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        Sumeria: (Mesopotamia, 'The Land Between Two Rivers')

 

The Sumerian civilisation developed on the Persian Gulf, growing to strength at around 4 - 3,000 B.C.  The 'Plain of the Land of Shinar' is the territory which after 2,000 B.C. became called Babylon. The Greeks named the region Mesopotamia (The land between two rivers), most of which lies in the modern state of Iraq.

Quick-links.

(Map of Sumeria)

 

 

   The Sumerians: (Chronology).

The exact origins of the Sumerians are unknown. They entered Mesopotamia c. 4,000 B.C.

The original homeland of the Sumerians is unknown. It is believed that they came from the east (2), but whether by sea or from the highlands is unknown. We know that they are not local people because their language belongs to an isolated language group. During the 5th millennium B.C. a people known as the Ubaidians established settlements in the region later known as Sumer (Mesopotamia) (2) It has been noticed that there are very clear similarities between the Ubaid artwork, and that of of 'Old Europe' Vinca Culture which flourished c. 6,000 - 3,500 BC.

The Ubaid 'Annunaki' c.4,000 B.C.

At around 3,250 BC, another people migrated from its homeland, located probably northeast of Mesopotamia, and began to intermarry with the native population. The newcomers, who became known as Sumerians, spoke an agglutinative language unrelated apparently to any other known language. (2)

 

Al Ubaid Elongated Skulls:

The earliest significant record of skull elongation comes in the form of the pottery representations of the Gods from the 5th millennium B.C. The Al-Ubaid culture proceeded the Sumerian culture was a people known as the Ubaidians who established settlements in the region later known as Sumer (Mesopotamia) (7) It has been noticed that there are very strong similarities between the Ubaid artwork, and that of of 'Old Europe' Vinca Culture which flourished c. 6,000 - 3,500 BC.

John Marshall’s “Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization” as well as “Anthropology” (by Ram Nath Sharma, Rajendra Kumar Sharma) in addition to Al-Ubaid burials, wrote that cranial deformation features were also seen of skulls of Kish; Ur of Mesopotamia; Additanallur in Madras; Veddahs of Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Naga of Calcutta; jar burials of Harappa; Mediterranean; Nal in Baluchistan; Sialkot in Punjab; and Bayana (Aryan skulls) in Uttar Pradesh. (7) Marshall (8) makes a comparison between the elongated Al Ubaid skulls and those found from the Indus Valley Civilisation, noting that the Al Ubaid skulls are 'Not as elongated as those from Mohenjo-Daro'.

(More about Elongated Skulls and Cranial Deformation)

 

Sumerian 'Priests' or 'Votive Statues' c. 3,000 - 2,500 BC.

By 3,100 B.C. the population of Sumer had increased to the point where people were living in cities.(2)

The first Sumerian ruler of historical record, Etana, king of Kish (flourished about 2,800 BC), was described in a document written centuries later as the "man who stabilized all the lands." (2)

The early dynastic period of Sumer covers the part of the third millennium from 2,800 to 2,400 BC, and ends with the conquest of Sumer by a Semitic king of the north, Sargon I of Akkad. (1)

 

The Sumerian king list:

(In the following translation, mss. are referred to by the sigla used by Vincente 1995; from those listed there, mss. Fi, Go, P6, and WB 62 were not used; if not specified by a note, numerical data come from ms. WB.)

'After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years. Alaljar ruled for 36,000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64,800 years. Then Eridug fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira. In Bad-tibira, En-men-lu-ana ruled for 43,200 years. En-men-gal-ana ruled for 28,800 years. Dumuzid, the shepherd, ruled for 36,000 years. 3 kings; they ruled for 108,000 years. Then Bad-tibira fell (?) and the kingship was taken to Larag. In Larag, En-sipad-zid-ana ruled for 28,800 years. 1 king; he ruled for 28,800 years. Then Larag fell (?) and the kingship was taken to Zimbir. In Zimbir, En-men-dur-ana became king; he ruled for 21,000 years. 1 king; he ruled for 21,000 years. Then Zimbir fell (?) and the kingship was taken to Curuppag. In Curuppag, Ubara-Tutu became king; he ruled for 18,600 years. 1 king; he ruled for 18,600 years. In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 241,200 years. Then the flood swept over'.

