Glimpse at the Fantastic Archaeological remains at Ancient Babylonian civilization

Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu, an ancient city in Mesopotamia. It was the “holy city” of Babylonia from early times, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 612 BC. In the Hebrew Bible, the name appears as (Babel), interpreted by popular etymology to mean “confusion”. Akkadian bab-ilus means “Gate of God”, translating Sumerian Kadingirra. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was there. 


The earliest mention of Babylon is in a dated tablet of the reign of Sargon of Akkad (24th century BC short chr.), who made it the capital of his empire. Over the years its power and population waned. From around the 20th century BC, it was occupied by Amorites (nomadic Semitic tribes), flooding southern Mesopotamia from the the west, until it became the capital of Hammurabi’s empire (ca. 18th century BC). From that time onward, it continued to be the capital of Babylonia, though during the 440 years of domination by the Kassites (1595-1155 BC), the city was renamed “Karanduniash”.
The city itself was built upon the Euphrates, and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks with steep embankments to contain the river’s seasonal floods. Babylon grew in extent and grandeur over time, but gradually became subject to the rule of Assyria.
Assyrian Period
During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by Mushezib-Marduk, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon.
In 689 BC, its walls, temples and palaces were razed to the ground, and the rubbish thrown into the Arakhtu, the canal bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. This act shocked the religious conscience of Mesopotamia; the subsequent murder of Sennacherib was held to be in expiation of it, and his successor Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city, to receive there his crown, and make it his residence during part of the year. On his death, Babylonia was left to his elder son Shamash-shum-ukin, who eventually headed a revolt against his brother Assurbanipal.
Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians and starved into surrender. Assurbanipal purified the city and celebrated a “service of reconciliation”, but did not venture to “take the hands” of Bel. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian empire, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance.
On the fall of Nineveh (612 BC), Babylon threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian empire. Egypt had had a very large cultural influence prior to this, until the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish and thus removed them as a major world empire.
With the recovery of Babylonian independence under Nabopolassar a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadrezzar II made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Beautification of Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar II
It was under the rule of king Nebuchadrezzar II (605 BC-562 BC) that Babylon became one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world. Nebuchadrezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate — the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon. The Ishtar Gate survives today in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Nebuchadrezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute. Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in Nineveh.
Babylon under the Persians
After passing through various vicissitudes, the city was occupied in 538 BC by Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, who issued a decree permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1). Under Cyrus and his heir Darius I, Babylon became a center of learning and scientific advancement. Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations, and created the foundations of modern astronomy and mathematics. However, during the reign of Darius III, Babylon began to stagnate and degenerate.
Hellenic period
In 331 BC, Darius III was defeated by the forces of the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great at the battle of Gaugamela, and in October, Babylon saw its own invasion and occupation. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants.
Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a center of learning and commerce. But following Alexander’s mysterious death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, and decades of fighting soon began, with Babylon once again caught in the middle.The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace was built, as well as a temple given the ancient name of E-Saggila. With this deportation, the history of Babylon comes practically to an end, though more than a century later, it was found that sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary. By 141 BC, when the Parthian Empire took over the region, Babylon was in complete desolation and obscurity.
Archaeology of Babylon
Historical knowledge of Babylon’s topography is derived from classical writers, the inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar, and several excavations, including those of the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft begun in 1899. The layout is that of the Babylon of Nebuchadrezzar; the older Babylon destroyed by Sennacherib having left few, if any, traces behind.
Most of the existing remains lie on the east bank of the Euphrates, the principal ones being three vast mounds: the Babil to the north, the Qasr or “Palace” (also known as the Mujelliba) in the centre, and the Ishgn “Amran ibn” All, with the outlying spur of the Jumjuma, to the south. East of these come the Ishgn el-Aswad or “Black Mound” and three lines of rampart, one of which encloses the Babil mound on the N. and E. sides, while a third forms a triangle with the S.E. angle of the other two. West of the Euphrates are other ramparts, and the remains of the ancient Borsippa.
Saddam Hussein installed a huge portrait of himself and Nebuchadrezzar at the entrance to the ruins. He also had part of the ruins rebuilt, to the dismay of archaeologists, with his name inscribed on many of the bricks, in imitation of Nebuchadrezzar. One frequent inscription reads: “This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq”.
This recalls the ziggurat at Ur, where each individual brick was stamped with “Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, who built the temple of Nanna”. These bricks became sought after as collectors’ items after the downfall of Saddam, and the ruins are no longer being restored to their original state.
List of kings of Babylon


Babel was the native name of the city called Babylon by the Greeks, the modern Hilla. It means “gate of the god” (not “gods”), corresponding to the Akkadian Bab-ili.
According to Genesis 11:1-9, mankind, after the deluge, travelled from the mountain of the East, where the ark had rested, and settled in ‘a plain in the land of Shinar’ (or Sennar). Here, they attempted to build a city and a tower whose top might reach unto Heaven – the Tower of Babel – but God miraculously confounded the languages of those who were working at its building so that they could not understand each other, and the project failed.

The Temple of Babel – Genesis 11:1-5

In this classic story from the Old Testament of the Bible, the people of the Earth were building a colossal staged temple-tower or multi-storeyed ziggurat – that would reach heaven. But did they really believe they could reach their Gods? Most likely the tower would be used as a place of worship.
Actually, the purpose of the tower was to provide a common religious center as a rallying point, lest the people be scattered. The builders of the tower were in open defiance of God’s command (Genesis 9:1) (53).
In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God commands Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:1 NAS). On the fifth day of the creation of the Earth, God gave this command to the birds and fishes (Gen. 1:20-23). On the sixth day, God reiterated this command to the pinnacles of creation, man and woman (Gen. 1:26-28). Humanity was to subjugate the untamed Earth by dispersing themselves.
The builders in Shinar banded together for a common ecumenical purpose. Genesis 11:6 suggests that this assembly would have given rise to projects of a purely secular nature. The people did not consider that their misguided enthusiasm may have been just a bit shortsighted. Considering the benevolent, omniscient knowledge of God it appears that the long-term consequences of the Tower of Babel might have resulted in a plight similar to the apostate state of humanity (Gen. 6:1-5) prior to the sanctifying flood of the entire Earth (Gen. 6:6-24).
Genesis 9:18-19 and the entire tenth chapter of Genesis contain the Table of the Nations. All of the people alive at the time of Babel were descended solely from the three sons of Noah. Consequently, Shem, Ham and Japheth are the fathers of modern civilization. Hayes remarks that Genesis 10 is specifically written to demonstrate that all humanity descended from these three men (146). As Noah was a virtuous man in the eyes of God (Gen. 6:8-9), it is reasonable to presume that the commandments of God were passed on to his sons.
Genesis chapter 10, verses 5, 20 and 32 also suggest that the land of the Earth was physically divided at this time in response to Babel. Genesis specifies: “. . . the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided . . .” (10:25). Willmington comments that “Peleg” means “division” (53). The coastal outlines of the Earth’s continents suggest the likely prior unification of the various land masses. The terra firma can be viewed as a once-unified puzzle now separated into its various fragments.
It is important to note that although chapter 10 precedes the account of Babel in chapter 11, the events described in both chapters are not rendered in a chronologically consecutive fashion. Accordingly, it must be understood that the tenth chapter of Genesis details events prior, during and after those described in chapter 11. Chapter 12 of Genesis portrays the beginning of God’s redemptive plan commencing with the call of Abram.
Despite the bleak future of Babel, God had promised Himself never to destroy the Earth with a flood again due to the disobedience of mankind (Gen. 8:20-22). God also made a covenant with Noah, his descendents and “every living creature,” that He would never again destroy the Earth with a flood. Genesis 9:8-17 affirms that the rainbow serves as a personal reminder to God of His covenant.
Accordingly, God separated the people to different lands and languages to frustrate their self-destructive plans. Determined to stay faithful to His covenant, this was God’s only merciful alternative in response to the tower. If the people were punished, it was a light affliction administered. The reproof was quite mild compared to the prior worldwide flood (Gen. 7:21-23). Similarly, the rebuke of God at Babel hardly parallels the subsequent fiery obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24-30).
Although at a casual glance this rebellion appears benign, it has been demonstrated that this autonomous or self-governing spirit would likely prove to be self-destructive. Willmington points out that the first person plural pronouns “us” and “we” occur no less than 5 times in this King James Version rendering of one sentence:
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth (Gen. 11:4) (50).
Nowhere in the entire passage referring to the Tower of Babel is there found the slightest indication that the builders considered God’s will in their plans. The Bible goes to great lengths to confirm God’s disdain for society’s self-ruling ecumenical pursuits. The Psalmist writes of God’s intervention into the affairs of humanity:
The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples (Psalm 33:10 NAS).
Archaeologists have long desired to locate the Tower of Babel. They have been unfruitful in their efforts. There may be Scriptural evidence for why the ruins have not been found. The land of Shinar is shown in Zechariah 5:11 as a site for the city of Babylon. The ancient city of Babylon was located some 80 kilometers south of modern-day Baghdad, Iraq (Douglas 111). The Bible confirms that Babel and Babylon were both located in Shinar. Of the history of the Tower of Babel, Hayes states:
This episode (Gen. 11:1-9) was included . . . as the capstone of . . . primeval history. . . . The original story was . . . to explain the existence of multiple language groups with its play on the words Babel (Babylon) and babal (“confuse”) (146).
Babylon is an apostate city frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. From 2nd Kings 17:24 through Zechariah 6:10 there are at least 257 direct references to Babylon (Strong’s 94-95). Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines ancient Babylon as: “. . . a city devoted to materialism and the pursuit of sensual pleasure” (122). In the 18th chapter of the Book of Revelation, Babylon epitomizes mankind’s final organized rebellion against the sovereignty of God and is utterly destroyed. This parallels the destruction of ancient Babylon, overthrown pursuant to the prophecy of the 13th chapter of Isaiah.
Babel’s founder was Nimrod the Hunter (Gen. 10:8-12), who also was a “king of Shinar” (Webster’s 798). Nimrod was a ruthless conqueror of the ancient day with ambitious political aspirations (Willmington 53). Willmington states: “Nimrod’s name means ‘let us revolt'” (53). Genesis 10:9-12 shows that Babel was the first of many cities that Nimrod established.
The Assyrian capital of Nineveh is enumerated (Gen. 10:11) as one of the many cities built by Nimrod. The prophecy of the Book of Jonah records God’s solemn warning to the city to repent of its evil ways. God sent the reluctant prophet Jonah to deliver the admonition. Nineveh immediately repented. However, the prophecy of the Book of Nahum declares that God’s judgment would fall on the subsequently backsliding and unrepentant Nineveh and that they would be pillaged by the Babylonians, Scythians and the Medes.
In Genesis 11:5-7 an exceptionally rare and uncommon event occurred. God personally visited the Tower of Babel to see what was going on. Later, God paid a visit to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ascertain the degree of depravity of their inhabitants. These cities were completely disintegrated by a fiery earthquake metaphorically referred to as a “furnace” (Gen. 19:24-29).
The Tower of Babel is extremely significant to the epic of the Bible. The story is much more than God indiscriminately interrupting an insignificant building project. The Tower of Babel marks the origins of the nations of the Earth.

The variety of languages and the dispersion of mankind were regarded as a curse, and in Gen. 11:9, an etymology is found for the name of Babel in the Hebrew verb balal, “to confuse or confound,” regarded as a contraction of Balbel. In Genesis 10, Babel is said to have formed part of the kingdom of Nimrod.
It is not mentioned in the Genesis account that God directly destroyed the efforts of the builders; presumably, the building fell into disrepair. However, several other ancient versions (eg. Book of Jubilees) do state the tradition that God overturned the tower with a great wind. According to Cornelius Alexander (frag. 10) and Abydenus (frags. 5 and 6), the tower was overthrown by the winds; according to Yaqut (i, 448 f.) and the Lisan el-‘Arab (xiii. 72), mankind were swept together by winds into the plain afterwards called “Babil”, and were scattered again in the same way.
The original tower of the story has not been identified in Babylonia. It may possibly have been suggested by one of the temple towers (or ziggurats of Babylon. W. A. Bennet (Genesis, p. 169; cf. Hommel in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible) suggests E-Saggila, the great temple of Merodach (Marduk). A more recent theory is based on firm evidence that the original city named “Babel” was not Babylon, but rather the far older Eridu south of Ur, where there is a very large and abandoned ziggurat.
A tradition similar to that of the tower of Babel is found in Central America. It holds that Xelhua, one of the seven giants rescued from the deluge, built the great pyramid of Cholula in order to storm Heaven. The gods, however, destroyed it with fire and confounded the language of the builders.
Traces of a somewhat similar story have also been reported among the Mongolian Tharus in northern India (Report of the Census of Bengal, 1872, p. 160), and, according to Dr Livingstone, among the Africans of Lake Ngami. The Estonian myth of ” the Cooking of Languages ” (Kohl, Reisen in die ‘Ostseeprovinzen, ii. 251-255) may also be compared, as well as the Australian legend of the origin of the diversity of speech (Gerstacker, Reisen, vol. iv. pp. 381 seq.).
There is also a connection with Pentecost in Acts, inasmuch as there the Holy Spirit reverses the Babel process, and enables people to speak languages they do not know.

