Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Caucasian music and dance

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 22, 2014

caucasus.gif

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat

Yerevan/Ararat

-

Beautiful Caucasus Mountains

-

x

-

-

-

Music of Armenia

Armenian dance

-

Chechenian dance

-

Ingush Folk Dance

-

Circassian Dance

-

Dagestanian dance 

-

-

Music of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani dances

-

-

Music of Turkey

Turkish dance

-

Lezginka dance

-

-

-

Music of Georgia

Georgian dance

-

-

Music of Russia

Ethnic Russian music

Russian dance

 

Genocide – defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation, seems almost unfathomable in our modern world.  When people hear this word, most often, they think of Nazi Germany and the mass extinction of Jew’s throughout Eastern Europe during the 1930’s and 40’s.  Though this is the most well known mass genocide in history, unfortunately, this is NOT the only mass destruction of a people that has taken place.

It’s time we make our voices heard so that we can help the millions of voiceless individuals who are unable to help themselves. We have to vowe NEVER AGAIN, start to build awareness and spread knowledge of the atrocities that have, and are currently taking place. We have to stand united to spread the words for those who can no longer speak.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The origin of democracy and the city states

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 21, 2014

File:Clay cone Urukagina Louvre AO4598ab.jpg

Fragment of an inscription of Urukagina

Urukagina

Gudea

Gudea

500px-Ama-gi.svg.png

AMA-GI (the first written reference to the concept of liberty and freedom)

Cuneiform law refers to any of the legal codes written in cuneiform script, that were developed and used throughout the ancient Middle East among the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Hurrians, Kassites, and Hittites. The legal code was a common feature of the legal systems of the ancient Middle East. The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100-2050 BC), then the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), are amongst the earliest and best preserved legal codes, originating in the Fertile Crescent. The Code of Hammurabi is the most well-known of the cuneiform laws, but there were a number of precursor laws.

Although they were written in several different cities and kingdoms, these early laws have a number of formulae in common. Most contain both an epilogue and a prologue, which usually explain the purpose of composing the laws, invoke divine authority, and command the reader to abide by them. They are always imposed or ‘enacted’ in the name of a ruler, be it a prince or king, and show no sign of being the result of legislative bodies.

While many of these codes are only partially known, they nevertheless paint a fairly clear picture that enables us to learn what issues pertaining to rules were considered significant by the societies they governed in the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st millennia BC.

Unlike modern codes, Cuneiform law provides no universal formula for general areas of law. Rather, laws typically consist of specific “if… then…” cases that are meant to act as an example or precedent.

Punishments for crimes vary from code to code, but not all prescribe vengeance. Some call only for fines in certain instances, such as in the Code of Ur-Nammu, where one line reads: “If a man knocks out the eye of another man, he shall weigh out one-half a mina of silver.”

These cases are sometimes arranged in a seemingly random order, though this may be the result of an inability to properly interpret them today as they would have been at the time they were in force.

Cuneiform law is generally classified separately from later Middle Eastern law, but has been viewed as a predecessor of Biblical and Jewish law. The communities of the Middle East that made use of cuneiform law were generally all in contact with one another, and developed similar cultures. Akkadian, a cuneiform language, was used throughout the entire area, and even as far as Egypt, for diplomatic communications during the Amarna Period.

Urukagina

Urukagina (reigned ca. 24th century BC?, short chronology) was a ruler (énsi) of the city-state Lagash in Mesopotamia. He assumed the title of king, claiming to have been divinely appointed, upon the downfall of his corrupt predecessor, Lugalanda,  the son of the high priest of Lagash, who appointed him as king.

At this time the high priests of Lagash were very influential, and either occupied the throne, or decided who should. The priests, especially the high priests, remained very influential during Lugalanda’s reign.

All documents mentioning the reign of Lugalanda describe him as a wealthy and corrupt king. They say his reign was a time of great corruption and injustice against the weak. Inscriptions state that the king confiscated approximately 650 Morgen (up to 650 hectares) of land. He was overthrown by Urukagina after nine years in power.

Urukagina is best known for his reforms to combat corruption, which are sometimes cited as the first known example of a legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful in recorded history. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process in the history of humanity.

In this important code is found the first written reference to the concept of liberty and freedom (AMA-GI or amargi, literally, “return to the mother”), used in reference to the process of reform. The exact nature of this term is not clear, but the idea that the reforms were to be a return to the original social order decreed by the gods fits well with the translation.

The symbol appeared twice during the Sumerian civilization. In one instance, it referred to people who were freed from debt slavery. The early Sumerian monarchs used indebtedness to taxes to enslave people in service to the king. The amagi literally translates to “return to mother” meaning that when someone was freed from slavery, he would return to his family and mother.

Urukagina’s code has been widely hailed as the first recorded example of government reform, seeking to achieve a higher level of freedom and equality. It limited the power of the priesthood and large property owners, and took measures against usury, burdensome controls, hunger, theft, murder, and seizure (of people’s property and persons); as he states, “The widow and the orphan were no longer at the mercy of the powerful man”.

Although the actual text has not been discovered, much of its content may be surmised from other references to it that have been found. In it, he exempted widows and orphans from taxes; compelled the city to pay funeral expenses (including the ritual food and drink libations for the journey of the dead into the lower world); and decreed that the rich must use silver when purchasing from the poor, and if the poor does not wish to sell, the powerful man (the rich man or the priest) cannot force him to do so.

However, his laws were otherwise typically brutal for Mesopotamia, including the stoning of women for having multiple husbands. Despite these apparent attempts to curb the excesses of the elite class, it seems elite or royal women enjoyed even greater influence and prestige in his reign than previously.

Urukagina greatly expanded the royal “Household of Women” from about 50 persons to about 1500 persons, renamed it the “Household of goddess Bau”, gave it ownership of vast amounts of land confiscated from the former priesthood, and placed it under the supervision of his wife, Shasha (or Shagshag).

In his second year of reign, Shasha presided over the lavish funeral of his predecessor’s queen, Baranamtarra, who had been an important personage in her own right.

In addition to such changes, two of his other surviving decrees, first published and translated by Samuel Kramer in 1964, have attracted controversy in recent decades. First, he seems to have abolished the former custom of polyandry, a form of polygamy whereby a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time, in his country, on pain of the woman taking multiple husbands being stoned with rocks upon which her crime is written.

Second is a statute stating that “if a woman says [text illegible...] to a man, her mouth is crushed with burnt bricks.” No comparable laws from Urukagina addressing penalties for adultery by men have survived. The discovery of these fragments has led some modern critics to assert that they provide “the first written evidence of the degradation of women”.

Gudea was a ruler (ensi) of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia who ruled ca. 2144 – 2124 BC. The social reforms instituted during Gudea’s rulership, which included the cancellation of debts and allowing women to own family land, may have been honest reform or a return to old Lagašite custom.

Ur-Nammu

Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, ca. 2047-2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian 3rd dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following several centuries of Akkadian and Gutian rule.

Year-names are known for 17 of Ur-Nammu’s 18 years, but their order is uncertain. One year-name of his reign records the devastation of Gutium, while two years seem to commemorate his legal reforms: “Year in which Ur-Nammu the king put in order the ways (of the people in the country) from below to above”, and “Year Ur-Nammu made justice in the land”.

He was known for restoring the roads and general order after the Gutian period. He was succeeded by his son Shulgi, after an eighteen-year reign. His death on the battle-field against the Gutians (after he had been abandoned by his army) was commemorated in a long Sumerian poetic composition.

His main achievement was state-building, and Ur-Nammu is chiefly remembered today for his legal code, the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known surviving example in the world.

The Code of Ur-Nammu, found in two fragments at Nippur, is the oldest known law code surviving today. It is from Mesopotamia and is written on tablets, in the Sumerian language c. 2100–2050 BC. It is today held at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

Although the preface directly credits the laws to king Ur-Nammu of Ur, the actual author who had the laws written down onto cuneiform tablets is still somewhat under dispute. Some scholars have attributed it to Ur-Nammu’s son Shulgi.

Although it is known that earlier law-codes existed, such as the Code of Urukagina, this represents the earliest extant legal text. It is three centuries older than the Code of Hammurabi.

The laws are arranged in casuistic form of IF (crime) THEN (punishment) – a pattern followed in nearly all later codes. For the oldest extant law-code known to history, it is considered remarkably advanced, because it institutes fines of monetary compensation for bodily damage, as opposed to the later lex talionis (‘eye for an eye’) principle of Babylonian law; however, murder, robbery, adultery and rape were capital offenses.

