The Magicality of Cuisine 1: Meat Cooked in Plantain Leaves as a Love Philtre, 19th Century Gabon, West Africa

Pre-modern cuisine in many parts of the world can be more fully understood not simply as a technical  ‘recipe’ to be constructed – but also in relation to the context in which it is situated.  Hence, there may be social, sexual, political, religious or other aspects that figure in the total recipe as presented in the finished product.  It is our Western proclivity to disassociate fact from context that may create difficulties in understanding a given cuisine in its totality.

Members of an Njĕmbĕ, a Female Secret Society, with cassava, oil and other items for cooking.  Source- Nassau, Fetichism  in West Africa.

Members of an Njĕmbĕ, a Female Secret Society, with cassava, oil and other items for cooking. The woman on the reader-s left and on the child’s right appear to display white painting, which was common in these societies – and still is, in some of them.  I will write more about this in another blog.  Picture source- Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa.

During his forty years of missionary work in west Africa, the Rev. Nassau seems to have learned this important fact – although it is not specifically stated as such in his works. To examine the approach he uses in incorporating what I shall call the ‘magicality of cuisine’  in an  otherwise secular dish I want to talk about the role of love philtres as a key ingredient of certain recipes in pre-modern Liberia (and elsewhere)  that figure into the finished cuisine. The Rev. Nassau explains:

For Loving, Love philtres are common, even among the civilized and professedly Christian portion of the community(**). Filtres are male and female(*). If a woman says to herself, ” My husband does not love me ; I will make him love me ! ” or if any woman desires to make any man love her, she prepares a medicine for that purpose. This charm is called “lyele.”

* – A philtre or philter is a magic potion. The word came to Western languages through the Latin philtrum, this from the Greek φίλτρον, phíltron, a love potion; from Greek φίλος, phílos, “dear”, “beloved”; thus a potion or concoction meant to secure someone’s favors or affections.
** – Notions of ‘civilized’ in the Nineteenth Century often were equated with ‘Christianized.’

The process is as follows:

1. Love philtre ingredients:

  • First, she scrapes from the sole of her foot some skin, and lays it carefully aside.
  •  Next, when she has occasion to go to the public latrine at the seaside or on the edge of the forest, she washes her genitals in a small bowl of water, which she secretly carries to her house.
  • Then, with a knife, she scrapes a little skin and mucous from the end of her tongue.
  • These three ingredients she mixes in a bottle of water, which is to be used in her cooking.

2. Meat or fish ingredients:

The most attractive native mode of cooking fish and meat is in jomba (“bundle”).

  • The flesh is cut into pieces and laid in layers with salt, pepper, some crushed oily nut, and a little water.
  • These all are tied up tightly in several thicknesses of fresh green plantain leaves, and the bundle is set on a bed of hot coals.
  • The water in the bundle is converted into steam before the thick fleshy leaves are charred through.
  • The steam, unable to escape, permeates the fibres of the meat, thoroughly cooking it without boiling or burning.

When the above-mentioned woman cooks for the man, her husband, or any other for whom she is making the philtre, the water she uses in the jomba is taken from that prepared bottle. This jomba she sets before him, and he eats of it (unaware, of course, of her intention, or of the special mode of preparation).

It is fully believed that the desired effect is immediate ; that, as soon as he has finished eating, all the thoughts of his heart will be turned toward this woman, and that he will be ready to comply with any wish of hers. No objection to her, or to what she says, coming from any other person in the village, male or female, will be regarded by him.

I know a certain Gabun woman who boasted of her power, by the above-described means, to cause a certain white man whom she loved (but who was not her husband) to do anything at all that she bade him.

Also a small portion from that bottle may be poured (secretly) into the glass of liquor that is to be drunk by a favored guest. This is practised alike on visitors, white or black.

Thus can an additional dimension – generally magical, as above – be incorporated as an integral component of a traditional recipe.  This is a fascinating area of cuisine, one that I will be further discussing.

Source – Fetichism in West Africa; Forty Years’ Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions, by the Rev. Robert Hamill Nassau.  University Press, Cambridge, U.S.A.  1904.

Thanks to  J.W. Frembgen for thoughts on love magic.  See – Frembgen, ‘The magicality of the hyena, beliefs and practices in west and south asia, in - Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 57, No. 2 (1998), pp. 331-344/

Posted in Africa-General, Cuisine, Food, Indigenous crops & medicinal plants, Magic, Missionaries, Recipes, Robert Nassau | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween Special – African Beef Stew with sweet potatoes and mangos, cooked and served in a Pumpkin

Pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay.

