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Mesopotamians…the Early Civilization. May 12, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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This is a portion from the book I am reading, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Stephen Bertman. I found it interesting enough to post here…you may find it boring beyond all reason. 🙂

Eshnunna

In the middle of Mesopotamia on the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, the city of Eshnunna prospered during the third and second millennia B.C.E. Today its deserted remains lie about 48 miles northeast of modern Baghdad.

The excavations of Eshnunna were carried out in the 1930’s under the auspices of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The expedition was led by Henri Franfort.

The major discovery was that of a temple, possibly dedicated to Abu, a god of vegetation. Buried in its floor was a cache of gypsum figurines, representing how the Sumerians saw themselves when in the presence of a god. With large round eyes wide open, they stand attentively, their hands clasped over their chests. The statues may have functioned as votive figurines or miniature sculptural surrogates for actual worshipers, which by their eternal presence in the temple would sumbolize the perpetual piety of the Sumerian men and women they portrayed. The largest statue, some 30 inches tall, may in fact represent the god Abu himself, and another his divine wife, though this is by no means certain.

In another temple lay pottery vessels decorated with images of serpents. These vessels may have once held real serpents that figured in ritual.

Other discoveries at Eshnunna include a horde of artifacts of silver and lapis lazuli buried under the floor of a palace (to safeguard them from vandals?). Elsewhere seal-stones were found that suggest trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley: the seals are carved in the Indian style and depict elephants and other animals like the crocodile and rhinoceros, not native to Iraq.

Less exotic but no less illuminating are some small children’s toys that remind us that the ancient Mesopotamians were not artifacts in a museum but human like ourselves. in the streets of Eshnunna 5,000 years ago the sound of children playing could be heard.

Bertman, Stephan (2003) Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Geography of Mesopotamia. Page 20, paragraph 4.

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