Fun From Mesopotamia

One of the types of books I most enjoy collecting are the thin, hard-bound, Time-Life kind of volumes, written for the average reader. They always seem to contain insights I had never known before and photographs that give life to our ideas of ancient peoples.

I have an enormous volume here with me now called “Lost Worlds” with magnficent images from the world of the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, etc.

I found what I was looking for: the historic sources of the Etruscan/Roman culture. One was the arch. That you will find in Babylon: it was general knowledge. The other was a fascination with the entrails of goats and sheep and cattle.

It appears that the Mesopotamians had a sinister god/divinity named H*mbada. The asterix stands for a u; it’s bad luck to spell out the name. This particular divinity was always appearing in animal entrails and so is pictured as a confluence of entrails.

The other image in this book that I would like to pass along is an image from Assyria. The reliefs we find from Assyria are always of peoples being massacred, peoples paying tribute, peoples being relocated, but there is this one of a warrior holding a lion cub, and the lion cub, no respecter of persons, is wrestling around trying to get away.

Yet the most moving image, for me, is when the primitive Assyrian artist shows the peoples being led away into exile, and one of the figures is looking backward (to the left), at the life he once knew, while all the other chained figures are looking right.

Here is a man looking back for the last time on what was once his world…