For the first time in human history, intelligent people could earn a living by making little squiggles on pieces of paper instead of chasing animals across the landscape. Which soon led to the rise of Accountants, Lawyers... and Bureaucracy. (The world's first rule book was written by King Hammurabi, who explained in detail exactly what part of you would be cut off if you misbehaved.)

But writing also gave us literature; the world's first novel was written in Mesopotamia. It's called The Epic Of Gilgamesh and, no, it's not a murder mystery. In fact it's a roller-coaster adventure with the Gods, containing fantasy, love, bloodshed and allegorical insights into the human condition. It was first produced in clay tablet form - we had to wait several thousand years for the paperback edition.

Many Mesopotamian Gods have Sumerian and Akkadian variations. They're virtually identical, but with cunning changes of name. For example, TAMMUZ is the Akkadian equivalent of DUMUZI. (This can become confusing; is that one God or two? For the purposes of Godchecker we've tended to treat them separately.) Things became a little easier when the two regions joined together to form Babylonia. At least until the Tower of Babel came along and confused it all again.

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