Why an ancient Mesopotamian tablet is key to our future learning | Tiffany Jenkins | TEDxSquareMile

Why an ancient Mesopotamian tablet is key to our future learning | Tiffany Jenkins | TEDxSquareMile


Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven I am going to talk
about something like this. It’s a dusty fragment from a clay tablet. That might not look like very much – you can’t really tell
what the squiggles say on it, and it looks pretty old, off-yellow – but it’s actually one of the most
remarkable objects I’ve ever encountered. It’s called a “flood tablet” because the squiggles,
which are in cuneiform, tell the story of a flood. It’s in the British Museum today,
so not far from here, and it’s part of one of the oldest
written-down forms of literature, so one of the pieces of the oldest
pieces of literature in the world. It’s from 7th century B.C., northern Iraq, so it’s about 2,700 years old. Now, the previous speaker talked a lot
about Facebook and the digital world, and I want to contrast objects
like this to the digital world. The digital world is a wonderful thing, and it presents all sorts
of opportunities for knowledge. We can really find
anything we want on the web, but sometimes we have to know
what to look for, and sometimes, I think, we need things
that are a little bit more tangible, things that we can touch. So I want to talk today
about how objects like these, the real thing – and although
I say we can touch them, obviously in museums,
there are glass cases and there are security guards, so it’s more of a kind of idea of touch – but objects like these
and institutions like the British Museum are essential to the future of learning; that in the 21st century,
we need two things: We need a sense of the past –
the civilizations that came before us – and we need a sense of the real. Now, I think the story
of the Flood Tablet, how it was found, what it says, and the impact it had on the world
when it was deciphered is salutary to the what we’re thinking about today: how we know what we know,
and how we never know everything. So, I want to tell you and take you back
to how this Flood Tablet was found before it ended up in the British Museum. There were two chaps responsible for it: [Austen] Henry Layard, he’s on the right, and this man over here, Hormuzd Rassam. [Austen] Henry Layard was an adventurer, so he took off to
the Middle East around 1830, riding into the countries
on horseback, as you do, and he met up with Hormuzd,
an archeologist. And what they tried to do,
and what they succeeded in doing, is finding the ancient
civilization of Assyria. What’s the remarkable thing is that
we know quite a lot about Assyria today, but then it had
pretty much been forgotten. Many of the buildings, the palaces,
the sculptures, the Flood Tablet were completely covered in dirt,
and nobody knew where they were. So they set about
trying to find where they were with shovels and a team
of men behind them. They found the most remarkable
and spectacular objects – completely bizarre objects –
and the Flood Tablet. In fact, they found palaces,
grand palaces, and a whole library. What was remarkable
about the people of the time was that they set about,
pretty much, creating a new state. They’re a massive empire,
and they recorded many things about it. So we know many things
about the ancient Assyrians because they left a detailed record of it. But of course, people didn’t
automatically know how to read cuneiform, which is what the language
is on the Flood Tablet; it had to be deciphered. This – he’s not a hipster,
he just looks like one there – this chap is called George Smith. Now, George was from a working-class
background; he was self-educated; he had been apprenticed, at the age of 14,
to a firm of banknote engravers, but he became absolutely
passionate, and obsessed – and I think, in a way,
you do have to be obsessed to make any kind of major breakthrough,
which is what he did. But he was obsessed with the Assyrians and obsessed with cuneiform,
and he taught himself to read it. He became one of the leading
translators of the day. He did this often in his lunch hour, in the quiet moments
before he went to work. He would go to the British Museum
in Bloomsbury, every day, and read the tablets – or try and read
the tablets – in the reading room. One day, he had the Flood
Tablet in front of him, and he suddenly cracked it;
it suddenly worked out. It must have been one of those kind
of spine-tingling moments when you feel like the hand
of history is on your shoulder, because you are just about
to make history. He jumped up, ran around the room, and said, “I am the first man
to have read this, after 2000 years of oblivion,” which is a sort of moment
to die for, I think. In fact he was so excited,
he began to undress himself, as you do. Obviously, that’s not something
to emulate in the British Museum – you might be asked to leave. What he had read
was “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” and the remarkable thing about this
was that it was a story of a flood that was very similar to the story
of Noah and the flood and the animals. Why does that matter? The interesting thing about it,
and the surprising thing about it, was that it was written 400 years before the earliest written version
of the Bible story. So it indicated that the Bible story
wasn’t unique, it wasn’t privileged, it wasn’t a one-of,
it hadn’t come from there, but had been drawn upon a kind of previous
