Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Another 2013

*** Happy New Year! ***

According to the Gregorian calendar, the New Year started yesterday, on 1 January 2013.

I had a little look around Google to find out what happened in the other 2013:  2013 BCE, that is.

Not a whole lot seems to be recorded but 2013 BCE was the year in which a certain Ibbi-šamaš was removed from his throne.  Ibbi-šamaš was King of Kisurra, and Kisurra, or so I learned, was an ancient Sumerian city on the Euphrates River (in Mesopotamia or present-day Iraq).

The Fitzwilliam Museum actually owns a handful of Mesopotamian artefacts.  Here is one:

Source: © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. 

This is a tiny stamp seal, made between 4000 and 2000 BCE.  The object looks well-used, its edges smooth from handling.  I know nothing about its wheel-shaped incised pattern.  Nor do I know anything about the ancient kingdom of Kisurra.

But 2013 years before our time system began, there was a king who was deposed and this means, that there was a kingdom and (I don't doubt) a whole culture with its own complicated kinship patterns, power networks, religious rituals, trading routes, script, recipes, calendar systems, and its own means of making artefacts and ways of assigning meaning to them.

So here's from one 2013 to another 2013, 4,026 years ago.

P.S. Krøyer, Hip Hip Hurrah, 1888 (detail)

Now I wonder:  what was going on in Cambridge four millennia ago?

Further stuff to do:

•  Listen to a recording of an ancient Babylonian letter read out by a professor at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).  Ibbi-šamaš is mentioned in lines 12-17.  A voice from a different reality.

•  Or read Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias (written in 1818):
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
Source of image:  Paola's blog.

P.S. Just back from a restful and internet-free stay on the continent with my family.  I hope you  all had a peaceful break.

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