October 27, 2006

Tracing the origin of Ancient Sumerians

It is of considerable interest to trace where the ancient Sumerians emerged from because of their primary contribution to human civilization. It was suggested that Sumerians appeared in Southern Mesopotamia around five and half thousand years ago carrying with them the seeds of civilization. It was also suggested that they migrated from the west coast of India. The fact that they were not a local people is suggested by the fact that their language belongs to a completely different and isolated group. There are two further lines of investigation one may adopt to confirm this hypothesis. The first is to explore for other groups in India with a similar language and the second is to carry out a physical examination of the Sumerian skeletons as available at the present time to detect racial similarities.
In western India there are a number of tribal groups that have existed from ancient times. Today many live on the fringes of mainstream communities as exist in India today. The mainstream communities belong to either the Indo-Aryan or Dravidian linguistic groups. Sumerian does not belong to either. As regards the tribal, it is now fruitless to look for any similarities between Sumerian and present tribal languages in India because over thousands of years their original languages have disappeared because of the overwhelming influence of other languages. The western tribal communities of India now speak modified versions or mixtures of the mainstream languages. However, all is not lost because although the tribal in India such as kols and Bheels have been overly influenced, it is not so with some of their branches that migrated further east towards Australia in ancient times, and form a branch of the same human groups. One may then look for similarities between Sumerian and Austric languages. This study has in fact been already done and the consensus is a resounding, yes. The austric languages are indeed similar to ancient Sumerian. The similarities are so numerous and clear that they are beyond doubt or a result of any chance coincidence. (The Austric Origin of the Sumerian Language, Language Form, vol. 22, no.1-2, Jan.-Dec. 1996.) Therefore now it may be said with confidence that ancient Sumerian is not a linguistic isolate. It belongs to the australoid/ austric group of languages. They belong to this group because the ancient tribal people of Indian west coast also belonged to the same group of people, and it is from here that they must have migrated to Mesopotamia. Both the Australoid and Austric type are found in India. There are clear reasons to rule out any other location for the Sumerian migration: Western India is geographically close to Southern Mesopotamia as compared to south East Asia and Australia and there are no know instances of civilization east of the Indus valley around five thousand years ago. Such evidence has been found in the Indus valley. The second study concerns physical examination of Sumerian skulls. Buxton and Rice have found that of 26 Sumerian crania they examined 22 were Australoid or Austrics. Further According to Penniman who studied skulls from other Sumerian sites, the Australoid Eurafrican, Austric and Armenoid were the "racial" types associated with the Sumerians. Here is Penniman's description of the Austric type found at Sumer: "These people are of medium stature, with complexion and hair like those of the Eurafrican, to which race they are allied with dark eyes, and oval faces, broad noses, rather feeble jaws, and slight sinewy bodies." This description also closely describes the regal person seen on a famous clay tablet from the Indus Valley. This same tribe in an evolved version undoubtedly established the Indus civilization as well as the Sumerian one after the submergence of their coastal cities. In North-western India they would have encountered Neolithic people of Indo-European origin with which manpower they established the Indus cities. An analysis of skeletal remains from Indus valley confirms this mixture. Both the IndoSumerian-austric language must then have persisted side by side as in Mesopotamia with the official language of the rulers being IndoSumerian-austric. Just as in Mesopotamia, ancient Sumerian was replaced by the language of the majority(Akkadians) in the Indus valley it would have been replaced eventually by an Indo-Aryan language. At what precise moment in history this occurred is not certain but most probably the Sumerian language disappeared from India by 2000 BC. In this latter case there was no question of preserving it for ritual purposes either. This is because the IndoSumerian-Austric language never developed as a fully written language in India to inscribe full texts. In any case, a better Indo-Aryan language with its own full-fledged script soom emerged probably because of Hittite influences in the Indian sub-continent around that time.

UPDATE: September 16, 2013

At the time this post was written some seven years ago, it was ahead of its time and the suggestion that Sumerian language is not a linguistic isolate but belongs to the Austric group was shunned by many Many linguistic historians. Since then new studies have emerged that have shown a clear similarity between archaic Tamil, a language belonging to the Austric group and still spoken in its modern form in southern India by millions. and Sumerian, not just words but also whole sentences.  Just search through the internet for the relevant references since presently I was involved with another project, - my new book, the Babaji Affair. However, here is one quick reference to begin with https://sites.google.com/site/sumeriantamil/tamil-sumerian-turkish

October 25, 2006

Origin of Egyptian Civilization


Although Egyptian civilisation is at least seven thousand years old, a unified Egyptian civilisation with urban centers and a central authority emerged in Egypt with the coming of the Pharaohs beginning with the scorpion king Narmer/ Nirmer/ Naram- Ara of Sumerian origin. The Scorpion gods were warrior gods in Sumeria and it is a mark of respect to regard a great warrior king as one.

