Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The destruction of the wall of Ninevhe

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on March 4, 2015

The Great City of Nineveh.

ISIS targets 2,000-year-old ancient Nineveh walls in Iraq



Hurrian Ninevhe

Nineveh (Heb. נִינְוֶה; Akk. Ninua, Ninâ; in Mari Ninuwa; Ar. Ninawa) was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BC. The investigation made during the 1932 excavations of Quyunjiq down to its virgin soil uncovered the tell’s earliest stratum, which contains remnants of the Hassuna culture and has been assigned to about 5000–4500 BC.

The origin of the name Nineveh is obscure. Possibly it meant originally the seat of Ishtar, since Nina was one of the Babylonian names of that goddess. The ideogram means “house or place of fish,” and was perhaps due to popular etymology (comp. Aramaic “nuna,” denoting “fish”).

Since the cuneiform for Nineveh (Ninâ) is a fish within a house, it has been suggested that the name of the city was derived from that of a goddess associated with fish, but it seems that it is of Hurrian origin. From the Akkadian period on, the city was an important religious center for worship of the Akkadian goddess Ishtar, and was dedicated to the “Ishtar of Nineveh.”

The ancient citadel of Nineveh was situated on a hill known today as Quyunjiq (“Little Lamb”) and located near the center of the western region of the city. On the hill there were also the Assyrian royal palaces and the temples. South of this citadel is a smaller tell, called Nebi Yūnis (“the Prophet Jonah”), where, according to Islamic tradition, the prophet Jonah is buried, and on which is a large mosque. The city, however, extended over a much larger area.

Archaeological excavations were conducted in the city for about a century, mainly by the British (beginning in 1842). The excavations of 1932 (by M.E.L. Mallowan) laid the foundations for the study of the prehistory of northern Mesopotamia, the city thus becoming a key site for a knowledge and understanding of the prehistoric period.

The early city (and subsequent buildings) were constructed on a fault line and, consequently, suffered damage from a number of earthquakes. One such event destroyed the first temple of Ishtar, which was then rebuilt in 2260 BC by the Akkadian king Manishtusu.

One of the earliest pieces of written evidence is an inscription of Narâm-Sin of the Akkadian dynasty (2291–2255 BC). Hammurapi king of Babylonia mentions the city in the introduction to his code of laws as the site of a temple of Ishtar. At the beginning of the 1400 century BC.

Nineveh belonged to Mitanni. Tushratta king of Mitanni sent the image of “Ishtar of Nineveh” (identified with the Hurrian goddess Šauška) twice to Egypt to heal Amenophis III, his ally and in-law.

Subsequently, Nineveh reverted to Assyrian rule, since the Assyrian king Ashur-uballiṭ (1364–1329 BC) stated that he rebuilt the temple of Ishtar which, according to indications, was renovated a number of times between the 1300 and 900 BC.

Individual bricks, inscribed with the builders’ names and with dedicatory inscriptions that have been brought to light, attest to the existence of several palaces built during these centuries. The earliest palace of which actual remains have been uncovered is that of Ashurnaṣirpal II (883–859 BC).

Sumerian star chart – Sky map of ancient Nineveh (3300 BCE)

Sumerian Star Chart. Sky Map of Ancient Nineveh. c.3300 BCE. Reproduction of a Sumerian star map or “planisphere” recovered in the late 19th century from the 650 BCE underground library of Ashurbanipal. Long thought to be an Assyrian tablet, computer analysis has matched it with the sky above Mesopotamia in 3300BC and proves it to be more ancient Sumerian origin. The tablet is an “Astrolabe”, the earliest known astronomical instrument.

Reproduction of a Sumerian star map or “planisphere” recovered in the late 19th century from the 650 BCE underground library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, Iraq. Long thought to be an Assyrian tablet, computer analysis has matched it with the sky above Mesopotamia in 3300BC and proves it to be more ancient Sumerian origin.

The tablet is an “Astrolabe”, the earliest known astronomical instrument. It usually consisted of a segmented, disc shaped star chart with marked units of angle measure inscribed upon the rim. Unfortunately considerable parts of the planisphere are missing ( approx 40%), damage which dates to the sacking of Nineveh. The reverse of the tablet is not inscribed.

Still under study by modern scholars, the planisphere provides extraordinary proof of the existence of Sumerian astronomy…and a very sophisticated astronomy at that time.

Ištar of Nineveh

Ištar of Nineveh at first glance presents a dilemma for the researcher. While she was a most important goddess, patron of a major town in north Mesopotamia, very little is known about her. As to her importance, in Hurrian religion Teššub and Ša’uška of Nineveh were heads of the pantheon.

Here she is given her Hurrian name, Ša’uška. Thus the Mitanni king Tušratta in the Amarna letter no. 23, to Amenophis III, writes that Ša’uška of Nineveh, lady of all the lands (dMÙŠ ša uru ni-i-na nin kur-kur gáb-bi-i-ši-na-ma), wanted to travel to Egypt and to return.

She is further called “lady of heaven” (nin ša-me-e) and “our lady” (nin-ne). Amarna letter no. 24, from the same Mitanni king to the same Pharaoh, refers to Ša’uška of Nineveh as “my goddess” (uruni-i-nu-a-a-we dša-uš-ka-a-wa de-en-ni-iw-wu-ú-a: VS XII 200 iii 98).

One might conclude that “lady of heaven” alludes to her as Venus in the sky, but it might also mean the abode of the good gods without any astral allusion. It has been alleged that her wish to travel to Egypt was in the capacity of a goddess of healing, to cure the Pharaoh of his malady, but this is mere speculation. The letter gives no hint of this.

