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Ancient Middle Eastern Literature

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Tara Estes

on 27 January 2015

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Transcript of Ancient Middle Eastern Literature

Ancient Middle Eastern Literature
What you need to know about
the Middle East...
Best known for where civilization started.
In Mesopotamia, arised the Sumerian civilization. This was the start of a form a language (Cuneiform) religion, irrigation, and aggriculture.
Sumerian Creation Myth

The Sumerian creation myth, the oldest known, was found on a fragmentary clay tablet known as the "Eridu Tablet or Eridu Genesis", datable to ca. the 18th century BC. It also includes a flood myth.

Where the tablet picks up, the gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the Sumerians (the "black-headed people") and the animals. Then kings descend from the sky and the first cities are founded.

After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided to send a flood to destroy humankind. Enki, the god of the waters, warns the hero [Atra-hasis] and gives him instructions for building an ark. .....

Well, we all know how that story, centuries later, wound up in the Talmud, or 'Old Testament' of the Bible, as the story about 'Noah and the flood'. The Sumerian flood story was written down in 1,800 B.C., at least a thousand years before the Hebrews had developed a writing system, but obviously the oral 'flood story' had travelled throughout the middle east.
Works Cited:
"Sumerian Creation Myth." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 May 2011.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_creation_myth>.
Jacobsen, Thorkild. "The Eridu Genesis." Bible and History. Yale University Press. Web. 04 May2011. <http://www.piney.com/EriduGen.html>.
History
Noah and the Flood
By the time the book of Genesis was assembled...
3000B.C 100 A.D
Hebrew storytellers had many different versions of the ancient story.
"The Lord regretted that he had made man on earth, and His heart
was saddened. The Lord said, " I will blot out from the earth the
men whom I created- men together with beasts, creeping things
and bird of the sky; for I regret that I made them." but Noah
found favor with the lord."
4500 B.C.
Sumerians settle in Mesopotamia
4000 B.C.- 3500 B.C.
Floods ravage Mesopotamia
3500 B.C.- 3000 B.C.
Sumerians develop cuneiform writing
3000 B.C.- 2500 B.C.
Cuneiform tablets are inscribed with Sumerian writings
2750 B.C.
Gilgamesh is king in Uruk
2500 B.C.
Legends about Gilgamesh begin to appear on cuneiforms
2000 B.C.
Babylonians conquer Sumeria
Culture
Sumerians
-Wandering people who settled in Sumer, in the marshlands of the delta formed by two rivers
-Sumerians dug canals to drain the marshlands and irrigate their crops
-Their was no stone or timber in he delta region, so sumerians used mud to build their houses and form excellent pottery
-The mud also provided the raw material for the clay tablets on which the sumerians wrote their laws, financial transactions, and literature
-The sumerians made their living mainly by growing crops, such as wheat and barely, and raiseing livestock
-They were known as sucessful merchants and traders, they had many goods to trade with their neighbors on the persian golf
-The sumerians lived in city-states, consisting of a large city and its surrounding areas, these citys were walled off against invaders and these citys were built around pyramid like buildings called Ziggurats
-Ziggurats were six or seven story high religous buildings decorated with bright colors. Each one was presided over by a priest-king, whom the people regarded as the earthly representative of the local god.
-The largest Sumerian city-state was Uruk which had a population in the tens of thousands.
-Sumerians never had a central, unifying government. This lack of political force caused the city-states to often compete against one another for land and precious resources
-Sumerian society was based on a strict thrre level class system
1) At the top is the nobles, who mainly consisted of the priests and leading officals
2) Then came the sumerian"middle class," who consisted of the merchants and artisians, as wll as professional people such as docters
3) At the bottom is the peasants, most of whom were farmers and the slaves
Babylonians
-The babylonians conquered sumer and named their newly taken land Babylon
-Babylonians recognized the value of the sumerian culture and adopted it as their own
Literature
Mesopotamian Lit
Sumerian and Babylonian literature consists of hymns, laments, dirges, proverbs, essays, rules of conduct, fables, myths, and epic tales. The most famous surviving work from the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia is a long narrative poem about a king named Gilgamesh, which may be the worlds oldest epic.
Hebrew Lit
The Hebrew bible, known to christians as the old testament, is both the great sacred text of the hebrews and the chronicle of their history.
- They started to use the sumerian cuneiform script to their own language
-The babylonian culture centered around religion aswell
