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Sumeria – Civilization Superior? Part 1

August 12th, 2009 by Beertheostorian A | Filed under Ancient History, Essentials of Beertheostory.

by Beertheostorian A

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Many of you read my bold prediction that I would dredge the depths of ancient history to ferret out proofs of the Beer Theory of History; the idea that the Nation with the most and best beer wins. See Beer Theory of History – An Introduction As much of the following in these next few articles will establish civilization itself began with beer and in fact one can not have a civilization without beer. In this article we explore the archeological/literary evidence of Sumerian civilization forming around beer.

In 3000 B.C. one Sumerian Poet wrote “I feel wonderful drinking beer; in a blissful mood with joy in my heart and a happy lives.”1Admittedly, one poet, Sumerian or otherwise, does not a civilization make, but the evidence does not end with lowly poets. A cunieform tablet from ancient Sumeria contains the following advertising slogan, “Drink Ebla – the beer with the heart of a lion.”2 Another seal, found at Ur, dating from around 3100 B.C., depicts two men drinking beer through straws from the same vessel. A tad bit too close for comfort in these modern times, but without industrial production of glassware: one does what one must.3 A similar beer drinking straw was found in the tomb of Pu-abi once an exalted woman in the City of Ur who died sometime in the third millennium B.C.4

These random shards of Sumerian civilization, held in isolation, represent a shallow argument for beer as the unifying force of this ancient and venerable society. Yet, when placed in the context of the puzzle that is ancient Sumerian culture, they provide compelling support. For beer was the very heart of Sumerian civilization; it was their most precious gift from their gods and a focal point of their religious beliefs.5 On a 4000 year old seal is the Sumerian “Hymn to Ninkasi.” It is a recipe for making beer.6 Ninkasi, an important member of the pantheon of Sumerian gods and goddesses, was the goddess of brewing.7 She was also the Goddess of fertility and love in a society in which the brewmasters were mostly women.8 One such brewmaster, Kubaba, even founded a whole city-state,9 Kish, around her tavern. Kubaba, the Queen of Kish ruled so effectively that she frequently held ritual feasts that brought people flocking to her land to partake and in many cases remain.`10 Brewing was not only a material benefit, but a religious act.11

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of literature known to man, beer plays a pivotal role to its plot and theme. For it is beer that makes human one of the main characters, Enkidu, the half man half beast who roams wildly on the outskirts of civilization. In short it is beer that makes us human.12

Yet, there are those out there, “Bread Firsters” who will continue to deny the logic of this archeological proof. They will wine and moan that it was bread, not beer around which ancient Sumerian civilization was built. Since they have ignored the archeological proof surrounding the religious practices of the this civilization, we must now venture into the scientific realm of archeology. In this arena, Beer-Firsters, such as myself, have received great help from other scientists and brewers to prove our point. In our next installment we will address archeological scientific experiments based upon the archeological evidence that further proves that Sumerian, and likely all, civilization came together with beer.

Definitions: Advertising – what successful poets do for a living.

1 Pg. 45 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995

2 (The Editor’s) Poets are clearly lesser beings than regular prose writers, because they generally use less words to express the same meaning, relying upon very confusing tools like imagery, symbolism, etc. Prose writers say what they mean directly and to the point, assuming they do not get distracted by tangential issues like the philosophical value of capital punishment in advanced industrial nations as a form of blood sport deflecting attention from certain valuable minorities, i.e., the very wealthy, from unwarranted scrutiny by the rabble, as well as a deterrent to the same, who may feel such wealth is unjustly achieved.

3 Pg. 66 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995. (The Editor’s) This is what we consider a true sign of civilization, beer advertising. The fact that as a whole you are not so scared out of your skulls by your neighbors and the possibility that they may try to make a meal out of you, that you would be willing to invite them to your place, drink a few beers and even ask them to pay for them, is a real sign you live in a civilized society.

4 http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673

5 (Beertheostorian A) The rejection of beer, not the U.S. invasion, is the primary cause of the troubles in modern day Iraq, as well as much of Islamic society that does not distinguish between beer and other alcoholic beverages. “O ye who believe! Strong drink [Also translated as “wine”] and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.” (Al Ma’idah 90).

6 http://www.alabev.com/history.htm An ancient Sumerian greeting said, “May Ninkasi live with you-let her pour your beer everlasting.” Pg. 49 Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995.

7 http://www.alabev.com/history.htm; http://www.geocities.com/garyweb65/sumgods.html Ninkasi was the daughter of Ninhursag, the Mother Goddess, and Goddess of the earth, until usurped by her son Enlil.

8 http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673.

9 The preferred method of Sumerian geo-political organization.

10 http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673.

