A Preliminary Note
Most Ancient Days -- Preface
Chapter 1 -- The Number of the Years: chronology from Adam to Saul
Chapter 2 -- The Age of Evil Imagining: the Confusion and Scatter at Babel
Chapter 3 -- The Generations of the Sons of Noah: the Tabel of Nations
Chapter 4 -- Cities of the Twin Rivers: Shinar from Babel to Sodom
Chapter 5 -- Profane Fables: Egyptian historiagraphy and the standard paradigm
Chapter 6 -- Kings of the Nile: Egypt from Babel to Sodom

Chapter 7 -- Stones of Sumer: Jemdet Nasr and "Early Dynastic"

Chapter 8 -- Sands of Egypt: Dyanasty XIIa & IIa

Chapters 9 & 10 (The Age of Base Metal: The Middle Bronze Age) -- Expanded and presented here.

Chapter 11 -- Joseph Over the House of Pharaoh: Egypt in the 18th century

Chapter 12 -- The Pharaoh Who Knew Not Joseph: The Old Kingdom to the Exodus

Chapter 13 -- Moses Prince of Egypt: Dynasty XIII and the "First Intermediate Period"

Chapter 14 -- Into the Hands of the Living God: the Ten Plagues of Egypt

Chapter 4 -- Cities of the Twin Rivers: Shinar from Babel to Sodom

Chapter 4

Cities of the Twin Rivers:

Shinar from Babel to Sodom

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, 'Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.' And the beginning of his kingdom was Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh (and the city Rehoboth) and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.

— Gen 10:8-11

We call Mesopotamia after the city of Babylon — hence, Babylonia. The ancients more often called Mesopotamia after another of its cities, Assur — hence, Assyria. But by this they did not mean our narrow understanding, of the region far to the north: rather, they meant the whole of that most ancient land. Shinar, Sumer, Akkad, Babylo­nia, Assyria, Mesopotamia: the region has had many names. Even more, it has had literally a thousand gods, and through the centuries, it knew many languages and cultures. This diversity was fostered by the fact that the land had no real geograph­ical unity, and above all no permanent capital city, so that by its very variety it stands out from other civilizations with greater uniformity, particularly that of Egypt.” Of course, when we correct its chronology, Egypt is shown not to have been so uniform after all — but this detracts not at all from the diversity of Mesopota­mia.

Just over 225 years passed between the Flood and Babel, which was suffi­cient time for the popula­tion to increase enough to build cities on the plain of Shinar. After the Confusion at Babel a mass migration ensued, when the various newly-created language groups — new races and nations — scattered across the globe. In The Serpent in Babel I discuss Nimrod and his times as remembered in legend and mythology. In another place I discuss the "earlier" — the "stone age" — cultures of the ancient world. In this chapter, however, I deal only with Mesopotamia and Egypt. Here, we will look at the primary line of civiliza­tion, starting with the Mesopotamia of the time from Nimrod to Abraham, from the viewpoint of archeology and the Bible.

To us the most obvious historical entity of Mesopotamia is the culture of Sumer. However, although this culture rose up in the very land in which the Tower was built, the Sumerians were not the first civilization to dominate the region. The conglomera­tion of city states known as Sumer did not take shape until after the generation of Babel had faded — most notably Nimrod and his line. Indeed, it was long after the events at Babel that this civilization comes to the fore.

It is at this point that the two world views collide, modernist with biblical. Up until now, what I have been saying has been more or less cut loose from the conventional under­stand­ing of man's past, and could be dismissed as religious, mythical or legendary — in any case, mere dogma. But once we start dealing with the provence of the histori­an, there is no room for compromise: either there was a literal Babel, which implies a literal Flood, which implies that the Bible is technically as well as spiritually accurate — or else the Bible is just another collection of legends and religious musings, no more valid in an empirical sense than the Greek or the Norse myths.

Precision of understanding is not aided by the fact that, of the more than 6500 identified Mesopota­mian archeological sites, well over 6000 have not been explored. But let's learn what we may from the information which we have. In terms of archeolo­gy, we find that such cities as Kish, Ur and Erech appear in the earliest records, as rivals. Other important early cities existed, but have not been excavated, so of course our understanding is nothing like as complete as it could be.

Kish was the city considered by later Babylonians to have been the most ancient. It is an obvious assumption that Kish was named for Cush, a son of Ham; likewise, Cain had named a city for his son Enoch, and Terah apparently named the city of Haran for his elder son.

That Kish was the "headquarters" of the Babel rebels is suggested from its proximi­ty to Babylon, being only eight miles to the east. When the apostasy of the Tower was conceived, the rebels converged at Babel to provide labor. We have learned this already.

