18: The fall of Tell Brak & the Middle Uruk expansion, 3800-3400 BCE (Enmerkar vs Ensuhkeshdanna)

The Drumbeat Forever After

Mar 18 2022 • 55 mins

Guests: Kirra, Jojo

First, Ensuhkeshdanna, the haughty lord of faraway Aratta, demands the submission of our hero Enmerkar, the wise king of noble Unug. When Enmerkar refuses to so debase himself, the lord of Aratta plots a campaign of economic sabotage by means of dark sorcery.

Then, an introduction to the Uruk expansion (or the Uruk phenomenon), a process of intensive trade, migration, and cultural interaction spanning most of the Near East for most of the 4th millennium BCE. This episode focuses on the Middle Uruk period (3800-3400 BCE).

Then, we return to Susiana, in southwestern Iran, to pick up right after the end of the Susa 1 period (in episode 16). A population explosion accompanies the introduction of Uruk-style material culture (that is, similar to the culture of southern Mesopotamia). We tour the small rural village of Shafarabad and the revitalized city of Susa. What can we know about Susiana's relationship to the Mesopotamian alluvium during this period?

Then, we return to Tell Brak in northeastern Syria as it, too, is incorporated into the Middle Uruk economy. The climate is drying and the city is shrinking, but they do manage to build a pretty cool temple!

Then, a handful of other sites incorporated into the Uruk world: Tell Hamoukar (near Brak), Tepe Gawra (from episode 15), and Nineveh (more famous as the capital of the Neo-Assyrian empire).

Then, we visit Hacınebi in southeastern Anatolia, one of several pre-existing large towns with their own history of administrative record-keeping subsumed within the Uruk trade network.

Finally: wizard fights are the continuation of diplomacy by other means!

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Works cited