Aurnab Arc
Archaeology Of Humankind
From the Website and the Book By
Burns and Ralph

Art and Architecture of Ancient Sumerian Civilization

More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began to teem with life–first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill and artistry.
From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite, hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area, some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

Some of the portraits are in marble, others, such as the one in the Louvre in Paris, are cut in gray-black diorite.
Dating from about 2400 BC, they have the smooth perfection and idealized features of the classical period in Sumerian art.
Sumerian art and architecture was ornate and complex. Clay was the Sumerians’ most abundant material. Stone, wood, and metal had to be imported.
Art was primarily used for religious purposes. Painting and sculpture was the main median used.

Marble Statues The famous votive stone/ marble sculptures from Tell Asmar represent tall, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts.

Enlarged eyes were found on many statues The tallest figure is about 30 inches in height. He represents the god of vegetation. The next tallest represents a mother goddess-mother goddesses were common in many ancient cultures. They were worshipped in the hope that they would bring fertility to women and to crops. (Another connection to African culture.)
The next largest figures are priests. The smallest figures are worshippers – a definite hierarchy of size. This is an example of artistic iconography. We learn to read picture symbols—bodies are cylindrical and scarcely differentiated by gender, with their uplifted heads and hands clasped. This is a pose of supplication-wanting or waiting for something.
Ur yielded much outstanding Sumerian work, e.g., a wooden harp with the head of a bull on top, showing mythological scenes in gold and mosaic inlay on the sound box (c.2650 B.C., Univ. of Penn., Philadelphia).
Sumerian techniques and motifs were widely available because of the invention of cuneiform writing before 3000 B.C.
This system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, most likely by the Sumerians. The characters consist of arrangements of wedge-like strokes, generally on clay tablets. The history of the script is strikingly like that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic.
Among other Sumerian arts forms were the clay cylinder seals used to mark documents or property. They were highly sophisticated.

Sumerian Sculpture

Warka Vase VASE The detailed drawing above was made from tracing a photograph (from Campbell, Shepsut) of the temple vase found at Uruk/Warka, dating from approximately 3100 BCE. It is over one meter (nearly 4 feet) tall. On the upper tier is a figure of a nude man that may possibly represent the sacrificial king. He approaches the robed queen Inanna. Inanna wears a horned headdress.
The Queen of Heaven stands in front of two looped temple poles or “asherah,” phallic posts, sacred to the goddess. A group of nude priests bring gifts of baskets of gifts, including, fruits to pay her homage on the lower tier. This vase is now at the Iraq Museum in Bagdad.
“The Warka Vase, is the oldest ritual vase in carved stone discovered in ancient Sumer and can be dated to round about 3000 B.C. or probably 4th-3rd millennium B.C. It shows men entering the presence of his gods, specifically a cult goddess Innin (Inanna), represented by two bundles of reeds placed side by side symbolizing the entrance to a temple.

Inanna – Female Head from Uruk, c. 3500 – 3000 B.C., Iraq Museum, Baghdad. Inanna in the Middle East was an Earth and later a (horned) moon goddess; Canaanite derivative of Sumerian Innin, or Akkadian Ishtar of Uruk. Ereshkigal (wife of Nergal) was Inanna’s (Ishtar’s) elder sister.
Inanna descended from the heavens into the hell region of her sister-opposite, the Queen of Death, Ereshkigal. And she sent Ninshubur her messenger with instructions to rescue her should she not return. The seven judges (Annunaki) hung her naked on a stake.
Ninshubar tried various gods (Enlil, Nanna, Enki who assisted him with two sexless creatures to sprinkle a magical food and water on her corpse 60 times).
She was preceded by Belili, wife of Baal (Heb. Tamar, taw-mawr’, from an unused root meaning to be erect, a palm tree). She ended up as Annis, the blue hag who sucked the blood of children. Inanna in Egypt became the goddess of the Dog Star, Sirius which announced the flood season of the Nile.”
Practically all Sumerian sculpture served as adornment or ritual equipment for the temples. No clearly identifiable cult statues of gods or goddesses have yet been found. Many of the extant figures in stone are votive statues, as indicated by the phrases used in the inscriptions that they often bear: “It offers prayers,” or “Statue, say to my king (god). . . .”

Sumerian Statuettes, from the Temple of Abu,
Tel Asmar, c. 2700 – 2600 B.C., Iraq Museum,
Baghdad and Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Male statues stand or sit with hands clasped in an attitude of prayer. They are often naked above the waist and wear a woolen skirt curiously woven in a pattern that suggests overlapping petals (commonly described by the Greek word kaunakes, meaning “thick cloak”). A toga-like garment sometimes covers one shoulder. Men generally wear long hair and a heavy beard, both often trimmed in corrugations and painted black. The eyes and eyebrows are emphasized with colored inlay. The female coiffure varies considerably but predominantly consists of a heavy coil arranged vertically from ear to ear and a chignon behind. A headdress of folded linen sometimes conceals the hair. Ritual nakedness is confined to priests.
It has been thought that the rarity of stone in Mesopotamia contributed to the primary stylistic distinction between Sumerian and Egyptian sculpture. The Egyptians quarried their own stone in prismatic blocks, and one can see that, even in their freestanding statues, strength of design is attained by the retention of geometric unity. By contrast, in Sumer, stone must have been imported from remote sources, often in the form of miscellaneous boulders, the amorphous character of which seems to have been retained by the statues into which they were transformed.
Beyond this general characteristic of Sumerian sculpture, two successive styles have been distinguished in the middle and late subdivisions of the Early Dynastic period. One very notable group of figures, from Tall al-Asmar, Iraq (ancient Eshnunna), dating from the first of these phases, shows a geometric simplification of forms that, to modern taste, is ingenious and aesthetically acceptable. Statues characteristic of the second phase on the other hand, though technically more competently carved, show aspirations to naturalism that are sometimes overly ambitious. In this second style, some scholars see evidence of occasional attempts at portraiture.
Yet, in spite of minor variations, all these figures adhere to the single formula of presenting the conventional characteristics of Sumerian physiognomy. Their provenance is not confined to the Sumerian cities in the south. An important group of statues is derived from the ancient capital of Mari, on the middle Euphrates, where the population is known to have been racially different from the Sumerians. In the Mari statues there also appears to have been no deviation from the sculptural formula; they are distinguished only by technical peculiarities in the carving.
Deprived of stone, Sumerian sculptors exploited alternative materials. Fine examples of metal casting have been found, some of them suggesting knowledge of the cire perdue (lost-wax) process, and copper statues more than half life-size are known to have existed. In metalwork, however, the ingenuity of Sumerian artists is perhaps best judged from their contrivance of composite figures.
The earliest and one of the finest examples of such figures–and of Sumerian sculpture as a whole–comes from a Protoliterate level of excavation at Tall al-Warka’. It is the limestone face of a life-size statue (Iraqi Museum, Baghdad), the remainder of which must have been composed of other materials; the method of attachment is visible on the surviving face.
Devices of this sort were brought to perfection by craftsmen of the Early Dynastic period, the finest examples of whose work are to be seen among the treasures from the royal tombs at Ur: a bull’s head decorating a harp, composed of wood or bitumen covered with gold and wearing a lapis lazuli beard (British Museum);

Sumerian Bull’s Head, Lyre from Tomb of Paubi, c. 2600 B.C. A rampant he-goat in gold and lapis, supported by a golden tree (University Museum, Philadelphia) –

Ram (Billy Goat) and Tree, Offering Stand from Ur (to male fertility god, Tammuz), 2600 B.C., The composite headdresses of court ladies (British Museum, Iraqi Museum, and University Museum); or, more simply, the miniature figure of a wild ass, cast in electrum (a natural yellow alloy of gold and silver) and mounted on a bronze rein ring (British Museum).
The inlay and enrichment of wooden objects reaches its peak in this period, as may be seen in the so-called standard or double-sided panel from Ur (British Museum), on which elaborate scenes of peace and war are depicted in a delicate inlay of shell and semiprecious stones. The refinement of craftsmanship in metal is also apparent in the famous wig-helmet of gold (Iraqi Museum), belonging to a Sumerian prince, and in weapons, implements, and utensils.
Relief carving in stone was a medium of expression popular with the Sumerians and first appears in a rather crude form in Protoliterate times. In the final phase of the Early Dynastic period, its style became conventional. The most common form of relief sculpture was that of stone plaques, 1 foot (30 centimeters) or more square, pierced in the center for attachment to the walls of a temple, with scenes depicted in several registers (horizontal rows).
The subjects usually seem to be commemorative of specific events, such as feasts or building activities, but representation is highly standardized, so that almost identical plaques have been found at sites as much as 500 miles (800 kilometers) apart. Fragments of more ambitious commemorative stele have also been recovered; the Stele of Vultures (Louvre Museum) from Telloh, Iraq (ancient Lagash), is one example. Although it commemorates a military victory, it has a religious content. The most important figure is that of a patron deity, emphasized by its size, rather than that of the king. The formal massing of figures suggests the beginnings of mastery in design, and a formula has been devised for multiplying identical figures, such as chariot horses.
In a somewhat different category are the cylinder seals so widely utilized at this time. Used for the same purposes as the more familiar stamp seal and likewise engraved in negative (intaglio), the cylinder-shaped seal was rolled over wet clay on which it left an impression in relief. Delicately carved with miniature designs on a variety of stones or shell, cylinder seals rank as one of the higher forms of Sumerian art.
Prominent among their subjects is the complicated imagery of Sumerian mythology and religious ritual. Still only partially understood, their skillful adaptation to linear designs can at least be easily appreciated. Some of the finest cylinder seals date from the Protoliterate period (see photograph). After a slight deterioration in the first Early Dynastic period, when brocade patterns or files of running animals were preferred (see photograph), mythical scenes returned. Conflicts are depicted between wild beasts and protecting demigods or hybrid figures, associated by some scholars with the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. The monotony of animated motifs is occasionally relieved by the introduction of an inscription.

Votive Statues, from the Temple of Abu, Tell Asmar,c.2500 BC, limestone, shell, and gypsum

Sumerian Architecture

The beginnings of monumental architecture in Mesopotamia are usually considered to have been contemporary with the founding of the Sumerian cities and the invention of writing, in about 3100 BC. Conscious attempts at architectural design during this so-called Protoliterate period (c. 3400-c. 2900 BC) are recognizable in the construction of religious buildings. There is, however, one temple, at Abu Shahrayn (ancient Eridu), that is no more than a final rebuilding of a shrine the original foundation of which dates back to the beginning of the 4th millennium; the continuity of design has been thought by some to confirm the presence of the Sumerians throughout the temple’s history.
Already, in the Ubaid period (c. 5200-c.3500 BC), this temple anticipated most of the architectural characteristics of the typical Protoliterate Sumerian platform temple. It is built of mud brick on a raised plinth (platform base) of the same material, and its walls are ornamented on their outside surfaces with alternating buttresses (supports) and recesses. Tripartite in form, its long central sanctuary is flanked on two sides by subsidiary chambers, provided with an altar at one end and a freestanding offering table at the other.
Typical temples of the Protoliterate period–both the platform type and the type built at ground level–are, however, much more elaborate both in planning and ornament. Interior wall ornament often consists of a patterned mosaic of Terra cotta cones sunk into the wall, their exposed ends dipped in bright colors or sheathed in bronze. An open hall at the Sumerian city of Uruk (biblical Erech; modern Tall al-Warka’, Iraq) contains freestanding and attached brick columns that have been brilliantly decorated in this way. Alternatively, the internal-wall faces of a platform temple could be ornamented with mural paintings depicting mythical scenes, such as at ‘Uqair.
The two forms of temple – the platform variety and that built at ground level – persisted throughout the early dynasties of Sumerian history (c. 2900-c. 2400 BC). It is known that two of the platform temples originally stood within walled enclosures, oval in shape and containing, in addition to the temple, accommodation for priests. But the raised shrines themselves are lost, and their appearance can be judged only from facade ornaments discovered at Tall al-‘Ubayd. These devices, which were intended to relieve the monotony of sun-dried brick or mud plaster, include a huge copper-sheathed lintel, with animal figures modeled partly in the round; wooden columns sheathed in a patterned mosaic of colored stone or shell; and bands of copper-sheathed bulls and lions, modeled in relief but with projecting heads. The planning of ground-level temples continued to elaborate on a single theme: a rectangular sanctuary, entered on the cross axis, with altar, offering table, and pedestals for votive statuary (statues used for vicarious worship or intercession).
Considerably less is known about palaces or other secular buildings at this time. Circular brick columns and austerely simplified facades have been found at Kish (modern Tall al-Uhaimer, Iraq). Flat roofs, supported on palm trunks, must be assumed, although some knowledge of corbelled vaulting (a technique of spanning an opening like an arch by having successive cones of masonry project farther inward as they rise on each side off the gap)–and even of dome construction–is suggested by tombs at Ur, where a little stone was available.
The Sumerian temple was a small brick house that the god was supposed to visit periodically. It was ornamented so as to recall the reed houses built by the earliest Sumerians in the valley. This house, however, was set on a brick platform, which became larger and taller as time progressed until the platform at Ur (built around 2100 BC) was 150 by 200 feet (45 by 60 meters) and 75 feet (23 meters) high. These Mesopotamian temple platforms are called ziggurats, a word derived from the Assyrian ziqquratu, meaning “high.” They were symbols in themselves; the ziggurat at Ur was planted with trees to make it represent a mountain. There the god visited Earth, and the priests climbed to its top to worship.
Most cities were simple in structure, the ziggurat was one of the world’s first great architectural structures.

