October 13, 2006


We'll always have Akkadian in Geneva & Indiana

After this summer the US Supreme Court had declared the treatment of so-called enemy combattants unconstitutional, the US Congress proceeded to grant the US President far-reaching authority to do as he pleases without any need for authorization from Congress or the courts. Evan Eisenberg wrote a satirical explanation of the new law: "Ear-Splitting Music--No prisoner shall be subjected, for a period exceeding twenty-four (24) hours, to music at a volume exceeding that of the explosion of a two-ton cruise missile heard from a distance of fifteen (15) yards. (i) For the purposes of paragraph (D), 'music' shall be defined as recordings by (a) the Oak Ridge Boys, (b) the Knack, (c) John Fogerty, (d) Joni Mitchell, (e) George Jones, (f) John Hiatt, and (g) such other artists as the President may, from time to time, choose to download." Personally, I take exception to the inclusion of Joni Mitchell in this list: let it be known that I am a great fan of her musical genius! "Evidence Withheld From The Accused -- The accused shall have the right to see all evidence presented against him or her, except for evidence classified as secret for reasons of national security, in which case the accused shall have the right to see a faithful translation of the evidence into (i) Akkadian, (ii) Sumerian, or (iii) Ugaritic." Hmmm, now which version would you, my dear reader, prefer? What's more important is that this would open up plenty of employment opportunities for starving Assyriologists! ;-)

And now from the satirical present to the satirical future with a story (Halton) that reminds me a bit of the famous "Motel of the Mysteries" by David Macaulay: "The archaeological find of the century was discovered today in Winona Lake, Indiana. Apparently in the early third millenium or late second millenium AD there was a thriving Akkadian culture in Indiana. A cache of pottery sherds, all with the opening two lines of Enuma Elish were uncovered. Archaeologists from Indiana University assert that this is finally the definitive proof that an enclave of people devoted to ancient Near East studies lived in Winona Lake, ... Since a team of archaeologists from Uganda discovered the find, the pottery sherds will be housed in the National Museum of Uganda over the objections of the United States State Department. The U.S. President said that she was amazed by this brazen 'state-sponsored act of looting' undertaken by the Ugandan government. ... Furthermore, the Ugandan government turned down a reported $1.7 billion dollar offer from the J.P. Getty Museum for the sherds as they are trying to rebuild their holdings after a collection of iPods were shown to be forgeries." See Spinti for the more prozaic facts behind the parody (also the source of the photo).

• E. Eisenberg, "We'll Always Have Geneva," in The Nation, online, October 2, 2006
• Ch. Halton, "Akkadian Culture in Indiana," in Awilum.com (Ohio), online, June 26, 2006
• D. Macaulay, "Motel of the Mysteries," 1979
• J[ames ]P[. ]S[pinti], "Sherds?," in Idle musings of a bookseller (Indiana), online, June 26, 2006


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