Oldest Stories

Oldest Stories

oldeststories.net
This show is focused on the history and myth of the Cradle of Civilization, bronze age Mesopotamia, beginning with the dawn of writing. The show will cover the full history of Mesopotamia, from Gilgamesh to Nabonidas, a span of some 2500 years, with myths of heroes and gods, and tales of daily life peppered throughout. New episodes every Wednesday. Online at oldeststories.net. I hang at a discord at https://discord.gg/q8XPnpg


The Merchants and Families of Assyria
Jun 30 • 36 min
We know very little about the kings of early Assyria, so our introduction to the north will be bottom up by necessity. We know about merchants and farmers and pastoralists and slaves, men and women who worked the land and built the nation. It is a welcome…
Rim-Sin the Pretty Good
Jun 23 • 37 min
Today we see the near collapse of Larsa, and its sudden and unexpected rescue by an Amorite from Elam. After the failure of Nur-Adad’s line, Kudur-Mabuk sweeps in from the desert to revitalize the city, and gives birth to the first great conqueror in 250…
Petty Kings
Jun 16 • 32 min
The multi-polar Isin-Larsa period continues this week, covering the period from the 1860s to the 1830s BCE. This week is a bit easier that the mess of last week, because we are slowly consolidating to only three major players, Isin, Larsa, and Babylon,…
The Founding of Babylon
Jun 9 • 25 min
This week we continue to watch as Isin and Larsa fight each other and the many other rising dynasties over the chaotic period from 1905 to 1865 BCE. Only slightly notable at the time, though soon to be much, much more important, is the occupation of the…
Middle Bronze Age Warfare
Jun 2 • 35 min
The main narrative of the Isin Larsa period is full of battles both stated and implied, but what do those battles actually look like? What sort of equipment and organization was common in this part of the middle bronze age? Honestly, quite a lot is…
Age of Chaos
May 26 • 32 min
It is time to shake things up as the line of peaceful merchant kings of Isin comes to an end thanks to two strong men, firstly Gungunum of Larsa and then Ur-Ninurta of Nippur and his revival of Sumerian Kingship. A lot of other players will start popping…
A Time of Ritual and Law
May 19 • 36 min
This week we look at the somewhat obscure 1900’s BCE in Isin, where details will be thin on the ground, but that will just give us more time to focus on the Law code of Lipit-Ishtar and the annual ritual of the sacred marriage between Ishtar and the king.…
Lay of the Land
May 12 • 32 min
Today we resume our history with the massive political upheaval which accompanied the collapse of the Ur III dynasty. We are entering a terribly complex period of history, and this episode we are going to do a quick survey of all the major powers of the…
First Men
May 5 • 36 min
The legends of Adapa, Enmeduranki, and Etana are the tales of three very early kings, though tales that don’t seem to come around until the middle bronze age, and they are in a sense creation myths but most importantly they are moral stories in the…
The Tablet of Destinies
Apr 28 • 34 min
Ninurta the action hero god returns, this time in an adventure to recover the stolen Tablet of Destinies. In doing this, we will wrestle with Semitic concepts of godhood and destiny, as well as peek under the hood and see some of the things that would…
The Enuma Elish
Apr 21 • 31 min
The Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish, tells the story of the creation of the world and how it was a terrible mistake immediately regretted by its parents. Said parents then attempt a late-term abortion, but the young gods, led by Ea and Marduk, fight…
The Chamorros of Saipan
Apr 14 • 36 min
Special Episode. This week is a break from normal as we discuss the Chamorro people of the Marianas islands, A four thousand year oral culture in the Pacific ocean. We will look at a few creation legends as well as the history of the islands as told…
The Study of Sumer and Ancient Aliens
Apr 7 • 37 min
There were some very important and talented people who have dug up the once lost civilization of Sumer and given their stories new life. Then there are the ancient aliens people. We will pay our respects to the giants of Sumerology, and examine exactly…
The Oldest Debates
Mar 31 • 32 min
Today we return to Sumerian Wisdom literature and see some of the oldest philosophy ever recorded, with the debates on creation and the oldest investigation of the problem of evil in A Man and His God. We also dig into the famous proverb collections and…
The Last Sumerian, Ibbi-Sin
Mar 24 • 32 min
Sumer is in a bad state, with enemies on all sides, and just as they are crying out for good fortune they instead receive Ibbi-Sin, a blustering fool. We will read the letters he wrote as the world collapsed around him and then part of the famous lament…
The Rebirth of Sumer
Mar 17 • 33 min
The Sumerian Renaissance, a fruitful period of literary achievement and military conquest. We are going to see the first Sumerian kings in 250 years as they revive their ancient culture and leave their mark on history. Online at oldeststories.net
The Fall of Akkad
Mar 10 • 33 min
Today the Akkadian empire will collapse, brought low by climate change, foreign invasion, and civil war. A dark age of Gutian domination will descend upon Mesopotamia. This episode will cover the fall, the Gutian dynasty, and even a bit the cities that…
Slanderous Legends of Naram-Sin
Mar 3 • 28 min
Today the fall of Akkad begins. We start with how the Mesopotamians themselves remembered the fall of their first great empire, with the Curse of Agade and the Cuthean Legend, and see that they slanderously put all the blame on the great king Naram-Sin.…
Surpassing Sargon with Naram-Sin
Feb 25 • 35 min
Who was the greatest king of the Akkadian Empire? Today I make the case for Naram-Sin, who brought the empire to the high water mark and really solidified everything his grandfather had worked to build, as well as creating his own innovations. He isn’t…
