Header: Akkadian ruler, thought to be the great Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon. Naram-Sin ruled virtually all of West Asia for 37 years (2270-2233 B.C.E.). Naram-Sin is depicted here with the false beard and crown of West Asian kingship.
Top row: (1) Elamite Archers frieze, Darius palace, Louvre Museum. (2) African woman in Southern Iraq. (3) Elamite soldier. (4) Elamite Calvary.
Bottom row: (1) Blacks in Basra, Iraq. (2) Moulded clay brick panel showing an Elamite goddess. Wall ornament of the temple of Inshushinak at Susa - 2,000 B.C. Louvre Museum. (3) Priest guiding a sacrificial bull. Fragment of a mural painting from the palace of Zimri-Lim, Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Iraq). 2040-1870 B.C.E. (4) Afro Iranians.
“While Sumer's many achievements are much celebrated, the important question of the ethnic composition of her population is frequently either glossed over or left out of the discussion altogether. As topical as Iraq is today and since the civilization of ancient Sumer has been claimed by other peoples, it is important to set the record straight and we believe that we can state without equivocation that the Sumerian civilization was but an extension of Nile Valley civilizations, of which Egypt was the noblest-born but not the only child.”
World renowned historian Runoko Rashidi
Located in southern Iraq, formerly known as Mesopotamia, was the first known civilisation of Southwest Asia, Sumer (the land between two rivers). Records of the Black African presence in this region goes as far back as the Greek philosopher Homer, who describes the Ethiopians or Black Africans as “dwelling at the ends of the earth, towards the setting and rising sun.” Furthermore, Ephorus, the Greek historian wrote: “The Ethiopians were considered as occupying all the south coast of both Asia and Africa, divided by the Red Sea into the eastern and western Asiatic.”
The religious capital of Sumer was Nippur, presently known as Tell Niffer, located towards Sumer’s northern borders. Much of our current knowledge of Sumer has derived from extensive excavations conducted at Tell Niffer between 1889 and 1900. These were carried out by the University of Pennsylvania in four campaigns which resulted in the recovery of thirty thousand tablets and fragments. In their own documents the Sumerians referred to themselves as “the Black heads”, and they were only one of the many Nilotic Kushite (Black African) colonies in early Asia. This fact is further supported by anthropological data in the form of skeletal evidence exhumed from ancient Sumerian cemeteries, eye witness accounts, architectural similarities, oral traditions and biblical references in which Nimrod (Nimrod means Brave) of Sumer is described as a son of Kush (Ethiopia or Africa).
Regarding Nimrod’s origins one writer remarked:
“It seems most probable that the race designated in Scripture by the hero-founder Nimrod, and among the Greeks by the eponym Belus, passed from East Africa, by way of Arabia, to the valley of the Euphrates, shortly before the opening of the historical period.”
Furthermore, according to the Talmud this renowned warrior is described as the persecutor of Abraham and the king of Babylon. In addition, the eighth century Armenian historian Moses of Chorene also identified Belus, king of Babylon with Nimrod. Regarding the Sumerian’s ethnicity, world renowned historian Runoko Rashidi emphatically stated:
“While Sumer's many achievements are much celebrated, the important question of the ethnic composition of her population is frequently either glossed over or left out of the discussion altogether. As topical as Iraq is today and since the civilization of ancient Sumer has been claimed by other peoples, it is important to set the record straight and we believe that we can state without equivocation that Sumerian civilization was but an extension of Nile Valley civilizations, of which Egypt was the noblest-born but not the only child.”
Although it’s now difficult to believe due to the lack of architectural remains, Sumer at its height was once a civilisation of colossal construction projects with multiple levelled brick structures called ziggurats in each of its major urban centres. It was situated between the Tigris and Euphrates River, and flourished during the third millennium B.C.E. She was an early center for astronomy, calendars, advanced mathematics, writing and literature, art and architecture, and religion. In addition, Sumer is also known for its highly organised urban centres which included Kish, Uruk, Ur, Nippur, Lagash and Eridu. It was at this time so magnificent that it was to be the prototype for all the civilisations that followed, including Babylon and Assyria.
Sumer encompassed largely independent city-states, each of which had large urban centres surrounded by smaller satellite towns and villages. At times these city-states would unify to form powerful kingdoms led by provincial leaders. In the case of the city Ur, for example, which most illustrious era was the third dynasty (2112-2015 B.C.E.), it boasted having five brilliant rulers that collectively made the city one of the greatest empires of Southwest Asia. At her height it covered more than four square miles and existed until 440 B.C.E. During the third dynasty the Ur rulers would subjugate surrounding regions, and consequently assume the title “king of Sumer and Akkad.”