White Temple and Ziggurat, Uruk (Warka), 3200 -3000 B.C. This temple was erected at Warka or Uruk (Sumer), probably about 300 B.C.It stood on a brick terrace, formed by the construction of successive buildings on the site (the Ziggurat). The top was reached by a staircase. The temple measured 22 x 17 meters (73 x 57 feet). Access to the temple was through three doors, the main located at its southern side.

Sumerian Artifacts – British Museum

This one looks just like a gray alien.

Aurnab Arc
Archaeology Of Humankind
From the Website and the Book By
Burns and Ralph

Testimony of the great Civilization at Fertile Crescent ""Mesopotamia""

The word ‘Mesopotamia’ is in origin a Greek name (mesos `middle’ and ‘potamos’ – ‘river’ so `land between the rivers’). ‘Mesopotamia’ translated from Old Persian Miyanrudan means “the fertile cresent”. The Aramaic name is Beth-Nahrain meaning “House of Two Rivers” and is a region of Southwest Asia. Mesopotamia does not refer to any particular civilization.
Over the course of several millennia, many civilizations developed, collapsed, and were replaced in this region including the SumeriansAkkadiansBabylonians and Assyrians.
Mesopotamia had no natural boundaries and is difficult to defend. The influence of neighboring countries is large. Throughout the history of Mesopotamia trade contacts, slow diffusion of foreign tribes and military confrontations had been of great influence.

Fertile Crescent
Civilization developed in Mesopotamia simultaneously with Egypt and the two are often called the ‘Fertile Crescent’. The Fertile Crescent is a rich food-growing area in a part of the world where most of the land is too dry for farming. The Fertile Crescent begins on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and curves around like a quarter moon to the Persian Gulf.
Some of the best farmland of the Fertile Crescent is in a narrow strip of land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Greeks later called this region Mesopotamia, which means “between the rivers.” Many different civilizations developed in this small region. First came the Sumerians, who were replaced in turn by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Mesopotamia was the alluvial plain lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, composing parts of Iraq and Syria. More commonly, the term includes these river plains in totality as well as the surrounding lowland territories bounded by the Arabian Desert to the west and south, the Persian Gulf to the southeast, the Zagros Mountains to the east and the Caucasus mountains to the north. Mesopotamia is famous for the site of some of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Writings from Mesopotamia (Uruk, modern Warka) are among the earliest known in the world, giving Mesopotamia a reputation of being the Cradle of Civilization, therefore it is regarded by some as the oldest known civilization. It is said that Mesopotamia was the place of the legendary Garden of Eden. On this spot where the Tigris meets the Euphrates Rivers. the holy tree of Adam emerged symbolizing the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

City States and Imperial Glory Mesopotamia was settled, and conquered, by numerous ancient civilizations:

  • Mesopotamia was home to some of the oldest major ancient civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians.In 5000 BC, the Sumerians arrived in Mesopotamia. The Semites arrived in 2900 BC and by 2000 BC they had mixed peacefully with the Sumerians and had assumed political dominance.
  • The Mitanni were an eastern Indo-European people (belonging to the linguistic “satem” group) who settled in northern Mesopotamia circa 1600 BC South-East of Turkey and by circa 1450 BC established a medium-size empire east, north and west, and temporarily made tributary vassals out of kings in the west, even as far as Kafti (minoic Crete) and making them a major threat for the Pharaoh.
  • By 1300 BC they had been reduced to their homeland and the status of vassal of the Hatti (the Hittites), a western Indo-European people (belonging to the linguistic “kentum” group) who dominated most of Asia Minor from their capital of Hattutshash (modern Turkey) and threatened Egypt even more.
  • Meanwhile the Kassites established a strong realm, Sangar, in southern Mesopotamia, with Babel as its capital, not touched by Mitanni or Hittites. But the Elamites threatened or invaded them.
  • Chaldaean New Babylonia circa 600 BC.

Later History

  • The region ceased to be a major power house since its inclusion in the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, apparently as two satrapies, Babylonia in the south and Athura (from Assyria) in the north.
  • After the conquest of all Persia by the Hellenizing Macedonian king Alexander the Great, the satrapies were part of the major diadochy, the Seleucid Empire, almost until its elimination by Greater Armenia in 42 BC.
  • Most of Mesopotamia then became part of the Parthian Empire of the Arsakides.

However part, in the northwest, became Roman. Under the Tetrarchy, this was divided into two provinces, called Osrhoene (around Edessa; roughly the modern-day border between Turkey and Syria) and Mesopotamia (a bit more northeast).

  • During the time of the Persian Empire of Sassanids, their much larger share of Mesopotamia was called Dil-i Iranshahr meaning “Iran’s Heart” and the metropol Ctesiphon (facing ancient Seleukia across the Tigris), the capital of Persia, was situated in Mesopotamia.
  • Since the early caliphs annexed all Persia and advanced even further, Mesopotamia was reunited, but governed as two provinces: northern Mesopotamia (with Mosul) and southern Iraq (with Baghdad, the later caliphal capital).

Climate The climate is exceedingly hot, but also very humid – the floods often unpredictable. Mesopotamians were at the mercy of their hostile environment, and believed themselves to be at the mercy of angry and irrational gods. The civilization which produced one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the hanging gardens of Babylon, also compiled the Epic of Gilgamesh, a pessimistic portrayal of the futile search for immortality and human meaning. City states rose and fell, empires rose and fell, yet the human spirit of the Mesopotamians endured.

Government Mesopotamia did not have protection from natural boundaries.This led to constant migrations of Indo-European people from the area between the Black and Caspian seas. This lead to a constant migration and ‘Cultural Diffusion’, or the process where an existing culture adopts the traits of another and the two eventually merge into a new culture. As a result, a strong central government failed to develop in Mesopotamia. The dominant political unit was the ‘City-State’, a small area surrounding a large, complex city.

The capitol [City-State] of the Mesopotamian Civilization was Ur – Uruk [3500 BC].
The city is believed to have been surrounded by a great moat.

Ziggaraut Step Pyramid – in the center of the city

to honor the Moon God Nanna

History In modern political terms this covers the country of Iraq and parts of Syria and Turkey. Mesopotamian region was (and still today is) very diverse: undulating plains in the North, where wheat growing and cattle rearing could be practised; further South, the rivers were rich in marine life and the river banks jungles of vegetation where lions prowled and wild boar could be hunted. The rich wildlife was probably what first attracted humans to the Mesopotamian plain. The Southern plain, outside the area of rain, fed agriculture, but, over the millennia, the rivers have laid down thick deposits of very fertile silt and, once water is brought to this soil in ditches and canals, it proves a very attractive area to farmers. For materials such as wood, stone and metals, however, people have to look North and East, to the mountains where the first settlers had originated.

As far as we can tell, farmers and fishermen started to settle the Mesopotamian plain around 5,500 Before Common Era. Over time, their small villages grew into large settlements. The focus of these communities appears to have been the temple of the town’s patron god or goddess.
The rich farmland provided a surplus of agricultural goods and any wealth generated was invested in monumental temple buildings, such as those found at Eridu, Uruk and Ur. Temples and ordinary houses were built using the reeds and mud that line the river banks. Centuries of rebuilding using sun-dried mud-bricks resulted in high mounds, or Tells, rising above the fields and canals. These now dominate the flat Mesopotamian plain and, when abandoned by people, are the sites chosen by archaeologists for their excavations.
At the end of the fourth millennium, Uruk was probably the largest city in the world (estimated by some scholars at 400 hectares – the size of Rome in the first century of our Common Era). Centered on the important temple of Inanna (the Great Goddess of Love and War), the city has produced beautiful stone sculptures depicting the temple flocks of sheep and goats.
Of more significance, however, is the discovery at Uruk of the world’s earliest recorded writing. Using a reed stylus to draw on tablets of clay, the temple administrators recorded the movement of agricultural produce and out of the temple storerooms including beer, bread and sheep. Initially the records took the form of pictures of the objects being counted together with signs representing numerals. Gradually, these pictographs became more stylized and wedge-like or cuneiform (Latin for wedge = cuneus) and adapted to write the local language, or Sumerian. The ability to write allowed the Sumerians to record not only lists of goods but also events around them. This development therefore takes us from pre-history to history.
Uruk was not the only large settlement in Southern Mesopotamia. The wealth of one of these city-states is demonstrated by the Royal Graves of Ur, which date to around 2600 BCE. Of the thousands of graves excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur in the 1920s, sixteen were particularly rich. Woolley called them ‘Royal’ because he believed they were the graves of Ur’s queens and kings. The most remarkable aspect of these burials is the large number of human bodies found in the pits. These are interpreted as sacrificial victims, accompanying their leader in death, and it would appear that they died relatively peacefully. The excavations found cups close to some of the bodies: where these perhaps poison chalices? The victims are identified as soldiers, harpists and serving ladies on their rich clothes and ornaments – made from gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian and shell.
Around 2350 BCE the southern city states were united into one empire by Sargon, king of the city of Akkad (also read as Agade). The administration was centralised and the Semitic language Akkadian (named after Sargon’s capital) was introduced as the official language in preference to Sumerian. Akkad has not been located but the period produced some astonishing works of art, including fine cylinder seals.
Sargon and his sons ruled Mesopotamia for 150 years. The last of the great Akkadian emperors was Naram-Sin. Later stories present this man very unfavourably. He is said to have angered the Air God Enlil by taking his army into the godÕs temple. Enlil then sent against Naram-Sin a people from the mountains bordering Mesopotamia who, we are told, destroyed the capital Akkad. The location of the city remains unknown to this day.
The Akkadian Empire had collapsed and Mesopotamia was in turmoil. The southern cities began to reassert their independence. Chief among these was the city of Ur. Under king Ur-Nammu, the city established itself as the capital of an empire that rivalled that of the Akkadian rulers. Sumerian (although no longer a spoken language) was reintroduced as the official written language of the dynasty known to historians as the Third Dynasty of Ur.
Ur-Nammu was a prodigious builder. The most impressive monument of his reign was the ziggurat at Ur. Although similar in shape to the pyramids of Egypt, ziggurats were not tombs but made of solid brickwork. Often, as at Ur, three staircases led up one side of the tower to several stages. At the summit was a shrine to the god. One of the most famous ziggurats was built in the city of Babylon and gave rise to the story of the Tower of Babel.
Like the earlier kings of Akkad, the rulers of the Third Dynasty of Ur had to fight with groups of people moving into Mesopotamia from the surrounding mountains and deserts, attracted by the wealth of the country. Under Ur-Nammu’s grandson, Ibbi-Su (around 2028-2004 BCE), the empire collapsed as Amorite and Hurrian tribes established themselves throughout Mesopotamia. At the same time, the Akkadian language replaced Sumerian, which continued to be used by scribes only for monumental inscriptions and religious literature. For the next three hundred years the cities of Lower Mesopotamia, chiefly Isin and Larsa, competed for control of the region.
Further North lay the city of Ashur on a rocky promontory overlooking an important crossing of the River Tigris. From here the city dominated the caravans of donkeys carrying metals and rare materials from the east and west, and the boats moving to and from the cities of Sumer to the South. As an important trading centre, Ashur had by 1900 BCE established commercial colonies in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). Cloth and Iranian tin were exchanged for Anatolian silver and records of these activities on clay tablets have been found at a number of sites in Turkey. The letters were often protected by an envelope of clay on which the recipient’s name was written and sealed with a cylinder seal. In other examples, a copy of the letter was written on the envelope as a safeguard.
At the end of the nineteenth century BCE an ambitious solder called Shamshi-Adad brought Ashur under his control. He established an empire which stretched across the North of Mesopotamia. Around 1780 BCE, Shamshi-Ada died and his sons lacked their father’s abilities. The empire collapsed and Ashur and the North were now open to attack. When attack came, it came from the South.
As king of the small town of Babylon, Hammurapi united Southern Mesopotamia into a single empire. In the second half of his reign, he marched North and received the submission of Northern kingdoms, including the rulers of the kingdom of Ashur. As with Shamshi-Adad, however, Hammurapi’s death caused his empire to fall apart. Despite this, the city of Babylon was to remain the capital of a Southern kingdom. Hammurapi is best remembered for his code of laws (the famous stela of Hammurapi is now in the Louvre in Paris). In 1595 BCE the dynasty of Hammurapi was brought to an end. It is possible that the Hittites from Anatolia made a lightning raid down the Euphrates, sacked Babylon and captured the statue of Marduk, patron god of Babylon.
For the next 150 years or so, there is little information to reconstruct events. When evidence becomes available, it is clear that Mesopotamia is dominated by two major powers: the Kassites ruling Babylon and a Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni in the North. What little that is known of these two empires often comes from areas outside Mesopotamia, such as the New Kingdom Egypt and Hittite Anatolia.
Around 1350 BCE, however, it is clear that the kingdom of Mitanni collapsed under increasing pressure from the Hittites to the West. With the fall of Mitanni, Assyria reasserted her independence and began a process of consolidation which would lead the country to create a vast empire during the first millennium BCE.
Around 1250 BCE the Near East faced general conflict and devastation. The Hittite Empire collapsed as part of a general movement of people (the so-called Peoples of the Sea – a mixture of dispossessed people, brigands and mercenaries) moving around the Mediterranean coast looking for areas to settle. In the course of these disturbed times several unsuccessful raids were made by the Sea Peoples against Egypt under the Pharaohs Memeptah and Rameses III. Tribes of Arameans were, meanwhile, moving into Mesopotamia from the west, pushing the boundaries of Assyria back to the capital Ashur.
The first millennium revealed a Near East markedly changed politically. The Mediterranean coast, North of Egypt, was now settled by Philistines. Further inland, Hebrew tribes were settling in the hill country. In the North (modern Syria), traditions of the now vanished Hittite Empire were maintained, known today as Neo-Hittites. In Mesopotamia, various Aramean and Chaldean tribal groups competed for supremacy in Babylonia while the Assyrians maintained a firm hold on their homeland, slowly moving against the groups which had settled in the region.
At the beginning of the 9th century BCE, Assyrian kings started sending military expeditions west in an attempt to control important trade routes and receive tribute from less powerful states. Among the first important kings of this so-called Neo-Assyrian period was Ashurnasirpal II. He moved away from Ashur and built himself a new capital city at Kalhu (Biblical Calah, modern Nimrud).
To commemorate their achievements and glorify their names, the kings of Assyria built huge palaces and temples in their capital cities, which they decorated with stone reliefs. Some of the most spectacular examples of this type of decoration are displayed on the ground floor of the British Museum, in London, England. They also used brightly coloured glazed tiles showing the king participating in state ceremonies. Ivory, often carved with scenes similar to those on the bricks, was also used to decorate furniture and small exotic objects.
The movement of the Assyrian armies towards the Mediterranean continued under Ahurmasirpal’s successors but there was no real attempt to incorporate conquered territories into an empire. In 745 BCE, however, Tiglath-pileser III came to the throne after a rebellion at court. The new king initiated changes in the administration of Assyria, including the annexation of countries into an empire. Over the following one hundred years, kings such as Sargon, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon not only built new capitals (Khorsabad and Nineveh), but also expanded the empire until Assyrian control stretched from Iran to Egypt. On his death in 668 BCE, Esarhaddon was succeeded by his son Ashurbanipal, who, though faced with trouble in Babylonia and Egypt, boasts of a peaceful and prosperous reign, allowing the king time to learn to read and write as well as engage in the royal sport of lion hunting.
However, within 20 years of Ashurbanipal’s death around 627 BCE, Assyria was faced with internal strife and destruction. To the East, (in modern day Iran) lay the empire of the Medes. In 614 BCE a Median army under Cyaxares invaded the Assyrian homeland, attacked Nineveh and destroyed the ancient city of Ashur. Tow years later the combined forces of Cyaxares and the king of Babylon, Nabopolassar, captured Nineveh. The Assyrian court fled west to the town of Harran where they were finally defeated in 609 BCE by NabopolassarÕs son, Nebuchadnezzar. While the Medes withdrew to consolidade their conquests in the east, the Assyrian empire passed into the hands of the kings of Babylon.
Sixty years of Babylonian supremacy was threatened during the reign of king Nabonidus, when Mesopotamia was faced with the expansion of yet another eastern power, the Persians. In 539 BCE, the armies of the Persian king Cyrus (a member of the Achaemenid family) marched upon Babylon and captured the city and with it all the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This, in effect, brought to an end three thousand years of self-rule in Mesopotamia. While many of the traditions and way of life in the region continued under the new rulers, Mesopotamia was now part of the much greater empire of the Persians which stretched from Egypt to India. Over the next 200 years the region would see the advance of Greek civilisation and the eventual destruction of the Persian Empire at the hand of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great.

