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 93) in November 1990. 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
The Christian NEW TESTAMENT depends for its creation story on the
Hebrew book of GENESIS 1:27/29
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God said: I give you every seed-bearing PLANT on the face of the whole earth and every TREE that has fruit with seed in it. They will be YOURS FOR FOOD.
Book of Genesis 9
Just as I gave you the GREEN PLANTS for food I now give you everything that LIVES and MOVES also FOR FOOD.
Book of Deuteronomy 14
But do not eat UNCLEAN FOOD.
Dietary “habits” developed more from locality, economic necessity and agricultural traditions than from faith. Culinary practices (such as taboos) are powerful symbols manipulated by the priestly class wanting to preserve not only “cultural identity” but most of all:
In Hindu INDIA, the COW is sacred—therefore cannot be slaughtered. Hindus practice vegetarianism [NO Burger King].
Judaism and Islam forbid its worshippers from eating PORK; the pig is unclean according to their scripture.
Chinese like eating pork (pig domesticated since 5000 BCE), shrimp, and beef. Confucianism has no food restrictions.
Christian NEW TESTAMENT
The Apostle Paul, Letter to the Romans 14:20
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of FOOD
ALL FOOD IS CLEAN
Gospel of Mark 7, Clean and unclean—Jesus declared all FOODS “clean”.
Gospel of John 6, Jesus the Bread of Life—6:51, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone EATS of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
So that the Christian-movement could be embraced everywhere, Paul proposed that sharing meals would become the custom as all FOOD was now deemed clean. Paul wrote to his acolyte (2-Timothy 2:8), This is my gospel: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.
Gospel of John 18:39—Jesus the king of the Jews.
Gospel of Matthew 24:31, And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the FOUR WINDS
from one end of the heavens to the other.
Emperor Constantine made the Cross/Christianity the Roman Catholic (universal) religion and the faith spread like a wild fire.
Missionaries/churches proclaimed the FOUR GOSPELS—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—as established (credo/credimus) in 325 CE at
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
SERVICE TO THE GODS BECAME THE RULE
(Men were children of the gods)
To SUMER the world owes ALL its basic arts of LITERATE civilized LIFE
STORE OF KNOWLEDGE
FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME
The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon
All mankind was changed into MUD
God ENKI (fish-god) of the holy city URUK was Lord of the Apzu, the sweet waters in the world below which fed springs and rivers.
ENKI had established PLANTS beneath the earth (from which they shoot up) which he guarded.
GILGAMESH AND THE MAGIC PLANT
The search for everlasting life
This part of the myth/story of Gilgamesh the Hero was “created to explain” the longevity of the antediluvian kings before the flood swept over the earth; their reign totaled 241,200 years. These kings had access to the MAGIC PLANT of rejuvenation before the gods concealed it under the waters of the flood.
Hebrew Bible—Book of Genesis 5: From Adam to Noah
Ten generations totaling 857,900 years
The Flood: Noah and his family are the only ones saved. The biblical story continues as to what happens to humanity. The RAINBOW: God’s covenant never to destroy creation again.
TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME
THE ORIGINS OF CREATIVITY
Creation myths that reinforce tribal religions
In the Sumerian deluge myth the only survivors are UTNAPISHTIM and his wife—who now live in PARADISE. This couple is the LINK between the old, vanished civilization and the urban civilization founded after the flood. Gilgamesh wants to find out how to live forever: the quest for immortality.
