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43 votes
Accepted

Why was "leaping into the river" a valid trial outcome to prove one's innocence?

It was a divine judgement in cases where the evidence was inconclusive and previous attempts to resolve the case had failed. In some cases at least, it was only used after other attempts at a ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
35 votes
Accepted

How to explain the apparent discrepancy in the use of papyrus vs. clay tablets between Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia?

Most certainly we see mainly survivorship bias. Other factors play a certain minor role, but the durability of clay tablets, especially when fired, are most important. Cuneiform was developed on clay, ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
31 votes

Why was "leaping into the river" a valid trial outcome to prove one's innocence?

Peter Leeson from George Mason University has argued that medieval trial by ordeal worked because people believed that they worked. Thus, only the innocent were willing to undergo the ordeal. If this ...
Betterthan Kwora's user avatar
27 votes
Accepted

Was touching your nose a greeting in second millenium Mesopotamia?

It seems like this was the 'polite' gesture of greeting in ancient Sumeria, and is actually the meaning of a Sumerian phrase for greeting: She faces in the direction of the cultic activity, her ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 39.7k
21 votes
Accepted

What is known about the Ubaid lizard-people figurines?

There are many theories & interpretations, but relatively little evidence to support most of them. Of course, there are no written sources from the Ubaid period to support them. You are ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
20 votes

How much contact did Sub-Saharan Africa actually have with the rest of the world since the beginning of civilization?

This thesis is manifestly false, and is indicative of the weaknesses of "Guns, germs and steel". For example, the making of iron tools was probably passed up the Nile, to Kush and Meroe, and then ...
Peter Diehr's user avatar
  • 6,759
19 votes

Why are there so many laws about eye injuries in the Code of Hammurabi?

Most probably, this starts with a an untrue premise: There are not so many laws about eye injury. How many "laws" are there in the Hammurabi Code? — 282. How many "laws" are there concerning ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
17 votes

Were the Assyrians and the Akkadians different people or the same people under a different name?

No man ever steps in the same river twice. - Heraclitus Akkad was a long-lasting culture in the Tigris-Euphrates river system, which included a language of the East Semitic family, as well as an ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
11 votes

What's the dating of the standard Akkadian version of the Gilgamesh Epic?

Yes, you do understand correctly. The best preserved tablets containing the standard Akkadian version were discovered in the Library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh by Hormuzd Rassam in 1853. These ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
11 votes

Why are there so many laws about eye injuries in the Code of Hammurabi?

Because the circumstances are all different. In regards "blows and strikes": [116] addresses loss of life, not blows per se. [202] through [206] are all varying classes of assault under different ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
10 votes

What exactly were the dealings of Ea-Nasir ("The Worst Businessman Of The 18th Century BC")?

The quotes given in Dr Killgrove's article includes just those parts of the tablets where the translation is reasonably certain. While these may convey the broad meaning (in this case that the ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
10 votes

How to explain the apparent discrepancy in the use of papyrus vs. clay tablets between Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia?

Looking into this, it seems that the Papyrus plant was widely cultivated, but never fully domesticated. It doesn't seem like this was due to any major issue with domesticating the plant; it grows from ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
9 votes

What colors were used as paint in the construction of the ziggurats in early Sumer?

It appears the consensus is indicating multiple colors. In Mesopotamia the seven stages of a ziggurat were each painted a different color, the colors being emblematic of the seven planets ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 39.7k
9 votes
Accepted

How did the Mesopotamian clay tokens known as bulla actually work to maintain authenticity?

From Wikipedia: In their oldest attested form, as used in the ancient Near and Middle East of the 8th century BCE onwards, bullae were hollow ball-like clay envelopes that contained other smaller ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.9k
9 votes

Did people from the cities of Uruk, Ur and Sumer have knowledge/recollection of how old their cities were (say, recollection after 2000 BCE)?

