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A Mesopotamian Primer

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posted on Jan, 8 2015 @ 10:03 AM
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a reply to: Ridhya

I'd love to hear more about that. Didn't know about the Germanii, sure it's not the Arians? Iran means 'Land of the Arians' or 'Arian People', and there is a language family called Arian as well. Sadly Hitler sort of dreaded down the Arians by his efforts to exalt them, but they are still with us. And the red hair? Sure about that? Where in Herodotus and Tacitus can I find out more on these Germanii? I know about the Veda-Norse connection, but I would love it if you put together a thread on it! Can't learn enough about one's ancient origins! Great stuff!

edit on 8-1-2015 by Utnapisjtim because: kool




posted on Jan, 8 2015 @ 06:33 PM
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a reply to: Wandering Scribe

Would you be able to give us a chronological listing of Mesopotamian religious/mythological texts and works that are easily accessible to the layman?

 


Did the people of the Fertile Crescent adhere to a cohesive pantheon? Is there any indication that people would, for example, worship Enlil but deny the divinity of Enki? Were the ziggurat-housed patron deities of each individual city-state competing for worship, supremacy, and dominance amongst their neighboring city-states?

 


I am enjoying the information of this thread!



posted on Jan, 9 2015 @ 08:27 AM
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a reply to: Utnapisjtim
Last post on this, let's keep it at Mesopotamia.

Tacitus, Germania

Herodotus, tribes of the Persians (wordsworth classics)


The Germanians were a tribe of the Persians. In 350BC (Herodotus) they were in Persia. Most of the other persian tribes appear to have had black hair with blue eyes. Also interesting of note the Scythian tribe called Budini "all have markedly blue-grey eyes and red hair". In Caesar's The Conquest of Gaul (50BC) the Germanii are now in Europe, he describes and compares the Gallic and the German customs. The Germans are incredibly similar to the Vedic Aryans, for example, they live off of meat, cheese, and milk, as they are cowherds; they worship the sun, moon, and fire, just like in Persian religion. By 100AD (Takitus) they were in Europe. You can then see their similarity to the Norsemen, so obviously some cross cultural exchange. Thing law meetings and sacred grove sacrifices, for example.

On its own its not much, but combined with Snorri's history and etymologies, its plausible. Also if you want a real mindf##k, Atlantica by Olof Rudbeck.

Of course the Vedic Aryans split into the Zoroastrians and Brahmans or w/e division, and the Persians (along with the Medes) were descended from them. The Hittites and Mitanni also seem to be, they at least spoke indo-european languages and they invoked Mithra and Indra in their treaties. Indra of course a Vedic god, Mithra a sun-god of the persians, who was later popular in Rome... Im sure youll also be interested to know that the Vedic Indians' gods were called Asuras

That book I mentioned about the alphabets, it compares every indo-european alphabet to Sumerian logograms, there are a lot of interesting parallels. I bought it just for my studies on the Runic alphabet, but around that same time I was getting into Sumeria and Assyria. There are connections in every culture, and I think some are by contact, some are by common interpretation of natural phenomena.



posted on Jan, 9 2015 @ 12:42 PM
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a reply to: Ridhya

This reminds me I must make time to read through these books from cover to cover. Everytime I open one of them they seem to deliver. Then again, both Tacitus and Herodotus make some pretty weird claims here and there, but who knows? Thanks for the fun heads-up



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 10:33 AM
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a reply to: Wandering Scribe

A scholarly effort, Scribe. Thanks for all the work you've put into this for your fellow members.



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 01:30 PM
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a reply to: Sahabi


Did the people of the Fertile Crescent adhere to a cohesive pantheon? Is there any indication that people would, for example, worship Enlil but deny the divinity of Enki?


