Teomancimit CC BY-SA 3.0

Since the pillars of Göbekli Tepe have been unearthed and their consequential temporality assigned, the voices of esoteric intermediaries with ancient-kind have been amplified. And so it has been for writer and independent researcher Madeleine Daines, who has spent the past few years revising the meanings of archaic pictograms of the most antiquated kind, and their potential links with myths from olden times.

So once again the cries of an esoteric mind can be heard amidst the established sand-castles of our time: something came before. 


‘The stones are rustling beneath our feet.  We are ascending…’(1)

The stones of Gobekli Tepe don’t rustle. Of that we’re sure. What happened there? What voices spoke, and what might they have said or sung? No, the stones tell us nothing of all that. After eleven thousand years of silence, it would be ridiculous to suggest that they might. But still we lean closer, lay our ear to the cold surface…. just in case. How else will we ever know?

We may sense a spiritual foundation, anchored in cosmology, both to the evidence before our eyes and to the many myths with sacred stones at their heart. There are respectable, plausible theories to explain the existence of those carefully placed blocks. But something essential of our history remains beyond our grasp. We can only guess what acts were performed by the people who made the pillars of Gobekli Tepe or Stonehenge. Did they dance? Did they laugh? Or were these such sacred places that lightness of heart would have got you into serious trouble? We don’t have the details to piece those scenes together. Only words could give us that kind of information, words on a document written by and copied from someone who knew. Does that sound improbable or just plain impossible? Are we sure that stones don’t rustle?

King Ashurbanipal of Assyria, who lived from 668 to 627 BCE, was an erudite man. In his lifetime, he amassed a great library, and, at one point, wrote “the whole of the inscribed tablets, of all the clay tablets, the whole of their mysteries and difficulties I have solved.” (2) What an intriguing declaration! The most important works of literature, inscribed on hardened, durable clay tablets and discovered in various parts of Mesopotamia since the nineteenth century, have been translated using the Sumerian, Babylonian or Akkadian languages of their times. Today, we can read the most important and complete texts directly on the web. (3) So to what mysteries, to what difficulties, did the great man refer? Have we missed something?

We understand from respected scholars such as Jean Bottéro, a specialist of Assyria, that writing began in Sumer, the southern part of modern-day Iraq, not before 4000 BCE, for the purposes of accounting and trading as civilisations began to develop. (4) It is an accepted fact that the earliest pictograms, the subject of my study, were mere pictures of things for practical but primitive purposes such as counting animals or goods. It is given as evident that this, the most archaic form of the Sumerian writing, has no link to any other language; that it appeared out of nowhere and, its symbols having been transformed and improved for use by more civilized societies, then disappeared again without much more than an uneducated squeak; a primitive, isolated language with no past or future of any interest. Nevertheless, Jean Bottéro, writing in a more general sense, insisted on what he deemed to be the cardinal rule of History; “Il y a toujours quelque chose avant.” There is always something that came before. In the same way that stone cannot be dated by the organic material around it, I would suggest that the word cannot be dated by either the ground or the tablet on which it is found. Something came before.

Perhaps we should look more closely at those fragments of tablets excavated from the most ancient levels of Mesopotamia. Here is one, found in the ruins of Susa in Iran, housed today in the Louvreand and dated to between 3500 and 3350 BCE. (5)


Does it merely indicate a site where animals were bought or sold? We have no way of knowing, but the stamp is fascinating, don’t you think? Below the circled T-shapes, there appears to be the front half of an animal peeking out from a rounded line. I choose to see there a rodent, perhaps a Persian jird, emerging from its hole. Whatever the truth of the matter, we might agree that it would not seem out of place as a bas-relief carved on an ancient stone pillar. And neither would this lioness discovered at the same archaeological level.


If the stones of Gobekli Tepe have not been seen by human eye since at least 9000 BCE, could it be that the memory was powerful enough to be kept alive, copied from one clay tablet to another for thousands of years? Perhaps there were other similar, later sites that have since been destroyed or buried. Is it possible that we could still find some way to solve, even partially, these mysteries of another age?