The code reveals a glimpse at societal structure during the “Sumerian Renaissance”. Beneath the lugal (“great man” or king), all members of society belonged to one of two basic strata: The “lu” or free person, or the slave (male, arad; female geme).

The son of a lu was called a dumu-nita until he married, becoming a “young man” (gurus). A woman (munus) went from being a daughter (dumu-mi), to a wife (dam), then if she outlived her husband, a widow (nu-ma-su), who could remarry.

Legal Code

Cuneiform law

List of ancient legal codes

 

Code of Ur-Nammu

Code of Hammurabi

Gudea, Urukagina, and the Mesopotamian Origin of the Concept of Liberty

Democracy

Democracy commonly refers to a type of political system in which the people or their representatives lawfully govern themselves, rather than being governed, say, by a military dictatorship, totalitarian party or monarch.

Athens is regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy. Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the central city-state of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 508 BC. Athens is one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, and even though most followed an Athenian model, none were as powerful, stable, nor as well-documented as that of Athens.

In recent decades, democracy in this sense has enjoyed unprecedented popularity. Democracy has become one of those English words – along with computer and OK – familiar to many millions of people around the world.

Democratic values and institutions are never set in stone; even the meaning of democracy changes through time. During its first historical phase, which began in ancient Mesopotamia (2500 BC) and stretched through classical Greece and Rome to the rise and maturation of Islamic civilization around 950 CE, democracy was associated with the creation and diffusion of public assemblies.

During these centuries, nobody knows who invented the term or exactly where and when the word ‘democracy’ was first used. It is commonly thought that it is of classical Greek origin, but new research shows that the feminine noun demokratia (meaning the rule of the people: from demos , ‘the people’, and kratein , ‘to rule’) has much older roots.

It is traceable to the Linear B script of the Mycenaean period, seven to ten centuries earlier, to the late Bronze Age civilization (1500-1200 BC) that was centred on Mycenae and other urban settlements of the Peloponnese.

Exactly how and when the Mycenaeans invented terms like damos (a group of people who hold land in common) and damokoi (an official linked to the damos) is unclear, but it is probable that the family of terms we use today when speaking of democracy have Eastern origins, for instance in the ancient Sumerian references to the dumu, the ‘inhabitants’ or ‘sons’ or ‘children’ of a geographic place.

The uncertainty surrounding the origins of the language of democracy is tempered by the discovery by contemporary archaeologists that the practice of self-governing assemblies is not a Greek invention.

The custom of popular self-government was born of the ‘East’, of peoples and lands that geographically correspond to contemporary Iraq and Iran. Assemblies were later transplanted eastwards, towards the Indian sub-continent; they travelled westwards as well, first to city states like Byblos and Sidon, then to Athens, where during the fifth century BC they were claimed as something unique to the West, as a sign of its superiority over the ‘barbarism’ of the East.

Dumuzid, “child, son” 

Dumuzid or Dumuzi (Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” (daughter – dumu-mi), + Zi(d), “faithful, true”), called “the Shepherd”, from Bad-tibira, “Wall of the Copper Worker(s)”, or “Fortress of the Smiths”, identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah and Tell as-Senkereh (ancient Larsa) in southern Iraq, was, according to the Sumerian King List, the fifth predynastic king in the legendary period before the Deluge. The list further states that Dumuzid ruled for 36,000 years.

According to the Sumerian King List, Bad-tibira, an ancient Sumerian city, which appears among antediluvian cities in the Sumerian King List, was the second city to “exercise kingship” in Sumer before the flood, following Eridu. These kings were said to be En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana and Dumuzid the Shepherd.

Its Akkadian name was Dûr-gurgurri. It was also called (Pantibiblos) by Greek authors such as Abydenus, Apollodorus of Athens and Berossus. This may reflect another version of the city’s name, Patibira, “Canal of the Smiths”.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, William Wolfgang Hallo associates Dumuzid the Shepherd with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) An-Enlilda, and suggests an equivalence between Dumuzid and Enoch in the Sethite Genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.

“Dumuzid the Shepherd” is also the subject of a series of epic poems in Sumerian literature. However, in these tablets he is associated not with Bad-tibira, but with Uruk, where a namesake, Dumuzid the Fisherman, was king sometime after the Flood, in between Lugalbanda “the Shepherd” and Gilgamesh.

Dumuzid “the Fisherman”, originally from Kuara in Sumer, considered the birthplace of the god Marduk (Asarluhi), Enki’s son, was the 3rd king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor, according to the Sumerian king list.

In Tablet 6 of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh rebuffs Ishtar (Inanna), reminding her that she had struck Tammuz (Dumuzid), “the lover of [her] youth”, decreeing that he should “keep weeping year after year”.

The early Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld mentions the city’s temple, E-mush-kalamma. In this tale, Inanna dissuades demons from the netherworld from taking Lulal, the younger son of Inanna and patron of Bad-tibira, who was living in squalor. They eventually take Dumuzid king of Uruk instead, who lived in palatial opulence. This Dumuzid is called “the Shepherd”, but on the King List it is Dumuzid, the Fisherman.

The E.muš-kalamma, main temple of Bad-tibira, originally dedicated to Dumuzi when it was built, was later re-dedicated to Lulal when Inanna appointed him god of the city.

Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla”, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.

A number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inanna and Dumuzid the shepherd. A text recovered in 1963 recounts “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” in terms that are tender and frankly erotic.

According to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, represented in parallel Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, Inanna (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) set off for the netherworld, or Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal, perhaps to take it as her own.

Ereshkigal is in mourning at the death of her consort, Gugalanna (The Wild Bull of Heaven Sumerian Gu = Bull, Gal = Great, An = Heaven). She passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when she had passed through the seventh gate she was a simple woman, entirely naked.

Despite warnings about her presumption, she did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal’s throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and she became a corpse, hung up on a meathook.

Based on the incomplete texts as first found, it was assumed that Ishtar/Inanna’s descent into Kur occurred after the death of Tammuz/Dumuzid rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid.

This is the familiar form of the myth as it appeared in M. Jastrow’s Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World, 1915, widely available on the Internet. New texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion, showing that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release.

Inanna’s faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea’s plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts, but in the end, Inanna/Ishtar was resurrected.

However, a “conservation of souls” law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz richly dressed and on her throne.

Inanna/Ishtar immediately set her accompanying demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz’ sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.

There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid’s sister who is there named Geshtinana, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.

In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has two close calls until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inanna repents.

Inanna seeks vengeance on Bilulu, on Bilulu’s murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire’s consort Shirru “of the haunted desert, no-one’s child and no-one’s friend”. Inanna changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.

Finally, Inanna relents and changes her decree thereby restoring her husband Dumuzi to life; an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid’s place in Kur for six months of the year: “You (Dumuzi), half the year. Your sister (Geštinanna), half the year!”

This newly recovered final line upset Samuel Noah Kramer’s former interpretation, as he allowed: “my conclusion that Dumuzi dies and “stays dead” forever (cf e.g. Mythologies of the Ancient World p. 10) was quite erroneous: Dumuzi according to the Sumerian mythographers rises from the dead annually and, after staying on earth for half the year, descends to the Nether World for the other half”.

Later poems and hymns of praise to Dumuzid indicate that he was later considered a deity, a precursor of the Babylonian god Tammuz (Transliterated Hebrew: Tammuz, Tiberian Hebrew: Tammûz; Arabic: Tammūz; Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Tamuzi also is Dumuzid or Dumuzi.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. Locations associated in antiquity with the site of his death include both Harran and Byblos, among others.

A Sumerian tablet from Nippur (Ni 4486) reads: She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid, the lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert — she can make it reach the house Arali; she can make it reach Bad-tibira; she can make it reach Dul-šuba; she can make it reach the shepherding country, the sheepfold of Dumuzid

“O Dumuzid of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully, “O you of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully. “Lad, husband, lord, sweet as the date, [...] O Dumuzid!” she sobs, she sobs tearfully.

These mourning ceremonies were observed at the door of the Temple in Jerusalem in a vision the Israelite prophet Ezekiel was given, which serves as a Biblical prophecy which expresses YHWH’s message at His people’s apostate worship of idols:

“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto to me, ‘Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.” – Ezekiel 8:14-15.

