HoST Fall 2008

Assignment 1

for the Week of 9/3/08



Notice in Fig. 4 the arrangement of the various levels and the serpent, the crescent moon, and what appear to be stars above the buildings.

Can you speculate on who is being shown in these levels using the Enuma elish as a source?





1-Read pp. 45-54 in McClellan and Dorn. 9pp


The following readings [all in the eLibrary] are from and about the Enuma elish, the Babylonian creation story.  The Enuma elish (ÒWhen aboveÓ) was composed sometime bet. 1500 and 2000 BC.  (Probably in 1st Babylonina Dynasty 1895-1595 BC and quite likely during Hammurabi 1792-1750 BC.)

IÕm giving you 2.25 short overviews by 3 different authors: Bulliet (et al.), Jacobsen, and Heidel.  I am also giving you an essay by Heidel on the Enuma elishÕs relationship to the Hebrew Bible. Each author has his own set of important ideas and each has his own way of referring to the characters. This makes things very confusing if you donÕt take notes.  For example, Nudimmut = Ea = Enki depending on the reading. The story is about gods, heroes, chaoses, primal forces and people. How do these differ from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic ÒGODÓ?  DonÕt give me party line bs.  Think about this.


2-Read pp. 167-183 and 190-191 in Jacobsen_Treasures_of_Darkness-Enuma_elish_excerpt.pdf, which can be found in the eLibrary. 17pp


3-Read the summary of the Enuma elish, pp. 1-11, in EnumaElishHeidelTrans100dpiExcerpt.pdf.  This also contains the entire story (pp. 18-60), but IÕm only asking that you read the summary. 11pp


4-Read this very brief description of the celebration of Marduk from Bulliet, et al.: Bulliet_EnumaMarduk.pdf.   This is very, very sketchy, but interesting and describes the battle nicely. 2pp


5-Read the following pages in HeidelÕs commentary found in this PDF: Heidel_ChIII-OldTestamentParallels [All figures referred to in the text are at the end of this PDF.]

-pp. 114-130: The Creation of the Firmament to the Creation and Fall of Man. Structural similarities and theories of origin.

-pp. 139-140: Concluding Remarks


6-Read over this collection of articles and be prepared to discuss them: Uncontacted_Amazon_Tribe.htm.


7-Write and Draw: Everybody has to do this homework assignment.  This one is not optional.  This is the first homework of the 5 that I expect from you over this term.  Read the Class Policies page if you donÕt know what I am referring to.

                      Please illustrate an episode from the Enuma Elish.  First choose an episode using the readings provided above.  Then find your episode in the translation from the tablets done by Alexander Heidel in this PDF: EnumaElishHeidelTrans100dpiExcerpt.pdf.  Notice if there are any differences between your sources. Use this translation to help you illustrate your section.  [Suggestion: Use the translation for some comic-book-style captions to your illustrations, or thought bubbles, or dialogue bubbles.]  Make it clear where you are getting the quotes from the Heidel translation by giving the page number, tablet number, and line number. Come up with a system to give this information and describe this system so that I can understand what and where you mean. You may do the illustrations any way you wish. They may be photographs or drawings or collages or ink blots.  They may be arranged like a comic book or one giant poster or they may be differently organized. That is up to you.  But they must have text helping the viewer/reader understand what is happening. So you will probably need to write up an introductory paragraph to lead into your episode and intersperse commentary here and there describing what is going on. Then write up a final paragraph leading out of your episode with some pithy commentary. Feel free to update the story or to be as historically accurate or set it in the future and make it into a science fiction story É or a western or a kung-fu scriptÉ Have fun with it.  ItÕs a weird story, so donÕt hesitate to be weird. You will notice that the various versions we read donÕt even agree on all details. 

Remember, if it was boring to do it will be really boring for me to grade. I donÕt like being bored.  So give yourself enough time to do a good job on this.  Presentation is important. 

Here are the citations for the assigned readings:


Bulliet, Richard W., Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, and David Northrup. The Earth and Its Peoples : A Global History. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.


Heidel, Alexander. The Babylonian Genesis; the Story of the Creation. 2d ed. Chicago,: University of Chicago Press, 1963.


Jacobsen, Thorkild. The Treasures of Darkness : A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976.


McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Here are some additional sources if you are interested: [They are all in the eLibrary filed under the authorÕs last name and condensed titles.]


Beaulieu, Paul-Alain. "The Babylonian Man in the Moon." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 51 (1999): 91-99. Beaulieu_BabylonianManInTheMoon.pdf


Jacobsen, Thorkild. "The Battle between Marduk and Tiamat." Journal of the American Oriental Society 88, no. 1 (1968): 104-108. Jacobsen_BattleMardukTiamat.pdf

Back to  Syllabus [HoST Fall 2008]





Above: This is a depiction of the moon from a Babylonian astrological/astronomical tablet.  A divine hero-king on the left, likely Marduk or a similar deity, is seen locked in combat with the forces of chaos, seen here as a lion-dragon, possibly Tiamat or basmu [Tablet I.141], one of TiamatÕs offspring. Notice how the lion-dragon-serpent is in the shape of a crescent moon. This may reflect the Babylonian poetic tradition that lunar eclipses were caused by celestial demons attacking the moon. 


Below: Weidner (a Mesopotamian scholar) has proposed that this image [VAT 7851] is a literal drawing of what people thought they could see in the moon.  I have superimposed the drawing onto a photograph of the moon and made the parts line up with his theory.  I canÕt say that I see what he thinks the ancient MesopotamianÕs saw.  The last (low resolution) image is probably a truer image of what they would have seen before telescopes.  [To be perfectly honest, I sort of see the scene in reverse as shown in the 4th image that follows.] 




I sort of see it if the drawing is inverted with MardukÕs

sword held high and and ready to strike.

What do you see in the clouds? 

Puppy dogs?  Flowers?  Demons?

Perhaps weÕll do some Freud later in the term and see what it all means.


Back to Syllabus-HHS130EV-Sp08.htm




Review Materials: Posted 10/5/08





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