Adam & Eve through Noah
© Charles Chandler
Pastoral nomads in the Pamir Mountains, whose lifestyle probably hasn't changed much since the time of Adam & Eve. The woman's name is Heva, an ever-popular girl's name in their culture. The dog's name is Addie, popular for pets. Photo credit Sohrab Zia, courtesy BBC.
The Panj River, where it comes down out of the Pamir Mountains and onto the Bactrian Plain near Farkhor, Tajikistan.
Once upon a time, long ago () and far away (near modern Farkhor, Tajikistan), were born a boy & girl named Adam & Eve. When they became of age, they married, and made their home at the base of the Pamir Mountains, where the Panj River gushed down out of the mountains and then spread out across the flood plain in the valley. The glacial till was excellent for farming, while the bases of the nearby mountains were great for sheep & cattle grazing. The land was also rich in gold, bdellium, and onyx, which could be traded for furs, seed, bronze tools, and whatever else could be had. They were just a couple days' ride from the ancient Silk Road, which went north of the Pamir Mountains, so even goods from China were available, and anything coming out of Europe or Africa. But no one bothered the people living on the Panj River, since it was out of the way, and since the river was the only way in or out, making it easy to defend. For as long as anybody could remember, life had been easy.
Then problems started elsewhere in the world. There was a major drought lasting most of the . The economic hardships destabilized the Old Kingdom in Egypt, the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, and the Harappan Civilization in India. But the Sumerians were especially hard-hit. They had been doing irrigated farming for 4000 years at that point, and minute quantities of dissolved salts in the river water, left behind by evaporation, had built up in the soil, stunting the growth of crops. Then the drought lowered the river level, forcing more irrigation & evaporation, which left behind even more salts, further reducing the yields. The people migrated upriver, toward the headwaters of the Tigris & Euphrates Rivers, displacing Amorites, some of whom followed the Silk Road to the east, and pressed into Bactria. They brought much knowledge with them, including writing, mathematics, astronomy, history, & religion. Other people came from other directions, under similar pressures. But there were too many of them, and the idyllic seclusion in the Pamir Mountains was gone — now there were a lot more people in town, all with strong ties to distant lands. Adam & Eve came to mourn the tragedy of knowledge — they thought that Sumerian innovation would help them, only to realize that the Bactrians would lose their cultural identity in the mix.
Being just off the crossroads, they were heavily influenced by the ideas of the immigrants, while in their relative seclusion, they could sift out the commonalities. A more abstract conception of deity emerged, which eventually took one form among the Hindus, another in the teachings of Zoroaster, and yet another with the Druze.
To the south-east, across the Hindu Kush, was a similar land, at the headwaters of the Indus River, where torrents of water gushed down out of the Himalayan Mountains, watering a far broader expanse. And it was all out in the open — nowhere to hide, but nowhere to be trapped. So Adam & Eve sent their son Cain there, along with a bunch of other Bactrians. The knowledge that they brought to Punjab initiated the Vedic period in Indian history, and their language evolved into Sanskrit. They also named Punjab after the Panj River in Bactria.
Table 1. The Patriarchs
age name # Gen.
2090 30 Adam 1 130
2060 30 Seth 2 105
2030 32 Enosh 3 90
1998 33 Kenan 4 70
1965 32 Mahalalel 5 65
1933 33 Jared 6 162
1900 32 Enoch 7 65
1868 33 Methuselah 8 187
1835 32 Lamech 9 182
1803 33 Noah 10 500
1770 60 Shem 11 100
1710 35 Arpachshad 12 35
1675 30 Shelah 13 30
1645 34 Eber 14 34
1611 30 Peleg 15 30
1581 32 Reu 16 32
1549 30 Serug 17 30
1519 29 Nahor 18 29
1490 70 Terah 19 70
1420 40 Abraham 20 100
1380 30 Isaac 21 60
1350 32 Jacob 22 91
1318   Joseph 23  
Adam & Eve then sent their son Seth westward, along with another batch of Bactrians, who settled in northern Mesopotamia and in Anatolia, while their language eventually spread into all of Europe. They named the Tigris & Euphrates after branches of the Panj River back in Bactria. Seth's grandson Kenan rose to prominence as a lord in northern Canaan, which was named after him. But aside from some Indo-Aryan personal and place names coming into usage in the Levant and in Mesopotamia, the Semitic languages & cultures were deeply entrenched, and not to be displaced by the customs of the immigrants. So from Kenan onward, the western branch of the Patriarchs (as opposed to the eastern branch in Punjab) fell in with the Semites. More specifically, they fell in with the Amorites, who were pastoral nomads in northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and northern Canaan.
Historically, the Sumerians had considered the Amorites to be one step above wild animals — eating raw meat, not raising crops, not living in houses, and not burying their dead. But in the , the confederacy of Sumerian city-states disintegrated, opening the door for Amorite leaders to assume command, most notably in Babylon. Jewish lore has the town being founded by people from the East, but it would be more accurate to say that Indo-Aryans from the East fell in with the Amorites, and then pressed south to Babylon, where they joined forces with the Indian merchantile diaspora, making Babylon a strategic location. The situation stabilized into the 1st Babylonian Dynasty, beginning in . The Babylonians did not live up their uncivilized reputation — they resurrected Sumerian mathematics, which Enoch shared with the Egyptians.
In 1744 bce, Hammurabi (i.e., Ham the Amorite) became the ruler of Babylon. He would build an empire as large as Sargon's. Ham distinguished his rule by having the laws etched into a monument, as testament to the fact that they weren't going to change from day to day, or be bent by favoritism. The people who benefit the most from consistent law are the commoners, and it would have been by their support that Ham was able to unify Mesopotamia.
Meanwhile, his brother Shem was lord of Jerusalem, from whom the Semites get their name.
The expansion of the Amorites in the put pressure on the people living in the southern Levant, who pressed into Egypt, seizing control of the Nile delta. This situation persisted until , when Ahmose I expelled the Hyksos to Jerusalem, and the 1st Babylonian Dynasty collapsed.

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