Now, the agreement between archeology and ancient historians is very poor. This is so, first, because the very earliest dynasties were grossly distorted, in terms of the lengths which individual kings ruled. The Sumerians preserved the names of the ancient kings of Kish, and even standard chronology accepts this information as truly ancient, but it demands that the names of these kings were preserved through oral tradition, over perhaps a thousand years or more, until the invention of writing.

It is nigh-on impossible to synchronize the kings of Kish I with other early dynasties. Without getting overly specific, we may note that Etana was the first king of Kish I. He followed twelve legendary kings, some of whom had semitic names; these may perhaps include pre-Flood patriarchs. The reigns of these kings are grossly exaggerated and are merely propaganda, so it is impossible to speak of their true lengths.

Even granting that these kings had some historical reality, Berosus would have it that the first post-Flood dynasty at Kish lasted a total of 34,000 years. Obviously this is inflated, probably by the fact that the Babylonian unit of time, the sarah, had different values, one of thousands of years, another of only 18.5 years. And, if there was confusion on the part of some scribe, where a single year was mistaken for the 18.5 year cycle, we can divide 34,000 by 18.5, and arrive at a total reign of just over 1,837 years. If we further suppose that this represents the total reign not only of the first dynasty, but of all dynasties, from Kish until Berosus' day, c. 250 bc, it may be that Kish started around 2087 bc; or, from 2192 bc (the date of the Confusion), 1,837 years may have passed until 355 bc, the date of some hypothetical scribal calculations which Berosus later used.

Again, Berosus gives Kish 86 kings, including Cush (Evechous, ruling 2,400 years), and Nimrod (Kosmabelos, which may mean something like 'world-warrior' — ruling 2,700 years). But Berosus is not the only source of names for the kings of Kish. The Sumerian King List, written in Isin (in southern Mesopotamia, in the Akkadian dialect), was apparently taken from oral tradition and votive inscriptions. This (very impor­tant) source gives Ga...ur (Cush?) a reign of 1,200 years. If we assume that Cush actually ruled 60 years, which duration was multiplied by 40 (or 20 for Ga...ur), and if we assume 27 years of Nimrod had been multiplied by 100, we bring these mythic numbers in line with the expecta­tions of historians. As for the 86 kings, this is said to represent a democratic council of lords — if so, it would be the first such known in history. The point is that even the most ridiculous numbers may have some basis in rationality.

It is debatable as to how useful all this recalculation is; it most likely demon­strates how easy it is to be clever with numbers. What is certain is that Kish had its dates very corrupted, since even Kish II is supposed to have lasted over 3,000 years. Why might such distortions and multiplications have happened? Well, again, if there was a rivalry for seniority between chauvinistic scribes of Egypt and Babylonia, such distortion is under­standable.

The primacy given to the "city of Cush" by the pagans is revealed by the fact that the Sumerian King List speaks of five cities having kingship before "the flood" — after which kingship again "descended from heaven," upon 10 or so kings of Kish who ruled for fantastic lengths. Now, the "pre-flood" cites were, I would think, pre-Confusion cities — the Confusion being accompanied or followed by a local flood.

It is important to remember that not every flood was the Flood of Noah. The compara­tive­ly insignificant flood-deposits associated with the ruined cities of Sumer were the result of the heavy rains and unstable environment of the post-Flood period, with many strata laid down during the wet Ice Age. I discuss this in Dragons in the Earth. These lesser catastrophes devastated local regions, and eventually the magni­tude of the true Flood was forgotten, and the heros of the lesser floods became aggrandized. I suppose this particular flood of Kish occurred around the time of the Confusion at Babel — but in any case it marks a time which the Sumerians considered to be a political sea change.

The original settlement of Ur was founded by Chalcolithic farmers apparently from northern Mesopotamia (c. *4th millennium). This suggests that it was an immediately post-Babel site. Eventual­ly the population grew enough to make it a substantial urban center, and it was from Ur that Terah (father of Abraham) was called by God. Standard reckoning would have Terah emigrating from Ur III, but my reconstruction places this dynasty in the 1300's bc; the city from which Terah departed was pre-dynastic Ur, or else Ur I.

The period just prior to Ur I is known to archeology from its pre-dynastic ceme­tery, which is similar to that of Erech / Uruk. The tombs are sometimes called the "Jemdet-Nasr Cemetery" (c. 1950 / *3000) and were excavated in the early 1920's by Leonard Woolley, one of the grand old men of archeology; his excavations make it archaeologically the best-known Mesopotamian city.

