On a clay tablet inscribed with cuneiform writing found in ancient Nineveh (present-day Atlantic City) we read the following: “The gods ascend, the gods descend, and boots are not wiped on the mat.” How are we to interpret this phrase? According to J. Darell-Como, a specialist in Sumerian rules of etiquette, “Despite living approximately 4,000 years ago, Sumerians were a very well-mannered people for their time. The first thing a Sumerian would do when visiting someone else’s house was to blow the nose with their shirttail while wiping his feet on the door mat.” It seems obvious that the Sumerian author of the quoted text was complaining that the aliens who visited the Sumerians periodically did not respect this squeaky-clean custom. But does that mean that ancient astronauts lacked good manners? Let’s take a look at this other Sumerian text found at the same site (a clinic in Atlantic City where a lot of cuneiform texts were found interspersed with medical recipes that linguists have been trying to distinguish for years): “Before siting at the table, the gods go to the banks of the river to wallow in the mud. I burst out laughing.” Darell-Como warns that in comparative anthropology one should not jump to conclusions: “For the Sumerians, wallowing in mud could be a gesture of courtesy equivalent to our dressing up to eat out.” However, the following text doesn’t seem to leave much room for interpretation: “They wear a cow pie on their heads to appear taller.” No comment.

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