reply to post by abeverage
going to just pass this one up, as I wasn't really
that concerned with the whole history of tumbler locks, but, I figured, since
you seem interested in Mesopotamia in general, I could use this as an opportunity to help you out with that as well. So, my apologies if what follows
doesn't necessarily relate to locks and keys, I'll do my best to tie it back to that if I can.
1. The difference between Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.
I admit, this didn't use to be an issue for me. At one point I lived in ignorance, assuming that all four were the same people, just given different
names by historians. However, I have since learned that they are ethnically different people, with diverse cultural ideals and origins.
I'm not sure if this analogy will mean anything to you, but, comparing the Sumerians to the Assyrians would be the same as saying that Koreans and
Japanese are the same. While they inhabit the same continental area, telling a Korean they're Japanese (or vice-versa) is a good way to get yourself
a black eye.
Here's a mini history lesson for you on the differences. My time line follows the middle chronology, which are the dates by which I learned about the
cultures. For the long chronology add 64 years to each date, for the short chronology subtract 64 years from each date.
were a non-Semitic people who settled in the fertile crescent between 5000 BCE and 4500 BCE. Non-Semitic means that they
had no ethnic relation to the groups which later occupied the area and can be found in Biblical literature. No one actually knows where the Sumerians
came from, although a handful of theories exist. Among the contributions from the Sumerians is the invention of the world's first written language:
Cuneiform. The Sumerians originally ruled over large portions of Southern Mesopotamia, establishing a handful of city-states, like Eridu, Ur, and
Erech. The Sumerian empire originally lasted from roughly 4500 BCE until about 2300 BCE, with the introduction of the next ruling people: the
were a group of Semitic invaders. What this means is that they had no relationship with the Sumerians before them. If it
helps, consider the Akkadians like the British colonies who came to America and discovered the native tribes, who would be the Sumerians. The Akkadian
empire began in 2340 BCE (+/- 64 years) when Sargon the Great founded the mythical city of Agade (Akkad). The Akkadian empire only lasted until 2200
BCE (+/- 64 years) before another
set of people invaded and destabilized their empire. These were known as the Guti. Though the Akkadian empire
was short-lived, it was of vital importance to history. The Akkadians and Sumerians blended their cultures together, creating ethnic offspring. Think
of this as an Asian and and an Irish-man creating an Asian Irish child. That's what happened when the Sumerians and Akkadians met.
aren't really that important. They were, essentially, traveling war bands unrelated to either the Sumerians or Akkadians
who liked to conquer people, and gather riches. They didn't last that long. In 2112 BCE (+/- 64 years) the remaining ethnically pure Sumerian people
took back Southern Mesopotamia from the Guti, and established what is known as the Sumerian Renaissance. For a little more than a hundred years the
Sumerians again ruled Southern Mesopotamia until, in 2004 BCE their king, Ibbi-Sin, was captured and killed by members of the Elamite tribe, another
purely Semitic people with no relation to the Sumerians or Akkadians.
were the next big group to have control over a large portion of Southern Mesopotamia. The Babylonians are the genetic
descendants of the Akkadians who married Sumerians. They are neither purely Semitic, nor purely Sumerian. Arguably, the most important Babylonian
is Hammurabi, the law-giver. In 1792 Hammurabi really put the Babylonians on the map when he defeated numerous other purely Semitic tribes, and
conquered much of Southern Mesopotamia. Unfortunately, the pure Babylonian empire only lasted until about 1595 when it was sacked by the Hittites, a
people native to Anatolia (modern day Turkey).
Finally, we come to the Assyrians
. The Assyrians were, like the Babylonians, the impure descendants of Akkadians and Sumerian marriage.
However, instead of ruling over Southern Mesopotamia, like their Babylonian cousins, they ruled over Northern Mesopotamia. Here's where that
Korea/Japan metaphor comes back into play: the Assyrians really, really, really disliked their southern cousins, the Babylonians. There was absolutely
no kinship between the two cultures, to the point where their mythology even competed, with Ashshur (the Assyrian deity) replacing Marduk (the
Babylonian deity) in the Enuma Elish
after Babylon had been sacked. The pure Assyrian empire was really short though, lasting for only about
30-50 years, before all of Mesopotamia was again thrown into disarray by invading barbarians, this time known as the Sea People.
Later, in 884 BCE the dynasty of Assurmasipal II established an Assyrian renaissance, which lasted for about 200 years (c. 884 BCE - 612 BCE). After
that, the descendants of the Babylonians again tried their hand at ruling Mesopotamia, with dynasties like those of Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus, who
handed the empire over to Persian invaders. The Babylonian renaissance lasted from 612 BCE until 539 BCE.
So, why is this all important? Well:
In the year 4500 BCE (almost 7000 years ago) the Sumerians arrived.
Nearly 2000 years pass
In the year 2300 BCE (almost 5000 years ago) the Akkadians arrived.
Nearly 500 years pass
In the year 1894 BCE (almost 4000 years ago) the Babylonians arrived.
Nearly 600 years pass
In the year 1234 BCE (about 3000 years ago) the Assyrians arrived.
Historically speaking, the Assyrians are closer to us, modern inhabitants of the Earth, than they are to the Sumerians. To say that the lock and key
was Sumerian, because it was invented during the time of the Assyrians, is wrong. It would be more accurate to say it is Muslim
, because that
group is closer, on the time line, and physically on the map, to the Assyrians than are the Sumerians.
Also, nearly every reference to "lock" in the Sumerian lexicon (an invaluable tool) is a reference to surrounding, laying siege to, enslaving, or, a
lock of hair. Except for "giš-e", which means "tool used for exiting", or, in modern English, a key. What a "giš-e" really is, though, is any
object used to open a door. So, a tool to lift a door-bar, a tool to remove a door-wedge, etc. It is not a literal deadbolt key, despite the phonetic
~ Wandering Scribe