124 episodes

This show is focused on the history and myth of the Cradle of Civilization, bronze age Mesopotamia, beginning with the dawn of writing. The show will cover the full history of Mesopotamia, from Gilgamesh to Nabonidas, a span of some 2500 years, with myths of heroes and gods, and tales of daily life peppered throughout. New episodes every Wednesday. Online at oldeststories.net.

Oldest Stories James Bleckley

    • History
    • 4.9 • 42 Ratings

This show is focused on the history and myth of the Cradle of Civilization, bronze age Mesopotamia, beginning with the dawn of writing. The show will cover the full history of Mesopotamia, from Gilgamesh to Nabonidas, a span of some 2500 years, with myths of heroes and gods, and tales of daily life peppered throughout. New episodes every Wednesday. Online at oldeststories.net.

    Industry 4 - The Fabric of Civilization (pt 1 of 2)

    Industry 4 - The Fabric of Civilization (pt 1 of 2)

    Clothing is foundational to civilization. In the bible, it is humanity's first invention. In Mesopotamian philosophy, it is the thing which separates humans from animals. But as we will see today, even the simplest of cloth garments were the result of an extreme amount of work and technical skill, built up over countless generations of mostly women working in already very busy households. This is part 1 of a two part episode, part 2 will be releasing in two weeks.


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    • 32 min
    Shamash, the Sun

    Shamash, the Sun

    Nowadays we tend to give Shamash, the Mesopotamian sun god, a bit less respect than he is probably due. After all, for modern folk, the category of "sun god" is the height of pagan foolishness. After all, why would anyone worship an object which has been held in common by all humans throughout all of history, whose power is so great that even with modern advanced science we still can't touch it, and which is literally the ultimate source of all life on the planet? But even among sun gods, Shamash takes on a character of his own, becoming more than just a guy carrying a big ball of fire, or maybe just being the big ball of fire, and becoming a stand in for the cosmic order itself, something that was hugely important in the ancient world. Today we look at how he was worshipped, mostly in the words of his actual worshippers.


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    • 37 min
    Passionate Daughter Ishtar

    Passionate Daughter Ishtar

    Ishtar, the passionate goddess of love and war from ancient Mesopotamia has had a long life, historically speaking, and she continues to be a popular object of fascination for historians and of reverance for pagan revivalists. Today our focus is on Ishtar as she was worshipped in the ancient world. Less here about myth and far more about the ideas that Ishtar worshippers kept in their minds about their goddess. We are going to read a lot of hymns and praise poems, which do lose a bit in the transition from Akkadian into English, but still often have powerful imagery and are interesting as both examples of ancient literature and as windows into ancient religion.


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    • 43 min
    Industry 3 - Liquid Bread

    Industry 3 - Liquid Bread

    Our tale of daily life continues. The harvest is over, but the work continues, as there are many steps required to transform boring, nutritious grain into delicious, nutritious beer. Online at oldeststories.net


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    • 40 min
    Industry 2 - The Stuff of Life

    Industry 2 - The Stuff of Life

    Today we are talking all about the sort of industry that would have occupied most of the attention of most of the people of the ancient world. That is to say, beer making. But to talk about beer, you have to start with grain, and to talk about grain you have to start with a farmer. So today we will look deep into the life of a generic farmer, we will call him Ea-Rabi, and follow him step by step as he gains land, prepares a field, and grows barley, in preparation for next episode, where he turns that barley into bread and beer.


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    • 39 min
    Industry 1 - The Earthen World

    Industry 1 - The Earthen World

    Perhaps the defining material of ancient Mesopotamia was dirt. Buildings were made by mud brick, and those buildings were filled by clay pottery of all sorts. Today we are going to look at the people who made these things and how they made them. It will necessarily be a bit of a summary, sort of taking the whole region and period in generic form, since it is quite difficult to nail down too specific of a picture from any one time or place. From the mud collectors to the brick makers to the builders to the ways in which those buildings were used, this episode is a comprehensive overview of the construction industry in bronze age Mesopotamia.


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    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
42 Ratings

42 Ratings

Šuppiluliuma ,

One of the Best

Oldest Stories is one of those podcasts that is hard not to fall in love with. The ancient tales of Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, and especially the Hittites are stories so fascinating and thrilling and it is wonderful to have it presented in such a well presentation and engaging podcast. Host is fantastic and I love the lack of distracting music or ads.

Right up there with THOR and all the best history podcasts

nubckaes ,

Great podcast

This is a fantastic podcast. The episodes are well narrated and include the uncertainties inherent in history as well as some wonderfully snarky comments about morality and endless recitations. James doesn’t shy away from the less palatable portions but he keeps it family friendly. For anyone interested in early history, theses are well worth a listen.

Kritique73 ,

A Phenomenal Raconteur

James breathes life and personality into ancient history in a way I have never before experienced. He is the professor I wish I’d had in university and the bard we are so very fortunate to hear now.

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