One of the lizard-woman statuettes found in the Al Ubaid archaeological site in Iraq. They
to about 7000 years ago and their meaning remains unknown. date
With her novel "Memoirs of Hadrian," the French writer Marguerite Yourcenar tried to bring back to life the mind and the personality of a Roman Emperor who had lived nearly two thousand years before her. She succeeded, within some limits, and reading her book we have the sensation to be there, to be talking with the ancient emperor, to see the world around him with his eyes.
But Hadrian, as ancient as he was, is still comfortably on this side of the
That was the start of the period we call the Holocene, and it meant at least six thousand years of human life on earth without any written records having arrived to us. Thousands of years of life, of songs, of poems, of myths, of
But perhaps the task of interpreting that ancient dream is not beyond our means. The song that Sirens sang, it is said, it is not beyond all conjecture. The same is true for the attempt to reconstruct at least something of those ancient times, the times before literature.
One way to peer into those far away times is to look at the earliest literature we have. Back to the third millennium BCE, we can see the slow development of cuneiform writing in the valley that we call Mesopotamia. Starting with lists of items defined by simple ideograms, cuneiform slowly developed into a fully fledged writing system; a way to record human thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams. And able to write down the poems that, once, were only sung and recited.
From what she wrote on clay so many centuries ago, Enheduanna comes forth to us; a human being like us. In the lines of her "
If Enheduanna is still on our side, on the side of the literate world in which we comfortably stay, Inanna is a creature that has jumped over the barrier, but still carries with her plenty of baggage from an earlier age. From Enheduanna's
Beyond Enheduanna, crossing the
Many others have tried to project themselves into the mind of persons living before the