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Letters from Early Mesopotania (Writings from the Ancient World) Paperback – June 1, 2002

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Writings from the Ancient World
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555408206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555408206
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,122,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Let's start off with a clear admission: the subject matter is boring. This is not monumental history, with kings and armies fighting terrible battles and conquering vast empires. This is everyday life thousands of years ago. This is people sorting out problems over a distance. A few samples:

Sorting out a transaction:
"Tell Lu-Urub to give Nasa 80 assorted sheep and goats, but he has to promise to bring Utu-girgal 30 talents of wool that has been reserved for him."

Somebody's in trouble with the authorities:
"Tell Lugal-ezen that no one is to issue sesame oil to the maltster Amar-shuba, a man of Lu-Ninshubur! These are the instructions of the chief temple administrator! Should anyone not heed you, destroy his house!"

And you thought that bills of credit were a modern invention:
"Tell the prefect to issue 3,000 liters of grain to Lu-Nanshe. Tell him to put it on the account of the merchant Sheshmu."

Even then they often had problems with bad connections:
"Tell Lugal-mashkin that, since my messenger has been killed, he is to [...] the matter and to relay it to the town of Kibabar."

A coverup underway:
"Tell Ur-turn that Lugal must not open his mouth to anybody about the missing sheep until the shearing."

An obviously exasperated official writes:
"Tell Namhami to give him 90,000 liters of straw. This matter must not come up again!"

There are no love letters, gossip, or introspective remarks. Writing back then was as difficult as programming is nowadays, and so letters were short, businesslike, and to the point.

As you can see, this is not what we'd call a page-turner. Nevertheless, I give it five stars because the delivers exactly what it promises.
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Letters from Early Mesopotania (Writings from the Ancient World)
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