According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The Church Father Jerome, who died in Bethlehem in 420, reports in addition that the holy cave was at one point consecrated by the heathen to the worship of Adonis, and a pleasant sacred grove planted before it, to wipe out the memory of Jesus.

Some modern mythologists, however, reverse the supposition, insisting that the cult of Adonis-Tammuz originated the shrine and that it was the Christians who took it over, substituting the worship of their own God.

Tammuz is the month of July in Iraqi Arabic and Levantine Arabic, and references to Tammuz appear in Arabic literature from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. In a translation of an ancient Nabataean text by Kuthami the Babylonian, Ibn Wahshiyya (c. 9th-10th century AD), adds information on his own efforts to ascertain the identity of Tammuz, and his discovery of the full details of the legend of Tammuz in another Nabataean book:

“How he summoned the king to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve (signs) and how the king put him to death several times in a cruel manner Tammuz coming to life again after each time, until at last he died; and behold! it was identical to the legend of St. George which is current among the Christians.”

Ibn Wahshiyya also adds that Tammuz lived in Babylonia before the coming of the Chaldeans and belonged to an ancient Mesopotamian tribe called Ganbân. On rituals related to Tammuz in his time, he adds that the Sabaeans in Harran and Babylonia still lamented the loss of Tammuz every July, but that the origin of the worship had been lost.

Al-Nadim in his 10th century work Kitab al-Fehrest drawing from a work on Syriac calendar feast days, describes a Tâ’ûz festival that took place in the middle of the month of Tammuz. Women bewailed the death of Tammuz at the hands of his master who was said to have “ground his bones in a mill and scattered them to the wind.”

Consequently, women would forgo the eating of ground foods during the festival time. The same festival is mentioned in the 11th century by Ibn Athir as still taking place at the appointed time on the banks of the Tigris river.

Eridu

The ruins of Eridu in 2011

Re-creation of the port at Eridu

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eriduki; Akkadian: irîtu), also transliterated as Eridug, meaning “mighty place” or “guidance place”, an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq, was long considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia.

Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another. In Sumerian mythology, it was said to be one of the five cities built before the Deluge occurred.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu, in the Sumerian king list named as the city of the first kings, was originally the home of Enki, later known by the Akkadians as Ea, who was considered to have founded the city. His temple was called E-Abzu, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu, an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem.

The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer (Cuneiform: E2.ZU.AB; Sumerian: e-abzu; Akkadian: bītu apsû), which in later history was called House of the Waters (Cuneiform: E.LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: e-engur; Akkadian: bītu engurru). The name refers to Enki’s realm. His consort Ninhursanga had a nearby temple at Ubaid. During the Ur III period a ziggurat was built over the remains of previous temples by Ur-Nammu.

According to the king list Alulim, the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List, became king in Eridu; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”. Shea, however, suggests that Alulim may be the same man as the biblical Adam.

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country. Adapa U-an, elsewhere called the first man, was a half-god, half-man culture hero, called by the title Abgallu (ab=water, gal=big, lu=man) of Eridu. He was considered to have brought civilization to the city from Dilmun (probably Bahrain), and he served Alulim.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was the home of the Abzu temple of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the Akkadian water-god Ea. Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the waters that surrounded the World and lay below it (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).

The stories of Inanna, goddess of Uruk, describe how she had to go to Eridu in order to receive the gifts of civilization. At first Enki, the god of Eridu attempted to retrieve these sources of his power, but later willingly accepted that Uruk now was the centre of the land. This seems to be a mythical reference to the transfer of power northward, mentioned above.

Babylonian texts also talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

Eridu appears to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation.

According to Gwendolyn Leick, Eridu was formed at the confluence of three separate ecosystems, supporting three distinct lifestyles that came to an agreement about access to fresh water in a desert environment.

The oldest agrarian settlement seems to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture to the north, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings.

The fisher-hunter cultures of the Arabian littoral were responsible for the extensive middens along the Arabian shoreline, and may have been the original Sumerians. They seem to have dwelt in reed huts.

The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic Semitic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas.

All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

Kate Fielden reports “The earliest village settlement (c.5000 BC) had grown into a substantial city of mudbrick and reed houses by c.2900 BC, covering 8-10 ha (20-25 acres). Mallowan writes that by the Ubaid period, it was as an “unusually large city” of an area of approx. 20¬25 acres, with a population of “not less than 4000 souls”.

Jacobsen describes that “Eridu was for all practical purposes abandoned after the Ubaid period”, although it had recovered by Early Dynastic II as there was a Massive Early Dynastic II palace (100 m in each direction) partially excavated there. Ruth Whitehouse called it “a Major Early Dynastic City”.

By c.2050 BC the city had declined; there is little evidence of occupation after that date. Eighteen superimposed mudbrick temples at the site underlie the unfinished Ziggurat of Amar-Sin (c. 2047 – 2039 BC).

The finding of extensive deposits of fishbones associated with the earliest levels also shows a continuity of the Abzu cult associated later with Enki and Ea. This apparent continuity of occupation and religious observance at Eridu provide convincing evidence for the indigenous origin of Sumerian civilization.

Eridu was abandoned for long periods, before it was finally deserted and allowed to fall into ruin in the 6th century BC. The encroachment of neighbouring sand dunes, and the rise of a saline water table, set early limits to its agricultural base so in its later Neo-Babylonian development, Eridu was rebuilt as a purely temple site, in honour of its earliest history.

Tower of Babel

The Egyptologist David Rohl, has conjectured that Eridu, to the south of Ur, was the original Babel and site of the Tower of Babel, rather than the later city of Babylon. This because the ziggurat ruins of Eridu are far larger and older than any others, and seem to best match the Biblical description of the unfinished Tower of Babel

One name of Eridu in cuneiform logograms was pronounced “NUN.KI” (“the Mighty Place”) in Sumerian, but much later the same “NUN.KI” was understood to mean the city of Babylon. The much later Greek version of the King-list by Berossus (c. 200 BC) reads “Babylon” in place of “Eridu” in the earlier versions, as the name of the oldest city where “the kingship was lowered from Heaven”.

Rohl further equate Biblical Nimrod, said to have built Erech (Uruk) and Babel, with the name Enmerkar (-KAR meaning “hunter”) of the king-list and other legends, who is said to have built temples both in his capital of Uruk and in Eridu.

Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for “420 years” (some copies read “900 years”).

The king list adds that Enmerkar became king after his father Mesh-ki-ang-gasher, son of Utu, had “entered the sea and disappeared.”

Enmerkar is also known from a few other Sumerian legends, most notably Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, where a previous confusion of the languages of mankind is mentioned. In this account, it is Enmerkar himself who is called ‘the son of Utu’ (the Sumerian sun god).

Aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is said here to have had a temple built at Eridu, and is even credited with the invention of writing on clay tablets, for the purpose of threatening Aratta into submission. Enmerkar furthermore seeks to restore the disrupted linguistic unity of the inhabited regions around Uruk, listed as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad), and the Martu land.

Three other texts in the same series describe Enmerkar’s reign. In Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana, while describing Enmerkar’s continued diplomatic rivalries with Aratta, there is an allusion to Hamazi having been vanquished.

In Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, Enmerkar is seen leading a campaign against Aratta. The fourth and last tablet, Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird, describes Enmerkar’s year-long siege of Aratta. It also mentions that fifty years into Enmerkar’s reign, the Martu people had arisen in all of Sumer and Akkad, necessitating the building of a wall in the desert to protect Uruk.

In these last two tablets, the character of Lugalbanda is introduced as one of Enmerkar’s war chiefs. According to the Sumerian king list, it was this Lugalbanda “the shepherd” who eventually succeeded Enmerkar to the throne of Uruk. Lugalbanda is also named as the father of Gilgamesh, a later king of Uruk, in both Sumerian and Akkadian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

David Rohl has claimed parallels between Enmerkar, builder of Uruk, and Nimrod, ruler of biblical Erech (Uruk) and architect of the Tower of Babel in extra-biblical legends. One parallel Rohl noted is the description “Nimrod the Hunter”, and the -kar in Enmerkar also meaning “hunter”. Rohl has also suggested that Eridu near Ur is the original site of Babel, and that the incomplete ziggurat found there – by far the oldest and largest of its kind – is none other than the remnants of the Biblical tower.

In a legend related by Aelian (ca. AD 200), the king of Babylon, Euechoros or Seuechoros (also appearing in many variants as Sevekhoros, earlier Sacchoras, etc.), is said to be the grandfather of Gilgamos, who later becomes king of Babylon (i.e., Gilgamesh of Uruk).