Language Mesopotamians had one of the first recorded languages.It was invented to keep track of farming and trade.The form of writing, called Pictograms that was used by the Mesopotamians was very simple. One mark indicated a number, the other indicated what was being counted. The writing was done by marking wet clay with a reed. Efficient and easy as this was it became much more difficult with higher numbers.
Gradually this system became out-dated and indograms came into use. Indograms solved the problem but were very difficult and hard to learn because a differant symbol was used for each word. The next step became phonetic writing. Phonetic writing is the type of writing that we, and most other countries use. With all three forms of writing one problem remained; it took many years of study to learn how to read and write.Those who did earned the title of “scribe”.
The Mesopotanian economy was based on farming. Irrigated fields provided the Mesopotamians with everything they needed to live. In Sumer you couldn’t own your own land. The land was rented from the temple which controlled the land on behalf of the gods .All profits were consdtered to belong to the gods.
The Mesopotamian view on the supernatural is an inextricable mixture of Sumerian and Akkadian origin, influenced by an unknown substrate population. Most Sumerian literature is written by Akkadian speakers when Sumerian was an extinct language.

Economy The alluvial plains in Mesopotamia are perfectly suitable for high food production. The economy was based on agriculture, predominantly the cultivation of barley. Barley was used as means of payment for wages in kind and dayly rations. Barley was also the basis for the natural beverage: beer. Other products are oil (sesame seeds, linseed), flax, wheat and horticultural products. Heards of sheep and goats graze the meadows outside the season. Cattle pasture when sufficient water is available. Wool production was large and converted to an assortment of textile fabrics. The extreme south of Mesopotamia has always had a different economy (dates and fishing).
Apart from cereals the inhabitants of Mesopotamia themselves had little to offer. Cereals were indeed exported but was too bulky for donkey transport over long distances. Imported material from elsewhere were again exported. Like tin, an important metal for bronze, that in those times probably came out of Afghanistan (although there are many Tin-routes). It was exported to Anatolia, a major center of metal industry, where in extensive forests wood was abundantly available to fuel the furnaces. Other merchandise were dates, sesame oil and in particular craft materials. Babylonia had an extensive wool industry. Coupons of 4 by 4.5 meter were in the 19th century BCE transported by the hundreds. From Anatolia silver and gold was imported.

Irrigation The irrigation system is attested already in very ancient times, the earliest around 6000 BCE. Through a system of dikes, dams and canals the precipitation in the mountainous region in the north is used in the south. This required a high level of organization of the society and collective efforts for the construction, maintenance, supervision and adjustments of the irrigation network. Over-irrigation and limited drainage gradually brackished the fields, often causing ecological crisis. Together with the change of river flow, it stimulates throughout the Mesopotamian history the foundation of new settlements and cities.Our knowledge about the history of irrigation networks is limited by the difficulty of dating most of the water works.

Health Mesopotamian diseases are often blamed on pre-existing spirits: gods, ghosts, etc. However, each spirit was held responsible for only one of what we would call a disease in any one part of the body. So usually “Hand of God X” of the stomach corresponds to what we call a disease of the stomach. A number of diseases simply were identified by names, “bennu” for example.
Also, it was recognized that various organs could simply malfunction, causing illness. Gods could also be blamed at a higher level for causing named diseases or malfunctioning of organs, although in some cases this was a way of saying that symptom X was not independent as usual, but was caused in this case by disease Y.
It can also be shown that the plants used in treatment were generally used to treat the symptoms of the disease, and were not the sorts of things generally given for magical purposes to such a spirit. Presumably specific offerings were made to a particular god or ghost when it was considered to be a causative factor, but these offerings are not indicated in the medical texts, and must have been found in other texts.
By examining the surviving medical tablets it is clear that there were two distinct types of professional medical practitioners in ancient Mesopotamia. The first type of practitioner was the ashipu, in older accounts of Mesopotamian medicine often called a “sorcerer.” One of the most important roles of the ashipu was to diagnose the ailment. In the case of internal diseases, this most often meant that the ashipu determined which god or demon was causing the illness.
The ashipu also attempted to determine if the disease was the result of some error or sin on the part of the patient. The phrase, “the Hand of…” was used to indicate the divine entity responsible for the ailment in question, who could then be propitiated by the patient.
The ashipu could also attempt to cure the patient by means of charms and spells that were designed to entice away or drive out the spirit causing the disease. The ashipu could also refer the patient to a different type of healer called an asu. He was a specialist in herbal remedies, and in older treatments of Mesopotamian medicine was frequently called “physician” because he dealt in what were often classifiable as empirical applications of medication. For example, when treating wounds the asu generally relied on three fundamental techniques: washing, bandaging, and making plasters. All three of these techniques of the asu appear in the world’s oldest known medical document (c. 2100 BCE).
The knowledge of the asu in making plasters is of particular interest. Many of the ancient plasters (a mixture of medicinal ingredients applied to a wound often held on by a bandage) seem to have had some helpful benefits.
Beyond the role of the ashipu and the asu, there were other means of procuring health care in ancient Mesopotamia. One of these alternative sources was the Temple of Gula. Gula, often envisioned in canine form, was one of the more significant gods of healing.
While excavations of temples dedicated to Gula have not revealed signs that patients were housed at the temple while they were treated (as was the case with the later temples of Asclepius in Greece), these temples may have been sites for the diagnosis of illness. In his book Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East: the Role of the Temple in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Israel, Hector Avalos states that not only were the temples of Gula sites for the diagnosis of illness (Gula was consulted as to which god was responsible for a given illness), but that these temples were also libraries that held many useful medical texts.
The primary center for health care was the home, as it was when the ashipu or asu were employed. The majority of health care was provided at the patient’s own house, with the family acting as care givers in whatever capacity their lay knowledge afforded them. Outside of the home, other important sites for religious healing were nearby rivers.
Mesopotamians believed that the rivers had the power to care away evil substances and forces that were causing the illness. Sometimes a small hut was set up for the afflicted person either near the home or the river to aid in the families centralization of home health care.

Sumerian Clay Tablets – Buried Treasure

Am historic record of these civilizations was discovered by the discovery in the previous century of complete libraries in the archeological remains.
Thousands of clay tablets, written in a cuneiform writing system, are buried deep under the ruins of ancient cities, when they were sacked and set into fire. The clay tablets, usually only sun-dried and stored on (inflammable) wooden shelves, are often inadvertently baked while a city was destroyed and treasures were removed.
Clay was not valuable to treasure hunters and robbers in later times and clay tablets (at least until the 19th century CE) were left untouched and thus saved for eternity.
First excavations in the Near East. During excavations in 1843 and 1845 CE large collections of clay tablets were found carrying cuneiform signs. They pointed to a forgotten Assyrian civilization which was hinted at in the bible and in Greek scripts (Herodotus). The decipherment of the language was in essence completed in 1851 and the language was first called Assyrian. Nowadays Assyrian is considered a dialect of Akkadian.
The branch of science dealing with the study of ancient civilizations in the Near East is called ‘Assyriology’, named after an Assyrian empire uncovered by the first archeological excavations.
Assyriology now applies to a much wider field: the study of all the civilizations in Mesopotamia and all related questions. Assyriology rests on information from archeological excavations on the one hand and on the study of written documents by philologists on the other hand.
Discovery of libraries of clay tablets. The discovery in 1854 CE of the library of A urbanipal (mid 7th century BCE) in Nineveh, halfway the Euphrates river, stirred great interest. This Kuyunjik-collection (called after the discovery site near Nineveh) is at the British Museum. These clay tablets are identified with a K-number.
Discovery of Sumerian. The writing system didn’t seem to be well adopted to the needs and specifics of Semitic languages (with many consonants not used in other languages). It was at the start already suspected that cuneiform developed from another hitherto unknown language. A decisive clue came from a special type of tablets. Some of tablets appear to be Lexical Lists, written in two or three columns. In some lists the middle columns is an Akkadian logogram, the last column gives apparently the Akkadian meaning written phonetically and corresponding to the logogram.
The first column points to another language. These lists confirm the existence of a pre-Assyrian writing system now called Sumerian. It is a language that probably has not been spoken anymore since almost two millennia (the era of Sargon of Akkad, around 2350 BCE). It was a scholarly and liturgical language, like Latin was used for many centuries after native speakers existed. Presently the understanding of Sumerian writing is still growing. Modern translations sometimes deviate significantly as compared to translations made a few decades or longer ago.
This empire is now known as the ‘New Assyrian Empire’ in the first millennium BCE.

Clay tablet from Mesopotamia.
The symbol is a straight line with angled lines at the top.
British Museum, London

Gods and Goddesses The principal Mesopotamian Gods were identified with the forces of nature, such as Anu (sky god), Sin (moon god), Enki (water god), and Enlil (wind god). See Sumerian Gods and Goddesses
The goddess Ishtar, goddess of love and war, was portrayed as the lover of the shepherd Dumuzi. Once, Ishtar descended to the underworld to challenge her sister Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. Ishtar was abused there but released in exchange for another god. While in the underworld, the world’s fertility was disrupted. Upon her return, she found that her lover Dumuzi had not been mourning and so she sentenced him to the underworld.
His sister procured his release during the year in exchange for her presence in the underworld. While the connections with the cycle of the seasons is obvious, it is also clear that the story of Ishtar and Dumuzi was enacted by monarchs to ensure the fertility of the land.
The universe basically is seen as a stratification of two or three layers. Usually it consists of `heaven’ (Sumerian an, Akkadian am*) and `earth’ (Sumerian ki, Akkadian erSetum) or in other traditions as a tri-partition, either: ‘heaven’, ‘earth’ and ‘Netherworld’ or ‘heaven’, ‘sky/atmosphere’ and ‘earth’.
The symbol for `heaven’ AN has evolved from a pictographic representation of a star. Heaven is thus the upper level of the universe, all that is `high’ or `elevated’, and apparently associated with the celestial sphere.
The supernatural universe is populated with divine beings: gods and demons. They are portrayed in an antropomorphic way as superior humans, imaging the ruling class of society. They are, however, more powerful, freed from human miseries and mishaps and they live endless lifes.
The Sumerian word for `god’ is dingir, Akkadian ilu. The sign to represent this, is the same as AN `heaven’, and also used as a determinative (classifier) attached to the name of the deity to indicate his/her divine nature. In transcription the sign is represented with a d from dingir in superscript, liked Enlil. It is not pronounced.
Deities live in a temple, Sum. E, Akkadian botum, which is also the word for ‘house’. In the temple they are represented by a sculpture. Some deities have in addition a representation on the celestial sphere by a constellation or a star. Gods have human appearance, they have a body, they need food, want to be washed and dressed, want to travel, carry weapons etc. Each god has a well defined character, representing the scala of human characters. They may be ill-tempered, aggressive, cheerful, clever, just, ambitious, skillful, merciful and graceful, etc. Some are better disposed to mankind than others.

