Ancient Mediterranean & Mesopotamia

Dickson College, Semester 1, 2013

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Glossary | Timelines | Unit Bibliography |
Important Documents
Document Test Notice
Oral Presentation Task
Research Essay Task
In-Class Essay Notice
Unit Outline
BSSS Course Document
BSSS Course Framework
BSSS Policies & Procedures

Tom's Contact Details
Phone: 62056481
Office: N39
Greenwell Timetable 2013 Term 1.png
Important Dates
Thursday 21 Feb (Week 3): Meet the Teacher Evening
Tuesday 12 March (Week 6): In-Class Essay
Tuesday 2 April (Week 9): Draft Research Essay
Thursday 4 April (Week 9): Parent-Teacher Night
Thursday 11 April (Week 10): Research Essay Due
Tuesday 28 May (Week 15): Document Test
Thursday 20 June (Week 18): Oral Presentations in Cross-line testing week

Ancient Mediterranean & Mesopotamia on Clio
The World of Gilgamesh | Hammurabi's Code | Minoan Religion and the Ancient Greeks | Did King David Exist?

Guide to Grammar & Writing
DC Library
DC Library History Page
Online Etymology Dictionary
Forvo: the pronunciation guide
The complete guide to Harvard Referencing
Textual references
Reference generator - Harvard system
Inserting quotes into essays
How to write a bibliography
See the PPT on annotated bibliographies
A Guide to Citing Sources in Classics

Week 1 (Feb 4 - 8)

Monday: (Year 11 and new Year 12 students only)

Welcome to the unit! The more I can learn about you, the better I’ll be able to teach you. So please think carefully about these questions, discuss them with your group and write down your answers in the space provided below.

Tuesday: Introduction - History; the Mediterranean; Mesopotamia; the Fertile Crescent; Plant and Animal Domestication

What is History (the intellectual discipline)? What defines its subject matter and methodology? Have a go at writing your own definition.

Here are some basic observations about the discipline of History. As the unit progresses we will be able to develop a more sophisticated understanding.

What is history.png

What is history about.png

Periods of History.png

The Online Etymology Dictionary explains that the sea between Africa and Europe became known as the Mediterranean around 1400. 'Mediterranean comes from two Latin words: medius "middle" + terra "land, earth". So its original sense was 'sea in the middle of the earth' (a reflection in itself of the worldview of the Europeans who coined the term). The ancient Romans did not call it the Mediterranean but simply, mare nostrum (our sea).

The Mediterranean.jpg

Mesopotamia is a Greek term meaning “The land between two rivers”. The rivers are the Euphrates and the Tigris. Note that the term refers to the geographical area rather than a state or country.


Wikipedia tells us that "The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia, and the Nile Valley and Nile Delta of northeast Africa… The region is often called the cradle of civilization; it saw the development of many of the earliest human civilizations. Some of its technological inventions (but not necessarily first or uniquely) are writing, glass, and the wheel." As can be seen in the map, Mesopotamia is part of the Fertile Crescent but the Fertile Crescent also extends across to the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt.


The Fertile Crescent is a fascinating place, particularly because it is where so many features of our existence today arose for the first time. For example, we find the first cities, like Uruk, appearing there; the first writing, Sumerian cuneiform, closely followed by Egyptian hieroglyphics. But the first 'first' to occur in the Fertile Crescent was agriculture (a.k.a. food production, a.k.a. animal and plant domestication). Animal and plant domestication circa 9000 B.C.E. Domestication (from Latin domesticus) has been defined as the "process where by a population of animals or plants is changed at the genetic level through a process of selection, in order to accentuate traits that benefit humans." Humans begin cultivating tilling soil, planting seeds and harvesting crops. Over time, selection changes the plant at a genetic level. The same applies to the breeding of animals.

The following are notes from Diamond (2005), Chapter 4 ' Farmer Power'. Humans diverged from the ancestors of living great apes around 7 million years ago. For almost all of that time humans fed themselves by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants. Only within the last 11000 years did some people turn to what is called food production. More consumable calories meant more people. Most plants and animals are inedible: indigestible (eg bark); poisonous (death-cap mushrooms); low in nutritional value (jellyfish); tedious to prepare; difficult to gather; dangerous to hunt (eg. rhinoceroses). By selecting and growing only those plants and animals we can eat, we obtain far more edible calories per acre. One acre can typically feed 10 – 100 times more farmers than hunter-gatherers. Livestock furnishes protein-rich meat and milk and also fertilizer and animal power for pulling ploughs. Food producers become sedentary rather than nomadic. Farmers must remain near their food and orchards. Fixed abodes permit a shorter birth interval. A hunter-gatherer mother cannot afford to bare her next child until the previous toddler can walk fast enough to keep up with the tribe. Thus they tend to space their children about four years apart. For sedentary peoples, the birth interval tends to be more like two years.

Higher birth rates and the ability to feed more people led to higher populations. Sedentary lifestyle permitted food storage. Even when hunter-gatherers collected more food than they can consume immediately, a nomadic lifestyle limited the ability to store it for later. Stored food is essential for feeding non-food producing specialists. So full-time specialists only start to appear in sedentary societies.Kings and bureaucrats are both needed (to organise the storage and exchange of food surpluses) and made possible by that surplus. These societies are more hierarchical than hunter-gatherer societies. A store food surplus can also feed professional soldiers.

Thursday: The Benefits of Agriculture

Read Jared Diamond (2005), Guns, Germs and Steel, Vintage: London, Chapter 4. 'Farmer Power'. Answer the following questions.

Q. What is the point of the story of about Fred Hirschy and Levi (p. 85/86)?
A. For Levi and his tribe the coming of white people like Fred Hirschy was a humiliation and a defeat. Diamond also asks the question how European farmers conquered Native Americans.
Q. What does Diamond tell us about when and where food production originated (p. 86)?
A. In some regions of the world food production was never acquired. In some regions it was invented independently. Other societies acquired it from their neighbours e.g. Egypt. Humans and their ancestors have been feeding themselves by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants for millions of years, however food production has only existed for the last eleven thousand years (very recent).
Q. How does food production enable population increase (p.88)?
A. ‘One acre can feed many more herders or famers typically ten to a hundred times more than hunters and gatherers.’
Q. How did the domestication of animals enable societies to feed more people (p.88)?
A. - Increased crop production due to animal manure used as fertiliser - Animal drawn ploughs used to till previously un-usable soil - More food from meat and milk, increased protein and calorie supply
Q. What are two consequences of a sedentary lifestyle (p. 89)?
1. Shorter birth interval. Higher population densities from food production. Provides advantages e.g. military.
2. It becomes practicable to store food surpluses when they occur.
Q. Why is sedentism important to the existence of non-food-producing specialists (p.89)
A. Sedentism allows for the storage of food. Stored food can be used to feed non-food producing specialists such as metallurgists, builders, potters, weavers, politicians (rulers) and scribes.
Q. Why do hunter-gatherer societies tend to be more egalitarian while sedentary food producing societies tend to be more hierarchical (p. 90)?
A. In food-producing societies, excess food is stored and redistributed to non-food producers. The surplus both creates a need for rulers to solve this problem of co-ordination and supports them. These rulers have a higher status and the potential to exploit their position to benefit themselves, their family and their associates, so a hierarchy comes into being.
Q. What are the benefits of specialisation (p.90)?
A. Allows the maintenance of full time professional warriors; leads to technological innovation because specialists can dedicate more time to perfecting their craft; those that become specialists tend to be those who are naturally talented at the task in question.
Q. Apart from food, what are the other ways crops and livestock are valuable to human societies?
Q. How did the domestication of animals lead to new diseases that played a decisive role in the European conquest of America, Australia, the Pacific and parts of Africa (p.92)?
A. Domestication of animals; proximity to animals and animal waste means human beings contract diseases like malaria, measles, small pox and the flu; over time Europeans built up resistance to these diseases; Native Americans and others who had never encountered these diseases and had no immunity are wiped out.
Q. Why was the invention of a food production such a big deal in human history (p.87 & p.92)

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 2 (Feb 11 - 15)

Monday: Jarod Diamond's argument about why agriculture first occurred in the Fertile Crescent

After absorbing the following notes, write a paragraph on this question: 'Why, according to Jared Diamond, did animal and plant domestication occur first in the Fertile Crescent?'

These notes are on Chapter 8, ‘Apples or Indians?’ of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles and has considerable expertise in a number of intellectual disciplines. His field-work included 22 trips to Papua New Guinea to study the ecology and evolution of birds.

Guns, Germs and Steel was first published in 1997 and won a Pulitzer Prize. In it, he seeks to explain why people from Europe were able to conquer the peoples of the other inhabited continents. The essence of Diamond’s answer is that features of the environment of Eurasia decisively influenced the course of its history and affected the interaction between Europeans and others. Diamond’s argument compellingly rebuts the ideology of white racial superiority that accompanied European colonialism.

In the course of his broader argument, Diamond presents a case about why food production first occurred in the Fertile Crescent (and later or not at all in other places).

