Wednesday, January 24, 2007

When was the first recorded war?

Who's asking: Kris Dean, Mechanicsville, VA

Given human nature, we were probably having wars long before anyone figured out how to write about it. Written history dates back only to about 3100 B.C., when Sumerians and Egyptians separately started to keep records on stone or clay.

Thus, the first recorded war happened in that part of the world. It took place between Sumer and Elam, around 2700 B.C., and was fought in the area that is present-day Basra, Iraq. The first detailed military history records warfare between the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma, in 2525 B.C. Lagash won, and its king, Eannatum, commissioned a stone pillar (stele) to honor his victory.

Discussions of a lasting peace in the Middle East must begin with the awareness that this region has been at war for 5,000 years, more or less. In that context, it would be foolish to expect too much out of a two- or three-day summit meeting.

My Internet connection at home is down, for unknown reasons. I'm posting this from Freeport. If it takes me a day or two to respond to an e-mail, I apologize.

Five Random Songs

"Today I Sing the Blues," Aretha Franklin. From one of my all-time favorite albums, Aretha Sings the Blues (naturally).

"Red Red Wine," The Replacements. No, this is not a cover of the Neil Diamond song.

"Heaven," Talking Heads. Hey, we were just talking about this song! From Stop Making Sense, soundtrack to the best concert film ever.

"Sure Don't Feel Like Love," Paul Simon. I found this album, Surprise, a little hit-or-miss, but it's growing on me. This is a track I particularly like.

"Man of Peace," Bob Dylan. Very appropriate to today's question, although I don't want to believe what I once read about this song, which is that it's supposed to be about Anwar Sadat. Bob Dylan's a genius, but he's been wrong about some things.


Claire said...

Well, Anwar Sadat was awfully fond of referring to himself as a man of peace...maybe Bob Dyaln was just too trusting of his word.

AnswerGirl said...

The song is a reference to that, clearly, except that the chorus goes, "Sometimes Satan -- you know, he come as a man of peace." INFIDELS was written at the peak of Dylan's Zionist phase; another song on that album, "Neighborhood Bully," defends Israel's place in the Middle East.

mcclements said...

The unification war of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of Egypt was around 3200 bce.
The Mahabharata describes a conflict involving what sound like atomic weapons and corresponding (very radioactive) remains have been found in northern India, suggesting that somebody was throwing nukes around sometime around 10,000 bce.

AnswerGirl said...

Oooh. But when was that written down? I suspected there might be something in India or China predating the Sumerians, but couldn't find any evidence of contemporary reporting.

The Asian stuff is a big gap in both my education and my library...

john said...

what were some of the major causes of this war?

AnswerGirl said...

I have a feeling that answering this question would break my rule against doing other people's homework -- but if anyone else wants to chime in, go for it.