pool of knowledge in the Middle East. This was a time – so we’re talking
about the 19th century – when all sorts of things
were actually being questioned, including the biblical version of history. And George Smith’s revelation
with this Flood Tablet was like lighting a fire; it just completely exploded all sorts
of orthodoxies and mainstream thinking about biblical history. He was front-page news. The prime minister of the day,
Gladstone, came to see him lecture – you know, not bad for a banknote
engraver called George who spent his lunch hours
at the British Museum. I think his story is really important –
it’s really salutary – because it shows a number of things:
anybody can do it if they are dedicated, and it’s not easy – you
have to work really damn hard, you have to be obsessed with your subject, to the point that people
think you are weird. That’s no bad thing if you
make breakthroughs like these. And you have to challenge
the orthodoxies of the day, which can be quite a hard thing to do. Now, we live in the 21st century,
and we think we know – well, we probably do know
more than we’ve ever known, but we certainly don’t know everything,
and we could very easily be wrong – and the evidence of the past, strangely, is essential to questioning orthodoxies
and challenging what we think we know. And I think that’s one of the reasons
why museums are such wonderful places. Now the British Museum – this is actually, before I go on, this is an Assyrian artifact,
brought back, and you can see, I mean this is another world
here represented by – And if you look – So, we have a kind of lion or a bull;
we have wings coming out of its body, and amazingly – this is 7th century B.C.,
northern Iraq; could we do this now? – amazingly, he’s got five legs. So, it looks like he’s walking
if you are on one side, and then if you’re at the front of him,
it looks like he’s stationary. So, museums hold artifacts like these. This is actually from the Met, but the British Museum around the corner
holds many of these Assyrian artifacts, and I strongly recommend you go see them. So, what do museums
and their artifacts do? Why are they so important? I think they are a thread, a time-machine, where they link us to previous
civilizations and previous peoples. Like I said, not in a kind
of peace and love kind of way – we’re all equal and wonderful – I mean, the Assyrians
were a very large and violent empire. They were tremendously creative
and very, very powerful, but they were violent. And young men were
apprenticed very early on, not to be like George Smith,
a banknote engraver, but to be warriors, to be soldiers. So we learn much more about those people by going to museums
and looking at their artifacts. They also are, in many cases,
free to enter. So, regardless of whether
you are six, 16, or 60, you can go in, in your lunch break, like George, and have a look at things
and wander around. The British Museum, formed in 1756, was free to enter
right from the beginning. So, this tremendous idea of access
to the world’s greatest knowledge institutionalized in the British Museum
from very early on. Although I should say, at the time you did
have to wear clean shoes – a few qualifications … not so much, I think, in the 21st century. But the other thing museums
and institutions like them offer, I think, is the real thing. Now, when I go in to the BM, or if I’m lucky enough to go
to somewhere like the Met, this guy, he’s five meters high; he’s really big. He’s unfamiliar; he demands my attention – I think it’s a he although some
of them look very feminine, so maybe they were confused
or they were just kind of forward-thinking and ambivalent by their gender – but he demands our attention,
and he deserves it. I think we live in a day and age where,
and I am guilty of it as anybody else, where we access everything
through our phones, through our computers, and there’s a kind
of unreal quality to it. I’m never sure – you know, it’s easy
to not know what time of day it is, to not engage with something solid. And I think one thing that history does, and one thing that objects do, is they are tangible, you can touch them. They are solid; they
don’t just melt into the air. I’m not sure if those
of you in the audience saw the potential, continued destruction, by ISIS, in Palmyra,
that site of ancient civilizations. There was a debate at the time
that the horror expressed prioritized objects over people. And I think that’s really
the wrong way to understand that. I think it was an outrage,
and I think, in a way, ISIS knew what they were doing;
they were trying to destroy history. And I think that
the thing is about artifacts like those at Palmyra, any museums, is that they give us a sense
of who we are in history. So we may live in the 21st century, but people came before us
and achieved many things. And I think a sense of our reality
and the permanence of our reality is solidified by real objects. So that’s why I would suggest
after this conference, before you get a drink, maybe pop over to the British Museum and see some of these Assyrian artifiacts, or the Rosetta Stone,
or the Parthenon marbles, whatever takes your fancy. Because I think museums
and ancient artifacts can take us out of the cloud
and bring us back down to earth. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Why an ancient Mesopotamian tablet is key to our future learning | Tiffany Jenkins | TEDxSquareMile

