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Our tale of daily life continues. The harvest is over, but the work continues, as there are many steps required to transform boring, nutritious grain into delicious, nutritious beer. Online at oldeststories.net --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Today we are talking all about the sort of industry that would have occupied most of the attention of most of the people of the ancient world. That is to say, beer making. But to talk about beer, you have to start with grain, and to talk about grain you have to start with a farmer. So today we will look deep into the life of a generic farmer, we will call him Ea-Rabi, and follow him step by step as he gains land, prepares a field, and grows barley, in preparation for next episode, where he turns that barley into bread and beer. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Perhaps the defining material of ancient Mesopotamia was dirt. Buildings were made by mud brick, and those buildings were filled by clay pottery of all sorts. Today we are going to look at the people who made these things and how they made them. It will necessarily be a bit of a summary, sort of taking the whole region and period in generic form, since it is quite difficult to nail down too specific of a picture from any one time or place. From the mud collectors to the brick makers to the builders to the ways in which those buildings were used, this episode is a comprehensive overview of the construction industry in bronze age Mesopotamia. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Listener Questions

Listener Questions

2022-04-0648:07

A long time ago I asked for listener questions, and also posted a call for questions over on tiktok, and here they are finally getting answered. This is theoretically the hundredth episode special, but depending on how you count it, we are either on episode 97 or on episode 110-ish. It is a grab bag of stuff, all related to the ancient near east. If you still have any questions, check out the contact page over on oldeststories.net and send me a note. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Sumer in Genesis