Our current understanding is that plant domestication first occurred in the Fertile Crescent around 8500 BC and animal domestication first occurred 500 years later (Diamond 2005: 99). Agriculture began in China around this time but, we believe, a little later than in Southwest Asia. Agriculture also arose independently in the Americas and possibly in Africa. Interestingly, agriculture occurred very early in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (around 7000 BC). In some places, like the United States, agriculture began much later (around 2000 BC). The people of Australia and subequatorial Africa did not generally engage in food production prior to European conquest.

Why did it occur much later in other places and not till very recently in others? Why did agriculture first occur in the Fertile Crescent? Diamond notes that two broad and opposing explanations present themselves. It may have been the different characters and actions of the local peoples or the different natures of the native flora and fauna.

There are good reasons to believe that local floras significantly explain why agriculture started when and where it did. Of the 200,000 wild flowering plants, the vast majority are unsuitable for domestication because they are woody, don’t produce fruit or their leaves and roots are not edible. Of the few thousand plants that are eaten by animals, only a small portion, a few hundred, have been domesticated. And moreover, of the plants that have been domesticated, the vast majority are very minor parts of our diet. A dozen plants make up 80% of the world’s annual tonnage of all crops. So it seems plausible that the occurrence of agriculture is explained by the where those few edible, domesticable and highly nutritious plants grew wild.

But here is a counter-example to that line of reasoning: “… while a wild apple species and a wild grape species were domesticated in Eurasia, there are many related wild grape and apple species in North America, some of which in modern times have been hybridized with the crops derived from their wild Eurasian counterparts in order to improve those crops. Why, then, didn’t Native Americans domesticate those apparently useful grapes and apples themselves?” (Diamond 2005: 134) Here we have essentially the same crop appearing in two places but being domesticated in only one. So, this example presents the question about when and where agriculture began in starker terms and it provides Diamond with a succinct way of putting it: was it because of ‘apples or Indians?’.

Diamond’s response (2005: 134) is that we shouldn’t focus on single plants (or animals) in isolation because if one or only a few domesticable plants and animals existed in a particular location, food production would not have seemed or been very attractive. Giving up the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to grow grapes and apples wouldn’t have added up. Many domesticable plants and animals were needed to make a food-producing existence worthwhile. So we need to assess the potential of an entire local flora for domestication; the whole ‘food package’ it potentially offered.

The Fertile Crescent contained no less than eight crops: emmer and einkorn wheat; barley; chickpea; pea; lentil; bitter vetch; flax (fiber) (Diamond 2005: 141). “Of these eight, only two, flax and barley, range in the wild at all widely outside the Fertile Crescent.” (Diamond 2005: 141) Unlike elsewhere, agriculture in the Fertile Crescent was viable without the arrival of crops domesticated elsewhere. The pig, sheep, goat and cow were all found in the wild in the Fertile Crescent. They were domesticated very early on, only preceded by dogs. The pig, sheep, goat and cow remain four of the five most important domesticated animals. So the flora and fauna of the Fertile Crescent furnished the possibility of a highly nutritious diet derived from plant and animal domestication. Carbohydrate could be gotten from three cereals; protein from four pulses and four domestic animals as well as wheat. Fiber and oil came from flax while, eventually, milk, wool, plowing and transport was provided by the animals. (Diamond 2005: 142)

Furthermore, crops were already abundant and highly productive in the wild. “…Annual harvests of up to nearly a ton of seeds per hectare can be obtained, yielding 50 kilocalories of food energy for only one kilocalorie of work expended.” Even as hunter-gatherers, inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent could yield surpluses which needed to be stored. Storage in turn required sedentism. Having made this transition, the adoption of plant and animal domestication was a much smaller step. Crops like wheat and barley did not need to evolve to become really useful – they already were. By contrast, the corn found in America took thousands of years of selective planting to become as big and calorific as it is today. The reproductive biology of many crops found in the Fertile Crescent were great for farming because they are self-pollinating. This meant that when farmers located a productive mutant and planted it, the mutant maintained its productive qualities (rather than cross-pollinating with an other less productive species).

Contrast the Mediterranean climate and abundance of domesticable flora and fauna found in the Fertile Crescent with Australia. Australia had no domesticable native mammals. The dog arrived from Asia in around 1500 BC and became the dingo. Macadamia nuts are the only crop yielded from native Australian flora. Yams, taro and arrowroot were domesticated in Papua New Guinea and also grow wild and were gathered by Aborigines in Northern Australia. However, Australia’s native flora offered a paucity of domesticable plant species. While 32 of the world’s prize grasses grow wild in the Fertile Crescent, only two do in Australia. Moreover, Australia is the driest continent with the most infertile soil. The constant threat of drought further undermined the potential appeal of a sedentary agricultural lifestyle. Instead, Aborigines developed techniques like “firestick farming” and intensified gathering methods like eel farms in the Murray-Darling basin.

The Fertile Crescent’s wealth of domesticable plants and animals, along with various other environmental advantages, explains why agriculture was adopted there first. The adoption of agriculture had immense ramifications. Food production led to denser populations and stored food surpluses which, in turn, enabled non-farming specialists to be fed. This aided technological development. It thus becomes less surprising that the Fertile Crescent is responsible for so many ‘firsts’ in human history, including cities, writing, empires and ‘civilization’.

Tuesday: Apples or Indians?

Read Chapter 8 ‘Apples or Indians?' of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Try to answer each of the following questions in your own words and as comprehensively as possible.
Q1. In the first paragraph, Diamond poses the question the chapter seeks to answer (p. 131). Describe this question in your own words.
Q2. What are the two broad arguments that, Diamond suggests, could answer his question (p. 131)?
Q3. Why are the majority of wild plants unsuitable for crop development? How does this relate to Diamond’s argument? (p. 132)
Q4. Diamond provides a number of examples of “plants that were domesticated in one area and not in another.” Describe each of those examples and then explain the relevance of all them to the question Diamond is exploring in this chapter. (p. 133/ 134)
Q5. Why does Diamond argue it’s important to consider the entire local flora (and fauna) and not just one plant in isolation? (p. 134)
Q6. Create a table with two columns. On the left, list the natural advantages of the Fertile Crescent identified below. On the right, explain each of these advantages.
- Mediterranean Climate (p. 136)
- Abundance of Fertile Crescent crops (p.136)
- Crops already highly productive (p. 136/7)
- Hermaphroditic selfers (p. 137/8)
- Fauna (p. 141)
- Founder crops (p. 141/2)
Q7. In what ways was the ‘food package’ of Mesoamerica less suited to domestication than that of the Fertile Crescent?
Q8. “… in the long run over large areas” (p.154) How is Diamond qualifying his argument here?
Q9. “Our other caveat concerns the limits that locally available wild species set on the rise of food production.” (p. 154/5) Explain.
Q10. Apples or Indians? What is Diamond’s answer? How convincing do you find his argument? Can you think of any ways it could be challenged?

Guns, Germs and Steel (2005), National Geographic, Part 1.

Thursday: Two Criticisms of Diamond

One of the virtues of Diamond's argument is the way he considers counter-arguments. For instance, he addresses the fact that very similar plant species were sometimes domesticated in one region and not in another. In the same spirit, it is important to consider possible counter-arguments to the case put forward by Diamond. This presentation raises two broad criticisms: environmental determinism and eurocentrism. The latter charge is made by Wade Davis in this review of one of Diamond's more recent books, The World Until Yesterday.

Two Criticisms of Diamond.png

Environmental Determinism.png

Determinism What do you think.png


Eurocentrism What do you think.png

One reason why it's important to consider the charge of Eurocentrism levelled at Diamond is that it could be equally addressed to this unit. After all, technological and material progress - the invention of agriculture, cities, writing, the 'cradle of civilization' - is our central focus. Focusing on Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent comes at the cost of, for instance, studying the history of Aboriginal Australia. One argument for this approach is that phenomena like cities, writing and specialisation define our lives now in a very immediate way. So, while we're studying the ancient history of a faraway place we are, in an important sense, gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves. However, it is important to acknowledge that the choice of Mesopotamia as our focus is a bit arbitrary, there are a lot of other societies worthy of our attention, and to be aware of the limitations of our investigations and to keep being open to things we don't know about.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 3 (Feb 18 - 22)

Monday: Irrigation - The Key to Agriculture in Southern Mesopotamia

The flora and fauna of the Fertile Crescent, the existence of wheat, barley, cows and pigs in the wild, is crucial to explaining why agriculture began there first. And yet, Mesopotamia faced a distinct disadvantage when it came to farming; the arid or sem-arid climate. Beyond the alluvium of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Mesopotamia was desert. How did people establish farming on a large scale in these conditions? The answer is that they developed reliable and well-regulated irrigation. To understand how irrigation worked, read these notes on Postage, N. (2004), Early Mesopotamia, Routledge: London & New York and refer to the diagram on page 175. Use this information to answer the following questions.