Excavated inscriptions reveal that Ur’s powerful ruler Gudea of Lagash (2142-2122 B.C.E.) subjugated and reigned over Susa and Elam of Iran. They also revealed that the Susians and Elamites came to Lagash to help reconstruct the temple of his god Anu.
As well as all these notable achievements, Sumer was also a land of the gods, the most exalted in more ancient times was Anu. Anu was the oldest and most supreme god; he was recognised as the highest power in the universe and the sovereign of all the gods. His supreme status existed well before the time of Gudea, the pious priest king of Lagash (2142-2122 B.C.E.) He was eventually superseded, however, by Enlil, the “strong man of Sumer”, and then by Marduk, the tutelary deity of Babylon. The Sumerian religious center Nippur (Tell Niffer) was also the chief seat of the god Enlil who was sometimes referred to as “Nippur’s youngman”. Enlil was later identified with the powerful Babylonian deity called Bel (Lord). The Nippur district Tummal was consecrated to Ninlil, the wife of Enlil.
Other notable gods of Sumer include Oannes (god of great gifts), and Lord Enki (Lord of the Earth). With regards to Oannes:
“Berossus, who lived in the age of Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedon, informs us that in the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythraeaen (Red) Sea which borders upon Sumer, Oannes.
This Being was accustomed to pass the day among men; but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in everything which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions.”
Another one of the most notable figures in the Sumerian pantheon is Enki or Lord of the Earth. It was the city of Eridu that gave birth to Enki’s career as a local deity, and the personification of the watery element. Enki was known to the Blackheads as the father of all the waters. This title was due to the city of Eridu being situated near the Persian Gulf which was the largest body of water known to the Sumerian citizens. The important role that water played in the development of cultures, and the fact that the oldest settlements of the Euphrates Valley are those nearest to the Persian Gulf, accounted for Enki’s exalted position of “Protector of Humanity”. As the “Protector of Humanity” one can surmise that this title would encompass other exalted roles. Thus, Enki was also known as the instructor of various sciences, who endowed the Sumerian rulers with direction and intelligence in the fine arts, architecture, the use of precious metals and stone, and writing.
According to one historian: “Enki may briefly be defined as the god of Supreme Wisdom and Civilization itself.”
According to tradition, Enki travelled to a region known as Meluhha, a land of mariners who exported such goods as timber, gold dust, copper, lapis lazuli and carnelian. Even more interestingly, Meluhha was known as “the Black land”, and tradition holds that after initially fashioning “the Blackheaded people” of Sumer, Enki immediately journeyed to Meluhha to profusely bless it. Scholars are unclear where Meluhha is actually located, it is theorized that it maybe Africa or the Indus Valley (Harappan) region of Pakistan and western India, both of which were populated by Blacks. However, regardless of its actual location, we know that in post-Sumerian times Meluhha is frequently mentioned as a “place of black men”. In addition, we also know that from the first millennium B.C.E. came the expression “the Black Meluhhaites.”
It was the southern Sumerian city Eridu (3000 B.C.E.) that was the major center of Enki’s cult. It was also Eridu that is said to be the first Sumerian site of kingship before the Great Flood. Even after the city declined and its famous school sank into oblivion, Enki’s popularity still held strong. In fact, he was so popular that every Sumerian city possessed and dedicated a temple or chapel to him.
Another Sumerian city of note was Kish. According to the Sumerian king list Kish was the seat of kingship after the flood. Kish emerged as an influential city state in the third millennium B.C.E. A palace at Kish is said to have contained hundreds of rooms and was “considerably larger than the French palace at Versailles thousands of years later.” One notable individual included in the king list is a person known as the “Barmaid” (woman of wine). Her name was Ku-Baba and she was obviously a very powerful lady in her day. She is said to have consolidated the foundation of Kish, after seizing power over the city from the city of Akshak. Her highly esteemed position was far from brief, she is said to have reigned for one-hundred years.
The Sumerian city Adab has been described by at least one historian as a “city of mother worship.”
It was situated about twenty five miles south of Nippur, and was supplied by a broad canal which branched from the river Euphrates eastward and passed through the city itself. Rashidi describes this city:
“In the centre of Adab the canal divided to form an island on which stood the prehistoric temple of the mother-goddess Aruru. It was known as Emakh, a name common to all the temples of the goddess of birth. The goddess herself had the name Makh, "the far-famed," at Adab. The cult of Adab was devoted entirely to the worship of the mothers-goddess. The stage-tower or ziggurat of Adab is one of the oldest in Sumer.”