Aurnab Arc
Archaeology Of Humankind
From the Website and the Book By
Burns and Ralph

Emergence of Harappa Cities, Transportation and it’sTrade and commerce

The first appearance of the Indus civilization was the early Harappan/Ravi Phase. This Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from approximately 3300 BC, or even 3500 BC, to 2800 BC. This phase is related to the Hakra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley to the west, and predates the Kot Diji Phase (2800-2600 BC), named after a site in northern Sindh near Mohenjo-daro.
Gateway At Harappa
Increasing knowledge of the Ravi and Kot Diji Phase occupations at Harappa, and of contemporary settlements throughout northwestern South Asia, permits glimpses of later Indus Civilization. Some of the most exciting discoveries in Ravi Phase levels have been of early writing. The origins of the Indus script-like signs dates from 3300-2800 BC. This would make the origins of writing in South Asia approximately the same time as in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The civilization’s mature Harappan period began from 2600 BC.
A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley civilization. The quality of municipal town planning suggests knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene. The streets of major cities such as Mohenjo-daro or Harappa were laid out in a perfect grid pattern, comparable to that of present day New York. The houses were protected from noise, odors, and thieves.
As seen in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, and the recently discovered Rakhigarhi, this urban plan included the world’s first urban sanitation systems. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The ancient Indus systems of sewage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus Empire were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in some areas of modern Pakistan and India today. The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The massive citadels of Indus cities that protected the Harappans from floods and attackers were larger than most Mesopotamian ziggurats.
The purpose of the “Citadel” remains debated. In sharp contrast to this civilization’s contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, no large monumental structures were built. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or templesÐor, indeed, of kings, armies, or priests. Some structures are thought to have been granaries. Found at one city is an enormous well-built bath, which may have been a public bath. Although the “Citadels” are walled, it is far from clear that these structures were defensive. They may have been built to divert flood waters.
Most city dwellers appear to have been traders or artisans, who lived with others pursuing the same occupation in well-defined neighborhoods. Materials from distant regions were used in the cities for constructing seals, beads, and other objects. Among the artifacts made were beautiful beads of glazed stone called faïence. The seals have images of animals, gods, etc., and inscriptions. Some of the seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods, but they probably had other uses.Although some houses were larger than others, Indus civilization cities were remarkable for their apparent egalitarianism. For example, all houses had access to water and drainage facilities. One gets the impression of a vast middle-class society. 
Ruins of Harappa city After Excavation
Houses were one or two stories high, made of baked brick, with flat roofs, and were just about identical. Each was built around a courtyard, with windows overlooking the courtyard. The outside walls had no windows. Each home had its own private drinking well and its own private bathroom. Clay pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers drained into nearly rivers and streams.
Harappan cities did not develop slowly, which suggests that whoever built these cities learned to do so in another place. As the Indus flooded, cities were rebuilt on top of each other. Archaeologists have discovered several different cities, one built over the other, each built a little less skillfully. The most skillful was on bottom. It would appear that builders grew less able or less interested in perfection over time. Still, each city is a marvel, and each greatly advanced for its time.
Their towns were laid out in grids everywhere (straight streets, well built homes!) These people were incredible builders. Scientists have found what they think are giant reservoirs for fresh water. They have also found that even the smallest house at the edge of each town was linked to that town’s central drainage system. (Is it possible that they not only drained waste water out, but also had a system to pump fresh water into their homes, similar to modern plumbing.
People used camels, oxen and elephants to travel over land. They had carts with wooden wheels. They had ships, with one mast, probably used to sail around the Arabian Sea. Seals with a pictographic script, which has not as yet been deciphered, were found at the Indus Valley sites. Similar seals were found in Mesopotamia, which seems to indicate possible trade between these two civilizations.
The Indus civilization’s economy appears to have depended significantly on trade, which was facilitated by major advances in transport technology. These advances included bullock-driven carts that are identical to those seen throughout South Asia today, as well as boats. Most of these boats were probably small, flat-bottomed craft, perhaps driven by sail, similar to those one can see on the Indus River today; however, there is secondary evidence of sea-going craft. Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and docking facility at the coastal city of Lothal.
Judging from the dispersal of Indus civilization artifacts, the trade networks, economically, integrated a huge area, including portions of Afghanistan, the coastal regions of Persia, northern and central India, and Mesopotamia. 
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Geographical Background, Agricultural Practice and Food habit In Ancient Harappa

The Indus valley was by main rivers, the Indus River. The Indus River was very important to Indus life. The river provided irrigation, and also created fertile land for farming. In the middle of India is the Deccan Plateau, which might have helped protect the Indus people from foreign invaders. The Himalayas are also located near the Indus Valley, as is the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Geography of Indus Vally

The nature of the Indus civilization’s agricultural system is still largely a matter of conjecture due to the limited amount of information surviving through the ages. Some speculation is possible, however.Earlier studies (prior to 1980) often assumed that food production was imported to the Indus Valley by a single linguistic group (“Aryans”) and/or from a single area. But recent studies indicate that food production was largely indigenous to the Indus Valley. Already the Mehrgarh people used domesticated wheats and barley and the major cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. Archaeologist Jim G. Shaffer (1999: 245) writes that the Mehrgarh site “demonstrates that food production was an indigenous South Asian phenomenon” and that the data support interpretation of “the prehistoric urbanization and complex social organization in South Asia as based on indigenous, but not isolated, cultural developments.”

Indus civilization agriculture must have been highly productive; after all, it was capable of generating surpluses sufficient to support tens of thousands of urban residents who were not primarily engaged in agriculture. It relied on the considerable technological achievements of the pre-Harappan culture, including the plough. Still, very little is known about the farmers who supported the cities or their agricultural methods. Some of them undoubtedly made use of the fertile alluvial soil left by rivers after the flood season, but this simple method of agriculture is not thought to be productive enough to support cities. There is no evidence of irrigation, but such evidence could have been obliterated by repeated, catastrophic floods.
The Indus civilization appears to contradict the hydraulic despotism hypothesis of the origin of urban civilization and the state. According to this hypothesis, cities could not have arisen without irrigation systems capable of generating massive agricultural surpluses. To build these systems, a despotic, centralized state emerged that was able to suppress the social status of thousands of people and harness their labor as slaves. It is very difficult to square this hypothesis with what is known about the Indus civilization. There is no evidence of kings, slaves, or forced mobilization of labor.
It is often assumed that intensive agricultural production requires dams and canals. This assumption is easily refuted. Throughout Asia, rice farmers produce significant agricultural surpluses from terraced, hillside rice paddies, which result not from slavery but rather the accumulated labor of many generations of people. Instead of building canals, Indus civilization people may have built water diversion schemes, which – like terrace agriculture – can be elaborated by generations of small-scale labor investments.
In addition, it is known that Indus civilization people practiced rainfall harvesting, a powerful technology that was brought to fruition by classical Indian civilization but nearly forgotten in the 20th century. It should be remembered that Indus civilization people, like all peoples in South Asia, built their lives around the monsoon,a weather pattern in which the bulk of a year’s rainfall occurs in a four-month period. At a recently discovered Indus civilization city in western India, archaeologists discovered a series of massive reservoirs, hewn from solid rock and designed to collect rainfall, that would have been capable of meeting the city’s needs during the dry season.
Dinner might have been warm wheat bread served with barley or rice. It would appear they were very good farmers. They grew barley, peas, melons, wheat, and dates. Farms raised cotton and kept herds of sheep, pigs, zebus (a kind of cow), and water buffalo. Fish were caught in the river with fish hooks! Each town had a large central storage building for grain. Crops were grown, and the harvest stored centrally, for all in the town to enjoy. 
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Well established ancient city town in Indus Valley’s Harappa Civilization

The earliest traces of civilization in the Indian subcontinent are to be found in places along, or close, to the Indus river. Excavations first conducted in 1921-22, in the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, both now in Pakistan, pointed to a highly complex civilization that first developed some 4,500-5,000 years ago, and subsequent archaeological and historical research has now furnished us with a more detailed picture of

the Indus Valley Civilization and its inhabitants. The Indus Valley people were most likely Dravidians, who may have been pushed down into south India when the Aryans, with their more advanced military technology, commenced their migrations to India around 2,000 BCE.

Though the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered down to the present day, the numerous seals discovered during the excavations, as well as statuary and pottery, not to mention the ruins of numerous Indus Valley cities, have enabled scholars to construct a reasonably plausible account of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Some kind of centralized state, and certainly fairly extensive town planning, is suggested by the layout of the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The same kind of burnt brick appears to have been used in the construction of buildings in cities that were as much as several hundred miles apart. The weights and measures show a very considerable regularity. The Indus Valley people domesticated animals, and harvested various crops, such as cotton, sesame, peas, barley, and cotton. They may also have been a sea-faring people, and it is rather interesting that Indus Valley seals have been dug up in such places as Sumer. In most respects, the Indus Valley Civilization appears to have been urban, defying both the predominant idea of India as an eternally and essentially agricultural civilization, as well as the notion that the change from ‘rural’ to ‘urban’ represents something of a logical progression. The Indus Valley people had a merchant class that, evidence suggests, engaged in extensive trading.
toys from Indus Vally

Neither Harappa nor Mohenjodaro show any evidence of fire altars, and consequently one can reasonably conjecture that the various rituals around the fire which are so critical in Hinduism were introduced later by the Aryans. The Indus Valley people do not appear to have been in possession of the horse: there is no osteological evidence of horse remains in the Indian sub-continent before 2,000 BCE, when the Aryans first came to India, and on Harappan seals and terracotta figures, horses do not appear. Other than the archaeological ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, these seals provide the most detailed clues about the character of the Indus Valley people. Bulls and elephants do appear on these seals, but the horned bull, most scholars are agreed, should not be taken to be congruent with Nandi, or Shiva’s bull. The horned bull appears in numerous Central Asian figures as well; it is also important to note that Shiva is not one of the gods invoked in the Rig Veda. The revered cow of the Hindus also does not appear on the seals. The women portrayed on the seals are shown with elaborate coiffures, sporting heavy jewelry, suggesting that the Indus Valley people were an urbane people with cultivated tastes and a refined aesthetic sensibility. A few thousand seals have been discovered in Indus Valley cities, showing some 400 pictographs: too few in number for the language to have been ideographic, and too many for the language to have been phonetic.

Human Figure From Harappa
Terracotta Figurines From Indus Vally

The Indus Valley civilization raises a great many, largely unresolved, questions. Why did this civilization, considering its sophistication, not spread beyond the Indus Valley? In general, the area where the Indus valley cities developed is arid, and one can surmise that urban development took place along a river that flew through a virtual desert. The Indus Valley people did not develop agriculture on any large scale, and consequently did not have to clear away a heavy growth of forest. Nor did they have the technology for that, since they were confined to using bronze or stone implements. They did not practice canal irrigation and did not have the heavy plough. Most significantly, under what circumstances did the Indus Valley cities undergo a decline? The first attacks on outlying villages by Aryans appear to have taken place around 2,000 BCE near Baluchistan, and of the major cities, at least Harappa was quite likely over-run by the Aryans. In the Rig Veda there is mention of a Vedic war god, Indra, destroying some forts and citadels, which could have included Harappa and some other Indus Valley cities. The conventional historical narrative speaks of a cataclysmic blow that struck the Indus Valley Civilization around 1,600 BCE, but that would not explain why settlements at a distance of several hundred miles from each other were all eradicated. The most compelling historical narrative still suggests that the demise and eventual disappearance of the Indus Valley Civilization, which owed something to internal decline, nonetheless was facilitated by the arrival in India of the Aryans.

The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as Harappan culture, is among the world’s earliest civilizations, contemporary to the Bronze Age civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. It peaked around 2500 BCE in the western part of South Asia, declined during the mid-2nd millennium BCE and was forgotten until its rediscovery in the 1920s by R.D. Banerjee.
Geographically, it was spread over an area of some 1,260,000 km, comprising the whole of modern day Pakistan and parts of modern-day India and Afghanistan. Thus there is an Indus Valley site on the Oxus river at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan (Kenoyer 1998:96) and the Indus Valley site Alamgirpur at the Hindon river is located only 28 km from Delhi. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million.
The Indus civilization is still poorly understood. Its very existence was forgotten until the 20th century. Its writing system remains undeciphered. Among the Indus civilization’s mysteries are fundamental questions, including its means of subsistence and the causes for its sudden disappearance beginning around 1900 BCE. We do not know what language the people spoke. We do not know what they called themselves. All of these facts stand in stark contrast to what is known about its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.
The native name of the Indus civilization may be preserved in the Sumerian Me-lah-ha, which Asko Parpola, editor of the Indus script corpus, identifies with the Dravidian Met-akam “high abode/country”. He further suggests that the Sanskrit word mleccha for “foreigner, barbarian, non-Aryan” may be derived from that name.

