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The Sumerian King List Spans for Over 241,000 Years Before a Great Flood

Out of the many incredible artefacts that have been recovered from sites in Iraq where flourishing Sumerian cities once stood, few have been more intriguing that the Sumerian King List, an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) from Sumerian and neighbouring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of “official” kingship.

What makes this artefact so unique is the fact that the list blends apparently mythical pre-dynastic rulers with historical rulers who are known to have existed. The first fragment of this rare and unique text, a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet, was found in the early 1900s by German-American scholar Hermann Hilprecht at the site of ancient Nippur and published in 1906.

Since Hilprecht’s discovery, at least 18 other exemplars of the king’s list have been found, most of them dating from the second half of the Isin dynasty (c. 2017-1794 BCE.). No two of these documents are identical.

However, there is enough common material in all versions of the list to make it clear that they are derived from a single, “ideal” account of Sumerian history.

Among all the examples of the Sumerian King List, the Weld-Blundell prism in the Ashmolean Museum cuneiform collection in Oxford represents the most extensive version as well as the most complete copy of the King List. The 8-inch-high prism contains four sides with two columns on each side.

It is believed that it originally had a wooden spindle going through its centre so that it could be rotated and read on all four sides. It lists rulers from the antediluvian (“before the flood”) dynasties to the fourteenth ruler of the Isin dynasty (ca. 1763–1753 BC).

The list is of immense value because it reflects very old traditions while at the same time providing an important chronological framework relating to the different periods of kingship in Sumeria, and even demonstrates remarkable parallels to accounts in Genesis.

The ancient civilisation of Sumer

Sumer (sometimes called Sumeria), is the site of the earliest known civilization, located in the southernmost part of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, in the area that later became Babylonia and is now southern Iraq from around Baghdad to the Persian Gulf.

By the 3rd millennium BC, Sumer was the site of at least twelve separate city states: Kish, Erech, Ur,Sippar, Akshak, Larak, Nippur, Adab, Umma, Lagash, Bad-tibira, and Larsa.

Each of these states comprised a walled city and its surrounding villages and land, and each worshiped its own deity, whose temple was the central structure of the city. Political power originally belonged to the citizens, but, as rivalry between the various city-states increased, each adopted the institution of kingship.

The Sumerian King List, records that eight kings reigned before a great flood. After the Flood, various city-states and their dynasties of kings temporarily gained power over the others.

Sumer’s mythical past

The Sumerian King List begins with the very origin of kingship, which is seen as a divine institution: “the kingship had descended from heaven”. The rulers in the earliest dynasties are represented as reigning fantastically long periods:

“After the kingship descended from [the] heaven[s], the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alaljar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years.”

Some of the rulers mentioned in the early list, such as Etana, Lugal-banda and Gilgamesh, are mythical or legendary figures whose heroic feats are subjects of a series of Sumerian and Babylonian narrative compositions.

The early list names eight kings with a total of 241,200 years from the time when kingship “descended from [the] heaven[s]” to the time when “the Flood” swept over the land and once more “the kingship was lowered from heaven” after the Flood.

Interpretation of long reigns

The amazingly long tenure of the early kings has provoked many attempts at interpretation. At one extreme is the complete dismissal of the astronomically large figures as “completely artificial” and the view that they are unworthy of serious consideration.

At the other extreme, is the belief that the numbers have a basis in reality and that the early kings were indeed gods who were capable of living much longer than humans.

In between the two extremes is the hypothesis that the figures represent relative power, triumph or importance. For example, in ancient Egypt, the phrase “he died aged 110” referred to someone who lived life to the full and who offered an important contribution to society.

In the same way, the extremely long periods of reign of the early kings may represent how incredibly important they were perceived as being in the eyes of the people. This doesn’t explain, however, why the periods of tenure later switched to realistic time periods.

Related to this perspective is the belief that although the early kings are historically unattested, this does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were later mythicised.