Several recent scholars have suggested that this “Seuechoros” or “Euechoros” is moreover to be identified with Enmerkar of Uruk, as well as the Euechous named by Berossus as being the first king of Chaldea and Assyria. This last name Euechous (also appearing as Evechius, and in many other variants) has long been identified with Nimrod.

Other scholars have discussed at length a number of additional correspondences between the names of “Babylon” and “Eridu”. Historical tablets state that Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2300 BC) dug up the original “Babylon” and rebuilt it near Akkad, though some scholars suspect this may in fact refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II.

Aside from Enmerkar of Uruk (as mentioned in the Aratta epics), several later historical Sumerian kings are said in inscriptions found here to have worked on or renewed the e-abzu temple, including Elili of Ur; Ur-Nammu, Shulgi and Amar-Sin of Ur-III, and Nur-Adad of Larsa.

Greek City States

A city-state, in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, was an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece.

Historical examples includes:

Sumerian cities of Uruk and Ur

Ancient Egyptian city states, such as Thebes or Memphis

Phoenician cities, such as Tyre and Sidon

Berber city-states of the Garamantes

Ancient Greece, such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth

Roman Republic, which grew from a city-state into a great power

Maya, Aztecs, and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica 

(including cities such as Chichen Itza, Tikal, Monte Albán and Tenochtitlan)

Central Asian cities along the Silk Road

Venice; Ragusa and many others

Viking colonial cities in medieval Ireland, such as Dublin

Athens is regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy because the Athens were the first people to act out the government in a democratic way.

Ancient Greece, in its early period, was a loose collection of independent city states called polis, plural poleis, literally meaning both city and city-state in Greek. It can also mean citizenship and body of citizens.

In modern historiography, polis is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, and thus is often translated as “city-state”. The Greek term that specifically meant the totality of urban buildings and spaces is ásty.

The Ancient Greek city-state developed during the Archaic period as the ancestor of city, state, and citizenship and persisted (though with decreasing influence) well into Roman times, when the equivalent Latin word wascivitas, also meaning “citizenhood”, while municipium applied to a non-sovereign local entity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, many Italian cities (e.g., Florence, Genoa, Venice) were city-states until the 19th cent., as were such North German cities as Bremen and Hamburg.

The term “city-state”, which originated in English (alongside the German Stadtstaat), does not fully translate the Greek term. The poleis were not like other primordial ancient city-states like Tyre or Sidon, which were ruled by a king or a small oligarchy, but rather political entities ruled by their bodies of citizens.

The traditional view of archaeologists—that the appearance of urbanization at excavation sites could be read as a sufficient index for the development of a polis—was criticised by François Polignac in 1984 and has not been taken for granted in recent decades: the polis of Sparta, for example, was established in a network of villages.

The term polis, which in archaic Greece meant “city”, changed with the development of the governance center in the city to signify “state” (which included its surrounding villages). Finally, with the emergence of a notion of citizenship among landowners, it came to describe the entire body of citizens.

The ancient Greeks did not always refer to Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other poleis as such; they often spoke instead of the Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Thebans and so on. The body of citizens came to be the most important meaning of the term polis in ancient Greece.

Since the city-state was independent, different states—and the same state at different times—had a variety of governments, ranging from absolute monarchy to pure democracy. Many of these poleis were oligarchies.

A polis was independent of its neighbors and had political unity among its settlements. Together the members of these settlements made up a community of citizens comprising a political state, and it was this partnership among citizens that represented the distinctive political characteristic of the polis. Only men had the rights of political participation, but women still counted as citizens of the community legally, socially, and religiously.

Only citizens participated in the government of the city-state, and citizenship was limited to those born of citizen parents. In the classical era, a large proportion of the city-state’s population consisted of slaves. Participation by citizens in government was often limited by class distinctions.

The government usually consisted of an assembly and council; the former predominated in democracies, the latter in oligarchies. Although the various city-states combined into religious or military federations, most did not endure for long in Greece, leaving it open to foreign attack by large centralized states to which it eventually submitted.

The distinctiveness of citizenship as an organizing concept was that it assumed in theory certain basic levels of legal equality, essentially the expectation of equal treatment under the law, with the exception that different regulations could apply to women in certain areas of life such as acceptable sexual behavior and the control of property. But the general legal equality that the polis provided was not dependent on a citizen’s wealth.

Since pronounced social differentiation between rich and poor had characterized the history of the ancient Near East and Greece of the Mycenaean Age and had once again become common in Greece by the late Dark Age, it is remarkable that a notion of some sort of legal equality, no matter how incomplete it may have been in practice, came to serve as the basis for the reorganization of Greek society in the Archaic Age.

The polis based on citizenship remained the preeminent form of political and social organization in Greece from the time of its earliest appearance about 750 B.C. until the beginning of the Roman Empire eight centuries later. The other most common new form of political organization in Greece was the ethnos (“league” or “federation”), a flexible form of association over a broad territory which was sometimes composed of city-states.

From the beginning of Greek history to its climax in the 500-400 BC., the Greeks were organized into city-states, of which there were several hundred. The first Italian city-states were Greek colonies. Later Etruscan and native city-states emerged, including Rome.

Athens, regarded as the birthplace of democracy and it is considered an important reference point of democracy, emerged in the 7th century BC, like many other poleis, with a dominating powerful aristocracy. However, this domination led to exploitation, causing significant economic, political, and social problems. These problems were exacerbated early in the sixth century and as “the many were enslaved to few, the people rose against the notables”.

At the same period in the Greek world, many traditional aristocracies were disrupted by popular revolutions, like Sparta, the most prominent Greek oligarchy, and the state with which democratic Athens is most often and most fruitfully compared, in the second half of the 7th century BC.

Yet Sparta, in its rejection of private wealth as a primary social differentiator, was a peculiar kind of oligarchy and some scholars note its resemblance to democracy. Sparta’s constitutional reforms by Lycurgus introduced a hoplite state and showed how inherited governments can be changed and lead to military victory.

In Spartan government, the political power was divided between four bodies: two Spartan Kings (diarchy), gerousia (Council of Gerontes (Elders), including the two kings), the ephors (representatives who oversaw the Kings) and the apella (assembly of Spartans).

After a period of unrest between the rich and the poor, the Athenians of all classes turned to Solon to act as a mediator between rival factions, and reached a generally satisfactory solution to their problems.

Solon, an Athenian (Greek) of noble descent but moderate means, was a Lyric poet and later a lawmaker; Plutarch placed him as one of the Seven Sages of the ancient world. Solon attempted to satisfy all sides by alleviating the suffering of the poor majority without removing all the privileges of the rich minority.

Solon divided the Athenians into four property classes, with different rights and duties for each. As the Rhetra did in the Lycurgian Sparta, Solon formalized the composition and functions of the governmental bodies.

Now, all citizens were entitled to attend the Ecclesia (Assembly) and vote. Ecclesia became, in principle, the sovereign body, entitled to pass laws and decrees, elect officials, and hear appeals from the most important decisions of the courts.

All but those in the poorest group might serve, a year at a time, on a new Boule of 400, which was to prepare business for Ecclesia. The higher governmental posts, archons (magistrates), were reserved for citizens of the top two income groups.

The retired archons became members of the Areopagus (Council of the Hill of Ares), and like the Gerousia in Sparta, it was able to check improper actions of the newly powerful Ecclesia. Solon created a mixed timocratic and democratic system of institutions.

Overall, the reforms of the lawgiver Solon in 594 BC were devised to avert the political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens and gave Athens its first comprehensive code of law.

The constitutional reforms eliminated enslavement of Athenians by Athenians, established rules for legal redress against over-reaching aristocratic archons, and assigned political privileges on the basis of productive wealth rather than noble birth. Some of his reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.

By the 5th century BC, in Athens and scores of other Greek city states, democracy meant self-government through an assembly of equal male citizens who gathered in a marketplace or town district for the purpose of discussing some matter, putting different opinions to the vote and deciding, often by a majority of raised hands, what course of action was to be taken.

According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), democracy was self-government among equals, who rule and are ruled in turn. Democracy was the lawful rule of an assembly of male citizens – women, slaves and foreigners were normally excluded – whose sovereign power to decide things was no longer to be given over to imaginary gods, or an aristocracy, or to bloodthirsty tyrants.