The literary texts of Mesopotamia to which we might turn for answers are very strange. Despite the great quantity of scholarly information, the numerous books full of authoritative commentaries on these gods and other characters; noble Gilgamesh, hairy Enkidu, the wise father Shuruppak, I find very unengaging.

There are many weird and somewhat boring texts transliterated from the tablets of Mesopotamia since their first discovery in the nineteenth century. Rather than suggest that these were very strange and boring people, I would propose that some of those texts originated in more ancient times and that we have indeed missed something. The tablets on which they were found were inscribed with the cuneiform symbols of the Babylonian or Akkadian eras, and then translated into English through those languages. But, if we consider that the texts might have been copied over and over for centuries or even millennia before they reached and were copied into these writing systems, then what intermediary language should be used to truly understand them? And how can we be sure of anything about the workings of their grammar or indeed the agglutinative nature of the language, where two or more symbols are glued together to form one meaningful word?

We would do well to pay a visit to King Ashurbanipal and ask him outright, “What mysteries? What difficulties?” Perhaps he would tap the side of his nose, delight in watching us squirm for a while, and then finally, triumphantly throw open the doors to his Great Library. There, he might lift down a fragile tablet, and point to the first three symbols. It might well be the document we know today as “Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld “(6), but it will not be that same tablet. It will be an ancient version, the oldest still intact in 650 BCE, and written in the most archaic style. (7) The symbols he might show us are UD, RE, and A:


UD: the rising sun, one of a family of homonyms: with meanings such as ‘sun’, ‘daylight’, ‘hot’ or ‘bright’ and ‘dry’, (8)


RE/RI:‘to collect’, ‘gathering’ and the notion of flying.


A: two parallel wavy lines for ‘water’, also a verb or adverb, ‘to flow’ or ‘flowing’, or even another substance, a liquid.

Imagine, if you will, that King Ashurbanipal taps heavily on the tablet, and asks us,“UD RE A. What do you understand? What does this mean?”

Intimidated, we hurry to consult the Akkadian transliteration from the ETCSL website (he doesn’t notice the gadgets sneaked out of our pockets), and we answer “In those days!” But have we simply given him his moment of triumph?

“Know that each image was created by people of great wisdom,” he will explain, not unkindly, “and carries in its heart a precious element of their sacred knowledge. The words we waste on our grammar were not necessary then. There was no ‘if’ or ‘but’. Nothing was redundant. There was no one sign of less importance than another. They fitted together to form the whole, and they will continue to do so forever …whether we read them or not. True meaning can be found only when this is understood.”

And so, we look more closely at the writing on the clay tablet which today we call “Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the nether world”, and we consider each symbol separately, as part of a monosyllabic language. In this way, UD RE A, ‘day’, ‘gather’, ‘water’, gives us much more than the usual result of ‘In those days’. It gives us ‘By day, the water gathers’. But, equal to that and infinitely more poignant, it gives us ‘By day, the deluge’;

“Hear this, my friends!” King Ashurbanipal pauses for effect and then, the tip of his beard pointing upwards to the great vaulted ceilings of the library, he intones and we hear for the first time in thousands of years the true opening words of that Gilgamesh tablet:

(day/sun- collect-water)

“But that”, he adds, lowering his voice and moving closer, “is merely what you find at the most earthly level. We must now speak of REA. But who is this REA, you ask me. And I answer that She is one aspect of the Great Matriarch…. the one behind it all! She is the Mother as her waters break. She is the cosmic birth-giver. She brings the flood. Thus, you might also say, UD REA, The Sun and The Mother.”

So that is how Rhea came by her name! We see that her future function as Greek goddess of fertility and of motherhood has barely altered with the passing ages. That, in itself, is a revelation. But, even more startling, we are seized and pulled backwards past Ancient Greece, past the great King Ashurbanipal, beyond even Babylon, and we find ourselves immersed in an archaic, matriarchal time.

King Ashurbanipal is off again, muttering to himself “Baskets they want! Baskets they shall have!” How did he know?