Beneath the foundations of the earliest city, deep burial pits of royalty revealed artifacts crafted with great skill and artistry, with "remarkably ad­vanced" casting, carving and filigree. The contents of the tombs illustrate a very highly developed state of society of an urban type, a society in which the architect was familiar with all the basic principles of construc­tion known to us today. The artist, capable at times of a most vivid realism, followed for the most part standards and conventions whose excellence had been approved by many generations working before him. The craftsman in metal possessed a knowledge of metal­lurgy and a technical skill which few ancient peoples ever revealed . . .” Woolley notes that no religious figures, nor any object of a religious nature, appear in these tombs.

We read in Gen 10 of Nimrod as a "mighty hunter before the Lord"; this is taken to indicate, first, his renown among men, and second, his rebellion against God. He played a key role at Babel, as I discuss in The Serpent in Babel. The building of the city of Babylon was delayed by the disruption of tongues (Gen 11:8), and other cities were politi­cally dominant. But the site of Babel was not abandoned, and it eventually rose again as the cultic center of paganism.

The ancients remember Nimrod as a conqueror and tyrant, and we read that after the disruption, probably extending out from the base of Kish (Gen 10:10), the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh.” This does not say that Nimrod started these cities — merely that his kingdom started with these cities. Nimrod may have conquered them. But in any case, from these cities on the plain of Shinar, Nimrod moved into Assyria in the north, and built up Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir and Resen (Gen 10:11-12). I have identified Nimrod's influence with the appearance in the archeological record of the Uruk culture / period, marked by a characteristic pottery of an unpainted, light-colored style, often made on a wheel.

The ancient rabbis said that Nimrod chose Terah as his general. Whether or not this is true I cannot say, but the timing works, since Terah was born 4 years before the Confusion at Babel, and died at age 205 in 1991 bc, the year in which Abram first descended into Egypt (Gen 12:10). Terah may have been just over age 60 (c. 2130) when he was Nimrod's agent in Ur — he became the father of Nahor and Haran around 2126 bc (and 60 years later, of Abram). Over a century later, around 2015 or so, Terah and his son Abram emigrated from Ur, into Syria to the northwest. A-Anne-Pada was king of Ur at this time, and we will read his brief inscription shortly.

Both pre-Dynastic Ur, of Terah, and Nimrod's Uruk IV were destroyed by a local flood — correlated to the Sodom catastrophe — followed by the Jemdet Nasr culture (1967 bc / *3100). We will look at the relevant details later.

Uruk IV (-1967)

Contemporaneous with Kish I was the dynasty of Erech I (or Uruk IV — note that Uruk IV refers to a level named by archeologists, while Erech I refers to a dynasty, named by ancient historians). Archeology has revealed that Uruk had 18 strata, with level XVIII being the oldest and lowest city — probably stretching back to the early post-Flood days. Erech was the great ziggurat city of Ishtar, and from this temple, tablets have been re­cover­ed. The first archeological digs here uncovered inscriptions from every period, demon­strating the city's enduring importance. Indeed, it is here that we have discovered the ear­li­est known cylinder seals and writings, from around the 21st century bc. Four of the mounds cover temples and a royal palace of some Babylo­nian king; these await exploration. Unfortunately, investigation of the site has not been extensive, and no city has yet been described.

We find evidence of early trade with Syria, Persia, and the Indus Valley, but the high culture of the Uruk of Gilgamesh came to an abrupt end. The reason for the assumption is a marked break in both artistic and architectural tradi­tions: cylinder seals were replaced by others with an entirely new style; the great temples were abandoned . . . and on a new site a shrine was built on a terrace . . .” The city continued as Uruk III, which had a culture which archeo­logists call "Jemdet Nasr", after a settlement 18 miles NE of Kish. It is this social revolution which marks the political and historical advent of the Sumerians. I propose that the cause of the change may be found in the book of Genesis, as we shall discuss shortly.

The kings of Erech are the heros of the earliest Babylonian epics, which were written long after the actual events — this is self-evident from the fact that it was only toward the end of Uruk IV (c. 1970 / *3100) that the first picto­graphic writing appears. Ruling in the age of legend, there is small wonder that until relatively recently Lugalbanda, Dumuzi, Enmerkar, and Gilgamesh of Uruk were considered to be wholly legendary characters. Now they are known to have been historical people who led armies in battles long ago.” Not only is arche­ol­ogy discovering the historicity of these kings, but the Bible speaks of them as well.

From The Sumerian King List of the ancient historians, the kings of Uruk IV are known as the dynasty of Erech I. Now, to corre­late these names with those famil­iar to us from the Bible is a tenu­ous pro­cess, and such conclu­sions must generally be treated gingerly. How­ever, there is suffi­cient evidence to make some iden­tifi­cations.

