Monday, September 8, 2014

Mesopotamia: Bushmiller Country

[Photograph by Sluggo Smith. As seen at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.]

We drove up to Chicago to see our friends Jim and Luanne Koper and make a visit to the Oriental Institute. Luanne was the first to spot this sign, on a placard showing the evolution of cuneiform. It’s the proto-cuneiform of kur, mountain. I took a picture. Some rocks!

If you have any doubt that ancient Mesopotamia was Bushmiller Country, I give you this excerpt from a chart:

[“The origin and development of selected cunieform signs from c. 3000 to 600 BC.” Steven Roger Fischer, The History of Writing (London: Reaktion Books, 2004). Click for a larger view. And here’s the full chart. See? It’s real.]

The later stylized kur maintains the logic of ”some”: not two (a pair), not four (one more than “some”). Ernie Bushmiller would be pleased. “Bushmiller Country” is cartoonist Bill Griffith’s name for the Nancy-and-Sluggo world, which is a region of Griffith’s own Dingburg — but which now also includes Mesopotamia.

Here is an explanation of “some rocks,” along with the search for same.

Related reading
“Some rocks” in a 1556 woodcut (Lexikaliker) : “Some rocks” in paintings by Carlo Crivelli and Romare Bearden (l’astronave) : Zippy and rocks : More rocks : Still more rocks : Yet another post with “some rocks” : What? More rocks? : Lassie and Zippy and some rocks : Conversational rocks

comments: 8

Gunther said...

What a great find – thank you for sharing!

Michael Leddy said...

A pleasure! Can we go further back still? Cave paintings?

Andy said...

Would the stylized version of "ker" indicate that the mountain contained a large amount of radioactive ore?

Michael Leddy said...

It does now.

(For anyone who’s puzzled: see, for instance, here.

Fresca said...

Well, the circles aren't flattened on the bottom, but, since you mentioned rock art... are you familiar with the Neolithic "cup and ring" rock carvings from around 5000–1500BC in the British Isles?

A friend of mine worked on a dig in Kilmartin, Scotland, and told me about these groovy circles.
You can see three rock-y looking ones here:

Michael Leddy said...

Wow. But I take it that they don’t usually come in threes, right?

They remind me of the asterism, which Gunther was telling me about yesterday.

Fresca said...

Right, they don't usually come in threes, so they don't really fit the bill... Just kinda cool.

Fresca said...

P.S. The asterism---never saw it before, like it a lot!