To date, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Hakra-Ghaggar river and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal, Dholavira, Ganweriwala, Kalibanga, and Rakhigarhi.
Additionally, there is some disputed evidence indicative of another large river, now long dried up, running parallel and to the east of the Indus. The dried-up river beds overlap with the Hakra channel in Pakistan, and the seasonal Ghaggar river in India. Over 500 ancient sites belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization have been discovered along the Hakra-Ghaggar river and its tributaries (S.P. Gupta 1995: 183).
In contrast to this, only 90 to 96 of the over 800 known Indus Valley sites have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries. A section of scholars claim that this was a major river during the third and fourth millennia BCE, and propose that it may have been the Sarasvati River of the Rig Veda. Some of those who accept this hypothesis advocate designating the Indus Valley culture the “Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization”, Sindhu being the ancient name of the Indus River. Most archeologists dispute this view, arguing that the old and dry river died out during the mesolithic age at the latest, and was reduced to a seasonal stream long before the Vedic period.
The Indus civilization was predated by the first farming cultures in south Asia, which emerged in the hills of what is now called Balochistan, to the west of the Indus Valley. The best-known site of this culture is Mehrgarh, established around 6500 BCE. These early farmers domesticated wheat and a variety of animals, including cattle. Pottery was in use by around 5500 BCE. The Indus civilization grew out of this culture’s technological base, as well as its geographic expansion into the alluvial plains of what are now the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in contemporary Pakistan and Northern India.
By 4000 BCE, a distinctive, regional culture, called pre-Harappan, had emerged in this area. (It is called pre-Harappan because remains of this widespread culture are found in the early strata of Indus civilization cities.) Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making. Villagers had, by this time, domesticated numerous crops, including peas, sesame seeds, dates, and cotton, as well as a wide range of domestic animals, including the water buffalo, an animal that remains essential to intensive agricultural production throughout Asia today.

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Archaeology of Humankind
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Fashions and clothing in Ancient Egyptian Civilization

The Egyptian climate with its hot summers and mild winters favoured light clothing made from plant fibers, predominantly linen and in Roman times occasionally cotton, an import from India Wool was used to a lesser extent , and seldom by Egyptians proper.
Ancient Egyptian Fashion

    Small amounts of silk were traded to the eastern Mediterranean possibly as early as the second half of the second millennium BCE and traces of silk have been found in Egyptian tombs .
    Animal skins, above all leopard skins, were sometimes worn by priests and by pharaohs in their role as first servants of the god. Such outfits were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb and were depicted quite frequently on the walls of tombs. At times kings and queens wore decorative ceremonial clothing adorned with feathers.

Their fashions of mourning and of burial are these: Whenever any household has lost a man who is of any regard amongst them, the whole number of women of that house forthwith plaster over their heads or even their faces with mud.
Then leaving the corpse within the house they go themselves to and fro about the city and beat themselves, with their garments bound up by a girdle and their breasts
exposed, and with them go all the women who are related to the dead man, and on the other side the men beat themselves, they too having their garments bound up by a girdle; and when they have done this, they then convey the body to the embalming. In this occupation certain persons employ themselves regularly and inherit this as a craft. These, whenever a corpse is conveyed to them, show to those who brought it wooden models of corpses made like reality by painting, and the best of the ways of embalming they say is that of him whose name I think it impiety to mention when speaking of a matter of such a kind; the second whichthey show is less good than this and also less expensive; and the third is the least expensive of all.

Having told them about this, they inquire of them in which way they desire the corpse of their friend to be prepared. Then they after they have agreed for a certain price depart out of the way, and the others being left behind in the buildings embalm according to the best of these ways thus: First with the crooked iron tool they draw out the brain through the nostrils, extracting it partly thus and partly by pouring in drugs; and after this with a sharp stone of Ethiopia they make a cut along the side and take out the whole contents of the belly, and when they have cleared out the cavity and cleansed it with palm-wine they cleanse it again with spices pounded up: then they fill the belly with pure myrrh pounded up and with cassia and other spices except frankincense, and sew it together again. Having so done they keep it for embalming covered up in natron for seventy days, but for a longer time than this it is not permitted to embalm it; and when the seventy days are past, they wash the corpse and roll its whole body up in fine linen cut into bands, smearing these beneath with gum, which the Egyptians use generally instead of glue. Then the kinsfolk receive it from them and have a wooden figure made in the shape of man, and when they have had this made they enclose the corpse, and having shut it up within, they store it then in a sepulchral chamber, setting it to stand upright against the wall.

Thus they deal with the corpses which are prepared in the most costly way; but for those who desire the middle way and wish to avoid great cost they prepare the corpse as follows: having filled their syringes with the oil which is got from cedar-wood, with this they forthwith fill the belly of the corpse, and this they do without having either cut it open or taken out the bowels, but they inject the oil by the breech, and having stopped the drench from returning back they keep it then the appointed number of days for embalming, and on the last of the days they let the cedar oil come out from the belly, which they before put in; and it has such power that it brings out with
it the bowels and interior organs of the body dissolved; and the natron dissolves the flesh, so that there is left of the corpse only the skin and the bones.

When they have done this they give back the corpse at once in that ondition without working upon it any more. The third kind of embalming, by which are prepared the bodies of those who have less means, is as follows: they cleanse out the belly with a purge and then keep the body for embalming during he seventy days, and at once after that they give it back to the bringers to carry away.

The wives of men of rank when they die are not given at once to be mbalmed, nor such women as are very beautiful or of greater regard than others, but on the third or fourth day after their death (and not before) they are delivered to the embalmers.

They do so about this matter in order that the embalmers may not abuse their women, for they say that one of them was taken once doing so to the corpse of a woman lately dead, and his fellow-craftsman gave information. Whenever any one, either of the Egyptians themselves or of strangers, is found to have been carried off by a crocodile or brought to his death by the river itself, the people of any city by which he may have been cast up on land must embalm him and lay him out in the fairest way they can and bury him in a sacred burial-place, nor may any of his relations or friends besides touch him, but the priests of the Nile themselves handle the corpse and bury it as that of one who was something more than man.

 The clothes were generally made of linen and kept simple: a short loincloth resembling a kilt for men, a dress with straps for women. These basic garments with minor variations accounting for fashion, social status and wealth did not change fundamentally throughout Egypt’s history.

Men's clothing
Old Kingdom Middle Kingdom New Kingdom Late Period

    Very little sewing was done. The cloth was wrapped round the body and held in place by a belt. Its colour was generally whitish, in contrast to the colourful clothes foreigners wore in Egyptian depictions, although dyed cloth was not unknown.

    Everyday clothing was mostly undecorated, though pleating was known since the Old Kingdom, when some dresses of upper class Egyptians were pleated horizontally. In the New Kingdom the pleats were often vertical, but pleating could be quite intricate. A Middle Kingdom piece of clothing displays three different types of pleating: one part is pleated with pleats a few centimetres apart, another with very narrow pleats and a third part is chevron-patterned, with horizontal and vertical pleats crossing each other. How the pleating was done is not known, but it is generally supposed to have been very labour intensive.

    The length of the the kilts varied, being short during the the Old Kingdom and reaching the calf in the Middle Kingdom, when it was often supplemented with a sleeveless shirt or a long robe.

    The kalasiris women wore might cover one [3] or both shoulders or be worn with shoulder straps. While the top could reach anywhere from below the breast up to the neck, the bottom hem generally touched the calves or even the ankles. Some had short sleeves, others were sleeveless. The fit might be very tight or quite loose. They were often worn with a belt which held together the folds of cloth.

Source of the kalasiris picture on the right: University of Indiana website [1]

    They were sewn from a rectangular piece of cloth twice the desired garment length. An opening for the head was cut at the centre of the cloth, which was then folded in half. The lower parts of the sides were stitched together leaving openings for the arms.

Women's clothes, Source: the two pictures to the right are excerpts from 'Ancient Egypt' by Lionel Casson, Time-Life Books, 1975
Selket wearing a pleated dress Servant wearing panties and collar Ankle long dress with straps, leaving breasts half bare

Source: the two pictures to the right are excerpts from Ancient Egypt by Lionel Casson

    Women’s dresses were at times ornamented with beads. They covered the breasts most of the time, though there were periods when fashion left them bare .
    Circular capes date back as far as the Old Kingdom. They were generally made of linen and had an opening for the head cut at the centre. They were often dyed, painted or otherwise decorated and covered little more than the shoulders. Shawls were sometimes worn during the New Kingdom.

Laundry, Source:? Cleanliness was apparently next to godliness in ancient Egypt. And who was closer to the gods than the pharaohs themselves. Since earliest historic times the titles of “chief washer of the palace” and “washer to the pharaoh” are known, and keeping the royal clothes lily white was the duty of the “chief bleacher.”
    Manually washing clothes was hard work. Soap was unknown to the ancient Egyptians, so lye, made of castor-oil and saltpetre or some such substances , or detergents made of soapwort or asphodil  were used. The laundry was beaten, rinsed and wrung by pairs of workers. By 1200 BCE there were fire-proof boilers in the wash-houses, and the hot water lightened the workload.
    Many, above all the poorer people had no access to facilities and had to do their laundry under at times difficult conditions. Washing on the shore of the river or the bank of a canal, which had the advantage of not having to carry a lot of water in heavy earthen pots, could be dangerous:

The washerman launders at the riverbank in the vicinity of the crocodile. I shall go away, father, from the flowing water, said his son and his daughter, to a more satisfactory profession, one more distinguished than any other profession.

The Instructions of Dua-Khety

    In the eyes of Kheti at least, washing women’s clothing was not really work a man should be doing. He says disparagingly of the washerman:

He cleans the clothes of a woman in menstruation.

The Instructions of Dua-Khety

    Before the advent of industrial production techniques, cheap overseas transportation and a Third World population with little choice but to work for peanuts, clothes made up a considerable part of one’s living expenses. Even though the clothes of the Egyptians were lighter than those of Europeans and less critical to survival, they were careful not to ruin them, and when a garment got torn, it was probably the ancient Egyptian housewife who got her favorite needle out of her needle box, a knife and a piece of thread and settled down to mend it. Garments have been found which were mended a number of times and finally recycled and turned into something else.    If depictions are anything to go by, then ordinary Egyptians did not wear any headdress as a rule, similar to African peoples further south. The better-off put on wigs – perhaps just on special occasions. These grew to a remarkable size during the New Kingdom.
    The pharaohs are always represented wearing crowns, but whether this is a pictorial convention or whether they did so in every day life can not be decided.


Sandals, Photo: mfa Boston- Plaited reed sandals
New Kingdom
Picture source: mfa Boston website
    People living around the Mediterranean had little need for elaborate footwear, with exceptions like the Hittites in their Anatolian highlands who wore shoes with turned up toes, though in Egyptian reliefs Hittites are depicted unshod. The Egyptians went barefoot much of the time, but wore sandals on special occasions or when their feet were likely to get hurt. The sandals were tied with two thongs and, if they had a pointed tip this was often turned upwards. They were made of leather  or rush woven or stitched together, and often had leather soles and straps.
    The cheapest kind of sandals were affordable to all but the very poorest. Ipuwer in his Admonitions used the lack of sandals to describe the destitute who, in the topsy-turvy world of chaos he warned from, attained great wealth: He who could not afford sandals owns riches .

Sandal of Ramses III, excerpt
Source: L. Cassell Ancient Egypt

    Sandals made of gold have been found which cannot have been very comfortable to their wearers if they were worn at all. Among Tutankhamen’s equipment there were 93 pieces of footwear. There were sandals made of wood with depictions of enemies on their soles, on which the king would tread with every step and another pair which was fastened with buttons.
    One of the changes in daily life which occurred during the Middle and New Kingdoms was the increasing use of sandals, above all where soldiers [10] or travellers were concerned. In the story of The Two Brothers Anpu set out on a journey:

Then he took his staff and his sandals, as well as his clothes and his weapons, and he started to journey to the Valley of the Pine.

M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. 2, p.208

    Sandals seem to have had an importance which mostly escapes us nowadays, symbolizing prosperity and authority. Thutmose III speaks of the countries he conquered, and possibly of the rest of the world as well, as all lands were under my sandals .
    Among the oldest images of the dynastic period are depictions of the sandal-bearer of the pharaoh, and for the sixth dynasty official Weni this post was seemingly an important stage in a splendid career, mentioned twice in his autobiography.

Sandals were very closely and beautifully stitched up of rush, and usually soled with leather. A small bundle of rush was wound round by a rush thread, which at every turn pierced through the edge of a previous bundle. Thus these successive bundles were bound together edge to edge, and a flat surface built up. This was edged round in the same way. In basket making exactly the same principle was followed, with great neatness. The rush sandals soled with leather, leather sandals alone, and leather shoes, were all used. The shoes seem to have been just originating at that period; two or three examples are known, but all of them have the leather sandal strap between the toes, and joining to the sides of the heel, to retain the sole on the foot ; the upper leather being stitched on merely as a covering without its being intended to hold the shoe on the foot. These soles are compound, of three or four thicknesses.

W.M.F.Petrie Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, p.28
Rush slippers, Late Period, Source: cesras website

    Early Middle Kingdom shoes were little more than sandals with straps between the toes and joined to the sides at the heel with the upper leather just covering the foot without being fastened to the foot itself. During the New Kingdom there were times when some Egyptians seem to have taken to occasionally wearing shoes, as in a depiction of Queen Nutmose at Karnak. This may have come about as an influence of the Hittites, with whom they came into contact at this time.