Sumer in Genesis

2022-03-2337:00

Here by popular demand and my own personal interest, an overview of the first eleven chapters of the biblical book of Genesis, alongside the ancient Mesopotamian stories that existed in parallel. The interplay between the two traditions is complicated and fascinating, and all the harder to untangle because both exist in fragments and summaries, but we can still tease out important aspects of the self-identification of Mesopotamians and ancient Hebrews through these comparisons. These comparisons can be examined in multiple ways, both faithful and secular, and provide fascinating lessons of the ancient world however we want to look at them. Our focus today is particularly on the tales of Adam, Cain and Abel, the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the war in heaven. Hatemail and charges of heresy can be sent in through the contact page at oldeststories.net --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Today we conclude the Baal cycle with the epic final confrontation between Baal Hadad, rightful lord of the Canaanite heavens, and Mot, the deity whose name literally means Death. How can a god fight against death itself? What were the Canaanites smoking when they came up with these stories? What are the theological implications of death facing the prospect of its own death? None of these questions will be answered, and many more questions will go unanswered as we conclude the greatest and strangest epic of the city of Ugarit. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
If anyone is on Tiktok, there is a new oldeststories channel over there where I am posting facts each day. If you are on tiktok go check it out. Today we continue the greatest epic of Canaan, the Baal Cycle, with the Feast of Baal. It is easy to think of this perplexing series of feasting and random, pointless dialogue as an interlude between the two exciting parts of the epic, but the Feast in all its glorious strangeness is perhaps one of the most revealing myths of Canaan for exploring the mindset of ancient peoples. Not that I am going to explore these things, I am pretty much just going to tell you what happens and let you draw your own conclusions. Remember in the early 2000's when "lol, so random" was the height of humor? They really missed out on the Feast of Baal. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Valentine's Day Special. This is a bunch of love poetry from the Mesopotamian bronze age, as well as some magical love spells. Translation by Benjamin R Foster in his book "Before the Muses". Some of the original text is damaged, and I have gone in and filled the missing bits with what seems appropriate to make it flow better in audio format. This is mostly reading with very little commentary. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Today we begin perhaps the most significant of the surviving myths from Canaan, the Baal cycle. In the Baal cycle, we look at Ba'al Hadad, the mighty storm god, as he battles various foes in a great contest over the kingship of heaven. It is a subject we have seen before, but of course the Canaanites do things a bit differently than their neighbors. In this, the first of three major sections, Baal fights against Yamm, the god of rivers and seas. The story is sadly very damaged, but there is still a good bit of interesting things here, even if it does get a bit of the character of a radio show fighting against the static to be heard. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Daniel, sometimes called Danel, depending on your translation, is a figure of great wisdom who even gets name dropped in the bible. In this, the main story we have from him, we will see very little of that wisdom on display, as a series of events will occur with very little narrative motivation that will witness a lady grow jealous for no clear reason, every bird in the world ripped apart for no clear reason, and an unsatisfying conclusion. It is going to be a lot of fun. Also, I think I may have had covid while I recorded this, so make sure you wear your mask and and sit at least six feet away from your audio device while listening. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The Legend of Kirta, called Keret in some translations, can be a bit hard to understand, especially for a modern audience used to things like the three act structure and protagonists who fit neatly into any sort of moral categories at all. This is the first of our stories from Ugarit, and we are starting with one that we don't even know if it is meant as tragedy or farce. What all these stories hold in common is that they are deeply strange, stranger even than many of the tales from the Hitties or Mesopotamians, and the many missing sections from the text do nothing to edify us. I will be reading them more or less straight, with a bit less commentary than usual, because just putting the story in front of you should be enough to get you pondering. Online at oldeststories.net --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The final century of the Canaanite city of Ugarit is by far the most well documented, and sheds light not only on how things were going in the city, but also on what other Canaanite cities likely looked like. We also get a novel and interesting perspective on how the great powers of the late bronze age looked to their many tiny vassals as the bronze age collapsed around them. Online at oldeststories.net --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The Canaan history series continues as we finally look at the city of Ugarit, its rise and significance both in Northern Canaan and in archeology. Ugarit is really fascinating, sitting at the edge of multiple great empires, from the obscure Eblaite empire to the Egyptian, Mitannit and Hittite empires. It is a great window on the Canaanite region and the history of the levant in general. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Our mini series on Canaan continues, as we transition into the period we know most about, the late bronze age. Here, our sources multiply, and we get to dig into the remarkable and extensive Amarna archives, which contain hundreds of letters from the rulers of Canaanite cities to the Pharaoh on a variety of topics. We will look at the history of the late bronze age, and read some of the Amarna letters. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The Oldest Stories Hiatus continues, but I a still inspired to push out some episodes when I get a chance. This is the beginning of a mini series on another culture group that got largely missed in Season 1, the lands of Canaan, or Phoenicia, or the Levant, or any of the other names that are attached to the land. Ultimately, I want to make sure that we don't miss the exciting and informative tales of the Canaanite city of Ugarit before we leave the bronze age, but before we get to that, we need a bit of historical background. Today that will cover the early and middle bronze age, basically looking at where Canaan comes from. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The Oldest Games

