Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Evolution/Origins Of Science at least by 5,500 years ago

“The first evidence of science was at least by around 5,500 years ago and was demonstrated by a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world. This was produced by would-be scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real-world phenomena. These Egyptian peoples began mixing things, practicing early cemetery with the mummification of their early Mummies and Mesopotamian peoples began to attempt to record some observations of the world with numerical data that seemed to be taken for purposes other than for true scientific laws.” ref

1. 5,600-years-old Turin Egypt Mummy with evidence of early intentional mummification. 2. 3,570 years old Ebers Papyrus that was an Egyptian medical and herbal knowledge. 3. Spear clay envelope and content of spheres late 4th millennium B.C. from Susa, Iran, thus a Proto-Elamite area. This is thought to be the influence from Mesopotamia in Susa, which is visible from about 5,220 years ago, and the thinking is that they were created in Mesopotamia about 5,500 years ago. The Proto-Elamite envelope and spheres were comparable to 3,300-year-old clay envelope ball from Mesopotamia with 49 pebbles and a cuneiform contract commanding a shepherd to care for 49 sheep and goats. 4. 5,143-years-old Sumerian Star Map Recorded the Impact of a Massive Asteroid. 5. 3,920-3,620-years-old Babylonian tablet Plimpton 322, which is the world’s oldest trigonometric table, possibly used by Babylonian scholars to calculate how to construct stepped pyramids, palaces, and temples. ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

“As early as 3,800 years ago, a concrete instance of Pythagoras’ law was recorded on the Plimpton 322, a Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet, which was possibly created millennia before Pythagoras did it. In Babylonian astronomy/astrology and possibly for religious reasons rather than science, records of the movements of the stars, planets, and the moon are left on thousands of clay tablets. Even today, astronomical periods identified by Mesopotamian scientists are still widely used in Western calendars such as the solar year and the lunar month. Babylonian astronomy was “the first and highly successful attempt at giving a refined mathematical description of astronomical phenomena.” Using this data, they developed arithmetical methods to compute the changing length of daylight in the course of the year and to predict the appearances and disappearances of the moon, planets, and eclipses of the sun and moon. Only a few astronomers are known such as that of Kidinnu, an astronomer and mathematician who created Kiddinu’s value for the solar year and it is used in today’s calendars. It is reasonably concluded that all subsequent varieties of scientific astronomy and if not to some extent, all subsequent endeavor in the exact sciences depend upon Babylonian astronomy in decisive and fundamental ways.” ref

“Ancient Egypt made significant advances in astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Their development of geometry was a necessary outgrowth of surveying to preserve the layout and ownership of farmland which was flooded annually by the Nile River. The 3-4-5 right triangle and other rules of thumb were used to build rectilinear structures and the post and lintel architecture of Egypt. Egypt was also a center of alchemy research for much of the Mediterranean. In addition, the Edwin Smith papyrus is one of the first medical documents still existing and perhaps the earliest document that attempts to describe and analyze the brain: it might be seen as the very beginnings of modern neuroscience. However, while Egyptian medicine had some effective practices, it was not without its ineffective and sometimes harmful practices. Medical historians believe that ancient Egyptian pharmacology, for example, was largely ineffective. Nevertheless, it applies the following components to the treatment of disease: examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis which display strong parallels to the basic empirical method of science. Likewise, 3,550 years ago, the Ebers papyrus also contains evidence of traditional empiricism.” ref

Timeline of scientific thought

“Ancient trade originated in the migratory patterns of prehistoric nomadic people who ranged over long distances across the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America, for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence reveals the origins of a mysterious and creative people who learned to transform themselves in response to changes in the environment and disruptions in age-old patterns of nomadic life. It can be surmised that nomads were close observers of nature –its colors and patterns, its natural cycles, and its sudden impulses –because the ability to journey easily over diverse geographic areas depended on a knowledge of terrain, plant and animal life, climatic variations, and food and water resources.” ref 

“As small families followed migrating herds of deer, antelope, and bison, they moved easily and quietly, gathering wild honey, tsama melons, cucumbers, roots, and berries. They lived, worked, and raised their children beside rivers, across vast deserts and valley landscapes, and in pristine mountain caves. They developed complicated navigational skills, a thriving trade network, symbolic etchings, ceremonial burials, extravagant cave paintings, beads, jewelry, carved figurines, and elegant stone tools. By about 100,000 years ago there was a technological, cultural, and demographic evolutionary period in which people began to ornament themselves with shells and ivory beads and engage in a thriving trade with their neighbors.” ref 

“Trade originated from human communication in prehistoric times. Trading was the main facility of prehistoric people, who exchanged goods and services from each other in a gift economy before the innovation of modern-day currency. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from as far back as around 150,000 years ago. In the Mediterranean region, the earliest contact between cultures involved members of the species Homo sapiens, principally using the Danube river, at a time beginning 35,000–30,000 years ago. Some trace the origins of commerce to the very start of transactions in prehistoric times. Apart from traditional self-sufficiency, trading became a principal facility of prehistoric people, who bartered what they had for goods and services from each other.” ref 

“Nomadic handwork was the first “luxury goods”; beads, ornaments, finely made tools, or spear points that evoked the status and power of a particular family, which recognized the importance of complex, detailed, and elegant design to the art of communication, and were important as “ritual gifts” and items of trade. At differing times and in various geographical areas, and perhaps due to either positive or negative environmental changes, instead of following migrating herds, a number of hunter-gatherer tribes began to specialize in the domestication of sheep and goats. This involved protecting, feeding, breeding, and herding the animals, and marking the boundaries of water supplies and grazing pastures. The traditional migration ranges became the herding routes for nomadic pastoralists who also built migrating tribal villages, making it possible to move their herds between pastures and water supplies while maintaining a home base.” ref

“As a result, there was stabilization and increase of food supplies, and the ensuing economic prosperity brought trade in livestock, surplus foodstuffs, and materials such as obsidian and amber, which gave nomadic life a sense of social structure and settled existence, which first temporarily and then permanently began to absorb the nomadic way of life. The age-old patterns of nomadic hunter-gatherer life were transformed by pastoralism, and some nomadic sheepherders, instead of herding their animals long distances, began to experiment with growing wild grasses, which led to cultivating wheat, flax, barley, shallots, watercress, vegetables, and herbs. The families who maintained the home camps specialized in protecting the water sources and farming the crops, while other families specialized in animals to pull transport and haulage carts or in the production of farm tools, cooking utensils, and storage vessels.” ref

“As the home camp families and crop farmers became more sedentary and dependent on the herders for milk, meat, and supplies of draft animals, the herders became dependent on reliable supplies of water and feed, and everyone depended on the toolmakers and artisans. Consequently, the gradual evolution of food and tool specialization increased the need for social interaction, communication, and trade. It was essential for traders to learn foreign languages and be familiar with dissimilar customs; and the development of cultural and language skills in the course of trade interconnected the families and laid the groundwork for the founding for local trade networks between early communities.” ref 

“The emergence of Neolithic civilizations can be traced to this kind of cultural and commercial exchange organized around an alliance of pastoralism, cultivation, artisanship, and trade, as nomadic families, who had prospered by complying with the laws of nature, now depended on pastoralism and cultivation and relationships of mutual exchange. The travel and trade patterns and that had played a pivotal role in nomadic survival now brought people together around permanent villages and established interchanges of goods, services, favors, and obligations, and reinforced community cohesion and tradition through an awareness of common goals, cultural ceremonies, intermarriage, and political coalitions.” ref

“When people first settled down into larger towns in Mesopotamia and Egypt, self-sufficiency – the idea that you had to produce absolutely everything that you wanted or needed – started to fade. A farmer could now trade grain for meat, or milk for a pot, at the local market, which was seldom too far away. Cities started to work the same way, realizing that they could acquire goods they didn’t have at hand from other cities far away, where the climate and natural resources produced different things. This longer-distance trade was slow and often dangerous, but was lucrative for the middlemen willing to make the journey.” ref 

Early Forms of Record-Keeping

“Early forms of record-keeping in Mesopotamia led to the development of the first known writing system called cuneiform. A system that used clay tokens was first developed around the 8th millennium BCE which spanned the years 8000 to 7000 BCE (10,022-9,022 years ago) Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) phase of the Early Neolithic. The token system was first used around 8000 – 7500 BCE with the advent of agriculture. These clay tokens were used to represent individual commodities. Eventually, markings were used on the tokens which led to pictographic writing. The token system also helped to develop our concept of abstract numbers. This evolution of record-keeping and writing systems arose due to the need to account for agricultural commodities and the growth of urban environments and trade.” ref, ref 

“Writing in Mesopotamia—if you define writing as recording information in a symbolic manner—took an important step forward with the domestication of plants and animals and the development of trade networks during the Neolithic period of at least as long ago as 7500 BCE or 9,522 years ago. Beginning then, people recorded information about their agricultural goods—including domestic animals and plants—in the form of small clay tokens. Scholars believe that the written form of language that is used to pass this information along today evolved out of this simple accounting technique. Mesopotamian clay tokens were not the first accounting method developed by humans. By 20,000 years ago, Upper Paleolithic people were leaving tally marks on cave walls and cutting hash marks onto portable sticks. Clay tokens, however, contained additional information including what commodity was being counted, an important step forward in communication storage and retrieval.” ref 

Chinese Script

Chinese writing and Chinese characters

“There have recently been discoveries of tortoise-shell carvings dating back to around 6000 BCE, like Jiahu Script, Banpo Script, but whether or not the carvings are complex enough to qualify as writing is under debate.[28] At Damaidi in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to c. 6000–5000 BCE have been discovered, featuring 8,453 individual characters, such as the sun, moon, stars, gods, and scenes of hunting or grazing. These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. If it is deemed to be a written language, writing in China will predate Mesopotamian cuneiform, long acknowledged as the first appearance of writing, by some 2,000 years; however, it is more likely that the inscriptions are rather a form of proto-writing, similar to the contemporary European Vinca script. However, the earliest confirmed evidence of the Chinese script yet discovered is the body of inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze from the late Shang dynasty. The earliest of these is dated to around 1200 BCE.” ref 

“The Jiahu symbols consist of 16 distinct markings on prehistoric artifacts found in Jiahu, a neolithic Peiligang culture site found in Henan, China. The Jiahu symbols are dated to around 6000 BCE. The archaeologists who made the original finds believed the markings to be similar in form to some characters used in the much later oracle bone script (e.g. similar markings of 目 “eye”, 日 “sun; day”), but most doubt that the markings represent systematic writing. A 2003 report in Antiquity interpreted them “not as writing itself, but as features of a lengthy period of sign-use which led eventually to a fully-fledged system of writing.” The earliest known body of writing in the oracle bone script dates much later to the reign of the late Shang dynasty king Wu Ding, which started in about c. 1250 or 1200 BCE.” ref 

Neolithic Clay Tokens

“Neolithic clay tokens were made very simply. A small piece of clay was worked into one of about a dozen different shapes, and then perhaps incised with lines or dots or embellished with pellets of clay. These were then sun-dried or baked in a hearth. The tokens ranged in size from 1–3 centimeters (about 1/3 to one inch), and about 8,000 of them dated between 7500–3000 BCE or 9,522-5,022 years ago have been found so far. The earliest shapes were simple cones, spheres, cylinders, ovoids, disks, and tetrahedrons (pyramids). The premier researcher of clay tokens Denise Schmandt-Besserat argues that these shapes are representations of cups, baskets, and granaries. The cones, spheres, and flat disks, she said, represented small, medium, and large measures of grain; ovoids were jars of oil; cylinders a sheep or goat; pyramids a person-day of work. She based her interpretations on similarities of the forms to shapes used in the later Mesopotamian written proto-cuneiform language and, while that theory has yet to be confirmed, she may very well be right.” ref

Vinca Symbols/Script

“The Vinča symbols, sometimes known as the Danube script, Vinča signs, Vinča script, Vinča–Turdaș script, Old European script, etc., are a set of untranslated symbols found on Neolithic era (6th to 5th millennium BCE) artifacts from the Vinča culture of Central Europe and Southeastern Europe. Whether this is one of the earliest writing systems or simply symbols of some sort is disputed. They have sometimes been described as “pre-writing” or “proto-writing“. Most of the inscriptions are on pottery, with the remainder appearing on ceramic spindle whorls, figurines, and a small collection of other objects. The symbols themselves consist of a variety of abstract and representative pictograms, including zoomorphic (animal-like) representations, combs or brush patterns and abstract symbols such as swastikas, crosses, and chevrons. Over 85% of the inscriptions consist of a single symbol. Other objects include groups of symbols, of which some are arranged in no particularly obvious pattern, with the result that neither the order nor the direction of the signs in these groups is readily determinable.” ref 

The usage of symbols varies significantly between objects; symbols that appear by themselves tend almost exclusively to appear on pots, while symbols that are grouped with other symbols tend to appear on whorls. The quantitative linguistic analysis leads to the conclusion that 59% of the signs share the properties of pottery marks, 11.5% are part of asymmetric ornaments typical for whorls of the Vinca culture, and 29.5% may represent some sort of symbolic (semasiographic) notation. The nature and purpose of the symbols is a mystery. Although attempts have been made to interpret the symbols, there is no agreement as to what they might mean. Some of the “comb” or “brush” symbols, which collectively constitute as much as a sixth of all the symbols so far discovered, may represent a form of prehistoric counting. The Vinča culture appears to have traded its wares quite widely with other cultures, as demonstrated by the widespread distribution of inscribed pots, so it is possible that the “numerical” symbols conveyed information about the value of the pots or their contents. Other cultures, such as the Minoans and Sumerians, used their scripts primarily as accounting tools; the Vinča symbols may have served a similar purpose.” ref 

Dispilio Tablet

“The Dispilio tablet is a wooden tablet bearing inscribed markings, unearthed during George Hourmouziadis‘s excavations of Dispilio in Greece, and carbon 14-dated to 5202 BCE. It was discovered in a Neolithic lakeshore settlement that occupied an artificial island near the modern village of Dispilio on Lake Kastoria in Kastoria, Western Macedonia, Greece. The lake settlement itself was discovered during the dry winter of 1932, which lowered the lake level and revealed traces of the settlement. The site appears to have been occupied over a long period, from the final stages of the Middle Neolithic (5600–5000 BCE) to the Final Neolithic (3000 BCE). A number of items were found, including ceramics, wooden structural elements, the remains of wooden walkways, seeds, bones, figurines, personal ornaments, flutes, and a tablet with marks on it.” ref 

