Aka Olga Pitcairn
At age 101-plus, my mother was granted two wishes by the tooth-fairy
THE STORY OF MY LIFE
A LABOR OF LOVE
STONE AGE CUISINE
The ancient Greeks believed in MOIRA/allotment/fate. And “fate” was determined by three hags: Clotho spinning the thread of life at birth—Lachesis then allotting what was to be in store—and Atropos, the inflexible, cutting the thread (end of life). In later times these “FATES” became “fairies”.
When I decided to study archaeology, I had been planning on the classical period: Greece and Rome. I prepared myself, so I could speak modern Greek and Italian, by attending Berlitz School of Languages in Philadelphia.
Well—one day Lady Fortuna waved her magic wand at me. She changed my destiny by sending me a book I fell in love with: PERSIAN GARDENS AND GARDEN PAVILIONS
Without a second thought, I learned Farsi, and changed to Near Eastern archaeology—I was ready to study the ELAMITES! I traveled to Iran twice (1972/74). I had high hopes entering University of Shiraz, affiliated with our Philadelphia Museum.
But Lady Fortuna had another surprise for me. Fall 1978, I met an Iranian man who invited me to join him for the 1979 Persian New Year celebration in Tehran. I accepted, wanting to inquire about studying archaeology at the University of Tehran. My Farsi was adequate.
But—the end of January 1979, the REVOLUTION broke out. Iranians were fleeing their country. Ayatollah Khomeini rules the roost. Goodbye, Iran, I whispered.
Two years later Lady Fortuna sent me HISTORY BEGINS AT SUMER. I knew that SUMER was adjacent to ELAM, so I said with glee: EUREKA! And I started collecting information on Sumer. To my delight, in 1986 The International Herald Tribune printed the above article. When I had the chance of meeting Professor Kramer when he was giving a lecture at the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, I rushed to the event (1989); just in time because he passed away (aged 92) in November. To pay tribute, to honor Professor Kramer, I decided to write about the “belly-foods” wheat and barley—“the bread and butter” of Sumerian trade.
Writing was invented at the end of the 4th millennium BCE in Sumer. In the beginning temples served primarily as administrative centers. It seemed the priesthood was very much concerned with the future of orphans and widows; that they shouldn’t be delivered to “the powerful” (for slave labor). There are chapters on property/sales, marriage contracts, and other legal issues. These laws were enacted before the Code of Hammurabi (1750 BCE) became the Law of the Land.
I became fascinated with their belief system—the first institutionalized religion—with temples, priesthood, rituals, and especially music and dancing glorifying their deities.
The translation of the cuneiform tablets/scripts used by the Mesopotamian cultures after the Sumerians had “disappeared” from the scene was not made public until the 20th century. When the publishing world started printing books by well-known archaeologists, the ancient world came to light. We found out how much we are in debt to these remarkable peoples who “wrote their histories”.
In the beginning
was the SACRED SOUND OF AUM/OM,
it was with God and God was Aum.
When we OPEN our mouths
Once upon a time
I was sitting on the terrace of a modern chai-khaneh/tea house on the road leading from Hamadan to Kermanshah (Zagros/Iran), a mountainous region once part and parcel of ancient ELAM. As I was looking at the vista—a green valley and a winding brook lined with trees—I took a deep breath of crystal clear mountain air, wondering about life in those days, long ago, and
I had a vision.
I, a small girl, was watching the women getting their hands dirty making pots from dust of the ground and water. I looked at my own hands, then at the ground; I looked at the plants nearby, and at the crying goat.
I opened my mouth
Granny, who made the dust? Who made the plants?—I pointed at the goat—Why goat has no hands?—Granny said I should look at her belly where goat makes her milk. She pointed at a clay dish on the ground, saying, Granny held up her hands, that she made her delicious cheese with that milk.—Is that why goat has no hands, Granny?—Granny smiled.
Please visit New & Noteworthy 2017
The Sumerian creation story:
WHEN THE GODS HAD TO TOIL FOR FOOD
To stay alive, every living creature needs to EAT
At 109 pages, this booklet is a treasure
To Be Continued