1. What were the disadvantages of the southern Mesopotamian environment?

Unlike other areas to the north and west, southern Mesopotamian farmers could not rely on rainfall to water their crops. Thus, the Sumerians irrigated their crops by developing canals that either ran (roughly) perpendicular or parallel to the two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. These canals are illustrated in the diagram. (Postgate 2004: 175)

2. Why was the Euphrates more commonly irrigated than the Tigris?

The Euphrates is a slower river and therefore easier to control. The Euphrates is also higher, making gravity flow irrigation more effective. Additionally, soils carried down the Euphrates were richer in chemical nutrients.

3. What are levees and why were they important to Sumerian irrigation?

Powerful rivers like the Euphrates and Tigris carry great quantities of silt down their course. When it floods, these soils are deposited either side of the river channel, creating a raised bank which gradually falls away either side of the river. When the river doesn’t flood, soils can build up on the river bed raising its level. Thus it is possible for even the river bed to be at a higher level than the surrounding land. The naturally formed levee is illustrated in the top part of the diagram (Postgate 2004: 175), which provides a profile of the river and surrounds.

Fruit and vegetables need more water than cereal crops. Planted next to the river, they can be watered directly from it or from wells which bring up fresh water in the water table (which has permeated from the river into the water table). It is possible to use gravity to channel water out beyond the gardens and orchards to the cereal fields. The levee also created a natural drainage system which would mitigate against increased soil salinity.

4. What are sluices and what function did they have?

The diagram shows clearly how water from the river flowed out through canals and distribution channels. However, farmers had to control when water in the canals would be distributed to the fields. This was achieved by the means of sluices (or gates) that would be opened to allow water through. Presumably, sluices would be strategically located at the highest point in a field so that water would seep across it. Rotation of water supply to all those who needed it would allow for four to six irrigations as crops were growing. (Postgate 2004: 178)

5. What are regulators?

Regulators, either made of reeds or brick and bitumen, would block the flow of a canal thus raising its level. Presumably this was necessary to raise the level of the water to that of a sluice before it was to be opened.

6. Who was the gugallum? In what ways, do you imagine, his role in the community was both important and potentially controversial?

The Tigris and Euphrates flood in spring (as the snow melts in the mountains) and are at their lowest during the autumn when water is most needed. Thus, there was a premium on efficient water use. The gugallum (canal inspector) co-ordinated rotation of water distribution to various fields. Maintenance of canals was carried out in summer after the spring harvest: reeds and silt were removed. The gugallum also controlled the number of field outlets so the water level was maintained through to the end of the system. We know of the gugallum because this position is mentioned (although only rarely) in administrative texts.

High water in spring could lead to the overflowing of banks. Overflow of water from neighbouring fields could have devastating consequences for a farmer. Earthen dykes or levees played an important role in protecting fields from flooding. They occurred along the canals as a natural consequence of clearing silt and also formed borders to fields. Administrative documents provide evidence of communal labour related to the working and maintenance of the irrigation system.

7. Apart from making farming work in this arid region, what other consequences might have arisen from this complex system of irrigation?

Tuesday: The Gardens of Babel/ Man's First Cities

Watch 'The Gardens of Babel', episode 4 of Civilisations - Lost Worlds.

Read and take notes on pages 31 - 36 of 'Man's First Cities' in Kramer, S. N. & Krieger, L. (1967), Cradle of Civilization, Time-Life International.

Thursday: Introduction to the History of Writing

This presentation introduces some basic ideas about writing and writing systems. Understanding these concepts will help when we start exploring the emergence of writing in Mesopotamia in detail. While writing is a new topic in the unit it is linked with the phenomena we've been studying: agriculture and also cities. Think about the following.

Agriculture Writing.png

Large complex societies had a greater need for writing because records had to be kept about matters like what stores the central power, the temple for instance, had in its possession and what was owed and owing. Relatively wealthy agricultural societies could afford to fund a specialised class of non-food producing scribes precisely because of the surplus that farming created. So, typically, writing only emerges in food-producing societies.

It's useful to think about what writing is. Writing uses signs to represent spoken language in a textual medium. It relies on shared conventions - agreement about the meaning of signs - between the person who encodes (writes) the message and the person who decodes (reads) it. When we think of writing we can't avoid thinking of our own writing system, an alphabet comprised of letters which represent phonemes.


However, for the time being we need to set the alphabet aside. The first alphabet doesn't emerge until the middle of the 2nd millenium BC (almost two millenia after the emergence of the first writing). There are two other kinds of writing system that we need to understand.



This table sets out the three major kinds of writing systems and how they are different.

Summary Table .png

A fourth kind of symbol is a pictogram.


The dollar sign is a logogram that is not a pictogram; it represents a whole word but not through pictorial resemblance. The 'don't swim' sign is a pictogram that is not a logogram. It's an ideogram; through pictorial resemblance it represents an idea. Many pictograms are logograms. Think of a picture of a man outside a toilet.


How did cuneiform syllabograms originate? Cuneiform began with logograms, eg. a picture of a fish or a bird. Numerals plus nouns would make up accounting reports. Gradually, signs became more abstract (especially with the introduction of reed styluses). New signs were created by combining old signs, eg. combining signs for head and bread came to mean eat.

How do you represent an abstract noun (like ‘life’)? This is an example of what the Sumerians did: the word for ‘arrow’ in Sumerian was pronounced ti. Ti was also the sound for ‘life’. Thus, the Sumerians used the easy-to-draw arrow symbol for ‘life’.


This employs what is known as the 'rebus principle'. The rebus principle uses existing symbols, such as pictograms, purely for their sounds and regardless of their meaning, to represent new words. The resulting ambiguity was resolved by a silent sign called a determinative (which told readers what kind of noun it was).

The use of the rebus principle expanded to increase the utility of the writing system. Logograms were used to make grammatical endings. So, in English, it would be pretty hard to depict –tion so a solution would be to use the sign for shun. Longer words were made by a series of pictures representing each syllable. So, in English we might combine the logograms for ‘bee’ and ‘leaf’ to create a sign for ‘believe’. Additionally the same logogram – eg, a picture of a tooth - could be used for a number of words – eg, ‘tooth’, ‘speech’, ‘speaker’ but the ambiguity would be resolved by adding a phonetically appropriate sign – eg, ‘two’, ‘each’, or ‘peak’.

5.30pm – Year 12 Certificate Information, Dickson College Hall;
6.00pm – Meet the Teachers, Dickson College Canteen

Homework: For Monday, those who were present on Thursday afternoon should prepare to explain the major concepts we addressed to those who were away. People who were away on Thursday should identify the three most important things you learnt on Monday and Tuesday. Write one sentence on each.

Week 4 (Feb 25 - Mar 1)

Monday: Introduction to the History of Writing (Continued)

Revise Thursday's lesson and attempt to answer the following questions.

1. What do letters represent?
2. How many phonograms are there in the English language?
3. What's the difference between a phoneme and a phonogram?
4. What is a logogram?
5. What do we call a system of writing that relies on logograms?
6. What is one example of a syllabary?
7. What is an alphabet?
8. What is an example of a pictogram that's also an ideogram?
9. What is the difference between logograms and pictograms?
10. What kinds of signs were used in cuneiform?
11. Why is Sumerian writing known today as cuneiform?
12. What is one language other than Sumerian that cuneiform writing was adapted to?
13. Apart from Sumer, what is the one undisputed case where writing was invented from scratch?
14. What is the rebus principle?
15. What is an example of the rebus principle being employed in Sumerian cuneiform?
16. What device was employed in cuneiform to advise the reader whether the sign, in that context, referred to an abstract noun like 'life' or a common noun like 'arrow'?

Write a message explaining:
- how many brothers and sisters you have
- their age and gender
- what they do (school/ uni/ work etc.)
- how you get on with them

Your message must:
- not contain any English letters or punctuation
- use logograms (including those we use like '$')
- use pictograms
- use the rebus principle

Tuesday: The Uses of Cuneiform

Read C.B.F. Walker, 'Cuneiform', pp. 17 - 25 in Hooker, J.T. et al (1990), Reading the Past, British Museum, London. Answer the following questions and quote from the reading to support your answers.

1. “Writing was invented to record business activities in the early Near East.” Draw on the reading and your own imagination: what kind of activities would the temple priests had to have kept records of? For what reasons would have written records been necessary?
- Priests would have had to keep track of inventory and various items e.g candles, livestock etc.
- Trade records, receipts and tax records would have been important also.
- Records of payments to priests and officials needed to be tracked.

2. What reasons do we have to believe that pictographic writing gradually evolved in a number of places over a period of time (rather than being invented by a single genius)?
- Texts discovered in multiple places including: Syria and Iran. In historical context, the texts were not that far apart in time.

3. What might have been the advantages and disadvantages of the transition, when it occurred, from purely pictographic writing to more stylised logograms?
- An advantage would have been the ease of use of logograms. Stylised language doesn’t require artistic ability and are less open to interpretation than pictograms.
- As cuneiform became more stylised and less pictographic in nature, it would have been less easy to read and write without extensive education.
- Sumerian civilisation could only a sustain a small group of scribes.