The Token System

“Tokens were usually made of clay but some that have been found were also made of stone. Most tokens were formed in geometric shapes including cones, spheres, and cylinders. Animal and tool-shaped tokens have also been recovered. The tokens were one inch or less across in size. The clay tokens were baked at a low temperature which caused them to vary in color from pink to black. Each token shape represented a certain quantity of a particular good rather than standing for the actual number one, two, or three, etc. These simple tokens remained in use until around 3500 BCE or 5,522 years ago when complex tokens came into use. These new tokens with additional shapes and markings could be used to indicate an increase in the number of goods available to trade.” ref

“The first long-distance trade occurred between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in Pakistan around 3000 BCE or 5,022 years ago, historians believe. Long-distance trade in these early times was limited almost exclusively to luxury goods like spices, textiles, and precious metals. Cities that were rich in these commodities became financially rich, too, satiating the appetites of other surrounding regions for jewelry, fancy robes, and imported delicacies. It wasn’t long after that trade networks crisscrossed the entire Eurasian continent, inextricably linking cultures for the first time in history.” ref

“Merchants have been known for as long as humans have engaged in trade and commerce. Merchants and merchant networks operated in ancient Babylonia and Assyria, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Persia, Phoenicia, and Rome. During the European medieval period, a rapid expansion in trade and commerce led to the rise of a wealthy and powerful merchant class. The European age of discovery opened up new trading routes and gave European consumers access to a much broader range of goods. From the 1600s, goods began to travel much further distances as they found their way into geographically dispersed market-places.” ref 

“The English term, merchant comes from the Middle English, marchant, which itself originated from the Vulgar Latin mercatant or mercatans, formed from present participle of mercatare (‘to trade, to traffic or to deal in’). Following the opening of Asia to European trade and the discovery of the New World, merchants imported goods over very long distances: calico cloth from India, porcelain, silk and tea from China, spices from India and South-East Asia, and tobacco, sugar, rum and coffee from the New World. By the eighteenth century, a new type of manufacturer-merchant had started to emerge and modern business practices were becoming evident.” ref 

“There is a large quantity of convincing evidence that writing was invented by priest-officials (ruling Religious Authorities) in their role of organizing and running ancient cities, at least in the Near East. They gathered together the harvests and other goods, distributing some to the people in exchange for labor, others they would have set aside for trade. They also organized the workforces in charge of building dams, irrigation canals, dikes, buildings, and temples, grinding flour, and probably painting pottery and the like. However, long before the demands of city-life made the necessity of writing clear, there was another system of record in use. The villagers of Mesopotamia employed an archaic system of accounting with clay spheres which archaeologists call bullae, along with small clay shapes called tokens which were used together to record quantities and types of goods, probably for purpose of trade and storage.” ref 

“Extrapolating somewhat from our understanding of how writing emerged (being driven by the necessary organization and administration of city-life) it is believed that the bullae system developed as a response to the different demands of settled life after the transition from hunting and gathering, to agriculture and animal husbandry. The fact that the bullae were invented at about the same time as agriculture and animal husbandry emerged in the Near East (which might have been anywhere between 10,000 to 8,000 BCE or 12,022-10,022 years ago depending on where in the Near East you look, much later in Egypt) this seems unlikely to be a coincidence. A hunter-gatherer had no need to record the number of deer killed, fish caught, or dates collected because they would be consumed almost directly from hand to mouth. Therefore they would have had no need for any system of marking quantity or type of goods because any individuals who would have been bartering to trade something (which might have gone something like “I will trade you this deer thigh for a small satchel of dates and a few of the arrowheads you carved” – this is pure imagination and speculation, for we don’t even know how advanced their speech was at that time) there would have been no need to record any part of the transaction because both parties were present.” ref 

“Furthermore, nomadic hunter-gatherers were nomadic, which means that all objects on the table for trade were present also because these people would have brought every possession that they owned with them wherever they went. However, with a settled life, the grain and other products they planted as seeds, raised, and harvested had to be stored, which in some cases would have been done by the community (a practice exhibited by the Egyptian farmers at the Faiyum who practiced agriculture around 5000 BCE or 7,022 years ago about 100 km southwest of Memphis (modern Cairo). However, these grain stores appear to have been communal, and farming itself would have been communal too, which seems to make an accounting of goods redundant once again. Though if there was individual ownership of grain, dried fruit, freshly grown produce, or hunted/dried meats within a community, then the bullae system could have arisen from the practice of communal storage yet while attempting to retain individual ownership. So as to store goods collectively but to record and prove your goods (type and quantity) versus the goods of another: if there was a dispute, bullae were the solution. Though this does not personally feel convincing to me, though some scholars have suggested this.” ref

“Tokens were clay symbols of multiple shapes used to count, store and communicate economic data in oral preliterate cultures. About 7500-3500 BCE or 9,522-5,522 years ago the code consisted of some 6 types such as cones, spheres, disks, cylinders, tetrahedrons, and ovoids, each standing for one unit of a particular commodity. Most forms occurred in two distinct sizes, respectively about 1or 3 cm across, denoting quantity. These early types of geometric counters modeled in clay with an even surface, except for an occasional dot, are referred to as plain tokens. During the Urban Period, 3500-3100 BCE or 5,522-5,122 years ago, new types of tokens appeared besides the plain ones. Among them were further geometric shapes such as quadrangles, triangles, paraboloids, ovals, and biconoids, but also naturalistic forms including vessels, tools, and animals. These so-called complex tokens were characteristically covered with lines or dots conferring qualitative information. Triangles, paraboloids, and mostly disks occurred in series bearing various sets of lines. Plain and complex tokens were found by the dozen or the hundreds in Near Eastern archaeological sites from Palestine to Anatolia and from Syria to Persia.” ref 

“Tokens were linked to the economy. Their invention corresponds to the beginning of agriculture. For example, at Mureybet, Syria, tokens occur in level III, where pollen indicated the presence of cultivated fields. Second, the counters served exclusively to keep track of commodities. The plain tokens stood for farm products: small and large cones, spheres, and flat disks stood for different measures of barley; ovoids for jars of oil; cylinders and lenticular disks represented numbers of domesticated animals and tetrahedrons for units of labor. Around 3500 BCE, the proliferation of token shapes and markings reflected the multiplication of commodities manufactured in urban workshops. Triangular shapes stood for ingots of metal; series of disks bearing on their face various numbers of parallel lines stood for various qualities of textiles and paraboloids for garments. Quantities of beer, oil, and honey were shown by tokens in the shape of their usual containers. There is no evidence that tokens were used for trade. Instead, they were central to the administration. The mastery of counting and accounting with tokens fostered an elite based on administrative skills, who controlled the redistribution economy. The main function of tokens was to keep track of household and workshop contributions of surplus goods to the communal wealth and their redistribution for the support of the underprivileged or the organization of religious festivals. The bullae and envelopes with their multiple office seals illustrate the toughening of the city-state administrations when unpaid contributions were recorded until their settlement.” ref 

“During the Uruk period in Mesopotamia [4000–3000 BCE or 6,022-5,022 years ago], urban cities blossomed and administrative needs for accounting expanded. Production of what Andrew Sherratt and VG Childe called “secondary products“—wool, clothing, metals, honey, bread, oil, beer, textiles, garments, rope, mats, carpets, furniture, jewelry, tools, perfume—all of these things and many more needed to be accounted for, and the number of types of tokens in use ballooned to 250 by 3300 BCE or 5,322 years ago. In addition, during the Late Uruk period [3500–3100 BCE or 5,522-5,122 years ago], tokens began to be kept in sealed globular clay envelopes called “bullae.” Bullae are hollow clay balls about 5–9 cm (2–4 in) in diameter: the tokens were placed inside the envelope and the opening pinched shut. The exterior of the ball was stamped, sometimes all over the surface, and then the bullae were fired. About 150 of these clay envelopes have been recovered from Mesopotamian sites. Scholars believe that the envelopes were meant for security purposes, that the information was kept inside, protected from being changed at some point along the way. Eventually, people would impress the token forms into the clay on the outside, to mark what was inside. Apparently, by about 3100 BCE or 5,122 years ago, bulla e were replaced by puffy tablets covered with the impressions of the tokens, and there, says Schmandt-Besserat, you have the beginning of real writing, a three-dimensional object represented in two dimensions: proto-cuneiform.” ref 

The Invention of the Bullae

“After 3500, tokens were often perforated in order to be strung to a clay bulla. Others were kept in envelopes. These artifacts were hollow clay balls of spherical shape. Some of the envelopes displayed on the surface the impression of the tokens held inside. In one such clay bulla Envelope from Susa, Iran, ca. 3300 BCE or 5,322 years ago, The lenticular disks each stand for “a flock” (–10 animals?). The large cone is a very large measure of grain, the small cones are small measures of grain. Tokens inside the clay bulla represent the first stage in the 9000-year continuous Near Eastern tradition of data processing. They led to writing. The change in communication that occurred on envelopes when the three-dimensional tokens were replaced by their two-dimensional impressions is considered the beginning of writing. Clay tablets bearing impressed signs replaced the tokens enclosed in envelopes. In turn, the impressed markings were followed by pictographs, or sketches of tokens and other items traced with a stylus. Writing inherited from tokens a system for accounting goods, clay, and a repertory of signs. Writing brought abstraction to data processing: the signs abstracting tokens were no longer tangible; abstract numerals such as “1” “10” “60” replaced one-to-one correspondence; finally, pictographs took phonetic values.” ref

“The term for these clay spheres, bullae (called bulla in their singular form) is a Latin word that means “blob” or “bubble” because both the clay spheres (and often the clay tokens as well) are blobs of clay, that are imperfectly hand-molded spheroids. The clay bullae were hollow, because they enclosed within them small stone or clay tokens which by their shape represented various commodities, and by the number represented quantities of said commodities. Later on, the Mesopotamians conceived of the idea to impress the tokens on the wet clay of the exterior of the sphere along with those enclosed inside so that the quantity and type could be verified without having to smash the clay to count the tokens. The use of these clay bullae as representations of quantities of food products represented in tokens found throughout the Near East in various sites that in some cases were quite distant from one another thus these clay shapes were not as irrelevant as they may appear to us today and instead held meaning that was important for the understanding of these ancient cultures.” ref

“The final step to create a true writing system which could communicate and document speech was the evolution of the logograms/phonograms into stylized linear representations. Called cuneiform, these wedge-shaped signs were incised in clay tablets with a prism-shaped split reed. The main impetus of the change to this true writing script was the use of the Semitic language in the first half of the third millennium in Sumeria. Over the next five hundred years as Semitic words were added to and translated into the Sumerian vocabulary, cuneiform became based entirely on language itself. Besides the Sumerian and Semitic languages, the Akkadian, Elamite, Hurrian, and Hittite languages also influenced the final development of the cuneiform writing system. Writing was the exclusive province of the privileged scribal class. The majority of the population would not have been able to read or write cuneiform, including a majority of Mesopotamian kings. Sons of aristocratic families would attend scribal schools to learn to read and write cuneiform by studying and copying texts. Preparing letters and contracts were a professional scribe’s main duties. Keeping literacy exclusive to the scribal class may have been designed to keep the majority of the population from questioning the policies of the government. Since scribes were the only group allowed to have any control over bureaucratic communications, it was in the government’s best interest to offer them a privileged lifestyle to lessen the chance of political or social unrest among them.” ref 

Trade: the Probable Motive for the Invention of Bullae

“There is thinking that a powerful motive for the emergence of the bullae system would have been trade. There just doesn’t seem to be enough relevant use for them if you could just hand over your goods to someone else in your village. Furthermore, we know that clay pottery was developed for its enormous benefit of storing personal foods – dates, grains, maybe even salted or smoked meats – which kept it dry, as well as protected it from mice and insects, all of which preserved it for a longer time. We also know that agriculture led to sedentary life. So small hamlets would have begun emerging throughout the Near East with the birth of agriculture, which would have grown larger and larger from hamlets, to villages, and eventually into towns until the emergence of the first cities in the 4th millennium BCE.” ref 

“Therefore these villages would have probably been in some degree of contact. Wandering herdsmen may have been one route of communication between these different peoples and communities, not least because they would have, in their wanderings, come across a great many such communities and tribes and would have been able to tell all of them about one another including their locations. Thus they might have brought them into contact, and in telling each about the other they may have mentioned their main goods, products, unique skills, or strengths in various crafts, arts, and “industries”, maybe one making better clothes than the other, one growing much greater quantities of barley than another with stalks “twice as tall.” This could very well have inspired the first merchants, and the first trade. Bullae seem only to have been truly required if you were delivering goods to individuals whom you would not see with fair regularity, and whom you could not see with relative ease.” ref 

“The practice of noting token information on the outside of envelopes evolved into an early version of solid clay tablet writing. It must have been realized that the idea of sending the same information twice was redundant; the tokens themselves and the same token information noted again on the envelope. A realization was made that the same information could be conveyed with the token impressions only carved on a clay tablet. This was an important step in the development of writing because these tablets actually communicated a message from one person to another. Eventually, small sketches were used to depict other things besides commodities and the pictographic style of writing began. Even the first use of abstract numbers, meaning numerals that were not related to any particular commodity, occurred in pictographic writing. These early numerals were represented by wedges and circular markings on the tablet, and stood for the quantity of an item instead of the token itself indicating the quantity of items.” ref 

“Pictographic writing was a big step forward in the development of writing but there were still limitations. Even though a wider a variety of ideas could be communicated, it was still not possible to document movements or relationships between the items represented on the tablets. It was also impossible to ask a question relating to the items shown. These new pictographic images were called logograms, or word signs. To solve some of the limitation problems, logograms were eventually used to depict a single syllable of a word instead of simply an object. “For instance, they would take a logogram such as the original pictographic star-shaped AN—meaning “star,” “heaven,” and “god”—and read it as the syllable an; unrelated to word sign.” At this stage, logograms ceased to be just depictions of objects and became syllabograms, or phonograms, which represented actual sounds used in language; a phonetic script.” ref