This time we find him holding up another clay tablet, one that we know today as “The Instructions of Shuruppak”. (9)

“Isn’t that the story of a father’s words of wisdom for his son?” we ask tentatively. The paltry question is swept aside.

“THE BEE OR NOT TO BE!” he proclaims to the lofty ceiling, “Now THAT, my friends, is a question! What do you know of beer and bees?”

We suspect that he knows more than us. Silence reigns supreme.

“You are aware that both of them return each year, are you not? Fresh honey and fresh beer? Know that I recommend our homeland brew. It is by far the most exquisite of them all! But, for the beer and the bees to survive, there must be water and air, A and AN. (10) Without them, no beer….as simple, as terrible as that! It is the most evident of origins, don’t you see? TO BE is to have water and air, A-AN or AN-A. Which one came first is not important. They are of equal stature. Ana-logia, my friends, ANALOGIA!”
He pauses for his brow to be wiped, “And now look closely at this tablet. Do you see the symbols A and AN inscribed here six times over these six lines? APPROACH! Look closely, I say! One line for every item in the offering baskets. Of the utmost importance they were! Without the offerings, no beer! Imagine that, my friends…. a world cut off from the beer!”
“The Instructions of Shuruppak”, a cuneiform text found on several different tablets in Mesopotamia, can be dated to at least 2500 BCE thanks to the archaeological level at which it was found and the style of the cuneiform symbols on it, but still there is no way of knowing when the work was first composed. How many re-editions of Shakespeare have there been since he first wrote? If “The Instructions of Shuruppak” was first inscribed on clay long before the Babylonian period, then translating it today based on transformed symbols and the complex grammar of later times, would not guarantee much of the original meaning, if anything at all. I offer you here a new version of four lines from that text, treating it as a monosyllabic language, and reconstituting as closely as possible the archaic symbols with their phonetic equivalences. They would, of course, have been placed in a completely different manner on their original tablets. Certainly the symbols as I show them today would have caused ancient eyebrows to shoot up, but I hope that this format has the merit of allowing anyone who has read this far to comprehend my method of translating:(11)


Whatever the reaction to the above, I am sure of one thing: I have done my best to provide a clearly referenced Sumerian text with a translation sufficiently transparent as to be at least partially verifiable by anyone with the will and some straightforward internet-based tools. Blind faith is not called for here. Are other more scholarly and very different versions of these lines correct? I don’t know. There is no way of knowing without delving into Babylonian or Akkadian grammar as presented to us by modern-day specialists. Perhaps the ancients were clever enough to create two very different texts in one, a kind of linguistic hologram. Who can be sure of anything?

There is one last point I would like to make: a translator has a duty of respect to the author of a text, however long ago they wrote, however dead they may be. We don’t have the right to fancifully add to, subtract from or change their work knowingly. Interpreting an ancient text implies a sense of context, a dose of empathy, and the negation of our own sensitivities or inculcated points of reference. If we find no gods there, then so be it. We must try with sincerity to sense the will behind the work and, where necessary, erase ourselves from the text again and again until the Master Scribe is satisfied. Their words must be freed, as far as our understanding will permit, from the cobwebs of those intervening years and then from us. The sacred principle of MA must be re-membered; truth above all. (12)

So could it be that somewhere in the Sumerian literary texts the oldest stories have survived and still lie hidden? Is that Persian rodent sculpted somewhere at Gobekli Tepe, waiting to be unearthed? Do we find here the lyrics to a song from as far back in time as those standing stones? Might we be reading here an account of the three baskets carved on Pillar 43? Is this what King Ashurbanipal meant when he wrote of the mysteries of the old tablets? So many questions! Is that a regal snore we hear; or have the stones begun to rustle?

(1) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1973.

2) George Smith, History of Assurbanipal translated from the Cuneiform Inscriptions, p.6-7,1871.

(3) Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, (ETCSL), a site of the University of Oxford.

(4) L’Orient Ancien et Nous, Jean Bottéro, 2011, Editions Albin Michel.