I have identified Mes-Kiag-Gasher as Shem, primarily be­cause this king is said by the an­cients to have been the son of the Flood hero Utu, who clearly corresponds to Noah. That Mes-Kiag-Gasher is Shem, and not Jepheth or Ham, is supported by the fact that he is called a high priest — Shem is given preeminence over his brothers in Genesis; we will see that Shem also played a role in Egyptian history, and, as one of the pharaohs of Dynasty I, his hieroglyph de­picts an Asiatic high priest.

The ancient text records that Mes-Kiag-Gasher traveled to the Western Sea (Medi­ter­ranean), and to "the far mountains" — what we would call Greece. While there are "far mountains" other than only Greece, the close association which Shem had with Eber, in fighting the paganism of Nimrod, sug­gests that these two godly patriarchs would also have other associations. When we look at Dynasty I, we will find that Eber too was a king in Egypt, as well as in Greece. The link is corroborated by the fact that the Egyptian "tombs" of both these patriarchs contained Aegean ceramics. If there is any validity to the rule of 325 years, it cannot have lasted any later than 1916 bc, which is the year Shem died; if this rule commenced immediately after the Flood, it would have ended c. 2093.

The second king of Erech I was E-Mer-Kar, son of his predecessor. If we look to the sons of Shem, the most likely candidate to be E-Mer-Kar is Assur, who like Nimrod was a builder of Erech (Mic 5:6). What we are to make of the length of his reign, I can­not say — but it may be that for some rea­son later pagan scribes multiplied it by the all-important number, sixty, in which case he would have ruled a mere seven years; if they multiplied the years by the sarah of 18.5, he would have ruled just over 22 years. Be that as it may, this king was said to be the father of Semiramis.

The next king was Lugal-Banda (meaning ‛King-Little’). The ancient texts call him "a god" and "a shepherd". This claim to divinity suggests that he was a self-dei­fied pagan, which would identify him as Cush, the architect and prophet of the apostasy at Babel (see The Serpent in Ba­bel). That he was Cush is clinched by the identity of his son, as we shall see. It is most likely that Cush died in the catastro­phe which struck the Tower of Babel. If we suppose that this king's reign was also multiplied by sixty, then he ruled for only 20 years. He is said to have been married to Semiramis. That Nimrod, the son of Cush, was also married to Semiramis should cause us no undue consternation, if we assume that Semiramis was not the mother of Nimrod, but only a bride of his father. Semiramis was also the "bride" of her own son, Gilgamesh — this is recorded under the names of Isis and Horus.

There is no doubt as to the identity of Dumu-Zi — he is Tammuz, who is Nimrod. The ancient sources are equivocal as to the duration of his rule, but by correlating vari­ous accounts I have estimated that it ended c. 2075. The Sumerian King List records that Dumu-Zi, like his father, was a pagan "god" and a "fisherman". There need be no specific religious connotation in the fact that Cush is called a shepherd and Nimrod a fisherman, even given the biblical uses of these symbols — but the association of Tammuz with the sea is very strong, in his aspect as a sea-god in the Mysteries. Dumu-Zi was said to have been married to Semiramis, who was both his wife and his "mother".

It is Nimrod who is credited with inventing warfare, and so it is logical that he should also be credited with having been the first to build a city wall, around the primal Babylon. That this wall has not been found is not a surprise, given the number of times which that city was destroyed (as by the Neo-Assyrians). Likewise, the ziggurat of Babylon known in classical times was not the Tower of Babel of the Bible, although the later temple compound may have been on the same site. The original tower was thrown down.

The conquests of Nimrod were the stuff of epics in the ancient world, and he was the very prototype of a despot. In his effort to reunify mankind by force after the unity of the culture of Shinar had been shattered, Nimrod marched into the north, taking Assyria — which had been settled by Ashur and his clan. Then Nimrod turned to the west and, arriving in the south of Egypt, eventually conquered the tribes of Mizraim, to the very Nile Delta. Here, in Egypt, we will meet Nimrod again, as one of the earliest pharaohs of Dynasty I.

Semiramis ruled next, after the precipitous execution of Tammuz. The King List is silent as to details, but ancient texts abound with particulars. I have already dis­cussed them elsewhere, and here it is enough to note that Semiramis left an utterly indelible mark in the history and culture of Mesopota­mia, enough for her reign to be counted as the begin­ning of a calendar. This honor is due to her role as innovator of the Mystery Religion.