“The information is traveling through these rooms in token form, and ending up inscribed onto cuneiform tablets further down the line. Archaeologists say that, while cuneiform writing was a more advanced accounting technology, by combining it with the flexibility of the tokens the ancient Assyrians created a record-keeping system of greater sophistication. The tokens provided a system of moveable numbers that allowed for stock to be moved and accounts to be modified and updated without committing to writing; a system that doesn’t require everyone involved to be literate.” It is believed that the new evidence points to prehistoric tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform as an empire-wide ‘admin’ system stretching right across what is now Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. While the majority of the cuneiform tablets found with the tokens deal with grain trades, it’s not yet known what the various tokens represent.” ref 

“Tokens Beyond the Near East – Plain tokens are not unique to the ancient Near East. Identical artifacts have been excavated in Central Asia at Jeitun, in Western China at Shuangdun, and in the Indus Valley at Mehrgarh. Similar clay counters in the same shapes and sizes are also reported in preliterate excavations outside of the Near Eastern sphere of influence in Europe (Budja), Africa, and Mesoamerica suggesting that the tactile, concrete system of data processing corresponds to some fundamental aptitude of the human preliterate mind. However, the phenomenon of complex tokens and the evolution into writing occurred only in the Near East. Tokens played a major role in the development of counting, data processing, and communication in the ancient Near East. They made possible the establishment of a Neolithic redistribution economy and thereby set the foundation of the Mesopotamian Bronze Age civilization.” ref 

“The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE or 6,022-5,122 years ago; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, after the Ubaid period and before the Jemdet Nasr period. Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. The late Uruk period (34th to 32nd centuries BCE) saw the gradual emergence of the cuneiform script and corresponds to the Early Bronze Age; it has also been described as the “Protoliterate period”. It was during this period that pottery painting declined as copper started to become popular, along with cylinder seals.” ref 

“Although the chronology of the Uruk period is full of uncertainties, it is generally agreed to have a rough span of a thousand years covering the period from 4000 to 3000 BCE and to be divided into several phases: an initial urbanization and elaboration of Urukian cultural traits marks the transition from the end of the Ubaid period (Old Uruk), then a period of expansion (Middle Uruk), with a peak during which the characteristic traits of the ‘Uruk civilization’ are definitively established (Late Uruk), and then a retreat of Urukian influence and increase in cultural diversity in the Near East along with a decline of the ‘center’. Some researchers have attempted to explain this final stage as the arrival of new populations of Semitic origin (the future Akkadians), but there is no conclusive proof of this. In Lower Mesopotamia, the researchers identify this as the Jemdet Nasr period, which sees a shift to more concentrated habitation, undoubtedly accompanied by a reorganization of power; in southwestern Iran, it is the Proto-Elamite period; Niniveh V in Upper Mesopotamia (which follows the Gawra culture); the “Scarlet Ware” culture in Diyala. In Lower Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic Period begins around the start of the 3rd millennium BCE, during which this region again exerts considerable influence over its neighbors.” ref 

“Out of these urban agglomerations, it is Uruk, the period’s eponymous site, which was the largest by far, according to our current knowledge, and it is the main one from which the chronological sequence of the period has been constructed. It may have covered 230–500 hectares at its peak during the Late Uruk period, more than the other contemporary large settlements, and it may have had a population of between 25,000 and 50,000 people. The architectural profile of the site consists of two monumental groups located 500 meters apart. The most remarkable constructions are located in the sector called the Eanna (after the temple which was located there in subsequent periods and possibly already at this stage). After the ‘Limestone Temple’ of level V, a program of construction hitherto unparalleled was begun in level IV. Thereafter, the buildings were vastly larger than earlier, some had novel designs and new construction techniques were used for the structure and the decoration. Level IV of the Eanna is divided into two monumental groups: in the west, a complex centered on the ‘Temple with mosaics’ (decorated with mosaics made of painted clay cones) of level IVB, subsequently covered by another building (the ‘Riemchen Building’) of level IVA.” ref 

“To the east, there is a very important group of structures—notably a ‘Square Building’ and the ‘Riemchen Temple Building’, which were subsequently replaced by other buildings with original plans, like the ‘Hall with Pillars’ and the ‘Hall with Mosaics’, a square ‘Grand Court’ and two very large buildings with a tripartite plan, ‘Temple C’ (54 x 22 m) and ‘Temple D’ (80 x 50 m, the largest building known from the Uruk period). The second monumental sector was attributed to the god Anu by the excavators of the site, because it was the location of a sanctuary for this god some 3000 years later. It is dominated by a series of temples built on a high terrace after the Ubayd period. The best-preserved of these is the “White Temple” of level IV, which measures 17.5 x 22.3 m and gets its name from white plates that covered its walls. At its base, a building with a labyrinthine plan, called the ‘Stone building’, was built. The function of these buildings, which are unparalleled in their size and the fact that they are gathered in monumental groups, is debated.” ref 

“The excavators of the site wanted to see them as ‘temples’, influenced by the fact that in the historic period, the Eanna was the area dedicated to the goddess Inanna and the other sector was dedicated to the god An. This conformed to the theory of the ‘temple-city’ which was in vogue during the inter-war period. It is possible that this is actually a place of power formed by a complex of buildings of different forms (palatial residences, administrative spaces, palace chapels), desired by the dominant power in the city, whose nature is still unclear. In any case, it was necessary to invest considerable effort to construct these buildings, which shows the capacities of the elites of this period. Uruk is also the site of the most important discoveries of early writing tablets, in levels IV and III, in a context where they had been disposed of, which means that the context in which they were created is not known to us.” ref 

“The sources relating to the Uruk period derive from a group of sites distributed over an immense area, covering all of Mesopotamia and the neighboring regions up to central Iran and southeastern Anatolia. The Uruk culture itself is certainly characterized mainly by sites of southern Mesopotamia and others that seem to have directly resulted from migrations from this region (the ‘colonies’ or ’emporia’), which are clearly part of the Uruk culture. But the phenomenon which is known as the Uruk expansion is detected on sites situated across a vast zone of influence, covering the whole Near East, regions which were not all really part of the Uruk culture, which was strictly-speaking limited to Lower Mesopotamia. The relations of some areas with the Uruk culture are very unclear, such as the little-known cultures of the Persian Gulf in this period, and Egypt whose exact relations with the Uruk culture were distant and are the object of debate, as well as the Levant, where the influence of southern Mesopotamia remains barely perceptible.” ref 

“But in other areas, the Uruk culture is more evident, such as Upper Mesopotamia, northern Syria, western Iran, and southeastern Anatolia. They generally experienced an evolution similar to that of lower Mesopotamia, with the development of urban agglomerations and larger political entities and they were strongly influenced by the culture of the ‘center’ in the later part of the period (3400–3200 BCE or 5,422-5,222 years ago), before a general strengthening of their own regional cultures took place at the turn of the 3rd millennium BCE. The interpretation of the expansion of the Uruk culture into neighboring regions poses numerous problems and many explanatory models (general and regional) have been proposed in order to explain it.” ref

“The region around Susa in the southwest of modern Iran, is located right next to lower Mesopotamia, which exercised a powerful influence on it from the 5th millennium BCE, and might be considered to have been part of the Uruk culture in the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, either as a result of conquest or a more gradual acculturation, but it did retain its own unique characteristics. The Uruk period levels at Susa are called Susa I (4000–3700 BCE) and Susa II (3700–3100 BCE), during which the site became an urban settlement. Susa I saw the beginning of monumental architecture on the site, with the construction of a ‘High Terrace’, which was increased during Susa II to measure roughly 60 x 45 meters. The most interesting aspect of this site is the objects discovered there, which are the most important evidence available to us for the art of the Uruk period and the beginning of administration and writing.” ref 

“The cylinder seals of Susa I and Susa II have a very rich iconography, uniquely emphasizing scenes of everyday life, although there is also some kind of local potentate which P. Amiet sees as a ‘proto-royal figure,’ preceding the ‘priest-kings’ of Late Uruk. These cylinder seals, as well as bullae and clay tokens, indicate the rise of administration and of accounting techniques at Susa during the second half of the 4th millennium BCE. Susa has also yielded some of the most ancient writing tablets, making it a key site for our understanding of the origins of writing. Other sites in Susiana also have archaeological levels belonging to this period, like Jaffarabad and Chogha Mish. Further north, in the Zagros, the site of Godin Tepe in the Kangavar valley is particularly important. Level V of this site belongs to the Uruk period. Remains have been uncovered of an ovoid wall, enclosing several buildings organised around a central court, with a large structure to the north which might be a public building.” ref 

“The material culture has some traits which are shared with that of Late Uruk and Susa II. Level V of Godin Tepe could be interpreted as an establishment of merchants from Susa and/or lower Mesopotamia, interested in the location of the site on commercial routes, especially those linked to the tin and lapis lazuli mines on the Iranian Plateau and in Afghanistan. Further east, the key site of Tepe Sialk, near Kashan, shows no clear evidence of links with the Uruk culture in its Level III, but beveled rim bowls are found all the way out to Tepe Ghabristan in the Elbourz and at some sites in Kerman further to the southeast. In this region, the retreat of the Uruk culture resulted in a particular phenomenon, the Proto-Elamite civilization, which seems to have been centered on the region of Tell-e Malyan and Susiana and seems to have taken over the Uruk culture’s links with the Iranian plateau.” ref

“Several sites have been excavated in the Euphrates valley in the south east of Anatolia/Turkey, near the region of the Urukian sites of the middle Euphrates. Hacınebi, near modern Birecik in Şanlıurfa, was excavated by G. Stein and was located at the crossroads of some important commercial routes. Beveled rim bowls appear from phase B1 (3800/3700 BCE) and they are also present in phase B2 (3700–3300 BCE), along with other objects characteristic of Late Uruk, like mosaics of clay cones, a terracotta sickle, an accounting bulla imprinted with the pattern from a cylinder seal, an uninscribed clay tablet, etc. This material co-exists with local pottery, which remains dominant throughout. The excavator of the site thinks that there was an enclave of people from Lower Mesopotamia who lived on the site alongside a majority population of local people. Other sites have been excavated in the region of Samsat (also in the Euphrates valley).” ref 

“An Urukian site was revealed at Samsat during a hasty rescue excavation before the area was flooded as a result of the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Fragments of clay cones from a wall mosaic were found. A little to the south is Kurban Höyük, where clay cones and pottery characteristic of Uruk have also been found in tripartite buildings. Further to the north, the site of Arslantepe, located in the suburbs of Malatya, is the most remarkable site of the period in eastern Anatolia. It has been excavated by M. Frangipane. During the first half of the 4th millennium BCE, this site was dominated by a building called ‘Temple C’ by the excavators, which was built on a platform. It was abandoned around 3500 BCE and replaced by a monumental complex that seems to have been the regional center of power. The culture of Late Uruk had a discernible influence, which can be seen most clearly in the numerous sealings found on the site, many of which are in a south Mesopotamian style. Around 3000 BCE, the site was destroyed by a fire. The monuments were not restored and the Kura–Araxes culture centered on the southern Caucasus became the dominant material culture on the site. Further west, the site of Tepecik has also revealed pottery influenced by that of Uruk. But in this region, the Urukian influence becomes increasingly ephemeral, as one gets further from Mesopotamia.” ref

Egypt-Mesopotamia relations seem to have developed from the 4th millennium BCE, starting in the Uruk period for Mesopotamia and in the pre-literate Gerzean culture for Prehistoric Egypt (3500-3200 BCE). Influences can be seen in the visual arts of Egypt, in imported products, and also in the possible transfer of writing from Mesopotamia to Egypt, and generated “deep-seated” parallels in the early stages of both cultures.” ref 

“Egypt–Mesopotamia relations were the relations between the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, in the Middle East. They seem to have developed from the 4th millennium BCE, starting in the Uruk period for Mesopotamia (circa 4000–3100 BCE) and the half a millennium younger Gerzean culture of Prehistoric Egypt (circa 3500–3200 BCE), and constituted a largely one-way body of influences from Mesopotamia into Egypt. Prior to a specific Mesopotamian influence there had already been a longstanding influence from West Asia into Egypt, North Africa, and even into some parts of the Horn of Africa and the Sahel in the form of the Neolithic Revolution which from circa 9000 BCE diffused advanced agricultural practices and technology, gene-flow, certain animals and possibly Proto-Afroasiatic language into the region. Mesopotamian influences can be seen in the visual arts of Egypt, in architecture, in technology, weaponry, in imported products, and livestock, and also in the likely transfer of writing from Mesopotamia to Egypt which generated “deep-seated” parallels in the early stages of both cultures.” ref 


“The 4th millennium BCE saw a new stage in the political development of Near Eastern society after the Neolithic: political power grew stronger, more organized, more centralized, and more visible in the use of space and in art, culminating in the development of a true state by the end of the period. This development came with other major changes: the appearance of the first cities and of administrative systems capable of organizing diverse activities. The causes and means by which these developments occurred and their relationship to one another are the subject of extensive debate. The Uruk period provides the earliest signs of the existence of states in the Near East. The monumental architecture is more imposing than that of the preceding period; ‘Temple D’ of Eanna covers around 4600 m2—a substantial increase compared to the largest known temple of the Ubayd period, level VI of Eridu, which had an area of only 280 m2—and the Eanna complex’s other buildings cover a further 1000 m2, while the Ubayd temple of Eridu was a stand-alone structure.” ref 

“The change in size reflects a step-change in the ability of central authorities to mobilize human and material resources. Tombs also show a growing differentiation of wealth and thus an increasingly powerful elite, who sought to distinguish themselves from the rest of the population by obtaining prestige goods, through trade if possible, and by employing increasingly specialized artisans. The idea that the Uruk period saw the appearance of a true state, simultaneously with the appearance of the first cities (following Gordon Childe), is generally accepted in scholarship but has been criticized by some scholars, notably J.D. Forest who prefers to see the Empire of Akkad in the 24th century BCE as the first true state and considers Late Uruk to have known only “city-states” (which are not complete states in his view). Regardless, the institution of state-like political structures is concomitant with several other phenomena of the Uruk period.” ref

“What kind of political organization existed in the Uruk period is debated. No evidence supports the idea that this period saw the development of a kind of ‘proto-empire’ centered on Uruk, as has been proposed by Algaze and others. It is probably best to understand an organization in ‘city-states’ like those that existed in the 3rd millennium BCE. This seems to be corroborated by the existence of ‘civic seals’ in the Jemdet Nasr period, which bear symbols of the Sumerian cities of Uruk, Ur, Larsa, etc. The fact that these symbols appeared together might indicate a kind of league or confederation uniting the cities of southern Mesopotamia, perhaps for religious purposes, perhaps under the authority of one of them (Uruk?). It is clear that there were major changes in the political organization of society in this period. The nature of the powerholders is not easy to determine because they cannot be identified in the written sources and the archaeological evidence is not very informative: no palaces or other buildings for the exercise of power have been identified for sure and no monumental tomb for a ruler has been found either. Images on steles and cylinder-seals are a little more evocative.” ref 