Pumpkin patch.  Wikipedia

Halloween is tomorrow, and so here is a special recipe I learned in Kenya that Chef Richard, of the Hotel club du Lac Tanganyika, prepared.  It is tasty and provides a great presentation in a buffet – especially at Halloween time.

A group of international dignitaries came to the hotel for lunch, and so Richard made this African stew together with a baked rice-amaranth  ‘risotto’ with a cheese topping, served with several salads.  Fresh strawberry and apple tarts and fresh fruit were served for desert; it was all very good.

  • 10-12    Pound whole pumpkin (one large, or two small)
  • 1/4    Pound butter
  • 1     Cup sugar
  • 2 T    Olive oil
  • 2    Pounds beef chunks
  • 4    Cups sweet potatoes
  • 4    Cups white potatoes (or sweet)
  • 1    Cup onions, diced
  • ½    Cup green peppers, diced
  • 4    Medium ripe mangos
  • 1 – 2    Cups carrots, sliced
  • 1 T    Oregano *
  • 1    Bay leaf *
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2    Cups beef stock

* Can be used for European tastes, but in Africa the choice would be for red pepper ( ‘pili-pili ho-ho’)

  • Cut lid and carefully clean out the inside of the pumpkin, without damaging the external rind
  • Brush inside with the softened butter and sugar (mixed), helps reduce bitterness of the pumpkin shell and rind
  • Replace lid and bake at 350 F in a roasting pan for about 45 minutes or less
  • Place olive oil in a large skillet and brown beef
  • Remove meat and in juices cook sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and carrots
  • Remove potatoes and carrots and in juices cook remaining ingredients, including beef stock
  • Cook until onions are translucent
  • After pumpkin is finished cooking combine all cooked ingredients into pumpkin
  • Don’t over bake the pumpkin shell – which did happen in Chef Richard’s first attempt [see picture]; brown and too soft
  • Don’t overcrowd shells when placing cooked ingredients into pumpkin
  • Return to oven for about 45 minutes
  • Serve out of the pumpkins

The dish is not terribly spicy, but it is tasty and the meat becomes quite tender, baked in the pumpkins.  Adding a good helping of pili-pili ho-ho [fiery hot spice or sauce] is the African way in many areas.

Chef Richard and sous-chef Jean-Claude showing off their African stew in local squash ‘pumpkins,’ being served from the bain-marie

Sous-chef Jean-Claude with the Rice-broth-linga-linga (local amaranth) & cheese 'risotto'

Sous-chef Jean-Claude with the Rice-broth-linga-linga (local amaranth)  & cheese ‘risotto’

Part of the buffet

Part of the buffet.  The large ‘nuts’ are freshly picked coconuts from trees on the Hotel shore-front  of  Lake Tanganyika

Serving staff with Richard and Jean-Claude

Serving staff with Richard and Jean-Claude

On the following link, I talk about How to stock and run a commercial kitchen in central Africa. Well, how it is done here at the Hotel.

Revised 30 October 2014
Posted in Burundi, Cuisine, Holiday, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2, Recipes | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Final Project: The Early Dynastic Mastabas at Saqqara – A Spatial Analysis

dianabuja:

Details of a group assignment by a member of the UCLA class that conducted this interesting exercise.

Published archaeological plans of north Saqqara are laid on the satellite imagery, geo-referenced, and the building footprints are traced into the GIS and digitized:

Image by Aria Klucewicz

Image by Aria Klucewicz

“Methods: Using a basemap given by GIS, I georeferenced 8 different maps of the necropolis. One of the maps has 1m contour lines, which I vectorized using ArcScan. I then added elevation values by hand. Several of the maps had the tomb locations outlined, although there were discrepancies in size and location. I made a best estimate to draw polygons in the tomb locations…”

Originally posted on Klucewicz - Geography:

Intro: For my project, I looked at the necropolis Saqqara in Egypt. This is the location of the famous Stepped Pyramid, as well as several other pyramids and many smaller mastaba tombs. I looked at the distribution of these mastaba tombs in Northern Saqqara. These tombs are from the earliest periods of Dynastic Egypt, Dynasties 1-3. They belonged to elite individuals of the society. Tombs of the 1st Dynasty are along the eastern cliff, while those of the 2nd and 3rd Dynasties move further and further west. The 1st Dynasty mastabas are much more elaborate than those of the 2nd and 3rd Dynasties with an outer niched facade. They were brightly painted, in contrast to the plain white color of the later tombs. I wanted to see if there was an explanation for the shift toward plainer and farther from the cliff. I first theorized that the 1st Dynasty…

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The Day President Sadat was Assassinated & What Followed

Reposting with readers’ suggestions:

What may be the ultimate demise of ex-president  Mubarak, his sons, and others – with all of their attendant intrigues – takes me back some 30 years to the assassination of President Sadat, which I want to talk about here.  This is a reposting of an earlier blog, updated with recommendations by colleagues.

The day of the assassination – October 6, 1981 –  I was visiting people in the area of Upper Egypt in which I had conducted my field research. I can remember so clearly standing in the house of Umm M., chatting with folks, when someone ran in with a portable radio shouting that Sadat had been assassinated. We were all stunned and unsure whether it was true or not. But over the next hour or so reports continued to be given on the radio, that this was indeed the case.

Assassination of Sadat. This is apparently the only photo of the event, the photographer is unknown. Source: Open

This was before electricity or telephones had been installed in most rural areas, and so we discussed the event and what we should do. It was the beginning of a variety of fundamentalist activities in Upper [southern] Egypt that were being organized and carried out by al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, which further jeopardized events.

We decided that everyone in the village would stay within their own homes, and that I had better leave and drive back up to Cairo. At the time I was the only person [American] fluent in colloquial Arabic in most of the country, and that held its own dangers.

I put-putted up to Cairo in my little old VW, a worthy contribution to my field work by the wonderful Cynthia Nelson, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo, with which I was affiliated as a Research Scholar.

On the way driving up to Cairo I visited various friends and colleagues to gain more news, of which there was very little. However, police and military were increasing throughout the country and so a friend – an old hand in Egypt – suggested we fly right down to Aswan for a few days, where we thought things would be a bit quieter.

Tickets were easy to get, and after calling the [then] rather down-at-the-heels Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan to secure rooms, off we flew. As we approached the Aswan airport I saw a fighter jet saddling up next to our plane, with wings almost touching, to accompany us into the airport. This is the first time I’ve ever been accompanied by a military escort into an airport and it was a unique experience.

Not only were we accompanied by jets going into Aswan, but the next week when I was back to the project area in S.E Egypt – N.E. Sudan, several jets appeared from the direction of the Nile Valley and flew into and along the base of the large wadi (valley) in which we were located, apparently avoiding sightings and radar as they continued over the Red Sea. A very unique experience.

The ground was thick with fully armed military and anti-aircraft guns. The Hotel had sent a vehicle for us, and off we went to unwind by the Nile. The next morning we went out walking and watched as public buildings were busily being sand-bagged. It was still not clear what was happening. I went to the offices of the Ministry of Interior, where I had a few contacts, and after some chit-chat and tea learned that an invasion to attack the Aswan High Dam was expected. Going to Aswan had clearly been a very bad idea.

I then visited the madyafa - guest house that was located on the outskirts of  Aswan – of the Ababda tribes of the Eastern Desert with whom, together with the Beja tribes of SE Egypt, I was at that time directing a project in the Eastern Desert. A group of elders were there and verified the fear of an attack. They were waiting to hear from some of their tribesmen who had been sent investigate.

The Old Cataract Hotel at the time it was constructed, 1899.

The Old Cataract Hotel at the time it was constructed, 1899.

I love Aswan, but this had been very bad timing. We flew back to Cairo and I found a note waiting, that I should immediately go over to see my Project Officer at USAID, which together with several other organizations*, was funding and/or providing support to the project, of which I was ‘Team Leader’ and Chief of Party. My Project Officer was furious. He said that -“security-types” had just flown in from D.C. and were looking for me, ‘to pick my brains’.

* NAMRU-3, [Naval Medical Research Unit Three], The Ford Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, The American Research Center in Egypt, and The American University in Cairo. 

At that time, USAID did not want their grantees to be ‘used’ by outside folk. So, he suggested I get out-of-town – go down to our project area in the Eastern Desert, which not only was as remote as one could get and still be in Egypt, but also was in the midst of a vast military zone. And that way, he could truthfully inform the folks from Washington that I could not be contacted.