- In 1792 B.C. under the reign Hammurabi, the sixth babylonian ruler. Babylon reached the peak of its glory, becoming the religious and cultural center of western asia
-Hammurabi was most famous for creating a set of laws known as the Code of Hammurabi, a collection of 282 laws that regulated all aspects of babylonian life
-Babylon was host to many different invaders in the later part of its dynasty, such as the Hitties and then the Assyrians
Elements
Imagery
Was used to describe how much damage was actually done.
Induce fear.
"When the waters had swelled much more upon the earth, all the highest mountains everywhere under the sky were covered."
Symbolism
"I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth."
This represents a promise from God, saying that He will not destroy the flesh of this earth after this great flood. The rainbows represent peace, and a reminder to this promise.
A rainbow.
The Book of Ruth
"Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."
Elements:
Symbolism
Ruth- "friend" remains loyal to Naomi and stays to remarry.
Orpah- root word "nape" or "back of neck representing how she turned her back on Noami and went back to her people.
Boaz- "strength"
Famine- Hardships, but a chance for redeption.
Foreshadowing
Mahlon- "sick"
Chilion- "weakening"
The importance of the law is evident within the Book of Ruth, and the story reflects a need to stay within legal boundaries. Boaz, in going beyond measure in acquiring the property (demonstrating hesed), redeems not only the land but both Naomi and Ruth as well. The two widows now have a secure and protected future.
1900 B.C.
Abraham and Sarah migrate from Mesopotamia to Canaan: Jewish history begins
1792 B.C.
Babylon under Hammurabi reaches its culteral and artistic peak
Hammurabi's Code is set down in Babylon
1700 B.C.
1300 B.C.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is written down by Babylonians in Mesopotamia
1200 B.C.
Moses leads Jews out of Egypt
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Summary
- Babylon fell to Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539 B.C and with it the last of the great Mesopotamian empires, fell into ruins
Hebrew
-Hebrew history and culture began in Mesopptamia with Aberham and his wife Sarah, they left Babylon and crossed the jorden river and the mediteranian sea, settleing in Canaan
- The decendents of Aberham and Sarah came to be called Hebrews, which means "people across the river"
-Famine struck soon after they settled in Canaaan, to be saved the Hebrew people were lead to Egypt, yet their they were enslaved by the pharaoh oof the time
-Around 1200 B.C., a man named Moses led the Hebrews to freedom across the red sea ans into the Sinai Desert
- It was also said that the Hebrews god gave Moses the ten commandments as rules for which the people would have to follow to get to the promise land
- The jewish people devoted themselves to the Hebrew bible as a guide in which they used to lives
- All the major events and teachings of their faith was documented in the Hebrew bible
925 B.C.- 587 B.C.
The writings of the Hebrew Bible prophets
Alexander the Great conquers Mesopotamia and neighboring peoples
330 B.C.
300 B.C.
The Hebrew Bible in its entirety is assembled
The books of the New Testament are written
Mesopotamia falls under Roman rule
50 A.D.
70 A.D.- 100 A.D.
The story starts with the great Gilgamesh, the king of the city-state of Uruk. He is two-thirds man and one-third man. Gilgamesh and is trusted friend Enkidu go on marvolous adventures to destroy the greatest beasts of their world. But the two are also arrogent and disrespectful to the gods and as punishment the gods turn Enkidu fatally ill. After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh is filled with sadness and fear of death. so he leaves Uruk to go to the land of dilmn, parodise of the sumerians. Their he will find Utnapishtim, the only man that the gods bestoded everlasting life to. To get to this parodise, Gilgamesh is forced to walk through 12 leagus of darkness. After doing so he mnakes it to an amazing garden in which no mortal has been befor . While their he sales over the sea of death to reach Utnapishtim. Gilgamesh talks with the man and asks him to tell his secret on everlasting life. Instead Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of the flood that the god let loose on the world long ago and that he had to gather all forms of life into a boat and watch over them for seven days and nights without sleep. After the story Gilgamesh still refuses to leave befor finding out the secret of eternal life. So Utnapishtim proposes a deal that if Gilgamesh can stay awake for seven days and nights like he did, then he will tell him the secret. But soon after Gilgamesh falls into a deep sleep. when he wakes up he is sad ans lets the waters currents carrying back to Uruk.
Meanings
Death is enevitable
The affects of mortal mistakes
Treasure your life
Symbolizm
Utnapishtim- the unobtainable
Gilgamesh- the strength of the humen spirit
Connections
History- Gilgamesh was a real sumerian king of Uruk during 2750 B.C./ The flood within the story could be connected to the floods the sumerians had to face during 4000 B.C.- 3500 B.C.