In recent decades scholars have explored the possibility that advancements toward democratic government occurred somewhere else (i.e. other than Greece) first, as Greece developed its complex social and political institutions long after the appearance of the earliest civilizations in Egypt and the Near East.

The Greeks may have been influenced in the organization of the polis by their contacts with the Near East, where the city-monarchies of Cyprus and the states of Phoenicia, situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, provided possible precedents.

Sumerian city states

Ubaid culture (5000-4000 BC) originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

During the Ubaid Period the movement towards urbanization began. The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism.

Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility. Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

The Sumerian city-states rose to power during the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods. By the late 4th millennium BC, Sumer was divided into about a dozen independent city-states, which were divided by canals and boundary stones.

Each city had their own government which not only controlled the city but the terrain and croplands around the city. Each was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or goddess of the city and ruled over by a priestly governor (ensi) or by a king (lugal) who was intimately tied to the city’s religious rites.

The government of Sumerian cities more or less was closely linked to religion. The leader of a city ruled by divine right (the people believed that the gods gave their kings permission to rule the city). Along with the kings, there were also a group of high ranking priests that influenced state affairs. There was also a noble class based on kinship (family ties) to the king.

Law during this period would had been very much “eye-for-an-eye”. Example, if you broke your neighbor’s cart, you have to give him yours. If you killed a man’s daughter, one of your daughters must be sacrificed (lol).

The king would had be in charge of religious rituals, upkeep of the irrigation canals, defense, law, and other duties. For the most part, he had it pretty good compare to his lower subjects (mostly farmers) who paid taxes of crop to him. The king will employ scribes to collect these taxes and keep track of the treasury.

Democratic forms of government did exist early on within Sumer, but as settlements got bigger and defense became an issue, the people chose to forfeit this and adopt the more stable religious kingship.

The archaeological transition from the Ubaid period to the Uruk period is marked by a gradual shift from painted pottery domestically produced on a slow wheel to a great variety of unpainted pottery mass-produced by specialists on fast wheels.

By the time of the Uruk period (4100–2900 BC), the volume of trade goods transported along the canals and rivers of southern Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large, stratified, temple-centered cities (with populations of over 10,000 people) where centralized administrations employed specialized workers.

It is fairly certain that it was during the Uruk period that Sumerian cities began to make use of slave labor captured from the hill country, and there is ample evidence for captured slaves as workers in the earliest texts.

Artifacts, and even colonies of this Uruk civilization have been found over a wide area—from the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and as far east as Central Iran.

The Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. The cities of Sumer could not maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force.

Sumerian cities during the Uruk period were probably theocratic and were most likely headed by a priest-king (ensi), assisted by a council of elders, including both men and women. It is quite possible that the later Sumerian pantheon was modeled upon this political structure.

There was little evidence of institutionalized violence or professional soldiers during the Uruk period, and towns were generally unwalled. During this period Uruk became the most urbanised city in the world, surpassing for the first time 50,000 inhabitants.

The ancient Sumerian king list includes the early dynasties of several prominent cities from this period. The first set of names on the list is of kings said to have reigned before a major flood occurred. These early names may be fictional, and include some legendary and mythological figures, such as Alulim and Dumizid.

The end of the Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period from 3200 – 2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 7000-3000 BC, called the Holocene climatic optimum.

The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, was the world’s first city, where three separate cultures fused — that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.

The irrigated farming together with annual replenishment of soil fertility and the surplus of storable food in temple granaries created by this economy allowed the population of this region to rise to levels never before seen, unlike those found in earlier cultures of shifting cultivators.

This much greater population density in turn created and required an extensive labour force and division of labour with many specialised arts and crafts. At the same time, historic overuse of the irrigated soils led to progressive salinisation, and a Malthusian crisis which led to depopulation of the Sumerian region over time, leading to its progressive eclipse by the Akkadians of middle Mesopotamia.

Thorkild Jacobsen has studied the pre-Babylonian Mesopotamia and uses Sumerian epic, myth, and historical records to identify what he calls primitive democracy. By this he means a government in which ultimate power rests with the mass of free male citizens, although “the various functions of government are as yet little specialised [and] the power structure is loose”.

In the early period of Sumer, kings such as Gilgamesh did not hold the autocratic power which later Mesopotamian rulers wielded. Rather, major city-states had a council of elders and a council of “young men” (likely to be composed of free men bearing arms) that possessed the final political authority, and had to be consulted on all major issues such as war.

This pioneering work, while constantly cited, has invoked little serious discussion and gained little outright acceptance. The criticism from other scholars focuses on the use of the word “democracy”, since the same evidence also can be interpreted convincingly to demonstrate a power struggle between primitive monarchs and the nobility, a struggle in which the common people act more as pawns than as the sovereign authority.

Jacobsen concedes that the vagueness of the evidence prohibits the separation between the Mesopotamian democracy from a primitive oligarchy. Each city in Sumer was ruled at first by a council of elders, although a war leader, called a lugal, was selected to lead the army during conflict. Eventually the lugals assumed power as kings and established dynasties.

Evidence suggests that the Sumerians may have taken the first steps toward democracy by electing a representative assembly. This consisted of two houses – a senate of important citizens and a lower house made up of those available for military duty.

Preserved clay tablets reveal that the Sumerians maintained courts of justice where people could expect a fair trial. One table recorded the oldest murder trial in history. Most of the food production and distribution was controlled through the temple. A noble class arose based on land ownership, control of trade, and manufacturing. Most trade and manufacturing was outside the temple’s control.

Sumerian written history reaches back to the 27th century BC and before, but the historical record remains obscure until the Early Dynastic III period, c. the 23rd century BC, when a now deciphered syllabary writing system was developed, which has allowed archaeologists to read contemporary records and inscriptions.

Classical Sumer ends with the rise of the Akkadian Empire in the 23rd century BC. Following the Gutian period, there is a brief Sumerian Renaissance in the 21st century BC, cut short in the 20th century BC by Semitic Amorite invasions.

The Amorite “dynasty of Isin” persisted until c. 1700 BC, when Mesopotamia was united under Babylonian rule. The Sumerians were eventually absorbed into the Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) population.

Sumerians believed in an anthropomorphic polytheism, or the belief in many gods in human form. There was no common set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings, however they were not exclusive. The gods of one city were often acknowledged elsewhere. Sumerian speakers were among the earliest people to record their beliefs in writing, and were a major inspiration in later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology.

Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (a.k.a. Ashur) which dates to c. 2600 BC (located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq), originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.

In the late 24th century BC, Assyrian kings were regional leaders only, and subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. Following the fall of the Akkadian Empire c. 2154 BC, and the short lived succeeding Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur which ruled southern Assyria, Assyria regained full independence.

Democracy – A Short History

A Comparative ‘Study of Thirty City-State Cultures

History of democracy

City states

City state

Citizenship and the City-state

Polis

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

On the origin of the Indo-European language family

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 21, 2014

Cities of Ancient Mesopotamia

The earliest testimony of Armenian dates to the 5th century AD (the Bible translation of Mesrob Mashtots). The earlier history of the language is unclear and the subject of much speculation.

Early in the fifth century, Classical Armenian, or Grabar, was one of the great languages of the Near East and Asia Minor. Although an autonomous branch within the Indo-European family of languages, it had some affinities to Middle Iranian, Greek and the Balto-Slavic languages but belonged to none of them.

It was characterized by a system of inflection unlike the other languages, as well as a flexible and liberal use of combining root words to create derivative and compound words by the application of certain agglutinative affixes.

The classical language imported numerous words from Middle Iranian languages, primarily Parthian, and contains smaller inventories of borrowings from Greek, Syriac, Latin, and autochthonous languages such as Urartian. Middle Armenian (11th–15th centuries AD) incorporated further loans from Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Latin, and the modern dialects took in hundreds of additional words from Modern Turkish and Persian.

Therefore, determining the historical evolution of Armenian is particularly difficult because Armenian borrowed many words from Parthian and Persian (both Iranian languages) as well as from Greek.

It is clear that Armenian is an Indo-European language, but its development is opaque. In any case, Armenian has many layers of loanwords and shows traces of long language contact with Hurro-Urartian, Greek and Indo-Iranian.

The Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrians (and Urartians), Luvians (Anatolians) and the Mushki (which melted together with the Phrygians).

After arriving in its historical territory, Proto-Armenian would appear to have undergone massive influence on part the languages it eventually replaced. Armenian phonology, for instance, appears to have been greatly affected by Urartian, which may suggest a long period of bilingualism. 