Yes and no. City-states and larger nations ( Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria, etc.) did ascribe to a number of "canonical" deities, if you will. Primary among them were: An, Enki, Enlil, Nanna, Inanna, and Utu. Included in the mix was also a mother-goddess as well, who went by a variety of names, including: Bēlit.ilī (mother of the gods), Damgalnuna (the true wife), Sud, Mami (mother), Ninmaḫ (great queen), Ninsikil, and Nintu (mother of the country), but was most commonly known as Ninḫursaga (queen of the mountain) or Ninlil (lady of the air).

Individual city-states, and their surrounding vassal villages, did have unique pantheons though. As kanzveldt pointed out geographic regions centered around particular figures: farmers and ass-herders in the north; marshland and fishing deities in the south; and so on. Particular city-states also had their own hierarchy as well. For example, the city-state of Lagaš, with its many districts like Girsu and Nina, was home to a number of deities, including (but not limited to):

• Bau
• Dumuzi
• Gatumdug
• Geštin'ana
• Ḫegir.nuna
• Ḫe.šaga
• Igalima
• Inanna
• Iškur.pa.e
• Ninazu
• Nindara
• Ningirsu
• Ningišzida
• Ninmar
• Ninsúmun
• Nisaba
• Šul.šagana
• Ur.agrunta.ea
• Zargu
• Zazaru
• Zurgu

On that list, only a small handful of "major" gods and goddess emerge:

• Dumuzi
• Inanna
• Ninazu
• Ningišzida
• Ninsúmun
• Nisaba

Additionally, two more deities:

• Bau
• Ningirsu

Were eventually syncretized with Gula and Ninurta of the Isin-Nippur state during the Old Babylonian empire. What this means though, is that only Inanna, of the traditional seven great Anunnakū, was worshiped in Lagaš. The other 6 had either an extremely minor presence there, or no presence at all. Lagaš, then, recognized a different set of important deities from, say, Isin, Nippur, Ur, or Uruk. They didn't, however, deny the existence or divinity of the other great gods. It was only that these specific deities were locally important, and thus venerated to a lesser of greater degree.


Were the ziggurat-housed patron deities of each individual city-state competing for worship, supremacy, and dominance amongst their neighboring city-states?


Again, yes and no.

During the Sumerian and Akkadian empires the standard practice was to envelop and redefine genealogical lines when one city was defeated by another during war. This process, of course, would give rise to several family histories for deities, dependent on who conquered who, and when.

A great example of this is the goddess Inanna, who, in Sumer, was regarded as the daughter of An and a denizen of Uruk; in Akkad was regarded as a daughter of Nanna, and a citizen of Agade; and in Babylonia and Assyria was regarded as a daughter of Ninurta and a denizen of Babylon and Aššūr.

One goddess, three histories, all because of the struggle between city-states.

Likewise, certain human kings were also known to engage in heretical activities, likely driven by both pride and greed.

Sargon and his grandson Naram.sîn are both recorded in official documents as having raided Nippur and looted Enlil's personal temple é.kur, the Mountain House. Their deeds were so terrible in the eyes of the gods that Agade, Sargon's capital, was so thoroughly destroyed in retribution that we still haven't located its ruins today.

The Neo Assyrian king Sennacherib is also recorded as having destroyed Babylon, looted it of it's wealth, and personally offended the gods with his heinous and heretical acts. So grand was Sennacherib's offense that two of his sons are recorded to have committed patricide to purge Assyria of guilt.

So, the answer is a bit difficult to say for certain, as some wars ended with respectful assimilation of deities, others with looting and destruction.

Your question regarding a chronological list of myths and hymns is one that will require a little more time and effort on my part to compile. I will reply if/when I have it set!


~ Wandering Scribe



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 01:30 PM
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More replies and content coming soon folks, thanks for taking the time to read and contribute!


~ Wandering Scribe



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 01:52 PM
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a reply to: Utnapisjtim


Anyway, I found out something amazing when looking up Njord, a vane and god of the sea, who was one of the three Vaner that became Æser/Æsir after a certain period of unrest between the nine worlds, together with Frøy and Frøya. And here comes the odd cod: Njord lived at a place called Nóatún, and the name means 'Ship Yard'. Nóa means Ship, Tún still means Yard today.