This brief international affair illustrates the problems excellently. There is a mass of cuneiform material bearing on the Sumerian Inanna and her Babylono-Assyrian counterpart Ištar, especially hymns and prayers. From them one can extract her major attributes — sexuality and war — and her astral presence in the planet Venus.

The occurrence of related gods in other ancient Near Eastern regions — Aštart and Anat in Syria, Aṯtar in Arabia — suggests that the origins of the cult go back perhaps to neolithic time or even earlier, and the certain relationship with the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus attests to the power of this cult, however one explains the connection.

However, in each Mesopotamian well-established centre of this cult one can assume that local customs and traditions will have added something to the basic “theology” we extract from our general knowledge of the goddess. For Ištar of Nineveh the episode of Tušratta may or may not allude to her star Venus, but otherwise it is totally uninformative about her “theology”. And that is typical for most of the other dated and precisely located evidence.



Jonah, Jonas or Younis (Hebrew: יוֹנָה, Modern Yona, Tiberian Yônā ; dove; Arabic: يونس‎ Yūnus, Yūnis or يونان Yūnān ; Latin: Ionas) is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC. He is the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation. The Biblical story of Jonah is repeated, with a few notable differences, in the Qur’an.

The book of Jonah is one of the twelve minor prophets included in the Tanakh. According to tradition, Jonah was the boy brought back to life by Elijah the prophet, and hence shares many of his characteristics (particularly his desire for ‘strict judgment’). The book of Jonah is read every year, in its original Hebrew and in its entirety, on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, as the Haftarah at the afternoon mincha prayer.

Teshuva – the ability to repent and be forgiven by God – is a prominent idea in Jewish thought. This concept is developed in the book of Jonah: Jonah, the son of truth, (The name of his father “Amitai” in Hebrew means truth,) refuses to ask the people of Nineveh to repent.

He seeks the truth only, and not forgiveness. When forced to go, his call is heard loud and clear. The people of Nineveh repent ecstatically, “fasting, including the sheep”, and the Jewish scripts are critical of this.

The story of Jonah and the fish in the Old Testament offers an example of typology. In the Old Testament Book of Jonah, Jonah told his shipmates to sacrifice him by throwing him overboard. Jonah explained that due to his own death, God’s wrath would pass and that the sea would become calm. Subsequently Jonah then spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish before it spat him up onto dry land.

Typological interpretation of this story holds that it prefigures Christ’s burial, the stomach of the fish representing Christ’s tomb: as Jonah exited from the fish after three days and three nights, so did Christ rise from His tomb on the third day.

In the New Testament, Jesus invokes Jonah in the manner of a type: “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, ‘This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.'” Luke 11:29–32 (see also Matthew 12:38–42, 16:1–4). Jonah called the belly of the fish “She’ol”, the land of the dead (translated as “the grave” in the NIV Bible).

Thus whenever one finds an allusion to Jonah in Medieval art or in Medieval literature, it usually represents an allegory for the burial and resurrection of Christ.

In the New Testament, Jonah is mentioned in Matthew 12:38–41, 16:4 and Luke 11:29–32. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes a reference to Jonah when he is asked for a miraculous sign by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jesus says that the sign will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus implies that Jonah’s restoration after three days inside the great whale prefigures his own resurrection.

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”

—Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12 verses 39–41

Jonah is regarded as a saint by a number of Christian denominations. He is commemorated as a prophet in the Calendar of Saints of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church on September 22.

On the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar his feast day is also September 22 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian calendar; September 22 currently falls in October on the modern Gregorian calendar).

He is commemorated as one of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31. Jonah’s mission to the Ninevites is commemorated by the Fast of Nineveh in Syriac and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The apocryphal Lives of the Prophets, which may be Jewish or Christian in origin, offer further biographical details about Jonah.


A source in the Nineveh province revealed on Wednesday, that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “ISIS” terrorist organization has resumed bombing historical buildings and monuments in the province, noting that it has blew up the historic wall of Nineveh in the center of Mosul.

The source told that “ISIS terrorists on Tuesday night destroyed large parts of the historic wall of Nineveh in the Tahrir neighborhood of the Mosul area, noting that terrorists have used large quantities of explosives “

The Nineveh wall is considered a prominent historical monuments in the province, Iraq, and the region in general, an important landmark dating back to the Assyrian civilization thousands of years ago.

The ISIS terrorist organization has also destroyed a lot of other archaeological, historical and religious sites in the areas seized by ISIS, since the tenth of last June, which is considered by cultural and civic circles as crimes against the culture and human heritage.

The ancient city of Nineveh is also on UNESCO’s list:

“Nineveh was one of the most important cultural centers inthe ancient world enjoying a prominent role in the field of developing human civilization, in that it was the greatest metropolis where various branchesofartsandlearning originated. It was adopted by the Assyrians as their political seat and comes next to their first religious capital city Ashur.Excavation on the principle mound in the city, Kuyunijk, has shown that it was occupied from c.6000 BC.-AD 600, Nineveh was oRen a royal residence and was finally established asthecapitaloftheAssyrians about 700 BC. by Senacherib, whose successors lived there until its destruction in 612 BC. The city wall of Nineveh has a circumference of over 12 km. And six gates have been excavated. On the mound of Kuyunjik the throne-room suite of Senacherrib’s palace has re-excavated with some of its relief slabs depicting the Kings conquest still in position, the mound of Nebi Yunusj the site ofthe imperial arsenal 1.6 km; South of Kuyunjik, has been covered with houses grouped around a mosque, containing the reputed tomb of Jonah.”

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