This movement into the Nile Valley may have coincided with the end of the Uruk period that in turn coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period  that began in c. 3200 BCE and ended in 2900 BCE that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, called the Holocene climatic optimum.


A prehistoric flint knife, with a handle carved from the tooth of a hippopotamus, in the possession of Louvre and found at Gebel el Arak near Nag Hamâdi depicts a scene from the conquest. On one side of the handle is a battle-scene including some remarkable representations of ancient boats. Many of the warriors are nude with the exception of a loin girdle, but, while one set of combatants have shaven heads or short hair, the others have abundant locks falling in a thick mass upon the shoulder. The nude warriors are obviously of local African origin. It displays the wisdom of the conquerors in utilizing locals for their campaigns. On the other face of the handle is carved a hunting scene. In the upper field is a remarkable group, consisting of a personage struggling with two lions arranged symmetrically. The rest of the composition is not very unlike other examples of prehistoric Egyptian carving in low relief, but here attitude, figure, and clothing are un-Egyptian. The hero wears a turban on his abundant hair, and a full and rounded beard descends upon his breast. A long garment clothes him from the waist and falls below the knees, his muscular calves ending in the claws of a bird of prey. There is no doubt that the heroic personage is represented in the familiar attitude of the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh struggling with lions, a favorite subject of early Sumerian and Babylonian seals. His garment is Sumerian rather than Egyptian. The design itself is unmistakably of Mesopotamian origin. There was no physical barrier to the use of the river-route from Mesopotamia into Syria and of the tracks thence southward along the land bridge to the Nile's delta.


After the conquest Nirmer appears to have returned to to his homeland leaving his son Menes in charge of the new kingdom with assistance of Priests and soldiers. Menes unified the scattered communities of the entire Nile Valley. There he established the First Egyptian Dynasty with an Uruk period Sumerian civilization. The unified state led to the development of writing, the start of large scale construction and the venturing out from the Nile Valley to trade. The most remarkable evidence of cultural connection is shown in the architecture of Early Dynastic tombs of Egypt and Mesopotamian seal-impressions showing exactly similar buildings. A problem that early Sumerian ruling class faced upon arrival in Egypt was the different, even contrary religious beliefs. Egyptians glorified the floods whereas the Sumerian dreaded it because of their religious records of the deluge that had originally flooded their homeland and beautiful cities perhaps on the western coast of India leading to their exodus. However the Sumerians soon assimilated everything useful they found in the new lands and thus developed their culture even further.

Unlike the colonists of eighteenth century the Sumerians arrived in any new territory with the intention of making it their home and progressed from strength to strength as they marched westwards. However the Nile valley was the limit of their expansion since their were no other great rivers flowing through vast arid plains to the west of the Nile.


Who was the Frist Egyptian Pharao


There is considerable confusion amongst scholars as to who the first Egyptian Pharaoh was, who ruled over all of Egypt from his capital at Memphis. According to the kings list made a thousand years after his time, his name was Men, Meni or Mena. The reason for using different vowels is because in Egyptian writing vowels are not written (as at times in Arabic) and these have to be guessed. The Greek historian Mantheo of 200 BC who was known for developing meticulous historical records, called him Menes in Greek. That is the most popular way Mene is mentioned in modern literature. This pharaoh is the legendary king that came from the town of Tinis in Upper Egypt and took over Lower Egypt (the North) by force. He then became the first king over the whole country and founded a new capital for united Egypt - Memphis, just where the two states bordered on each other. According to archaeological dating this was around 3200 BC. For thousands of years, King Menes was thought to be the first king of Egypt. Ancient Egyptian records clearly identify him as the first king of the first dynasty.

However since then much else has been discovered by archeological findings that have led to some confusion. In the last decade of the 1900s the old royal tombs in Abydos were re-excavated. Two seal impressions were found from the tombs of Den and Qaa, the fifth and eighth ruler of the first dynasty. The motif was a line of kings in a successive order, and both had Narmer as the founder of the first dynasty. This record should be an authentic one since it comes from a time much before Menthos or even the Kings list. Most of all, it was prepared by the descendents of Narmer himself. Some scholars postulated that Menes and Narmer may be the same person. Was it really so? The matter requires further enquiry. The seal impressions of Den and Qaa describe the kings of the first dynasty as:

Narmer,
Aha,
Djer,
Djet,
Den

Thus it is clear that Aha was the son and successor of Narmer. King Aha, on the other hand, was the first pharaoh who built monuments of substance over the whole country, and his large tomb constructions (with buried retainers for the first time) were in dimensions that far overshadowed his predecessors including Narmer his father. He has also left a written sign interpreted as the name "Mene" written beside his ordinary name on one occasion. This at once indicates that he is the same as king Mene (or its Greek form Menes). Thus available evidence indicates that it was Aha and Menes who were one and the same person and not Narmer and Menes.