The next king of Uruk was Gilgamesh, who lived around the time of Woolley's famous pre-dynastic royal tombs of Ur. He was a precise contemporary of Abraham, only a handful of years older — and he is well-known to us from the famous epic poem which was reclaimed in the nineteenth century from the dust of Mesopotamia. The King List tells us that he was a high priest of paganism, and of divine origin, fathered by the "sun-spirit". In Egypt, he was the younger Horus (the elder being Ham), son of Isis / Semi­ra­mis and Osiris / Nimrod (although actually illegitimate). There is far too much to say of Gilgamesh here, but it is interesting to note that in the epic poem, we are told of his search for the patriarch of the Flood; Noah however, had died in 2068, at which time Gilgamesh would have been a mere lad. It is entirely possible that the sage which Gilgamesh found — assuming any historical basis for the epic — was the survivor of one of the many local floods of this era, whom later scribes and poets confused for Noah.

The military endeavors of Gilgamesh (c. 2020 /c. *2680) are further empha­sized by the fact that it was he who defeated Akka, last king of Kish I (c. 2060-2020); Gilgamesh won this victory in alliance with a king of Ur, as we shall learn. According to a strong Akkadian tradition, Gilgamesh was the first to build the defensive walls of Uruk. This tradition fits the biblical view, since the cities of Nimrod's empire did not need walls. It also fits the archeolog­ical evidence, but is inexplicable according to the standard paradigm, since evidence demonstrates the early prevalence of military conflicts, which were one of the most characteristic phenomena in the history of Mesopotamia; and it makes it all the more surprising that the [earliest] Mesopotamian cities at the begin­nings of the *3rd millennium bc [c. *3000] were not walled. The earliest city wall so far known, that of Uruk, dates only to” about 400 (‼600) years before Sargon, or just under 200 years after the Babel event (2192 bc). In other words, Uruk's wall seems to have been constructed around 2020 bc / c. *2700 or *2650 (about the time when Gilgamesh defeated Akka of Kish).

The Bible supports this timing, in the fact that when Lot went to Sodom, he sat at the city gate, which requires that there was a wall. Sodom was destroyed in 1967 bc, so we know that city walls existed prior to this time. Recall that the Cities on the Plain were founded immediately after 2020 bc — the result, perhaps, of the wars of the east.

The political career of Gilgamesh is rather mysterious, in that he abandoned his throne in Egypt, and in Uruk as well (from c. 2017 to 1987) when his impor­tunate son Ur-Lugal ruled there. I can only recall the epic quest of Gilgamesh, to explain his absence.

The dynasty of Ur I was also contemporaneous with Kish I and Erech I. We have looked at Abram's birthplace — the (pre-dynastic) Ur of Nimrod's day, with its spectacular cemetery. Just as pre-Dynastic Ur seems to have been the city of Terah when he was Nimrod's general, Ur I was the city from which Terah and his fam­ily de­par­ted. Terah was in Ur (Gen 11:28) when Haran died, after which he took his grand­son Lot into his house­hold, and moved to the town of Haran. A town named for Haran's bro­ther (or grandfa­ther) Nahor was near­by; the younger Nahor mar­ried his niece, Lot's sis­ter Mil­cah (11:29). Abram married Sarai at this time (she was about ten years his jun­ior), so we may presume that he was about age 30 at his mar­riage, which would make Terah about age 165, and Haran about age 90 when he died (all c. 2036 bc). Lot must have been born by this time, so he can be no more than about 30 years younger than Abram; he grew up in Haran, the town with his father's name.

Abra­m was age 75 at his father's death (1991 bc), when he left Haran af­ter about 45 years, with Lot in his house­hold. Some­time within the next ten years, he and Lot parted compa­ny, and Lot went to live in Sodom, which was de­stroyed about 25 years lat­er, by which time Lot (no less than age 70) had two adult daugh­ters. But that is getting ahead of the story.

Ur I, then, is the city from which Terah and Abram migrated, and it too is known for its cemetery (c. 1900? / *26th century) — the Royal Cemetery of Ur, sometimes called the "A-Anne-Pada Cemetery". These tombs have produced gemstones and treasures of gold, sil­ver, bronze, but also a grotesque trove consist­ing of the sacrificed bodies of court offi­cials and servants, killed and interred with their sovereign. They are chronologi­cally tied with Ur-Nanshe of Lagash, whom we will note in Chapter 7 — and we will have more to say of this cemetery, as well.

There has been some fundamental confu­sion as to the dynasties of Ur: it is said that later scribes identified two different kings with very similar names as the same indivi­dual — when we discuss Babylonian history of the first millen­ni­um, we will run into this problem again. Be that as it may, what the records seem to be saying is that, allied with Gilgamesh, the first king of Ur I, Mes-Anne-Pada, ended Kish I with the defeat of Akka of Kish (c. 2020).