The Oldest Games

2021-11-0345:201

Play is older than humanity, but among the ancient Mesopotamians, a handful of games are attested throughout the ancient period, from all the way to the beginning with the Royal Game of Ur, to various gambling games and pastimes. Today we will look mostly at the board game called the Royal Game of Ur and see how it may have been played. Things are a bit up and down with the show right now, but I will be doing my best to keep us on a fortnightly release schedule either through guest episodes or bonus episodes. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
This week we take a look at who the Elamites were at home, or at least how they were up in heavens. The Elamites gods are a tough subject to get deep into, but today we take a look at who the Elamites worshipped, the gods both native and foreign that shaped the moral and cultural life of Elam. This is a guest episode of the Oldest Stories hiatus, brought to you by the fantastic Trevor Culley of the History of Persia podcast, over at https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/ . Trevor's show is in a lot of ways the sequel to the Oldest Stories, picking up with the tale of the Persian empire right around the fall of the Neo-Babylonian one in 539BCE. Over in his own feed, he has done a fantastic job of bringing the history of that empire to life, both in the narratives of kings and conquests and in the leisurely walks through the internal shape, cultures, and lifestyles of the Persian Empire. I am a fan of this show, and I think you will be, too. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Elam did not occupy Sumer after conquering Ur and imprisoning King Ibbi-Sin. Instead, the Kings of Shimashki consolidated power in Elamite territory and carried on relationships with the independent cities of Mesopotamia. This began to change when King Ebarti II appointed his son, Shilhahah, to a new high office in command of Susa: The Sukkalmah. Shilhaha’s descendents went on to take over Elam completely. They moved their capital to Anshan, created a new system of local governors, and took Elam to new heights. With control over trade to Bactria, India, and the Persian Gulf, the Sukkalmahs rose to new heights. They formed alliances with the powers of Mesopotamia and Syria to expand their territory, and stabbed those allies in the back to expand even further. They were regarded far and wide as the most powerful kings west of Egypt, right up to the point that King Siwe-Palar-Huppak made an enemy out of Hammurabi. This is a guest episode of the Oldest Stories hiatus, brought to you by the fantastic Trevor Culley of the History of Persia podcast, over at https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/ . Trevor's show is in a lot of ways the sequel to the Oldest Stories, picking up with the tale of the Persian empire right around the fall of the Neo-Babylonian one in 539BCE. Over in his own feed, he has done a fantastic job of bringing the history of that empire to life, both in the narratives of kings and conquests and in the leisurely walks through the internal shape, cultures, and lifestyles of the Persian Empire. I am a fan of this show, and I think you will be, too. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
In the last years of the Akkadian Empire, Elam managed to seize its independence. The first fully independent King of Elam was Puzur-Inshushinak, who went on to rule Elam’s first real empire. He ruled from the Dasht-e Lut and the Persian Gulf to the Zagros Mountains and the Euphrates, taking advantage of the chaotic politics of Gutian Mesopotamia. Near the end of his life, Puzur-Inshushinak met his match in the form of Ur-Namma and the Third Dynasty of Ur, who pushed him back out of Mesopotamia, conquered Susa, and brought an end to the power of Awan in Elam. In its place, Shimashki rose up as the new power in the Elamite highlands which was able to invade and conquer Ur when the third dynasty went into decline, brining an end to another Mesopotamian empire. This is a guest episode of the Oldest Stories hiatus, brought to you by the fantastic Trevor Culley of the History of Persia podcast, over at https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/ . Trevor's show is in a lot of ways the sequel to the Oldest Stories, picking up with the tale of the Persian empire right around the fall of the Neo-Babylonian one in 539BCE. Over in his own feed, he has done a fantastic job of bringing the history of that empire to life, both in the narratives of kings and conquests and in the leisurely walks through the internal shape, cultures, and lifestyles of the Persian Empire. I am a fan of this show, and I think you will be, too. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
The Sumerians did not develop writing and urbanization in a vacuum. To their east, the land of Elam developed both at almost the exact same time. From the start of written history, the great cities and kingdoms of Elam were power players in Near Eastern politics. The premier Elamite cities of Anshan and Susa appear in the earliest Mesopotamian myths, and before Sumerian history fully bridged the gap between legend and fact, there were already stories of both sides invading and ruling one another. However, it was really at the time of Sargon of Akkad that Elam emerged as a full-fledged historical entity ruled from the city of Awan, and it was the end of the Akkadian Empire that opened the door for Elam to become a power in its own right. This is the first guest episode of the Oldest Stories hiatus, brought to you by the fantastic Trevor Culley of the History of Persia podcast, over at https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/ . Trevor's show is in a lot of ways the sequel to the Oldest Stories, picking up with the tale of the Persian empire right around the fall of the Neo-Babylonian one in 539BCE. Over in his own feed, he has done a fantastic job of bringing the history of that empire to life, both in the narratives of kings and conquests and in the leisurely walks through the internal shape, cultures, and lifestyles of the Persian Empire. I am a fan of this show, and I think you will be, too. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/oldeststories/message
Comments (1)

Serial277something Something

That was a bit uncomfortable

May 25th
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