Mark, I have tried reading your Tid-Bits, but I take accurate
history 'way too seriously. However, the word "Mesopotamian"
inspired me to read your latest, on Mesopotamian jewelry. I have
problems with it. For example:
Who was it that stood in highest regard in Ancient Mesopotamian
society? It was the barber… What is your reference for this
statement? In all my years of reading for my M.A. and Ph.D. in this
field, I have never run across such a statement. The entries in
the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary for “barber” (gallabu) don’t mention
anything like your following description about shaving. I can only
suspect that someone had read something like the Greek historian,
Herodotus, who claimed to have visited Babylonia but the accuracy
of whose descriptions of the Assyrians and Babylonians is very
difficult to assess.
The actual history of Mesopotamia and of its jewelry is much more
interesting. I enjoyed looking at your “Mesopotamian” necklace,
which was nice, except that it didn’t utilize carnelian, lapis
lazuli or colorful agates, which are typical of the Royal Cemetery
at Ur. It is my impression that black beads are rare in Sumerian
jewelry. (That doesn’t mean they had an antipathy to the concept
of “black” – the Sumerians’ name for themselves was, “the
black-headed people.”) However, I was disappointed that you added
to your necklace the statement that “the most important collections
are in the British Museum.” Not at all – as many artifacts are at
the University of Pennsylvania, from where an exhibit of those
artifacts has been going around this country since 1998 (see the
exhibit’s book, Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, edited by
Zettler and Horne).
Well, enough of that. I could add something about how very
inaccurate “history” got us into a recent and unnecessary war, but
in that direction lies Pandora’s Box.