Wikipedia Zapping: The Euphrates


The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf. The Great Ziggurat temple of Ur on the mouth of the river Euphrates was built by King Ur-Nammu dedicated to the moon goddess Nanna/Sîn, in the 21st century BC during the Third Dynasty of Ur. The construction of the ziggurat was finished in the 21st century BC by King Shulgi, Ur-Nammu’s son, who is best known for his extensive revision of the scribal school’s curriculum. Although it is unclear how much he actually wrote, there are numerous praise poems written by and directed towards this ruler. He proclaimed himself a god in his 23rd regnal year. During his 48-year reign, the city of Ur grew to be the capital of a state controlling much of Mesopotamia. King Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in the 6th century BC, after “finding little left but the last stage and nothing to guide him as to the monument’s original appearance”, had the great ziggurat restored in seven stages rather than three. Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, ca. 2047-2030 BC short chronology) founded the Sumerian 3rd dynasty of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, following several centuries of Akkadian and Gutian rule. His main achievement was state-building, and Ur-Nammu is chiefly remembered today for his legal code, the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known surviving example in the world. The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating back to about 1772 BC. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay tablets. The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (lex talionis) as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man. One nearly complete example of the Code survives today, on a diorite stele in the shape of a huge index finger, 2.25 m or 7.4 ft tall. The Code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform script carved into the stele.

In the preface to the law code, Hammurabi states, “Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, to bring about the rule in the land.” Anu was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon, and part of a triad including Enlil, god of the air and Enki, god of water. He was called Anu by the Akkadians. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki (also known as Ea), Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods. Anu is so prominently associated with the E-anna temple in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to have been the original seat of the Anu cult. If this is correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort. From Uruk the center of political gravity seems to have moved to Ur. Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.
Uruk gave its name to the Uruk period, the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia spanning c. 4000 to 3100 BC, succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period of Sumer proper. Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC. At its height c 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time. The semi-mythical king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC. The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia with Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest.

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode involving Ishtar which portrays her as bad-tempered, petulant and spoiled by her father.
She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers:
Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured roller, but still you struck and broke his wing […] You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong […] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks.”
Angered by Gilgamesh’s refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to her father the high god Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. Anu points out that it was her fault for provoking Gilgamesh, but she warns that if he refuses, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn’t let her in:
If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living.”
Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the sun-god Shamash.
While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull’s right thigh and throws it in Ishtar’s face, saying, “If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side.” (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Then Ishtar called together “her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,” and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven.

As in the rest of Sumer, power moved progressively from the temple to the palace. In the Early Dynastic IIIb period (2500–2334 BC), also called the Pre-Sargonic period, Uruk continued to be ruled by Ur. Situated just to the east of Mesopotamia, Elam was part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). The emergence of written records from around 3000 BC also parallels Mesopotamian history where writing was used slightly earlier. In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Its culture played a crucial role in the Gutian Empire, especially during the Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded it, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use. Elamite is generally treated as an isolate language. The last written records in Elamite appear about the time of the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great from Macedonia. Under the leadership of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great, (Darius I), Persian ships found their way to the Persian Gulf.Persian naval forces laid the foundation for a strong Persian maritime presence in Persian Gulf, that started with Darius I and existed until the arrival of the British East India Company and the Royal Navy. As of 2000, the estimated population of the Arabian Peninsula is 77,983,936.

Geologically, this region is perhaps more appropriately called the Arabian subcontinent because it lies on a tectonic plate of its own, the Arabian Plate, which has been moving incrementally away from the rest of Africa (forming the Red Sea) and north, toward Asia, into the Eurasian plate (forming the Zagros mountains). The rocks exposed vary systematically across Arabia, with the oldest rocks exposed in the Arabian-Nubian Shield near the Red Sea, overlain by earlier sediments that become younger towards the Persian Gulf. Perhaps the best-preserved ophiolite on Earth, the Semail ophiolite, lies exposed in the mountains of the UAE and northern Oman.

The peninsula consists of:

  1. a central plateau, the Nejd, with fertile valleys and pastures used for the grazing of sheep and other livestock.
  2. a range of deserts: the Nefud in the north, which is stony; the Rub’ Al-Khali or Great Arabian Desert in the south, with sand estimated to extend 600 ft (180 m). below the surface; between them, the Dahna.
  3. stretches of dry or marshy coastland with coral reefs on the Red Sea side (Tihamah).
  4. ranges of mountains, paralleling the Red Sea coast on the west (e.g., Asir province) but also at the southeastern end of the peninsula (Oman). The mountains show a steady increase in altitude westward as they get nearer to Yemen, and the highest peaks and ranges are all located in Yemen. The highest, Jabal Al-Nabi Shu’ayb in Yemen, is 3666 m high.