4. Apart from economic records, what is the other kind of document that has been discovered from the time when writing began (around 3000 BC)?
- Lexical lists (dictionaries), which were employed to train scribes

5. What were the limitations of pictographic and logographic writing?
- It was difficult to communicate specific details and abstract ideas using pictographic and logographic writing.

Thursday: A Timeline of the Evolution of Sumerian Cuneiform

Created a detailed timeline of the development of cuneiform, explaining its nature and uses. Ensure your timeline includes all the concepts we have addressed in previous lessons and any other relevant information. Include as much detail as possibe about how and why cuneiform evolved and what uses it was put to. Provide references for the claims you make.
- Use the C.B.F. Walker handout from last lesson.
- Use this very helpful account of the evolution of the sign for barley, from the British Museum.
- Use any other resources you can locate, having reflected on whether they are authoritative.
- Where possible, include images to illustrate the points you are making.
- Use Word or PowerPoint as you wish.
- When you have finished your timeline, email it to

Extension question: When and how was cuneiform deciphered? What can you find out?

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 5 (Mar 4 - Mar 8)

Monday: Sumerian Cuneiform Timeline Project

Last Thursday, you began developing a timeline of the development of Sumerian cuneiform. As most people made a good start but did not complete their timeline, we will continue this activity today, with a couple of modifications. Here’s what we are going to do:
- Instead of creating one timeline each, we’re going to create a whole class timeline together.
- We will create the timeline on our class page. To edit the page, you will need a username and password, which I will give you.
- Start by adding what you found out on Thursday to our class timeline. Obviously, don’t duplicate material that other people in the class have posted. But you may wish to modify or improve it.
- Our most basic goal is to create the timeline. Additionally we want it to:
- be as detailed as possible about the technology and technique and also the uses of cuneiform,
- Use quotes, references () and links to indicate what information we’re relying on,
- Illustrate points by reference to particular artefacts (ie. cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia),
- Add images from (no copyright restrictions)

Sumerian Cuneiform Timeline

8000 - 7500 BCE: Proto-Writing

Around circa 8000BCE it is widely believed that the first use of proto-writing was formed. This came in the shape of simple clay discs that could be placed inside an envelope, used for counting and whilst it was a long way away from being close to proper script or language, it was still an important development, as it allowed the storage of data. (This is similar to what writing was used for). (‘Peterson, I. 1997, ‘From Counting to Writing’, Accessed at 7/3/2013)

3300 - 2900 BC: Origins of Pictographic Writing

Whilst the writing known as “cuneiform” was not in use until 2400 BC, the earliest form of writing emerged around this time. The ancient Mesopotamians used pictograms representing ideas and objects to keep records of inventories and stores of food. Similar writing forms were used in Niveveh, Iraq, western Iran and northern Syria. (Reading the Past: Ancient Writing from Cuneiform to Alphabet, 1990, p2)
Tablets found in Uruk and Jemdet Nasr dated to this time period are generally considered the first instances of Sumerian writing discovered so far. It is believed that the earliest scribes used pointed styluses (unlike in cuneiform) to make scratches on clay tablets.
Also dating back to around this time are the tablets found in Susa. The writing on these tablets differs from the ones found in Uruk and they are believed to be the product of the little known Elamite language.

Writing flows from left to right, signs rotated 90 degrees

Early on in the development of cuneiform the writing style changed from top down to left to right. This affected all of the signs by rotating them 90 degrees counter clockwise to account for the new style of writing, as it was a much easier method of writing. It also affected the way they were written, as the original type of writing was very linear and curved. The newer style adopted a straighter representation of the image, (wedged).
The signs at this time were still pictographic (an ox’s head to represent an ox) though slowly developed to appear stylised and simpler. The earliest sentences were not uniform, but the words making up the sentences were grouped randomly in boxes reading from bottom right to left and up. (Samuel Noah Kramer, "Thirty Nine Firsts In Recorded History" pp 381-383)

c. 3200 BC: Complex accounting for large-scale trade

Tablets “...with complex numerical entries and a repertoire of many hundreds of signs...” appear around Uruk, as the city’s power begins to decline (Cooper 2004 P 75).

Uruk III or Jemdet Nasr Period begins. Highly complex accounting develops during this period, revealing a wide range of goods traded in large quantities (Cooper 2004 p 76).

3100 BC: Logographic Writing

The first writing begins in the form of Logograms, e.g a fish to represent a fish, bird to represent a bird etc. Gradually signs became more abstract, new signs were created by combining old signs.

c. 2800 BC: Origins of Syllabograms

Evolution from pictographic and logographic writing to syllabic writing occurs at this point. Texts from the archaeological levels Early Dynastic I-II in Ur demonstrates this development of syllabic writing. Instead of using symbols to represent whole words, symbols were instead used to display syllables.

c. 2800 BC: Rebus Principle

Meanings of the characters were disregarded so only the sound was used. E.g. life and arrow both shared the word ‘Ti’ so the symbol for arrow was also used as the symbol for life (like English homonyms). This meant ideograms could be written - beliefs and thoughts - rather than just material things like crops and livestock.

c. 2700 BC: Epic of Gilgamesh communicated orally

The Epic of Gilgamesh was passed around orally and written down in 2000 BC, then lost when it wasn’t translated into other languages.

2700 BC: First full name in writing

“The first full name written phonetically appears to be that of MES-KA-LAM-DUG on a gold bowl from Ur, c2700 BC” (Writing, Powell, 2009 pg. 73)

2500 BC onwards: Cuneiform adopted by Akkadians and Eblaites

From the mid third millennium onwards, cuneiform was adopted from the Sumerians by the Akkadians of southern Mesopotamia and the Eblaites of Syria (British Museum Publication, 1990, pg 24)

c. 2334 BC: Cuneiform used for Akkadian

Sumerian cuneiform becomes fused with Semitic Akkadian language (Powell, Barry B. 2009)

Tuesday: Moderation Day - no classes
Thursday: Revision

Review the timeline of the development of cuneiform that we developed together. Prepare for the in-class essay on Tuesday by revising your notes and creating a cheat-sheet.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 6 (Mar 11 - 15)

Monday: Canberra Day public holiday
Tuesday: In-Class Essay
Thursday: Introduction to The Epic of Gilgamesh

Read this timeline concerning the historical Gilgamesh and the origins and development of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Watch this documentary which introduces the Epic of Gilgamesh. As you watch:
- List the plot points described.
- List comments made about the character of Gilgamesh.
- List any points about what the Epic might reveal about the world in which it was produced.
- Note any information about how and when the Epic was composed (and its subsequent career).

List the plot points described:
List comments made about the character of Gilgamesh:
List any points about what the Epic might reveal about the world in which it was produced:
Note any information about how and when the Epic was composed:
- He’s born a king
- The story documents his transformation from an arrogant tyrant to a good king
- Enkidu is sent by the gods to teach Gilgamesh a lesson
- Enkidu initially has an animalistic nature.
- Shamhat, a temple prostitute, seduces Enkidu.
- Experience with a woman has a civilizing influence on Enkidu: Shamhat also gives Enkidu the power of language and urges him to leave the wild and go to Uruk.
- Enkidu and Gilgamesh fight each other for 40 days and nights but ultimately agree to a truce and become friends.
- Gilgamesh stops being a tyrant: friendship has a modertating influence
- Gilgamesh and Enkidu go to the Cedar forest and slay Humbaba
- The gods decide to punish Gilgamesh by causing Enkidu to die
- Gilgamesh is confronted with his mortality
- He goes in search of Immortality
- He seeks out the sage Utanpishtan
- Utnapishtin is a Noah figure who survived a deluge.
- He gives Gilgamesh the source of eternal life but Gilgamesh loses it.
- He returns to Uruk: in the city he finds something that will ensure after he has gone.
- born a king
- two thirds divine, one third human
- Larger than life
- Tyrannical: arrogant, cocky, womanizer, violent
- Transforms over time
- Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk in 2700
- In Mesopotamian tradition, walls of Uruk attributed to Gilgamesh
- People have similar ideas as they do now: concern with mortality; afterlife; the purpose of our existence
- Importance of irrigation
- Sex isn’t taboo
- The importance of cities – different to the bible
- Women play active and powerful role in society.
- Cedar forests: trade; competition for resources
- Used as a school text
- Copied and studied for thousands of years
- Written in cuneiform on clay tablets
- There was a real Gilgamesh
- First surviving tablet appears 600 years after the historical Gilgamesh lived.
- The story is added to throughout the ages.
- Used to teach students
- amongst the earliest surviving works of literature
- begins with five, independent Sumerian poems about Gilgamesh, king of Uruk
- date from as early as the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 BC)
- four of these were used as source material for a combined epic in Akkadian. This first, "Old Babylonian" version of the epic dates to the 18th century BC and is titled Shūtur eli sharrī ("Surpassing All Other Kings"). Only a few fragments of it survive.
- 1300 -1000 - The later, Standard Babylonian version dates from the 13th to the tenth centuries and bears the title Sha naqba īmuru ("He who Saw the Deep"). Fragments of approximately two thirds of this longer, 12 tablet version have been recovered.
- Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.
- Circa 200 AD, cuneiform dies out, Gilgamesh lost
- 19th Century, George Smith, translates the tablet
Debate over the biblical flood story

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 7 (Mar 18 - 22)

Monday: Reading the Epic of Gilgamesh

Read these excerpts from Tablets I and II of The Epic of Gilgamesh. For each excerpt:
- summarise the plot
- identify what we learn about the character of Gilgamesh
- speculate on what, if anything, the excerpt indicates about ancient Mesopotamia (eg. religious beliefs, material culture)

Tuesday: Analysing Gilgamesh

Tablet 1, Excerpt D: A Trapper Encounters Enkidu
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
  • Trapper encounters enkidu
  • Enkidu stops trapper from trapping
  • Tells father about E, father guides him to G
  • Shamhat to civilise Enkidu with sex
  • Gilgamesh is strong
  • Helpful
  • Gilgamesh “the protector”
  • Hunters still exist
  • Still separate groups of hunter-gatherers apart from sedentary civilisation
  • Sex plays civilising role
  • Family plays important role (?)