“An important figure who clearly holds some kind of authority has long been noted: a bearded man with a headband who is usually depicted wearing a bell-shaped skirt or as ritually naked. He is often represented as a warrior fighting human enemies or wild animals, e.g. in the ‘Stele of the Hunt’ found at Uruk, in which he defeats lions with his bow. He is also found in victory scenes accompanied by prisoners or structures. He also is shown leading cult activities, as on a vase from Uruk of the Jemdet Nasr period which shows him leading a procession towards a goddess, who is almost certainly Inanna. In other cases, he is shown feeding animals, which suggests the idea of the king as a shepherd, who gathers his people together, protects them, and looks after their needs, ensuring the prosperity of the kingdom. These motifs match the functions of the subsequent Sumerian kings: war-leader, chief priest, and builder. Scholars have proposed that this figure should be called the ‘Priest-King’. This ruler may be the person designated in Uruk III tablets by the title of en. He could represent a power of a monarchic type, like that would subsequently exist in Mesopotamia.” ref

“Researchers who analyze the appearance of the state as being characterized by greater central control and stronger social hierarchy, are interested in the role of the elites who sought to reinforce and organize their power over a network of people and institutions and to augment their prestige. This development is also connected with the changes in iconography and with the emergence of an ideology of royalty intended to support the construction of a new kind of political entity. The elites played a role as religious intermediaries between the divine world and the human world, notably in sacrificial ritual and in festivals that they organized and which assured their symbolic function as the foundation of social order. This reconstruction is apparent from the friezes on the great alabaster vase of Uruk and in many administrative texts which mention the transport of goods to be used in rituals. In fact, according to the Mesopotamian ideology known in the following period, human beings had been created by the gods in order to serve them and the goodwill of the latter was necessary to ensure the prosperity of society.” ref

“With respect to this development of a more centralized control of resources, the tablets of Late Uruk reveal the existence of institutions that played an important role in society and economy and undoubtedly in contemporary politics. Whether these institutions were temples or palaces is debated. In any case, both institutions were dominant in the later periods of Lower Mesopotamia’s history. Only two names relating to these institutions and their personnel have been deciphered: a large authority indicated by the sign NUN, at Uruk, which possessed an administrator in chief, a messenger, some workers, etc.; and another authority indicated by the signs AB NI+RU, at Jemdet Nasr, which had a high priest (SANGA), administrators, priests, etc. Their scribes produced administrative documents relating to the management of land, the distribution of rations (barley, wool, oil, beer, etc.) for workers, which include slaves, and the listing of the heads of livestock. These institutions could control the production of prestige goods, redistribution, long-distance trade, and the management of public works. They were able to support increasingly specialized workers. The largest institutions contained multiple ‘departments’ devoted to a single activity (cultivation of fields, herds, etc.).” ref

“But there is no proof that these institutions played a role in the supervision of the majority of the population in the process of centralizing production. The economy rested on a group of domains (or ‘houses’ / ‘households’, É in Sumerian) of different sizes, from large institutions to modest family groups, that can be classified in modern terms as ‘public’ or ‘private’ and which were in constant interaction with one another. Some archives were probably produced in a private context in the residences of Susa, Habuba Kabira, and Jebel Aruda. But these documents represent relatively rudimentary accounting, indicating a smaller scale of economic activity. One study carried out at Abu Salabikh in lower Mesopotamia indicated that the production was distributed between different households of different sizes, wealth, and power, with the large institutions at the top. Research into the causes of the emergence of these political structures has not produced any theory which is widely accepted. Research into explanations is heavily influenced by evolutionist frameworks and is in fact more interested in the period before the appearance of the state, which was the product of a long process and preceded by the appearance of ‘chieftainships.” ref 

“This process was not a linear progression but was marked by phases of growth and decline (like the ‘collapse’ of archaeological cultures). Its roots lie in the societies of the Neolithic period, and the process is characterized by the increase of social inequality over the long term, visible in particular in the creation of monumental architecture and funerary materials by groups of the elite, which reinforced itself as a collective and managed to exercise its power in a firmer and firmer manner. Among the main causes proposed by proponents of the functionalist model of the state are a collective response to practical problems (particularly following serious crises or a deadlocks), like the need to better manage the demographic growth of a community or to provide it with resources through agricultural production or trade, alternatively, others suggest that it was driven by the need to soothe or direct conflicts arising from the process of securing those resources. Other explanatory models put more stress on the personal interest of individuals in their quest for power and prestige. It is likely that several of these explanations are relevant.” ref

Cuneiform script

Cuneiform is a logosyllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (Latin: cuneus) which form its signs. Cuneiform was originally developed to write the Sumerian language of southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Cuneiform is the earliest writing system. Over the course of its history, cuneiform was adapted to write a number of languages in addition to Sumerian. Akkadian texts are attested from the 24th century BCE. onward and make up the bulk of the cuneiform record. Akkadian cuneiform was itself adapted to write the Hittite language in the early second millennium BCE The other languages with significant cuneiform corpora are Eblaite, Elamite, Hurrian, Luwian, and Urartian. The Old Persian and Ugaritic alphabets feature cuneiform-style signs, however, they are unrelated to the cuneiform logo-syllabary proper.” ref 

“The latest known cuneiform tablet dates to 75 CE. The script fell totally out of use soon after and was forgotten until its rediscovery and decipherment in the 19th century. The study of cuneiform belongs to the field of Assyriology. An estimated half a million tablets are held in museums across the world, but comparatively few of these are published. The cuneiform writing system was in use for more than three millennia, through several stages of development, from the 31st century BCE down to the second century CE. Ultimately, it was completely replaced by alphabetic writing (in the general sense) in the course of the Roman era, and there are no cuneiform systems in current use.” ref 

An ancient Mesopotamian poem gives the first known story of the invention of writing:

Because the messenger’s mouth was heavy and he couldn’t repeat [the message], the Lord of Kulaba patted some clay and put words on it, like a tablet. Until then, there had been no putting words on clay.— Sumerian epic poem Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. around1800 BCE or 3,822 years ago.” ref

“The cuneiform script was developed from pictographic proto-writing in the late 4th millennium BCE, stemming from the near eastern token system used for accounting. The meaning and usage of these tokens is still a matter of debate. These tokens were in use from the 9th millennium BCE and remained in occasional use even late in the 2nd millennium BCE. Early tokens with pictographic shapes of animals, associated with numbers, were discovered in Tell Brak, and date to the mid-4th millennium BCE. It has been suggested that the token shapes were the original basis for some of the Sumerian pictographs. Mesopotamia’s “proto-literate” period spans roughly the 35th to 32nd centuries BC. The first unequivocal written documents start with the Uruk IV period, from circa 3,300 BCE, followed by tablets found in Uruk III, Jemdet Nasr, and Susa (in Proto-Elamite) dating to the period until circa 2,900 BCE.” ref 

“Originally, pictographs were either drawn on clay tablets in vertical columns with a sharpened reed stylus or incised in stone. This early style lacked the characteristic wedge shape of the strokes. Most proto-cuneiform records from this period were of an accounting nature. The proto-cuneiform sign list has grown, as new texts are discovered, and shrunk, as variant signs are combined. The current sign list is 705 elements long with 42 being numeric and four considered pre-proto-Elamite. Certain signs to indicate names of gods, countries, cities, vessels, birds, trees, etc., are known as determinatives and were the Sumerian signs of the terms in question, added as a guide for the reader. Proper names continued to be usually written in purely “logographic” fashion.” ref

Archaic cuneiform (circa 3000 BCE)

“The first inscribed tablets were purely pictographic, which makes it technically impossible to know in which language they were written, but later tablets after circa 2,900 BCE start to use syllabic elements, which clearly show a language structure typical of the non-Indo-European agglutinative Sumerian language. The first tablets using syllabic elements date to the Early Dynastic I-II, circa 2,800 BCE, and they are agreed to be clearly in Sumerian. This is the time when some pictographic elements started to be used for their phonetical value, permitting the recording of abstract ideas or personal names. Many pictographs began to lose their original function, and a given sign could have various meanings depending on context.” ref 

“The sign inventory was reduced from some 1,500 signs to some 600 signs, and writing became increasingly phonological. Determinative signs were re-introduced to avoid ambiguity. Cuneiform writing proper thus arises from the more primitive system of pictographs at about that time (Early Bronze Age II). The earliest known Sumerian king, whose name appears on contemporary cuneiform tablets, is Enmebaragesi of Kish (2600 BCE). Surviving records became less fragmentary for following reigns and by the end of the pre-Sargonic period, it had become standard practice for each major city-state to date documents by year-names, commemorating the exploits of its lugal (king).” ref

Development of “Symbolic Technology”, Accounting and Bureaucracy

“The Uruk period, particularly in its late phase, is characterized by the explosion of “symbolic technology”: signs, images, symbolic designs, and abstract numbers are used in order to manage efficiently a more complex human society. The appearance of institutions and households with some important economic functions was accompanied by the development of administrative tools and then accounting tools. This was a veritable ‘managerial revolution’. A scribal class developed in the Late Uruk period and contributed to the development of a bureaucracy, but only in the context of the large institutions. Many texts seem to indicate the existence of training in the production of managerial texts for apprentice scribes, who could also use lexical lists to learn writing.” ref 

“This, notably, allowed them to administer trading posts with precision, noting down the arrival and departure of products—sometimes presented as purchase and sale—in order to maintain an exact count of the products in stock in the storerooms which the scribe had responsibility for. These storage spaces were closed and marked with the seal of the administrator in charge. The scribal class were involved in understanding and managing the state, in the exploitation and production capacity of the fields, troops, and artisans, for many years, which involved the production of inventories, and led to the construction of true archives of the activities of an institution or one of its subdivisions. This was possible due to the progressive development of more management tools, especially true writing.” ref

“Seals were used to secure merchandise that had been stocked or exchanged, to secure storage areas, or to identify an administrator or merchant. They are attested from the middle of the 7th millennium BCE. With the development of institutions and long-distance trade, their use became widespread. In the course of the Uruk period, cylinder seals (cylinders engraved with a motif that could be rolled over clay in order to impress a symbol in it) were invented and replaced the simple seals. They were used to seal clay envelopes and tablets, and to authenticate objects and goods, because they functioned like a signature for the person who applied the seal or for the institution which they represented. These cylinder seals would remain a characteristic element of Near Eastern civilization for several millennia. The reasons for their success lay in the possibilities that they offered of an image and thus a message with more detail, with a narrative structure, and perhaps an element of magic.” ref

“The Uruk period also saw the development of what seemed to be accounting tools: tokens and clay envelopes containing tokens. These are clay balls on which a cylinder seal has been rolled, which contain tokens (also referred to as calculi). The latter come in various forms: balls, cones, rods, discs, etc. Each of these models has been identified as representing a certain numerical value, or a specific type of merchandise. They made it possible to store information for the management of institutions (arrival and departure of goods) or commercial operations, and to send that information to other places. These calculi are perhaps the same type as the tokens found on sites in the Near East for the next few thousand years, whose function remains uncertain. It is thought that notches would be placed on the surface of the clay balls containing the calculi, leading to the creation of numerical tablets which served as an aide-mémoire before the development of true writing.” ref

“The development of writing, whether or not it derived from accounting practices, represented a new management tool that made it possible to note information more precisely and for a longer-term. The development of these administrative practices necessitated the development of a system of measurement which varied depending on what they were to measure (animals, workers, wool, grain, tools, pottery, surfaces, etc.). They are very diverse: some use a sexagesimal system (base 60), which would become the universal system in subsequent periods, but others employ a decimal system (base 10) or even a mixed system called ‘bisexagesimal’, all of which makes it more difficult to understand the texts. The system for counting time was also developed by the scribes of institutions in the Late Uruk period.” ref

Cuneiforms and Hieroglyphs

Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs “came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably, [were] invented under the influence of the latter”, and that it is “probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia”. There are many instances of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations at the time of the invention of writing, and standard reconstructions of the development of writing generally place the development of the Sumerian proto-cuneiform script before the development of Egyptian hieroglyphs, with the suggestion the former influenced the latter.” ref 

Early Dynastic cuneiform (circa 2500 BCE)

“Early cuneiform inscription used simple linear inscriptions, made by using a pointed stylus, sometimes called “linear cuneiform”, before the introduction of new wedge-type styluses with their typical wedge-shaped signs. Many of the early dynastic inscriptions, particularly those made on stone, continued to use the linear style as late as circa 2000 BCE. In the mid-3rd millennium BCE, a new wedge-tipped stylus was introduced which was pushed into the clay, producing wedge-shaped (“cuneiform”) signs; the development made writing quicker and easier, especially when writing on soft clay. By adjusting the relative position of the stylus to the tablet, the writer could use a single tool to make a variety of impressions. For numbers, a round-tipped stylus was initially used, until the wedge-tipped stylus was generalized. The direction of writing remained to be from top-to-bottom and right-to-left, until the mid-2nd millennium BCE. Cuneiform clay tablets could be fired in kilns to bake them hard, and so provide a permanent record, or they could be left moist and recycled if permanence was not needed. Many of the clay tablets found by archaeologists have been preserved by chance, baked when attacking armies burned the buildings in which they were kept.” ref

Trade has been going on for as long as humans have needed or wanted something that others had and they did not. Bartering for goods and trade in kind developed into more sophisticated forms of exchanges using commonly agreed commodity currencies such as bronze or copper ingots or even cowry shells. These were often only good for largescale trade deals though, and for smaller transactions, something else was needed: coinage. Coins were often introduced in ancient cultures as a convenient way to pay soldiers, but the idea quickly spread to civilian life.” ref 

“The script was also widely used on commemorative stelae and carved reliefs to record the achievements of the ruler in whose honor the monument had been erected. The spoken language included many homophones and near-homophones, and in the beginning, similar-sounding words such as “life” [til] and “arrow” [ti] were written with the same symbol. After the Semites conquered Southern Mesopotamia, some signs gradually changed from being pictograms to syllabograms, most likely to make things clearer in writing. In that way, the sign for the word “arrow” would become the sign for the sound “ti”. Words that sounded alike would have different signs; for instance, the syllable [ɡu] had fourteen different symbols. When the words had a similar meaning but very different sounds they were written with the same symbol. For instance, ‘tooth’ [zu], ‘mouth’ [ka], and ‘voice’ [gu] were all written with the symbol for “voice”. To be more accurate, scribes started adding to signs or combining two signs to define the meaning. They used either geometrical patterns or another cuneiform sign.” ref 