(5) Clay tablets found in excavations at Uruk in modern-day Irak, dated to around 3500 BCE, Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, (CDLI), references P281729 and P281704., collection of the Musée du Louvre.

(6) Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL) reference

(7) A concise and useful manual,L’Ecriture Cuneiforme, Syllabaire Sumérien, Babylonien, Assyrien, by L.J. Bord and R. Mugnaioni, published by Geuthner Manuels, shows a good selection of symbols and their evolution, along with the corresponding phonetic forms. But not all of the many variants are shown.

(8) The electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD) gives a large selection of meanings according to the different periods. For example, type UD into the box at the bottom of the page and hit ‘sign’. In the right-hand box that has opened, click on ‘DRY’ or ‘SUN’ to discover the periods of use of the symbol UD with those meanings. I can only imagine the work involved in providing such priceless information, from the person who dug tablets out of sand to those who put such a tool into our hands. My translation choices were made partially thanks to this site, but also by other means such as the Sumerian proverbs. However, it does not allow to see the archaic symbols and their evolution.

(9) The Instructions of Shuruppak, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, (ETCSL) transliteration, reference 5.6.1., website of the University of Oxford.

(10) On the electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD), type A or AN into the box and hit ‘sign’. Type AM3 to obtain the aggregate form of A-AN. Thus, the symbols for water and sky/air, necessary for all life, are quite logically used in the same way as our verb “to be”, and together give the phonetic form ANA. I believe this to be the origin of Greek prefix ‘ana’.

(11) Lines 208 to 211 of The Instructions of Shuruppak, re-translated from the transliteration (where the symbols on the tablets are transformed into their phonetic equivalences) given on the ETCSL site under reference 5.6.1. The language is taken to be monosyllabic rather than agglutinative. Each symbol as it might have appeared in the earliest times is shown on the left-hand side. Underneath is the Sumerian phonetic form (also from the earliest periods) and, under that, an English translation for each symbol which can be checked using the electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary. (see 8) For the letter Š pronounced SH, type ‘C’: CA3 or EC2.Then, ŠA3 and GA together, ‘heart’ with ‘milk’ give the notion of blood. BAR and RA, ‘out/outside’ and ‘kill’, give prey as opposed to farmed animals. A and AN (AM3) with the meaning ‘to be’are repeated six times, as is MAL meaning basket. Translated in this way, a surprising and coherent new version of this portion of text becomes apparent.

(12) See Chinese Magu (Sumerian MA-GU: Mother/Earth/land-cord) for a direct link to cannabis/mariguana use in this context. Symbols change while the sounds of the words and their truth continue to resonate.

After completing studies in both art history and linguistics and a career involving translating, Madeleine chose to investigate the Sumerian language from an innovative angle, with an emphasis on the earliest pre-cuneiform pictographic forms. What she discovered in that process led her to question and finally to refute the orthodox translation of an important literary text from the 3rd millennium BC.

13 thoughts on “The Rustle of Stones”

  1. Edmond Furter says:

    Madeleine, thank you for publishing the clay tablet fragment from Susa in the Louvre, with to T-shaped pillars resembling Gobekli Tepe. The loop between them speaks volumes.
    I have to question some of the assumptions you make in your article;
    >“Only words (from Gobekli Tepe) could give us that kind of information, words on a document written by and copied from someone who knew.”?
    No, the Gobekli pictures say more than we have always assumed they do. See some of the pictures, and my article at AOM September 2015.
    >“It is an accepted fact that the earliest pictograms, the subject of my study, were mere pictures of things for practical but primitive purposes such as counting animals or goods.”?
    No. Egyptian hieroglyphs are pictures and gods and sounds, linked to complex and sophisticated iconography, theology, language, and philosophy. Nothing primitive. Chinese pictograms are pictures and principles and sounds. Ditto. You assume evolution to be readable in the cultural record, which is false logic. Ancient records had the same purposes as our current writing systems. We did not evolve in the last 10 000 years, nor did language, myth, ritual, art, or writing. They merely mutated and standardised.

