Astrology 4000 years ago was just as popular as it is now, actually more so. But when you had Mercury Retro delivery fuq-ups or dreadful service you had to etch the complaint into stone – imagine.
The tablet above is from a Babylonian gentleman named Nanni to a copper merchant called Ea-Nasir – he’s essentially saying that Ea-Nasir has his money but that the copper ingots he’s sourced are crap and that Ea-Nasir was rude to his servant, who was handling the transaction.
It’s considered to be the oldest complaint letter in existence:
“…Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.”
Found in the ruins of Ur, a major city-state in what was Mesopotamia but is now Iraq, it is actually just one of many complaint ‘stones’ to this particular copper-dealer. I’d also like to add that according to these records, “tithe to the goddess Ningal” was an acceptable tax deduction – we should bring this sort of thing back asap.
One of Ur’s chief deities was “Sin” – their Moon God. He had a beard made from lapiz lazuli and rode on a winged bull. Bulls were everywhere then – in some astrological theories that era was the Age of Taurus.
His partner was the Sun Goddess, Ningal – Great Lady – and Ishtar/Inanna (represented by the planet we now call Venus) was one of their children. Ur had sanctuaries, astrologers, poets, cosmologically designed gardens, spies, shrines, terrace housing, carefully crafted waterways, cats and priestesses.
Ur means “city of light” and it is the city where we found the world’s oldest known astrological text: Enuma Anu Enlil. Their version of Mercury was called Nabu, the God of Water, Wisdom + Writing. No doubt somewhere in these still yet to be totally translated writings is a reference to Mercury/Nabu Retrograde.
And well, Mercury Retrograde and/or bad help happen in any century but imagine dealing with it when the complaint had to be etched into rock and delivered. Every time I see evidence of magic and ancient cities with priestesses or reverence for cats, I think of how anti-fragile a certain style of being is.
This complaint letter could have been written yesterday. Thoughts?
Image: British Musuem