Tablet 1, Excerpt E: Enkidu Sleeps With Shamhat
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
  • Gilgamesh sends trapper to send Shamhat to Enkidu
  • Travel for three days; wait two more at waterhole
  • They have sex for six days and seven nights
  • Enkidu is civilised; animals distance themselves

  • Strong gender roles, sexual role of women
  • Potential mythic explanation of origin of civilisation (??)
  • Sex more openly discussed
  • Existence of temple prostitutes, suggests religious differences

Tablet 1, Excerpt F: Enkidu Determines to Confront Gilgamesh
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
  • Shamhat explains Gilgamesh’s tyranny to Enkidu
  • E wants to challenge G, claiming himself to be mighty
  • “Wise to perfection”, unfair, tyrannous
  • Strong religion; reference to holy temple and Anu and Ishtar
  • Gilgamesh, the secular ruler is also a key religious figure

Tablet 1, Excerpt G: Shamhat Tells Enkidu About Uruk and Gilgamesh
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
  • Asks Enkidu to come see the city
  • Gilgamesh has dreams of Enkidu
  • Gilgamesh is great (according to Shamhat)
  • Handsome, voluptuous
  • Mightier than Enkidu (supposedly)
  • Likes to partay
  • Youth (?)
  • Still beneficient in some ways
  • Uruk lively, celebrations everyday
  • Culture blossoming, cultural centres
  • “skirted finery”, fashion, cloth being produced etc
  • Music; lyre drums
  • Gods: Anu, Enlil, La
  • Prosperity
  • Cities considered superior to country

Tablet 2, Excerpt H: Enkidu is Introduced to the Pleasures of Civilisation
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
Shamhat gives Enkidu clothing
Takes him to a shepherds hut
They feed him and give him beer
He turns into a human and clothes himself

A custom to drink beer
They milled wheat to make flour
There were shepherds
Mountain people were big
Elaborate clothing

Tablet 2, Excerpt I: Enkidu Learns of Gilgamesh’s Tyrannical Ways
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
Enkidu meets a young man on his way to wedding
Gilgamesh is having sex with wives
As was ordered by the council of Anu from the day he was born
Enkidu is angry about Gilgamesh’s tyranny
Liked to exercise his authority
His people didn’t question him
He enjoys sex
Sex is open
Treatment of women is different
Marriage is a custom
King is divinely endorsed
Uruk has wide avenues/streets

Tablet 2, Excerpt J: Enkidu and Gilgamesh Fight
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
Enkidu arrives in Uruk
Surrounded by throngs who admire him
He stops Gilgamesh from entering marital chamber and sleeping with the newly wed
Enkidu and Gilgamesh fight
Gilgamesh defeats Enkidu, they recognise each others strengths and become friends
Quick to anger
Respects strength in others
Kings having absolute power
The people not being able to do much

Tablet 2, Excerpt K: Gilgamesh and Enkidu Decided to Fight Humbaba
1. Summarise the plot
2. What do we learn about the character of Gilgamesh?
3.What does the excerpt reveal about the world in which it was produced?
Enkidu and Gilgamesh plan to slay Humbaba
Enkidu describes Humbaba as a terror and protector of the cedar forrest
Enkidu is afraid so Gilgamesh says he will go and cut down the cedar tree
They hold hands and go to the forge
They discuss with the craftsmen what weapons and armour to make
Friendship with Enkidu moderates Gilgamesh
Desires fame
Strong belief in gods
Warlike culture
Had metallurgists (black smiths, smiths)
Wood was precious

In this part of the Epic, Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the monster Humbaba who guards the Cedar Forest.

On his quest for immortality, Gilgamesh seeks out Utanapishtin. Utanapishtin tells Gilgamesh how he survived the deluge.

Thursday: Assessing 'The World of Gilgamesh'

Read the Research Essay Task carefully, taking note of all the specifications of the task. Read The World of Gilgamesh, an essay by a Dickson College student in 2007. Have a go at marking the essay with the assessment rubric provided.

Homework: For Monday, determine which question you'll write your essay on and start researching it.

Week 8 (Mar 25 - 29)

Monday: Leonard Woolley's discoveries at Ur

This short video from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology provides an introduction to Woolley's excavations in the 1920s and 1930s and explains some of his major finds.

Now visit the British Museum web site and study each of the artefacts uncovered at Ur.

Shell plaque from the Queen's grave
Queen's lyre from Ur
Pendants and beads from Ur
The standard of Ur
The royal game of Ur
The 'Ram in a thicket'
The cylinder seal of Pu-Abi/ The seal of the 'Queen‘
An early administrative text

As you look at each object, read the information provided. Write down anything you can find out about a) what the object is, b) its function, c) what it might tell us about the society in which it was created, d) how it was found. This information from Wikipedia on Ur in the Third Millenium BC might be useful in providing some context.


View this presentation which sets out the key information on each of the artefacts you looked at last lesson.

Read Woolley's own account (Woolley 1982) of his dig at Ur in the late 1920s. Use the short glossary to help with difficult words and answer the questions below.

Nebuchadnezzar – Neo-Babylonian king, 634 – 562 BC
Temenos – Sacred precinct
Late Babylonian – The Late or Neo-Babylonian Empire was a revived Babylonian state, well after Babylonians like Hammurabi ruled in the early Second Millenium BC
Faience – glazed pottery
baksheesh – a bribe or payment
chagrin - unease
Sargonid – Sargon was an Akkadian king who reigned in Mesopotamia, 2334 – 2279 BC
First Dynasty of Ur – mid-third millennium BC
al-Ubaid period – 5th millennium BC
insouciance – unconcerned, nonchalant
talus – slope formed by accumulation of debris
Jamdat Nasr – 3100 – 2900 (named after a major site from that period)
haft - handle
chignon – knot

Q1. What does Woolley tell us about how he decided where to dig (p.51)?
Q2. What were the two distinct cemeteries that Woolley and his team excavated (p. 52)?
Q3. What does Woolley believe can be concluded about the Sumerians and their beliefs from the graves of common folk? What does he base his conclusions on (p. 54/55)?
Q4. What distinguished the grave of Meskalamdug (p. 57 – 60)?

Thursday: The Royal Tombs of Ur - Interpreting the Evidence

This is the essay question you've been set on the Royal Tombs of Ur: 'Consider the evidence found in the Royal Tombs of Ur. What is the best interpretation of who was buried there and how they died?' It's important to understand the key terms in any essay question. What is 'evidence'? What is 'interpretation'? What's the difference between the two? Define each term in one sentence as best you can. Compare your definition with others around you. Which is the best definition? Why?

Read this extract from Royal Tombs of Ur from Current World Archaeology, Issue 49. Distinguish the evidence from the interpretation. How is the main element of interpretation - that 'human sacrifice on a lavish scale' occurred at Ur - supported by the evidence?

Homework: Work on your essay draft which will be due for submission on Tuesday.

Week 9 (Apr 1 - 5)

Monday: Easter holiday - no classes
Tuesday: Introduction to the Code of Hammurabi

Brief Chronology of Mesopotamia

What does the Code of Hammurabi reveal about the Babylonian Empire?

Law Code Stele of King Hammurabi, 1792-1750 B.C.E.

Code of Hammurabi (portions only)

Hammurabi's Code, Blaise Joseph, 2009

Draft Research Essay due

Parent-Teacher Night, Dickson College Hall

Week 10 (Apr 8 - 12)


Tuesday: Draft Conferencing

Use this double period to work on your essay and to consult with me regarding my feedback.

Thursday: The Bible's Buried Secrets

Watch 'The Bible's Buried Secrets' to get a taste of the work we will be doing next term.

Research Essay due

Week 11 (Apr 29 - May 3)

Monday: Introduction to the Ancient Israelites; Genesis Chapters 1 - 3

This presentation introduces the ancient Israelites and the most important source about their early history, the Bible.