    >“The most archaic form of Sumerian writing, has no link to any other language.”?
    No, all languages have the same grammar, only different sound allocations. See Noam Chomsky. Writing and language are different media, with some differences in styling.

    >”Writing… appeared out of nowhere.”?
    No, one of the conscious compulsions for art, myth, and ritual, is to record, rehearse, distill, evoke, and influence. Their subconscious compulsion is to express archetypal structure. Writing is a unique medium since it mainly serves to record speech, but still it serves other media such as ritual (in written drama), and it also has a life of its own, as in literature.
    >”…symbols having been transformed and improved for use by more civilized societies.”?
    No, symbols are the essence of transformation, but they are never improved. A rose is a rose. Civilisation means building towns and appointing leaders and tax collectors, it does not mean culture, or evolution.

    >”…then [symbols] disappeared again without much more than an uneducated squeak; a primitive, isolated language with no past or future of any interest.”?
    No, all societies had language, art, ritual, myth, housing, cooking, etc. Some did not need writing, some had unrecognised forms, such as quipo knots in ropes.
    >”the stones of Gobekli Tepe have not been seen by human eye since at least 9000 BCE, could it be that the memory was powerful enough to be kept alive, copied from one clay tablet to another for thousands of years?”?
    No, icons are archetypal, never discovered, never taught, never learned, never lost. Every society has predators, pets, and pests in its stories.

    >”Gilgamesh, hairy Enkidu, the wise father Shuruppak, I find very unengaging… weird and somewhat boring texts”?
    You should not study literature. Try movies.
    “Some of those texts originated in more ancient times, and we have indeed missed something… the texts might have been copied over and over for centuries or even millennia before they reached and were copied into these writing systems, then what intermediary language should be used to truly understand them? “
    Yes, some stories are copied and translated for millennia, but they are equally understood, and structured, and subconsciously obscure, in any language. If any story is lost, there are many variants in other records.
    “And how can we be sure of… their grammar or… language, where two or more symbols are glued together to form one meaningful word?”
    All languages are hybrids. All ‘cultures’ are creoles. However the meanings of units in cultural media are surprisingly standard. See my list of visual elements in art, at AOM September 2016, in an article about the structure of culture.
    “Each image was created by people of great wisdom.”?
    No, every society has all the cultural media, and all the possible meanings. Children need only a few prompts to start using all of it.
    “They fitted together to form the whole, and they will continue to do so forever …whether we read them or not. True meaning can be found only when this is understood.”
    Yes. The words you put into the mouth of king Ashurbanipal, speak more true than you know. You should be a novelist.
    >”Baskets they want! Baskets they shall have!’ How did he know.”?
    Here the king speaks of the basket for carrying bricks to lay the cornerstone of a temple. But subconsciously, he evokes the Cista Mystica, Basket of Mystery, a borderline type between types 2 Taurus and 3 Aries. At Gobekli Tepe, type 3 Cista is expressed by the spider (a weaver) totem, over a reed hut (woven ‘basket’). The king, and the people did not know, like Freemasons today also do not know. It just feels right. You have a gift for stringing together archetypal images.
    >“What do you know of beer and bees?”
    That marketplaces such as Gobekli are brewing places. However they had barley, perhaps in addition to mead. If you brew it right, you get ‘large’ beer of about 20% alcohol. And a good market festival.
    >“Without the offerings, no beer!”
    And without beer, no offerings.
    >”Still there is no way of knowing when the work was first composed.”?
    Irrelevant. There is no original myth, word, image, ritual. Every expression is partly imitated, and partly original.
    >“complex grammar of later times.”?
    Grammar is surprisingly simple. It does not evolve, and it has little mutation. Like mathematics. Like DNA. A standard structure, enabling apparent endless varieties of text, which is also surprisingly repetitive.
    “the original meaning.”?
    Irrelevant. Any rehearsal means the same.
    >”Perhaps the ancients were clever enough to create two very different texts in one, a kind of linguistic hologram.”?
    All artists, writers, dancers, priests, re-create two texts, by re-combining archetypal elements; in a current context; with greater or lesser skill; allowing greater or lesser access to the subconscious content. The task of structural anthropologists, such as Claude Levy-Strauss, and structural psychologists, such as Freud and Jung, is to reveal the subconscious content. Science is not about guessing how clever and how ancient the text is.
    >”Their words must be freed, as far as our understanding will permit, from the cobwebs of those intervening years and then from us.”?
    Yes, but first we must free ourselves from fundamentalist assumptions, and the misleading paradigm of ‘development, evolution, diffusion, degradation.’
    >”the three baskets carved on Pillar 43.”
    No, they are huts made of reed bundles, resembling baskets. See my note on the Babylonian basket and type cista above. The handle shape on top is a beam of reed bundles to hold up a sheet of leather skins, weighed down by ropes through looped stones. One such looped stone was found at Gobekli Tepe, in the shape of an animal with an arched body. Babylonian trade weights have a similar shape. Chinese hut sheet cover weights have the same shape, but modelled as little huts, not as animals. A gust of wind is absorbed by the sheets and the weights, which pull the cover down again. Rough weather. Clever ancients.