11 (Beertheostorian A) The Sumerian’s also apparently mixed sex and beer in their most important religious rituals. It was not uncommon in a certain era of Sumerian History that Brewmaster/Priestesses would, during ritual imbibing sessions with the faithful, choose one lucky member of the flock to have sex with her. According to Sumerian myth Ninkasi herself declared: “When I sit at the city gate, in front of a tavern, I am a loving whore, who knows all men.” (The Editors) We question whether the term whore accurately translates the position Ninkasi took. . . in Sumerian society. The priestesses of the tavern, i.e., temple, delivered both beer and sex in what was considered to be a religious act and would receive a tithe in exchange for leading these men on a spiritual journey. The term whore, with all of its negative Judeo-Christian baggage probably does not resonate the reverence with which Ninkasi and her priestesses were held. The kings of Sumeria even engaged in ritual brew imbibing and sex sessions with the High Priestess of Ninkasi. It was considered a necessary spiritual and material conjugation of the secular and religious leadership of Sumerian civilization designed to ensure an ample crop for the next season. http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673 Probably to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to the royal classes, Hammurabi ultimately forbade all high priestesses of Ninkasi from entering public taverns upon pain of a fiery death. Pg. 62 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995 & http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF10/1039.html. (The Editors) This may partially explain Judeo-Christian revulsion for women who receive a tithe for engaging in sex with their parishioners and possibly the medieval practice of witch burning.

12 (Beer theostorian A) Literature implies writing so this means a written story, not an oral tale, many of which may pre-date Gilgemesh and make no reference to beer. Writing itself is not likely possible without civilization or taking it one logical step further, beer.

Pg. 45 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995
(The Editor’s) Poets are clearly lesser beings than regular prose writers, because they generally use less words to express the same meaning, relying upon very confusing tools like imagery, symbolism, etc. Prose writers say what they mean directly and to the point, assuming they do not get distracted by tangential issues like the philosophical value of capital punishment in advanced industrial nations as a form of blood sport deflecting attention from certain valuable minorities, i.e., the very wealthy, from unwarranted scrutiny by the rabble, as well as a deterrent to the same, who may feel such wealth is unjustly achieved.
Pg. 66 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995. (The Editor’s) This is what we consider a true sign of civilization, beer advertising. The fact that as a whole you are not so scared out of your skulls by your neighbors and the possibility that they may try to make a meal out of you, that you would be willing to invite them to your place, drink a few beers and even ask them to pay for them, is a real sign you live in a civilized society.
http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673
(Beertheostorian A) The rejection of beer, not the U.S. invasion, is the primary cause of the troubles in modern day Iraq, as well as much of Islamic society that does not distinguish between beer and other alcoholic beverages. “O ye who believe! Strong drink [Also translated as “wine”] and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.” (Al Ma’idah 90).
http://www.alabev.com/history.htm An ancient Sumerian greeting said, “May Ninkasi live with you-let her pour your beer everlasting.” Pg. 49 Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995.
http://www.alabev.com/history.htm; http://www.geocities.com/garyweb65/sumgods.html Ninkasi was the daughter of Ninhursag, the Mother Goddess, and Goddess of the earth, until usurped by her son Enlil.
http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673.
The preferred method of Sumerian geo-political organization.
http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673.
(Beertheostorian A) The Sumerian’s also apparently mixed sex and beer in their most important religious rituals. It was not uncommon in a certain era of Sumerian History that Brewmaster/Priestesses would, during ritual imbibing sessions with the faithful, choose one lucky member of the flock to have sex with her. According to Sumerian myth Ninkasi herself declared: “When I sit at the city gate, in front of a tavern, I am a loving whore, who knows all men.” (The Editors) We question whether the term whore accurately translates the position Ninkasi took. . . in Sumerian society. The priestesses of the tavern delivered both beer and sex in what was considered to be a religious act and would receive a tithe in exchange for leading these men on a spiritual journey. The term whore, with all of its negative Judeo-Christian baggage probably does not resonate the reverence with which Ninkasi and her priestesses were held. The kings of Sumeria even engaged in ritual brew imbibing and sex sessions with the High Priestess of Ninkasi. It was considered a necessary spiritual and material conjugation of the secular and religious leadership of Sumerian civilization designed to ensure an ample crop for the next season. http://beeradvocate.com/articles/673 Probably to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to the royal classes, Hammurabi ultimately forbade all high priestesses of Ninkasi from entering public taverns upon pain of a fiery death. Pg. 62 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995 & amp; http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF10/1039.html. (The Editors) This may partially explain Judeo-Christian revulsion for women who receive a tithe for engaging in sex with their parishioners and possibly the medieval practice of witch burning.
(Beertheostorian A) Literature implies writing so this means a written story, not an oral tale, many of which may pre-date Gilgemesh and make no reference to beer. Writing itself is not likely possible without civilization or taking it one logical step further, beer.

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Pg. 45 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995

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