 

 
Excavations in Iraq have revealed evidence of localized flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. A layer of riverine sediments, radiocarbon dated to ca. 2,900 B.C., interrupts the continuity of settlement, extending as far north as the city of Kish. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (3,000-2,900 BCE) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum. (3)

 

 

   The Sumerian Sciences:

Writing (Cuneiform) - The Sumerian writing known as cuneiform is often (mistakenly) cited as the oldest writing in the world. It was achieved by pressing a 'stylus' made of reed or wood into soft clay tablets. The first signs were pictographic, later improved upon by the Babylonians, who created a syllabic script.

A strong link has been shown to exist between the scripts of the 'Old Europe' Vinca culture and the Sumerians. It was long assumed that the Sumerians were the originators of writing, but recent archaeology has shown that the Vinca existed c. 6,000 - 3,500 BC, with evidence of the Vinca 'proto' script from as early as 5,500 BC. This evidence clearly suggests that the Vinca were the originators of script, and not the Sumerians, to whom they apparently passed it on during their mass migration following the collapse of their 2,000 year old civilisation.

(More about the Vinca Culture)

Associated with writing is the development of cylinder-seals, which were also a Sumerian invention.

The first written documents, from around 3,500 BC, are receipts and lists of items. (1)

Amongst the thousands of cuneiform clay tablets discovered, there are three major Sumerian texts left to us; The Epic of Creation (Enuma Elish), The Epic of the Flood and The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The discovery of both Sumerian and Indus valley seals demonstrates a level of communication between the two great cultures. Both of which disappeared overnight at around the same time.

(More about the Indus Valley Culture)

 

 

Astronomy: The Sumerians are amongst the first people to leave sophisticated records of their astronomical observations. Their fascination with the heavens is apparent in the large number of seals and cuneiform tablets unearthed of an astronomical nature.

The Sumerians were the first to divide both space and time by units of six.

The modern division of the year into 12 months, the 24 hours of each day, the division of hours into 60 minutes and 60 seconds, and the divisions of the circle/sphere by 360 degrees, each composed of 60 minutes and 60 seconds of an arc, are all Sumerian developments. This same division by units of six has been observed at several of prominent British megaliths.

Aubrey Burl said of it:

'From Brodgar, where there was once 60 stones, to the Stripple stones with a probable thirty, the builders may have counted in multiples of six. Stennes had twelve. The inner and outer rings at Balfarg have been computed at twenty-four and twelve respectively. Twenty-four has been suggested for Cairnpappel, thirty-six for Arbor Low, and the same number for the devils quoits'. (3)

The Sumerians were also aware of the importance of Pleiades, showing it in several seals and images (4).

In addition to being thought of as the seven great gods gathered together, the morning setting of Pleiades was used to mark the beginning and end of the agricultural year.

The Sumerians called the twelve major zodiacal constellations the 'Shiny Herd'.

Sumerian Translation Modern name
GU.AN.NA
MASH.TAB.BA
DUB  
UR.GULA 
AB.SIN
ZI.BA.AN.NA
GIR.TAB
PA.BIL (Archer)
SUHUR.MASH
GU
SIM.MAH
KU.MAL
Heavenly Bull
Twins
Pincers, Tongs
Lion
Her father was Sin
Heavenly Fate
Which claws and cuts
Defender
Goat-Fish
Lord of the waters
Fishes
Field dweller
Taurus
Gemini
Cancer
Leo
Virgo
Libra
Scorpio
Sagittarius
Capricorn
Aquarius
Pisces
Aries

Possible 'Cardinal' animals. From Susa. c. 3,000 B.C.