“As time went by, the cuneiform got very complex and the distinction between a pictogram and syllabogram became vague. Several symbols had too many meanings to permit clarity. Therefore, symbols were put together to indicate both the sound and the meaning of a compound. The word ‘raven’ [UGA] had the same logogram as the word ‘soap’ [NAGA], the name of a city [EREŠ], and the patron goddess of Eresh [NISABA]. Two phonetic complements were used to define the word [u] in front of the symbol and [gu] behind. Finally, the symbol for ‘bird’ [MUŠEN] was added to ensure proper interpretation. For unknown reasons, cuneiform pictographs, until then written vertically, were rotated 90° counterclockwise, in effect putting them on their side. This change first occurred slightly before the Akkadian period, at the time of the Uruk ruler Lugalzagesi (2294–2270 BCE). The vertical style remained for monumental purposes on stone stelas until the middle of the 2nd millennium. Written Sumerian was used as a scribal language until the first century CE. The spoken language died out between about 2100 and 1700 BCE.” ref

“The most notable architectural remains from early Mesopotamia are the temple complexes at Uruk from the 4th millennium BCE, temples and palaces from the Early Dynastic period sites in the Diyala River valley such as Khafajah and Tell Asmar, the Third Dynasty of Ur remains at Nippur (Sanctuary of Enlil) and Ur (Sanctuary of Nanna), Middle Bronze Age remains at Syrian-Turkish sites of Ebla, Mari, Alalakh, Aleppo and Kultepe, Late Bronze Age palaces at Hattusa, Ugarit, Ashur and Nuzi, Iron Age palaces and temples at Assyrian (Kalhu/Nimrud, Khorsabad, Nineveh), Babylonian (Babylon), Urartian (Tushpa/Van, Kalesi, Cavustepe, Ayanis, Armavir, Erebuni, Bastam) and Neo-Hittite sites (Karkamis, Tell Halaf, Karatepe). Houses are mostly known from Old Babylonian remains at Nippur and Ur. Among the textual sources on building construction and associated rituals are Gudea’s cylinders from the late 3rd millennium are notable, as well as the Assyrian and Babylonian royal inscriptions from the Iron Age.” ref 

Mesopotamian Trade

“Mesopotamian trade with the Indus Valley civilization flourished as early as the third millennium BCE. Starting in the 4th millennium BCE, Mesopotamian civilizations also traded with ancient Egypt (see Egypt–Mesopotamia relations). For much of history, Mesopotamia served as a trade nexus – east-west between Central Asia and the Mediterranean world (part of the Silk Road), as well as north–south between the Eastern Europe and Baghdad (Volga trade route). Vasco da Gama‘s pioneering (1497-1499) of the sea route between India and Europe and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 impacted on this nexus.” ref 

“Materials used for creating jewelry were traded with Egypt since 3000 BCE or 5,022 years ago. Long-range trade routes first appeared in the 3rd millennium BCE, when Sumerians in Mesopotamia traded with the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley. The Phoenicians were noted sea traders, traveling across the Mediterranean Sea, and as far north as Britain for sources of tin to manufacture bronze. For this purpose, they established trade colonies the Greeks called emporia. Along the coast of the Mediterranean, researchers have found a positive relationship between how well-connected a coastal location was and the local prevalence of archaeological sites from the Iron Age. This suggests that a location’s trade potential was an important determinant of human settlements.” ref 

From the beginning of Greek civilization until the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, a financially lucrative trade brought valuable spice to Europe from the far east, including India and China. Roman commerce allowed its empire to flourish and endure. The latter Roman Republic and the Pax Romana of the Roman empire produced a stable and secure transportation network that enabled the shipment of trade goods without fear of significant piracy, as Rome had become the sole effective sea power in the Mediterranean with the conquest of Egypt and the near east. In ancient Greece, Hermes was the god of trade (commerce) and weights and measures. In ancient Rome, Mercurius was the god of merchants, whose festival was celebrated by traders on the 25th day of the fifth month. The concept of free trade was an antithesis to the will and economic direction of the sovereigns of the ancient Greek states. Free trade between states was stifled by the need for strict internal controls (via taxation) to maintain security within the treasury of the sovereign, which nevertheless enabled the maintenance of a modicum of civility within the structures of functional community life.” ref

Mesopotamian Government

“The geography of Mesopotamia had a profound impact on the political development of the region. Among the rivers and streams, the Sumerian people built the first cities along with irrigation canals which were separated by vast stretches of open desert or swamp where nomadic tribes roamed. Communication among the isolated cities was difficult and, at times, dangerous. Thus, each Sumerian city became a city-state, independent of the others and protective of its independence. At times one city would try to conquer and unify the region, but such efforts were resisted and failed for centuries. As a result, the political history of Sumer is one of almost constant warfare. Eventually, Sumer was unified by Eannatum, but the unification was tenuous and failed to last as the Akkadians conquered Sumer in 2331 BCE only a generation later. The Akkadian Empire was the first successful empire to last beyond a generation and see the peaceful succession of kings. The empire was relatively short-lived, as the Babylonians conquered them within only a few generations.” ref

Mesopotamian Kings

List of Mesopotamian dynasties, List of kings of Babylon, and List of Assyrian kings

“The Mesopotamians believed their kings and queens were descended from the City of Gods, but, unlike the ancient Egyptians, they never believed their kings were real gods. Most kings named themselves “king of the universe” or “great king”. Another common name was “shepherd“, as kings had to look after their people.” ref

Mesopotamian Power

“When Assyria grew into an empire, it was divided into smaller parts, called provinces. Each of these were named after their main cities, like Nineveh, Samaria, Damascus, and Arpad. They all had their own governor who had to make sure everyone paid their taxes. Governors also had to call up soldiers to war and supply workers when a temple was built. He was also responsible for enforcing the laws. In this way, it was easier to keep control of a large empire. Although Babylon was quite a small state in Sumer, it grew tremendously throughout the time of Hammurabi‘s rule. He was known as “the lawmaker” and created the Code of Hammurabi, and soon Babylon became one of the main cities in Mesopotamia. It was later called Babylonia, which meant “the gateway of the gods.” It also became one of history’s greatest centers of learning.” ref

Mesopotamian Warfare

Military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Warfare in Sumer

“With the end of the Uruk phase, walled cities grew and many isolated Ubaid villages were abandoned indicating a rise in communal violence. An early king Lugalbanda was supposed to have built the white walls around the city. As city-states began to grow, their spheres of influence overlapped, creating arguments between other city-states, especially over land and canals. These arguments were recorded in tablets several hundreds of years before any major war—the first recording of a war occurred around 3200 BCE but was not common until about 2500 BCE. An Early Dynastic II king (Ensi) of Uruk in Sumer, Gilgamesh (2600 BCE), was commended for military exploits against Humbaba guardian of the Cedar Mountain, and was later celebrated in many later poems and songs in which he was claimed to be two-thirds god and only one-third human.” ref 

“The later Stele of the Vultures at the end of the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2350 BCE), commemorating the victory of Eannatum of Lagash over the neighboring rival city of Umma is the oldest monument in the world that celebrates a massacre. From this point forwards, warfare was incorporated into the Mesopotamian political system. At times a neutral city may act as an arbitrator for the two rival cities. This helped to form unions between cities, leading to regional states. When empires were created, they went to war more with foreign countries. King Sargon, for example, conquered all the cities of Sumer, some cities in Mari, and then went to war with cities in modern-day Syria. Many Assyrian and Babylonian palace walls were decorated with the pictures of the successful fights and the enemy either desperately escaping or hiding amongst reeds.” ref

“The Neo-Babylonian kings used deportation as a means of control, like their predecessors, the Assyrians. For the Neo-Babylonian kings, war was a means to obtain tribute, plunder, sought after materials such as various metals and quality wood) and prisoners of war which could be put to work as slaves in the temples which they built. The Assyrians had displaced populations throughout their vast empire, however, this particular practice under the Babylonian kings would appear to have been more limited, only being used to establish new populations in Babylonia itself. Though royal inscriptions from the Neo-Babylonian period don’t speak of acts of destruction and deportation in the same boastful way royal inscriptions from the Neo-Assyrian period do, this, however, does not prove that the practice ceased or that the Babylonians were less brutal than the Assyrians, since there is evidence that the city Ashkelon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 604 BCE.” ref

Mesopotamian Laws

Mesopotamian marriage law

“City-states of Mesopotamia created the first law codes, drawn from legal precedence and decisions made by kings. The codes of Urukagina and Lipit Ishtar have been found. The most renowned of these was that of Hammurabi, as mentioned above, who was posthumously famous for his set of laws, the Code of Hammurabi (created c. 1780 BCE), which is one of the earliest sets of laws found and one of the best-preserved examples of this type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. He codified over 200 laws for Mesopotamia. Examination of the laws shows a progressive weakening of the rights of women, and increasing severity in the treatment of slaves.” ref

Ancient Egyptian Language

Proto-hieroglyphic symbol systems developed in the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, such as the clay labels of a Predynastic ruler called “Scorpion I” (Naqada IIIA period, c. 33rd century BCE) recovered at Abydos (modern Umm el-Qa’ab) in 1998 or the Narmer Palette (around 31st century BCE). The first full sentence written in mature hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa’ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty (28th or 27th century BCE). Around 800 hieroglyphs are known to date back to the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom Eras. By the Greco-Roman period, there were more than 5,000. Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic, and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood. The later hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Sinaitic script that later evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet’s major child systems (the Greek and Aramaic scripts), the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts (through Greek) and the Arabic script and possibly Brahmic family of scripts (through Aramaic, Phoenician, and Greek).” ref 

“The use of hieroglyphic writing arose from proto-literate symbol systems in the Early Bronze Age, around the 32nd century BCE (Naqada III), with the first decipherable sentence written in the Egyptian language dating to the Second Dynasty (28th century BCE). Egyptian hieroglyphs developed into a mature writing system used for monumental inscription in the classical language of the Middle Kingdom period; during this period, the system made use of about 900 distinct signs. Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs “came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably, [were] invented under the influence of the latter”, and that it is “probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia“. There are many instances of early Egypt-Mesopotamia relations, but given the lack of direct evidence for the transfer of writing, “no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.” ref

“Others have held that “the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt…” Since the 1990s, the above-mentioned discoveries of glyphs at Abydos, dated to between 3400 and 3200 BCE, have shed doubt on the classical notion that the Mesopotamian symbol system predates the Egyptian one. However, Egyptian writing appeared suddenly at that time, while Mesopotamia had a long evolutionary history of sign usage in tokens dating back to circa 8000 BCE. Rosalie David stated that “If Egypt did adopt the idea of writing from elsewhere, it was presumably only the concept which was taken over, since the forms of the hieroglyphs are entirely Egyptian in origin and reflect the distinctive flora, fauna, and images of Egypt’s own landscape.” ref

“As writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic (priestly) and demotic (popular) scripts. These variants were also more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, however, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms, especially in monumental and other formal writing. The Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek.” ref

Maykop culture

“The Maykop culture 37003000 BCE, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the western Caucasus region. In the south, the Maykop culture bordered the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into the Armenian Plateau and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia. The Leyla-Tepe culture had some links noted with the Maykop culture. The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BCE. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture. Bronze Age Steppe populations, including the Maykop people, probably had a minor East Asian-related component, which was estimated at ~9.6% of their ancestry.” ref 

“The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BCE. Maykop animal style in the artifacts found is seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian, and Celtic animal styles. Attributed to the Maykop culture are petroglyphs that have yet to be deciphered. Some of the earliest wagon wheels in the world are found in Maykop culture area. The two solid wooden wheels from the kurgan of Novokorsunskaya in the Kuban region have been dated to the second half of the fourth millennium BCE.” ref

Its burial practices resemble the burial practices described in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, has been regarded by some as an Indo-European intrusion from the Pontic–Caspian steppe into the Caucasus. However, according to J.P. Mallory, … where the evidence for barrows is found, it is precisely in regions which later demonstrate the presence of non-Indo-European populations. The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense. Yet, according to Mallory, Such a theory, it must be emphasized, is highly speculative and controversial although there is a recognition that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions.” ref

“According to Mariya Ivanova the Maykop origins were on the Iranian Plateau:

Graves and settlements of the 5th millennium BCE in North Caucasus attest to a material culture that was related to contemporaneous archaeological complexes in the northern and western Black Sea region. Yet it was replaced, suddenly as it seems, around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE by a “high culture” whose origin is still quite unclear. This archaeological culture named after the great Maykop kurgan showed innovations in all areas which have no local archetypes and which cannot be assigned to the tradition of the Balkan-Anatolian Copper Age. The favoured theory of Russian researchers is a migration from the south originating in the Syro-Anatolian area, which is often mentioned in connection with the so-called “Uruk expansion”. However, serious doubts have arisen about a connection between Maykop and the Syro-Anatolian region. The foreign objects in the North Caucasus reveal no connection to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris or to the floodplains of Mesopotamia, but rather seem to have ties to the Iranian plateau and to South Central Asia. Recent excavations in the Southwest Caspian Sea region are enabling a new perspective about the interactions between the “Orient” and Continental Europe. On the one hand, it is becoming gradually apparent that a gigantic area of interaction evolved already in the early 4th millennium BC which extended far beyond Mesopotamia; on the other hand, these findings relativise the traditional importance given to Mesopotamia, because innovations originating in Iran and Central Asia obviously spread throughout the Syro-Anatolian region independently thereof.” ref

“Some very ancient kurgans have been discovered at Soyuqbulaq in Azerbaijan. These kurgans date to the beginning of the 4th millennium BCE, and belong to Leylatepe Culture. According to the excavators of these kurgans, there are some significant parallels between Soyugbulaq kurgans and the Maykop kurgans:

“Discovery of Soyugbulaq in 2004 and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic […] The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium, BCE. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus.” ref

