Sunday, 26 February 2012

Finding the Ugaritic texts in the Louvre

Last July I wrote a series of articles about the gods of the Old Testament including a post about The Ugaritic Texts.  Yes - I said 'gods' rather than God.  It seems very clear that there was 'pantheon' of gods at the time and God (a.k.a Yahweh) was just one of them as you can read at that link.

Finding myself in Paris on a Saturday afternoon with no other commitments for a few hours, I took the opportunity yesterday to go to Musée du Louvre to look for the actual Ugaritic Text tablets and to see them for myself.  Just having seen pictures of the tablets without seeing their context, I didn't have a good feel for the size of them or indeed the number of finds.

Musée du Louvre, in February 2012
Finding them was a little tricky.  Even asking one of the guides (and finding for the only time in 3 days that my French is not good enough) did not help.  Sitting in the Mesopotamia rooms of the Louvre, at first I thought he was just one of those arrogant Parisiens that you hear about but don't often meet.  After a while I realised that he was only arrogant because he was also ignorant of the archaeological treasures surrounding him.

C'est la vie!  I found them a bit later all by myself, in room B of the ground floor area of the 'Sully' section of the Louvre.  I gained access to that area through the 'Richelieu' wing.  No doubt there might be easier ways to get there but I happened across some other interesting and famous artifacts on the way there. More about the amazing Code of Hamurabi in a few days time.

For today, here are a couple of photos of room B.  Tomorrow I will post photos of some of the tablets themselves.  First an overview of the room looking towards the North-East.

Musée du Louvre, Sully, ground floor room B

This is the cabinet containing the Ugaritic texts

Where in Musée du Louvre are the Ugaritic texts?  In this cabinet.
and this is a bit more detail of the cabinet itself

The cabinet containing the Ugaritic Texts in Musée du Louvre

More detail coming tomorrow, but just to finish this post on an incongruously surprising, lighter note, I thought you might smile at a sticker that I saw on a motor bike in Paris.  At the least, it is an interesting example of 'Franglais'.

J'adore rien - I'm parisien!


Rob Crompton said...

You're quite right to point out that there are several gods in the OT. It ought to be obvious but it isn't because we have centuries of tradition identifying lots of the different god-names as referring to the same god. Strip away that assumption and an interesting new slant on the stories begins to emerge.
Take, for example the story of Abraham and Isaac. God tells the old man to sacrifice the boy, then when he sees that Abraham really will do it, he says, ok, stop now. No!
There are two different gods here. Elohim says sacrifice the boy, but Yahweh says, no don't.
Still a monstrous story but very different from the traditional interpretation. But that's the one that is there in the OT for all to see if only they will read it without prior assumptions.

LadyAtheist said...

Congratulations on finding the ficking entrance! Why can't they label their entrances? In the U.S. there's never any doubt how to enter a museum. It's hard to miss. I went there three times before I figured it out. Good thing I had a long stay in Paris.

I didn't see that room so I look forward to more posts.