However, the fact that Nippur never really gave kings any real political or military advantages suggests to some that it was never really conquered. The city itself was more viewed as "national Cult Center. Also as the city was seen as a holy site this enabled Nippur to survive numerous conflicts that wiped out many other cities in the region.
This is an area where scholars have many different views. It had long been posited that the common laborer was nothing more than a serf, but new analysis and documents reveal a possible different picture. Gangs of laborers can be divided into various groups. Certain groups indeed seem to work under compulsion. Others work in order to keep property or get rations from the state. Still other laborers were free men and women for whom social mobility was a possibility. Many families travelled together in search of labor.
Such laborers could amass private property and even be promoted to higher positions. This is quite a different picture of a laborer's life than the previous belief that they were afforded no way to move out of the social group they were born into. Slaves also made up a crucial group of labor for the state. One scholar [ who? However, one surprising feature of this period is that slaves seem to have been able to accumulate some assets and even property during their lifetimes such that they could buy their freedom.
Extant documents give details about specific deals for slaves' freedoms negotiated with slaveowners. It is quite similar to the famous Code of Hammurabi , resembling its prologue and bodily structure. Although the prologue credits Ur-Nammu , the author is still somewhat under dispute; some scholars attribute it to his son, Shulgi. The prologue to the law-code, written in the first person, established the king as the beacon of justice for his land, a role that previous kings normally did not play.
He claims to want justice for all, including traditionally unfortunate groups in the kingdom like the widower or the orphan. Most legal disputes were dealt with locally by government officials called mayors, although their decision could be appealed and eventually overturned by the provincial governor. Sometimes legal disputes were publicly aired with witnesses present at a place like the town square or in front of the temple. However, the image of the king as the supreme judge of the land took hold, and this image appears in many literary works and poems.
Citizens sometimes wrote letters of prayer to the king, either present or past. The Ur III kings oversaw many substantial state-run projects, including intricate irrigation systems and centralization of agriculture. An enormous labor force was amassed to work in agriculture, particularly in irrigation, harvesting, and sowing. Textiles were a particularly important industry in Ur during this time. The textile industry was run by the state. Many men, women, and children alike were employed to produce wool and linen clothing.
The detailed documents from the administration of this period exhibit a startling amount of centralization; some scholars have gone so far as to say no other period in Mesopotamian history reached the same level. Trade was very important to the Ur Dynasty because it was a way to ensure that the empire had enough ways to grow its wealth and care for those Ur ruled. One of the areas that Mesopotamia traded with was the Persian Gulf area. With the Gulf trade some of the most important things that were traded a lot were raw materials like metal, wood, ivory, and also semi-precious stones.
One specific kind of item traded with the two regions were conch shells. These were made by craftsmen who would turn them into lamps and cups dating back to the 3rd millennium. Monday 2 December Tuesday 3 December Wednesday 4 December Thursday 5 December Friday 6 December Saturday 7 December Sunday 8 December Monday 9 December Tuesday 10 December Wednesday 11 December Thursday 12 December Friday 13 December Saturday 14 December Sunday 15 December Monday 16 December Tuesday 17 December Wednesday 18 December Thursday 19 December Friday 20 December Saturday 21 December Sunday 22 December Monday 23 December Tuesday 24 December Wednesday 25 December Thursday 26 December Friday 27 December Saturday 28 December Sunday 29 December Monday 30 December Tuesday 31 December Wednesday 1 January Thursday 2 January Friday 3 January Saturday 4 January Sunday 5 January Monday 6 January Tuesday 7 January Wednesday 8 January Thursday 9 January Friday 10 January Saturday 11 January Sunday 12 January Monday 13 January Fragile and shy and scared of attention, some of them, sure, just as you might be if you'd been through something that ripped open your sense of reality.
And the same could be said for the ones with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, of grand mission — you might think you were important, too, if you were bringing news of cosmic significance. But neither timidity nor grandiosity mean that you aren't telling the truth. And they weren't being consciously untruthful. I mean, I'm speaking only about my own reactions here. Maybe I'm easily misled. Regardless, my inner alarms, most of the time, did not start ringing.