Confusion may have arisen in interpreting historic records because both Narmer (Also known popularly as the scorpion King) and Menes together united Upper and Lower Egypt. The credit of unification would go to Narmer as the father and this is indeed supported by a later archeological find the -Narmer Palette. Menes or Aha on the other hand was the first king to build substantial monuments in Egypt and may have been regarded by many as the first real Pharaoh of Egypt, thus leading to the confusion.


Narmer's Palette found at the temple of Hierakonpolis shows that behind the king is his sandal-bearer, a high dignitary, possibly his son, who is identified by a rosette (seven petalled) the divine or royal emblem. This son is likely to be the legendary Menes who accompanied Narmer in the conquests. Both may have ruled different parts of Egypt together for a period after the conquest with the younger Menes focusing more on the building of a new Capital at Memphis. Thus it may be concluded that Narmer was the first king of united Egypt and his son Menes the first king that ruled over all of Egypt from Memphis. After the establishment of dynastic rule in Egypt, the villages of Egypt were transformed from members of a loosely organized society in which autonomous chieftains and merchants played the most significant roles, to one under the centralized control of an imperial king.


The kings list of later dynasties appears to have focused on listing the kings of Memphis and thus correctly listed Menes as the first king to rule from that capital, ignoring the father who affected the unification. The second dynasty of Egypt had different roots from the first one. When they came to power they replaced the falcon symbol of the first dynasty by the symbol of a dog. The descendents of Narmer himself would not however ignore their ancestor in developing their own list of kings and listed Narmer as the first king.

Published earlier by author at Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/314530




Mesopotamia

Spread of Civilisation in the ancient World
The Indus valley people began moving towards Sumer as early as 3200 BC and established their first settlements in ancient Sumer. They spoke the language of their forefathers. It was a completely different language from that of local populations of the area. Ancient Sumerian language is different from other languages of the area such as Hebrew, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Aramaic, which are Semitic languages, and Elamite a non-Semitic tribal language of the area with African connections. However, as the ruling class, the colonizers made Sumerian the official language. The local population continued to use Akkadian language. 

Whenever an official language differs from a local one, it is a clear indication that the rulers are of foreign origin. It is surprising that ancient historians on earth have not used this as a clue to tracing the origin of the people who brought civilization to Mesopotamia. The extent of the civilized world around 3000 BC lies in a belt extending from the Nile valley to the Indus valley. Since ancient Sumerian is completely different from the local languages around Mesopotamia, it is not difficult to guess where these new colonizers had come from. Their language was different from that of Nile Valley as well. However, since it was the Sumerians who established civilization in the Nile Valley too, some of their vocabulary did enter Egypt and continues to be used till today, as for example the word Khet for an agricultural holding. By the time Sumerians reached the Nile valley they had no need to establish Sumerian as the official language of Nile valley since they had become familiar with local languages of the area. As intermarriages between local Akkadians and ruling Sumerians increased, Sumerian was replaced by Akkadian as a spoken language around 2000 BC. Nevertheless, it continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial and scientific language in Mesopotamia until about 1 AD. From the beginning of the second millennium, Babylonians and Assyrians maintained and utilized the extinct Sumerian language in much the same way that ancient Greek and Latin are used for artistic, religious and scholarly purposes today.

Although the Sumerian language is not an Indo-Aryan language it uses the root system for developing words. This was later adapted by Indo-Aryans in the development of Sanskrit in the Indus Valley. The use of Sumerian language began first in southern Mesopotamia and spread northwards indicating from which direction Indus people arrive in Mesopotamia. Ancient scribes have provided equivalence between Sumerian and Akkadian words and these can be employed to advantage by historians struggling to decipher the Indus Script. So far they have been looking elsewhere trying to establish its equivalence with Dravidian or Indo-European languages and failed. The Indus language was replaced by Indo-Aryan languages in the Indus valley as in much of the old world with the arrival of Aryans. Some of the words of the Indus-Sumerian language however continue to persist in local dialects till today.

Map from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spread_of_Oecumene_Mesopotamia.jpg This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The image has been modified before use here.