THE ANCIENT GENETIC ENGINEER

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Nysra was summoned to the royal palace of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, he was instructed by the royal guards to bow and listen.


THE ANCIENT GENETIC ENGINEER

The celebrated King who reigned for 42 years until 627 BC was enjoying the merger of the Kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia. He extended his Empire from Cyprus west, passing through the Levant to Persia in the east and Armenia and Caucasus in the north to the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt in the south.

The King’s cultural and scientific interest was evident in his significant collection of cuneiform documents placed in his Nineveh palace, known as the library of Ashurbanipal.

The ancient library was combined in its scope and analytically collected by the King’s men.

It was organized into a room for each subject such as history, Kingdome affairs, foreign nations, geography, laws, legends, and mythology.

In the history room, for example, there were tablets with fragments of the birth legend of Sargon the Great, the founder of the Akkadian Empire around 2334 BC.

Twenty-five Biology tablets describing the curing powers of herbs were also among the King’s collection.

Cuneiform texts containing Forty-four texts about traces of diseases were among the tablets too.

*****

On that morning of 631 BC, Nysra was wearing the Assyrian outfit needed by an attendant to the King, a knee-length tunic with sleeves completed by colourful shawls wrapped around, dyed from natural products.

The design mainly was of spring roses, but the central image was always, as it should be, the Assyrian sacred tree or tree of life represented by a series of nodes and intersecting lines.

The guards’ instruction to Nysra was made in the Aramaic language, but he, like many Assyrians, also spoke Akkadian.

In those pre-historic years, he was an eminent figure in Nineveh, known for his work in Ebla province on Ebla tablets, an archive of about 20,000 cuneiform tablets written in Sumerian and Eblaite.

The archive detailed the political organization and social customs of the Levant in the middle third millennium BC.

*****

Nysra didn’t know why he had been called in, but the King received him warmly asking,

“Good citizen Nysra, have you read the Enuma Elish?”

“Do you mean the Babylonian Epic of Creation and the great epic tale of Gilgamesh? Yes, your Majesty, I have read them in your marvellous library”, Nysra replied.

“I Ashurbanipal, who assembled the best of the art as none of the kings who went before me had ever done, who also assembled teachings, remedies, and medical mastery of Ninurta and Gala. I who wrote on tablets and collated, and deposited within my palace for perusing, and reading; I have a dream, and I need you to make it true,” the King said

” The intellectual Nysra who knew Ninurta and Gala were among first worshipped deities of agriculture and healing in early Sumer, replied

 “Most certainly, your Majesty”.

 “Are you an engineer and a sculptor citizen Nysra?” King Ashurbanipal asked him.

 “Yes, your Majesty, I make sculptures, carving and shaping stones.”

“I am pleased that this art and this culture emerged out of nowhere into your hand, citizen Nysra”, the King said.

 “Your Majesty, by your hands, civilizations came into existence”, Nysra replied.

“Two words were in my dream that I am curious about; Genetic Engineer,” the King said. “What is it, and can you be one?” He furtherly asked.

“It is like sculpturing of two shapes together, your Majesty”, said Nysra.

“So, you can carve hybrid forms?” the King asked

“I might, your majesty”, Nysra replied

 “Very well, let us seed a new life”, the King said.

“A new life? What is the King talking about? I thought we were talking about sculptures”, Nysra whispered to himself.

 “I want you to create for me a human’s head, a body of bull and bird’s wings and another human’s head, a body of a lion, and bird’s wings”, the King said

”Yes, your Majesty, I will try”, Nysra replied as the answer, “I cannot”, was unacceptable for the King.

“Did the King think that humans can create new life? Nysra wondered.

*****

When Nysra left the royal palace, he was puzzled about fulfilling his promise to the King.

He came up with a brilliant idea; impress the King with giant sculptures.

He carved from rocks two figures; then, he made small holes in the statues so that the wind passed through them and made the lowing sound characteristic of bulls.

Nysra read the story of the Israelites when they worshipped the Golden Calf they carved during Moses’ absence in Mount Sinai.

One of Moses’ followers made the calf idol hollow, and the wind passing through it produced a moo or the lowing sound, which made them believe that the calf was yelling at them to worship it.

When Nysra showed his colossal work to the pleased King, he asked him, “what do you want to call them your Majesty?”

Lamassus, I shall call them lamassus”, the King replied.

The King must have known that  Lamma was initially depicted as a female deity in the olden Sumerian times.

“So good we hear both lamassus yelling, but they do not move”, the King commented.

“Of course, your Majesty, they are the symbol of your might. They are protective guards and must standstill.”, Nysra replied.

The King was too wise to believe that lamassus was anything more than statues, but he showed satisfaction with the elegant answer of Nysra.

He ordered that they be installed at the entrance of his Nineveh palace.

In the eyes of the Royal citadel, Nysra from Assyria was the first genetic engineer in history.

 

*Image from https://www.livius.org/articles/mythology/lamassu-bull-man/ 



Submitted: October 15, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Ali Al-Zaak. All rights reserved.

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