This is the first stage of your second quarter Cities Project for which you will research and profile the history of an ancient city of your choosing.
Your first task is to identify the city that you wish to research and uncover its ‘foundational myth’. Both the Enuma Eliš and Gilgamesh are foundational myths, that is they are stories that helped people explain why things are as they are: why man must work, why the priests and kings are in charge, and why we will die. Foundational myths, as you know if you read chapter 8 closely, are critical for establishing and maintaining public order. They establish a structure to the society and often explain the hierarchies that exist.
Considering the research tools Mr. Seese introduced, find a city that interests you as the focus of your research. The city may be located anywhere, but it must have been established before about AD 100 and achieved a significant (above 2000) population during the ancient era. Then:
Identify the main civilization associated with this city.
Discover the foundational myth of that civilization. This might be a religious/mythical story like the Enuma Eliš or a legend like Sargon’s birth. There may be multiple myths and stories. Chose one you think is particularly relevant to establishing rule or order. [The myth does not have to be directly associated with your city, just your civilization.]
Create your first stack of note cards on NoodleTools labeled ‘Foundational Myth’ with the results of your research.
Questions to answer as you’re going along:
Who ruled? (groups or individuals? If individuals, name some of the first.)
By what authority? (that is, what political ideology or religious ideas supported the governors?) NOTE: the origin story should give you clues about this one.
How stable was the system? What does the early history — the first few hundred years or so — tell you about how well the city rulers maintained order?
“Cities are never random.
No matter how chaotic they might seem, everything about them grows out of a need to solve a problem. In fact, a city is nothing more than a solution to a problem, that in turn creates more problems that need more solutions, until towers rise, roads widen, bridges are built, and millions of people are caught up in a mad race to feed the problem-solving, problem-creating frenzy.”