Mesopotamia

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Since I was in college (maybe before), I found the concept of pillows strange. So, I started sleeping without one. I’ve always primarily been a “stomach sleeper” (which is a benefit if I ever do contract Covid, I guess). My normal sleeping posture involves my head resting on my left arm face down with my right arm curled up so that my right hand is curled just below my chin.

I’m not sure why I have such an aversion to pillows. I’m not alone, evidently. King Henry VIII banned the use of soft pillows for anyone except pregnant women.

Maybe it’s that independent streak I have and my assurance that I shouldn’t have to rely on things like external pillows for comfort and sleeping posture if I can do it all on my own. Which seems to be a good metaphor for this time in our lives where we are all forced to reconsider what is important and what we rely on to make it through our days and nights. Whether that’s the camaraderie of a busy office space with our co-workers, or meals with friends, or opening night of a major movie in a crowded theater… our brains are undergoing cognitive loads that many of us aren’t realizing but definitely feeling the effects in our day-to-day walk through life.

But in times of change and disruption, the creative spark is made more available as our brains try to make sense of a new reality. Perhaps that what’s the pillow was supposed to prepare us for over the last 10,000 years or so that we’ve actively been using them as human beings. Learning to find comfort in the dark and mysterious time of night with all of its dragons and witches and spells while we give our brains time to defrag from a long day of processing being human.

Most of us aren’t spending our days gathering barley, millet, and emmer or stalking a herd of antelope hoping for a successful hunt to feed our families and appease our gods… but 2020 is weird. Give your brain time to rest and process at night whether you use a pillow or not. Dream up new avenues for your own creativity whether you’re looking for a business angle, a sermon message, or just a new hobby to replace Netflix binging.

What I’m Thinking About Today

At Tuesday’s hearing, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company would no longer make policy exceptions for Mr. Trump after he leaves office in January. During Mr. Trump’s time as a world leader, Twitter allowed him to post content that violated its rules, though it began adding labels to some of the tweets starting in May to indicate that the posts were disputed or glorified violence.

“If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Mr. Dorsey said.

Well this out to be interesting…

This thing works like an iPad. That’s the best way I can describe it succinctly. One illustration I have been using to describe what this will feel like to a user of current MacBooks is that of chronic pain. If you’ve ever dealt with ongoing pain from a condition or injury, and then had it be alleviated by medication, therapy or surgery, you know how the sudden relief feels. You’ve been carrying the load so long you didn’t know how heavy it was. That’s what moving to this M1 MacBook feels like after using other Macs.

Instagram users’ ability to search is getting an upgrade. Today, the company announced that English-speaking users in six countries, including the UK, US, Ireland, and Canada, will be able to search the platform using keywords. Before today, they could only search for hashtags or accounts. So, for example, if you previously wanted to find “healthy recipes,” you’d only be able to search for posts that tagged #healthyrecipes or accounts with variations on “healthy recipes” in their name or bio. Now, however, Instagram will let people search the keywords themselves, meaning posts that feature healthy recipes should surface, even if the specific tag is missing.

This is super helpful for content creators in specific niches and should help elevate quality posts that otherwise get buried in heavily trafficked hashtags.

Well that’s interesting.

To be updated throughout the day

Introducing the Assyrians

 

Layard’s discoveries caused a media sensation and captured the public imagination. This had a major impact on painting and applied arts, in the UK and beyond, during the second half of the nineteenth century, which led to a brief phase of ‘Assyrian revival’. The Assyrian sculptures at the British Museum largely remain today where they were first installed over 160 years ago.

Source: Introducing the Assyrians – The British Museum Blog

My work, Asia Has Claims Upon New England: Assyrian Reliefs at Yale, covers the American reaction (primarily northeastern colleges meant to educate ministers such as Yale, Harvard, Williams, Union Seminary, Amherst etc) to “Assyriamania.”

The British Museum has an incredible collection of Assyrian artifacts, as does the Metropolitan Museum in New York. However, these small (at the time) colleges were also collecting Assyrian reliefs not just for academic study or curiosity but to prove a point about the Bible to the young men they were training for a life in the ministry.

It’s a fascinating story and I hope to revisit it and do more exploration into the missionary-minded impetus behind collecting and displaying these archaeological (and theological) pieces.

Btw, in “Asia Has Claims…,” I was able to work with Prof. Samuel Paley to produce a computer animation (way back in 2001) that more accurately depicted what the throne room of Ashurnasirpal II’s palace would have looked like (the one drawn in the 19th cent for Layard that’s at the top of this post was waaaaay off).

Sumer and the Modern Paradigm

Modern artists discovered Sumerian art between the world wars, at a time when British and American archaeological missions were working in southern Iraq. But archaeologists like Leonard Woolley, head of the mission in Ur were less fascinated by their finds. They considered Mesopotamian art inferior to Egyptian and to Graeco-Roman art and thought Mesopotamian iconography was an expression of a violent culture. Sacrificed bodies found at the Royal Tombs of Ur were the proof that the Bible was right about the Mesopotamian barbarism.

Source: – ANE TODAY – 201802 – Sumer and the Modern Paradigm

Don’t Buy Into the Myth of Human Progress

Integral calculus, like theology, are areas we imagine we have forward progress as humans… not always the case.

“What is perhaps more surprising is the sophistication with which they tracked the planet, judging from inscriptions on a small clay tablet dating to between 350 B.C. and 50 B.C. The tablet, a couple of inches wide and a couple of inches tall, reveals that the Babylonian astronomers employed a sort of precalculus in describing Jupiter’s motion across the night sky relative to the distant background stars. Until now, credit for this kind of mathematical technique had gone to Europeans who lived some 15 centuries later.”

Source: Signs of Modern Astronomy Seen in Ancient Babylon – The New York Times

 

“Art is not like science, it’s not like mathematics…”

 

“Art is not like science, it’s not like mathematics… it doesn’t improve. The work that was done in 2000 B.C. is as relevant as art today. And that’s the fascinating thing about art. That’s a conundrum. There is no new invention…This work is valid.”

Early Bronze Age (Iran or Mesopotamia). Head of a ruler, ca. 2300–2000 B.C. Copper alloy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1947

Source: Dorothea Rockburne on an ancient Near Eastern head of a ruler | The Artist Project | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Beautiful.