The large percentage of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875)[28] used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985)[30] noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages such as Udi.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin “slave girl” ( ← Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov “sea” ( ← Urart. ṣûǝ “(inland) sea”), ułt “camel” ( ← Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor “apple(tree)” ( ← Hurr. ḫinzuri).

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Proto-Indo-European shares a lot of similarities with Hurro-Urartian and Caucasian (both southern, northeastern and northwestern) languages, and there seems to be a connection between Indo-Europeans, Haplogroup R1b, the Neolithic revolution and the domestication of cattles , kurgans, the wheel and the horse, and the Bronze Age – all comming from Southern Caucasus, and developing via the Shengavit (Kura Araxes, or Early Trans-Caucasian culture) and the Maykop culture, which spread these culture elements towards the north.

There are strong connections between the Sumerian, the Hurro-Urartians, who seems to develop in the Southern Caucasus/Anatolia (Aratta being the same as Urartu/Urashtu, Armenians/Assyrians), Semites (developing and spreading from Syria around 3750 BC.) and the Indo-Europeans. In fact it all seem to develop from a mix of cultures during the Neolithic revolution in Soutwest Asia, and especially the mountain chain made up by Taurus, Caucasus and Zagros.  

Aratta, Ayrarat (Urartu) and Armenia is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.

It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

Armeno-Phrygian is a term for a minority supported claim of hypothetical people who are thought to have lived in the Armenian Highland as a group and then have separated to form the Phrygians and the Mushki of Cappadocia. It is also used for the language they are assumed to have spoken. It can also be used for a language branch including these languages, a branch of the Indo-European family or a sub-branch of the proposed Graeco-Armeno-Aryan or Armeno-Aryan branch.

Classification is difficult because little is known of Phrygian and virtually nothing of Mushki, while Proto-Armenian forms a subgroup with Hurro-Urartian, Greek, and Indo-Iranian. These subgroups are all Indo-European, with the exception of Hurro-Urartian.

The Catacomb culture (ca. 2800–2200 BC) refers to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying the Pontic steppe in essentially what is present-day Ukraine.

The culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture.

The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamna culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

In certain graves there was the distinctive practice of what amounts to modelling a clay mask over the deceased’s face, creating an obvious if not necessarily correct association to the famous gold funeral mask of Agamemnon (see also Tashtyk culture).

The economy was essentially stock-breeding, although traces of grain have been found. There seem to have been skilled specialists, particularly metal-workers.

The origin of the Catacomb culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus enumerates three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamna Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. An Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and Paleo-Balkan dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

The Armenian language is close to Greek and Sanskrit. There existed a relationship, a southern group, consisting of Greek, Armenian and sanskrit. The Iranian languages, which developed in Central Asia, had a later development.

The thing is that Anatolian is a sister language of the Indo-European language family, that the Tocharians was among the first language group that broke away from the Caucasian urheimat and that Germanic in the according to the Glottalhic theory is the language which emmigrated, while Armenian developed in situ.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group, while the Baltic, Slavic, Armenian and Indo-Iranian subfamilies belong to the Satem group.  

The name Urartu, cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat”, comes from Assyrian sources: the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of “Uruatri. 

The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight “lands” contained within Urartu (which at the time of the campaign were still disunited).

The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian (“Van”), hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”

Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi, also known as Haldi or Hayk, one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him.[citation needed] His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.[citation needed]

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.  Hayk and Haig are usually connected to hay and hayer, the nominative plural in Modern Armenian), the self-designation of the Armenians.

Hayk would then be an aitiological founding figure, like e.g. Asshur for the Assyrians, Indra for the Indians, etc. One of Hayk’s most famous scions, Aram, settled in Eastern Armenia from the Mitanni kingdom (Western Armenia), when Sargon II mentions a king of part of Armenia who bore the (Armenian-Indo-Iranian) name Bagatadi (“Theodore”).

A connection was made in Armenian historiography of the Soviet era, with Hayasa, a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Armenian word haykakan or haigagan (meaning “that which pertains to Armenians”) finds its stem in this progenitor.

Chaldia (Greek: Khaldia) was a historical region located in mountainous interior of the eastern Black Sea, northeast Anatolia (modern Turkey). Its name was derived from a people called the Chaldoi (or Chalybes) that inhabited the region in Antiquity.

Chaldia was used throughout the Byzantine period and was established as a formal theme, known as the Theme of Chaldia by 840. During the late Middle Ages, it formed the core of the Empire of Trebizond until its fall to the Ottomans in 1461.

Anthony Bryer traces the origin of its name not to Chaldea, as Constantine VII had done, but to the Urartian language, for whose speakers Ḫaldi was the Sun God. Bryer notes at the time of his writing that a number of villages in the Of district were still known as “Halt”.

Chaldea or Chaldaea, from Greek Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo) was a small Semitic nation which existed between the 10th and 6th centuries BC. It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century B.C. as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital.

In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni (Mannaeans) and Ashkenaz (Iranians, Scythians).

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite. 

Hurrian names occur sporadically in northwestern Mesopotamia and the area of Kirkuk in modern Iraq by the Middle Bronze Age. Their presence was attested at Nuzi, Urkesh and other sites. They eventually infiltrated and occupied a broad arc of fertile farmland stretching from the Khabur River valley in the west to the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in the east.

J. Gelb and E. A. Speiser believed East Semitic speaking Assyrians/Subarians had been the linguistic and ethnic substratum of northern Mesopotamia since earliest times, while Hurrians were merely late arrivals, but it now seems that the Hurrians must have been in the area since earliest times, while Assyrians merely late arrivals.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu.

Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. 

The name Subartu (Sumerian: Su-bir/Subar/Šubur, Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC). It is mentioned in Bronze Age literature.

Between the 25th and 21st centuries the original land of Subartu in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris in modern Northern Iraq, coalesced into the Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria. The name later reappears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit, and came to be known as the Hurrians or Subarians and their country was known as Subir, Subartu or Shubar, although this appears to be a region in eastern Anatolia.

Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land. Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo (known as Ha-lam), among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib. Its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions. It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Armani is the earliest form of the name Armenia.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum orArmanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC identified with an Akkadian colony in the Diarbekr region. However, many historians, such as Wayne Horowitz, identify Armanî which was conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad, with the Syrian city of Aleppo and not with the Armenian Highland.

Armani was mentioned alongside Ibla in the geographical treaties of Sargon, this led some historians to identify Ibla with Syrian Ebla and Armani with Syrian Armi, an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria identified by some historians with the city of Aleppo.

Knowledge about Armi comes from the Ebla tablets and while most historians such as Wayne Horowitz identify Armi with Aleppo, German historian Adelheid Otto believes Armi to be the modern Tell Bazi, a citadel on the bank of the Euphrates 60 km south of Jarabulus.

Armi was the most quoted city in Ebla texts, Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego, however the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful, the texts of Ebla mentions gifts exchange between the kings but it also mentions wars between the two kingdoms.

Prof Michael C. Astour refuse to identify Armani with Armi. Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the East in contrast to the Syrian Ebla location in the west.

The later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Arman as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon. Historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi, place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains, the westernmost ripple of the greater Zagros mountains in northeast Iraq.

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.

Shupria is mentioned in the letter of Esarhaddon to the god Assur. Esarhaddon undertook an expedition against Shupria in 674, subjugating it. As early as Akkadian times, Hurrians are known to have lived east of the river Tigris on the northern rim of Mesopotamia, and in the Khabur Valley. The group which became Mitanni gradually moved south into Mesopotamia before the 17th century BC.

Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, a somewhat better documented language attested for an earlier, non-overlapping period, approximately from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE (written by native speakers until about 1350 BCE). The two languages must have developed quite independently from approximately 2000 BCE onwards.

Although Urartian is not a direct continuation of any of the attested dialects of Hurrian, many of its features are best explained as innovative developments with respect to Hurrian as we know it from the preceding millennium.

The closeness holds especially true of the so-called Old Hurrian dialect, known above all from Hurro-Hittite bilingual texts. Igor Diakonoff and others have suggested ties between the Hurro-Urartian languages and the Northeastern Caucasian languages, also known as Dagestanian (Daghestanian), or Nakho-Dagestanian languages, a language family spoken in the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, in northern Azerbaijan and northeastern Georgia, as well as in diaspora populations in Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East.

The Northeastern Caucasian languages are occasionally called Caspian, together with Pontic for the Northwest Caucasian languages. Pontic is the proposed language family or macrofamily, comprising the Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian language families, with Proto-Pontic being the reconstructed proto-language.