The Biblical creation story and the story of Adam and Eve presented in the Book of Genesis, chapters 1 & 2 are very well known. However, these short, fun videos provide a quick and useful refresher.

Read the creation story and the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, chapters 1 - 3 (New International Version), also accessible here. As you read, note down any points relevant to the following three questions.

1) What repetitions, inconsistencies or significant differences are there, both in style and 'plot', between the creation story in Ch. 1 and the story of Adam and Eve in ch. 2 & 3?

2) What is God like in the creation story? What kind of entity is he? How does this compare and contrast with the God of the story of Adam and Eve?

3) What do you think is the 'moral of this tale' (or morals)? What values do the stories embody?

Tuesday: Doublets and the Documentary Hypothesis

Biblical scholars have noted numerous repetitions in the Torah and they call these repetitions 'doublets'. They have questioned why the Bible repeats itself and why, quite often, two inconsistent versions of the same story are presented. Their answer is the 'documentary hypothesis': the theory that the Torah was composed by more than one author (probably for or five) operating independently and writing at different times. The writings of these different authors were eventually fused together, producing repetition and inconsistency in the process. The documentary hypothesis contradicts the traditional religious view that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) was written by Moses.

Read this presentation on Chapters 1 - 3 of Genesis and the documentary hypothesis and answer the following questions.

Q1) What is the ‘documentary hypothesis’ concerning the first five books of the Hebrew Bible?

Q2) Which aspects of chapters 1 – 3 of Genesis support the documentary hypothesis? How do the aspects you’ve identified support the documentary hypothesis?

How did ancient interpreters of the Torah account for the fact that Adam and Eve don’t die on the day they eat from the Tree of Good and Evil, as he had promised? How and why did ancient interpreters read in to the story of Adam and Eve the idea of the “Fall of Man”? What aspects of the story of Adam & Eve suggest it may be an allegory for the transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary food-producing one? View this presentation to find out.

Thursday: The Story of Adam & Eve - An Allegory for the Origins of Agriculture?

As Kugel explains in pp. 54 - 56 of How to Read the Bible, a modern interpretation of the story of ‘Adam & Eve’ is that it was created by people in about 1000 BCE as a speculative reconstruction of the transition to a food-producing sedentary lifestyle in about 8000 BCE. Analyse each of the following elements of the story and explain how they support this interpretation.

Genesis 3.17 - 19: To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground…
- Mankind originally had plentiful food in the wild (in the garden) but because of what Adam and Eve did they will now get food through “painful toil”, “by the sweat of your brows” (they will have to produce food)
Genesis 3.5" For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
- “You will be like God”: humanity will obtain the power of creation, the power to produce its own food
- Agriculture increased humanity’s God like power to shape its own destiny.
Genesis 2.25: Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Genesis 3.7: Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
- This demonstrates the simultaneous transition to the wearing of more elaborate clothing.
Genesis 2.23 – 24: The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
- This is another development which was contemporary with the origins of food production; that is the discovery that children are the product of parents
Genesis 3.1: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
- Snakes were often worshipped in the Near East and were an appropriate vehicle for transmitting the secret knowledge of agriculture
Genesis 3.22: And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.
- Humanity now has the God like power of creation

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 12 (May 6 - 10)

Monday: The Priestly Source (P)

Last week we learnt that Genesis, Chapters 1 - 3 contains a number of doublets - repetitions of story elements that are often inconsistent. These doublets suggest to modern scholars that, contrary to religious tradition, the Torah had more than one author. In reality, a number of 'books' were composed by different authors at different times during the first half of the first millenium BC and were subsequently fused together. We also learnt that the author of the story of Adam & Eve is known as J or the Yahwehist because this source refers to God as Yahweh Elohim (Lord God). J tends to conceive of God as a divine humanoid. In other words, God exhibits human characteristics like breathing, moulding and walking around the Garden of Eden a little unsure about Adam & Eve's exact whereabouts. J tends to be concerned with explaining the origins of things (etiology) like how humans came to be farmers. If J wrote the story of Adam & Eve (Genesis chapters 2 & 3) but a different author wrote the Creation story (Genesis chapter 1), who was this other author? Kugel contends the author of the Creation story was the Priestly Source (P), the author responsible for those parts of the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch) concerned with priests and their duties.

Read Kugel (2007: 53) and answer the following question: What reasons does Kugel give us to believe that P was the author of Genesis chapter 1?

- P seems to favour particular words. A word like mel' akhah is used regularly in the priestly texts but rarely otherwise. Mel' akhah is used three times in Genesis, Chapter 2, verses 2 and 3 (the concluding section of the Creation story).
- The priestly texts are concerned with numbers and order as in the six days of creation.
- The Priestly texts just refers to God as god (elohim) until after his name is revealed to Moses in Exodus chapter 6.
- Priestly texts conceive of God as the kind of cosmic deity found in the Creation story and not in the story of Adam & Eve.
- The whole point of the Creation story seems to be explain the importance of the sabbath, a preoccupation of the priests.

Tuesday: Noah and the Flood: Genesis Chapters 6 - 9

As a fun introduction to the biblical story, watch the Messed-Up Bible Stories version of the story of Noah's Ark.

Read Genesis Chapters 6-9. After you've read through the three chapters, compare the following verses and identify the repetition and/or inconsistency between them. Also consider the extent of repetition and/or inconsistency.

a) 6:1-4 vs. 6:11
b) 6:5-7 vs. 6:12-13
d) 6:13 vs. 7:4
e) 6:18 vs. 7:1
f) 6:19-21 vs. 7:2-3
g) 6:22 vs. 7:5
h) 7:7-9 vs. 7:13-16
i) 8:20-22 vs. 9:8-17

a) 6:1-4 vs. 6:11
In both cases God observes a problem with His creation.
b) 6:5-7 vs. 6:12-13
In both cases God notices humanity’s wickedness and declares he will destroy it.
d) 6:13 vs. 7:4
In each case, God declares his intention to destroy humanity.
e) 6:18 vs. 7:1
In both cases, God explains to Noah that he will spare him and his family.
f) 6:19-21 vs. 7:2-3
- Both cases describe God instructing Noah to take a specific number of animals on to the the ark with him.
- There is an inconsistency in the number of animals to be taken: seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals as against one pair of all animals.
g) 6:22 vs. 7:5
- Both verses state that Noah obeyed God's command.
- Different word for God used in the two instances.
h) 7:7-9 vs. 7:13-16
- The entry of Noah and the others into the ark is described in both passages. It is as though, in 7:13 - 7:16, that the entry into the ark described in 7:7 - 7:9 hasn't happened.
i) 8:20-22 vs. 9:8-17
- In both passages, God commits to never again send a flood to destroy the earth.
- The two passages read like different versions of the same event, one in which Noah makes a sacrifice, another in which God sends a rainbow.

Having identified these repetitions and inconsistencies (doublets), consider how their existence supports the Documentary Hypothesis. Conversely, what counter-argument could a biblical traditionalist offer to rebut the claim that repetition and inconsistency in chapters 6-9 supports the hypothesis that the Torah/Pentateuch had many authors?

Identify the features that are common to the Biblical and Mesopotamian flood stories. For each feature, also assess the degree of similarity.

Quote from The Epic of Gilgamesh
Similarity with the Biblical flood story
The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.
Gods decide to send a flood.
Tear down the house and build a boat!
Command to build a boat.
... keep alive living beings! Make all living beings go up into the boat.
Instruction to take other living beings onto the boat/ark.
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.
The dimensions of the boat are specified.
Roof it over like the Apsu.
Roofed over like the ark
three times 3,600 (units of) pitch ...into it
Common building material
I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat,
Family enters the ark
I went into the boat and sealed the entry.
Similar to Noah’s entry onto the ark
submerging the mountain in water
Mountains submerged with water
On Mt. Nimush the boat lodged firm
Boat comes to rest on a mountain
I sent forth a dove and released it.
The dove went off, but came back to me...
Similar to Noah sending out birds to see if the water has receded
Then I sent out everything in all directions and sacrificed (a sheep).
Sacrifice offered to the Gods
The gods smelled the savor
Gods smell the sacrifice

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. What hypothesis would you advance to explain the similarities between the biblical and Mesopotamian flood stories?

Thursday: Evaluating the Similarities Between the Mesopotamian and Biblical Flood Stories

In your group, discuss what you believe is the most plausible explanation of the similarities between the biblical and Mesopotamian flood stories. Consider the following possibilities:
a) the two stories were both inspired by the same actual historical event
b) the Mesopotamian story was borrowed from the biblical one
c) the biblical story was borrowed from the Mesopotamian story
d) the similarities are coincidental.

Read Kugel (2007: 74 - 77) and answer the following questions.

1. What reasons does Kugel give for rejecting the belief that the resemblance between the two stories indicates the likelihood of them both being inspired by an actual historical event?