Culture- The epic of Gilgamesh is believed to be the oldest epic and people formed many different representations throughout the years/ represented the strength of man not just gods
People
Moses 2368– 2488
Was born into a Hebrew family
Adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter
God appeared to him telling him to free the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery
He was told to take them to the promise land
He died before arriving in the promise land to be 120 years old
Joshua
Military commander for Moses
One of twelve to explore the land
Just before Moses died Joshua became the leader
He led the Israelites into the promise land
Died 25 years later at the age of 110
Nebuchadnezzer
Ruled between 605-562
Built Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Went crazy for seven years
In the Beginning
The Ancient Middle East
3000 B.C.- 100 A.D.
History
4500 B.C.
Sumerians settle in Mesopotamia
4000 B.C.- 3500 B.C.
3500 B.C.- 3000 B.C.
3000 B.C.- 2500 B.C.
2750 B.C.
Floods ravage Mesopotamia
Sumerians develop cuneiform writing
Cuneiform tablets are inscribed with Sumerian writing
Gilgamesh is king in Uruk
2500 B.C.
Legends about Gilgamesh are written on cuneiform tablets
2000 B.C.
Babylonians conquer Sumeria
1900 B.C.
Abraham and Sarah migrate from Mesopotamia to Canaan: Jewish history begins
1792 B.C.
Babylon under ruler Hammurabi reaches its cultural and artistic peak
1700 B.C.
Hammurabi's Code is set down in Babylon
1300 B.C.
"The Epic of Gilgamesh" is written down by Babylonians in Mesopotamia
1200 B.C.
Moses leads Jews out of Egypt
925 B.C.- 587 B.C.
The writings of the Hebrew Bible prophets originate.
330 B.C.
Alexander the Great conquers Mesopotamia and neighboring peoples
300 B.C.
The Hebrew Bible in its entirety is assembled
50 A.D
Mesopotamia falls under Roman rule
70 A.D.- 100 A.D.
The books of the New Testament are written
Culture
Sumerian
- Wandering people who settled in Mesopotamia, in the marshlands of the delta formed by two rivers
- They called their new-found home Sumer
- Sumerians dug canals to drain the Marshlands and irrigate their crops
- There was no stone or timber in the delta region, so Sumerians used mud to build their houses and form excellent pottery
- The mud also provided the raw materials for clay tablets on which the Sumerians wrote their laws, financial transactions, and literature. This form of writing was known as Cuneiform.
- The Sumerians made their living mainly by growing crops such as wheat and barley and by raising livestock
- They were known as successful merchants and traders; they had many goods to trade with their neighbors on the Persian gulf
- The Sumerians lived in city-states, consisting of a large city and its surrounding areas; these cities were walled off against invaders and these cities were built around a pyramid-like building called Ziggurats
- Ziggurats were six or seven story religious buildings decorated in bright colors
- Each of these tall towers was ruled over by a priest-king, whom the people regarded as the earthly representative of the local god
Literature
Mesopotamian Lit
Sumerian and Babylonian literature consisted of hymns, laments, proverbs, essays, rules of conduct, fables, myths, and epic tales. The most famous surviving work from the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia is a long narrative poem about a king named Gilgamesh, which is the world's oldest known epic.
Hebrew Lit
The Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament, is both the great sacred text of the Hebrews and the chronicle of their story.
-The largest Sumerian city-state was Uruk, which had a population in the tens of thousands
-The Sumerians never seemed to have a central, unifying form of government; this lack of political force caused many city-states to compete against one another for land and resources
- The Sumerian society was based on a strict, three level class system
1) At the top was the nobles, who consisted mainly of the priests and high city officials
2) Next came the Sumerian middle class; this consisted of the merchants and artisans, as well as the professional people such as doctors
3) At the bottom were the peasants these were mostly farmers and the slaves
Babylonian
- The Babylonians conquered Sumer in 2000 B.C., They named their newly conquered land Babylon
- The Babylonians recognized the value of the Sumerian culture and adopted it as their own
- They adopted the Sumerian cuneiform scripts to their own language
- In about 1792 B.C. under the reign of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian ruler, Babylon reached the peak of its glory, becoming the religious and cultural center of western Asia
Geography of the MIDDLE EAST
- The most famous thing Hammurabi did was set down the Code of Hammurabi, which was a collection of 282 laws that regulated ever aspect of Babylonian life
- Although Babylon was forced to endure constant invading, each new invader saw the Babylonian culture and society as strong and important, so they kept things mostly the same
- Babylon, the last of the great Mesopotamian empires, fell into ruins shortly after being conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539 B.C.
Hebrew