There are psychological studies that bear this out. People who say they've been abducted by aliens tend to show PTSD-like symptoms when they're pressed on the topic of alien abduction; otherwise, they're not appreciably mentally ill, or not more so than the rest of us. They pay taxes and watch Hulu and decide which toothpaste to use, and then just happen to live with this one deep sinkhole of terror. Or of wonder; I don't know the ratios here, but there's at least a noticeable minority of experiencers who feel they've been chosen, not singled out for torment.
But not trusting their honesty because they seem "strange" makes no sense, because being lifted into the sky by extraplanetary beings would of course have that effect on "normal" people.
This is one of the logical reversals you tend to fall into around UFO people. It's like saying "Oh, Jake is really on edge — he must be lying about what happened in the war. What I'm saying is that there's a legitimate mystery here, which is: Why do so many people say, and seem to believe, that they have had experiences that cannot, according to any plausible reading of reality, have happened?
Stats are hard to come by for obvious reasons, but the number of people who say they've been abducted runs at least to many thousands. And yet no indisputable photographic evidence, in an era when nearly everyone carries a camera? No multiple-eyewitness accounts that aren't at least somewhat slippery? Nothing undismissable picked up by, say, news satellites, by Google Earth?
At a moment when it sometimes seems the planet is encased in a shell of surveillance? In a sense, the conspiracy-theory aspect of the UFO phenomenon, the but that's just what they'd want you to think! Here UFO believers will stop me to insist that there is evidence, mountains of it, and they're right.
There are countless reports of lights materializing over cities, of group-abductees who forgot the event, then went under hypnosis and recovered identical memories. There are countless photographs, of various degrees of graininess. The government really did take flying saucers seriously. There was an Air Force initiative, Project Blue Book, that tracked reports, and this wasn't because postwar American intelligence was so silly but because once you are tasked with actually mapping the line that separates folklore from reality, you discover that the border is maddeningly blurred.
But all this evidence has an odd sort of vanishing-around-the-edges quality. It's confirming to people who are already inclined to believe and unpersuasive to people who aren't. So much of it is on the order of "children in a small town all started drawing the same picture of a gray man with dark eyes.
The problem this creates is analogous to the problem of religious experience; it's fascinating and disturbing in the same way. What do you do when someone whose word you have no reason to doubt claims to have seen God? When you yourself haven't? Your sense of reality either expands around that possibility or it doesn't. A big difference between religious faith and belief that aliens walk among us, of course, is that God is often thought to occupy what we might crudely call a higher order of reality, while aliens presumably exist within ours.
Another difference is that the experience of religious visitation leaves most people overjoyed ; you don't get a lot of PTSD from it, although it blows your perceptions wide open. Still, the abduction narrative has many features in common with, say, the writings of mystic saints — the blinding light overhead, the sense of telepathic communion, the slow floating upward.
You don't have to look hard for theories that the "angels" described by ancient writers were actually beings from space or, on the other hand, that the aliens described by experiencers are the atomic-age equivalent of fairies. Paranoia is skepticism taken to the point where it becomes faith. In the same way, the alien trope takes 20th-century scientism to the point where it becomes mystical.
Which has nothing to do with whether people have actually experienced it. Remember how I said that Area 51 was both there and not there at the same time? Spend enough time with these questions and you end up feeling like Augustine, who wrote of God and heavenly creatures that "they neither are nor are not in existence. Or almost. Looking back at that quote, I realize I have it backward.
It's God , in Augustine's formulation, who is entirely in existence. Of course it is. It's what isn't God — our world, our rooms, our memories, our faces — that both is there and also is not. What's real and also not? A dream, right? Augustine isn't saying that God is like a dream we're having. He's saying the opposite. He's saying we're the dream, not the dreamer.
