Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Which Kish?

I started a list of things I had read or heard about that sounded interesting. I consult that list for ideas for blogs. Sometimes my list entry is a helpful short paragraph; other entries are a phrase or just a word. This time, the entry was “Kish, Iran”.

I googled “Kish, Iran” and came up with Kish Island, a duty-free giant shopping mall on an island, according to Wikipedia. What? I must have misunderstood or mis-wrote, because I have extremely little interest in giant shopping malls, duty-free or otherwise. I read the history section, and it mentioned some ancient info about the island, but it was all summed up in a couple sentences, with lots of references to other articles, and it didn’t sound all that interesting.

What a bummer. What do I do, cross off that entry and pick another?

I opened google again, and put in “Kish”. What came up concerned an ancient city in what is now Iraq. I always seem to confuse Iran and Iraq. I decided to take look at what Wikipedia had on this Kish.

Around 4000 BC, the Sumerian people appeared in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates River in Mesopotamia (modern southern Iraq). They all shared the same culture and language, but they settled in about a dozen different places, which eventually became walled cities.

Kish was a city that came into existence around 3100 BC, sitting on the Euphrates River. The Sumerians as a whole developed a system of writing that was adopted by many other cultures. They also invented the wheel, the plow, law codes, literature and brewing. They placed their cities on rivers so that they could irrigate crops.

Although the Sumerian cities all shared a culture and language, they were constantly at war with each other, which explains why their cities were walled. The contained area was almost always dominated by a ziggurat – a tiered, pyramid-like temple. Individual houses were built either of bundles of marsh reeds or mud bricks. Sumerians traveled long distances to trade with other peoples. They may have reached as far as Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

Kish was the first city to have kings after the deluge, according to the ancient Sumerian kings list. It had several dynasties. Two leaders from the 2nd dynasty, Enmebaragesi and his son, Aga of Kish, are said to be contemporaries of Gilgamesh of Uruk.

The third dynasty had an unusual beginning; the new king was Kubau, a female who had previously been a tavern keeper. She came to power at about 2500 BC. At some point, she was deified. The fourth dynasty consisted of Kubau’s (male) descendants.

Early in the 2nd millennium BC, Sumer was invaded by the Amorites and Babylonians. The culture did not survive this invasion. By 1750 BC, their history, culture, language were all forgotten. Eventually, Kish was abandoned and also forgotten. Just like the people who had been living in this area when the Sumers arrived.

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