The internal reconstruction of the Indo-European proto-language done by Benveniste and Lehmann has set Proto-Indo-European (PIE) typologically quite apart from its daughters. In 1960, Aert Kuipers noticed the parallels between a Northwest Caucasian language, Kabardian, and PIE. It was Paul Friedrich in 1964, however, who first suggested that PIE might be phylogenetically related to Proto-Caucasian.

Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform KUR URUMi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) or Naharin in ancient Egyptian texts was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Yezidi exodus continues, girls raped by ISIS jump to their death Mount Shingal

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 19, 2014

yazidids commit suicide after brutal rapes

-

In yet another harrowing chapter in the tragic plight of Iraq’s Kurdish Yazidi population, eyewitnesses have described how girls raped by Muslim fighters from the “Islamic State” (formerly ISIS) committed suicide en-masse after returning to their families, as evidence of systematic rape by Islamists against non-Muslims continue to surface.

Among the tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped in the Shingal mountains while fleeing IS’s deadly advance through Iraq, several survivors told Kurdish Rudaw TV how a group of three girls were returned after being abducted and raped – only to hurl themselves off a cliff after being traumatized by their ordeal.

A Kurdish reporter said the mother of one of the girls had given an interview in front of the camera, but claimed Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia had seized the camera and erased the interview – possibly in an attempt to avoid sowing panic.

The mother reportedly told of how in their desperation the girls begged other refugees to kill them, but when no one would comply they killed themselves.

 

The YPG is the dominant Kurdish force in Syria and has taken control of some areas across the border in Iraq since IS swept away Iraqi forces earlier in the summer. It has been credited with putting up a stiff resistance against Islamist forces and helping to save many Yazidi and Christian refugees, but has also criticized as authoritarian by its opponents.

Another woman said she also witnessed what happened to the girls. “They [IS] took the girls by force and raped them, and after they returned they killed themselves,” she said.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Gaza: Is this a war on children?

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

-

Jon Snow has been speaking to youngsters in Gaza City about their lives and how they’re coping with living in a warzone. And he also talks to Dr Mads Gilbert – a Norwegian doctor working at al Shifa hospital – who is treating some of the children.

At least 59 Palestinian families suffered multiple casualties over four weeks of Israeli bombardment in Gaza, according to data collated by the Guardian. The youngest casualty was 10-day old Hala Abu Madi, who died on 2 August; the oldest was Abdel al-Masri, aged 97, who was killed on 3 August.

The figures are based on data from three independent Palestinian human rights organisations – the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al Mezan, both based in Gaza, and the West Bank-based Al-Haq; the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem; and the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

However, it is almost certainly an incomplete picture. Systematic identification of bodies and logging of data have been hampered by the sheer scale of the casualties in Gaza – about 2,000 killed in total, including 470 children, and 10,000 wounded – types of injuries, and the need for swift burial.

Among families in which four or more people died, 479 people were killed in total, including 212 children under the age of 18, and 15 people aged 60 and over. The deadliest day was 30 July, when 95 members of 10 families were killed. On 20 July, 65 members of 10 families died, and on 21 July, 71 members of six families were killed.

Pictures of Palestinian children in Gaza who, having escaped death during Israel’s military operation, are nevertheless suffering from various diseases due to living in overcrowded places that are not suitable hygienically for them, following the displacement of their families as a result of the Israeli air bombardment and ground attacks.

Senior UN officials say the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has left thousands of children traumatized across the besieged Palestinian territory. Latest figures show 400,000 Palestinian children are in immediate need of psychological help due to the “tragic impact” of the Israeli assaults.

The Guardian has interviewed six families who suffered multiple casualties. In each case, relatives say there was no warning of attack, and all deny any connection with militant organisations in Gaza.

However, in many cases there may have been a military target among the dead. But the number of women and children killed in such attacks has led human rights organisations and international observers to question whether Israel’s use of force was proportionate and in keeping with the obligation under international law to protect civilians in war.

Shaqqura, of the PCHR, said: “What has been significant about this onslaught is the deliberate attacks on families – whole families have been smashed under the rubble. We have documented 134 families, in which two or more members have been hit by Israeli forces – a total of 750 people.

“No justification can be accepted in targeting civilians, even if there is a security threat [in the vicinity]. Israel’s excessive use of force is contrary to international law on two counts – the principle of distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, and the principle of proportionality, under which attacks must be proportionate to threat.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli court has recently banned the broadcast of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem that listed the names of Palestinian children killed during Israel’s month-long offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The Supreme Court have rejected B’Tselem’s appeal to overturn a decision by the Israel Broadcast Authority to ban a broadcast produced by the NGO, saying it is of political nature. The broadcast listed the names of children killed in the war in the besieged enclave.

Gaza counts the cost of war: ‘Whole families smashed under the rubble’

BBC News – Gaza: What does the future hold for the children?

How Israel targeted the children of Gaza – Global Research

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Stop the genocide!

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

http://youtu.be/JNoP-tQ5mCw

http://www.ironicsurrealism.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/we-are-n-3.jpg

https://lstcccme.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/5226106966_02eafca47e_b-1024x641.jpg?w=644&h=403

The face of our forefathers. OUR FACE. The face of our children.

Our beloved homeland went through pain that will NEVER be forgotten.

Alawite victims of ISIS, beheaded and arranged as a display for the media and public.

Alawite victims of ISIS, beheaded and arranged as a display for the media and public

A Christian girl was beheaded by ISIS terrorists as a warning to others. This is evil in its purest,

A Christian girl was beheaded by ISIS terrorists as a warning to others.

This is evil in its purest, crystalline form.

Isis persecution of Iraqi Christians has become genocide, says religious leaders

ISIS Genocide: Iraq Terror Group Beheads Christians, Displaces Hundreds Of Thousands

ISIS on Christians: ‘There is nothing to give them but the sword’

-

The organisation we are invited to call the Islamic Caliphate (Isis) possesses the virtue of clarity, if nothing else. Hitler’s genocidal plans for the Jews became public knowledge only years after he came to power. The Soviet gulags were for a long time shrouded in secrecy. But Isis has never made any bones about either means or ends.

The ends: to establish a worldwide Islamic state based on the most reductive and intolerant version of Sunni Islam. The means: the elimination of everyone who believes something different and refuses to convert.

Since their capture of Mosul on 10 June, these fanatics have wasted no time slaughtering large numbers of brother Muslims who follow the Shia tradition. They boast of having “executed” 1,700 Shia soldiers in the town of Tikrit. But there was no reason to suppose they would look more benignly on other types of “infidels”, and now they have turned their attention to the remnants of the other communities that until recently made Iraq a rich patchwork of ancient beliefs.

Syrian Minister: We Are Ready to Back Erbil Against IS

In an exclusive interview with Rudaw, the director of the Syrian state media expressed his country’s readiness to support the Kurdistan Region against the Islamist State (IS/ISIS) armies. Minister Omran al-Zoubi also revealed that Syrian government forces are battling the IS gunmen side-by-side with the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) in the Kurdish-controlled areas of the country. The minister called on the international community to unite against IS in the region, directly accusing Turkey and Saudi Arabia of funding the extremist factions.

Syrian Minister: We Are Ready to Back Erbil Against IS

50 doctors and professors from different countries

demand a safe haven for Assyrians/ Syriacs/ Chaldeans!

Homeless: Iraqi Christians displaced by the violence in their country wait in line for aid

A genocide was perpetrated 99 years ago upon the Christians of the Middle East, including the Aramaic-speaking Assyrians, Chaldeans and Aramaeans. Now we see history repeating itself.

Christian towns and villages, such as Qaraqosh, Telkepe and Alqosh, which had largely escaped the violence of recent decades, are now emptied of their people. These towns, with ancient monasteries, are of huge historical and cultural significance. In this area, furthermore, Aramaic has been spoken for thousands of years.

Wave upon wave of refugees, amounting to hundreds of thousands of people, are now crowded into the small Kurdish region, itself gravely threatened by the Islamic State forces. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Yazidis have fled via the mountains without shelter. Urgent aid is needed, but in the longer term the refugees cannot stay in Erbil.

As scholars engaged in the study of their language and cultural heritage, we call upon Britain, the governments of the European Union, the United States, and the international community to do all in their power to allow the refugees back to their homes in the plain of Mosul and to institute an internationally protected safe haven in northern Iraq of the kind that, 20 years ago, protected the Kurds from genocide. This enabled the region up to now to enjoy a stability and prosperity that we would wish for all Iraqis.