  1. So basically do what we've been telling Gov't not to do. Stop destroying and robbing history just to re-write it…..like the pyramids…JFK's brain…hitlers scientists etc.

  2. Perhaps we should record our civilization on clay tablets. Our paper and electronic records will disappear as we destroy our civilization.

  3. Why always trust to the tablet translater? They just guess, not sure the certain meaning.. it was thousand years old writing and languange that might use idiomatic languange that modern human can not understand the true meaning.. the strange is even most of you don't believe in your bibble??

  4. Wow, allowing yourself to question the truth. This red lady is definatly one of satans creatures. The great deseption is at hand.

  5. Could the left hand please remain motionless. It wobbles somewhat in beat with the cadence of the speech, but not quite, and the difference in cadence completely detracts from what is said.

  6. The epic of gilgamesh is also derived from another story from previous civilizations. The bible is credible, if there wasnt a flood then there wouldnt be numerous stories of one

  7. 🤔…she's not that bright to assume Gilgamesh's flood and Noah's flood are the same delluvious event … as if humans didn't survive more than one flood…🤣🤣🤣

  8. How old is current human race? Google answered: While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800s.19 Jan 2015

    In this perspective tablets of nearly 3000 years old seem like a yesterday's newspaper found in the loft. Where, the fake, is the previous history?

  9. Far to many of those tablets, scrolls, books, etc … are in private collections, destroyed , faked, contorted. It's great that we have multiple people around the world throughout time that have found multiple versions from multiple cultures describing the same things in the same time periods.
    I Believe Archeological Theft and and Archeological Crimes should be treated as crimes against humanity.
    I also believe people and entities that have these massive private collections. Maybe they should be able to keep them based on the fact they earned , collected, inherited, etc… but I wish they would allow me or someone that can keep their secret, to be able to come take imaging on multiple levels and share the artifacts with the proper entities to study the images, 3D models, etc.. and make them available to the people.
    I would take it to the grave and never mention where the information came from , that is Up to the collector, as long as they allow us to properly share the collections.

  10. The Gilgamesh tablets are from 1800 BC, not 800 BC, as she says.
    She implies that they undermine in some way the Biblical recounting of the Flood story, whereas in fact they are composed of a much more fantastical and mythological recounting of events, whereas the Biblical account is infinitely more sober and matter-of-fact.
    Furthermore, by no means is the Assyrian account the oldest retelling of the story.
    The Chinese incorporate into their very language the remembrance of those great events; and they did this in 2500 BC, and in a way which precisely and devastatingly confirms the Biblical account, which Gilgamesh strays from and frequently departs from altogether.
    One of the most striking evidences of this is their pictogram for "A great boat", which is composed of the sub-elements "vessel", and "eight mouths".
    Incidentally, their recollection of those times even goes back to the very beginning of the human story, to the very Garden of Eden, which is represented by the pictograms for "one man", and "enclosed garden."
    Add to that their pictogram for "God", and you have their symbol for "happiness, contentment."
    There is so much more.
    "Temptation, desire"?
    "Woman", and "Two trees."
    "Sorrow, pain"?
    "Piece", and "Fruit."

