DESTRUCTION OF THE CEDAR FORESTS:
(Lecture by Rania Masri - rmasri@ncsu.edu )

"Approximately 4700 years ago in Uruk, a city-kingdom in southern
Mesopotamia, Uruk's ruler Gilgamesh sought to ensure his immortality
through the material greatness of his city. He wanted large amounts of
timber to accomplish his plans, and he set his sight on the cedars of
Lebanon. Extending before Gilgamesh lay an area of land so large its
exact size was not known. An almost unbroken forest flourished near
southern Mesopotamia, in the hills and mountains surrounding the Fertile
Crescent. The forest was so dense that the sun's light barely
penetrated through its foliage.

The chief Sumerian deity Enlil protected these glorious forests by
entrusting the ferocious demigod Humbaba to protect the interests of
nature against the desires of civilization. Enlil understood the
unlimited appetite of civilization, and predicted that once humans would
enter the forest, they would remove all the gods' beautiful garden of
trees; they would destroy the divine beauty where "the cedars raise
aloft their luxuriance."

After a moment of enjoying the glory and awe of the magnificent, virgin
cedar forest, Gilgamesh and his lumberjack companions began destroying
the "abode of the gods." They cut the cedars, chopped their branches and
trunks into transportable sizes. A fight erupted between the intruders
and the mighty forest demigod... the greed of civilization won; the
forest's guardian lost his head; and the cedars wailed with fear now
that Gilgamesh was master of the forest. The trees were correct to cry,
for the men stripped the "mountains of their cover," leaving bare rock .
When Enlil, who forever must watch over t he well-being of the earth,
learned of the destruction of the cedar forest, he sent down a series of
ecological curses on the offenders: "May the food you eat be eaten by
fire; may the water you drink be drunk by fire."

So ended the tale, lamenting the soon-to-be sorry state of southern
Mesopotamia...and the many other civilizations bent on destroying their
forests. Gilgamesh's war against the forest - a war in which there are
only losers - has been repeated for generations in every corner of the
globe to satisfy civilization's ever increasing appetite for material
growth

Gilgamesh was succeeded by numerous other rulers in southern
Mesopotamia, each striving to accumulate more material wealth than their
own predecessor. The savage deforestation that ensued resulting in the
decline of the Sumerian Civilization. Once large quantities of trees
were felled near the banks of the upper courses of the Euphrates,
Tigris, and Karun rivers and tributaries, salt and silt as well as
timber filled the waters, and threatened to clog up the irrigation
canals. Deforestation also exposed salt-rich sedimentary rocks of the
northern mountains to erosion. After 1,500 years of successful farming, a
serious salinity problem suddenly developed. Declining food product ion
due to increased salinity was one of the factors that contributed to
the fall of the Sumerian civilization. The building schemes that sought
to strengthen this great empire brought on the very destruction of the
civilization."


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Replies to This Discussion

Oldest Cedar Tree

Lebanon Cedar

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My next gift to myself will be a cedar tree...in honor of friendship!!!
Congratulations! What a wonderful way to gift yourself - all blessings to your new Cedar tree, and friendship,

Melody your input here is truly valued - thank you,

Tree-Life, xxx

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