    1. Holly says:

      Edmond, the point of this space is to provide a place in which no-one claims to speak the truth, but their own truth. To write “no no no” as if you know the truth is not only a disproportionate reaction to a methodically researched and eloquently written piece, but also besides the point. Please, be careful how you express yourself to people sharing their work with us.

  2. Richard says:

    . . . Ancient artifacts, Sumerian tablets, those assemblies at Göbekli Tepe, the Pyramids of Giza-Mexico-Peru and others, underwater sites in several oceans all seem more than remnants or arbitrary signs left over by the ancients. Perhaps they’re evocations of certain influences upon the witness as an initiate might experience. For some folks they have that effect. One need only consider the effects letters of an alphabet, symbols used in modern languages, has on the individual.

    “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” ~ Chinese Proverb

    One does not simply walk-away from the Temple of Luxor, The Great Pyramid at Giza, The Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, from Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, or from Göbekli Tepe unaffected. These are just a few examples the ancients have given to modernity. It might be wiser to listen as some elders suggest than to draw unwarranted conclusions as several caretakers of these sites have drawn. The lion in its element is often better observed from a distance.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Dear Edmond,
    On your first point, I insist that only words can tell us what they might have said or sung at Gobekli Tepe.
    For the second point and quite a few of the others, my reference is not to Egyptian hieroglyphs which I have not studied, but to the most archaic Sumerian symbols which are discounted as primitive and isolated. I apologise if that was not clear in my article.
    For the rest: No, I’m not going down the road of a broad discussion on Noam Chomsky and linguistics. Life is way too short. Not the subject here, although I will add that I think simplicity (not ignorance) can be the greatest key to some realms.
    Huts of reed bundles? I don’t agree, Edmond. But that’s the way of the world. We all have our own opinions. As for King Ashurbanipal, I have to say you’ve beaten me! How did you get into his subconscious?

  4. Edmond Furter says:

    Madeleine, I have added some pictures of reed huts, at

    Simplicity is indeed the key, as in simple protons, electrons, neutrons, and a few forces; or simple bio-acids and a repertoire of combinations; or simple characters, gestures, items, and a reportoire of combinations. The results are indeed realms.

    You have already been in the subconscious of Ashurbanipal. I recognise the ritual he refers to, from texts of Ur Nanshe, and Gudea of Lagash. Reed baskets consistently appear in the position of 3c Cista Mystica, and sometimes at the other three cista positions; among the 16 types, and four borderline types, and four galactic types.
    Thus 24 features in ritual, always in the same sequence, confirm the place of the basket. Visual art confirms the role of that basket again (see limestone foundation plaques of Ur Nanshe). However the rope basket is ambiguous, it could express type 15 Gemini, as physical creation, or 7 Sagittarius, as physical manifestation, analogous to vortex at the galactic centre.
    In rock art, this rope is so common it has a name; rope of the sky.