Rush slippers
Late Period
Source: Cesras website

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Archaeology of Humankind
from Website and Book Scources


Animal Headed Figures of Ancient Egyptian Gods

The Cow-headed Goddessess 
Cows and bulls were very important in ancient egypt for plowing,threshing and transdport reasons and for their meat and milk production.According to the scenes depicted on the walls of the privte tombs of ancient egypt,we can say that there were four breeds known to the ancient egyptians:-
-The long horn cattle known by “ngiw”,already known from the pre-dynastic times.the shoulder height of these animals probably varied between 120cm and 150cm and the size and the form of horns show much individual variation.
-The small,short horn cattle known by “wndw”.such cattle were perhaps already present at the pre-dynastic site of Maadi,but they were not comman during the old kingdom,popular from the new kingdom.
-Hornless cattle,known since the old kingdom,also comman later.
-The hump-backed cattle known by zebu in the modern times,introduced to egypt from syria during the new kingdom. The worship of the cow was one of the oldest worship in ancient egypt.Cow was worshipped throughtout egypt and associated with several goddessess

The chief deity of the 7th nome of upper egypt known by sheshet means sistrum.Bat is a very ancient goddess,the early evidence of her dates to the late pre-dynastic period.In the pyramids texts ,she was called “Bat with her two faces”,she seemed to be the original personification of the sistrum.
During the middle kingdom,she was superseded by Hathor.she is depicted with heavy inward curving horns .she was a celestial cow.

The earthly cow goddess,the white cow and the one who create all the nourishmenet.Milk was said to be the beer of Hesat,she was depicted as a cow carrying a tray of food on her horns.she was the wife of Menvis bull and the mother of Anubis of Imiut.she was worshipped in the reigon of the modern Atfih.

Mehet weret
The celestial cow,the great flood,the goddess of the waterways and the primeval waters of Nun and the yearly inundation of the Nile.She was also goddess of creation and rebirth in the afterlife and goddess of the necropolis of Thebes.She was depicted lying on a reed mat or as a cow standing in papyrus plants at the foot of the mountian of the west only her head poking out .It seems likely that her original cult was related to the region of Sais .

mentioned in chapter 162 of book of the dead,” I`m the Ihet cow,your name is in my mouth and I shall utter it….”.She supposed to have suckled the young sun upon his emergance from the primveal waters.In a second myth,the cow Ihet give birth and suckled the infant Hours in the marshes of north.

Sekhat Hor
A local cow goddess in the 3rd nome of lower egypt the modern kom el-hisn in the province of el-behara.Her name means “she who remembers hours “and in the pyramid text,she suckles him.she is usually depicted as a cow either standing or lying with a feather often appears between her horns.
she was like HEAST The provider of the milk offered by the king in rituals.One of the texts from the temple of DANDRA mentions her role as a nourisher of the king ” life to the good god,the replica of Shu……..created by Renenut,
suckled by Skhat Hor “.

Shen tait
Her name means “the widow “,she was closely related to Isis.the early image of her shows her as a girl with long hair holding a child.she was also depicted as a recumbent cow.Her seat of worship was Heliopolis or Abydos .

The greatest of all the cows and the 2nd important goddess in ancient egypt next to Isis.she was the chief goddess of the 6th nome of upper egypt.she was the goddess of sky,fertility,motherhood,childbirth,love ,beauty,dance,
music,joy,mistress of turquoise,lady of the green stone and malachite,lady of gold,lady of Iunet,lady of Imentet,lady to the limit”of the univere” and the lady of the southern sycamore.she was the mother and doughter of Ra,mother and wife of HOURS,a wife of Thoth and Sobek and a mother of Ihy.She was associated with several goddessess (over 40).She was worshipped throughtout egypt in Dandara,Thebes,Memphis,Heliopolis
,Hermopolis,Philae,Abu-simbel, Sinai,Edfu,Kom-ombo,Atfih and Qusey
She was also worshipped in Syria,Lebenon and Punt,the Greeks equated her with their own goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite.

All of the these cow-headed goddessess were long horn cows,both of the short horns and the hornless cows never worshipped as goddessesss .
-All of the cows goddessess were associated with God RA and god HORUS as mothers ,wives or doughters.
-four of them were celestial cows,Bat,Mehet weret,Ihet and Hathor.
-Two of them were earthly cows,Hesat and Sekhat hor.
– one of them was closely related to Isis,,,Shentait.
-It seems likely that Bat was the oldest one of them.
-All of the them were different aspects of Hathor,the most important of all.
The Ram-headed Gods in Ancient Egypt
The ram was an important animal in ancient egypt.Two types of rams were known to the ancient egyptians,the first one with long wavy horns,known from the pre-dynastic times and the other one with curvy inwords horns,
known from around the 12th dynasty of the middle kingdom.Ram was worshipped in anceint egypt for several reasons,such as,,,the fertility and the sexual ability.Someother reasons were its strenght and its activity.the
ram was associated with various gods and worshipped at many places in
ancient egypt.
Ram-headed Gods with long wavy horns
Khnum is a pre-dynastic god and one of the most ancient gods of Egypt,the chief god of the first nome of upper Egypt.He was a water god,the god of the silt,the god of the sources of the Nile and the great potter god of the creatian who moulded everything out of the clay including both the people and the gods.His cult center was elephantine where he was worshipped
together with his two wives ( or wife and a doughter )Satet and Anket.He
also was worshipped at Esna where he was thought to to be married to three
wives ( or two )Menhet and Nebtw,( the 3rd one is Neith ).At Her-wer,which
might be Tuna el-gabal (not for sure ),he was married to Heqet.In his form
known by ( sheft-hat ),he was depicted with four ram heads ( the same form was given to the ram of Mendes ) representing RA the sun god,SHU the air
gog,GEB the earth god and OSIRIS the god of the afterlife.In later times,
khnum was depicted with curvy inwords horns.

The local god of Ihnasya el madina, the capital city of the 20th nome of upper Egypt on the west bank of the Nile near Bani suef.Refrences for his cult are mentioned as early as the first dynasty on the palermo stone.He was worshipped as a creator god rising from the Nun.He was the ba of both
OSIRIS and RA,that`s why he wore the atef crown of osiris decorated with the sun-disc of Ra .

Ba or Banebdjed
The original god of Mendes, the capital city of the 16th nome of lower Egypt
the modern Tell el-Rabaa near el-simbellawin in el-manswra.His wife was goddess Hat mehyt the fish goddess.the coffin text suggests that the soul of god osiris took refuge in Mendes when the body was killed by Seth,The
book of the heavenly cow stats that the ba of osiris is the the ram of Mendes.One of Banebdjed epithets was the lord of the sexual pleasure.
A stela from the Ramessum records that the god Ptah took the form of Ba
nebdjed to sleep with a mortal woman,the result was the future phoraoh
Ramses the second.

The original local god of the city of Busiris the modern Abusir bana in the 9th
nome of lower Egypt in the eastern Delta.He has a close relationship with the
job of the king which is evident from the references in the pyramid texts.He
was depicted holding two sceptors,wearing high conical crown decorated withTwo feathers like the atef crown of osiris.His cult was replaced by that of osiris.

The local god of letopolis or Khem ,the modern Ausim northwest of cairo,the
capital city of the 2nd nome of lower egypt.He was an earth god act as the guardian god of the royal tombs.In the old kingdom,he was taken as a partner of osiris .

The ram-headed gods with curvy inwords horns
The god (not the original) of the 4th nome of upper Egypt,originally god of the air and the wind together with his female partner Amunet in Hermopolis
the modern el-ashmonien.In the middle kingdom,he was moved to the 4th nome where his cult was replaced that of Montu and in the new kingdome he became the most powerful god ,considered as the king of all the gods.
Actually,god Amun is not an original ram-headed god but during the new kingdom and after conquereing the kingdom of Kush the ram was
considered as one of the sacred animals of god Amun,that`s why he was depicted as a ram.The chief god of Kush was a woolly ram with curved horns
so,when they identified their god with Amun,the later became assoicated with the ram and the egyptians come to believe that the original image of Amun was the ram and in this form Amun was worshipped in the western
desert moreover,in the Greek tale of Nectanebo ,the last king,having by magic visited OLYMPIAS and become the father of Alexander,he come as the
incarnation of Amun wearing the ram`s skin.

The hieroglyphic word for ram is ( ba ),the same for the soul,that`s why the ram was considered as the ba of some of the gods such as..
The soul of god Ra was a bird with head of a ram and in the under world god
Ra took the shape of a ram-headed god known by AUF,which means the flesh or the body.On one of the walls of qUeen Nefertari tomb god Ra is depicted as a ram-headed mummy in front of god osiris.In his form as sunset
Ra known as Atum is depicted as a man with head of a ram.

The two rams known by Banebdjed and Andjety were manifestations of the soul of god osiris.

In his form as Horemakhet, sometimes he was depicted with a ram head.

 Aurnab Arc 
©Archaeology of Humankind 
Fetish to god in ancient egypt …by Wallis Budge.

"Hatshepsut" life history of a great Female Ruler from Ancient Egypt

Hatshepsut, or Hatchepsut, meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies, was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful female pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. Hatshepsut was the elder daughter of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmose, the first king and queen of the Thutmoside clan of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Thutmose I and Ahmose are known to have had only one other child, a daughter, Akhbetneferu (Neferubity), who died in infancy. Thutmose I also married Mutnofret, possibly a daughter of Ahmose I, and produced several half-brothers to Hatshepsut: Wadjmose, Amenose, Thutmose II, and possibly Ramose, through that secondary union. Both Wadjmose and Amenose were prepared to succeed their father, but neither lived beyond adolescence.  
In her childhood, Hatshepsut is believed to have been favored by the Temple of Karnak over her two half-brothers by her father. Hatshepsut apparently had a close relationship with both of her parents. Among the official records of her reign are assertions that her father, Thutmose I, named her as his direct heir and later, official depictions of Hatshepsut show her dressed in the full regalia of a pharaoh, including the traditional false beard of pharaohs to indicate that she ruled Egypt in her own right.Upon the death of her father in 1493 BC, Hatshepsut married her half-brother, Thutmose II, and assumed the title of Great Royal Wife. Thutmose II ruled Egypt for either 3 or 13 years, during which time it has traditionally been believed that Queen Hatshepsut exerted a strong influence over her husband.Royal lineage was traced through the women in ancient Egypt. Marriage to a queen of the royal lineage was necessary, even if the king came from outside of the lineage as happened occasionally. Secondary unions to other women in the royal family assured that there would be heirs from the lineage and women who could become the royal wives. This is the reason for all of the intermarriages. The royal women also played a pivotal role in the religion of ancient Egypt. The queen officiated at the rites in the temples, as priestess, in a culture where religion was inexorably interwoven with the roles of the rulers.

Hatshepsut had one daughter with Thutmose II: Neferure. Hatshepsut may have groomed Neferure as the heir apparent, commissioning official portraits of her daughter wearing the false beard of royalty and the sidelock of youth. Some scholars think this is evidence that Hatshepsut and Thutmose II were grooming Neferure for the throne; others speculate that she was being prepared to assume her mother’s own roles as queen, but to have Neferure prepared to be a pharaoh, if necessary.

When Thutmose II died, he left behind only one son, a young Thutmose III to succeed him. The latter was born as the son of a lesser wife of Thutmose II rather than of the Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut, as Neferure was. Due to the relative youth of Thutmose III, he was not eligible to assume the expected tasks of a pharaoh. Instead, Hatshepsut became the regent of Egypt at this time, assumed the responsibilities of state, and was recognized by the leadership in the temple. At this time, her daughter, Neferure, took over the roles Hatshepsut had played as queen in official and religious ceremonies. This political arrangement is detailed in the tomb autobiography of Ineni, a high official at court:

“He (Thutmose II) went forth to heaven in triumph, having mingled with the gods; His son stood in his place as king of the Two Lands, having become ruler upon the throne of the one who begat him. His (ie. Thutmose II’s) sister the Divine Consort, Hatshepsut settled the affairs of the Two Lands by reason of her plans. Egypt was made to labour with bowed head for her, the excellent seed of the god, which came forth from him.”
Thus, while Thutmose III was designated as a co-regent of Egypt, the royal court recognised Hatshepsut as the pharoah on the throne until she died. It is believed that Neferure became the royal wife of Thutmose III and the mother of his eldest son, Amenemhat, who did not outlive his father.

The date of her formal assumption as king is not known but this event must have occurred by her Seventh Year due to the discovery of the intact tomb of Senenmut’s parents—Ramose and Hatnofer—which contained various grave goods including several pottery jars, one of which was dated to ‘Year Seven’ and bore the seal the ‘God’s Wife Hatchepsut’ and two of which were stamped with the royal seal of ‘The Good Goddess Maatkare’, the name she took as pharaoh. Hence, by Year 7 of her regency, Hatshepsut was formally recognised to be a pharaoh of Egypt. After she ascended the throne, her name changed in some records from the feminine Hatshepsut to Hatshepsut, which is not identified as a feminine name.

Hatshepsut surrounded herself with strong and loyal advisors, many of whom are still known today the Vizier Hapuseneb, the second prophet of Amun Puyemre and her right hand man and closest advisor, the royal steward, tutor and “overseer of all Royal Works” (or architect) Senenmut. Because of the close nature of Hatshepsut and Senemut’s relationship, some Egyptologists have conjectured that they might have been lovers. Among the evidence they offer to support this claim is the fact that Hatshepsut allowed Senenmut to place his name and image behind one of the main doors in Djeser-Djeseru, which was a rare and unusual sharing of credit, and because Senenmut had two tombs constructed near Hatshepsut’s tomb. However, the latter was a standard privilege for close advisors.

