Sweet Assyriology Resources Online

The Ancient World Online (AWOL) blog recently posted about updates made to the CDLI (Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative) wiki site, now hosted at the University of Oxford.

The CDLI wiki is a terrific website for Assyriology. By way of examples, you can find helpful content and reference material links, such as “Recent Publications in Assyriology“; “Bibliography of Sumerian Literature“; and “writing systems.” Check it out — it’s better than reading Sitchin!

Recent Online Dissertation on the Sumerian Deity Enki

Today I came across this published (2010) doctoral dissertation on the god Enki by Peeter Espak. it is entitled, “The God Enki in Sumerian Royal Ideology and Mythology.” I decided to blog the link in the name of offering something useful to all those who want to read actual scholarship on Sumerian mythology and religion, as opposed to the ancient astronaut tripe. We try to be useful in multiple ways here.

Though a dissertation, the work is quite readable (don’t let the transliterated Sumerian and Akkadian distract you; just skip all that and read the prose). I ran a quick search on “Annuna” (the Anunnaki gods) and read through the 30 occurrences and relevant discussion. Some good material, as the Anunnaki are discussed in various scenes in relation to the larger subject matter. (The longer term “Anunnaki” also occurs once). Sorry, no spaceships, extraterrestrials, or fiery rocket journeys to or from Nibiru. (I’m still getting over the shock). The dissertation rebuts certain conclusions (some shared by Samuel Noah Kramer) about the frictional relationship between Ea and Enki (another blow to ancient astronaut theory’s “retelling” of the Sumerian epics).

At any rate, for those interested, enjoy this fine resource.

Zecharia Sitchin’s Astronomy Debunked

There are a number of good critiques on the web showing the flaws in Sitchin’s discussion of astronomy from the Sumerian and Mesopotamian texts. Here are a few:

Chris Siren’s page

Ian Lawton’s analysis

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy website deals with “Planet X

My own contribution to this subject was previously blogged. But here are links to my short paper on Nibiru (it isn’t a 12th planet) and Cylinder Seal VA243 (which doesn’t show a 12th planet). These files are old (written before I finished my doctorate) but still useful.

Zecharia Sitchin and the Meaning of Sumerian and Akkadian Words

On my old website devoted to exposing the phony scholarship of Zecharia Sitchin’s ancient astronaut nonsense, I had occasion to note how the meanings of certain Sumero-Akkadian words or glyphs supplied by by Sitchin were not only nonsense, but the Sumerians themselves had left behind the proof of my assertion in the form of their own bilingual dictionaries. Here’s a snippet from my open letter to Sitchin in this regard:

As noted above, the ancient Mesopotamian scribes created dictionaries.  Lists of words are a common feature among the thousands of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform tablets which have been discovered by archaeologists.  Many are just groupings of common words, while others represent an inventory of the word meanings of the languages used in Mesopotamia.  These “lexical lists”, as scholars call them, were indispensable to the 19th century scholars who deciphered the Sumerian and Akkadian texts, for they were used to compile modern dictionaries of these languages.  Today all major lexical texts have been published in the multi-volume set, Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon, begun by Benno Landsberger in the 1930s.  It is indeed a rare instance where ancient dictionaries of a dead language form the core of the modern dictionaries used by scholars of today.  Such is the case for the ancient languages of Sumer and Akkad.  Sadly, Mr. Sitchin neglects these resources.

This statement was in the context of challenging Sitchin’s understanding of “shem”, “shamu”, and “MU”.  All of these terms are accounted for in LEXICAL LISTS – these bilingual dictionaries — and so we are able to know what the Sumerians and Akkadians themselves meant by these terms.

The purpose of this post is to direct anyone interested in these lists to a nice resource for understanding what they are (and to see that I’m not making up my reply to Sitchin). Here’s a link to a short article “What is a Lexical List?” found on the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts (yes, there’s a website devoted to lexical lists!). You’ll find it interesting, unless you blindly follow Sitchin. Don’t click the link if that’s the case.