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 Cuthaean Legend and Umman-manda

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on June 23, 2018

The Cuthaean Legend envisions a powerful enemy that emerges unexpectedly from the distant mountains and establishes hegemony after a sudden burst of military power. This enemy will eventually be destroyed without the intervention of the Mesopotamian king.  The powerful enemy is called Umman-manda (i..e troops of the mandum) among other things.

The Sumerian word mada (‘land’) or mandum (‘terrain’) can be linked to the word Umman-manda. In ‘Lugalbanda-Enmerkar’ the word is used for the mountain
lands between Anshan and Aratta, and that this is a zone east of, and distant to, the Mesopotamian heartland.

The distinction between Umman-manda and the ‘four regions’ is apparent in an astrological omen that mentions ‘the attack of the Umman-manda on girgibira’. The omen, and a commentary fragment, state girgibira denotes the ‘four regions’ (erbu=kibrati).

Mesopotamian astrology used the cosmographic conception of the ‘four regions’ to correlate astral phenomena to the four directions north, south, east, west, and for these directions the names of political entities such as Subartu, Guti, Amurru, Elam, Akkad were frequently used.

Umman-manda It was probably “a general term for the inhabitants of the north-eastern mountainous fringes of Mesopotamia and the territories beyond them”.  The word mandum ‘terrain’ denoted distant terrain between Anshan and Aratta in Lugalbanda II. The word ‘terrain’ can denote the furthest reaches of the inhabited world.

If the word ‘terrain’ is used as the second component of the term Umman-manda, then it is possible to explain how the term denotes a group from the ‘east’ who attacks the ‘four regions’. This ‘eastern’ origin of the Umman-manda in the omens is not to be taken too literally, but rather covers the mountainous terrain east and north of Mesopotamia.

A mandum etymology for Umman-manda suggests the term denotes foreign peoples whose original homeland is somewhere distant in the mountainous geography east and northeast of Mesopotamia. They attack the ‘four regions’ from the distant ‘east’.

This ‘eastern’ direction implied by the proposed mandum-etymology for the Umman-manda also reveals one of the reasons why the term was used for the Cimmerians and the Medes and not other people in the periphery of Mesopotamia. These two peoples did not inhabit exactly the same location but both came from distant regions north and east of Mesopotamia.

The Umman-manda in the Cuthaean Legend are a powerful enemy who come from the eastern direction but are ultimately doomed to fall. The contemporary political circumstances surrounding the Cimmerians and the Medes prompted the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian scribes to see the parallels between the Umman-manda in the Cuthaean Legend, and the Cimmerians and Medes respectively: the Umman-manda of their own times.

Both Mesopotamia and Ans]an are distinguished from the defeated land of Gutium and
the Umman-manda. The latter two are usually treated as distinct entities, but both are meant to describe those who are similarly outside the civilisation.

Gutians are traditionally depicted as uncivilised through pejorative stereotypes, and are associated with the eastern mountains. However, the astrological omens treat the Guti and the Umma4n-manda as different entities and Gutium is a political entity usually used in the schema for the four cardinal points.

Umman-manda could be describing those foreign peoples and/or military groups whose origins are thought to be in the distant lands, in the ‘mountains’ east and north of Mesopotamia, away from centres of civilisation.

Individuals involved with the Umman-manda have names from different languages. Explanations for the significance of the Umman-manda based on the linguistic affiliation of personal names attached to the term are off the mark.

The Guti or Quti, also known by the derived exonyms Gutians or Guteans, were a nomadic people of the Zagros Mountains (on the border of modern Iran and Iraq) during ancient times. Their homeland was known as Gutium (Sumerian: Gu-tu-umki or Gu-ti-umki).

Conflict between people from Gutium and the Akkadian Empire has been linked to the collapse of the empire, towards the end of the 3rd Millennium BCE. The Guti subsequently overran southern Mesopotamia and formed a royal dynasty in Sumer.

Little is known of the origins, material culture or language of the Guti, as contemporary sources provide few details and no artifacts have been positively identified. As the Gutian language lacks a text corpus, apart from some proper names, its similarities to other languages are impossible to verify.

The names of Gutian-Sumerian kings, suggest that the language was not closely related to any languages of the region, including Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite and Elamite.

W. B. Henning suggested that the different endings of the king names resembled case endings in the Tocharian languages, a branch of Indo-European known from texts found in the Tarim Basin (in the northwest of modern China) dating from the 6th to 8th centuries CE, making Gutian the earliest documented Indo-European language.

He further suggested that they had subsequently migrated to the Tarim. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov explored Henning’s suggestion as possible support for their proposal of an Indo-European Urheimat in the Near East. However, most scholars reject the attempt to compare languages separated by more than two millennia.

As the Akkadians went into decline, the Gutians began a campaign, decades-long of hit-and-run raids against Mesopotamia. Their raids crippled the economy of Sumer. Travel became unsafe, as did work in the fields, resulting in famine.

The Gutians eventually overran Akkad, and as the King List tells us, their army also subdued Uruk for hegemony of Sumer, in about 2147–2050 BCE. However, it seems that autonomous rulers soon arose again in a number of city-states, notably Gudea of Lagash.

The Sumerian king list suggests that the Guti ruled over Sumer for several generations, following the fall of the Akkadian Empire. By the 1st Millennium BCE, usage of the name Gutium, by the peoples of lowland Mesopotamia, had expanded to include all of western Media, between the Zagros and the Tigris.

Various tribes and places to the east and northeast were often referred to as Gutians or Gutium. For example, Assyrian royal annals use the term Gutians in relation to populations known to have been Medes or Mannaeans. As late as the reign of Cyrus the Great of Persia, the famous general Gubaru (Gobryas) was described as the “governor of Gutium”.

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