I recently reviewed The Goddess of Sumer for Blogcritics. What follows is an interview with the author about the archaeological facts underlying the fiction. Links to reviews follow.
How did you get interested in Sumeria?
The first time I read about Sumer, I was amazed by the sophistication of such an ancient civilization, and stunned to learn that the language and culture had no known roots on our planet. I thought that perhaps the author was exaggerating the facts, and so I researched more, and found that he was not. The more I read, the more intrigued I became.
Is there as much known about Sumerian archaeology as there is about other cultures such as the Egyptians?
No. Political instability has made archaeological expeditions today almost impossible, but another problem lies with the fact that many ancient holy sites have mosques over them now.
However, from 1843 up until World War II there were extensive excavations that yielded much of the information we know today. We know that the Sumerians had immense palaces and temple compounds known as "ziggurats" or step pyramids, and that their civilization was far superior to any other at that time. Unfortunately, even with the staggering find of Arshibanipal's library at Ninevah (25,000 tablets) and the immense literary find at Nippur (another 30,000 tablets) - many of the texts remain unstudied today.
Did you start your research with the book in mind?
No. I have always been a voracious reader, but it wasn't until about five years ago that I became interested in archaeology.
My family was very religious, and consequently, I was taught that the Bible's version of history was irrefutable. Eventually I was drawn to archaeological texts and discoveries that I thought certain would prove the validity of the Bible. I was therefore shocked, and eventually intrigued to learn that archaeology rather contradicts much of the Bible, and began my own quest to puzzle out our civilization's beginnings.
That quest has given rise to many more questions than answers, but along the way, I was inspired to write a "fun" novel that would present some of the interesting facts in a fanciful manner.
You say "archaeology rather contradicts much of the Bible." From the book, it appears that Sumeria may have been the place of creation. That doesn't seem at odds with Christian archaeology. The obvious difference is that there's a goddess instead of God. Are there other differences?
Actually, Sumer being the place of creation or original Eden is one thing that the Bible supports. Eridu, the most sacred city of ancient Mesopotamia and the first seat of Sumerian kingship, is nestled between four rivers (described in the Bible: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates.)