  11. You know what’s key to future learning? Taking the teaching away from the progressive liberal. When reading levels of our future generations can meet grade standards then I’ll consider what failed past societies have to offer.

  12. The Bible tells the now verified story of the Assyrian Civilization… and much early so how then does is pre date the Bible?

  13. If we had the whole story that is known long ago. We would not be heading to our own self-destruction. But to know the actual truth undermines what we gain from our free-will. As everything we think we know has been made by us with only the knowledge that we can find here and in our own minds. So to find an absolute truth is to take thousands of years of us creating our own BS and throwing it out the window. That to anyone close to the truth would think that is a good thing. But what if the truth we find does not matter in its acracy. When it was the journey that made us who we are. Born out of pain and suffering so free-will can truly be tested. As only on a world of strife can we know the strength we have to be who we are. And not to be what we are told to be. That is an easy trap because no one likes answering the hard questions alone. When the right answers have no context that we know to guide us to the next question.

    Something we can either learn or already know from living thousands of years as different people in a multitude of lives. Old souls are the only ones ready for the truth but we are surrounded by the young that cannot understand no matter how hard they try. And to destabilize them with it is wrong to do. So many things go unsaid by those that know the truth. If all that can be found here was publicly available. We would know that we are not equals. And that the ones to lead are the old souls. Not the young souls that now control everything because the young are attracted to money and power that alleviates the pain of living. Where the old souls prefer a more organic life that stays close to the reality of the earth that teaches us with its pain.

  14. "…and ne day the handsome prince rode by" – she's talking to them as if they are in kindergarden…or in a hypnotic trance. GOD AWFUL COMMUNICATION. Ted is a farce.

  15. Fascinating spoken accent wow 😮 I can listen to you speak over and over and over again ha ha ha ha the great video though I’m really interested in art ha ha Ha but that accent is 😲 GREAT

  16. what an f'ing babbler, did she explain "Why an ancient Mesopotamian tablet is key to our future learning" or just babble on and on???

  17. "A lion or a bull?" ..
    Lions dont have hoofs do they?
    How could that b a lion?
    What is she talking about?
    Did I miss something?

  18. When i see what we was and what we have now i really feel so sad. Bescsue now we live like an animles. With out clean water to drink or electrec. Our kids learn in school that made of cly in 2019. Can you imagin that. We teach world how to write. And now we living in drak age. Same times i really wish that i can get back in the times. We iraqi people the only people whom had bast but with out futuer

  19. He did more than crack the assyrian language he began the catalyst that broke the oppression of the biblical hold, the same oppression that crucified christ, the same oppression that spearheaded the crusades. The oppression of religion over mankind

  20. His discovery and the discrepancies of the biblical stories led to the realization that the bibles intention was a compiled text of stories from our ancestors meant to derive wisdom from so that the future generations mistakes are not the same mistakes that they had made. That was the original intention of the bible, however the political powers at the time saw the opportunity of control through religion and it succeeded by the political power that followed after upholding that deception until you had the monarchy of the holy Roman catholic church in its beginning judging by their reaction to such a claim would give us a depth perception of whether it still holds today

  21. Some would call this blasphemy but I counter that claim by accusing them of heresy within the church not by gods will but mans

  22. The reptilian queen and descendants have suppressed the real history of mankind, the cabala banks and secret societies have been hiding the real true, because everything that governments existence will be disclosed, we will learn that humanity has been modified to serve and enslaved to this aliens that call themselves gods and they are not, they are the masters of mankind they invaded us, they conquest us they enslaved us…

  23. Too much "earwash".

    I often wish that someone could a, b, c these talks and give me the key points so I wouldn't have to listen to what, honestly, to me, is the side stuff that doesn't really have much to do with the byline as to WHY this ancient tablet is the key to our future learning, which, honestly, I never really was able to derive from this brief, but annoying, talk.

