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Mesopotamia - Its technology and culture 05 Ages of Man



Type of Spiritual Experience


One of the intriguing aspects about the Sumerian historical perspective is that they, like the Shaivites in India, believed that there were several ages of man that preceded this current one and that man went back far longer than most estimates these days would have us believe. 

see also The Ancestors

A description of the experience

Myths of Babylonia and Assyria by Donald A. Mackenzie

Of special interest among the many problems presented by Babylonian astronomical lore is the theory of Cosmic periods or Ages of the Universe.

The Babylonians had ten antediluvian kings, who were reputed to have reigned for vast periods, the total of which amounted to 120 saroi, or 432,000 years. These figures at once recall the Indian Maha-yuga of 4,320,000 years = 432,000 X 10. Apparently the Babylonian and Indian systems of calculation were of common origin. In both countries the measurements of time and space were arrived at by utilizing the numerals 10 and 6.

As he made progress in calculations, the ….Babylonians appear to have been struck by other details in his anatomy besides his sets of five fingers and five toes. He observed, for instance, that his fingers were divided into three parts and his thumb into two parts only;  four fingers multiplied by three gave him twelve, and multiplying 12 by 3 he reached 36. Apparently the figure 6 attracted him. His body was divided into 6 parts--2 arms, 2 legs, the head, and the trunk; his 2 ears, 2 eyes, and mouth, and nose also gave him 6. The basal 6, multiplied by his la fingers, gave him 60, and 60 x 2 (for his 2 hands) gave him 120. In Babylonian arithmetic 6 and 60 are important numbers, and it is not surprising to find that in the system of numerals the signs for 1 and 10 combined represent 60.

In fixing the length of a mythical period his first great calculation of 120 came naturally to the Babylonian, and when he undertook to measure the Zodiac he equated time and space by fixing on 120 degrees. His first zodiac was the Sumerian lunar zodiac, which contained thirty moon chambers associated with the "Thirty Stars" of the tablets, and referred to by Diodorus as "Divinities of the Council". The chiefs of the Thirty numbered twelve. In this system the year began in the winter solstice. Mr. Hewitt has shown that the chief annual festival of the Indian Dravidians begins with the first full moon after the winter festival, and Mr. Brown emphasizes the fact that the list of Tamil (Dravidian) lunar and solar months are named like the Babylonian constellations.  "Lunar chronology", wrote Professor Max Müller, "seems everywhere to have preceded solar chronology." The later Semitic Babylonian system had twelve solar chambers and the thirty-six constellations.

Each degree was divided into sixty minutes, and each minute into sixty seconds. The hours of the day and night each numbered twelve.

Multiplying 6 by 10 (pur), the Babylonian arrived at 60 (soss); 60 x 10 gave him 600 (ner), and 600 x 6, 3600 (sar), while 3600 x 10 gave him 36,000, and 36,000 x 12, 432,000 years, or 120 saroi, which is equal to the "sar" multiplied by the "soss" x 2. "Pur" signifies "heap"--the ten fingers closed after being counted; and "ner" signifies "foot". Mr. George Bertin suggests that when 6 x 10 fingers gave 60 this number was multiplied by the ten toes, with the result that 600 was afterwards associated with the feet (ner). The Babylonian sign for 10 resembles the impression of two feet with heels closed and toes apart. This suggests a primitive record of the first round of finger counting.

In India this Babylonian system of calculation was developed during the Brahmanical period. The four Yugas or Ages, representing the four fingers used by the primitive mathematicians, totalled 12,000 divine years, a period which was called a Maha-yuga; it equalled the Babylonian 120 saroi, multiplied by 100. Ten times a hundred of these periods gave a "Day of Brahma". Each day of the gods, it was explained by the Brahmans, was a year to mortals. Multiplied by 360 days, 12,000 divine years equalled 4,320,000 human years. This Maha-yuga, multiplied by 1000, gave the "Day of Brahma" as 4,320,000,000 human years.

The shortest Indian Yuga is the Babylonian 120 saroi multiplied by 10 = 1200 divine years for the Kali Yuga; twice that number gives the Dvapara Yuga of 2400 divine years; then the Treta Yuga is 2400 + 1200 = 3600 divine years, and Krita Yuga 3600 + 1200=4800 divine years.

The influence of Babylonia is apparent in these calculations.

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

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