Certainly an interesting find. Again, my knowledge of Norse and Old Germanic paganism is, at best, a layman's. I wonder though if there's a reason why fertility deities are tied to the sea and important rivers, beyond ideas of the mythical flood. The history of early Man's settlements is often associated with coastal regions, riverside villages, and occupations of flood plains. My thought is that this is because the sea and rivers offered us stable sources of food and travel.

It could, of course, be tied to a worldwide flood, but, that's something I'd have to take on faith, over empirical evidence. I tend to think that as much as myth and fantasy tie the realm of deities to us, there's also very real, natural explanations for why deities arise as well. Fishing, boat travel, irrigation, and fertile farming soil all have ties to the sea and river systems, I tend to think that that is why fertility gods often have sea-associations as well.

All of the above, of course, being subjective.

Thanks for pointing out this connection though, I wasn't familiar with it.


~ Wandering Scribe



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 02:50 PM
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a reply to: Kantzveldt


It would come as a surprise to most that the Transtigridian serpent Gods were the fourth major factor , but they complimented the mystery cults of Uruk on the Euphrates in many ways


The serpent/snake is a very potent symbol in the ancient Near East (and certainly unparalleled in Egypt). There's no doubt that the snake motif has a lot of relevance in myth and religion, even finding its way into The Epic of Gilgameš, where it eats the Flower of Immortality, robbing Gilgameš of youth.

Is it possible that the snake cult was more localized though?

For example, beginning in Uruk (modern As Samawah) it is 86 kilometers to Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar), then another 64 kilometers to Lagaš (modern Ash Shatrah), and finally, another 235 kilometers to Enegi (modern Umma al Wawiyah). Meanwhile, in the north-east, the cities of Ešnunna (Diyala) and Dēr (Badra), the other two major cult-centers of the snake-god, were less than 50 kilometers apart.

This route, across the floodplain between Euphrates and Tigris, and throughout the north-eastern Diyala region, would have been well within the reach of trade and even normal pilgrimages to the ancient Sumerians and Akkadians.

None of this, of course, in any way lessens the importance of the snake-cult in my mind. But it seems, to me, less widespread than, say, the importance of farming, fishing, the orchard, and animal husbandry.

Additionally, while Dēr was the epicenter of the cult of Ištaran (and his sukkal Nirah), it was also known as the "City of An," alongside Uruk. What this means, to me, is that the tutelary and patron god, Ištaran in this case, was not always the only influential figure in a city.

To further support this, and provide another plausible explanation for An's presence in Dēr, look at the city's placement.

Dēr served as a boundary between Sumer and Elam. Uruk, An's other capital, meanwhile, also served as a boundary between Sumer and Arabia. Essentially, Uruk and Dēr helped map the extent of the kalama, noting where the civilized world ended in the East and West.


Uruks primary concern was with the procreation and herding of cows, sheep and people to number as the stars of Heaven, the tree Gods with concern toward the afterlife and regeneration.


This I have absolutely no disagreement with. Tree-cults are prevalent in the ancient Near East, in Egypt, Greece, and the Celtic and Norse myths. I think the veneration of trees goes hand in hand with true pagan and polytheistic beliefs. It seems almost impossible to me to have one without the other.


The various groupings of Gods as you noted were subject to fluctuation and regional variation and that goes for the magnificent seven also, i'd be of the opinion that any grouping of seven without Ninurta isn't so magnificent anyway...


I disagree, on technicality, not necessarily spirit.