    Those kings and scribes acted out the structure, without knowing it. Same of liturgic priests and writers today.
    The structure of expressions in the cultural record (art, ritual, praise poetry, myth), now allows us access to archetypal principles. not a matter of opinion; see the stats. I do not translate conscious meanings, which tend to vary. I make subconscious meaning accessible by reading its ‘grammar’, or ‘periodic table’.

    The anthropology journal Expression (Atelier Etno, Italy, but in English), is preparing an edition of papers on abstract signs in rock art, to be published in December 2016 I think. I have contributed a paper including structural analysis of abstract signs, such as Ice Age sigils, Sumerian trade tokens (probably familiar to you), and a number of early pictographic and hieroglyphic sets.

    There will be about 30 papers relevant to your study. You may want to subscribe, and perhaps to respond.

  5. Madeleine says:

    Edmond, thank you for that. i do rather wish that you wouldn’t quote me quite so extensively out of context though. For example, ”Writing… appeared out of nowhere.” I was mentioning the opinions of experts concerning the earliest Sumerian pictograms – not my own. That is, I believe, clear in my article but not in your text.

    1. Edmond Furter says:

      I apologise for ascribing one of your citations to you. I saw my error when re-reading your article, but I could not edit the Comment.
      I may have found a sequence of text near identical to the fragment that you translate above. It is a list of building material suppliers for a temple, paid in grain and other kind. In that context, Ashurbanipal follows Ur Nanshe, and Gudea, and they prefigure Solomon.

      1. Madeleine says:

        I assume that my assumptions are forthwith unassumed. Please feel free to read my subconscious for any further thoughtlessness on this and other matters.

        1. Edmond Furter says:

          Madeleine, from your knowledge of Sumerian texts, what is your view on these issues;

          Are pictograms practical and primitive, for counting animals or goods?
          Was Sumerian writing capable of expressing only one language?
          How are symbols ‘improved’?
          Which symbols have disappeared?
          Which language was primitive?
          Which language did not combine words?
          Which baskets do your Ashurbanipal mutter that people want; beer strainers; or brick carriers; or trade measures?
          Which language had grammar less complex than today?
          Do stories lose their ‘original’ meanings?
          What kind of code could allow two entirely different readings of the same text; such as the academic one, and yours?
          Do the meaning of words become degraded?
          What are in the three ‘baskets’ at Gobekli Tepe, and why could they not be houses?

          1. Madeleine says:

            Edmond, your wishes will be fulfilled and you will know all – or some of it – once my book, which includes an extemely long and astonishing re-translation of an ancient Sumerian text along with copious notes and explanations, is available. It may well bear the title “The Rustle of Stones” and its notes will be absolutely bursting with my substantiated opinions. I foresee that you will be incensed.

            In the meantime, I fear that you have awoken King Ashurbanipal from his deepest sleep…not a good idea, his servants inform me. It appears that His Majesty is terribly annoyed by your irritating resonance in his subconscious ear but, more than that, by your equally insistent lack of humble admiration for his uniquely fabulous (his words, not mine) rendition of “The Deluge”! His chief beard-scratcher (do you have one?) caught some of his mumbling, but refused to go into the details of what he might have done to you had the occasion to put his rather large hands on to the scruff of your neck….well, you can imagine the rest.

  6. M. Daines says:

    I found this on Graham’s News Desk this morning:


    “sifting through two-thirds of the world’s languages, scientists have discovered a strange pattern: Words with the same meanings in different languages often seem to share the same sounds — even when those two languages are completely unrelated…The idea that there is essentially no relation between sound and meaning has [existed for] over 100 years now,…
    Blasi’s study shows that some of those shared characteristics between “sister” languages may not be inherited from a “mother” language; instead, they could have arisen independently, simply because humans tend to like certain sounds with certain words.”

