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The Primitives, Burials and Myths of Mesopotamia - Essay Example

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11 October 2011. The primitives, burials and myths of Mesopotamia Beliefs about death and life after death have conventionally varied from one culture to another. Different civilizations perceived death and the deceased differently…
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The Primitives, Burials and Myths of Mesopotamia
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11 October The primitives, burials and myths of Mesopotamia Beliefs about death and life after death have conventionally varied from one culture to another. Different civilizations perceived death and the deceased differently. These beliefs or myths found origin in their folktales, religions and in some cases, voodoo. Some civilizations perceived afterlife as full of pleasure while others thought of it as an unimaginable realm or a gloomy reflection of the existence on Earth. People have also traditionally had varying opinions about the destiny in afterlife. Some cultures believed that everybody will be in the same circumstances while others thought that one’s fortune in the afterlife is governed by one’s deeds on this world. This paper identifies the way the first civilization of Mesopotamia buried their dead and their myths about the afterlife. People of the first civilization of Mesopotamia have linked the destination after death to a geographic site. They believed that down beneath the crust of the Earth, there is a whole underworld that is the death resort. This dreary and dusty imaginary underworld was famous among them win the name “Dark Earth”. People of the first civilization of Mesopotamia believed that they can find their way to the underworld through any hole on the face of Earth, whether it is a cave, a ditch or a well. The Mesopotamians knew little about the afterlife but that a ferry man took the dead from their graves and escorted them to the underworld. Mesopotamian myths have frequently revolved around the search for eternal life. Some of them believed that a man once rode over an eagle and reached the heaven. There was yet another myth in which a goddess made the wife of a king and both ended up in the underworld. Anunnaki were defined by the Mesopotamians as the judges of the dead. They were known to be seven in number and live in a palace of justice. Nevertheless, the Mesopotamians did not think that piousness in this world led an individual to a more pleasant place than what would be the destiny of the evildoers. “The combined material of text and archaeology suggests a belief that, after death, the personality continued an animated existence in the form of a ghost, retaining the basic needs and emotions of any living being” (Johnston 477). Owing to their lack of faith in accountability of the afterlife, they considered long life in this world a blessing. Before burying the dead-body, its mouth was shut and the body was given a bath. Then they sprayed oil or perfume over the dead-body and dressed it in the finest clothes. They made sure that before they wish the dead-body good-bye, they leave as many objects as possible in the grave of the dead-body. These objects possibly included but were not limited to jewelry, clothes, weapons and toilet accessories. In a vast majority of cases, relatives of the deceased did not apply any preservatives upon the dead-body which would keep it in shape for long. Shortly before the funeral would start, the relatives laid the dead-body along with all accessories so that people would see them. That was similar to displaying the dory when a bride left for the groom’s house. The richer the family of the deceased, the lavish the display became. To much an extent, the funeral depicted the economic status of the deceased and his/her relatives. Leonard Woolley, the British archaeologist has imagined the royal funeral of the Sumerians and has explained it in these words: Now down the sloping passage comes a procession of people, the members of the court, soldiers, men-servants, and women, the later in all their finery of brightly-colored garments and headdresses of lapis-lazuli and silver and gold and with musicians bearing harps or lyres...Each man or woman brought a little cup...Some kind of service there must have been at the bottom of the shaft, at least it is evident that the musicians played up the last, and that each drank from the cup. (Woolley cited in Hays). Lamenting after burial was an important concern among the Mesopotamians (Harris 65). Therefore, after burying the dead-body, the relatives opened the session of lamenting. The Epic of Gilgamesh provides a nice account of the words they used for lamenting. They used to be as follows: Hear me, O Elders of Uruk, hear me, O men! I mourn for Enkidu, my friend, I cry out bitterly like a mourner… An evil demon appeared and took him away from me! My friend, the swift mule, fleet wild ass of the mountain, panther of the wilderness… Now what is this sleep which has seized you? You have turned dark and do not hear me. (Nemet-Nejat 142-143). Works Cited: Harris, Rivkah. Gender and Aging in Mesopotamia: The Gilgamesh Epic and Other Ancient Literature. USA: The University of Oklahoma, 2000. Print. Hays, Jeffrey. Mesopotamian Tombs, Burials, Superstitions and Festivals. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. Johnston, Sarah I. Religions of the ancient world: a guide. USA: Harvard University Press, 2004. Nemet-Nejat, Karen R. Daily life in ancient Mesopotamia. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998. Print. Read More
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