That seemed an excellent idea, and so the next morning I visited my official counterpart in Cairo, who was the Minister of Health, to discuss a trip down to the project site; for which he agreed, saying that his offices would call the Governor to advise of my arrival. As all of us, he was frazzled over the whole assassination event and aftermath, which we discussed. He said that most of the wounded had been shot in the legs. It was still not clear what was happening.

I got the project’s Nissan Patrol organized with driver, extra fuel and tires, etc. This was a very long and rough drive – nearly two days, with roads giving out along the way.

My project area was the extreme S.E. corner of Egypt- N.E. corner of Sudan

Arriving in Hurgada, the provincial capital, I went to visit the Governor who was my official counterpart in the Provence. More chit-chat and tea, and I relayed my experiences in Aswan and in Cairo. He concurred, that even over by the Red Sea they were arming to expect possible incursions – by whom and why was not totally clear. Possibly from Libya, it was thought, aiming for the Aswan High Dam.

He provided me with a military escort and off we went further south where, during project work,  we had collected a variety of human and animal samples to assess health and disease vectors, and socio-economic data, and also developed simple health clinics for the bedouin populations in Bir Shalatein and in Berenice, to check out supplies, our resident doctor, [a very keen Egyptian graduate],and so forth. All seemed well with the project and no invasions seemed in the offing.

This is a beautiful and rugged area;a picture of a house made of driftwood, located on the outskirts of  the Shalatein camel market, can be seen in the header to this blog.  Many of the purebred racing camels of the Beja are brought here to be sold to Saudis who come over by boat.  These camels are considered by many to be the fasted and best one can find.  With my background in riding [horses], I did enjoy coursing over the flat desert mounted on one of these marvelous beasts.

For 100s of years  one of the largest camel markets in the region is at Shalatein.  Camels are brought up to the site from eastern and western Sudan and, as here, may be trucked into the Nile Valley or driven by camel caravan.  Source -  www.redsea.gov.eg  shalatein

For hundreds of years one of the largest camel markets in this region has been at Shalatein. Camels are brought up to the site from eastern and western Sudan and, as here, may be neatly loaded into desert trucks and taken into the Nile Valley, or driven by camel caravan.   Source – http://www.redsea.gov.eg shalatein

The Ptolemaic port on the Red Sea located here, at Berenike,  has a fascinating history of  ocean travel to southern India, and to coastal sites further south along east Africa in purchasing and importing elephants for training in Egypt.  Source - www.ling.upenn.edu

The Ptolemaic port on the Red Sea located at Berenike has a fascinating history of ocean travel to southern India for spices, and to coastal sites further south along east Africa in purchasing and importing elephants for training in Egypt. Source – http://www.ling.upenn.edu

However, in one of our excursions south of Berenice [see above map], we came upon a military vehicle that had stopped, and whose high ranking  passengers were pouring over a large military map of the area.  I, and the driver and government rep. were familiar with the area, and we discussed where they were wanting to go.  We suggested that they could backtrack a bit, and head west through the upper reaches of  Wadi Allaqi, or a wadi north of Allaqi, in order that they could reach their goal of Aswan.  We all shook hands and headed in our respective tracks.  Only then, perhaps, realizing how peculiar this impromptu meeting in the Red Sea Hills had been.

A portion of the Wadi Allaqi.  Source - Nuweibi_overview www.gippslanditd

A portion of the Wadi Allaqi. Source – Nuweibi_overview http://www.gippslandltd

Returning finally to Hurghada, I chatted again with the Governor, discussing about our strange encounter with an Egyptian army  vehicle and occupants.  He informed me the country was now under martial law and that the Provincial capital of Asyut in the Nile Valley had been attacked by Gama’a Islamiyya and – if I am remembering correctly – that it took two days to reinstate authorities. So it was indeed good that I’d left Upper Egypt when word of the assassination became known.

I went back to Cairo and learned that the security-folk had returned to Washington. Curiously, I don’t remember any further events other that so much talk in Cairo. And, with Mubarak now having proclaimed martial law, everything seemed to go back to a kind of normalcy.

Many questions still remain. Were the Libyans involved, or others, in attacking Egypt from the South? If so, who and why?  It was widely thought, both in some diplomatic circles, as well as in the Egyptian Government, that Libyan forces had been sent around southern Egypt (in the Sudan) and were preparing to attack Egypt from that position.

