The Deep

Discussion of Ancient Mesopotamia

Questions from a longtime lurker
Completely stolen from epilogia.  Awesom
Name or Nickname: Phinnie
Age: 24
Occupation: I'm currently in IT but will be graduating next year and moving on to grad school (finally!).
How did you first form an interest in ancient Mesopotamia?: I've always been intrigued by the concept of "what happened before", whether it was regarding historical geography or cultural developments. I became fascinated by aspects of Biblical history as a kid when I realized that the stuff they taught at church could be related back to actual, tangible places and before long I was completely lost to the intrigues of the ancient world. True bliss came the first time I took a history of civilizations course that actually delved into what came before Greece! Soon after, I discovered a copy of Dr. Kramer's "39 Firsts" and was hooked on Sumerology.
Which culture from ancient Mesopotamia is your personal favorite?: Most definitely Sumer, though I've an interest in just about all of them.
Can you read cuneiform?: Sadly, no. Not yet.

I'm a current undergrad who will be graduating next year with a degree in Religious Studies. I'm looking forward to grad school, but I was hoping that some of you might be able to offer some advice. You see, I'm particularly interested in attending a school that would allow a duel program to study both the current and ancient Near East, but from what I've seen online, very few seem to have any sort of rigorous course offerings to ancient studies and those that do don't seem inclined to allow a concurrent course of study.

My question to you all is, do any of you know of universities that would allow this? Likewise, if you've any recommendations to make, I'd be more than grateful to hear them.

Thanks again!

Hey Abzu:

Ive noted with interest the recent presence of several philologically inclined persons on this board, perhaps an ANE student or two? I commend your learning..
As my introduction of sorts was covered elsewhere, In this message Id like to extend an invitation to survey "Enenuru", an initiative to explore the range of Mesopotamian obscurity, with particular attention to the incantation and ritual of the Mesopotamian magic system. As a discussion board with a closed membership, narrow focus, and capacity to sustain topics for weeks and months, I believe we will explore things with an academic aptitude not often seen on the web.
The board currently consists of a small number of what Id like to term 'determined independent researchers,' and a growing number of ANE students, 'guests of honor.' Discussion here is focused on the findings of key ANE publications and periodicals, for this reason I would describe a scholarly bias at Enenuru. Hence besides ANE 'insiders', any with a demonstrable zeal for this knowledge base would be extremely welcome. Here are some current board areas and example topics that have been started:

The "Mesopotamian magic" area.
Current example topics - UrIII Incantations: This thread aims to collect translations and transliterations of the UrIII incantations catalogued (but not given in full) on pg.96 of G. Cunningham's 1997 work (Deliver Me From Evil: Mesopotamian Incantations 2500-1500) and will address also Gellers 2003 "UrIII Incantations from the Frau Professor Hilprecht collection." These collected translations together would be a rare sight, would allow consideration of the ritual instructions given in Marduk/Ea type incantations, and may in addition shed light on the ceremony preserved in Mesopotamia's oldest ritual tablet [CBS 8241].
- Sumerian Incantation Catalogue: Almost self explanatory (primary publications reference's, cdli numbers, latest editions etc.)
- Pool the resources: A Mesopotamian magic bibliography growing by the day

Some further topics to begin in the near future might be examinations of Krebernik's Early Dynastic incantations (the oldest incantations in the world), a search for modern publications of R.C Thompson's treatment of the Utukku Limnuti series (1903), and a look at witchcraft via Abusch's work among many other topics.

The "Mesopotamian Discussion Board" .
Current example topics - Taboo in Mesopotamia
- The Sisig Thread: Sophisticating an understanding of this rare and difficult deity
- The Living Soul in Sumer
- Vampire thread: Separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak on an occult topic
- From Fingers to Forks: To assist with typographical correctness, and other posting conventions.

Examples of further topics to come might include social-political changes and chronology of the Early Dynastic period, Royal inscriptions, Notes on the Eridu circle etc.

There is also the "Bibliographical Queries/Study Topic Suggestions/Running Lists" area and the more open "General Board" area. Altogether, I hope a shared love of ANE exploration, will allow members to successfully discuss these informations even in the face of some particularly pressing obstacles.

For interested persons, the current guest login/pw (periodically changed) is:
login: Zaqiqu
password: passingthrough


If in your surveying you should be inclined to stay and post, Id ask that this not be done with the guest login.
Please send comments/suggestions/orientation requests to
Thank you.

Sorry I forgot to do this first.

Name or Nickname:

Age: 37

Occupation: Adjunct Faculty in Religion and Literature at two Boston area colleges. Emergening writer.

How did you first form an interest in ancient Mesopotamia?: I first became interested as a child when I would visit the Yale Art Museum and they had some large art pieces up on the walls. I thought the large stone tablets were just the holiest and most amazing thing I had ever seen. Over the years, from time to time I was drawn to it little bit, but it wasn't until I was 27 and started to go to college that I became increasingly interested. When I went to grad school and got my masters (Yale) I got really caught up in the study but the school wouldn't let me change programs (I was doing Religion and Literature) into Hebrew Bible or Assyriology. Since leaving my more academic studies behind (from yale I went to Boston University to study Religion and Literature but dropped out 2 years into the program to pursuit an MFA in Creative Writing (which is where I am now) I had hoped I would have time to become a lay-scholar. Plus, religiously, the idea of these religions really turns me on, and several times I have thought about being a modern day Mesopotamian Pagan. Recently I have decided to follow this path, most likely concentrating on Sumeria.