Finally, some scholars have sought to explain the figures through a mathematical investigation and interpretation (e.g. Harrison, 1993).

Relation to Genesis

Some scholars (e.g. Wood, 2003) have drawn attention to the fact that there are remarkable similarities between the Sumerian King List and accounts in Genesis. For example, Genesis tells the story of ‘the great flood’ and Noah’s efforts to save all the species of animals on Earth from destruction. Likewise, in the Sumerian King List, there is discussion of a great deluge: “the flood swept over the earth.”

The Sumerian King List provides a list of eight kings (some versions have 10) who reigned for long periods of time before the flood, ranging from 18,600 to 43,200 years. This is similar to Genesis 5, where the generations from Creation to the Flood are recorded.

Interestingly, between Adam and Noah there are eight generations, just as there are eight kings between the beginning of kingship and the flood in the Sumerian King List.

After the flood, the King List records kings who ruled for much shorter periods of time. Thus, the Sumerian King List not only documents a great flood early in man’s history, but it also reflects the same pattern of decreasing longevity as found in the Bible – men had extremely long life spans before the flood and much shorter life spans following the flood (Wood, 2003).

The Sumerian King List truly is a perplexing mystery.

Why would the Sumerians combine mythical rulers with actual historical rulers in one document? Why are there so many similarities with Genesis? Why were ancient kings described as ruling for thousands of years? 

These are just some of the questions that still remain unanswered after more than a century of research.

By April Holloway, Ancient Origins; | References:

  1. The Sumerian King List – University of Oxford
  2. Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology: The Sumerian King List – by Bryant G. Wood
  3. The Sumerian king list: translation – The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
  4. The Sumerian King List – by L.C. Geerts
  5. Reinvestigating the Antediluvian Sumerian King List – by R. K. Harrison
  6. The Sumerian King List – by Thorkild Jacobsen (The Oriental Institute of the University of California)

Article by: Ancient-Origins

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Ancient

A fierce embodiment of Earth: The Mayan structure used for direct dialogue with the gods

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) working in Guatemala have found evidence of the ritual significance of the classic Maya pairings. They found a structure the likes of which had never been found in Mesoamerica.

According to EurekAlert, archaeologists visited the city of Ksultun, where an ancient bathhouse was found earlier. She received the name Los Sapos. Scientists have long known that the Maya built a kind of steam room – their baths, according to their principle of operation, were designed for profuse sweating.

These baths were believed to have religious significance. They also sent here for treatment, brought women in labor. However, new research showed that the importance of such structures was even more important. The fact is that the Los Sapos bath, dating from the early classical period (250-550 AD), turned out to be unlike any other ancient Mesoamerican bath.

The researchers concluded that this was not just a place for direct dialogue with the gods. The Maya considered this bath itself an amphibian goddess. Outside, near the entrance to it, scientists found an image of this little-known deity. The goddess is depicted squatting with legs on which iguanas and reed toads sit.

“No other structure in Mesoamerica – a bathhouse or anything else – is like this building,” says STRI archaeologist Ashley Sharp. the amphibian that personified this bath.”

According to lead author of the study, Mary Clarke, the name of this goddess remains undeciphered, although it is written next to the image. Preliminary analysis of the inscription led scientists to speculate that this goddess was responsible for the cycles of pregnancy. The connection between the ideas of the birth of children and the figures of reptiles is often traced in the Maya of the classical period.

She also noted that the Los Sapos baths have been actively used by the Sultun community for about 300 years. But then something important and frightening happened. The fact is that in the “doorway” archaeologists unearthed the remains of an adult man who was buried there around 600 AD.

The analysis showed that after that no one used the bath for another 300 years. Only three centuries after the funeral, someone re-entered this structure. It is interesting that this person or several people had a strictly defined goal – they dug out a burial place and took with them part of the remains.