2. Why is there no possibility that the Mesopotamian story was derived from the biblical story?

3. What features of the region's geography support the view that the bible story was borrowed from Mesopotamia?

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in Ancient History. Write one sentence on each.

Week 13 (May 13 - 17)

Monday: Biblical Chronology From Creation to Joshua

We now turn from the history of a book to the history of a people; from the Bible itself to the accuracy of the Bible's history of the ancient Israelites. This first requires a familiarity with the biblical stories. Use this chronology, this map and this presentation to understand the passages from the bible and answer the questions below.

1. When and on what basis did Abraham (and his family) leave Ur for Canaan?
Genesis 11
Genesis 12

2. How did the Israelites come to leave Canaan and go and live in Egypt? When did this occur?
Genesis 37

3. When and in what circumstances did the Israelites leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses?
Exodus 7 (Ten Plagues)
Exodus 12 (Passover)
Exodus 14 (Moses Parts the Sea)

4. How long does it takes Moses and the Israelites to arrive at the borders of Canaan? What are the major events along the way?
Exodus 19 (At Mount Sinai)

Tuesday: The Historicity of the Bible from Abraham to Joshua

This presentation compares the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph and Moses with what modern scholarship indicates about their historical accuracy. The characterisation of modern historical scholarship relies on Kugel (2007) and Watson (2005). It's important to note that the this account of this very complex topic is not exhaustive and also that this general area is heavily contested, by scholars and others.

Abraham v. Watson.png

Abraham v. Kugel.png

Joseph v. Kugel.png

Moses v. Watson.png

Moses v. Kugel.png

The Israelite Conquest of Canaan According to Joshua

Read the chapter from Joshua assigned to you and sum up its contents in one 140 character tweet.

Joshua Chapter 1.
Moses has died. Joshua is our new leader. God has commanded Joshua to learn all laws and to cross the Jordan river. We are now loyal to Joshua

God told J 2 take Canaan. J spread the word of his orders and all said they wld be loyal 2 him.
Joshua Chapter 2.
Spies go into Jericho, Canaan. Stayed with R. King says to R, spies in yo house, give em up. She hides em, and tells the spies, we scared. Spies make a deal so R’s family won’t die. The spies report to Josh.

Dont kill those in the house with the red cord, they helped our spies escape.
Joshua Chapter 3.
@joshua shows us @god is with us. The river was parted so we can cross #religion #god #jordan #Israelites

J tells us that Gods gonna get rid of other ppl& do a miracle. The priests go in the water with the c-box. Water stops We cross #MLIA #YOLO
Joshua Chapter 4.
Joshua has commanded one from each tribe to set up stones to commemorate God’s draining of the Jordan river. #God4lyf

We, the Israelites, are going to Jerricho. Joshua removed 12 stones from the river Jordan, God let us ford the River. God is great.
Joshua Chapter 5.
Josh circumcised Israelites, celebrated Passover & worshipped the lords “Man with a sword” on holy ground
Joshua Chapter 6.
Wtf, bunch of Israelites marching round the city dead silent. Why are they shouting? Omfg the wall just collapsed, they’re killing everyone. Dat bish Rahab is being led away.

Watch 'The Bible's Buried Secrets' (Nova) from 21 minutes to 37 minutes. Note the evidence and arguments which support and contradict the biblical account of the Israelite invasion of Canaan. Also note the alternative hypothesis, advanced by modern scholars, that the Israelites were originally Canaanites and splintered off to become a distinct people at the time of the decline of the Canaanite city-state system around 1200 B.C.E.

Thursday: The Historicity of Joshua

Kugel (2007: 381-4) explores whether an Israelite invasion of Canaan ever occurred and, if not, what is the most convincing alternative explanation of the origins of the Israelites.

This notice provides information about the document test in Week 15.

Homework: Revise the work covered this term in preparation for the document test in Week 15.

Week 14 (May 20 - 24)

Monday: The Merneptah Stele, 1209/8 BC

Read this presentation which explains what the Merneptah Stele is. Use the presentation and the text from the Stele below to answer the questions provided.

The princes are prostrate, saying: "Mercy!"
Not one raises his head among the Nine Bows.
Desolation is for Tehenu;
Hatti is pacified;
Plundered is the Canaan with every evil;
Carried off is Ashkelon;
seized upon is Gezer;
Yanoam is made as that which does not exist;
Israel is laid waste, his seed is not;
Hurru is become a widow for Egypt!
All lands together, they are pacified;

Throughout this week, fill out the cells in this table as you acquire information about each source of evidence concerning the origins of the Israelites.

The Origins of the Israelites
The Book of Joshua:
Merneptah Stele:

Jericho and other archaeological evidence:

El Amarna Letters:

Israel Finkelstein's research:

The Book of Judges:

Tuesday: Investigating the Origins of the Israelites

Is the Bible’s story of Joshua and the conquest of Canaan accurate? If not, what does the evidence suggest is the most plausible explanation of the origins of the Israelites? Use Kugel’s ideas and the findings from your group’s independent research.
Recall that the Merneptah Stele demonstrates that the Israelites were in Canaan 1209/1208 BC. How long had they been there? Did they enter from the outside? If so, how? Were they a group of Canaanites that splintered off to form a distinct identity? If so, when and how?

Group 1 - Jericho and other archaeological evidence (Kugel: pp. 373 - 375 also 377)

Group 2 - Inconsistencies in the biblical record (Kugel: pp. 375/6 and 382)

Group 3 - Alt's nomad theory Kugel: (pp. 377/8)

Group 4 - El Amarna letters/ Apiru/ Social Revolution theory (Kugel: p. 378 - 381)

Group 5 - Canaanite exurbanite model (Kugel: pp. 383 - 5)

Read this compilation of each group's work on the evidence concerning the origins of the Israelites.

Thursday: Synthesising the Evidence

Answer the following question in paragraph form. On the basis of the available evidence, what is the most persuasive theory concerning the origins of the Israelites?

This is the Oral Presentation Task.

Homework: Revise the work we've done in Weeks 11 - 14 in preparation for the document test on Tuesday. Watching the second half of 'The Bible's Buried Secrets' will be a helpful part of revising the work we've done on the origins of the Israelites. If you have any queries, bring them to our revision lesson on Monday.

Week 15 (May 27 - 31)

Monday: Revision

Tuesday: Document Test
Thursday: The Bible's Buried Secrets [BBC], Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Episode 1 - "Did King David's Empire Exist?"

Homework: Work on your oral presentation to be delivered in Week 18.

Week 16 (June 3 - 7)

Monday: The Biblical Story of David

Read the excerpt from 2 Samuel allocated to you. Prepare to introduce and explain your excerpt before reading it to the class.

Tuesday: Did David Exist?

Bible for Children provides simplified versions of bible stories. To add an overview of the biblical David to the excerpts studied in depth yesterday, view the following PowerPoints: 19. David the Shepherd Boy; 20. David the King (Part 1); 21. David the King (Part 2); 22. Wise King Solomon.

Watch the second half of the Francesca Stavrakopoulou documentary, The Bible's Buried Secrets. Focus on the evidence and arguments concerning: i. the existence of a Davidic Kingdom, ii. the existence of David and iii. Stavrakopoulou's hypothesis concerning the origins of the David story (she is one scholar who doesn't think it's historically accurate).

Thursday: The Tel Dan Stele

1'. [.....................].......[...................................] and cut [.........................]
2'. [.........] my father went up [against him when] he fought at[....]
3'. And my father lay down, he went to his [fathers]. And the king of I[s-]
4'. rael entered previously in my father's land. [And] Hadad made me king.
5'. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven[.....]
6'. of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
7'. riots and thousands of horsemen (or: horses). [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
8'. king of Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin]g
9'. of the House of David. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
10'. their land into [desolation........................]
11'. other ...[......................................................................... and Jehu ru-]
12'. led over Is[rael......................................................................and I laid]
13'. siege upon [............................................................]

Read the inscription from the Tel Dan Stele and the Wikipedia article ( ).

Briefly note down answers to the following two questions.

1. Who produced the Tel Dan Stele? When? Why?

2. What does the insciption describe?

With a partner, decide whether you agree with following statement and discuss your reasons. "The Tel Dan Stele verifies the existence of the Davidic kingdom presented in the Bible."

Homework: Work on your oral presentation to be delivered in Week 18.

Week 17 (June 10 - 14)

Monday: Public Holiday
Tuesday: The Babylonian Captivity

The Babylonian captivity (or Babylonian exile) was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylonia. According to the Hebrew Bible, there were three deportations of Jews to Babylon: the exile of King Jeconiah, his court and many others in Nebuchadnezzar's eighth year; Jeconiah's successor Zedekiah and the rest of the people in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year; and a later deportation in Nebuchadnezzar's twenty-third year. These are attributed to c. 597 BCE, c. 587 BCE, and c. 582 BCE, respectively. The forced exile ended in 538 BCE after the fall of Babylon to the Persian king Cyrus the Great, who gave the Jews permission to return to Yehud province and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The captivity and subsequent return to Judea, and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem are considered significant events in Jewish history and culture, which had a far-reaching impact on the development of Judaism.

