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Mesopotamia

Coming together for a solstice feast in ancient Peru. Robert Gutierrez.

How Feasting Rituals Helped Lead to a Civilized World

Charles Stanish / The Conversation “ The Epic of Gilgamesh ” is one of the earliest texts known in the world. It’s the story of a god-king, Gilgamesh, who ruled the city of Uruk in Mesopotamia in the...
The tomb with 8 human sacrifices at the entrance and 2 skeletal remains within.

A Matter of Honor? Evidence of Brutal Child Sacrifice Surfaces in Ancient Mesopotamia

The 5,000-year-old bodies of a 12-year-old a boy and girl surrounded by “hundreds of bronze spearheads and eight human sacrifices” were unearthed at Basur Höyük in southeastern Turkey (Mesopotamia,)...
The reconstructed Bull’s Lyre.

A Bull-Headed Lyre: Reconstructing the Sound and Style of Ancient Mesopotamia

A musician may have strummed its strings all the way back in the 3rd millennium BC. This means that the Bull’s Lyre, aka the Golden Lyre of Ur, is one of the oldest string instruments in the world...
5,000-year-old musical scene found on pottery in Israel

5,000-year-old musical scene found on pottery in Israel may reflect sacred marriage ritual

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority working at Bet Ha-‘Emeq have discovered a shard from an early Bronze Age storage vessel depicting scenes from what seems to be a ‘sacred marriage...
Illustration of an ancient city in Mesopotamia.

Hoard of Ancient Tablets Found in Iraq Reveal Location of Lost Royal City of Mardama

In an exciting discovery, archaeologists have found the location of the lost royal city of Mardama. The ancient Hurrian city had laid buried for millennia until archaeologists unearthed the remains...
A seedhead of an opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, with white latex. (Public Domain) Cylinder-seal of the "Lady" or "Queen" (Sumerian NIN) Puabi, one of the defuncts of the Royal Cemetery of Ur, c. 2600 BC. Banquet scene, typical of the Early Dynastic Period.

New Research Provides First Peek at Ancient Mesopotamian Drug Use

Medical usage? Ritual practice? Or perhaps the drugs served both purposes? Researchers are asking what the recently recovered psychoactive drug residues from ancient Mesopotamia mean. But not...
One of the buildings uncovered at the Sumerian port town of Abu Tbeirah, its function is still unknown.

4,000-Year-Old Sumerian Port Shows the Famed Civilization Excelled at Sea Too

Now it’s a desert, but 4000 years ago the ancient site of Abu Tbeirah in southern Iraq was a thriving Sumerian port town. It was a hub where ships set sail for distant lands such as the Indus Valley...
Fragment of talisman used to exorcise the sick, Assyrian era.

Mixing Magic and Medicine: New Study Shows Mesopotamian Doctors Had to Battle Demons

Analysis of a collection of clay tablets confirms that a Mesopotamian doctor had to deal with more than just physical ailments. The ancient healer was expected to exorcise demons, ward off witchcraft...
Detail of a bronze statuette of Pazuzu, circa 800 BC - circa 700 BC. Pazuzu was an Assyrian evil spirit believed to frighten away other evil spirits - protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.

Mesopotamian Ghostbusters: The Evil Acts of Assyrian Ghosts and How They Were Vanquished

Assyria, like Mesopotamia in general, has always excited the Western imagination. Assyrian beliefs about the spiritual world are no exception. The Assyrians believed that ghosts could return from the...
From Giovanni Battista Belzoni: Egyptian race portrayed in the Book of Gates.

The ‘Dynastic Race’ and the Biblical ‘Japheth’ Part II: Ethnology and Influence

In Part I, the author pieced together the possible genealogy to be found in Mesopotamia and Egypt, taking as his starting point the Biblical account of human developments in the region after the...
Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot

The ‘Dynastic Race’ and the Biblical ‘Japheth’ – Part I: After the Deluge

The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt...
relief at the ancient Persian city of Persepolis (now in modern Iran), including inscriptions in cuneiform, the world’s oldest form of writing.

The Controversial Road to the Recovery of Cuneiform Texts

It is a little-known piece of history that Saddam Hussein was a great fan of ancient Mesopotamian literature. His enthusiasm for epics written in cuneiform – the world’s oldest known form of writing...
View of Hasankeyf with the castle in left foreground, in southeastern Turkey.

Destruction of Hasankeyf Begins as Ancient Caves Are Collapsed With Explosives

The destruction of historical caves with the use of explosives in the ancient town of Hasankeyf by the Turkish government has drawn anger and disappointment to many people from all over the world...
Total eclipse of the Sun, June 8, 1918, Howard Russell Butler

The Life and Death Power of Eclipses in the Ancient World

On Monday, August 21, people living in the continental United States will be able to see a total solar eclipse. Humans have been alternatively amused, puzzled, bewildered and sometimes even terrified...
Clay accounting ball with calculi, counters, and evolution of cuneiform. Exhibit in the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Solution to the 5,500-year-old Mesopotamian Clay Ball Enigma

In late 2013, interesting fresh evidence dating back five and a half millennia was found, giving insights into the enigma of the Mesopotamian clay balls. Through use of CT scanning to peer into the...
Detail of a modern depiction of the goddess Ishtar.

Love is a Battlefield: The Legend of Ishtar, First Goddess of Love and War

Louise Pryke / The Conversation As singer Pat Benatar once noted, love is a battlefield . Such use of military words to express intimate, affectionate emotions is likely related to love’s capacity to...

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