Monday, March 26, 2012

The Eternal Life of Gilgamesh - My article from Ancient History Encyclopedia

The story of Gilgamesh and his quest for immortality has fascinated readers for centuries. Below is my article on the great epic as published on Ancient History Encyclopedia. I hope you enjoy it.

The article begins:

The Epic of Gilgamesh was originally a Sumerian poem, later translated into Akkadian, and first written down some 700 – 1000 years after the reign of the historical king in the cuneiform script. The poem was known originally as Sha-naqba-imru (He Who Saw The Deep) or, alternately, Shutur-eli-sham (Surpassing All Other Kings). The fullest surviving version, in the Akkadian language, was found on twelve stone tablets in the ruins of the ancient library of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, at Nineveh in 1849 by the English explorer Austen Henry Layard. The first eleven tablets relate the standard version of the Epic while the 12th tablet narrates an older Sumerian poem, Bilgames and the Netherworld. As this tablet contradicts the story told in the first eleven, it is not included in most standard versions of the tale. The author/editor/translator of the Epic is named in the tablets, one Shin-Leqi-Unninni (whose name translates as `Moon god, accept my plea’) who wrote c. 1300-1000 BCE and who has been cited as the first writer of literature in the western world (though that honor is rightly accorded to Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon of Akkad, who lived 2285-2250 BCE). According to the scholar N.K. Sandars, the work is “the finest surviving epic poem from any period until the apperance of Homer’s Iliad; and it is immeasurably older”(Sandars, 7).

And here is the link to the complete piece:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hymn to Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer - My article from Ancient History Encyclopedia

Beer was considered so important to the ancient Mesopotamians that they envisioned a Goddess whose sole responsibility was brewing. It is not surprising that the deity was female, rather than male, in that all (or at least the majority) of ancient brewers were women. That women were also propietors of ancient bars and pubs is attested to in the Code of Hammurabi and elsewhere, including depictions in art.

The article begins:

The Hymn to Ninkasi is at once a song of praise to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer, and an ancient recipe for brewing. Written down around 1800 BCE, the hymn is no doubt much older. Evidence for brewing beer in the Mesopotamian region dates back to 3500-3100 BCE at the Sumerian settlement of Godin Tepe in modern-day Iran where, in 1992, archaeologists discovered chemical traces of beer in a fragmented jar dating to the mid-fourth century BCE (the same site also yielded evidence for early wine-making)...

For the full article please visit the site here:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beer In The Ancient World - my article published on Ancient History Encyclopedia

Beer has been enjoyed by humans for much longer than most people think. The following is my article on Beer in the Ancient World published on Ancient History Encyclopedia:

The article begins:

The intoxicant known in English as `beer' takes its name from the Latin `bibere' (by way of the German `bier') meaning `to drink' and the Spanish word for beer, cerveza' comes from the Latin word `cerevisia' for `of beer', giving some indication of the long span human beings have been drinking beer. Even so, beer brewing did not originate with the Romans but began thousands of years earlier. The first beer in the world was brewed by the ancient Chinese around the year 7000 BCE (known as `kui'). In the west, however, beer brewing began with the Sumerians at the Godin Tepe settlement now in modern-day Iran between 3500 - 3100 BCE. Evidence of beer manufacture has been confirmed between these dates but it is probable that the brewing of beer in Sumeria was in practice much earlier. Some evidence has been interpreted which sets the date of beer brewing at Godin Tepe as early as 10,000 BCE when agriculture first developed in the region. While some scholars have contended that beer preceded bread as a staple, it is more likely that beer was `discovered' through grains used for bread-making which fermented.

The people of ancient Mesopotamia enjoyed beer so much that it was a daily dietary staple. Paintings, poems and myths depict both human beings and their gods enjoying beer which was consumed through a straw to filter out pieces of bread or herbs in the drink. The brew was thick, of the consistency of modern-day porridge, and the straw was invented by the Sumerians or the Babylonians, it is thought, specifically for the purpose of drinking beer. The famous poem Inanna and the God of Wisdom describes the two deities drinking beer together and the god of wisdom, Enki, becoming so drunk he gives away the sacred `me' (laws) to Inanna (thought to symbolize the transfer of power from Eridu, the city of Enki, to Uruk, the city of Inanna). The Hymn to Ninkasi is both a song of praise to the goddess of beer, Ninkasi, and a recipe for beer, first written down around 1800 BCE. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Enkidu becomes civilized through the ministrations of the temple harlot Shamhat who, among other things, teaches him to drink beer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Ghost of 22 Captain

This is my story `The Ghost of 22 Captain' published by Pagan Friends Magazine back in November. It's an excellent magazine and I hope you'll enjoy checking out this issue and the more recent ones.

`The Ghost of 22 Captain', although a ghost story, of course, is really about the opportunities we miss with each other through dishonesty. We are all so constantly afraid to look `stupid' we betray ourselves into behaving stupidly and miss some fantastic moments in life which we could have enjoyed and grown from. Even though some who know me suspect the tale is based on a `real life' incident, it is not. I hope you like it. Enjoy.

The site is here:

The story begins:

The return of 22 Captain to his family land elicited an ambiguous response from his dead family. As he reported it, they “showed their teeth” but said nothing. Realizing this gesture could be interpreted as either a blessing or a curse, he set off on his journey home, conscious only of a certain relief at putting some distance between himself and his deranged relatives.

Quite a walk – and he only three feet tall – if that – marching his little leather boots through the forest – under trees fifty or a hundred times his height with the wails and cheers of those who had cared for the earth while they lived bouncing off his wooden ear. His smile was fixed – his thin moustache undampened, and his high blue captain’s hat sat tilted back on his head. He knew the way home. No amount of passing seasons – not even ninety-eight years worth – could cloud his memory. Nor did the changes in the terrain set him off course; he would have known his way should sky scrapers have been reared across the land since his death. He toddled on (he would prefer “marched” but one owes something to verisimilitude) until he broke from the forest and found a paved road. True, he did marvel somewhat at that but no matter – he knew where he was and who he was – and it was time he was getting home.