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The Cost of Cosmogony: Ethical Reflections on Resource Extraction, Monumental Architecture and Urbanism in the Sumerian Literary Tradition

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Chapter Summary

Bruce Lincoln's work continually stresses that the cosmogony and the ethics of the state are deeply intertwined. This chapter focuses on how the acquisition of raw materials for monumental architecture mediates between the macrocosm and the urban center as mesocosm; links between the microcosm of the ruler's body and the universe as macrocosm were certainly present as well, but would direct us away from this volume's theme. The chapter focuses on the extraction of raw materials for monumental building not in the well-known Assyrian texts but rather in the Sumerian literature from the end of the third and the beginning of the second millennium BCE. The behavior described here by Robert K. Englund as "simple plunder" was undoubtedly the norm throughout Mesopotamian history. Urban centers represented incomparable concentrations of accessible raw materials that could be quickly refashioned into analogous pieces of monumental architecture and adornment at home.

Keywords: cosmogony; Assyrian; Bruce Lincoln; mesocosm; Mesopotamian history; monumental architecture; Robert K. Englund; Sumerian literature



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