The magnificent seven didn't actually change until the rise of Aššūr and Marduk in Assyria and Babylonia. Excluding the fact that Aššūr is, for all intents and purposes, Enlil 2.0, six of the Anunnakū remained consistent throughout the history of Mesopotamia, these were:

• An
• Enki
• Enlil
• Nanna
• Inanna
• Utu

The only one to fluctuate, but who never completely disappeared, was the seventh member, the mother-goddess. This figure went by various local names, but was always either Ninḫursaga or Ninlil.

A wide variety of secondary gods and goddesses, like Adad, Dumuzi, Gula, Nanše, or Ninurta (who is also one of my favorites) were always rising or falling in the ranks, depending on how wealthy and powerful the city-state was.

These secondary Anunnakū, born out of the once-anonymouse Anunna, never managed to eclipse the magnificent seven though. This is eviedent in the addendum to the Anzû myth known as Ninurta and the Turtle, where Ninurta attempts to conquer the universe through use of the Dup Šimati, but is thwarted by Enki, who easily overcomes him through magic.

The only time that the magnificent seven fell out of favor was during the Aramaean, Neo Assyrian, and Babylonian-Chaldean empires, when the religious beliefs of the people pointed more toward henotheism or monotheism. That doesn't happen until the tail end of Mesopotamian history though.

 


Thanks for bringing the snake-god cult to the thread though. I honestly don't know if I would have touched on it myself ever, but it is an interesting sub-cult to Mesopotamia.


~ Wandering Scribe


edit on 10/1/15 by Wandering Scribe because: spelling



posted on Jan, 10 2015 @ 07:24 PM
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a reply to: Wandering Scribe

I also found out that divine navigator and god of the sea, Njord seems to be related to Nerþuz, or 'Mother Earth'. The word for Earth and soil in Norwegian is Jord, and the word is easily spotted in 'Njord'. Either they are representations of the same god/goddess/religion, and there seems to be some uncertainty whether he was married to his sister, yet another link to Hebrew where concepts such as "my sister and bride" and referring to one's wife as one's sister is common.

And if we are to believe Snorre and Tjodolv Skald-- King Harald V of Norway, is a direct descendant to Njord, so his children are still among us. I believe that Harald Hårfagre the king who gathered all of Norway's kingdoms under one king, was a survivor of the long haired French Merovingean kings and their Magdalena descendance myth is epic, and fits right in with Njord and Nerþuz. A Mariner Hosé and a ruddy Mother and Le Sang Real and a distant whisper of the Kingdom of God....
edit on 10-1-2015 by Utnapisjtim because: ....



posted on Jan, 11 2015 @ 09:50 AM
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a reply to: Wandering Scribe

But to my point, I always end up along some digression, Mesopotamia, right? Well, my question to you then is, with Njord containing both sea and the shores, and that his ship-yard is called Noa-tun, could it be, that Njord is infact Enki? Did for instance Enki at some point divorce his spouse or somehow contributed to institutionalise divorce? And was Enki ever involved in marriage to someone in the underworld?



posted on Jan, 15 2015 @ 10:55 PM
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a reply to: Utnapisjtim


could it be, that Njord is infact Enki?


I don't think that Njord and Enki are the same deity. While I have pointed out a number of similarities between Sumerian and Norse mythology before in a thread dedicated to Ninurta and Thor, the personalities and activities of Njord and Enki are too distinct from each other to be the same figure.

First, Enki is more than just a god of fertility and water. Among Enki's sphere of influence are also craftsmanship, exorcism, and magical rites and rituals, while Enki's function is as the counselor, or sukkal, of the Anunnakū. Thus he is as much a god of applied skill, intellect, and wisdom as he is of fertility and water.

Second, as Kanzfeldt's article discusses, Enki was part of the marshland pantheon, and was believed to reside in a domicile built upon a subterranean sea known as the Apsû. While Enki had a ziggurat, and various smaller temples in Sumerian cities, his primary residence was always the sea that exists between the Earth and the Underworld.

What I believe, as I've hinted at before, is that Mankind was drawing from a common pool of experience related to the sea when they envisioned Enki, Lýr, Manannán, Njörðr, and Poseidon. All of them independent gods with a common origin, but viewed through a unique cultural lens.