Kura–Araxes culture

“The Kura–Araxes culture or the Early Transcaucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BCE until about 2000 BCE, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations, it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BCE. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; it spread north in the Caucasus by 3000 BCE. Altogether, the early Transcaucasian culture enveloped a vast area of approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed the modern-day territories of the South Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria. The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures. It gave rise to the Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in the Levant and Trialeti-Vanadzor culture of the South Caucasus and Armenian Highlands.” ref 

Shulaveri-Shomu culture preceded the Kura–Araxes culture in the area. There were many differences between these two cultures, so the connection was not clear. Later, it was suggested that the Sioni culture of eastern Georgia possibly represented a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex. At many sites, the Sioni culture layers can be seen as intermediary between Shulaver-Shomu-Tepe layers and the Kura-Araxes layers. This kind of stratigraphy warrants a chronological place of the Sioni culture at around 4000 BCE. Some scholars consider the Kartli and Kakheti areas as key to forming the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture. To a large extent, this appears as an indigenous culture of the Caucasus that was formed over a long period, and at the same time incorporating foreign influences. There are some indications (such as at Arslantepe) of the overlapping in time of the Kura-Araxes and Uruk cultures; such contacts may go back even to the Middle Uruk period.” ref 

“Kura–Araxes culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of the North Caucasus. The two cultures seem to have influenced one another. The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in later phases, horses. Before the Kura-Araxes period, horse bones were not found in Transcaucasia. Later, beginning about 3300 BCE, they became widespread, with signs of domestication. There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia as well as Asia Minor.” ref 

“It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region. At some point, the culture’s settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest merely that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass crop and livestock agriculture. The Kura–Araxes culture would later display “a precocious metallurgical development, which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, from the Volga, Dnieper, and DonDonets river systems in the north to Syria and Palestine in the south and Anatolia in the west.” ref

“Analyzing the situation in the Kura-Araxes period, T.A. Akhundov notes the lack of unity in funerary monuments, which he considers more than strange in the framework of a single culture; for the funeral rites reflect the deep culture-forming foundations and are weakly influenced by external customs. There are non-kurgan and kurgan burials, burials in-ground pits, in stone boxes and crypts, in the underlying ground strata, and on top of them; using both the round and rectangular burials; there are also substantial differences in the typical corpse position. Burial complexes of Kura–Araxes culture sometimes also include cremation. Here one can come to the conclusion that the Kura–Araxes culture developed gradually through a synthesis of several cultural traditions, including the ancient cultures of the Caucasus and nearby territories.” ref

“Late Kura-Araxes sites often featured Kurgans of greatly varying sizes, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. These kurgans also contained a wide assortment metalworks. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south. In the 3rd millennium BCE, one particular group of mounds of the Kura–Araxes culture is remarkable for their wealth. This was the final stage of culture’s development. These burial mounds are known as the Martqopi (or Martkopi) period mounds. Those on the left bank of the river Alazani are often 20–25 meters high and 200–300 meters in diameter. They contain especially rich artifacts, such as gold and silver jewelry.” ref

“While it is unknown what languages were present in Kura-Araxes, the two most widespread theories suggest a connection with Hurro-Urartian and/or Anatolian languages. In the Armenian hypothesis of Indo-European origins, this culture (and perhaps that of the Maykop culture) is identified with the speakers of the Anatolian languages. Others have suggested the possibility that Kartvelian, Northeast Caucasian, and Semitic languages were spoken in the region as well. Their pottery was distinctive. The spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya. The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes and, most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.” ref

The Amber Trade Road

“The Amber Road connected the Baltics with Europe. Researchers estimate that people began trading amber in 3000 BCE or 5,022 years ago, because archaeological evidence has uncovered amber beads from the Baltics in Egypt. The Romans valued amber both as medicine and for decorative purposes. Amber deposits are present under the Baltic Sea, and they formed millions of years ago. Slowly, amber washes up on the shores where people harvest it from the sand. The crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries were a time when the Baltic Sea was a major source of income for the Teutonic Knights. The Knights had control of this region, and they persecuted local Prussians if they tried to harvest or sell the amber. Remnants of the old Amber Road are still present in Poland.” ref 

Elamite Cuneiform

Elamite cuneiform was a simplified form of the Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform, used to write the Elamite language in the area that corresponds to modern Iran. Elamite cuneiform at times competed with other local scripts, Proto-Elamite and Linear Elamite. The earliest known Elamite cuneiform text is a treaty between Akkadians and the Elamites that dates back to 2200 BCE. However, some believe it might have been in use since 2500 BCE. The tablets are poorly preserved, so only limited parts can be read, but it is understood that the text is a treaty between the Akkad king Nāramsîn and Elamite ruler Hita, as indicated by frequent references like “Nāramsîn’s friend is my friend, Nāramsîn’s enemy is my enemy.” ref 

Phaistos Disc

“The Phaistos Disc (also spelled Phaistos Disk, Phaestos Disc) is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (second millennium BCE). The disk is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and its original place of manufacture remain disputed. The Phaistos Disc was discovered in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, near Hagia Triada, on the south coast of Crete; specifically, the disc was found in the basement of room 8 in building 101 of a group of buildings to the northeast of the main palace. This grouping of four rooms also served as a formal entry into the palace complex. Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier recovered the intact “dish”, about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and uniformly slightly more than 1 centimeter (0.39 inches) in thickness, found in the first Minoan palace. The disc was found in the main cell of an underground “temple depository”. These basement cells, only accessible from above, were neatly covered with a layer of fine plaster. Their content was poor in precious artifacts, but rich in black earth and ashes, mixed with burnt bovine bones. In the northern part of the main cell, in the same black layer, a few centimeters south-east of the disc and about 50 cm (20 in) above the floor, Linear A tablet ‘PH-1’ was also found. The site apparently collapsed as a result of an earthquake, possibly linked with the eruption of the Santorini volcano that affected large parts of the Mediterranean region during the mid-2nd millennium BCE.” ref 

Linear A Script

Linear A is a writing system that was used by the Minoans of Crete from 1800 to 1450 BCE to write the hypothesized Minoan language or languages. Linear A was the primary script used in palace and religious writings of the Minoan civilization. It was succeeded by Linear B, which was used by the Mycenaeans to write an early form of Greek. It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. No texts in Linear A have yet been deciphered. The term linear refers to the fact that the script was written using a stylus to cut lines into a tablet of clay, as opposed to cuneiform, which was written by using a stylus to press wedges into the clay. Linear A belongs to the group of scripts that evolved independently of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian systems. During the second millennium BCE, there were four major branches: Linear A, Linear B, Cypro-Minoan, and Cretan hieroglyphic. In the 1950s, Linear B was deciphered as Mycenaean Greek. Linear B shares many symbols with Linear A, and they may notate similar syllabic values, but neither those nor any other proposed readings lead to a language that scholars can read. The only part of the script that can be read with any certainty is the signs for numbers—which are, however, only known as numerical values; the words for those numbers remain unknown.” ref 

Linear B Script

Linear B was a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1400 BCE. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes, and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. Linear B, deciphered by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris—based on the research of American Classicist Alice Kober—is the only Bronze Age Aegean script to have thus far been deciphered. Linear B consists of around 87 syllabic signs and over 100 ideographic signs. These ideograms or “signifying” signs symbolize objects or commodities. They have no phonetic value and are never used as word signs in writing a sentence. The application of Linear B appears to have been confined to administrative contexts. In all the thousands of clay tablets, a relatively small number of different “hands” have been detected: 45 in Pylos (west coast of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece) and 66 in Knossos (Crete). Once the palaces were destroyed, the script disappeared.” ref 

Cypro-Minoan Syllabary

“The Cypro-Minoan syllabary (CM) is an undeciphered syllabary used on the island of Cyprus during the late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1050 BCE). The term “Cypro-Minoan” was coined based on its visual similarity to Linear A on Minoan Crete, from which CM is thought to be derived. Approximately 250 objects—such as clay balls, cylinders, and tablets, and votive stands—that bear Cypro-Minoan inscriptions, have been found. Discoveries have been made at various sites around Cyprus, as well as in the ancient city of Ugarit on the Syrian coast. Little is known about how this script originated or about the underlying language. However, its use continued into the early Iron Age, forming a link to the Cypriot syllabary, which has been deciphered as Greek. Arthur Evans considered the Cypro-Minoan syllabary to be a result of the uninterrupted evolution of the Minoan Linear A script. He believed that the script was brought to Cyprus by Minoan colonizers or migrants. Evans’ theory was uncritically supported until recently, when it was shown that the earliest Cypro-Minoan inscriptions were separated from the earliest texts in Linear A by less than a century, yet the Cypro-Minoan script at its earliest stage was substantially different from Linear A: it contained only syllabic signs while Linear A and its descendant Linear B both contained multiple ideograms, and its form was adapted to writing on clay while Linear A was better suited to writing with ink. The Linear B script that emerged a century later still retained many more features from, and most of the signary of, Linear A. All this evidence indicates a one-time introduction rather than long-time development.” ref 

Semitic language Script derived from Egyptian Hieroglyphs

“The letters of the earliest script used for Semitic languages have been shown to be derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the 19th century, the theory of Egyptian origin competed alongside other theories that the Phoenician script developed from Akkadian cuneiform, Cretan hieroglyphs, the Cypriot syllabary, and Anatolian hieroglyphs. Interpretations of Proto-Sinaitic were the key to showing the derivation of the Canaanite alphabet from hieratic, leading to the commonly accepted belief that the language of the inscriptions was Semitic and that the script had a hieratic prototype. The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions, along with the contemporary parallels found in Canaan and Wadi el-Hol, are thus hypothesized to show an intermediate step between Egyptian hieratic and the Phoenician alphabet. According to the “alphabet theory”, the early Semitic proto-alphabet reflected in the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions would have given rise to both the Ancient South Arabian script and the Proto-Canaanite alphabet by the time of the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–1150 BCE). Albright hypothesized that only the graphic form of the Proto-Sinaitic characters derive from Egyptian hieroglyphs, because they were given the sound value of the first consonant of the Semitic translation of the hieroglyph (many hieroglyphs had already been used acrophonically in Egyptian.” ref 

“According to the alphabet hypothesis, the shapes of the letters would have evolved from Proto-Sinaitic forms into Phoenician forms, but most of the names of the letters would have remained the same. An alternative hypothesis was recently proposed by Brian Colless (2014), who believes that 18 of the 22 letters of the Phoenician alphabet have counterparts in the Byblos syllabary, and it seems that the proto-alphabet evolved as a simplification of the syllabary, moving from syllabic to consonantal writing, in the style of the Egyptian script (which did not normally indicate vowels); this goes against the Goldwasser hypothesis (2010) that the original alphabet was invented by miners in Sinai. A transitional stage between Proto-Canaanite and Old Phoenician (1000–800 BCE) has been proposed by authors such as Werner Pichler as the origin of the Libyco-Berber script used among Ancient Libyans (i.e. Proto-Berbers) – citing common similarities to both Proto-Canaanite proper and its early North Arabian descendants.” ref

Proto-Sinaitic Script

Proto-Sinaitic (also referred to as Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite when found in Canaan, the North Semitic alphabet, or Early Alphabetic) is considered the earliest trace of alphabetic writing and the common ancestor of both the Ancient South Arabian script and the Phoenician alphabet, which led to many modern alphabets including the Greek alphabet. According to common theory, Canaanites or Hyksos who spoke a Semitic language repurposed Egyptian hieroglyphs to construct a different script. The script is attested in a small corpus of inscriptions found at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, dating to the Middle Bronze Age (2100–1500 BCE). Only a few inscriptions have been found in Canaan itself, dated to between the 17th and 15th centuries BCE. They are all very short, most consisting of only a couple of letters, and may have been written by Canaanite caravaners or soldiers from Egypt. They sometimes go by the name “Proto-Canaanite”, although the term “Proto-Canaanite” is also applied to early Phoenician or Ancient Hebrew writings.” ref 

“The earliest Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions are mostly dated to between the mid-19th (early date) and the mid-16th (late date) century BCE. The principal debate is between an early date, around 1850 BCE, and a late date, around 1550 BCE. The choice of one or the other date decides whether it is proto-Sinaitic or proto-Canaanite, and by extension locates the invention of the alphabet in Egypt or Canaan respectively. However, the discovery of the Wadi el-Hol inscriptions near the Nile River shows that the script originated in Egypt. The evolution of Proto-Sinaitic and the various Proto-Canaanite scripts during the Bronze Age is based on rather scant epigraphic evidence; it is only with the Bronze Age collapse and the rise of new Semitic kingdoms in the Levant that Proto-Canaanite is clearly attested (Byblos inscriptions 10th–8th century BCE, Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription c. 10th century BCE). The Wadi el-Hol inscriptions (Wādī al-Hawl ‘Ravine of Terror’) were carved on the stone sides of an ancient high-desert military and trade road linking Thebes and Abydos, in the heart of literate Egypt. They have been dated to somewhere between 1900 and 1800 BCE.” ref

“The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were discovered in Sinai. To this may be added a number of short Proto-Canaanite inscriptions found in Canaan and dated to between the 17th and 15th centuries BCE, and more recently, the discovery in 1999 of the Wadi el-Hol inscriptions, found in Middle Egypt. The Wadi el-Hol inscriptions strongly suggest a date of development of Proto-Sinaitic writing from the mid-19th to 18th centuries BCE. The Sinai inscriptions are best known from carved graffiti and votive texts from a mountain in the Sinai called Serabit el-Khadim and its temple to the Egyptian goddess Hathor (ḥwt-ḥr). The mountain contained turquoise mines which were visited by repeated expeditions over 800 years. Many of the workers and officials were from the Nile Delta, and included large numbers of Canaanites (i.e. speakers of an early form of Northwest Semitic ancestral to the Canaanite languages of the Late Bronze Age) who had been allowed to settle the eastern Delta. Most of the forty or so inscriptions have been found among much more numerous hieratic and hieroglyphic inscriptions, scratched on rocks near and in the turquoise mines and along the roads leading to the temple. The date of the inscriptions is mostly placed in the 17th or 16th century BCE.” ref