Although the conjecture that Hatshepsut and Senenmut might have been lovers has been well circulated, it is highly contested among Egyptologists; all that is agreed upon is that her administrator had ready access to the pharaoh’s ear. Senenmut’s rapid rise in fortune at court and privileges extended to him including the placing of his non-royal tomb within the confines of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri is cited. However, it is difficult to accept that an intelligent woman such as Hatshepsut was being manipulated by Senenmut, he seems to have served her father and husband also, and it may simply be that she was rewarding her servant for his great loyalty to her and his obvious skills given the achievements accomplished in her projects in the typical fashion of pharaohs.

Major accomplishments

As Hatshepsut reestablished the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building a wealth of the Eighteenth Dynasty that has become so famous since the discovery of the burial of one of her descendants, Tutankhamun, began to be analysed.
She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. The expedition set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably myrrh, which is said to have been Hatshepsut’s favorite fragrance. Most notably, however, the Egyptians returned from the voyage bearing 31 live frankincense trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage. This was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. It is reported that Hatshepsut had these trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahari mortuary temple complex. She had the expedition commemorated in relief at Deir el-Bahri, which also is famous for its depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, who appears to have had a genetic trait called steatopygia.

Although many Egyptologists have claimed that her foreign policy was mainly peaceful, there is evidence that Hatshepsut led successful military campaigns in Nubia, the Levant, and Syria early in her career.

Building projects

Djeser-Djeseru is the main building of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. Designed by Senemut, the building is an example of perfect symmetry that predates the Parthenon, and it was the first complex built on the site she chose, which would become the Valley of the KingsHatshepsut was one of the most prolific builder pharaohs of ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt, that were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors.

She employed two great architects: Ineni, who also had worked for her husband and father and for the royal steward Senemut. During her reign, so much statuary was produced that almost every major museum in the world has Hatshepsut statuary among their collections; for instance, the Hatshepsut Room in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated solely to these pieces.

Following the tradition of most pharaohs, Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has since broken in two and toppled. Karnak’s Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and may have stood between her two obelisks originally. She later ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and thus a third was constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it still remains, known as The Unfinished Obelisk, serving as a demonstration of just how obelisks were quarried.

In the fashion of the pharaohs, the masterpiece of Hatshepsut’s building projects was her mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed and implemented by Senemut on a site on the West Bank of the Nile River near the entrance to what is now called the Valley of the Kings because of all the pharaohs who chose to associate their complexes with the grandur of hers. Her buildings were the first planned for that location. The focal point was the Djeser-Djeseru or “the Sublime of Sublimes”, a colonnaded structure of perfect harmony nearly one thousand years before the Parthenon was built. Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of terraces that were once graced with lush gardens. Djeser-Djeseru is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it. Djeser-Djeseru and the other buildings of Hatshepsut’s Deir el-Bahri complex are considered to be among the great buildings of the ancient world.

Official propaganda

While all ancient leaders used propaganda to laud their achievements, Hatshepsut has been called the most accomplished pharaoh at promoting her accomplishments. This may have resulted from the extensive building executed during her time as pharaoh in comparison to many others because it afforded her with opportunities to laud herself, but it also reflects the wealth that her policies and administration brought to Egypt, enabling her to finance such projects. Aggrandizement of their achievements was traditional when pharaohs built temples and their tombs. The term propaganda is rarely applied to similar activities by male pharaohs, and begs the question of why it is used here. Much of her decorative reliefs had religious overtones and was supported fully by the officials at the Temple of Karnak. Since the passage of leadership was determined in advance by these same religious leaders, and enacted at the moment of the death of a pharaoh, the transition to the next occurred without question and immediately. Hence, there was no need to influence “public opinion” or for the subtle manipulation associated with the concept of “propaganda” that is implied in some scholarship about Hatshepsut. Selected by the religious leaders and assisted by an accomplished administration, she ruled over a kingdom that markedly prospered under her rule.

Women had a high status in ancient Egypt and enjoyed the legal right to own, inherit or will property. As noted previously, lineage was traced through maternal relationships. A woman becoming pharaoh was rare, however; only Khentkaues, Sobeknefru, Twosret, and possibly Nitocris preceded her in known records as ruling solely in their own name. The latter’s existence is disputed. At that point in Egyptian history, there was no word for a Queen regnant, only one for Queen consort. Hatshepsut is not unique, however, in taking the title of King. Sobekneferu, ruling six dynasties prior to Hatshepsut, also did so when she ruled Egypt. Hatshepsut had been well trained in her duties as the daughter of the pharaoh. She had taken a strong role as queen to her husband and was well experienced in the administration of her kingdom by the time she became pharaoh. There is no indication of challenges to her leadership and until her death, her co-regent remained in a secondary role, quite amicably heading her powerful army.

Hatshepsut assumed all of the regalia and symbols of the Pharaonic office in official representations: the Khat head cloth, topped with an uraeus, the traditional false beard, and shendyt kilt. Many existing statues alternatively show her in typically feminine attire as well as those that depict her in the royal ceremonial attire. Statues portraying Sobekneferu also combine elements of traditional male and female iconography and, by tradition, may have served as inspiration for these works commissioned by Hatshepsut. After this period of transition ended, however, all formal depictions of Hatshepsut as pharaoh showed her in the royal attire, with all of the pharaonic regalia, and with her breasts obscured behind her crossed arms holding the regal staffs of the two kingdoms she ruled, as the symbols of the pharaoh were much more important to be displayed traditionally.

The reasons for her breasts not being emphasized in the most formal statues were debated among early Egyptologists who never drew a parallel to the fact that many women and goddesses portrayed in ancient Egyptian art lack delineation of breasts and that the gender of pharaohs was never stressed in ancient Egyptian Art.

Modern scholars, however, have opted for an alternative theory: that by assuming the typical symbols of pharaonic power, Hatshepsut was asserting her claim to be the sovereign and not a “King’s Great Wife” or Queen consort. The gender of pharaohs was never stressed in official depictions, even the men were depicted with the highly stylized false beard associated with their position in the society.

Most of the official statues commissioned of Hatshepsut show her less symbolically and more naturally as a woman in typical dresses of the nobility of her day. Notably, even after assuming the formal regalia, Hatshepsut still described herself as a beautiful woman, often as the most beautiful of women, and although she assumed almost all of her father’s titles, she declined to take the title “The Strong Bull”, which tied the pharaoh to the goddesses Isis, the throne, and Hathor by being her son sitting on her throne — since Hatshepsut became allied with the goddesses herself. Religious concepts were tied into all of these symbols and titles.

While Hatshepsut was depicted in official art wearing regalia of a pharaoh, such as the false beard that male pharaohs also wore, it is most unlikely that she ever wore such ceremonial decorations, just as it is unlikely that the male pharaohs did. Statues such as those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicting her seated wearing a tight-fitting dress and the nemes crown, are thought to be a more accurate representation of how she would have presented herself at court.

As a notable exception, only one male pharaoh abandoned the rigid symbolic depiction that had become the style of the most official artwork representing the ruler, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten) of the same Eighteenth Dynasty, whose wife, Nefertiti, also may have ruled in her own right following the death of her husband. Nefertiti is thought to have been a woman from the same lineage as Hatshepsut.

One of the most famous examples of the legends about Hatshepsut is a myth about her birth. In this myth, Amun goes to Ahmose in the form of Thutmose I and awakens her with pleasant odors. At this point Amun places the ankh, a symbol of life, to Ahmose’s nose, and Hatshepsut is conceived by Ahmose. Khnum, the god who forms the bodies of human children, is then instructed to create a body and ka, or corporal presence/life force, for Hatshepsut. Heket, the goddess of life and fertility, and Khnum then lead Ahmose along to a lion bed where she gives birth to Hatshepsut.

The Oracle of Amun proclaimed that it was the will of Amun that Hatshepsut be Pharaoh, further strengthening her position. She publicized Amun’s support by having endorsements by the god Amun carved on her monuments:
“Welcome my sweet daughter, my favorite, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare, Hatshepsut. Thou art the Pharaoh, taking possession of the Two Lands.”

Hatshepsut claimed that she was her father’s intended heir and that he made her the heir apparent of Egypt. Almost all scholars today view this as historical revisionism on Hatshepsut’s part since it was Thutmose II–a son of Thutmose I by Mutnofret–who was her father’s heir. Moreover, Thutmose I could not have foreseen that his daughter Hatshepsut would outlive his son within his own lifetime. Thutmose II soon married to Hatshepsut and the latter became both his senior royal wife and one of the most powerful women at court. Evelyn Wells, however, accepts Hatshepsut’s claim that she was her father’s intended successor. Once she became pharaoh herself, Hatshepsut supported her assertion that she was her father’s designated successor with inscriptions on the walls of her mortuary temple:

“Then his majesty said to them: “This daughter of mine, Khnumetamun Hatshepsut—may she live!—I have appointed as my successor upon my throne… she shall direct the people in every sphere of the palace; it is she indeed who shall lead you. Obey her words, unite yourselves at her command.” The royal nobles, the dignitaries, and the leaders of the people heard this proclamation of the promotion of his daughter, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Maatkare—may she live eternally.”

Death and mummification

Hatshepsut died as she was approaching, what we would consider middle age given typical contemporary lifespans, in her twenty-second regnal year. The precise date of Hatshepsut’s death–and the time when Thutmose III became sole ruler of Egypt–is considered to be Year 22, II Peret day 10 of their joint rule as recorded on a single stela erected at Armant[34] or January 16, 1458 BC. This information validates the basic reliability of Manetho’s kinglist records since Thutmose III and Hatshepsut’s known accession date was I Shemu day 4. (ie: Hatshepsut died 9 months into her 22nd year as Manetho writes in his Epitome for a reign of 21 years and 9 months) No mention of the cause of her death has survived. If the recent identification of her mummy in KV60 is correct,however, CT scans would indicate that she died of blood infection while she was in her 50s.; it also would suggest that she had arthritis, bad teeth, and probably had diabetes.

For a long time, her mummy was believed to be missing from the Deir el-Bahri Cache. An unidentified female mummy—found with Hatshepsut’s wet nurse, In-Sitre, one of whose arms was posed in the traditional burial style of pharaohs—has led to the theory that the unidentified mummy in KV60 might be Hatshepsut. Don Ryan working with Pacific Lutheran University and The Evergreen State College reopened KV60 in 1989, which had been resealed after it was discovered at the turn of the century. The tomb had been damaged, but the mummies remained in site.

The deliberate erasures or mutilations of the numerous public celebrations of her accomplishments, but not the rarely seen ones, would be all that was necessary to obscure Hatshepsut’s accomplishments. Moreover, by the latter half of Thutmose III’s reign, the more prominent high officials who had served Hatshepsut would have died thereby eliminating the powerful bureaucratic resistance to a change in direction in a highly stratified culture. Hatshepsut’s highest official and closest supporter, Senenmut himself seems to have either retired abruptly or died around Years 16 and 20 of Hatshepsut’s reign and was never interred in either of his carefully prepared tombs. The enigma of Senenmut’s sudden disappearance “has teased Egyptologists for decades” given the lack of solid archaeological or textual evidence” and permitted “the vivid imagination of Senenmut-scholars to run wild” resulting in a variety of strongly held solutions “some of which would do credit to any fictional murder/mystery plot.” Newer court officials, appointed by Thutmose III, would also have had an interest in promoting the many achievements of their master in order to assure the continued success of their own families.

A more recent hypothesis about Hatshepsut suggests that Thutmose III’s erasures and defacement of Hatshepsut’s monuments were a cold but rational attempt on Thutmose’s part to extinguish the memory of an “unconventional female king whose reign might possibly be interpreted by future generations as a grave offence against Ma’at, and whose unorthodox coregency” could “cast serious doubt upon the legitimacy of his own right to rule. Hatshepsut’s crime need not be nothing more than the fact that she was a woman.” Thutmose III may have considered the possibility that the example of a successful female king in Egyptian history could set a dangerous precedent since it demonstrated that a woman was as capable at governing Egypt as a traditional male king. This event could, theoretically, persuade “future generations of potentially strong female kings” to not “remain content with their traditional lot as wife, sister and eventual mother of a king” instead and assume the crown. While Queen Sobekneferu of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom had enjoyed a short c.4 year reign, she ruled “at the very end of a fading [12th dynasty] Dynasty, and from the very start of her reign the odds had been stacked against her. She was therefore acceptable to conservative Egyptians as a patriotic ‘Warrior Queen’ who had failed” to rejuvenate Egypt’s fortunes–a result which underlined the traditional Egyptian view that a woman was incapable of holding the throne in her own right. Hence, few Egyptians would desire to repeat the experiment of a female monarch. In contrast, Hatshepsut’s glorious reign was a completely different case: she demonstrated that women were as equally capable as men in ruling the two lands since she successfully presided over a prosperous Egypt for more than two decades. If Thutmose III’s intent here was to forestall the possibility of a woman assuming the throne, it failed. Two female kings are known to have assumed the throne after Thutmose’s reign during the New Kingdom: Neferneferuaten and Twosret. Unlike Hatshepsut, however, both rulers enjoyed brief and short-lived reign of only 2 and 1 years respectively.

Archaeology of Humankind