    I have an increasingly strong suspicion that academia just cannot bear the thought that a mother language, which would too easily explain all the similarities, has ever existed; They will certainly not look for it in the “isolated” language that was archaic Sumerian, preferring to “reconstruct” and offer their own theories as truth. The perfect example is PIE (proto-Indo-European), nothing but statistics.
    I gave the example of Chinese Magu in my article because Graham particularly would find that of interest with regard to the origin of the word marihuana. It is also true that cannabis from Persian kanab, originates with Sumerian ka-na-ab. My final comment here will be that I am fluent only in French and English. Imagine how many other languages might be found to have their roots in archaic Sumerian, if not all of them!

    ‘humans tend to like certain sounds with certain words.” Tend to like? What a strange conclusion! These are surely the uncrowned kings of obfuscation.

    (Edmond, please do not react to this. My patience with you ran out when you took it on yourself to write a long and extremely rude critique without having the decency to properly read and understand my article first.)

    1. Richard says:

      . . . Languages, languages, and more languages, seems there’s too many to account for, for there to be any firm agreement in any language for there to be a single first language to talk about. . . Heh! Heh! . . Couldn’t resist, my apologies.

      Good talking paper on this business of “talk,” though. It reminds me of the difficulty ‘Wilhelm M Wundt’ had just over a century ago in trying to make a “science” of the mind, or was it, the “mind” into a science. Please excuse the pun, but it became more of a “chicken’n’egg” thing as history later portrays this business of mind. It started out as “structuralism” where he tried to come up with the basic elements of the mind. No easy tasking, to be sure.

      Long story shortened, structuralism was unreliable as it relied on individual observations of experiences – Essentially, how does one scientifically measure feelings / emotions; how are they repeated that another might exact the same response; and then, there’s the business that “everyone” should experience the same exacting experience given a set of measurable elements. The study of what contributes toward behaviour is still going on from a more environmental frame of reference and modification of environment (exposure(s)/experience(s)/response(s)).

      Modern psychology owes a great deal to Wilhelm Wundt from his efforts toward establishing psychology as a branch of science among the other branches of science.

      Less known was his beginning work in “psycholinguistics.” He hypothesized an inner mental working of the mind leading to the outer wording of a sentence. In some ways, this sounds like the difficulty some modern academics share while studying language.

      In my humble opinion, there’s not enough emphasis on environmental changes and what impacts these changes might have on an individual learning a language. One need only ask, “Who amongst the talking population is master of languages when there is language learning (listening), not just hearing, from cradle to grave for each individual not handicapped or without appropriate sensory sound accoutrements for hearing?” . . . To say little about sensory changes over a lifetime and / or catastrophic changes from damage or disease. . . Include one or more near extinction level events on any world population number and one is likely to observe something of what is today, clearly a “language conundrum,” as I call it, of many languages (over 6 thousand or so). . . Well, . . . it’s only my opinion anyway. I do like the idea, though, that language need not only be written, but can be spoken, sang, carved into or onto materials, molded from earthen materials, painted onto surfaces, as well as gestured in some form, to name a few ways of broadly communicating.

      I believe it is the pursuit of understanding language, in its many forms, that’s the more important endeavor of humankind and other animals in their own ways. There does not seem to be an end in this matter, either, so long as humankind continues to change. Change does not seem stoppable if ever it started.

      Thank you for sharing your work in progress

      1. Madeleine says:

        Thank you for that, Richard, although I must say that I don’t find it at all relevant to my subject. It must depend on the mindset that we begin with. My perspective is only that of a translator who is working with archaic Sumerian monosyllabic texts. My theory is that archaic Sumerian is not the isolated language that it is made out to be. On that basis, I suggest – along with some quite compelling evidence – that it quite obviously underlies many modern words. But it remains a theory as do so many ideas put forward as fact. I see that Chomsky is taking some serious flak these days: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/evidence-rebuts-chomsky-s-theory-of-language-learning/?WT.mc_id=SA_TW_MB_FEAT
        I have no real interest in theories of psycholinguistics which does not mean that I wouldn’t listen to you with pleasure if ever we met. I try to keep an open mind and I did study linguistics for a while at the Sorbonne in a distant past. Perhaps I am a little too pragmatic for you, but I daresay our conversation would be animated.
        “Better one year as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep” Tibetan proverb. (or Sumerian?)

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