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Windows into daily life in the ANE

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#1
I have been reading several books recently that give peeks into what everyday life was like in the Ancient Near East (ANE) from Egypt to Mesopotamia and they are fascinating because many of them are so timeless: children skipping class to go explore or have fun, children arguing with their parents, sibling rivalry, fascination with things never seen before (one young pharaoh in Egypt could hardly contain his excitement at the report of a midget being found in Nubia), complaints of how hard a job is to do, homesickness when stationed in a foreign land, scribes (scholars/elite) and military men looking down upon each other, and many other timeless aspects of human nature. I thought I might make a thread to post quotes in from various sources to illustrate these everyday happenings.

The first one I found is fascinating in many respects, in that it shows military realities among the Amorites as well as sibling rivalry and the proverbial "foolish son". Shamsi-Adad was an Amorite king contemporary with Hamurrabi who had two sons: Ishme-Dagan and Jamsah-Adad. Ishme-Dagan was a strong military leader who fought & won most of the military battles on his father's behalf while Jamsah-Adad (the younger brother) was left at home to "look after the kingdom". The only problem was, he was young and inexperienced, and had even been chastized by his father once for not being like his older brother and rather preferred drinking wine and "reclining among the women".

On one fascinating occasion though Jamsah-Adad over-reacted to a local raid and lit the emergency fire signal beacons to summon the entire army from all throughout the empire. His brother was not happy, but gave him advice about how to get out of the mess. It is fascinating however that there was such a beacon system, which reminds me of the beacon system in The Lord of the Rings to call for assistance. But without further adeu, I will post the quote below and let the incident speak for itself:

Say to Jasmah-Adad: Thus says Ishme-Dagan, your brother. Since you have lit two beacons in the hours of the night, it is possible that the whole land will come to your assistance. Have letters written to the whole land-to the land of Andariq as far as to the districts around the towns of Hasidinum and Nurrugum-and let them be sent to me by your speediest messengers. The following shall be written [in the letters]: 'A heavily armed contingent of enemy troops has marched out for the purpose of plunder: it is for this reason that two beacons have been lit. It is by no means necessary for you to come and assist.'

http://www.aina.org/books/poaa/poaa.htm

There is also another text which mentions beacon lighting which I found two slightly different translations of here and here.
 
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#2
who says the tolkein didnt borrow from that letter? man has changed, we still sin.

can you find anything on the ancient akkaad?
 
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#3
jasoncran said:
who says the tolkein didnt borrow from that letter? man has changed, we still sin.

can you find anything on the ancient akkaad?
Hi Jason,

Tolkein may have indeed read that text, or learned about it from ancient history in general. Also, I assume you meant "man has not changed", right?

As for Akkad, I was able to find this translation of the Birth Legend of Sargon of Akkad:

Sargon, great king, king of Akkade, am I:
my mother was a high priestess, my father I knew not.
My father's family dwells in the uplands;
my city was Azupiranu, which lies on the bank of the Euphrates.
My mother the high priestess conceived me, bore me in secret,
in a reed basket she placed me, sealed my lid with bitumen.
She set me down on the river, whence I could not ascend;
the river bore me up, brought me to the irrigator Aqqi.
The irrigator Aqqi lifted me up as he dipped his pail,
the irrigator Aqqi brought me up as his adopted son.
The irrigator Aqqi set me to work in a date-grove,
during my work in the date-grove the goddess Ishtar loved me.
[Fifty]-four years I exercised kingship,
ruled and governed the black-headed folk.
I cut [through] mighty mountains with picks of copper,
many times I ascended the upper mountains.
Many times I traversed the lower mountains,
three times I circumnavigated the entire ocean.
(Remainder fragmentary)

http://www.etana.org/abzu/fulldisplay.p ... code=etact
You can also search the main site for certain keywords in Akkadian texts, or browse by topic by expanding the "Browse by Category" link from here: http://www.etana.org/abzu/etact-search.pl
 
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#5
Actually if I am not mistaken Akkadian does not have an alphabet, and instead had symbols for individual words or syllables. Perhaps you just meant their system of writing? Also I have seen illustrations of how cuneiform developed from earlier pictographic symbols used by the earliest of peoples.

Check out the link here about the Akkadian language, which mentions that they use either logograms or phonetic representations for syllabic characters (like some forms of written Japanese - see how that differs from an alphabet here). Perhaps though they were the first to develop that syllabic system which ultimately led to the development of an alphabet.

Akkadian was very important though because it was still in use well over 1000 years after it was introduced and was used by Egypt, Canaan, and the Hittites for communication in the Amarna Period (1350-1330BC).
 
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#6
Hi Jason,

Tolkein may have indeed read that text, or learned about it from ancient history in general. Also, I assume you meant "man has not changed", right?
As for Akkad, I was able to find this translation of the Birth Legend of Sargon of Akkad:
You can also search the main site for certain keywords in Akkadian texts, or browse by topic by expanding the "Browse by Category" link from here: http://www.etana.org/abzu/etact-search.pl
Have you ever studied the Relation of Sargon and the Nimrod of the bible??
http://www.academia.edu/2184113/_20..._Akkad_by_Exegetical_and_Archaeological_Means

I was wondering if this is true or way off?