Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Why I love making Tedagame

This game is my excuse to delve into what I love: ideas. Endless possibilities. Alternative scenarios for life, the universe and everything. In the hope that the best ones can come true. That is what fiction is for, and I hope to bring players along with me for the rise.

To illustrate, here is something I just posted on Facebook.

I love old books

I love old books. So Tedagame will be full of old books. They are amazing! For example, today I learned that The Epic of Gilgamesh is reliable history.

Today I start drawing the graphics for Gilgamesh. It reads like history that is written as propaganda (as history often is): the only really unbelievable part is the battle with the monster Humbaba, but a recently discovered fragment of the epic reveals that Humbaba was a human king, and describing him as a monster was just normal hyperbole. So let's have a closer look at the most famous part of Gilgamesh, the flood story.

The Great Flood

As you may know, Gilgamesh contains the earliest account of Noah's flood. Gilgamesh shows how the gods (or rather, their representatives) were human. In Gilgamesh, the flood was a deliberate breaking of dams in the city of Shurrupak, and not anything supernatural. Gilgamesh also refers to burning of houses: the gods made doubly sure that nobody survived (except Utnapishtim/ Noah, who was warned of their plans). So the flood probably refers to the burning of Shurrupak, which archeologists date to circa 2500 BC. Gilgamesh was king of Uruk at around the same time, so his story was almost contemporary.

Gilgamesh implies that the ark floated down the Gulf Coast and stopped on a  sand bank just out of sight of Dilmun (modern Bahrain). So I checked. Yes, sure enough, there is a large sand bank just north of Bahrain (the light part at the top of the picture)!

The sand bank

I checked the distances, and everything fits. The closest part of the sand bank is 11 miles away from Bahrain, so you would need to be 20 metres above sea level to see Bahrain on the horizon. Of course, Bahrain has some high ground, and a boat would have some kind of mast or lookout tower. But also, the ark would have rested on the northern part of the sand bank. So Bahrain is exactly the right distance away: far enough so that Noah thinks there is no land anywhere.

The dove

At first, Utnapishtim/Noah sends a dove out (a homing pigeon?). It either does not want to make a 40 mile round trip, or does so, but comes back because the ark is his home and he always gets fed. But sooner or later a bird does not come back. Or it brings back a twig. So Noah knows land is not too far.

Once Noah knows land is not too far, the obvious thing is to pull some planks of wood off the ark and build an extra high lookout post. Twenty metres above sea level shoud do it (5 metre ark plus 5 metre normal look out plus an extra ten metres?). Then it's a matter of ferrying the contents of the ark across the shallow eleven miles to the coast. it's exactly the right distance. Any closer, and Noah would see the land. Any farther, and Noah could not ferry his animals there.

The lost ark

Where is the ark now? Perhaps without the weight of the contents, Noah managed to free the ark from the sand and sail it to the mainland. Or maybe he dismantled it there. Over the next four and a half thousand years any remaining wood would float away, but who knows, maybe the odd plank is still buried in the sand? But the chances are that plenty of other boats ran aground there as well, so I don't know if it would be worth planning an expedition to find the ark.


As for the Genesis claim that the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, that is easily explained. "Ararat" sounds like the Hebrew "har" "arad" meaning "hill of descent". It refers to any hill where you descend from.

Mankind first developed agriculture and settled in towns in the mountains of Turkey. See Gobekli Tepe, Catal Huyuk, etc.) So Turkey's mountains are the the most famous "hills of descent". But Genesis refers to hills covered by water (Genesis 7:19-20), so they are what we could call sandbanks. Genesis describes how Noah rested on one of these sandbanks.

Gilgamesh was practically a contemporary of Noah, around 25000 BC. But Genesis was probably edited (from Gilgamesh and other sources) around 600 BC. That's almost 2000 years later! So it is understandable that when they read "hills of descent" they thought of the more famous "hills of descent". So they assumed the flood must have been much, much deeper than it was. But the earlier people knew another place of descent, the legendary gardens of Dilmun.

The Annunaki

It seems to me that the gods (the Annunaki) were the rulers from ancient times, and lived in the cedar forests of Turkey, just as Gilgamesh said. But when some farmers moved down the fertile crescent and invented writing, they gained their power base. This period when cities expanded is called the Uruk period because it centered on Uruk, and Gilgamesh was its most famous king. So the gods would have followed the farmers and continued their influence. Gods (elites) always grab the best land, so they would have settled in Dilmun, the beautiful region of gardens described by Gilgamesh at the end of hs epic.

Adam and Eve

All of this lets us identify the "lord" in genesis (JHWH), It would be a memory of Gilgamesh, the land lord of the area. But the "gods" (elohim) would refer to the more senior group. "Eden" was the sumerian word for the plains where Uruk's farmers worked, and the forbidden tree would be the cedars in the gods' forests. Adam would be Enkidu, brought in to do the work of Uruk's farmers and hunters. Eve was Shamhat, who made Adam realise he was naked and wanted clothes. I wonder if the serpent was the priest of Marduk, the oe who challenged the gods in the Enuma Elish, as the serpent is the symbol of Marduk. I'm not sure but I will definitely be looking at the Enuma Elish in Tedagame!

Why stories matter

Of course, this is not proof. But novels and a pics are not about proof: they are about possibilities. We are free to write anything as long as it is possible. And the ark resting on this sandbank is a  definite possibility!

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