 

This cylinder seal (VA/243 -State Museum, East Berlin), shows a 'star' with several (eleven) planets surrounding it. However, as there are no known records of the Sumerians having knowledge of any more than five planets in our solar-system the jury's out over what it represents.

(More about Archaeoastronomy)

 

Other Sumerian 'Firsts':

 

The Wheel: Many authorities regard the wheel as one of the oldest and most important inventions which supposedly originated in ancient Mesopotamia in the 5th millennium BC ( Ubaid period), suggested to be originally in the function of potter's wheels. Near the northern side of the Caucasus several graves were found, in which since 3,700 BC people had been buried on wagons or carts (both types). (Ref: Wikipedia.com).

An similar example of the Sumerian wheeled vehicle (right) but from c. 5,500 BC was recently (2012) discovered in Mardin, Turkey and is now on display in the Mardin Museum.  (Quick-link)

 

 

zigurrat of Ur, Iraq, Sumeria.

Ziggurat's (Predecessors to Pyramids)

The Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq - Was a '7 Step-pyramid', and is officially classified as a 'Solar Temple'.

The similarity in style with Djoser's step pyramid at Saqqara is too strong to ignore. Both structures were built with mud bricks, built in steps, and both are surrounded by the same relief pattern on the walls (although at Saqqara this pattern is transposed onto the compound wall rather than on the pyramid itself as at Ur).

(More about Ur, Iraq)

 

 

Link to crystals page.

The crystal ‘lens’ from Nineveh (Kuyunjik, Iraq)

In 1853, Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) presented a lens to the British Association for the Advancement of Science that had been found in excavations by Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894) at Nineveh (Kuyunjik, Iraq). It had been found in deposits dated around 600 BC and although its provenance was not in question, doubts were raised about its function. Whilst it clearly works as a lens, it was thought to have been used as a decoration in a piece of jewellery.

The first glass was Sumerian. (1)

(More about Optics in Prehistory)

 

Beer Brewing.

Article: The Independent. 22nd March 1997.

Chemical analysis has identified a 6,000-year-old brewery at an archaeological site in what is now modern Iran. The evidence, which was published recently in the scientific journal Nature, suggests that fermentation of barley was first practised in Sumer - southern Babylonia - between 4000 and 3000 BC. The Sumerian civilisation occupied the flood plain between the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers, land that is today mainly shared by Syria and Iraq. One of the oldest literate civilisations, the Sumerians had a sophisticated system of agriculture, in which irrigation was used to grow cereal crops, including barley.

Towards the end of last year, archaeologists found a jar from the late fourth millennium BC at Goden Tepe (just inside the border of Iran). It has grooves containing traces of calcium oxalate, the main component of 'beerstone', a substance that settles on the surfaces of storage tanks of fermented drinks brewed from barley. The only other foodstuffs to contain an appreciable amount of oxalates are spinach and rhubarb, neither of which plays a key part in the human diet.

The archaeologists working on this ancient artefact, Rudolph Michel and Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania, and Virginia Badler of the University of Toronto, have concluded that it was used as a vessel for a fermented barley drink. If this is indeed the case, then they have stumbled across the earliest record of such brewing in history.

(Link to Full article)

 

 

Babylonian map of the world.

Babylonian "map of the world" in the British Museum, London was long claimed as the earliest extant map. The map was composed in Babylonia and is the only Babylonian map drawn on an international scale. It is a Neo-Babylonian (Persian Period, circa 500 BCE) copy of an original dating to the Sargonid Period, circa late eighth or seventh century BCE. The clay tablet is a drawing and textual description of the Babylonian cosmos. It is oriented to the north-west. (It is uncertain whether the accompanying cuneiform text was composed together with the map.) It is the only known map of the world dating from the Neo-Babylonian Period. All other maps have a purely local focus.

(More about the Babylonian Map of the World)

 

 

The Baghdad Batteries: (AD225-640).