We have a rare inscription from this period. When Woolley was excavating Tell al `Ubaid — a suburb less than five miles west of Ur — workmen uncovered a temple plat­form, and dis­cover­ed a little founda­tion-tablet of grey soapstone covered with . . . very archaic wri­ting . . . . The text might not seem to have warranted such enthusi­asm — 'A-anni-padda, King of Ur, son of Mes-anni-padda, King of Ur, has built this of Ninkhursag, his Lady'; that was all. But Mes-anni-padda was recorded as the first king of the First Dynasty of Ur which scho­lars had rejected as a mythologi­cal invention, and here was his name and that of his son on a contemporary document to prove that the supposed myth was sober history; we had res­cued a whole period from oblivion and carried back the history of Ur by many hundreds of years.” Remember that it was in the days of A-Anne-Pada that Terah emigrated from Ur.

The penultimate king of Kish I, Enme-Bara-Gesi (2050? / *2850 or c. *2700) also bears the distinction of being one of the first personalities to be known by name from archeology; his name is found inscribed on vase fragments. (An­oth­er ruler of Kish, with a similar name, Enmeg-Bara-Si of Kish [c. 2000? 1950?] built a temple to Enlil at Nippur, the religious capital of Sumer.) Assyrian historical tablets record that Enme-Bara-Gesi carried off as booty the weapons of the land of Elam.” Gilga­mesh was his contemporary, and was also said to have invaded Elam, which is in modern SW Iran. So we see that warfare, invented by Nimrod, was practiced by even the most immediate of his successors.

As for the final king of Erech I, he bore the vainglorious name of Ur-Lugal — 'Great King'. Because of the implications of my revised chronology, it is clear that Ur-Lugal is that very king known to us from Gen 14, under the personal name of Amra­phel. We will look at Amraphel in detail in a while; here I will just note that a few years after his death in his battle with Abram, Amraphel's father Gilgamesh reappears (c. 1980 bc) to conquer the third king of Ur I, Mes-Kiag-Nunna. These gains did not last, however, and the pendulum swung toward the fifth king of Ur I — Balulu or Mes-Kiag-Nanna (note the similarity of names) — who rose to prominence in Shinar apparently shortly after Gilgamesh's death (c. 1950). Thus Ur for a time supplanted Erech as the dominant dynasty of Shinar, until the enigmatic Mesilim appeared as the dominant figure in Sumer.

After the death of Ur-Lugal / Amraphel, a great political and social upheaval brought an end to the culture of Uruk IV, which was then replaced by the Jemdet Nasr culture of Uruk III. The shift from the Uruk to the Jemdet Nasr period is marked by "major changes" in the architecture of Uruk. The older culture was damaged by the death of its kings, and the coup de grace was delivered by the catastrophe at Sodom 20 years after: the culture of Uruk IV was annihilated. The native domination of Shinar ended when the region was con­quered by a line of Elamites. But I am getting ahead of the story: let's look at the war in the west.

The war of Chedorlaomer and Abram

The first war of which we are given significant historical details was that in which the kings of the east conquered the west. Specifically, we read in Gen 14:1 of an alliance of Amraphel king of Shinar [Erech], Arioch king of Ellasar [al-Larsa], Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations . . .” All of these kings can be identified from archeology.

As we know, Amraphel ("powerful people") is the biblical name of Ur-Lugal of Uruk IV, son of Gilgamesh. It is doubtful that ‛Shinar’ was the Syrian city of Shankhar or Sangar, known from Akkadian records and mentioned in the Amarna letters. More likely it was the area around Babylon — or modern Baghdad — since Sen`ar was this region's name in Syriac; indeed, some sources state that Amraphel was the king of Babel, which would be consis­tent for Nimrod's "grandson". As king of the dominant city, Uruk, Amraphel is rightly called king of Shinar. He appears to have lost his life in this war.

In the Assyrian king lists, king Arius is found as the son of Ninyas, who was Gilgamesh; thus Arias was a brother of Amraphel. His reign ended right around this time, and it is reasonable to suppose that this is the Arioch of the Bible. On the other hand, Arioch of Ellasar may be identified as Eri-Aki of Larsa, who was an Elamite prince, the maternal nephew of Chedorlaomer. Indeed, Ariaka means "Honored One" in Old Persian — Persia later included the land of Elam. It may be that both identifica­tion are correct: Gilgamesh was brother-in-law to Chedorlaomer — married to an Elamite princess — and his son ruled in both Assyria and Larsa. In any case, his city was called al-Larsa in the tongue of Babylon, and Ararwa ("Abode of Light") in Sumerian — sacred to the sun god. Ellasar is not Ashur, as was once believed, and has wrongly been identified by some as Ilanzura or Ilansra, between Carchemish and Haran — a city known from the Mari texts.