The rest of them they put in another place, and in the vacated grave they lit a fire. Subsequently, they repeatedly put various offerings to the gods in this grave. Dogs, birds, reed toads and iguanas were sacrificed. Archaeologists found the remains of a child in this pit, as well as numerous stone tools and ceramic shards.

“Archaeologists often find clusters of artifacts that were probably dedicated to places of worship, but rarely is there such an obvious connection between artifacts and objects,” Sharpe says. “From the image on the outer wall of Los Zapos, we know it was a ‘steam room’ “It was a rare occasion for us to associate offerings with the role that this structure played in the life of the community.”

According to the authors of the work, the offerings were probably an attempt to seek help from the goddess who personified Los Sapos. Moreover, it could even be the last attempt to please a supernatural being and prevent the loss of their lands, which were abandoned shortly after the Mayan collapse in 900 AD.

“This supernatural figure is the fierce embodiment of Earth,” Clarke concludes. “When she is unhappy, she can take revenge or deny people the things they need to survive. they negotiated with this goddess for their survival. “

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Secrets of the Forbidden City are being solved by modern archaeologists

If we compare the millennia during which palaces were built and restored in China with an epic novel, then the Forbidden City in Beijing is its last impressive chapter.

An exhibition celebrating the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City opened in Beijing on September 10.  Photo: Jiang Dong / CHINA DAILYAn exhibition celebrating the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City opened in Beijing on September 10. Photo: Jiang Dong / CHINA DAILY

The previous pages of this story, although no less amazing, were partially or even almost completely lost during the rise and fall of dynasties and turned into ruins, similar to archaeological puzzles. Experts are still solving them. However, in the heart of Beijing, there is a 720,000-square-meter palace complex built of wood and clay bricks – the last surviving structure of its kind in the world. This area, which served as an imperial palace from 1420 to 1911 and where 24 emperors once lived, celebrates 600 years since the completion of construction this year.

In honor of this event, the Umen Gate galleries at the entrance to the Imperial Palace Museum became a kind of lobby, where visitors to the exhibition “Eternal Splendor: Six Centuries in the Forbidden City” enter. It will run until November 15th.

“There is so much that has happened in 600 years that can be said,” says Zhao Peng, director of the museum’s architectural heritage department and chief curator of the exhibition. “It is best to focus on the ‘city’ itself, that is, on architecture: to understand how this place was formed and modified … This is the crystallized wisdom and talent of the ancient Chinese. “

Yet it is not easy to select just 450 items, including structural elements and imperial relics, to reveal a panorama of such architectural splendor. In order to chronologically show how the complex originated, expanded and developed with the help of the exhibits, 18 significant years were selected from the entire centuries-old history. 

“These time periods help to see a fuller historical picture,” Zhao says.

In 1406, Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), proposed to move the capital from Nanjing (today it is the administrative center of Jiangsu Province) to Beijing in order to better guard the northern borders. Zhu Di himself lived in Beijing as a prince.The Forbidden City was built according to rules derived from centuries of Chinese history.

The construction was completed in 1420, after almost ten years of preparation and three years of active work. The following year, the capital was officially moved to Beijing.

“A striking feature of the Forbidden City is how, despite the changing eras, certain architectural forms are strictly adhered to,” Zhao says. “This reflects traditional Chinese thought that emphasizes the importance of ritual and harmony between people and the sky.”

The Forbidden City was built according to rules derived from centuries of Chinese history. The exhibition presents “Notes on the Study of Crafts” (Kaogongji) – a treatise that spells out the basics of building a palace. It was published during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and is part of the classic Chinese work Zhou Rituals (Zhouli) on rituals and notions of order.

“Notes on the Study of Crafts” regulate the symmetrical layouts of the capital cities, in the center of which on the north-south axis should be a palace. The historic districts of modern Beijing, including the Forbidden City, fully comply with this rule.

“Finally, this ideal layout, which has been guided for nearly 2,000 years, has been faithfully embodied in Beijing,” Zhao says.