Gilgamesh is to bring back that knowledge
King Gilgamesh leaves his holy city URUK and starts his long, dangerous, arduous adventure; traversing the mountain of Mashu. Finally he arrives at the GARDEN of the GODS that has bushes “bearing dazzling gems”; precious, colorful jewels. At the edge of this garden is the sea where innkeeper SIDURI SABITU—woman of the PLANT vine, maker of wine—lives. They quarrel because she refuses to tell Gilgamesh how to find UTNAPISHTIM. Anyway, Gilgamesh, having ruined the steering gear of the ferryman URSHANABI’s boat out of frustration, is desolate. URSHANABI feels sorry for our hero and agrees to take him to PARADISE: They set sail to talk to UTNAPISHTIM. The voyage is a true nightmare, hair-raising—a fight for survival—they cross the sea, then the Water of Death, and finally reach PARADISE (a remote region of the earth). UTNAPISHTIM tells Gilgamesh how he got his Paradise; it was a reward from the gods. [see The Sumerian creation story: N&N-2017]. He then refuses to tell Gilgamesh the secret of his eternal life—but…if Gilgamesh can stay awake six days and seven nights to escape death… but our hero falls asleep; he wakes up on the seventh day. Gilgamesh has not passed the test, and URSHANABI has lost his employment as ferryman to the immortals. UTNAPISHTIM’s wife feels sorry for our hero and begs her husband to have mercy on him and reveal the whereabouts of the MAGIC PLANT: the fountain of youth—longer life—growing at the bottom of the “sweet” water buried deep beneath the waters of the deluge.
Gilgamesh and URSHANABI take up the challenge—another heroic “life-and-death trip”. Gilgamesh ties heavy stones to his legs and dives into the water. Our hero opens the “water-pipe” [fresh water spring] that keeps/divides it from the “salt” sea and enters. He plucks the plant MAN BECOMES YOUNG IN OLD AGE from the bottom of the “sweet” water and cuts the ties attached to the stones so he can surface. Then a grueling return trip to reach the GARDEN of the GODS. The innkeeper advises him to marry and have children.
Gilgamesh asks URSHANABI to join him to Uruk as he has lost his job. On the way home, Gilgamesh bathes in a cool well; putting his plant on the edge. From the bottom of this well a snake emerges, sniffs the fragrance of the plant [snakes use their “tongue” to “smell/navigate”] and eats it. Immediately the snake sheds its skin, rejuvenated, and returns to the bottom of the well.
[Some “humans” had not yet grasped the knowledge of “death”. They were, like small children, unaware of “life”]
The snake became a METAPHOR, representation for “wisdom/knowledge”—its “forked” tongue stood for [life and death] LANGUAGE [tongue] : Good and bad (evil)--truth or lie.
The myth Gilgamesh and the Magic Plant ends with the two men approaching URUK. Gilgamesh informs URSHANABI that SEVEN WISE MEN had laid its foundation.
That one third of the whole is city, one third is GARDEN, and one third is field; with the precinct of goddess INANNA who threw her colorful necklace into the sky after the flood, thereby creating the RAINBOW.
I am the waters, I am the first being;
I am the source of the universe.
All life came out of the SEA—and that included MANKIND
SEVEN SAGES—known as Apkallus—emerged after the deluge.
They taught “humanity”
HOW to grow SEEDS
and collect FRUITS
FOR FOOD TO EAT
The First Six incarnations of Vishnu: The DASAVATARA—the Hindu theory of evolution. It starts with water (the spirit of life) and THE FISH; then the turtle; the half man-half lion; the dwarf (“Lucy”?); the perfect man, and ends with “practical” man, inventor of FARMING.
THE WORLD OF PLANTS
became the symbol of the HUMAN MIND (memories)
BORN IN HEAVEN—MADE ON EARTH
In SUMER statues of their gods and goddesses were carved out of WOOD, a LIVING substance. Priests carried these wooden deities to the river where a mouth-washing ritual was performed to make them come alive and SPEAK. The statues were then carried to the temple and worshipped as rulers of their respective cities. It was the duty of the priesthood to converse with the deity and relay messages to the worshippers.
MAGIC is created via LANGUAGE
oaths, blessings, curses, and incantations
WATER: The Spirit of Life
THE HISTORY AND POWER OF WRITING
Writing is the graphic expression of actual SPEECH; spelling is an active linguistic activity. Reading the script (passive) is linked to THOUGHT—bypassing speech. Reading and writing are separately processed mental activities. In the near future written language (texting, twitter, chat-speak) might be more prominent worldwide (Homo SCRIBENS) than spoken language.
To Be Continued