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The End of Eden?
September 3, 2006 11:15 AM   Subscribe

The Mesopotamian Marshlands have been inhabited for so long that some consider them to be the Garden of Eden. If this is true, then paradise is mostly lost. The marshlands have been shrinking since the 1970s, catastrophically so between 1990 and 1997. The Marsh Arabs have a pastoral lifestyle, relying on fishing and farming. They traditionally live in floating thatched huts, and build grand mudhifs, which serve as public spaces, but as the marshes have receded, the villages have moved ashore. As dire as it seems, restoration efforts are underway. But is it too little, too late?
posted by owhydididoit (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Eden Again is but one of many projects sponsored by The Iraq Foundation.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:42 AM on September 3, 2006

Thanks. I appreciate reading Zarin's explanation of Adam and Eve being the mythical transition from hunting and gathering, but he seems to miss the key point after realizing it is understood from the point of view of the displaced, who also adopted farming. The transition is the political event itself, natives colonized by warlords and forced to farm their paradise in shame. Noah's ark and the tower of Babel likeiwse describe major cultural shifts in lifestyle, Noah relating to owning animals and Babel related to the observatory realization (and implications) of predictable order in the heavens, opposed to the chaos on earth.
posted by Brian B. at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2006

This is sad. Shortly after the invasion, it looked like the marshlands were recovering.
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2006

Unknown assailants assassinated Shaikh Hasan Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawadi, 56, in the southern city of Amara on Sunday. Al-Jawadi was a senior aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Amara is a rough neighborhood, dominated by displaced Marsh Arabs, where the Sadrist Movement and its splinters are strong and maintain paramilitaries. It is alarming that this assassination is almost certainly a further manifestation of Shiite on Shiite violence, of the sort that shook Diwaniyah last week.
posted by homunculus at 10:03 AM on September 4, 2006

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