Long Drought May Have Killed Sumerian Language

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posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 12:18 AM
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Long Drought May Have Killed Sumerian Language
(livescience.com)


A 200-year-long drought 4,200 years ago may have killed off the ancient Sumerian language, one geologist says.




Sumerians invented the first written language and revolutionized how humans can live and prosper together through shared labor and trade. Their written language, Cuneiform, was so influential that many of their neighbors in the region (at least those not absorbed into their empire by force) adopted it so as to be able to engage in commerce and trade with them. Yet for all their innovations and advances, the Sumerians constantly suffered invasions and displacement by other cultures, even those who 'borrowed' their culture from the Sumerians in the first place.

The collapse of Sumer is something of a mystery. Sumer was always under tension from outside forces (such as the Elamites), and internal forces as well (Akkadians), past texts have suggested an invasion from the Elamites succeeded only because the Sumerians were weakened by a long drought, and this researcher places more emphasis on the affect of the drought than previous researchers. I've read in the past that as the drought increased, so too did the Sumerians irrigation efforts. Irrigation counts as one of their greater innovations on the Sumerian's path to civilization, but one that would have a consequence, namely increasing the soils salinity and damaging future crop production. Archeologists have identified a large population shift taking place at the time of this drought, which bordered on being an exodus from the southern cities to the north. Perhaps the Elamite invasion of Ur was simply them taking advantage of the retreating Sumerians.

Like the Maya, it seems that civilizations that flourish perhaps too quickly can meet their demise when Mother Nature stops cooperating and cities full of people find themselves starving. Does make one wonder what the next 100 years holds in store for modern civilization...




posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 01:38 AM
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Good post but it reminds me how sad it is and was when a civilization dies away



posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 05:35 AM
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Weather can definitely have an effect on language. I remember one time when I was a kid there was a 5 day long blizzard and I forgot everything I had learned in French class that year


On a more serious note, interesting article. It's strange to think that a few thousand years from now even the language we're speaking could be gone and forgotten forever.



posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 01:25 PM
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Originally posted by Xaphan
Weather can definitely have an effect on language. I remember one time when I was a kid there was a 5 day long blizzard and I forgot everything I had learned in French class that year


On a more serious note, interesting article. It's strange to think that a few thousand years from now even the language we're speaking could be gone and forgotten forever.


Here's what happened to the language you're typing in after only 600 years (or so):

600 YBP:


Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages


In today's version:


When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

Source: Canterbury Tales

Sounds a lot different as well.

Harte



posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 04:59 PM
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reply to post by Harte
 


Good point, one can imagine how much the Sumerian language morphed over the course of it's long history, scholars always have to be cognizant of the era and region from which a tablet hails from to pick up on subtle contexts to avoid mistranslations, I suppose it's as much an art as it is a science.



posted on Dec, 6 2012 @ 02:11 AM
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en.wikipedia.org...


Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate),[4] but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD.[5][6]


Ehhhh at the wiki source, but the cited texts seem to hold their own. So, while the language itself may have suffered a setback due to it's specific civilization being run down, it didn't die in it's entirety for many many centuries after.



posted on Dec, 6 2012 @ 07:21 AM
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Which to this day causes confusion when people refer to "Sumerian."

Sumer was long gone but even Babylonia is referred to as "Sumerian" in the literature because they're talking about the language speakers/writers, not the culture/peoples.

Harte





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