Prehistoric electricians.Railway construction in Baghdad in 1936, uncovered a copper cylinder with a rod of iron amongst other finds from the Parthian period. In 1938, these were identified as primitive electric cells by Dr. Wilhelm Konig, then the director of the Baghdad museum laboratory, who related the discovery to other similar finds (Iraqi cylinders, rods and asphalt stoppers, all corroded as if by some acid, and a few slender Iron and Bronze rods found with them). He concluded that their purpose was for electroplating gold and Silver jewellery.

(More about the Baghdad Batteries)

 

 

Mesopotamian 'Lamassu' from Khorsabad . (Estimated weight 30-40 Tons).

(Top-50 Stones of all Time)

 

 

   Gilgamesh: From Europe to the Indus Valley:

It was long suspected that there was a connection between the early dynastic Egyptians and the Sumerians. The Knife found at the Royal cemetery in Abydoss (right), with its depiction of Gilgamesh, is proof enough, but the following information suggests that the Sumerians were more multicultural than originally thought.

Gilgamesh in Mohenjo Daro, Indus Valley (left), Sumeria (centre) and Abydoss, Egypt (right).

The 'Gilgamesh' figure is an iconic Sumerian image, found in other prehistoric civilisations such as Early Dynastic Egypt and the Indus Valley. Curiously enough, the same figure, but with a woman between the felines is  found at other prehistoric locations such as the Mycenaean, Anatolian and Maltese.

 

If we go back further into Anatolian prehistory to Catal hoyuk (8,000 B.C.), for example, we can also compare the figurine of a large female sitting upon a throne flanked by either Lions or leopards (right). The Prehistoric European Earth Goddess or Cybele (left), is also often depicted enthroned with lions as was the Minoan mountain goddess (centre).

 

It is perhaps interesting to note, in relation to the prehistoric images of an Earth-Mother-Goddess with Lions on either side, that the Egyptians used the symbol of two lions 'Aker' to represent the horizon. In this context, we can see through these earlier iconic images of a female Earth-Mother-Goddess flanked by felines, a depiction of the literal Earth itself.

 

The same symbols were later used as 'guardians' of important cities, temples etc.

(From left to right - Persepolis, Alaya Huyuk, Mycenae)

 

The Indus Valley seals.

(Genesis. Ch.11) - 'And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the East, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there'...

Archaeologists can use both the trade in seals themselves, as well as the distances between seals and the corresponding sealings, to trace long-distance trade networks. One such set of seals were manufactured around 1,900 B.C. on two important island trading cities in the Persian Gulf - Bahrein and Failaka. These seals were traded all over the Middle East, and have been found at diverse and distant locations such as Susa in Iran, Bactria in Afghanistan, Ur in Iraq, and Lothal on the west coast of India. By 1,750 B.C. Common Style seals are found in locations ranging from Spain, to Mycenaean Greece, to Marlik near the shores of the Caspian Sea. These seals were made from faience, a less expensive material, and used by smaller merchants. [2]

The first objects unearthed from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were small stone seals inscribed with elegant depictions of animals, including unicorn-like figures, and marked with Indus script writing which still baffles scholars. These seals are dated back to 2,500 B. C. Source: North Park University, Chicago, Illinois.

The first cylinder seals belonged to the now long dead civilization of the Sumerians, the inhabitants of Nippur, Lagash, and other cities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in what is now Iraq. They spoke a strange language -- neither Semitic nor Indo-European, the family of languages spoken by many later civilizations and the most current inhabitants of the Middle East. Sumerian was an tongue, bearing resemblance to such diverse languages as Turkish, Finnish, Japanese, and Dravidian. Indeed, it was probably some version of the latter tongue that was spoken by their neighbours, the early inhabitants of the Indus river valley. These Indus valley people developed, soon after the Sumerians, their own civilization and unique style of seals. Modern speakers of Dravidian languages are scattered all over the Indian subcontinent, including remnants in Afghanistan and a large number of Tamils in southern India.