  24. This is the equivalent of a school girl that read a Wikipedia summary 5 mins before presenting to her class lol

  25. Her main message she was getting across is having no gender identity is forward-thinking. Ridiculous, thanks for wasting why 12 minutes of time

  26. In una realta' del tutto artificiale il futuro e' Cosmopolita Universale programmato specifico e' determinato per un N.W.O.

  27. A quick search for Gilgamesh brings up several shows of about an hour each. Some are more technical than others but most include pretty direct translations of the twelve tablets rewritten at 1200 BC and some have translations from tablets carved closer to 3000 years BC.
    Much more enlightening than this vague ramble.

  28. Time white people give those items back to where they come from. It's okay to buy Oil from Iraq but its history belongs there. You won't avoid it.

  29. This tablet is not 700 bc. Ancient sumeria was destroyed 2024 bc! 700 bc was the ancient Hebrew writings. I’m a scholar of these tablets and she’s not correct on the dating. The akkadians came after then the Babylonian texts and finally the ancient Hebrew scrolls which the bible has been mistranslated from on purpose by the Vatican in 325 ad..

  30. If no body can read something and you said I can read it the easiest thing to do is again with that person to get it over with all you have to do is Make sure Absolutely no body car read it then make something out of it 😂😂😂 that’s what he did 🤷‍♂️

  31. False! The Hebrew Bible did not copy Gilgamesh, but is further proven by it. Because the Hebrew is retroactively and correctly back-dating the flood to before Gilgamesh's time. This makes he Hebrew correct and proven by the later Gilgamesh as an affirmation.

  32. she is basically saying that bc it is written down sooner than the hebrew history that it must be older than those oral traditions…she is not a historian…maybe a museum docent but not a historian

  33. I have a 1968 Jimi Hendrix nylon album with 'Along the Watchtower', and a 2010 Bob Dylan CD with the same song.

    This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jimi Hendrix wrote the song, not (as I have heard Christian apologists say) Bob Dylan.

  34. We would have all the knowledge of our ancestors if the muslims wouldn't have burn the ancient libraries but, nothing new there.

  35. Rubbish…..you cant conclude noah comes from gilgamesh, it only shows 2 similar stories, could be describing same event.

  36. Imo mist religion's came out of Mesopotamia an egypt . I think we need more Indus valley history to connect dots . Co mud fossil university for Atlantis location .

  37. Why do you think the cruisades whete started. They tried to erase hystory. Read an learn the truth . Jesus message is true but most writings can't be

  38. We all need to self control . Than you won t need so many authorities gov an religious. Look inside your own light

  39. One of the most interesting things about archaeology, history, science, or the Bible is how they are interpreted. One interpretation can point us in one direction, while another interpretation can point us in the opposite direction. Interpretation depends on the frame of reference, validity of our sources, background, education or lack thereof (sometimes a lack of education can be a good thing), and the use of imagination, and insight. Sometimes the hardest thing to overcome while interpreting things are tradition, dogma, doctrine, or something that is believed to be an "established truth"; the willingness to challenge such things often lead to the biggest breakthroughs and insights.

  40. Because the Masoretic text was tampered with and several hundred years were dropped from the ages of men after Shem, an incorrect date was applied to the Biblical record making it app ear to have been written later than it was. There are more points such as that Terah, Abraham's father lived in Ur. Who knows if the Sumerians didn't obtain information from him and put their own spin on it.

  41. A Dog knows how to put his mark on things to let other dogs know that what he has urinated on belongs to him like ministers of a profit generating Religion will distroy that what was before did not exist untill he came along to replace an to distroy the one before. It is as simple as a dog uninating on a tree!

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