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It's #InternationalLegoClassicismDay! So, to celebrate, here's the story of the first Ugaritic text to be discovered, via the medium of Lego. #ILCD2019 #Lego
In 1929 a farm labourer at Minet el-Beida on the coast of what's now Syria struck a stone while ploughing a field. It was part of a bronze age chamber tomb. #ILCD2019
Soon the French mandate's archaeologists descended on the site and on the tell of Ras Shamra just inland. They were led by Claude Schaeffer, who would oversee work there for decades to come. #ILCD2019
On May 14th 1929 a Turkish workman at Ras Shamra, Mohamed Moursal, uncovered the first tablets from what turned out to be ancient Ugarit. They were written in a previously unknown form of cuneiform with a very limited sign repertoire: it had to be alphabetic. #ILCD2019
Ugaritic was swiftly deciphered by 3 men working mostly independently: Frenchmen Charles Virolleaud and Paul Dhorme and the German Hans Bauer. It was closely related to Phoenician and Hebrew. The first tablets uncovered proved to be an epic poem about the god Baal. #ILCD2019
It begins with the sea-god Yamm, Baal's rival, being granted permission to build a palace. The rivalry between them grows until they battle. With magical weapons, Baal slays Yamm and his sea-serpent Litanu (Leviathan). #ILCD2019
Meanwhile Baal's sister Anat is fighting her own war, wading through rivers of gore as she wreaks murderous and cannibalistic chaos on mankind. As she's doing her make-up afterwards, Baal sends messengers to complain that he doesn't have a palace. #ILCD2019
Anat goes to see her father El, king of the gods, who's so terrified of her he'll only talk to her through 7 locked doors. She demands Baal be allowed a palace. It doesn't go well so she and Baal petition El's wife Athirat. Baal is eventually given planning permission. #ILCD2019
Baal calls the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Hasis from his home on Minoan Crete and instructs him in the building of his palace on the sacred Mt Sapanu overlooking Ugarit. There's much wrangling about whether or not it should include any windows. #ILCD2019
Baal is well chuffed and holds a housewarming party. Inviting Mot, the god of death, doesn't go too well, and to cut a long story short, it's decided that Baal needs to die. He prepares for this by going out into the wilderness and having sex with a cow. 640 times. #ILCD2019
With Baal dead, fertility fails and Anat is grief-stricken. You wouldn't like her when she's angry. While the other gods debate who should succeed Baal, she goes to hell and kills the bejeesus out of Mot, dismembering him and feeding his sieved remains to the birds. #ILCD2019
The end of the poem is fragmentary but evidently Baal is resurrected and fertility is restored. The heavens rain oil and the wadis run with honey. But of course the villain's not quite dead. Mot returns and Baal defeats him in one final boss fight. Baal is king! Hurrah! #ILCD2019
With its parallels to many parts of the later Bible, the Baal epic cemented Ugarit's place as a site of major importance for Near Eastern scholarship. But it was only one of thousands of texts - literary, admin, educational, judicial and letters - found there. #ILCD2019
A few bonus photos showing some of the real images these scenes were based on.
For more Lego ancient writing, check out this post by @crewsproject.

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