Seal impressions have been found in the ancient city of Harrapan, in the Indus River valley (modern Pakistan), that had been made by seals found in Lagash in Sumeria (modern Iraq). From 3,600 B.C. in Sumer, and a little later in the Indus Valley, we can find seals made out of a rare high-quality stone, lapis lazuli. These stones could only have originated from rather distant and inaccessible mines in Afghanistan.

(Full list of Indus Valley Symbols)

 

Early Sumerian Influences in Egypt.

The Al-Gezeb Knife, Abydoss, Egypt (right): This knife, with the Gilgamesh figure carved on one side, was found in the Pre-Dynastic cemetery at Abydoss, Egypt. The perfectly knapped flint blade highlights the high skill levels attained towards the end of the Neolithic period.

These earliest potential reference to Sumerian and Egyptian communication is the record of a mass immigration of people called the 'Shepherd Folk' into Egypt from 'The East' at around the same time as the decline of the Sumerian Empire and the simultaneous rise of the Egyptian Dynasties. (c. 3,000 B.C.)

The pre-dynastic Pharaohs of Egypt were Sumerians from about 2780 B.C.[5]. At the time of Sargon (Sargon the Great) Egypt was referred to as Mizir or Dilmun and his tomb (as a predynastic Pharaoh) was found at the royal tombs at Abydos (in Egypt today).

Egyptian hieroglyphs are a slightly modified conventional form of the Sumerian diagrammatic picture-writing which came into use during the rule of Menes and the 1st dynasty pharaohs; they have the same phonetic values as their parent picture-signs in the Sumerian.

Menes (Manj of Egyptian legend) (Manis of Mesopotamia) (Min or Minos of Greek legend) erected Egypt into an independent kingdom and preserved its independence within the Mesopotamian empire when he succeeded to the throne after his father's death; Menes was the prince of Sumeria and governor of the Sumerian Indus Valley. Menes annexed and civilized Crete and extended his rule to the Pillars of Hercules and Britain.

Menes was the son of Sargon (who had a Queen named Lady Ash), or "Sargon the Great" of ancient Mesopotamia and Menes and his dynasty referred to themselves as "Gut"(Goth) (in Indus Valley seals) and "Bar" or "Par"(Pharaoh) (as referred to in Egyptian records).

Menes' Egyptian inscriptions were written in Sumerian script (not the later conventionalized hieroglyphs) and deciphered to match Menes' Mesopotamian and Elam records as well as his official seals in the Indus Valley (where he was a Sumerian governor there until he revolted against his father (Sargon) and annexed Egypt). Menes had a son named Narmar or Naram (Naram Enzu) whom he sent to the Indus colony of Edin as a viceroy.

 (More on this subject)


 

 'Buckets', 'Corn' and the 'Tree of Life'.

A common Mesopotamian theme, found on many seals, and works of art is the appearance of what appears to be an image of the 'Tree of Life/knowledge' being harvested (or watered), by 'Winged people' or occasionally by 'Fish-people' as the cylinder seal below shows.

The 'Enuma Elish' epic of creation, describes the 'Half fish God' Eanna coming from the water following the 'great deluge' to bring knowledge to the Sumerians.

  

The Sumerian image of the 'tree of life/knowledge' is reminiscent of the later images of Greek 'Omphalos' or woven 'Navel Stones' - which in turn originated From Thebes in Egypt).

 

The eagle-headed winged protective spirit 'Djinn' shown here is known as an “Apkallu” spirit.

Although it is commonly suggested that these figures are 'watering' the 'tree of life' , the following images suggest otherwise.

In these images the 'cob' is not 'watering' the 'tree of life'.. suggesting it is being 'harvested' instead. 

This depiction is from Khorsabad, 8th century BC.

Although the character in the image changes from one image to another, an artistic significance is maintained over certain specific features such as the bucket, the wristband and the 'cob'.

 

Cob or Pineal Gland.

