This is a great post, and timely, because one of my kids just sent me a baffling Ea-nasir TikTok last week.

To me, it's part of the impulse we have (at least in contemporary America) to turn historical figures into cartoon characters. According to online culture, a lot of figures from the past are either worthy of obsessive fandom (as, say, amazing badasses or cuddly, relatable pals) or total derision.

As a history educator, I have to say I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, at least high school kids are learning a little history from their TikToks. On the other hand, much of this is, as you say, pretty distorting.

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Sep 26, 2023·edited Sep 26, 2023Author

I didn't know Ea-Nasir was on TikTok, but not surprised! On the whole I think the fandom you mention is a good thing *if* it creates opportunities for actual classroom learning.

What I worry about more than the fandom/meme-ification of certain figures is the tendency to reflexively attack *any* historical figure because they don't adhere to students' own cultural norms. "The past is a foreign country" is one of the main things I try to get across to my classes, and at some level I feel like reading Nanni's complaint tablet or Enheduanna's poetry is helping people get a glimpse of that.

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Regarding the fragmented lines by Enheduanna, have scholars written estimates of what it might look like without the missing words?


Not that this explains what it means, but the missing pieces feel so unimaginable to me that filling them in makes it feel closer

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The only one of these I'd heard of was Ea-nasir. And the version I heard of him did have something of a resolution: he had to lease part of his house to someone else as his poor business practices caught up to him.

I don't know if the correct interpretation is that he "ignored" such complaints, he kept a lot of them stored in his home. But he doesn't seem to have been once-bitten-twice-shy about ticking off his customers, since he kept accumulating them.

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