They thought they were much older than they could have been. The very beginning of the Sumerian King List has the very first king of the very first royal city in Sumer reigning for nearly 30,000 years:...
cmw's user avatar
  • 1,685
8 votes

What were the types of currency used in ancient Mesopotamia?

First, it is important to understand that the economic system of ancient Mesopotamia was something much closer to a barter system than a modern market. Money did exist, but not in the fully ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.9k
7 votes

Where to find a comprehensive list of proto-cuneiform Sumerian glyphs?

I have found full list of proto-cuneiform signs (very large file [93 MB]), with very detailed glyphs together with their meanings sadly meanings seems to be all missing. Though there is no author ...
buræquete's user avatar
  • 1,353
7 votes

How much did food cost in Babylon?

1 cup of barley provides 651 calories according to the USDA, so 3000 L of barley provides about 412 days' worth of food at 2000 cal/day. An unskilled laborer making ten times this amount in a year ...
Charles's user avatar
  • 1,055
6 votes

Why did ancient cultures (e.g. the Mesopotamians) use sexagesimal?

In a era when decimal numbers didn't exist, but fractions did, 60 has many factors: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30 and 60. The factors of 10 are: 1, 2, 5 and 10. When dividing quantities into ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 2,872
6 votes

Why wasn't Akkadian translated into other more common languages?

Most likely there just wasn't a lot of Akkadian (Cuneiform) "writing" to be found outside of Mesopotamia, and particularly not what one would consider "literature". Cuneiform was a ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
5 votes

When was Sura in the Roman Empire?

Sura, or at least that area, was within the Roman province of Mesopotamia as of the reign of Septimius Severus when he conquered the area around 200CE. The province fell to the Sasanians, as you ...
Giter's user avatar
  • 3,974
4 votes
Accepted

Are there any theories of Tiglath Pileser III's origins?

The problem with determining Tiglath Pileser III's origins is lack of evidence. As Amélie Kuhrt has repeatedly observed in her 2-volume work The Ancient Near East, C. 3000-330 BC, alteration of ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
4 votes

Primary annalistic sources for ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt

I have to admit this will not be an entirely satisfactory answer and I hope someone else can contribute a fuller one. However, I have taken several evening or weekend classes in Egyptology, including ...
Timothy's user avatar
  • 5,621
4 votes

is Ubaid 0 actually related to Eridu and Ubaid I-IV?

The use of zero should be a clue that "Ubaid 0" was identified later in the timeline of Ubaid archaeology, and was an attempt to fit an earlier phase into an existing structure. Eridu was first ...
Spencer's user avatar
  • 5,295
4 votes

Where did the idea of weeks originate and why do they have seven days?

Having weeks of seven days is a direct consequence of the lunar cycle. Each 29 day lunar cycle comprises four equal phases of 7.25 days long each. Starting from New Moon: Waxing crescent ending in ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
4 votes

Is there truth to the Dynastic Race Theory regarding Ancient Egyptians?

As Wikipedia says, the idea was popular in the first half of the twentieth century, but is no longer supported by mainstream Egyptologists. The changes that led to the First Dynasty seem to have ...
John Dallman's user avatar
  • 31.5k
3 votes

What effect did the Bronze Age collapse have on India?

The Indus Valley civilization started declining around 1700 BCE. The Bronze Age transitioned into the Iron age also referred to as PGW(Painted Greyware)-Iron age, somewhere around 1000-1100 BCE (Iron ...
NormTrotsky's user avatar
3 votes

How did the Mesopotamian clay tokens known as bulla actually work to maintain authenticity?

It is important to realise that bullae pre-date any sort of writing. Originally, they could not contain enough information to form a full contract. The tokens inside represented quantities of goods, ...
Nick B's user avatar
  • 696
3 votes

Did Marduk-balassu-iqbi help Assur-Danin-Pal?

We know that Assur-danin-pal rebelled even before the death of his father, King Shalmaneser III. We know that it was a serious rebellion that spread to at least 27 cities, including Ashur Nineneh, and ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k

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