A major difference between the Sadat assassination period and current/recent events in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa where the ‘Arab Spring’ has been taking place,  is the availability of communication. Internet, phones, as well as generally more savvy people. This makes for a totally different way of dealing with – as well as with trying to orchestrate – events.

Here are a couple of videos on the Sadat assassination that are quite interesting.  Although arabic videos, it is the visual content that is so interesting.

In the following video, the little boy is Sadat’s grandson.

People ran over, throwing chairs upon the dignitaries being shot, and the wounded, dead, and others can be seen aided by others.  Names of the attackers are given in Arabic with arrows.

 The Assassination of Anwar El Sadat

On 6 October 1981, the month after the crackdown, Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade in Cairo. A fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman, a cleric later convicted in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Sadat was protected by four layers of security and the army parade should have been safe due to ammunition-seizure rules. However, the officers in charge of that procedure were on hajj to Mecca.

As air force Mirage jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd, a troop truck halted before the presidential reviewing stand, and a lieutenant strode forward. Sadat stood to receive his salute, whereupon the assassins rose from the truck, throwing grenades and firing assault rifle rounds. The attack lasted about two minutes. Photographer Bill Foley captured one of the last shots of a living Sadat. The photograph is titled “The Last Smile.”

A photo by Bill Foley entitled "The Last Smile" - taken of Sadat just before he was shot.  Source -  abrahamlincolninquran.blogspot.com-billfoleythe last smile

A photo by Bill Foley entitled “The Last Smile” – taken of Sadat just before he was shot. Source – abrahamlincolninquran.blogspot.com-billfoleythe last smile

The lead assassin Khalid Islambouli shouted “Death to Pharaoh!” as he ran towards the stand and shot Sadat. After he fell to the floor people around Sadat threw chairs on his body to try to protect him from the bullets. Eleven others were killed, including the Cuban ambassador a Omani general and a Coptic Orthodox bishop, and 28 were wounded, including James Tully, the Irish Minister for Defence, and four U.S. military liaison officers. Sadat was then rushed to a hospital, but was declared dead within hours. This was the first time in Egyptian history that the head of state had been assassinated by an Egyptian citizen. Two of the attackers were killed and the others were arrested by military police on-site. Islambouli was later found guilty and was executed in April 1982.

In conjunction with the assassination, an insurrection was organized in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Rebels took control of the city for a few days and 68 policemen and soldiers were killed in the fighting. Government control was not restored until paratroopers from Cairo arrived. Most of the militants convicted of fighting received light sentences and served only three years in prison.

I am revising and will be posting a series of other blogs about our work in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and Sudan and related areas of the Beja tribes and their brethren.

 

Posted in Egypt-Recent, Middle East, Red Sea Hills, Research & Development | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ebola: Epidemics, Pandemics and the Mapping of their Containment

dianabuja:

Good summary and research links.  There are some interesting 18-19th Century descriptions of plagues in the western Sahel of Africa, which I wii try to locate and put up.

source: remedianetwork.wordpress

source: remedianetwork.wordpress

This extraordinary map of colonial trade routes—1750-1800—shows the density of international trade, the pathways of yellow fever and cholera, between European nations and the world.[13]http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/13/40-more-maps-that-explain-the-world/

Originally posted on REMEDIA:

By Tom Koch

“It was about the Beginning of September, 1664, that I, amongst the Rest of my Neighbours, heard in ordinary Discourse, that the Plague was returned in Holland, for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Roterdam, in the year of 1663.”

Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year.[1]

That is how it always begins. There is an outbreak out there, somewhere, away in a place that is safely distant. If we care at all it is because we know the place and some of its people. Perhaps we have business with them. And, too, we care because the diseases affecting those distant places sometimes have traveled from out “there” to our “here.” That was certainly true for Defoe’s narrator, whose hopes that plague would not migrate to London were shattered in December of 1665 when the British Bill of Mortality listed…

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ROMARCH: American Journal of Archaeology Open Access (July 2014)

dianabuja:

Some Open Access by AJA – great!