Did for instance Enki at some point divorce his spouse or somehow contributed to institutionalise divorce?


Divorce, no. Infidelity, plenty. Enki's list of spouses (and offspring) is rather impressive. Though, rather than the institution of divorce, what it suggests is that Enki's origins may have once contained an additional function as "all-father," which would help to explain his many spouses and lovers, and the plethora of children attributable to him.

In the quasi-mythical land of Dilmun (believed by scholars to be a mythologized Bahrain) Enki's spouses include:

• Ninḫursaga, variously called Ninmaḫ and Ninsikil. With this goddess (Mesopotamia's primary mother-goddess) Enki sired a single daughter, the goddess of vegetation: Ninšar.

• Ninšar, variously called Ninmu, was Enki's first extramarital lover. With this goddess Enki sired a single daughter, the goddess of pastures: Ninkurra.

• Ninkurra was Enki's second extramarital lover. With this goddess Enki sired three daughters: the goddess of reeds: Ningikugal; the deification of the female sex organs: Nin.imma; and the goddess of weaving and spider-silk: Uttu.

• Ningikugal was Enki's third extramarital lover. With this goddess Enki sired a single daughter, Ningal, known as the Great Queen, who would later become the wife of the moon-god Nanna.

• Nin.imma was Enki's fourth extramarital affair. With this goddess Enki sired a single daughter, Šerida, the goddess of the dawn, and deification of pleasure and passion. Variously called Aya or Kallatu (the Bride), Šerida would go on to become the wife of the sun-god Utu.

Enki is punished for his infidelity by Ninhursaga, who eventually curses him with age, decay, and sickness. Enki is not divorced though, and despite his adulterous ways, he is eventually forgiven and accepted back by Ninhursaga. This series of lovers, of course, presents Enki as an all-father, and god of fertility and nature. Enki's promiscuous ways don't end there though:

• Damgalnuna, the True Wife, also known as Damkina, was Enki's wife in the city of Eridu, where Enki was the patron deity. With Damgalnuna Enki sired one son, the sage, lustration priest, and judge over the River Ordeal: Asarluḫi, who would later become the Babylonian state-god Marduk.

• Sirtur, later syncretized with the goddess Ninsúmun, was Enki's wife in the city of Lagaš, where Enki had a rather small and unimportant cult. With Sirtur Enki sired one son and one daughter. His son was the god of agriculture and the harvest, Dumuzi, who would later be the lover of the goddess Inanna. His daughter was the goddess of the vine, and an interpreter of dreams, Geštin'ana, who would later be given the title Bēlit.ṣeri, Lady of the Steppe, the scribe of the Underworld.


And was Enki ever involved in marriage to someone in the underworld?


Despite his proximity to the Netherworld, Enki was not actually ever married to its Queen or any other goddess from there. The closest blood-ties Enki has to the Underworld are through his children Dumuzi and Geštin'ana, both of whom must spend one-half of each year in the Underworld to atone for Dumuzi's crime of not properly honoring Inanna when she had been killed (that's the overly simplified core of the myth at least).

Enki does, of course, have numerous clashes against the powers of the Underworld. Early on Eki attempts to rescue the goddess Ereškigal from Kur, the eponymous serpent of the Underworld. Despite the fragmentary nature of this myth, it can be assumed that, due to Ereškigal's residency in the Underworld, Enki failed.

Later, in the Descent of Inanna, Enki creates two sexless creatures (who later becomes temple-personnel in Inanna's cult) that are able to by-pass the laws of the Underworld and rescue Inanna from Ereškigal, who had imprisoned and killed her. Unlike the earlier myth, this one demonstrates Enki's victory over the Netherworld and its ways.

Beyond that though, Enki's connection to the Netherworld is virtually nonexistent.

Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the delay in responding. I've had a number of unexpected personal issues occur since the start of the New Year, but I'm eager to get back in the swing of things with this thread again.


~ Wandering Scribe



posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 10:35 AM
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a reply to: Ridhya

Just a heads up, that Tacitus doesn't speak of the German people in his fourth book, but a Roman elite member called Germanicus as far as I can see. Could you please provide some reference to your Tacitus.

[eta]Mine certainly does not contain any of what the text in your photo provides, but I may be wrong. It does look odd though. The book I have is rather cheap and nothing but the text, I'll have to check this to see, who knows it might be mine that is wrong, there seems to be inconsistency with certain people that is earlier reported dead, showing up nearly 30 years after the fact and so on. This could be traces from Roman Damnatio memoriae concerning Jesus and his supposed movement. This might also be the reason why Tacitus later refers to Christus describing him as rather unimportant or insignificant.[/eta]

As for Herodotus, the quote looks legit enough at first glance, but in an odd translation compared to mine. Husbandry? I don't even know what it is. My Oxford version has «Germanii (who all worked the land)». This makes me sort of think about how Germanic people may actually have been kept as white slaves. It is not common knowledge, and somewhat taboo, but a friend of mine made me aware of it a while back, that indeed there had been white people kept in slavery in Africa, Arabia and Mesopotamia, go figure. I'll ask him next time I see him if I remember.
edit on 16-1-2015 by Utnapisjtim because: eta



posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 10:48 AM
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a reply to: Wandering Scribe

Thanks again, you always deliver. You have been most helpful, though I may arrive at a slightly different conclusion than you of course
Anyway: Plenty thanks

edit on 16-1-2015 by Utnapisjtim because: ......



posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 12:48 PM
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a reply to: Utnapisjtim
I have the Penguin Classics version Germania and Agricola. Its really short maybe 150 pages... if I remember correctly Agricola is his wife's father who commanded in Britain, its mostly about that country, and their people. They are separate books from his other works.

I have two copies of Herodotus, one Penguin and the other Wordsworth. Different translations. Husbandry betyr dyrehold i norsk, å heve dyr eller vekster... older english, not common anymore. It is comparing sedentary vs nomadic tribes. In this case it has nothing to do with slavery, but farming.

There certainly were white slaves, the Romans had red-haired slaves (Germanii) and black-haired (Gallii), the Norsemen of course sold thralls to the Arabs and Christians (the word slave comes from Slav), and actually the Norsemen invaded Ireland for the sole purpose of getting slaves to sell. Tacitus also mentions how the Germanii were huge gamblers and often gambling their freedom away, then becoming slaves.



posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 02:38 PM
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a reply to: Ridhya

Thanks, I'll look into this more thoroughly later, and yet again it reminds me I have to read the old Greek and Roman historians from cover to cover, but damn, it's a vast area, Pluthark, Suetonius, Tacitus, Josephus, Herodotus, Cicero, does the list ever end? But at least I should get through Herodoth, Tacitus, Eusebius and Suetonius, but it's heavy stuff, not lightly consumed, you really have to work hard to get your way through, and you get lit. tired, well, I do anyway, it's exhausting these old books. Same goes with the Bible and other such books.

Anyway, sorry to the Scribe for derailing the thread again, but in a way it's related, though very remotely. I've learned quite a few things in the process, and hopefully so have we all.



posted on Oct, 21 2015 @ 09:08 AM
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So anymore input on this thread would be awesome?



posted on Oct, 21 2015 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: Hyperia

I don't have another essay prepared just yet unfortunately. My efforts for the past year have been primarily focused on hymnals, praise poems to the gods and goddesses, and establishing my personal practice. It's been a lot of work, and I admit this thread (and my presence on other scholarly and spiritual Mesopotamian boards) has waned. If you have questions, or an interest in something though, please contribute, I'll do my best to read and reply and add more content.


~ Wandering Scribe







 
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