The Sumerians were newcomers, a small and homogeneous group, it has been speculated the figure of three hundred and contrary to what might be expected, not only were not murdered but their culture overlapped to the proto euphratic populations existing in the area, so some people attribute them, an aggressiveness that has no archaeological basis whatsoever . In fact, all the peoples confirmed in the area were outsiders, some had come earlier, some later and this is so for one simple reason, the entire topography of the area was a vast and fertile alluvium, the legacy of a unique gigantic river, fruit of the thaw, of which kept only the comparatively scrawny riverbeds of the Tigris and Euphrates.
“The black heads” (sag-gi) is like often are mentioned in the texts, we can not know precisely whether this is so because the already existing peoples had not the same hair color, it is curious because, paradoxically, the Sumerians always represented themselves without any hair, in early times, either way, we know of their presence at least since the fourth millennium. The fact that the Sumerian language is littered with proto eufratic loans, mainly Indo-Europeans and Akkadians, denotes the existence of a contact between different peoples, before the proliferation of writing.
More and more often is tended to consider separated the two most significant events of the time and place, of which we are aware, on the one hand the rebirth of cities under the development of intensive irrigated agriculture, since it involved the mobilization of abundant labor and on the other hand, the arrival of the Sumerians, two facts which until recently used to be considered closely linked, in any case the most outstanding contribution of this people is undoubtedly the development of writing, that while it was an idea already a fairly widespread, since it is possible to distinguish, for the same dates in different parts of the world, several spots where are exposed the rudiments of writing, the Sumerians however seem to have been the first ones to make extensive use of this practice, what allowed them to make the leap from mere calculation and preparation of delivery notes or lists, toward the manuals, the prose and poetry, an unrivaled sophistication, with the exception of discovery of spoken language.
We know, always through their own legends, they came by sea from another city, “Urululla”, ‘the city of another time”, a faraway place when you consider that the genetic acerb of this people was diluted quickly in favor of Akkadians and Arameans, without that never arrive at this place new immigrants from the same ethnic group, nor ever again to make contact with their home world. But their culture, customs and beliefs have persisted through the centuries, still today we count eggs by the dozen and we divide the time in a sexagesimal way.
The fact that they arrive by sea does not mean they were a people eminently sailor, on the contrary there are not many testimonials from large boats and the Sumerian seals, like those of Indus Valley typically represent beasts, mythological animals, oxen and goats of all kinds, beings not very common at the sea. Nor give the impression that they were farmers or cattle, but they did appreciate the good food and beer, to me that were just urbanites.
Wherever they came from, the first sumerian city was Eridu where the god Enki put up his residence, a stunning house made of silver and lapis lazuli that roared day and night. It is not rare to find in the hymns, allusions to the noise produced by the resplendent houses of the gods, which talk aloud as soon as began to sing or emit deafening noises and hums , almost as if they had a radio connected to a great speaker and someone was moving the dial. This is rare precisely because the chief of the gods, Enlil, was very fussy about the issue of noise at bedtime, an issue by which organized several attempts to exterminate mankind.
From the pictogram of the city of Eridu, like a pole or antenna, Ancient Aliens fans probably deducted clear evidence of its extraterrestrial origin, but the truth is that we can sense very little. The problem is that we have three syllables for an unique sign, which from the third millennium is read as “nun” which means “prince” as “Eridu” in Sumerian, but the thing is further complicated when we consider recent studies that identify the source of this word as protoeufratic in which case it would read “agargara” which means ‘fish’. However in the case of Eridu is a purely Sumerian word, it would be the type V.CV.CV ie E.ri.du, where “e” is ‘house’ or ‘temple’, “ri” would mean ‘far’ and “du” means “build”, which can be interpreted as “the house built in the distance” or “distant house”, pure speculation of course though to be the name of the first city built by a foreign people certainly seem appropriate, on the other hand to tell the truth, the god Enki founded Eridu in a marshy reeds according to legend, previously cleaned up and literally filled with protoeufratic fishes.