Originally posted on [quem dixere chaos]:

AJAheader
American Journal of Archaeology Open Access July 2014

Below is a list of freely available content published in tandem with the July 2014 issue (vol. 118 no. 3):

—————————————————
American Journal of Archaeology – http://www.ajaonline.org

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School Begins – here in Burundi, as it did in the Ancient Middle East

Yesterday school began throughout the country; many bright and shiny faces trooping of to their respective schools. In the ancient Near East, too, school was an important avenue to achieve money and, perhaps,  fame.  Below are a few items from Sumerian history, taken from texts of the time, showing that education  could be as stressful then, as it can be now.
Education of a Sumerian Scribe:
Composition from Nippur c. 2000 B.C.E.1
 
Master: Schoolboy, where did you go from earliest days?
Boy: I went to school.
Master: What did you do in school?
Boy: I read my tablet, ate my lunch, prepared my tablet, wrote it, finished it; then…Upon the school’s dismissal, I went home, entered the house, (there) was my father sitting. I spoke to my father of my hand copies, then read the tablet to  Him, (and) my father was pleased; truly I found favor with my father. 
 
“I am thirsty, give me drink; I am hungry, give me bread; wash my feet, set up the bed, I want to go to sleep; wake me early in the morning, I must not be late, (or) my teacher will cane me.”
When I awoke early in the morning, I faced my mother, and said to her: “Give me my lunch, I want to go to school.”  
mother gave me two ‘rolls’…I went to school. In the tablet-house, the monitor said to me: “Why are you late?” I was afraid, my heart beat fast. I entered before my teacher…my ‘school-father’…caned me.
Samuel Noah Kramer, SchooldayS-A Sumerian Composition
 
A Father’s Concern for His Son’s Education2
 
Father: “Where did you go?”
Son: “I did not go anywhere.”
Father: “If you did not go anywhere, why are you late? Go to school, stand before your teacher. Read your assignment, open you school-bag, write your tablet, let your big brother (i.e. teacher’s assistant) write your new tablet for you. After you have done your assignment, after you have reported to your overseer, come, please, to me. Do not wander about in the street, return to me. Do you know what I said to you?”
Son: “I know, I will tell it to you.”
Father: “Come, repeat it to me.”
Son: “I will repeat it to you.”
Father: “Tell it to me.”
Son: “I will tell it to you.”
Father: “Come, tell it to me.”
Son: “You told me to go to school, to read my assignments, to open my school-bag, to
write my tablet, my big brother will write my new tablet; after I have done my
assignment, to proceed to my job and, after I have reported to my overseer, to come to
you, you told me.”
Father: “Come now, indeed, be a man. Do not stand about in the public square, do not
wander about in the boulevard; when walking in the street, do not look all around. Be
humble, show fear before your overseer; when you show terror, your overseer will like
you.”
 
HEL231657 The scribe Dudu, a votive to Ningirsu, 2900-2450 BC (diorite) by Sumerian diorite height: 45 Iraq Museum, Baghdad © Held Collection out of copyright

The scribe Dudu.  www.art-prints-on-demand

Self-Praise of Shulgi, King of Ur, for His Education: (Shulgi, 2094–2047 B.C.E.) 3
 
As a youth, I studied the scribal art in the edubba, from the tablets of Sumer and Akkad,
Of the nobility, no one was able to write a tablet like me,
In the place where the people attend to learn the scribal art,
Adding, subtracting, counting and accounting—I completed all (their courses);
The fair Nanibgal, Nisaba [patron goddess of the scribal art,]
Endowed me generously with wisdom and intelligence.
 
NOTES – 
 
1 Adapted from Samuel Noah Kramer, “Schooldays: A Sumerian Composition Relating to the Education of a  Scribe,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 69, 4 (1949): 205. The image of the cuneiform tablet is Plate I  between pp. 214 and 215. The article is a good example of how an ancient text that existed in multiple but incomplete copies is analyzed and published. The Sumerian word for school was é-dub-ba “tablet-house,” the pupil was dumu-édub-ba, “son of the tablet-house,” and the trained professional scribes dub-sar “tablet-writers” (pg. 199 of the article).
2 Kramer, “Schooldays,” 208–210, adapted from Kramer and G. R. Driver in Semitic Writing: From Pictograph to Alphabet (London/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), 235.
3 Jacob Klein, The Royal Hymns of Shulgi King of Ur: Man’s Quest for Immortal Fame (Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1981): 15.
 
 As shown in Sample Texts from the Ancient Near East, U of Washington, n.d. no author. 
 
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