Proto-Canaanite, also referred to as Proto-Canaan, Old Canaanite, or Canaanite, is the name given to the Proto-Sinaitic script (c. 16th century BCE), when found in Canaan. Proto-Canaanite is also used when referring to the ancestor of the Phoenician or Paleo-Hebrew script, respectively, before some cut-off date, typically 1050 BCE, with an undefined affinity to Proto-Sinaitic. While no extant inscription in the Phoenician alphabet is older than c. 1050 BCE, Proto-Canaanite is used for the early alphabets as used during the 13th and 12th centuries BCE in Phoenicia. However, the Phoenician, Hebrew, and other Canaanite dialects were largely indistinguishable before the 11th century BCE, and the writing system is essentially identical. A possible example of Proto-Canaanite, the inscription on the Ophel pithos, was found on a pottery storage jar during the excavations of the south wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Inscribed on the pot are some big letters about an inch high, of which only five are complete, and traces of perhaps three additional letters written in Proto-Canaanite script.” ref

Ugaritic Writing System

“The Ugaritic alphabet is a cuneiform script used beginning in the 15th century BCE. Like most Semitic scripts, it is an abjad, where each symbol stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel. Although it appears similar to Mesopotamian cuneiform (whose writing techniques it borrowed), its symbols and symbol meanings are unrelated. It is the oldest example of the family of West Semitic scripts such as the Phoenician, Paleo-Hebrew, and Aramaic alphabets (including the Hebrew alphabet). The so-called “long alphabet” has 30 letters while the “short alphabet” has 22. Other languages (particularly Hurrian) were occasionally written in it in the Ugarit area, although not elsewhere. Clay tablets written in Ugaritic provide the earliest evidence of both the Levantine ordering of the alphabet, which gave rise to the alphabetic order of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin alphabets; and the South Semitic order, which gave rise to the order of the Ge’ez script. The script was written from left to right.” ref 

“Ugaritic is an extinct Northwest Semitic language, classified by some as a dialect of the Amorite language and so the only known Amorite dialect preserved in writing. It is known through the Ugaritic texts discovered at Ugarit in northern Syria, including several major literary texts, notably the Baal cycle. It has been used by scholars of the Hebrew Bible to clarify Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed ways in which the cultures of ancient Israel and Judah found parallels in the neighboring cultures. Ugaritic has been called “the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform.” ref

Phoenician Language

Phoenician is an extinct Canaanite Semitic language originally spoken in the region surrounding the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Extensive Tyro-Sidonian trade and commercial dominance led to Phoenician becoming a lingua franca of the maritime Mediterranean during the Iron Age. The Phoenician alphabet spread to Greece during this period, where it became the source of all modern European scripts. The area in which Phoenician was spoken includes the northern Levant and, at least as a prestige language, Anatolia, specifically the areas now including Syria, Lebanon, parts of Cyprus, and some adjacent areas of Turkey. It was also spoken in the area of Phoenician colonization along the coasts of the southwestern Mediterranean Sea, including those of modern Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Algeria as well as Malta, the west of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, and southernmost Spain.” ref 

“The Phoenicians were the first state-level society to make extensive use of the Semitic alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet is the oldest verified consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It has become conventional to refer to the script as “Proto-Canaanite” until the mid-11th century BCE, when it is first attested on inscribed bronze arrowheads, and as “Phoenician” only after 1050 BCE. The Phoenician phonetic alphabet is generally believed to be at least the partial ancestor of almost all modern alphabets. From a traditional linguistic perspective, Phoenician was composed of a variety of dialects. According to some sources, Phoenician developed into distinct Tyro-Sidonian and Byblian dialects. By this account, the Tyro-Sidonian dialect, from which the Punic language eventually emerged, spread across the Mediterranean through trade and colonization, whereas the ancient dialect of Byblos, known from a corpus of only a few dozen extant inscriptions, played no expansionary role.” ref 

“However, the very slight differences in language and the insufficient records of the time make it unclear whether Phoenician formed a separate and united dialect or was merely a superficially defined part of a broader language continuum. Through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to Northwest Africa and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks. Later, the Etruscans adopted a modified version for their own use, which, in turn, was modified and adopted by the Romans and became the Latin alphabet. In the east of the Mediterranean region, the language was in use as late as the 1st century BCE, when it seems to have gone extinct there. Punic colonization spread Phoenician to the western Mediterranean, where the distinct Punic language developed. Punic also died out, but it seems to have survived far longer than Phoenician, until the 6th century, perhaps even into the 9th century CE.” ref

“Phoenician was written with the Phoenician script, an abjad (consonantary) originating from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet that also became the basis for the Greek alphabet and, via an Etruscan adaptation, the Latin alphabet. The Punic form of the script gradually developed somewhat different and more cursive letter shapes; in the 3rd century BCE, it also began to exhibit a tendency to mark the presence of vowels, especially final vowels, with an aleph or sometimes an ayin. Furthermore, around the time of the Second Punic War, an even more cursive form began to develop, which gave rise to a variety referred to as Neo-Punic and existed alongside the more conservative form and became predominant some time after the destruction of Carthage (c. 149 BCE). Neo-Punic, in turn, tended to designate vowels with matres lectionis (“consonantal letters”) more frequently than the previous systems had and also began to systematically use different letters for different vowels, in the way explained in more detail below. Finally, a number of late inscriptions from what is now Constantine, Algeria dated to the first century BCE make use of the Greek alphabet to write Punic, and many inscriptions from Tripolitania, in the third and fourth centuries CE use the Latin alphabet for that purpose.” ref

European Alphabets

“The Greek alphabet, in its Euboean form, was carried over by Greek colonists to the Italian peninsula, where it gave rise to a variety of alphabets used to write the Italic languages. One of these became the Latin alphabet, which was spread across Europe as the Romans expanded their empire. Even after the fall of the Roman state, the alphabet survived in intellectual and religious works. It eventually became used for the descendant languages of Latin (the Romance languages) and then for most of the other languages of western and central Europe. The basic ordering of the Latin alphabet (A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z), which is derived from the Northwest Semitic “Abgad” order, is well established, although languages using this alphabet have different conventions for their treatment of modified letters and of certain combinations of letters (multigraphs).” ref 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

“How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

“Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

“Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

Understanding Religion Evolution:

“An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


Quick Evolution of Religion?

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

Here are several of my blog posts on history:

I am not an academic. I am a revolutionary that teaches in public, in places like social media, and in the streets. I am not a leader by some title given but from my commanding leadership style of simply to start teaching everywhere to everyone, all manner of positive education. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Low Gods “Earth” or Tutelary deity and High Gods “Sky” or Supreme deity

“An Earth goddess is a deification of the Earth. Earth goddesses are often associated with the “chthonic” deities of the underworldKi and Ninhursag are Mesopotamian earth goddesses. In Greek mythology, the Earth is personified as Gaia, corresponding to Roman Terra, Indic Prithvi/Bhūmi, etc. traced to an “Earth Mother” complementary to the “Sky Father” in Proto-Indo-European religionEgyptian mythology exceptionally has a sky goddess and an Earth god.” ref

“A mother goddess is a goddess who represents or is a personification of naturemotherhoodfertilitycreationdestruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. In some religious traditions or movements, Heavenly Mother (also referred to as Mother in Heaven or Sky Mother) is the wife or feminine counterpart of the Sky father or God the Father.” ref

Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such king gods are collectively categorized as “sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “sky father” god with an “earth mother” goddess (pairings of a sky mother with an earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the queen of the gods and may be an air/sky goddess in her own right, though she usually has other functions as well with “sky” not being her main. In antiquity, several sky goddesses in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East were called Queen of Heaven. Neopagans often apply it with impunity to sky goddesses from other regions who were never associated with the term historically. The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky.” ref

“In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon and is often either a reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother“. “Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeûs Pater and Roman Jupiter and Germanic Týr, Tir or Tiwaz, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity’s name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).” ref

Tutelary deity

“A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of “tutelary” expresses the concept of safety and thus of guardianship. In late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) iKorean shamanismjangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshiped as deities. Seonangshin is the patron deity of the village in Korean tradition and was believed to embody the SeonangdangIn Philippine animism, Diwata or Lambana are deities or spirits that inhabit sacred places like mountains and mounds and serve as guardians. Such as: Maria Makiling is the deity who guards Mt. Makiling and Maria Cacao and Maria Sinukuan. In Shinto, the spirits, or kami, which give life to human bodies come from nature and return to it after death. Ancestors are therefore themselves tutelaries to be worshiped. And similarly, Native American beliefs such as Tonás, tutelary animal spirit among the Zapotec and Totems, familial or clan spirits among the Ojibwe, can be animals.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Austronesian beliefs such as: Atua (gods and spirits of the Polynesian peoples such as the Māori or the Hawaiians), Hanitu (Bunun of Taiwan‘s term for spirit), Hyang (KawiSundaneseJavanese, and Balinese Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology and this spiritual entity, can be either divine or ancestral), Kaitiaki (New Zealand Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land), Kawas (mythology) (divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of the living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts), Tiki (Māori mythologyTiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne and represents deified ancestors found in most Polynesian cultures). ” ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

Mesopotamian Tutelary Deities can be seen as ones related to City-States 

“Historical city-states included Sumerian cities such as Uruk and UrAncient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes and Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the five Philistine city-states; the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as AthensSpartaThebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a vast empire); the Italian city-states from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, such as FlorenceSienaFerraraMilan (which as they grew in power began to dominate neighboring cities) and Genoa and Venice, which became powerful thalassocracies; the Mayan and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen ItzaTikalCopán and Monte Albán); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; the city-states of the Swahili coastRagusa; states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov; and many others.” ref

“The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE; also known as Protoliterate period) of Mesopotamia, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. City-States like Uruk and others had a patron tutelary City Deity along with a Priest-King.” ref

Chinese folk religion, both past, and present, includes myriad tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals, highly cultivated sages, and prominent ancestors can be deified and honored after death. Lord Guan is the patron of military personnel and police, while Mazu is the patron of fishermen and sailors. Such as Tu Di Gong (Earth Deity) is the tutelary deity of a locality, and each individual locality has its own Earth Deity and Cheng Huang Gong (City God) is the guardian deity of an individual city, worshipped by local officials and locals since imperial times.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Hinduism, personal tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata, while family tutelary deities are known as Kuladevata. Gramadevata are guardian deities of villages. Devas can also be seen as tutelary. Shiva is the patron of yogis and renunciants. City goddesses include: Mumbadevi (Mumbai), Sachchika (Osian); Kuladevis include: Ambika (Porwad), and Mahalakshmi. In NorthEast India Meitei mythology and religion (Sanamahism) of Manipur, there are various types of tutelary deities, among which Lam Lais are the most predominant ones. Tibetan Buddhism has Yidam as a tutelary deity. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) The Greeks also thought deities guarded specific places: for instance, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Socrates spoke of hearing the voice of his personal spirit or daimonion:

You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me … . This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” ref

“Tutelary deities who guard and preserve a place or a person are fundamental to ancient Roman religion. The tutelary deity of a man was his Genius, that of a woman her Juno. In the Imperial era, the Genius of the Emperor was a focus of Imperial cult. An emperor might also adopt a major deity as his personal patron or tutelary, as Augustus did Apollo. Precedents for claiming the personal protection of a deity were established in the Republican era, when for instance the Roman dictator Sulla advertised the goddess Victory as his tutelary by holding public games (ludi) in her honor.” ref

“Each town or city had one or more tutelary deities, whose protection was considered particularly vital in time of war and siege. Rome itself was protected by a goddess whose name was to be kept ritually secret on pain of death (for a supposed case, see Quintus Valerius Soranus). The Capitoline Triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva were also tutelaries of Rome. The Italic towns had their own tutelary deities. Juno often had this function, as at the Latin town of Lanuvium and the Etruscan city of Veii, and was often housed in an especially grand temple on the arx (citadel) or other prominent or central location. The tutelary deity of Praeneste was Fortuna, whose oracle was renowned.” ref

“The Roman ritual of evocatio was premised on the belief that a town could be made vulnerable to military defeat if the power of its tutelary deity were diverted outside the city, perhaps by the offer of superior cult at Rome. The depiction of some goddesses such as the Magna Mater (Great Mother, or Cybele) as “tower-crowned” represents their capacity to preserve the city. A town in the provinces might adopt a deity from within the Roman religious sphere to serve as its guardian, or syncretize its own tutelary with such; for instance, a community within the civitas of the Remi in Gaul adopted Apollo as its tutelary, and at the capital of the Remi (present-day Rheims), the tutelary was Mars Camulus.” ref 

Household deity (a kind of or related to a Tutelary deity)

“A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in paganism as well as in folklore across many parts of the world. Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity – typically a goddess – often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, such as the ancient Greek Hestia.” ref

“The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.” ref

“Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as “household gods” in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings, or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.” ref

“In many religions, both ancient and modern, a god would preside over the home. Certain species, or types, of household deities, existed. An example of this was the Roman Lares. Many European cultures retained house spirits into the modern period. Some examples of these include:

“Although the cosmic status of household deities was not as lofty as that of the Twelve Olympians or the Aesir, they were also jealous of their dignity and also had to be appeased with shrines and offerings, however humble. Because of their immediacy they had arguably more influence on the day-to-day affairs of men than the remote gods did. Vestiges of their worship persisted long after Christianity and other major religions extirpated nearly every trace of the major pagan pantheons. Elements of the practice can be seen even today, with Christian accretions, where statues to various saints (such as St. Francis) protect gardens and grottos. Even the gargoyles found on older churches, could be viewed as guardians partitioning a sacred space.” ref

“For centuries, Christianity fought a mop-up war against these lingering minor pagan deities, but they proved tenacious. For example, Martin Luther‘s Tischreden have numerous – quite serious – references to dealing with kobolds. Eventually, rationalism and the Industrial Revolution threatened to erase most of these minor deities, until the advent of romantic nationalism rehabilitated them and embellished them into objects of literary curiosity in the 19th century. Since the 20th century this literature has been mined for characters for role-playing games, video games, and other fantasy personae, not infrequently invested with invented traits and hierarchies somewhat different from their mythological and folkloric roots.” ref

“In contradistinction to both Herbert Spencer and Edward Burnett Tylor, who defended theories of animistic origins of ancestor worship, Émile Durkheim saw its origin in totemism. In reality, this distinction is somewhat academic, since totemism may be regarded as a particularized manifestation of animism, and something of a synthesis of the two positions was attempted by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, both totem and taboo are outward expressions or manifestations of the same psychological tendency, a concept which is complementary to, or which rather reconciles, the apparent conflict. Freud preferred to emphasize the psychoanalytic implications of the reification of metaphysical forces, but with particular emphasis on its familial nature. This emphasis underscores, rather than weakens, the ancestral component.” ref