When the heart of Sumer, the city Ur, collapsed at the end of the third dynasty, the curtains of Sumerian history was closed. The people responsible for Ur’s and consequently Sumer’s demise were nomadic Indo-European and Semitic barbarians from the north. By the mid-third millennium B.C.E. there was a continuing spread of these people which consequently began to isolate the Sumerians, and seriously challenge their dominance of lower-Mesopotamia. Although the Sumerians were initially able to hold them at bay, eventually, after successive waves of ferocious attacks by these horse riding tribes, by the end of the third millennium B.C.E. the Sumerian defences fell. During these attacks the Sumerian population in the southern city states suffered great panic and long term famine, and according to ancient records “the teeming Blackheaded people were put to the mace.”
Again, ancient records are extremely revealing and highlight these foreign tribes uneducated and uncultured existence. In these records the Sumerian Blackheads themselves describe these savages as:
“...the MAR.TU who know no grain...The MAR.TU who know no house or town, the boors of the mountains...
The MAR.TU who does not bend (to cultivate the land), who eats raw meat, who has no house during his lifetime, who is not buried after his death...”
Some historians believe that it could be at this point that the uncultured and uneducated but ferocious and ambitious Semites and Indo-Europeans entered the historical world stage. Rashidi describes this Sumerian descent into darkness:
“The seemingly stable empire rapidly fell apart and Sumer’s vassals turned on her with a vengeance. By 1700 B.C. the Sumerian Black-heads, who for a thousand years had dominated the Mesopotamian center stage and laid the foundation for every near eastern civilisation that was to come after it, had in essence, vanished from history. Over the Black-headed people the winds swept.”
One of the most powerful of theses nomadic savage rulers was Sargon of Akkad (c.2350 B.C.E.), who led an army that is historically noted as the first clear ascendency of foreigners over the native Sumerian Blackheads. Sargon is recognised as west Asia’s first empire builder and initiated a Semitic dynasty which lasted about 150 years. Scriptures initially identified him to be in the service of Ur-Zababa, the king of Kish. However, his ruthless ambitions would later help to propel him to his former leader’s exalted position.
After Sargon’s army swept through the cities of Uruk, Ur, Mari and Lagash, and effectively subjugated all of Sumer and later Mesopotamia; the arrogant victor boasted: “The Blackheaded peoples I ruled. He then rinsed his blooded sword in the Persian Gulf, and assumed the title of “king of Kish.” It would later be the Assyrian rulers, having been impressed by the infamous exploits of Sargon, and no-doubt coming from a similar moronic stock, that would later take his name for themselves. However, the Sargon dynasty would come to an abrupt end by equally ambitious and viscious tribes from the mountains of Zagros, known as Guti.
These invasions not only ended the Sargonic dynasty of Akkad (c.2200 B.C.E.) but also ushered in an era of extreme anarchy, a period having no historical significance other than ending the Sargonic line and vicious wanton bloodshed.
The last official dynasty in the Sumerian king list is the dynasty of Isin, governed for a short period by a certain Zambia (c.1836-1834 B.C.E.) After this an Isin dynasty was established by Ishbi-Erra and lasted over 200 years. During this period the Semitic desire for authentic Sumerian culture is clear. On this subject Rashidi commented that:
“In official inscriptions from Isin the Sumerian language is used exclusively. It must also be emphasized that practically all the great pieces of Sumerian literature found in the famous ‘library’ of Nippur were composed or carefully copied during the Isin period of dominance at the request of Semitic monarchs craving for Sumerian culture.”
Cheikh Anta Diop, African Origins Of Civilization.
Runoko Rashidi, Ivan Van Sertima, African Presence in Early Asia, Transaction Publishers, USA, Seventh printing 2009.
Runoko Rashidi, African Star Over Asia: The Black Presence in the East, Books of Africa Ltd, United Kingdom, England, 2012.
Anthony T. Browder, Nile Valley Contributions to Civilisation: Exploding the Myths Vol.1, The Institute of Karmic Guidance, February 2009.
Further note: The term Ethiopia was commonly used to refer to the African continent and was not a specific country. The name Ethiopia derives from the Greek word for burnt which was ethios and the Greek word for face which was ops. Thus, ethios and ops becomes one word to form Ethiopia (burnt face), and obviously refer to the inhabitant’s Black complexion. In fact, the term Ethiopia to denote what we now call Africa was used by European explorers way up until 1884.
Images above: (1) Blacks in Basra, Iraq. (2) Akkadian ruler, thought to be the great Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon. (3) Elamite man. (4) A Black man in Basra, Iraq.
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