Arabia has few lakes or permanent rivers. Most areas are drained by ephemeral watercourses called wadis, which are dry except during the rainy season. Plentiful ancient aquifers exist beneath much of the peninsula, however, and where this water surfaces, oases form (e.g., Al-Hasa and Qatif, two of the worlds largest oases) and permit agriculture, especially palm trees, which allowed the peninsula to produce more dates than any other region in the world. In general, the climate is extremely hot and arid, although there are exceptions. Higher elevations are made temperate by their altitude, and the Arabian Sea coastline can receive surprisingly cool, humid breezes in summer due to cold upwelling offshore. The peninsula has no thick forests, although desert-adapted wildlife is present throughout the region.

A plateau more than 2,500 feet (760 m) high extends across much of the Arabian Peninsula. The plateau slopes eastwards from the massive, rifted escarpment along the coast of the Red Sea, to the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. The interior is characterised by cuestas and valleys, drained by a system of wadis. A crescent of sand and gravel deserts lies to the east.

Ophiolite is a section of the Earth’s oceanic crust and the underlying upper mantle that has been uplifted and exposed above sea level and often emplaced onto continental crustal rocks. Ophio- is Greek for “snake” (ὄφις), -lite means “stone” from the Greek lithos (λίθος), after the often green-colored rocks (spilites and serpentinites) that make up many ophiolites.

The term ophiolite was originally used by Alexandre Brongniart [1] for an assemblage of green rocks (serpentine, diabase) in the Alps; Steinmann [2] later modified its use to include serpentine, pillow lava, and chert (“Steinmann’s trinity”), again based on occurrences in the Alps. The term was little used in other areas until the late 1950s to early 1960s, with the recognition that this assemblage provided an analog for oceanic crust and the process of seafloor spreading. This recognition was tied to two events: (1) the observation of magnetic anomaly stripes on the seafloor, parallel to oceanic ridge systems, interpreted by Frederick Vine and Drummond Matthews [3] to represent the formation of new crust at the oceanic ridge and its subsequent symmetric spreading away from that ridge, and (2) the observation of a sheeted dike complex within the Troodos ophiolite (Cyprus) by Ian Graham Gass and co-workers,[4] which must have formed by repetitive extension of crust and intrusion of magma resulting in a formation consisting of 100% dikes with no older wall rocks preserved within the complex. Moores and Vine[5] concluded that the sheeted dike complex at Troodos could only form by a process similar to the seafloor spreading proposed by Vine and Matthews.[3] Thus, it became widely accepted that ophiolites represent oceanic crust that had been emplaced on land.

Their great significance relates to their occurrence within mountain belts such as the Alps or the Himalayas, where they document the existence of former ocean basins that have now been consumed by subduction. This insight was one of the founding pillars of plate tectonics, and ophiolites have always played a central role in plate tectonic theory and the interpretation of ancient mountain belts.

The Arabian Plate is one of three tectonic plates (the African, Arabian and Indian crustal plates) which have been moving northward over millions of years and colliding with the Eurasian Plate. This is resulting in a mingling of plate pieces and mountain ranges extending in the west from the Pyrenees, crossing southern Europe and the Middle East, to the Himalayas and ranges of southeast Asia. [1]

The Arabian Plate consists mostly of the Arabian peninsula; it extends northward to Turkey. The plate borders are:

The Arabian Plate was part of the African plate during much of the Phanerozoic Eon (PaleozoicCenozoic), until the Oligocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era. Red Sea rifting began in the Eocene, but the separation of Africa and Arabia occurred in the Oligocene, and since then the Arabian Plate has been slowly moving toward the Eurasian Plate.

The collision between the Arabian Plate and Eurasia is pushing up the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Because the Arabian Plate and Eurasia plate collide, many cities are in danger such as those in south eastern Turkey (which is on the Arabian Plate). These dangers include earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.

The sedimentary cover in the SE Zagros is deforming above a layer of rock salt (acting as a ductile decollement with a low basal friction) whereas in the NW Zagros the salt layer is missing or is very thin. This different basal friction partly made different topographies in either sides of Kazerun fault. Higher topography and narrower zone of deformation in the NW Zagros is observed whereas in the SE, deformation was spread more and wider zone of deformation with lower topography was formed.[4] Stresses induced in the Earth’s crust by the collision caused extensive folding of the preexisting layered sedimentary rocks. Subsequent erosion removed softer rocks, such as mudstone (rock formed by consolidated mud) and siltstone (a slightly coarser-grained mudstone) while leaving harder rocks, such as limestone (calcium-rich rock consisting of the remains of marine organisms) and dolomite (rocks similar to limestone containing calcium and magnesium). This differential erosion formed the linear ridges of the Zagros Mountains.


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