Assyrian tablets tell us that the Mesopotamian coalition was headed by Chedorlao­mer, king of Elam. Chedorlaomer in the tablets is Kudur-Lahgamal, Kedor-Laomerin, or Kutir-Lagamar — "the goddess Lagamar is a protectress." Now, archeology has deter­mined that the relationship between Susa (Elam) and Uruk was close; this is deduced from the fact that it is often difficult to determine whether an impression was made with a cylinder from Uruk or Susa.” Considering the direct implication of Gen 14 — regarding the affiliation between Shinar and Elam — we would only expect the testimo­ny of archeology to confirm such a relationship. It is from this close alliance that we may be assured that Amraphel was the king of Uruk (Ur-Lugal), rather than, say, the contemporary king of Ur (Mes-Kiag-Nunna).

Finally, king Tidal is known to us from the cuneiform tablets, where he was called Tudghula, who assembled the ‛gentiles’, the Umman-Manda — fierce tribes in the Kurdish mountains. It is further noted that he "did evil" to the land of Bel.

For 12 years, Chedorlaomer and his allies (vv. 2,4) subjugated Bera king of Sodom . . . Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.” The name of Bera may mean "Splendor", and has been found in in­scrip­tions in northern Arabia, as Bera-Baal; ‛Sodom’ means "volcanic" or "bituminous" — and we know the region had "slime-pits". Birsha's name may derive from Burshu'u, "flea". The name of Shanab is found over 1,200 years later, borne by an Amorite king, Sanibu, mentioned by Tiglath Pileser III. Shinab's city, Admah, has been identified as Adamah (Ps 83:11), and Adam (Josh 3:16) — modern Tell Adamiya on the Jordan's east bank, by the mouth of the Jabbok River. Shemeber's name invites us to notice its syllables, Shem-Eber — we shall see the link between these two patriarchs, later; what the significance is of this perhaps compound name, I do not know. His city, Zeboiim, may be associated with Wadi Sebaiye, on the Lisan peninsula of the Dead Sea. Finally, Bela ("glutton") may be related in some way to the later Edomite king of the same name (Gen 36:32-33), ruling in Dinhabah. Zoar means "little", and is the "small place" which escaped the general destruction of the area in the later days of Lot (Gen 19:20-23); it may be linked with Zukhr of the Amarna letters, Zoara of Josephus, Segor of Eusebius, and modern Tell-el-Zara, northeast of the Dead Sea.

In the 13th year of their oppression, these five western kings cast off the yoke of Shinar. In the 14th year, the Elamite coalition invaded the west again, and defeated three races of giants (Gen 14:5): the Rephaims ["weakeners"] in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims ["busy ones"] in Ham [cf. Deut 2:20], and the Emims ["terrors"] in Shaveh Kiriathaim [cf. Deut 2:10] . . .” These ‛giants’ are associated with the Nephalim and the Anakim (Goliath's race); the apocryphal Book of Jubilees claims they were 10 to 15 feet tall. As to their height I cannot say, but they were certainly historical: one of the "Execration Texts" of the early Middle Kingdom, written a century or so after the war, cursed several rulers of Jy'aneq (the "Land? of Anak"), one of whom was Abi-Imamu ("father of the Emim").

After defeating these races, the Mesopotamians assaulted (Gen 14:6-7) the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar [En-gedi?].” The upshot is that the conquered territory included Edom, Arabia (Amalekites), and perhaps Africa (Ham).

Then the eastern kings met the forces of Sodom in that valley of Siddim (vv. 5-9) which in another 20 years or so was to become the Dead Sea. Sodom and Gomorrah were plundered, and Lot was taken captive (vv. 11-12). My analysis of the chronology of the Bible has determined that this occurred sometime in the 1980's bc; with the aid of addition­al sources, I think that 1987 bc is the most likely date.

Abram went to rescue his nephew, and with only 318 men he defeated the Elamite forces and slew Chedorlaomer (vv. 14-17). As for how such a small band could defeat the might of Mesopotamia, there are several ideas. It is ridiculous to suggest that armies were just small in those days, and not proper armies at all. In the more than 400 years since the Flood, the population had grown at such a rate that infanticide was a common rite — when babies are so readily killed, it is hardly likely that grown men would be spared in the bloody pursuit of conquest. The more likely answer is in the fact that Abram attacked at night (v. 15), and devastated the enemy before the alarm could be sounded.

Related to this is a final observation, which recognizes the intervention of God, who many times has caused a smaller force to destroy a greater. The ancient rabbis affirm that Abram had divine help. It is said that Abram defeated the kings on the fifteenth of Nisan, the night appointed for miraculous deeds. . . .His victory was possible only because the celestial powers espoused his side. The planet Jupiter [Zedek] made the night bright for him, and an angel, Lailah by name [the Angel of Night], fought for him.” Again we read that God moved, for Abraham's sake, the star Jupiter from the west to the east.

