Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

This is coolbert: In the period prior to the start of the Second Gulf War, there was a program on television narrated by George Kennedy. This program was devoted to the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia. The Fertile Crescent. The lands between the two rivers. Considered to be the birthplace of civilization as we know it. Evidently George Kennedy, his Irish surname notwithstanding, is of Christian Assyrian background. And proud of it. He was chosen for that fact to narrate the program. And the program detailed all the amazing accomplishments of the ancient people of this part of the world. To include the first instances of:

"the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians were among the first to develop writing, mathematics and the science of astronomy."

"The world of mathematics and astronomy owes much to the Babylonians--for instance, the sexagesimal system for the calculation of time and angles, which is still practical because of the multiple divisibility of the number 60; the Greek day of 12 "double-hours"; and the zodiac and its signs. In many cases, however, the origins and routes of borrowings are obscure, as in the problem of the survival of ancient Mesopotamian legal theory."

"Technical accomplishments were perfected in the building of the ziggurats (temple towers resembling pyramids), with their huge bulk, and in irrigation, both in practical execution and in theoretical calculations."

"The achievement of the civilization itself may be expressed in terms of its best points--moral, aesthetic, scientific, and, not least, literary. Legal theory flourished and was sophisticated early on, being expressed in several collections of legal decisions, the so-called codes, of which the best-known is the Code of Hammurabi."

"Writing pervaded all aspects of life and gave rise to a highly developed bureaucracy--one of the most tenacious legacies of the ancient Middle East."

All the above accomplishments and even more were cited in the program as being evidence of the greatness of the ancient civilizations of Sumer, Babylon, Chaldea, Assyria.

There was one glaring omission however, that for some reason, was not mentioned.

The people of Mesopotamia were also the first to invent war as we understand war today. This was not the cattle rustling type of activity that I have mentioned in a previous blog entry. This was the war of a type that we would recognize as war as we practice it today. Invade the country or land of your foe, defeat the army of your foe, occupy and break the will of the foe to further resist. And the ancient people of the lands between the two rivers were very proficient at war. Perhaps best epitomized by Sargon. A great king and conqueror, who perhaps most of all perfected war in the sense that it has been practiced ever since. It is said of Sargon and his army of:

"Sargon . . . the city of Uruk he smote and its wall he destroyed. With the people of Uruk he battled and he routed them. With Lugal-zaggisi, King of Uruk, he battled and he captured him and in fetters he led him through the gate of Enlil. Sargon of Agade battled with the man of Ur and vanquished him; his city he smote and its wall he destroyed. E-Ninmar he smote and its wall he destroyed, and its entire territory from Lagash to the sea, he smote. And he washed his weapons in the sea." [2350 B.C.].

None of this was covered in the program narrated by George Kennedy. Well, this is similar to the exhibits at the recently opened American Indian Museum, is it not?? Not wanting to show or talk about a side of human behavior that moderns are uncomfortable with. The making of war.



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