Which culture from ancient Mesopotamia is your personal favorite?: I am REALLY into the Goddesses of the Ancient Near East so that is where my loyalty and interest is greatest. When I took classes at Yale in the history of the ANE I was really interested in Assyria for the longest time, but lately, like the last year, it has been Sumeria that is grabbing my attention.

Can you read cuneiform?: Not Yet.

Learning Sumerian
The Kiln

Greetings Everyone!

I have decided that I want to learn how to read Sumerian. But I am unsure of where to start. I have some real newbie (please allow me to ask a few "dumb" questions) questions that I was hoping someone could answer.

1. Is learning Sumerian the same as learning Akkadian or even Cuneiform? What would be the differences? How do I avoid confusing myself while I am learning?
2. I will be learning on my own (my language background is that I read German, Old English, and Old Norse. I had a few weeks of Hebrew but that is all) and so I need your recommendations on books or possible audio/visual (are there audio recordings of people speaking the language?) materials that you would recommend. Don't worry about price, just how good it is.
3. What on-line sources would you recommend as a learning aid?

Thank You for all your help! This looks like a great community to be a part of.


An Introduction and Learning Cuneiform
Hello. I'm new to the community. (And I was chuffed, by the way, completely chuffed, to find a community that would feed my obsession hobby for ancient Mesopotamia.) I'm Jesse, 23. I'm a writer and lecturer (ie, I teach - Literature and Creative Writing).

My interest in ancient Mesopotamia began when my freshman year roommate gave me her used copy of The Epic of Gilgamesh that she read for a class. I fell in love with the story and from there have taken up ancient Mesopotamian texts, culture, and mythology.

I have a soft spot for Assyria.

I do not know cuneiform, which is the main reason I'm posting. I want to learn cuneiform. What are some good grammar books and dictionaries available for people learn forms of cuneiform? I don't have a preference - Akkadian, Assyrian, etc - I just need a good beginner's guide to a cuneiform script/language - for anyone who has just started learning and knows nothing about the script and the grammar.

Also, I need cheap books - think 10 - 20 USD. I am enrolling in a graduate program in the fall and the money is tight.

Thanks for your help in advance. :)

Some questions regarding Post-Ur III to Old Babylonian developements
I've been teaching myself some ancient Mesopotamian history, but the sources that I'm using (mainly, van de Mieroop's A History of the Ancient Near-East ca. 3000-323 BC and some translations of selections from Charpin) are a bit unclear. Perhaps some of you diligent Assyriologists can answer my questions, or atleast direct me to sources.

1. "Privatization" and the developement of currency (?). Mention is made of a growing class of entreperneurs and independent contractors that the state hires to carry out the functions of the state, who also own large plots of land and businesses, and (apparently) do not owe any political allegiance to a particular state (really?). A combination of their dominance and strength, and unfortunate circumstances of tenants, labourers and peasants, has lead to large sections of society becoming greatly indebted and requiring large-scale high-interest loans. But van de Mieroop is a unclear here about what exactly is being loaned out: he mentions payments of "silver" and grain, but there is no mention of currency per se. More mention is made of selling products for "silver" and complex means of storing it, but, again, absolutely no direct discussion of the development of currency, or what the role this "silver" plays in transactions, is made. Is this "silver" used as currency, or is it simply a precious commodity with a stable, convertable value, like salt in the medieval to early modern context?

Also, what kinds of social and political power did these loansharks and entreperneurs have? Could they repossess property, dispose rulers, ie, how did they influence the political scene? The fact that a few rulers actually annulled all debts implies an uneasy relationship between private ownership and the ruler-- but when do these forces adjust to or gain common ground with one another? It's true that all states throughout history face similiar problems, but what I mean is, when does loyalty and cooperation with the state become a kind of demanded prerequisite of these private businesses/families?

2. Politicial violence, and "annexation". Especially after discussing the indecisiveness of the use of violence (ie., warfare) in the Umma-Lagash border conflict, van de Mieroop later takes for granted the use of warfare and these incredibly vague terms like "annexation" and "conquest" without further qualification in the political context. No doubt the whole fiasco with the take-over states by internal military strongmen, the conquests of the Akkadian empire, the Gutians, the Amorites, and the hegemony of Ur III would imply this development, but especially in the light of the indecisiveness of warfare in the Umma-Lagash conflict, van de Mieroop's simply lacks an account of the development of warfare in the formation of international politics, eg, the contribution of warfare to political legitimacy and cohesion, conventional pan-Mesopotamian understandings of the implication of victory in battle, deterents to warfare, and the like.

"Annexation" and "expansion", too, is vague and not given any elaboration. Especially in the fragmentation that followed the collapse of Ur III (and titular Ur III in Isin) in southern Mesopotamia, what does the expansion of states like Larsa, Isin, Uruk, Babylon, etc., entail? Are these expanding cities basically leaders of leagues and alliance-groupings of cities, or are these cities subjugated in the sense of paying taxes directly to a capital, giving up autonomy, legal appeal to the central monarch, troop levies done at the request of the central authority, etc.? What about Shamshi-Adad's Upper Mesopotamian "empire"? I understand that he replaced some local rulers with his own sons, and was quite militarily and territorially expansive, but just how politically cohesive are these early territorial states in the Old Babylonian period and prior?

Persian and Hellenistic Mesopotamia
I hope this isn't outside the bounds of this community: looking for some introductory works focusing particularly on Mesopotamia during the Median, Persian, Hellenistic and early Parthian periods. Suggestions?

Hello everyone...
I have one question. 
I am looking for meaning of word :sesharim - may be it's only transcription.
May be anyone know what it means?

(no subject)
Hi :)
I'm looking for the literature about magic, witchcraft, divination and omens in ancient Mesopotamia...
Couldn't you advice what authors I had to looking for?


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