The theory of resonant planetary orbits says that highly elliptical orbits cycli­cally bring about celestial catastrophes. The rabbis are here supporting this idea. However, while there was a naturalistic agent, it takes no effort to see here the providential hand of God. That the Bible is silent about such an intervention is irrelevant, since the Bible never purports to say everything, but rather only that which is deemed important for its specific didactic intent.

We are not given the details in the Bible, but we know for certain that Chedorlao­mer was slain by Abram. I assume Arioch and Amraphel were also killed, since they did die around this time. As for Tidal, he seems to have lived to harass Babylonia — the land of Bel. From east of the Tigris, from Elam, the new rulers of Mesopotamia came, rising to replace dead Chedorlaomer; it may have been the wild mountain tribesmen of Tidal who were identified as these "Elamites". We can notice in many places a similar effect, that when a king is fighting a distant war, his land is assaulted by opportu­nists.

In terms of the geophysical effects of the cataclysm which befell Sodom, it is at this time that the Great Rift Valley of Africa was formed, a part of which is the Dead Sea, which did not exist until this time. We know the Valley was not formed during the Flood, because if that were the case, it would have filled in with sediment. I address the entire issue of the Flood and subsequent events in The Pillars of Heaven and Dragons in the Earth, and so I will not, as it were, cover that ground again.

The cities were founded only twenty years before the first invasion of Chedorlao­mer. They would have been built to exploit the mineral wealth of the region, and also the lush pasture land. Zoar had been founded a year later than the other four; it was only fifty-one years old . . .” But the region was unstable, and the rabbis remem­ber that there had been upheavals in the region for decades, before the final judge­ment. For fifty-two years God had warned the godless; He had made mountains to quake and tremble . . .

When the perversion of the Plain Cities had surpassed all bounds, God sent catas­trophe from the heavens. With nightfall, the fate of Sodom was sealed irrevocably, and the angels arrived there. . . .The destruction of the cites of the plain took place at dawn of the sixteenth day of Nisan” — this was, of course, during the Passover Week.

In Uruk IV, the subsequent cultural revolution seems to have been a reli­gious one since, in direct opposition to later custom, the old religious sites were abandoned. The ideologi­cal nature of the revolution is supported by the continu­ity and progress of the newly appearing system of writing, which tells us that it was probably not an alien population which brought the changes, but rather a people familiar with Uruk IV, though with ways of their own. This fits well with the idea that it was Elam which brought the new, Jemdet Nasr culture to Uruk III and Shinar.

Whatever the human-interest details — of which there are few — in terms of the archeolo­gy for the century following the Sodom catastrophe, we have a distressingly grotesque error. Specifically, if you have been reading carefully, you will have noticed that the two cemeter­ies of Ur which I have noted — of Jemdet Nasr and of A-Anne-Pada, called "Royal" — are dated by me as being less than a century apart, while the standard chronology separates them by about five hundred years. Wow, is somebody ever wrong. Either these times were very busy indeed, or they were creeping along at a snail's pace. Either this was a time of great turmoil and revolution, or it was a dark age.

A survey of the archeological artifacts which have helped set the relative chronol­ogy of Mesopotamia reveals either that very little or nothing happened, during each of these standard "centuries" — or else that a reasonable amount of change and innovation occurred, each 20 years or so. I am shamelessly over-simplifying this discussion, simply because one's interpretation of the data is dependant so greatly upon one's axioms. I will simply assert here that my interpretation is correct, and refer any interested reader to the source material — most notably, the chapter entitled "The Relative Chronology of Mesopo­tamia, Part 1: Seals and Trade," by Edith Porada, in Chronologies in Old World Archeolo­gy.

If you know that Mesopotamian history gets started just a bit before Egyp­tian history, and you have added up Egyptian dynasties so that they start around *3000 bc, then you have to stretch out Mesopota­mian history, so that it fits what you "know". Thus, the archeologi­cal periods called "Early Dynastic I and II" take up ‼400 years, during which nothing happened: they are filler, invented to inflate the chronology so that it meets the demands of the modernist theory. A "dark age" was invented. In effect, the evidence did not fit the requirements of theory, so the evidence was ignored or altered. We are not talking about a conspiracy, however — just about the dangers of using a false paradigm. The upshot of deflating the "centuries" into mere decades is that ED I & II effectively disappear into the beginning of "Early Dynastic IIIa" — the time of the "Cemetery of A-Anne-Pada".

This brings us to the end of the "Proto-literate" period. We have looked at the legendary wars of Nimrod and Gilgamesh, and the biblical wars of Amraphel and Abraham. We are going to be looking at the history of Egypt soon, but first, in the next chapter, we need to consider some essential facts relating to how history is put together.

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