Sargon, the Next Generation
Feb 18 • 32 min
Sargon had two sons and both will sit on the throne. Rimush will do all the work, while Manishtushu will enjoy all the rewards. Both are fairly interesting on their own, but suffer from being the interlude between two fascinating characters, Sargon and…
Sargon at war
Feb 11 • 36 min
Here is the meat of the Sargon Legend, his conquests. But he wasn’t just conquering for the sake of conquest, his empire was formed from a vision which shows his very deep understanding of logistics, international trade, economies of scale. And all this,…
Sargon at Peace
Feb 4 • 30 min
What did Akkadian power look like on the ground, and what did daily life look like for the average Sumerian during this period? Today I will use the occasion of the rise of the Akkadian Empire to pause and look at the human condition below that of gods…
Sargon Rising
Jan 28 • 28 min
Today we look at the rise of the world’s first empire, following the story of Sargon of Akkad’s rise from the son of a gardener to the king of Sumer and Akkad. His rise and empire is bigger than can be fit into a single episode, but the Legend of Sargon’s…
Reform and Corruption in Lagash
Jan 21 • 30 min
Last time was the rise, this time is the fall of the city of Lagash, into corruption and military defeat. Can the hero of the people, great reformer Urukagina, save his city from certain destruction? No, he can’t, but he will try. The three big names…
Kings and Wars in Lagash
Jan 14 • 26 min
War; war never changes. Forty five hundred years ago the men of Lagash made war against the city of Umma over water rights, the very first battle for which we have recorded details. This episode begins the history of the city of Lagash and looks at the…
Ea, Tales from Creation
Jan 7 • 31 min
The god of wisdom and crafting is the chillest of the gods, that is when he is not turning his family tree into a family telephone poll. The most generous and the most distressingly criminal of the gods, Ea has some of the most unique stories. Online at…
The God of Action Heroes Ninurta
Dec 31, 2019 • 29 min
The mountains will crumble and cities will tremble as Ninurta comes to put down a rebellion with maximum casualties and no Geneva Convention. Then he will teach us geology. The Sumerians are a funny bunch, which is why their four thousand year old stories…
Enlil, Lord of Wind
Dec 24, 2019 • 31 min
He is a little bit creepy and king of the gods. He is Enlil, lord of wind, and today’s episode is focused on the him as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. Online at oldeststories.net
Instructions Manual
Dec 17, 2019 • 26 min
This week we look at the wisdom literature of Ancient Sumeria with a genre called instructions which are just that, instructions for how to live, from the ethical to the deeply practical. We will learn how to live a good life and how to farm barley, as…
King Shulgi’s Mailbag
Dec 10, 2019 • 31 min
Today we will look at the actual words of a man 4000 years gone as he sends letters struggling to forge an empire. Online at oldeststories.net
Ishtar and Dumazid
Dec 3, 2019 • 31 min
This week, we follow the twists and turns of an odd love story, Ishtar and Dumazid, who despite the sometimes questionable nature of their relationship were considered the archetype of lovers in ancient Mesopotamia. Online at oldeststories.net
Ishtar Gains Power
Nov 26, 2019 • 33 min
Today we are going to weave a few separate tales of Ishtar together to get a picture of her character and power as the Goddess of Love and War. Apologies for the poor audio quality, my set up was flawed today, but the story is still audible. Online at…
Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim, and Immortality
Nov 20, 2019 • 29 min
Today we finish the epic of Gilgamesh with the story of the mysterious hermit Utnapishtim, a tale that goes all the way back to when the earth was young. We will see labor disputes and quite a lot of geological investigation while learning three ways for…
Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven
Nov 19, 2019 • 27 min
In the penultimate episode of the Epic of Gilgamesh, we see the height of action and adventure. Gilgamesh is going to scorn a beautiful woman, then pay dearly, fighting a mighty battle and going on a great journey. Online at oldeststories.net
Gilgamesh Has Adventures
Nov 13, 2019 • 30 min
In today’s episode we cover two side stories of Gilgamesh. First he will fight off an invasion of Uruk in Gilgamesh and Aga, and then he will aid the goddess Ishtar, become obsessed with golf, and learn about the afterlife in Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the…
Gilgamesh vs Humbaba
Nov 10, 2019 • 26 min
Here we continue the adventures of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, as they travel far from their city to battle the lord of forests, the fearsome force of nature, the Humbaba itself. This is part two of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Find us online at oldeststories.net
Gilgamesh Tames Enkidu
Nov 4, 2019 • 24 min
Here we finally begin the Epic of Gilgamesh by recounting the opening tablet and a half, the taming of Enkidu. In this episode we have it all, tyranny, power, lust, and violence, the grand opening of the tale that more than any other has stood the test of…
Lugalbanda’s Adventures
Oct 30, 2019 • 28 min
In this episode, we continue the oldest still existing narrative of human warfare. Aratta has gone back on their agreement from last time and King Enmerkar finally rallies an implausibly large number of soldiers to put him down for good. Of his eight…
Enmerkar and Aratta
Oct 28, 2019 • 33 min
In this, the first episode of the Oldest Stories podcast, we go all the way back to the very beginning with about the oldest story ever to be written on clay tablets. This is the story of the city of Uruk and it’s king Enmerkar as they threaten the rival…