William Edward Hearn, a noted classicist, and jurist, traced the origin of domestic deities from the earliest stages as an expression of animism, a belief system thought to have existed also in the neolithic, and the forerunner of Indo-European religion. In his analysis of the Indo-European household, in Chapter II “The House Spirit”, Section 1, he states:

The belief which guided the conduct of our forefathers was … the spirit rule of dead ancestors.” ref

“In Section 2 he proceeds to elaborate:

It is thus certain that the worship of deceased ancestors is a vera causa, and not a mere hypothesis. …

In the other European nations, the Slavs, the Teutons, and the Kelts, the House Spirit appears with no less distinctness. … [T]he existence of that worship does not admit of doubt. … The House Spirits had a multitude of other names which it is needless here to enumerate, but all of which are more or less expressive of their friendly relations with man. … In [England] … [h]e is the Brownie. … In Scotland this same Brownie is well known. He is usually described as attached to particular families, with whom he has been known to reside for centuries, threshing the corn, cleaning the house, and performing similar household tasks. His favorite gratification was milk and honey.” ref

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ref, ref

Hinduism around 3,700 to 3,500 years old. ref

 Judaism around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (The first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew” dated to around 3,000 years ago Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley. And many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed around 2,500) ref, ref

Judaism is around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (“Paleo-Hebrew” 3,000 years ago and Torah 2,500 years ago)

“Judaism is an Abrahamic, its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars argue that modern Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, by the late 6th century BCE, and is thus considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions.” ref

“Yahwism is the name given by modern scholars to the religion of ancient Israel, essentially polytheistic, with a plethora of gods and goddesses. Heading the pantheon was Yahweh, the national god of the Israelite kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with his consort, the goddess Asherah; below them were second-tier gods and goddesses such as Baal, Shamash, Yarikh, Mot, and Astarte, all of whom had their own priests and prophets and numbered royalty among their devotees, and a third and fourth tier of minor divine beings, including the mal’ak, the messengers of the higher gods, who in later times became the angels of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yahweh, however, was not the ‘original’ god of Israel “Isra-El”; it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name “Israel”, and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic theophoric name (i.e., one incorporating the name of Yahweh).” ref

“El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity“, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic *ʔil-, meaning “god”. Specific deities known as ‘El or ‘Il include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period. ʼĒl is listed at the head of many pantheons. In some Canaanite and Ugaritic sources, ʼĒl played a role as father of the gods, of creation, or both. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “ʼĒl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad“. The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. In the Hebrew texts this word is interpreted as being semantically singular for “god” by biblical commentators. However the documentary hypothesis for the Old Testament (corresponds to the Jewish Torah) developed originally in the 1870s, identifies these that different authors – the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source – were responsible for editing stories from a polytheistic religion into those of a monotheistic religion. Inconsistencies that arise between monotheism and polytheism in the texts are reflective of this hypothesis.” ref


Jainism around 2,599 – 2,527 years old. ref

Confucianism around 2,600 – 2,551 years old. ref

Buddhism around 2,563/2,480 – 2,483/2,400 years old. ref

Christianity around 2,o00 years old. ref

Shinto around 1,305 years old. ref

Islam around 1407–1385 years old. ref

Sikhism around 548–478 years old. ref

Bahá’í around 200–125 years old. ref

Knowledge to Ponder: 


  • Possibly, around 30,000 years ago (in simpler form) to 6,000 years ago, Stars/Astrology are connected to Ancestors, Spirit Animals, and Deities.
  • The star also seems to be a possible proto-star for Star of Ishtar, Star of Inanna, or Star of Venus.
  • Around 7,000 to 6,000 years ago, Star Constellations/Astrology have connections to the “Kurgan phenomenon” of below-ground “mound” stone/wood burial structures and “Dolmen phenomenon” of above-ground stone burial structures.
  • Around 6,500–5,800 years ago, The Northern Levant migrations into Jordon and Israel in the Southern Levant brought new cultural and religious transfer from Turkey and Iran.
  • “The Ghassulian Star,” a mysterious 6,000-year-old mural from Jordan may have connections to the European paganstic kurgan/dolmens phenomenon.

“Astrology is a range of divinatory practices, recognized as pseudoscientific since the 18th century, that claim to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the apparent positions of celestial objects. Different cultures have employed forms of astrology since at least the 2nd millennium BCE, these practices having originated in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Most, if not all, cultures have attached importance to what they observed in the sky, and some—such as the HindusChinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from where it spread to Ancient GreeceRome, the Islamicate world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.” ref 

Around 5,500 years ago, Science evolves, The first evidence of science was 5,500 years ago and was demonstrated by a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world. ref

Around 5,000 years ago, Origin of Logics is a Naturalistic Observation (principles of valid reasoning, inference, & demonstration) ref

Around 4,150 to 4,000 years ago: The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which was originally titled “He who Saw the Deep” (Sha naqba īmuru) or “Surpassing All Other Kings” (Shūtur eli sharrī) were written. ref


  • 3,700 years ago or so, the oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed.
  • 3,500 years ago or so, the Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.


  • around 3,000 years ago, the first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew”
  • around 2,500 years ago, many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed

Myths: The bible inspired religion is not just one religion or one myth but a grouping of several religions and myths

  • Around 3,450 or 3,250 years ago, according to legend, is the traditionally accepted period in which the Israelite lawgiver, Moses, provided the Ten Commandments.
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament is the first part of Christianity’s bible.
  • Around 2,400 years ago, the most accepted hypothesis is that the canon was formed in stages, first the Pentateuch (Torah).
  • Around 2,140 to 2,116 years ago, the Prophets was written during the Hasmonean dynasty, and finally the remaining books.
  • Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections:
  • The first five books or Pentateuch (Torah).
  • The proposed history books telling the history of the Israelites from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon.
  • The poetic and proposed “Wisdom books” dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world.
  • The books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God:
  • Henotheism:
  • Exodus 20:23 “You shall not make other gods besides Me (not saying there are no other gods just not to worship them); gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.”
  • Polytheism:
  • Judges 10:6 “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords.”
  • Monotheism:
  • Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Around 2,570 to 2,270 Years Ago, there is a confirmation of atheistic doubting as well as atheistic thinking, mainly by Greek philosophers. However, doubting gods is likely as old as the invention of gods and should destroy the thinking that belief in god(s) is the “default belief”. The Greek word is apistos (a “not” and pistos “faithful,”), thus not faithful or faithless because one is unpersuaded and unconvinced by a god(s) claim. Short Definition: unbelieving, unbeliever, or unbelief.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Expressions of Atheistic Thinking:

  • Around 2,600 years ago, Ajita Kesakambali, ancient Indian philosopher, who is the first known proponent of Indian materialism. ref
  • Around 2,535 to 2,475 years ago, Heraclitus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor or modern Turkey. ref
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, according to The Story of Civilization book series certain African pygmy tribes have no identifiable gods, spirits, or religious beliefs or rituals, and even what burials accrue are without ceremony. ref
  • Around 2,490 to 2,430 years ago, Empedocles, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. ref
  • Around 2,460 to 2,370 years ago, Democritus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher considered to be the “father of modern science” possibly had some disbelief amounting to atheism. ref
  • Around 2,399 years ago or so, Socrates, a famous Greek philosopher was tried for sinfulness by teaching doubt of state gods. ref
  • Around 2,341 to 2,270 years ago, Epicurus, a Greek philosopher known for composing atheistic critics and famously stated, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?” ref

This last expression by Epicurus, seems to be an expression of Axiological Atheism. To understand and utilize value or actually possess “Value Conscious/Consciousness” to both give a strong moral “axiological” argument (the problem of evil) as well as use it to fortify humanism and positive ethical persuasion of human helping and care responsibilities. Because value-blindness gives rise to sociopathic/psychopathic evil.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

While hallucinogens are associated with shamanism, it is alcohol that is associated with paganism.

The Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries Shows in the prehistory series:

Show one: Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses.

Show two: Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show tree: Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show four: Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show five: Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show six: Emergence of hierarchy, sexism, slavery, and the new male god dominance: Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves!

Show seven: Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State)

Show eight: Paganism 4,000 years old: Moralistic gods after the rise of Statism and often support Statism/Kings: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism)

Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses: VIDEO

Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Pre-Capitalism): VIDEO

Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves: VIEDO

Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State): VIEDO

Paganism 4,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism): VIEDO

I do not hate simply because I challenge and expose myths or lies any more than others being thought of as loving simply because of the protection and hiding from challenge their favored myths or lies.

The truth is best championed in the sunlight of challenge.

An archaeologist once said to me “Damien religion and culture are very different”

My response, So are you saying that was always that way, such as would you say Native Americans’ cultures are separate from their religions? And do you think it always was the way you believe?

I had said that religion was a cultural product. That is still how I see it and there are other archaeologists that think close to me as well. Gods too are the myths of cultures that did not understand science or the world around them, seeing magic/supernatural everywhere.

I personally think there is a goddess and not enough evidence to support a male god at Çatalhöyük but if there was both a male and female god and goddess then I know the kind of gods they were like Proto-Indo-European mythology.

This series idea was addressed in, Anarchist Teaching as Free Public Education or Free Education in the Public: VIDEO

Our 12 video series: Organized Oppression: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of power (9,000-4,000 years ago), is adapted from: The Complete and Concise History of the Sumerians and Early Bronze Age Mesopotamia (7000-2000 BC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szFjxmY7jQA by “History with Cy

Show #1: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Samarra, Halaf, Ubaid)

Show #2: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Eridu: First City of Power)

Show #3: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Uruk and the First Cities)

Show #4: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (First Kings)

Show #5: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Early Dynastic Period)

Show #6: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (King Lugalzagesi and the First Empire)

Show #7: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Sargon and Akkadian Rule)

Show #8: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Naram-Sin, Post-Akkadian Rule, and the Gutians)

Show #9: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Gudea of Lagash and Utu-hegal)

Show #10: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Third Dynasty of Ur / Neo-Sumerian Empire)

Show #11: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Amorites, Elamites, and the End of an Era)

Show #12: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Aftermath and Legacy of Sumer)

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

The “Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries”

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ Atheist Leftist @Skepticallefty & I (Damien Marie AtHope) @AthopeMarie (my YouTube & related blog) are working jointly in atheist, antitheist, antireligionist, antifascist, anarchist, socialist, and humanist endeavors in our videos together, generally, every other Saturday.

Why Does Power Bring Responsibility?

Think, how often is it the powerless that start wars, oppress others, or commit genocide? So, I guess the question is to us all, to ask, how can power not carry responsibility in a humanity concept? I know I see the deep ethical responsibility that if there is power their must be a humanistic responsibility of ethical and empathic stewardship of that power. Will I be brave enough to be kind? Will I possess enough courage to be compassionate? Will my valor reach its height of empathy? I as everyone, earns our justified respect by our actions, that are good, ethical, just, protecting, and kind. Do I have enough self-respect to put my love for humanity’s flushing, over being brought down by some of its bad actors? May we all be the ones doing good actions in the world, to help human flourishing.

I create the world I want to live in, striving for flourishing. Which is not a place but a positive potential involvement and promotion; a life of humanist goal precision. To master oneself, also means mastering positive prosocial behaviors needed for human flourishing. I may have lost a god myth as an atheist, but I am happy to tell you, my friend, it is exactly because of that, leaving the mental terrorizer, god belief, that I truly regained my connected ethical as well as kind humanity.

Cory and I will talk about prehistory and theism, addressing the relevance to atheism, anarchism, and socialism.

At the same time as the rise of the male god, 7,000 years ago, there was also the very time there was the rise of violence, war, and clans to kingdoms, then empires, then states. It is all connected back to 7,000 years ago, and it moved across the world.

Cory Johnston: https://damienmarieathope.com/2021/04/cory-johnston-mind-of-a-skeptical-leftist/?v=32aec8db952d  

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist (YouTube)

Cory Johnston: Mind of a Skeptical Leftist @Skepticallefty

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist By Cory Johnston: “Promoting critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics by covering current events and talking to a variety of people. Cory Johnston has been thoughtfully talking to people and attempting to promote critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics.” http://anchor.fm/skepticalleft

Cory needs our support. We rise by helping each other.

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ @Skepticallefty Evidence-based atheist leftist (he/him) Producer, host, and co-host of 4 podcasts @skeptarchy @skpoliticspod and @AthopeMarie

Damien Marie AtHope (“At Hope”) Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, Psychology, and Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Historian.

Damien is interested in: Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Ethics, Humanism, Science, Atheism, Antiteism, Antireligionism, Ignosticism, Left-Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism, Mutualism, Axiology, Metaphysics, LGBTQI, Philosophy, Advocacy, Activism, Mental Health, Psychology, Archaeology, Social Work, Sexual Rights, Marriage Rights, Woman’s Rights, Gender Rights, Child Rights, Secular Rights, Race Equality, Ageism/Disability Equality, Etc. And a far-leftist, “Anarcho-Humanist.”

I am not a good fit in the atheist movement that is mostly pro-capitalist, I am anti-capitalist. Mostly pro-skeptic, I am a rationalist not valuing skepticism. Mostly pro-agnostic, I am anti-agnostic. Mostly limited to anti-Abrahamic religions, I am an anti-religionist. 

To me, the “male god” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 7,000 years ago, whereas the now favored monotheism “male god” is more like 4,000 years ago or so. To me, the “female goddess” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 11,000-10,000 years ago or so, losing the majority of its once prominence around 2,000 years ago due largely to the now favored monotheism “male god” that grow in prominence after 4,000 years ago or so. 

My Thought on the Evolution of Gods?

Animal protector deities from old totems/spirit animal beliefs come first to me, 13,000/12,000 years ago, then women as deities 11,000/10,000 years ago, then male gods around 7,000/8,000 years ago. Moralistic gods around 5,000/4,000 years ago, and monotheistic gods around 4,000/3,000 years ago. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Damien Marie AtHope (Said as “At” “Hope”)/(Autodidact Polymath but not good at math):

Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist, Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Jeweler, Poet, “autodidact” Philosopher, schooled in Psychology, and “autodidact” Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Pre-Historian (Knowledgeable in the range of: 1 million to 5,000/4,000 years ago). I am an anarchist socialist politically. Reasons for or Types of Atheism

My Website, My Blog, & Short-writing or QuotesMy YouTube, Twitter: @AthopeMarie, and My Email: damien.marie.athope@gmail.com

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