Following the rituals is reflected in the architectural details.

For example, only the roof of the Hall of Higher Harmony – the most prestigious structure in the palace, where the most important ceremonies took place – can be decorated with ten figures of deified beings. The simpler the roof is decorated, the lower the status of the building.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony also has 11 rooms – more than any other building in the complex. (In ancient Chinese architecture, a room was a square space between four columns.)

Roof shape is another important indicator by which you can determine the status of a building. For example, the roof of the Hall of Higher Harmony is four-pitched and two-tier, its ends protrude and bend upwards. Only buildings of the highest status can have such a roof.

In 1734, Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) issued an official guide to the construction of palaces. The book, which is over 2,700 pages, spells out all the architectural criteria, including the size of the columns and the decoration of the roofs. According to Zhao, this is an important milestone in the history of the fusion of rituals with Chinese architecture.

The Forbidden City in Beijing has two older brothers. When Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty and became emperor, he made the capital of his hometown, which is today in Fengyang County, Anhui Province. However, the construction of a huge palace complex for unknown reasons suddenly stopped, and Zhu Yuanzhang decided to build an imperial city in Nanjing.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony is one of the most visited attractions of the palace complex. Photo: Courtesy of CHINA DAILY

Both imperial cities fell into ruins, but some important details have survived to this day, such as stone fences and tiles in the galleries of the Umen Gate. They help to imagine what the early architecture of the Forbidden City might have looked like.

“The original appearance of buildings can often be seen in the paintings,” says the deputy director of the architectural heritage department of the museum, Di Yajing.

No matter how the new emperors followed the precepts of their ancestors, it is clear that they wanted to decorate their new home. “The Ming emperors preferred simple yet stately architecture, and therefore large buildings were built during their reign,” Di says. “However, the Qing emperors tended to be more sophisticated.”To understand whether the pictures correspond to historical reality, you need to conduct additional checks

Sometimes this was a forced decision, since it was difficult to find giant pieces of valuable timber to renovate the palace. However, the Qing emperors demonstrated their wealth and status with handicrafts of the most skillful work. Thanks to Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), who adored fine arts, this trend reached its peak. In 1766, he ordered the construction of the Palace of Serenity and Longevity in the Forbidden City, where he planned to live after leaving the throne. The garden of this palace has become a real treasure trove of exceptional decorative objects.

The lacquered gauze fabric, which used to be placed on the window, allows visitors to appreciate its uniqueness, because the garden has never been opened to the public before. The decor of this silk combines techniques such as paper cutting, gilding, dyeing and varnishing. This means that several artisans worked on its creation at once. 12-ply fabric is paper thin.

“We tried to replicate this decor, but even modern manufacturing techniques did not help us,” Dee says. “This lost technique reminds us that cultural heritage must be carefully preserved.”

Complex renovation of the main buildings of the complex has been going on since 2002. Although it was originally planned to be completed by a round date this year, in the end the architects decided not to rush to complete the work with full responsibility and respect for history.

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From “living” runes to a hologram. Ancient technologies are making a comeback

Human civilization develops thanks to accumulated knowledge. Without knowledge and experience, there is no movement forward to progress. People make discoveries, bring them to life and pass this information on to subsequent generations. The most faithful and reliable storage is memory. But, unfortunately, it is limited to the framework of one human life or generation.

Therefore, in past centuries, when people were closer to each other, the continuity of generations was maintained. Wisdom was passed down orally: from grandfather to father, from father to son. So, epics and legends were composed. The image embedded in them was able to live for centuries. After all, only that which is felt is remembered. All events in the senses are imprinted with all the multifaceted connections.

We can say that feeling is a kind of “hard drive” that is turned on with the help of a computer brain.

In that distant era, when our ancestors lived in harmony with themselves and nature, they had developed imaginative thinking. Sounds had a special meaning because they created reality. But the means for transmitting information or extracting it from the past were musical instruments. Each of them had its own purpose. With the help of some, people remembered their past lives, others were introduced into an altered state of consciousness, in which it was possible to perform miracles.

