By Jeremy Black
This anthology of Sumerian literature constitutes the main accomplished assortment ever released, and comprises examples of lots of the sorts of composition written within the language, from narrative myths and lyrical hymns to proverbs and love poetry. The translations have benefited either from the paintings of many students and from our ever-increasing figuring out of Sumerian. as well as reflecting the advances made through sleek scholarship, the translations are written in transparent, obtainable English. an in depth creation discusses the literary characteristics of the works, the folk who created and copied them in historical Iraq, and the way the learn of Sumerian literature has developed over the past a hundred and fifty years.
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Extra info for The Literature of Ancient Sumer
The public front courtyard, on the other hand, had no household records and just two school exercises. The other tablets there were all works of Sumerian literature, magical incantations and liturgical works in Sumerian. The Sumerian works were mostly preserved in two copies and included some well-known compositions such as Gilgames, Enkidu, and the Underworld (Group A), Gilgames and Huwawa, and Inana and Ebih (both Group J). But four of the compositions were previously unknown, or known only in fragments: they do not seem to have been mainstream literary works, in Nibru at least.
Identifying, publishing, and reconstructing the constituents of this shattered archive is still an ongoing project. Until the late 1880s Mesopotamian exploration had been almost exclusively a by-product of British and French colonial interests in the Middle East designed to furnish their great national museums. But around this time a large-scale American expedition to Nippur (Nibru) was established, in order to bring the USA into the game. But whereas the French and British collectors all had long-standing interests and expertise in the area, only one of the American expedition members had even set foot in the Middle East before.
The one translated in this book—which itself has many variants—begins, ‘Now the lord once decided to set oﬀ for the mountain where the man lives’. ⁷ Both versions are listed in the Literary catalogue from Nibru (Group J) and so must have been known by the same people at the same time. Other works were known in slightly variant versions in diﬀerent cities or schools (though as the variants are often known from very fragmentary sources we have chosen not to include their translations here). We are very rarely able to trace change over long periods of time; and when we can we ﬁnd no consistent patterns.