clay tablet a fragment from Gilgamesh: the Great Flood
SUMERIA AND URUK Sumeria: – the first “ city ” societies > the first “ civilization ”, beginning 4000-3000 BC – follows the neo-lithic [ new stone-age] revolution > the agricultural revolution in Mesopotamia 9000-5000 BC agriculture domestication of animals settled societies (permanent villages and towns) Before this agricultural revolution, human societies lived as “hunters and gatherers”
URUK: divided into three parts and sacred center houses gardens fields temples
The Sumerian city: a representation of totality Inside the walls: life, agriculture, labor, authority > order > civilization Outside the walls? Outside the circle: ???
Outside the walls: Mythic Space where human abilities to create and to destroy are projected into the unknown, the uncontrolled: gods, monsters, unconquered Nature. liminal [threshold / eșik] space: we look back to the mythic past, but the mythic past calls forward to the present and future.
Outside the walls: Humbaba, guardian of the great cedar forest Nature’s challenge to civilization; a useful resource to be conquered and exploited
What ’ s new about Sumeria? New technologies in – war – agriculture – labor Especially, storage technology.
Storage of necessities until the next harvest – essential for agricultural societies and civilization
History of Civilization: “ objectified ” in objects of storage technology
Writing – a key storage technology Clay tablet USB
But what is really new about Sumeria? a new social form: hierarchy
For the first time in human history: society is divided into classes Hier-archy [original meaning: rule by the high priest] organization by class or status. high status rules low status. The higher class has the power to command. The higher class has political authority. This conception of authority begins with Sumeria.
authority author = [the one who is the origin of something] > > writer The one who writes the law = authority The right to speak is potentially the power to command.
Authority / Power claims to be innocent. Power claims to be serving a greater Authority, outside the person of the ruler. The god Enlil has given Gilgamesh the power “to bind and to loose” -- to rule his subjects. A king claims to be innocent because he is the first son of the last King – a unique position that he did not choose. Elected politicians claim to rule in the name of 51% of the people.
Property stone: the king gives land to his warriors. The warriors collect taxes from the peasants on that land.
property [Latin: ‘proprius’ ] -- one’s own; what is proper (appropriate) to oneself; a quality or state that belongs to something (this stone is hard, this table is flat, etc) Gilgamesh has the power “to bind and to loose” -- to determine the properties of his subjects, to decide what is proper / appropriate for each. >> authority _______________ state [Latin: ‘status’] -- condition or quality of something; state – political state [from status / estate] – political organization according to social status, according to what is proper for each class, according to the social properties of each class.
Shamash gives Hammurabi the right to rule The gods called me, Hammurabi, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black- headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land… to further the well-being of mankind.
1. If a man accuses another man of a (capital) crime, but cannot prove it, he, the accuser, shall be put to death. 196. If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. 197. If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken. 198. If he put out the eye of a freed man [a former slave], or break the bone of a freed man, he shall pay one gold mina. 199. If he put out the eye of a man's slave, or break the bone of a man's slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.
202. If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he, he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public. 203. If a free-born man strike the body of another free- born man of equal rank, he shall pay one gold mina. 204. If a freed man strike the body of another freed man, he shall pay ten shekels in money. 205. If the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.
209. If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. 210. If the woman die, his daughter shall be put to death. 211. If a woman of the free class lose her child by a blow, he shall pay five shekels in money. 212. If this woman die, he shall pay half a mina. 213. If he strike the female-servant of a man, and she lose her child, he shall pay two shekels in money. 214. If this female-servant dies, he shall pay one-third of a mina.
The Net of the Sumerian Social Imaginary Sümer-Think property authority hierarch y
Hunter – Gatherers in the Amazon (the anti-sumerians)
Among hunter-gatherers: The chief must give gifts to the others. For this reason he works harder than others. The chief must give speeches everyday. It is his duty – not his right. But the chief has no power to command. No authority. When the chief speaks, the others do not listen. Or they pretend not to listen.
The City is the place and symbol of the state -- of hierarchy houses gardens fields temples
order Sumer-think 101: Everyone, everything has an identity Every identity has a function Every function has its place
Symbolic-Identitary Operations identity means sameness: the same as, identical to A = A A is identical to A A ≠ -A A is not identical to not A this = this this ≠ that This cannot be this and that. ___________________________ Our hunter-gatherers say: In truth, we are this and we are that. It is language that prevents us from being this and that.
Everyone has a social identity/ status/function Every function has an appropriate place Identitary logic of ancient civilization