Have been recovered quite a lot of Sumerian votive statuettes that let us see some peculiarities of these people, as the eternal skirt of wool not spun called “kaunakes”.
Mystics of the ariety interpret the use of azurite for the pupils of the eyes, as a signal to ethnic affiliation, but I doubt that this argument explains the use of the same blue stone for nipples.
It is very curious how to Sumerians liked highlight the only eyebrow, making even an incision to embed it in the stone, a distinctive feature, which tells of a canon of beauty different from the current one. Very common on the contrary was the custom of painting the edges of the eyes, both in Mesopotamia and Egypt, where there were frequent conjunctivitis because of the dust so there is the possibility that this practice had an emollient end in order to calm or prevent irritation, an explanation that may reassure those who need it to strengthen their sexuality, but the most probably is they just liked it.
The overly watchful eyes, the gesture of the hands and the relative position of these with respect to the elbows are the norm in these votive statuettes and the most of graphic representations.
The lifestyle of the people were absolutely polarized by the temples, in all respects and in all areas of life. All that has to do with religion seems to be deeply Sumerian, also the administration and diplomacy. It is possible that the paleo Acadians who arrived in successive waves, were integrated into this structure as settlers and soldiers, just as would occur much later in Rome with the Germanic Goths, which ultimately, now romanized, end up taking the power. Whatever it was very early Akkadians adapted the Sumerian city system and its vocabulary is filled with Sumerians terms, their gods were integrated seamlessly into the liturgy, and ultimately they abandoned their former way of life as pastoralists and as traffickers, to fall under the spell of opulence and splendor of the sumerian society.
Yes, the Sumerians, particularly the priestly caste, were enormously rich thanks to contributions in kind from the locals, quite disproportionate to meet the demands of mere worship of the gods, according to figures that have come down, so seems evident that the priests had to do perhaps a questionable commercial use of these huge amounts of all livestock, agricultural products and others that were accumulating. As counterpart they offers the endless liturgical spectacle, the abundant festivities, splendorous processions during which were taken in pilgrimages , the richly decorated images of the gods, which dragged ecstatic crowds behind of pageantry, incense, music, dance, food and a lot of beer.
The monarchy was working closely with the clergy, one could almost say that it was at his service, in fact and for example one of the main duties of the kings was building and preserve the sacred precincts, to do that of course he had a legion of assistants, an eccentric officialness created to meet his needs to the slightest whim. Likewise, the priestly caste was very specialized and diversified: there were priests-gala, priests-sanga, priests-nar and many others whose specific functions in most cases is unknown, but eventually find them in the texts and images, serving drinks to the statues of the gods, entirely naked, singing songs and playing musical instruments. Under acadic influence or semitic if you will, these practices are “civilized” slightly but basically its structure did not changed.
The “ses-gal” literally “Big Brother” was a title of great hierarchical authority in the hands of, so to speak, the specialist masters, such as the “Big Brother of the house of the scribes” and others, some of which used to handle certain rituals, during some of the many festivals that dotted the liturgical year, as the New Year celebration, which took place over the first twelve days of the month of Nisan, with a series of events planned, one of which is significant and says much of the close and exceptionally curious relationship between religion and state, at that then. On day 5 of Nisan, the “Big Brother” in the presence of the image of God, he stripped from his royal insignia to the king, then he slap him and pulled from his ears, to put him on his kneels, in order to swear that he had done nothing wrong, nor had destroyed the city of Babylon nor anything (To destroy Babylon was normal?), once made the oath, the “Big Brother” blessed him and returned the attributes of royalty, to return to slap him again, this time with a divinatory purpose : if burst him into tears of pain is that God was well disposed towards the king, in other case had to immolate an ox. Strange times when someone not only could, but was strictly required giving a slap to the king, at least once a year.
It is the day 13 (of) the king
(in) the house (of) the scribes.
(translated by Nudimmud2012)