He's talking about us. I drove miles out of my way to see it. It's a sandstone cliff rising out of the desert. Bleached-looking bluffs. A kind of rough-hewn natural fortress, towering feet over low tangles of juniper and ponderosa pine. The conquistadors called it El Morro : the promontory. Walk around the base and you find a fold in the cliff that makes a small, shaded grotto, where rainwater gathers in a pool.
Just rainwater — there's no underground spring or anything like that. For hundreds of years, if you wanted to cross this desert and survive, this pool was your best hope. Going back to the Spanish, even before. Even a long time before. The little rain basin at El Morro was the vital link for generation upon generation of travelers. The oldest carvings on the rock are ancient petroglyphs, made by native Puebloans around 1, years ago.
Bighorn sheep. Human forms with box-shaped torsos. Over the centuries, as the land was colonized by successive waves of explorers and then missionaries and soldiers and settlers, a sort of ad hoc traveler's custom arose whereby anyone passing through would etch their own names into the stone.
Not like a formal tradition. Just, one person did it and then the next person saw that inscription and copied it. Many of them wrote a little bit about their journeys. The first message from a European was carved in That's 15 years before the Mayflower landed. There are 2, carvings.
Some are crudely scraped, some chiseled with a finesse that's nearly calligraphic. The oldest belong to Spaniards, whose messages are small windows onto the moment when breastplated and shiny-helmeted conquistadors ventured into what they saw as this untamed desert vastness. The Sea of the South — that's the Pacific Ocean. They knew it was there, but not how to find it.
This was the era of lost cities of gold, of Terra Australis. The map of the world was still full of blanks. So right away, as you stroll the path beside the cliff's base, you're looking back in time. He "dealt harshly" with "rebellious" Indians, is how old history books put it.
Newer ones say that he cut off the feet of captives from tribes he wanted to subdue. His real crime, in the eyes of the king, was probably running out of money. Another inscription, from , tells of the passing of a group of soldiers on their way to "avenge the death of Father Letrado," a missionary who'd been killed and scalped by the Zuni.
In , the Pueblo rose up against Spanish oppression and drove out the colonists; 12 years later, Diego de Vargas arrived with a military force and reconquered Santa Fe. At his own expense — what a glimpse of character in that one tiny flourish. The Indian Wars are written all over this place. Cavalrymen sent by the U. When he was secretary of war for the United States, Jefferson Davis had caused the formation of an experimental camel corps, had sent dozens of camels with American troops into the desert to see if they'd haul supplies better than mules; one of these contingents passed through here in Gilmer Breckinridge, who oversaw 25 camels, signed his name.
The next year saw settlers bound for California. One member of the group to leave an inscription was year-old Sallie Fox, traveling west with her family. After they moved on from the rock, Mojave Indians attacked the wagon train. Sallie was shot through the ribcage with an arrow. She endured the long desert trek, mostly on foot and with a high fever, back to Albuquerque with the survivors from her party. The dress she was wearing is now in the historical museum in Vacaville, California.
There's a little rent in the right side of the chest, where the arrow went through. Among the inscriptions, there are countless hidden stories, countless mysteries. Or did the Pueblo carve the image, a human figure, over his words, expressing defiance against a sadistic enemy? It would be fascinating to know, but we won't know, because it's difficult to date the glyphs, and also because the inscriptions themselves are vanishing.
The sandstone is so soft. That's what made the graffiti possible in the first place; it also means that every day, the wind carries away a little more. Already many of the inscriptions are hard to read. The Park Service is trying to preserve them, but at best, the erosion can only be slowed. A park ranger warned me that it was "breezy," but I wanted to see the top, so I followed the thin track up along the promontory's side and then stepped out onto the rock.
The wind was cold. There were places where twisted low pines grew out from between cracks in the sandstone. Erosion had left weird, cowboy-dimension shapes in the summit's profile. Shattered-looking steeples. Long protuberances that called to mind strange masks. Think It Over. No Blue Sky. Now I Know. Long, Sweet Summer Night. I Told You. Such a Shame. I Set the World on Fire. Among the Living. Article What Is a Crustacean?
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