It has been suggested that the 'cob' object could be a pine-cone. The pine-cone has a strong symbolism, being a reference to the 'Third-eye' or 'pineal-gland', so named because of its similarity in shape. The pine-cone is traditionally associated with immortality and knowledge. The Pineal gland is activated by Light, and it controls the various biorhythms of the body. It works in harmony with the hypothalamus gland, which directs the body's thirst, hunger, sexual desire and the biological clock, that determines our aging process.

"E. A. Wallis Budge has noted that in some of the papyri illustrating the entrance of the souls of the dead into the judgment hall of Osiris the deceased person has a pine cone attached to the crown of his head. The Greek mystics also carried a symbolic staff, the upper end being in the form of a pine cone, which was called the thyrsus of Bacchus. In the human brain there is a tiny gland called the pineal body, which is the sacred eye of the ancients, and corresponds to the third eye of the Cyclops. " Manly P. Hall.

The Egyptian Staff of Osiris, dating back to approximately 1224 BC, depicts two intertwining serpents rising up to meet at a pinecone.

(Photo: Egyptian Museum, Turin, Italy)

Modern scholars and philosophers have noted the staff’s symbolic parallels to the Indian “Kundalini,” a spiritual energy in the body depicted as coiled serpents rising up from the base of the spine to the Third Eye (Pineal Gland) in the moment of enlightenment. Awakened Kundalini represents the merging and alignment of the Chakras, and is said to be the one and only way to attain the “Divine Wisdom” brining pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love.

In 1997, British Dr. Jennifer Luke extensively documented the Pineal Gland as the primary target for Fluoride accumulation in our bodies (5), where it calcifies the Pineal, inhibiting blood flow and “clogging” the basic functions of our Third Eye. By feeding the public Fluoride from birth, critics claim that our greater spiritual abilities are being dulled by chemically clouding our biological portal to spiritual awareness.

The Psychopharmacologist Rick Strassman believes the Third Eye/Pineal Gland to be the source of the psychedelic Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in our bodies
(6). Strassman has hypothesized that large amounts of DMT are released in our bodies during heightened states of spiritual consciousness, such as birth, death and near-death experiences -- or perhaps during the awakening of our Kundalini in a moment of Enlightenment.

Synthesized DMT, or plants containing DMT are often used as recreational psychedelics, or in shamanic ceremonies, such as the Ayahuasca ceremony originating in South America. DMT and/or Ayahuasca users often report intensely entheogenic experiences of spiritual awakening, contact with entities of supernatural or spiritual origin, and the dilation or compression of time.

(More about Drug-use in Prehistory)

 

The following image is from La Venta, Mexico, in which we see a person carrying a similar bucket.

While this may well be a coincidence, it is strongly suspected that the 'Olmec' culture at La Venta was a multicultural colony from around 1,200 BC onwards. Several large Negroid heads were carved there between 700 and 800 BC, suggesting an African presence there at this time and there are several real-life depictions of people with oriental features.

(More about the Olmecs)

These images are from India. They also appear to show images of 'Maize' or 'Corn', as the pattern does not twist around the object in the way Pine cones do.

(More about Ancient India)

 

(The Baghdad Batteries)

(Indus Valley Civilisation)

(The Vinca Culture)

(Prehistoric Cross-culturality)

 
References:
 
1). Glyn Daniel. The First Civilisations. 1968. Pelican books.
2). http://history-world.org/sumeria.htm.
3). Crawford, Harriet (1991). Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge University Press. pp. 19. 
4). E. Douglas van Buren. The Seven Dots in Mesopotamian Art and Their Meaning. AfO 13 (1939-41), 227 ff.
5). http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/pineal/luke-1997.aspx
6). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Strassman
7). http://japanesemythology.wordpress.com/east-asian-native-american-hun-and-scythian-practices-artificial-deformation-of-the-skull/
8). John Marshall. Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilisation. 1931. Asian Educational Services.

 

 
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