ZIPANG Days Out, May/June/July/September 2009


2nd May - Enmerkar: a wicked wizard and Uruk’s wise woman
6th June - Enmerkar: How trade and diplomacy began
4th July - Lugalbanda: Lost in a mountain cave
5th September - Lugalbanda: Meeting the Anzud Bird

Three Kings of Warka

Warka is an archaeological site in southern Iraq. The site contains the remains of the world’s first city. Its founders, the Sumerians, named this city Unug. It was later known as Uruk. Its city deity was the goddess Inana. She was later known as Ishtar.

The three kings of Warka in Mesopotamian mythology are Enmerkar, Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh. The earliest stories are nearly 5000 years old. They tell of the rivalry between the civilised king of Unug, Enmerkar, who was the son of the sun-god, and the wild lord of the mythical city of Aratta, over the hills and far away. Which of these two men is truly Inana’s chosen one? The question is answered as trade and diplomatic letters come into being.

When Enmerkar, as an old king, leads his army to Aratta for the last time, the eighth prince of Unug, Lugalbanda, falls sick and is left behind in a mountain cave. Lugalbanda recovers, survives alone in the mountains, bakes cakes on a camp fire, feasts with deities, meets the powerful Anzud Bird and takes a resignation message from Enmerkar to Inana. By running through the mountains from Aratta to Unug in a day, Lugalbanda proves that he is Inana’s new chosen one and destined to be the next king of Unug.

Story clues in the British Museum:

May 2009 - Uruk dairy (above)
June 2009 - Diplomatic letter (right)
July 2009 - The Sumerian army on the march (below)
September 2009 - The Anzud bird (below right)

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