Psalm 137 expresses the sorrow of the Israelites during their exile in Babylon.

Psalm 137 (New International Version)

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Two contemporary versions of this tale exemplify the Bible's broader cultural significance.

Boney M. Rivers Of Babylon (lyrics)

Leonard Cohen, By the Rivers Dark (lyrics) (the commment by kelject on June 29, 2009 provides an interesting interpretation)

Psalm 137 in music and literature (Wikipedia)

Thursday: Coping with Captivity - The Canonisation of the Torah

Read Watson (2005: 149 - 151).

1. “this misfortune was in many ways cataclysmic”. How did the Israelites explain the catastrophe that had befallen them (and how God allowed it to happen)?

2. “The answer lay in their writings.” What challenge did writing help the Israelites address? How is the increased importance of writing important to our concern with the origins and development of the Bible?

3. Watson mentions ways that Jewish culture was influenced by the more sophisticated Babylonians. How might have this influence extended to the content of their writings?

4. “the return of the first batch of captives proved a great deal harder than the exile.” How might this be relevant to the contents of Genesis, Exodus and Joshua?

5. What is a canon? What does it mean for the Bible to assume canonical form? What might have inspired the formation of a canon? How does this relate to the Documentary Hypothesis?

Homework: Work on your oral presentation to be delivered Monday, Week 19.

Week 18 (June 17 - 21)

Monday: Did God Have a Wife?

The Bible's Buried Secrets - Episode 2: Did God Have a Wife?: Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou asks whether the ancient Israelites believed in one God as the Bible claims. She puts the Bible text under the microscope, examining what the original Hebrew said, and explores archaeological sites in Syria and the Sinai which are shedding new light on the beliefs of the people of the Bible. Was the God of Abraham unique? Were the ancient Israelites polytheists? And is it all possible that God had another half?

Tuesday: Reflecting on the Hebrew Bible

➢ The Hebrew Bible tells the history of the ancient Israelites. In what ways is its approach to writing history different to our own understanding of good history writing?

➢ Has an agenda, eg. Canaan belongs to the Israelites ➢ Tell the events as they are; the truth itself
➢ Doublets – inconsistent without explanation ➢ Consistent, coherent
➢ Unclear chronology – not specific ➢ Chronologically accurate and detailed
➢ Entertains the supernatural ➢ Explain events by reference to what can be observed
➢ Genesis – origins of the world ➢ Acknowledge uncertainty, exercise caution
➢ Cities that didn’t exist at the time of Joshua ➢ Exercise scepticism
➢ Nationalistic, eg. Canaan belongs to the Israelites, God’s treatment of the Egyptians during the Exodus ➢ Impartial with respect to different groups

➢ “God didn’t create man – man created God.” Discuss the meaning of this statement in relation to what we’ve learnt about the authorship, composition and contents of the Hebrew Bible.

➢ “Young people in Australia today should not leave school without an acquaintance with the Bible.” Do you agree?

➢ This unit has been all about writing: the origins of agriculture as a prerequisite for literate societies; the development of the first writing system, cuneiform; the Epic of Gilgamesh; the Code of Hammurabi; the Hebrew Bible. Brainstorm any insights you’ve gained into writing from the unit.

- How did writing influence the history of the ancient Israelites?
- How did the ancient Israelites use writing in their history?
- Would have Israelite history have been different if writing hadn’t been invented?
- What have we learnt about authorship?
- History is primarily the study of the written record. What have we learnt about approaching that task?

- Canon – authoritative, single version
- Israelite identity was largely attributable to written stories
- Writing is a process of collation, of fusion, of working within a tradition
- They’re not always correct. Writing appears to be impersonal but is in fact a human product which, in one way or another, serves human agendas.
- You need to use a variety of different sources to verify written accounts.

Wednesday June 19: Cross-line Testing Week Begins

Week 19 (June 24 - 28)

Oral Presentations, Monday June 24, Week 19
9am (Year 11)
Karl: 1. Who wrote the first five books of the bible (known as the Torah or Pentateuch)? In your answer, explain who the various authors were, when they wrote and how their works were synthesised.
Keenan: 2. How likely is it that the flood story found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis refers to an actual historical event?
Josh: 2. How likely is it that the flood story found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis refers to an actual historical event?
Max: 4. Assess the historicity of the story of the Israelite invasion of Canaan found in the Book of Joshua.
Jaryd: 5. Does the available evidence support the existence of a united monarchy under David and Solomon around the 10th century BC, as portrayed in the Bible?
Thalia: 6. How did the Babylonian captivity affect the culture, beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites?
Sherstin: The Flood
Honor: How did the Babylonian captivity affect the culture, beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites?

2pm (Year 12)
Lydia: 6. How did the Babylonian captivity affect the culture, beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites?
Delali: 1. Who wrote the first five books of the bible (known as the Torah or Pentateuch)? In your answer, explain who the various authors were, when they wrote and how their works were synthesised.
Zeb: 1. Who wrote the first five books of the bible (known as the Torah or Pentateuch)? In your answer, explain who the various authors were, when they wrote and how their works were synthesised.
Gabriel: How likely is it that the flood story found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis refers to an actual historical event?
Emily: “… there is no archaeological evidence that any of the patriarchs – Abraham, Noah, Moses or Joshua – ever existed, there was no exile of the Jews in Egypt, no heroic Exodus and no violent conquest of Canaan.” Peter Watson, Ideas, p. 153Te Whenua (3 – Watson > patriarchs)
Filip: 4. Assess the historicity of the story of the Israelite invasion of Canaan found in the Book of Joshua.
Joseph: 5. Does the available evidence support the existence of a united monarchy under David and Solomon around the 10th century BC, as portrayed in the Bible?



Carr, D. M. 1996, Reading the Fractures of Genesis, Westminster John Knox, Louisville.
Provides an in-depth analysis of doublets in the flood story.

Diamond, J. 2005, Guns, Germs & Steel, Viking, New York.

Diringer, D. 1962, Writing, Thames and Hudson, London.

Garber, 'A Reconstruction of Solomon's Temple' in The Archaeological Institute of America 1967, Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land, Bonanza Books, New York.

Gaur, A 1987, A History of Writing, The British Library, London.

Hooker, J.T. et al (1990), Reading the Past, British Museum, London

Jean, G. 1992, Writing, The Story of Alphabets and Scripts (translated by Jenny Oates), Thames and Hudson, London.

Jensen, A. 1970, Sign, Symbol and Script (translated from the German by George Unwin), George Allen and Unwin, London.

Keller, W. 1956, The Bible as History, Hodder and Stoughton, London.
3. & 4. The Flood | 5. Abraham | 10. - 12. Moses | 15. The Conquest of Canaan | 19. David | 20. Solomon |

Kramer, S. N. & Krieger, L. (1967), Cradle of Civilization, Time-Life International

Kugel, J. 2007, How to Read the Bible, Free Press, New York.
12. Joseph and His Brothers | 13. Moses in Egypt | 14. The Exodus | 22. Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan | 27. David the King

Ober, J. H. 1965, Writing: Man's Greatest Invention, Peabody Institute, Baltimore.

Postage, N. (2004), Early Mesopotamia, Routledge: London & New York

Robinson, A. 1995, The Story of Writing, Thames and Hudson, London.

Sampson, G. 1985, Writing Systems, A Linguistic Introduction, Stanford University Press, Stanford.

Sebag Montefiore, S. 2011, Jerusalem The Biography, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London

Watson, P. 2005, Ideas, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
Chapter 7 | Notes

Woolley, L. 1982, Ur 'of the Chaldees', The Herbert Press, London


Davis, W. (2013), 'The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond – review', The Guardian, 9 January, 2013. Accessed February 14, 2013 at A searchable online Bible in over a hundred versions

The Works of Flavius Josephus

Blogging the Bible
The Outline of History by H. G. Wells
Wikipedia - History of Mesopotamia
The History Files - Ancient Mesopotamia
Royal Tombs of Ur
Ancient Mesopotamia Chronology
The History of the Ancient Near East - Electronic Compendium
Sumerian Language Page
The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative
Chronology of Ancient Egypt
Cradles of Civilization, David Neiman
Mesopotamian Timeline
Jews, Christians and Judaeo-Christians, Geza Vermes, Standpoint, December 2011
The Big Reveal (Why does the Bible end that way?), Adam Gopnik, March 5, 2012
The Bible's Buried Secrets (2008), narrated by Liev Schreiber (Nova in association with the National Geographic Channel)
The Bible's Buried Secrets (2011), narrated by Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou (BBC). 1. Did King David's empire exist? | 2. Does God have a wife? | 3. The real garden of Eden |
How Did Writing Begin?: Tony Sagona
Tracing the Origins of Indo-European Languages
Biblical Blockbusters!
Top 10 worst Bible passages
The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia,
Featuring hundreds of artifacts on loan from the British Museum, Melbourne Museum until 7 October 2012