Writing and Religion in Mesopotamia The earliest writing In Mesopotamia, one of the earliest known forms of writing was developed. This writing is known as cuneiform (kew-ni-form). The name cuneiform comes from Latin, and is translated to mean wedge shaped. Why is it called wedge shaped?
Made of Clay As trees were rare in Mesopotamia and paper had not yet been invented, people in the empires of the area made tablets out of clay. Tablet comes from Latin Tabula, which means a flat slate (something you write on). Tablet PCs (like iPads) come from this same word. They were written on with styluses made from reeds. A stylus is something you write with. Styluses for your phones and 3DSes comes
from the same word. Changing Cuneiform When people began writing around 3000 B.C.E. (about 5000 years ago!), they started with pictographs, or pictures representing the objects. Over the next 2500 years, the pictographs changed and evolved into the more common wedge shape weve seen. Why is Cuneiform so important?
Before Cuneiform, there werent written records of what happened in Ancient Civilizations. Historians have to make educated guesses based on tools and occasionally paintings and drawings found. Once writing was developed, those civilizations started noting everything that happened, and we have a much clearer picture. Working Like a Historian We are now going to pretend that we are historians, and work on translating cuneiform. While this isnt exactly how cuneiform
worked, as cuneiform is based on complete words, not individual letters, it still gives us an idea of what historians have to do. So lets do an activity! Religion in Mesopotamia Writing leads to Religion There has been religion almost as long as there have been people. Once people started writing down their religion, they were able to
develop it further, and we are able to study their ancient beliefs and practices. Religion was very important to Mesopotamians. They believed that everything that happened, good and bad, were because of the gods. Priests often were very important members of their community. Religion was practiced daily, and worship took place at huge temples. These temples were located on giant structures called ziggurats. The Ziggurat
Ziggurats were giant structures built all over Mesopotamia. The temples and shrines were placed on top of them, so they were closer to the gods. These ziggurats were similar to the pyramids in Egypt and the step-pyramids in Central America, all of which served religious purposes. Marduk Marduk was the leader of the Mesopotamian Gods and
Goddesses, but this was not always the case. Once, all the gods were equal, but there was much fighting. One evil ancient goddess, Tiamat, hated the gods, and wanted to kill them. Marduk used his lightning dagger and bow and arrows to kill Tiamat in an epic battle, and then used
her body to make the stars and the earth. This caused the other gods to recognize him as their leader. Ishtar Ishtar was the goddess of love, fertility and war. She was an important figure in Mesopotamian
religion, and had many famous lovers. In the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, she asks Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, saying how her past husbands all meet horrible fates. She summons a giant Bull to destroy Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu, but they manage to defeat it.
Angry, she later causes Enkidu to die. Enki Enki, also known as Ea, was the god of water, intelligence, and creation. He assisted Marduk in the destruction of Tiamat, and also the creation of the world. He
was also the god of magic. Enki is also important because he is the one who suggested that the gods create humans of out clay and blood. Gilgamesh While not a full god, Gilgamesh is one of the most important and
well known figures in ancient history. Listed as an early king in Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh was said to be part god, and as such had incredible strength and power. He went on adventures with his friend Enkidu, often fighting monsters and saving people. In many ways, he is
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