50 doctors and professors from different countries demand a safe haven for Assyrians / Syriacs / Chaldeans!

HERE

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Take slavery in Iraq to the International Criminal Court – Walk Free

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

sex slavery

Woman Raped kidnapped

UN officials have reported that as many as 3000 women and children fleeing religious persecution in Iraq have been captured and may be at risk of modern slavery by the Sunni extremist group that is rampaging through parts of Iraq and Syria.

Khandhar Kaliph’s daughter is one of them. “She said she is going to be sold as a slave […] for $10. What can a father say to that? How can I help? We all feel so useless.” Khandhar has been despairing over the safety of his child ever since.

In early August, tens of thousands of people belonging to a religious minority group rejected by the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) fled their homes in terror as militants took over their town.

Hundreds of these women have reportedly now been kidnapped and are being held inside a police station in northern Iraq. Without immediate action, they and thousands more like them could be at risk of modern slavery.

One thing you can do right now is help secure justice for Khandhar’s daughter and others like her. Call for the International Criminal Court to immediately investigate and try those suspected of enslaving Iraqis.

Join me and Walk Free and help take ‪#‎ModernSlavery‬ in Iraq

to the International Criminal Court: http://bit.ly/1ozBWm6

Christians and Yazidis in Iraq Subjected to ‘Savage Rapes,’ Sexual Slavery

ISIS Sets Up Sex Slave Market to Sell Hundreds of Christian Women

ISIS fighters selling little girls as “sex slaves” for around $10.00 U.S.

Crisis in Iraq: Rape and Sex Slavery as a Strategic Weapon of War

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Iraq

It is estimated that 29.8 million people are forced to live in slavery around the world today

Source: Global Slavery Index 2013

Walkfree.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for the Armenian Genocide Centennial on 2015

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

http://aratta.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/4b60f-o-pope-francis-facebook.jpg?w=507&h=366

Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for the Armenian Genocide centennial in the Basilica of San Pedro on April 12, 2015, as announced by the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires Mario Poli during a mass in the Armenian Catholic Parish of Our Lady of Narek on Sunday 17th August.

“The Pope replied to the invitation from the Armenian Catholic Church a year ago through the Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX to celebrate a mass for the recognition of the Genocide,” stated the pastor of Narek, Pablo Hakimian, when asked by Prensa Armenia.

During the meeting with the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmourini in June last year, Francisco also received the daughter of a surviving family of the Armenian genocide, he heard her, took her hand and said: “It was the first genocide of the twentieth century.” This gesture draw criticism from Turkey, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement considering that “the expressions of Pope Francis are absolutely unacceptable.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Iraq crisis: Is Turkey’s government supporting ISIS?

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

Qaraqosh
Map of IraqDSC_7424_JPG.jpgJust a day after The Inquisitr reported about the 40,000 trapped Yazidi people atop the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq, we have yet another humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country. Islamic State (ISIS) militants have continued their push towards northern Iraq and have now reportedly overrun the city of Qaraqosh – known to be Iraq’s largest Christian city located between Mosul, which has been under the control of the ISIS for the past few months – and Arbil which is the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq.Qaraqosh had a population of around 50,000 almost entirely composed of Christians. According to fleeing residents and Christian priests, several towns including Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been “cleansed” of their original Christian population. These towns are now under the total control of ISIS fighters. Invading ISIS fighters have managed to push back Kurdish troops from the city and have in an overnight raid captured several Christian towns in the region, reports The Guardian. According to Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, the situation in these towns are “catastrophic and tragic” as told to the AFP. ISIS Fighters Overrun Iraq’s Largest Christian Town Qaraqosh, Residents Flee

Isis seizes Iraq’s largest Christian town

Islamic State’s offensive sends Iraqis running

Iraq jihadist offensive sparks mass Christian exodus

Iraq Christians flee as Islamic State takes Qaraqosh

BBC reporter: Hundreds of ISIS terrorists receive war training in Turkey

Jiyar Gol, BBC’s Kurdish correspondent in a live broadcast from Kurdish northern city of Erbil claimed that Turkey’s intelligence established new camps to instruct African and Caucasian terrorist with military training and then dispatch these terrorist elements inside irq to join ISIS ranks.

-

Why is Turkey supporting Islamic State fighters in Iraq?

Iraq crisis: Is Turkey’s government supporting ISIS?

10 Percent of ISIS Fighters Reportedly Turkish

Syrian Kurdish Leader: Turkey Turns Blind Eye to ISIS

Evidence Mounting That Turkey Is Behind ISIS Recruitment To Establish An Islamic Caliphate

Kurdish security chief: Turkey must end support for jihadists

The head of the Kurdish security police in northeast Syria, Ciwan Ibrahim, said that his security forces are willing to cooperate with Turkey if it ends its support for radical jihadist groups.

The head of the Syrian Kurdish security police forces, Ciwan Ibrahim, tells Al-Monitor that they are willing to cooperate with Turkey if it halts its support for jihadist groups.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Ibrahim accused Turkey of continuing to support jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), which is in the throes of a major and vicious assault against Kurdish populations in Syria and Iraq.

The Kurdish security police, known as Asayish in Kurdish, operates in Syrian Kurdish cities to combat crime and terrorism. Amid the turmoil of Syria’s civil war, the Kurds established their own autonomous system and security apparatus in northeastern Syria in January.

The Asayish is seen as being affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), although Ibrahim denied any link to any political party.

Relations between the Syrian Kurds, steered by the PYD, and Turkey have been hostile, fueling repeated accusations from the PYD and the Asayish that the Erdogan government is supporting the radical IS, which is currently besieging the Kurdish enclave of Kobani and massacring Kurdish Yazidis in Iraq.

Kurdish security chief: Turkey must end support for jihadists

ISIS Fighter Claims Turkey Funds the Jihadist Group

Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party have a well developed reputation for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel policies generally. But now ties to the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, are emerging. The Jerusalem Post reported one Islamic State member said Turkey, a member of NATO, provided funds for the terrorist group.

“Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large [numbers] of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey,” said the man, who was not identified. “We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon,” he said.

ISIS Fighter Claims Turkey Funds the Jihadist Group

The Muslim Brotherhood Declares “Turkey is the Capital of the Islamic Caliphate” (Prophecy is being Fulfilled)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Is Earth Fucked? – This changes everything

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 18, 2014

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK: A protestor with the painting 'Act now'

While%20the%20oceans%20are%20swelling%2C%20they%u2019re%20also%20warming%20up%20and%20becoming%20more%20acidic

Top ten books on the climate change movement

27 Powerful Photos That Show The Reality Of Climate Change Today

http://www.onepennysheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/this_changes_everything-e1407504906805.jpg

-

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

-

Naomi Klein: ‘Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth’

Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems. In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies.

She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us. In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.

Bill Moyers & Naomi Klein:

How Climate Change Is an Historic Opportunity for Progressives

-

Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, says the tragic destruction of Hurricane Sandy can also be the catalyst for the transformation of politics and our economy. She’s been in New York visiting the devastated areas — including those where “Occupy Sandy” volunteers are unfolding new models of relief — as part of her reporting for a new book and film on climate change and the future, and joins Bill Moyers to discuss hurricanes, climate change, and democracy. “Let’s rebuild by actually getting at the root causes. Let’s respond by aiming for an economy that responds to the crisis both [through] inequality and climate change,” Klein tells Bill. “You know, dream big.”

The Shock Doctrine

-

A documentary adaptation Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine. An investigation of disaster capitalism, based on Naomi Klein’s proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism — the rapid-fire corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock — did not begin with September 11, 2001.

The films traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today.

New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, shock and awe warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

-

Overdose:

The Next Financial Crisis. Award-winning youtube hit giving fresh insight into the greatest economic crisis of our age: the one still awaiting us.

With the US raising their debt ceiling, are we in a global bail-out bubble that will eventually burst? This doc offers a fresh insight into the greatest economic crisis of our age: the one still awaiting us.

The financial storm that has rocked the world began brewing in the US when congress pushed the idea of home ownership for all, propping up those who couldn’t make the down payments. When it all went wrong the government promised the biggest financial stimulus packages in history and gargantuan bailouts. But what crazed logic is that: propping up debt with more debt? “They’re giving alcohol to a drunk: it just sets him up for a bigger hangover.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: