“Seed” in Sumerian

Based on this character for “seed,” do you think the Sumerians understood sex?

Note that the Akkadian word for “seed” is “zeru,” which is awfully close to “zero.” Our “0” has the same shape as an egg, which is a kind of seed. Also interesting is the fact that this Sumerian word for “seed” is “numun,” which sounds like “new moon.” Women’s menstrual cycles are on average the same duration as the moon. When the moon was the only regular source of light and night, a new moon would have been significant after a short period of darkness. Perhaps it even signalled a new growing cycle for women.

“Munus” means “woman” in Sumerian, a syllable swap from “numun” (with “s” changing to “n”). Women produce offspring. The words “seed,” “egg,” “offspring,” “larva,” and “beget” all essentially mean the same thing, but when interpreters have shaded the concepts with synonyms, we then see them as different. As I like to say, “Take the map view.” Back off the specifics just a little in order to take in the whole picture. This is a gestalt. One needs to consider all ancient languages as a totality of human experience.

Jennifer Ball

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