Ancient Mesopotamians: The True Original Gangstas

The great crime bosses of the Iron Age

I drove by the Assyrian carvings on the towers of Hollywood & Highland today, Louisiana rap music blasting from my speakers, and I felt a feeling that I’ve felt many times before, but one whose manifold nuances and raw emotional impact I’ve never been able to convey clearly to anyone — not other rap aficionados; not best friends; not even girlfriends or family members — because the progression from ancient Mesopotamia to modern gang culture isn’t exactly an obvious, linear one.

But to me, the emotional and instinctual substrates of the ancient Near East and modern ghetto culture are so tightly bound up with one another as to be mutually inextricable. Let me try to explain why.

Read more