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October 24, 2012


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Lovely piece, Leanne!

I have some differences of opinion about the unrelatedness of the ancient languages. I think that there is a lot of overlap in linear time between Sumerian and Assyrian and then both languages and Old Babylonian. For instance, one finds Sumerian words in the Yale culinary tablets when Sumerian was all but extinct as a spoken and written language of its own.

If you like this sort of thing - I have some Mesopotamian language links on Silk Road Gourmet (right sidebar, bottom). My favorite is Speech is Fire (http://www.soas.ac.uk/baplar/recordings/) in which scholars recite various texts in the original language. Its a bit stilted (they are scholars, not voice actors) but wonderful all the same. Also check out all of the work on Mesopotamian food for delicious dishes to enjoy while listening to the ancient texts!


I adore attempts at historical reconstruction, as long as we're honest that it's never exact, and always open for rebuilding, be it the Proto-Indo-European language, antique music, or even attempts at rebuilding a cultural milieu today.

As for the wickedness of Babylon, I find it hard to argue with John the Evangelist and the Prophets of Israel. I spent several months in the Holy Land spanning 2011 and 2012, and at the Israel Museum were some amazing Iron Age archaeological finds, including items found from cities that were entirely wiped off the map by the Assyrians. But the "highlight" so to speak was the reproduction stone carving from the Ninevites, detailing the besieging and destruction of a hapless Levantine town, and the king's utter delight in the blood spilt and treasure taken. The delighting in power and destruction for their own sake, which is essentially a devotion to nihilism, is something diametrically opposed to goodness, so I cannot think the prophets were too off-base speaking of the wickedness of Babylon.

Hi PJ!!

Wonderful to see you here. I really liked this comment. I have to tell you I thought about it all day. The delighting in power, destruction and domination of other people is essentially a devotion to nihilism. I just finished David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and then his first novel Ghostwritten. Questions about the way people dominate each other was on my mind a lot as I read it. I do think you hit the nail on the head.

You are so lucky you were able to visit the Holy Land. It is one of my life's greatest dreams to go there. I made it as far as Amman but wasn't able to cross the border... a regret of mine. Sebag Montefiore's recent "Jersusalem: Biography of a City" was a fabulous read. I highly recommend.

Finally--thank you for the link to the very very old Roman chanting. I enjoyed it a lot.

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