-Hebrew history was believed to have started in Mesopotamia with Abraham and his wife Sarah; they left the Babylonian city-state of Ur and crossed the Jordan River to the land of Canaan
-The descendants of Abraham and Sarah came to be called Hebrews, which means "people from across the river"
- After living in Canaan for four generations a famine struck and to survive, a man named Joseph lead the Hebrew people to Egypt
- In Egypt the Hebrew people were forced into slavery by a new Egyptian pharaoh
- Around 1200 B.C. a leader named Moses led the Hebrew people to freedom across the Red Sea to the Sinai Desert
- Moses then introduces the Ten Commandments, a code of ethics or moral conduct, that was passed to Moses from Yahweh (God).
- It was said that God promised to lead the Hebrew people to the promised land on the condition that they follow the Ten Commandments
- The Ten Commandments are very important because they were used by the Hebrew people as a code in which to live their lives
People
Moses
2368– 2488
Was born into a Hebrew family
Adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter
God appeared to him telling him to free the Hebrew people from Egyptian slavery
He was told to take them to the promised land
He died before arriving in the promised land. He was 120 years old.
The Hebrew Torah is called "The Time Book of Moses."
In the Beginning
Background
The Creation
Garden of Eden
God's creation in seven days
Day 1 - God created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light "day" and darkness "night."
Day 2 - God created an expanse to separate the waters and called it "sky."
Day 3 - God created the dry ground and gathered the waters, calling the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters "seas." On day three, God also created vegetation (plants and trees).
Day 4 - God created the sun, moon, and the stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and the night. These would also serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years.
Day 5 - God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird, blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life.
Day 6 - God created the animals to fill the earth. On day six, God also created man and woman (Adam and Eve) in his own image to commune with him. He blessed them and gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, care for, and cultivate.
Day 7 - God had finished his work of creation and so he rested on the seventh day, blessing it and making it holy.
Creation of Earth
How man came into being
How man is superior
Civilization is said to have started here in Mesopotamia near the Fertile Crescent. Religion, irrigation, writing (Cuneiform), and literature are believed to have started here.
Noah and the Flood
By the time the book of Genesis was assembled, Hebrew storytellers had many different version of the same story.
Instead of cutting any versions out, they combined them & formed a long narrative.
Elements.
Imagery
"When the waters had swelled much more upon the earth, all the highest mountains everywhere under the sky were covered."
Symbolism
"I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth."
"The Lord regretted that he had made man on earth, and his heart was saddened.The Lord said, " I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created- men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I regret that I made them."
- The Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament, tells the history of the Jewish people and presents the basic laws and teachings of their faith
"The Epic of Gilgamesh"
Summary
The story begins with the great Gilgamesh, the Sumerian king of the city- state of Uruk. Gilgamesh is two-thirds god and one-third man. He and his good friend Enkidu go on incredible adventures together, defeating evil beasts. But they are both disrespectful and arrogant towards the gods. So, the gods decide to teach them a lesson by turning Enkidu fatally ill. After Enkidu's death Gilgamesh is filled with sadness and fear of death. So, he decides to seek Utnapishtim, survivor of a great flood and the only man that the gods bestowed everlasting life to. After much traveling he reaches Utnapishtim. Gilgamesh asks him to tell him the secret of everlasting life. Instead, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a great flood he had to endure long ago. Utnapishtim explains that long ago the gods wanted to wipe out all living things with a great flood. Utnapishtim learns of this and fashions a large boat to fit all kinds of creatures. Utnapishtim then stayed awake for seven days and seven nights to watch over his boat. Gilgamesh is unaffected by this story, so Utnapishtim says that if Gilgamesh is able to stay awake as long as he did, then he will tell him the secret. Gilgamesh stays awake for two days and then falls into a deep sleep...and the story continues.
themes
Harshness of nature and human life
Inevitability of death
Ceaseless struggle between domestic/tamed and wild/untamed animals (& people)
Symbolism
Utnapishtim- wisdom, death
Gilgamesh- human strength/weakness
Importance of cities (“civilization”)
The gods are dangerous
Friendship (love)
Heroism
Importance of knowledge
Acceptance of mortal limits
Full transcript