Various folk tales have preserved the legends of “magic words” that open doors and launch flying ships. The Byzantine chronicles say how the northern people came to negotiations without weapons, holding only a folk psaltery in their hands. The sounds drawn from the strings decided the outcome of the negotiations.

Runes – the first material carrier

Руны
Runes

At this level of interaction with information, any drawn symbol had a magical effect. The ancestors called these signs – Runes. Not everyone could “work” with them. Due to the ability to materialize thoughts instantly, only initiates had access to them. For everyday needs, they used features and cuts that did not have such tremendous power. As the spiritual decline and loss of skills, it was necessary to create books, but they were so amazing that for a modern person they seem completely fantastic.

Голографическая реальность
Holographic reality

Ancient stereo books

These were ordinary pre-Christian books, which were then burned as a devilish “black book”. Although they had nothing to do with the devilry. Their whole secret was the ability of our ancestors to use bioenergetics.

Such books have been carefully crafted for centuries. Every detail of her material had to have certain physical qualities.

The text of the future book was first written down with a metal stylus on wax-covered boards, where any corrections could be made. It is impossible to write straight away. Trying to accurately convey his thought, the author “runs after her”, not worrying about spelling. The well-known expression “to spread the thought along the tree” comes from there.

Nevertheless, the main thing in the creation of the book was not the author, but a scribe who would have had imagination and such body cells that emit bioenergy. In this case, all the pictures that appear in his imagination, together with the biocurrents, are absorbed into the parchment as on a film strip. The effect of titles is created, as if hanging in the air between a person and those living pictures that the suede parchment has absorbed. For these purposes, it was manufactured in a special way. As well as cinnabar for writing.

 Стерео-книга
Stereo book

Then the sheets of parchment were stitched like modern thick notebooks with a metal spiral on the spine. The cover was made of bog oak boards. Its name was engraved on the cover. To make it better read, silver and niello were poured into the grooves of the letters. At the same time, the same massive oak-copper case was made for the book, closed with copper clasps.

Ancient books
Ancient books

Incredibly, the natural ingredients and techniques used in this book produced a 3D effect. The only difference is that a modern person needs special glasses, and our ancestors developed such abilities. It’s just that some could emit biocurrents, while others perceive them. In short, living people were transmitters and receivers.

Gold and stone discs – the prototype of modern discs

In addition to such wonderful books, there were also discs that contained a huge layer of information in a compressed form. Perhaps they are “read” in the same way as “miracle books”, but it is possible that there was a certain computer into which these disks could be inserted.

Phaistos disc.
Phaistos disc

In any case, according to the first version, attempts were made to decipher the Phaistos disc, a phenomenon that made a lot of noise at one time. It was discovered that the disc contains layered information. It cannot be read like an ordinary letter.

The hologram is the library of the future

With the advent of Christianity, all ancient knowledge and skills were declared devilish, and the possessors of these abilities were witches and sorcerers. Both books and people were burning in the bonfires. In order to preserve the rest, the manuscripts were rewritten, but already in an ordinary linear letter. Of course, distortions were inevitable and the picture of past events, presented in this way, did not correspond to reality.

Pen books have proven to be a rather primitive way of conveying information. Although, for many centuries, they remained a guiding thread for knowledge. And yet, as we can see, important discoveries were and are being made as a result of practical research, often thanks to insight, which proves the existence of an information field, from where you can get the necessary information. 

Hologram
Hologram

Now, humanity is approaching again the stage when the need for the usual carriers of information will disappear. Everything will be transferred to a virtual memory base. But if earlier holograms were created and accepted by people themselves, now machines will do it for us.

In the event of another disaster, we will lose access to the electronic library. And then everything will have to start over. And our descendants, just like we are now, will believe that at this period people were illiterate, because they did not have a written language …

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