"Should we continue? Or would like a break?" asked Cassandra.
Harry thought for a moment before asking her to continue. Although the talk about magic had been a bit heavy, he personally found it refreshing. It was a new outlook on the same thing.
"Good." she said with slight appreciation.
"Before we come anywhere close to modern magic, it's essential we first dive into its history. How magic has changed over the centuries. How it's changing? How social and economic conditions lead to development of newer magic? How did Wizards interact with muggles? How did it affect our perception of magic? But we will try not to go too deep into it and just touch the essentials and important events in the history of magic.'' She slowly introduced their study content.
Harry looked up in shock and confusion. British Magical History was heavily censored and edited. It showed everything which made it look good and either edited or omitted any or all of their mistakes. It was by now, more of a propaganda tool rather than an educational or informative guide. And above all, most of the history of the international community was either restricted or banned claiming it to be part of Dark Magic. It was rather infuriating.
And now here they were going to spend studying the same 'illegal' history.
"Isn't it illegal?" he asked with certain doubt.
Cassandra looked at him as if he was a fool. One eyebrow arched high, she questioned, "Harry, when did Black's care about what others thought?"
Hearing this Harry immediately looked down his face burning with embarrassment. The Black's complete history was made over these illegal knowledge. The Darkest of Dark Magic was treated as day reading material in the Library. That itself should say something about it.
"Magic has existed from the days of creation. We have evidence of people practicing magic even in the Stone Age. But we will not be talking about them. What they practiced was extremely rudimentary and unstructured. It heavily depended on will and luck. Instead will be spending time on studying the Mesopotimian Civilization."
On ending this, she flicked her wand at the table. The wooden surface of the table rippled and was replaced by the world map. Although the world map didn't exactly look like today's modern map. Some continents were closer, some were farther. She pointed at a region of Western Asia which was situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
"This is or rather was Mespotamia."
The next few hours were gone before he realised. Instead of just talking about magical advances, she had instead talked about Mesopotamia as a whole. From Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians who ruled Mesopotamia from the dawn of written history to it's fall under the hands of The First Persian Empire, and was later conquered by Alexander the Great.
She started by explaining why they settled here. It was not just a wish or chance. But the nature spirits had used them to settle here. They would keep the lands fertile and disasters at bay. In return the tribes had to offer prayer and sacrifices to them. It was a symbiotic relationship. The prayer and sacrifices made the spirits stronger while they helped humans to develop.
But according to her, it was more likely that spirits had tasted the strength from sacrifices, when the tribes were still nomadic. They had then decided to 'breed' humans so they could grow stronger. Each city state had its own deity or spirit. And the sole reason the spirits helped was due to the increase in faith as humans increased in population.
She then went to great length describing its history and it's development from an hunter-gathering civilization to establishment of great city states such as Uruk, Nippur and Babylon. Using magnificent transfiguration skill she greatly compressed its history and finally stopped at the fall of Babylon. Under her hands, like a great orchestra conductor, the wood rippled and transformed. Turning from a map to a city with it's people still going on about their daily life. Which would fall like grains of sand and once again rise as something new. She even animated it to show wars, trade and daily life of people.
She talked about the Sumerian Civilization and its development. Their advances in various fields, right from agriculture to city planning. Every once in a while, she would drop a fact here and there.
Such as Ziggurats were places for Wizards to live and practice. They became the earliest prototype of 'Wizard Towers.'
She had even talked about the Tower of Babel which was actually going to be dedicated to a self made god of wizards called Marduk. Although that had angered the spirits who had later destroyed it because it was taking over their territory and their prey. And the half completed ruin was later called as Etemenanki. It was rather interesting.
Now hours later she looked at the beautiful grandfather clock and exclaimed, " Well, it's already noon." Hearing this Harry was sort of shocked. They had been at this since around 7. And only now did he notice the grumbling of his stomachs.
Hearing the grumble, Cassandra looked at Harry with undisguised amusement.
"I am just hungry. I didn't have breakfast." He defended himself.
"I can hear that." she teased, quite in contrast to her ever present strict facade. "Let's go. Kreacher has made your favourite today. Let's not keep him waiting."
Kreacher really had gone all out. But how much could Harry appreciate would depend on how much he could palate. Living in France, his taste buds had tasted some of the most delicious dishes in the world. Whether it was the butter, that could be a meal in itself, or the delicious crepes and croissants. Potatoes that were cooked in more than seven ways or the bourguignon which made his mouth water. Or the grape juice which seems to accompany every meal or snack.
Here he had fried bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, fried veggies, fried mushrooms and basically everything fried which would give a heart attack by just seeing. Maybe the only thing not fried was the mash, the beans and the toast. Accompanying all this was a glass of chilled pumpkin juice slightly spiced with cinnamon.
"What is this?" he asked with fear.
"Your brunch?." she hummed as she sipped tea in fine porcelain.
"You eat this?" he asked in horror. Everything was fried. Beans were runny. Was toast supposed to be that burnt? And why did the omelettes have so much butter? And Pumpkin Juice? Seriously?
As if releasing his problems she looked at him with sympathy before saying, "You are going to live here for the near future. It's better to get acquainted with british cuisine. It's not bad."
Slowly as if he was being forced to eat poison, he shoved some mushroom in. This was followed by bacon, toast and the rest.
"So?" she asked clearly amused.
"It's not french." he replied. "And who drinks pumpkins?" he asked in disgust.
"Everyone. It's a staple drink of British Wizarding World."
"Why pumpkins? It's like halloween in a glass."
She looked at him and explained, "It's easy to grow. It absorbs latent magic from the air and easily grows up to the size of a small house. But the main reason is it's calming and soothing properties. It soothes the magic channels in your body. That's why it's served with everything."
"Why not grapes?" he asked grudgingly.
She looked at him as if he was a fool." Don't be a naff. The climate is not suitable and the efforts are not worth it."
She got up and walked away but not before leaving a sentence behind, "It's best you get acquainted with it soon enough. Unlike me, your distaste in British food might hurt the sentiments of some of the conservative pure bloods. Now we don't want that, do we?"
And so the brunch ended with Harry facing his first battle with British Cuisine.
With his lunch finished, Harry walked back to his room. His room was on the west side of the mansion. Decorated in silver and blue colours the room was rather neutral in taste and decor. The corridor to it was lit with crystal chandeliers and some sort of magical lamp. The walls followed the same style as the mansions and were covered with paintings and artifacts.
His room was quite large and had two smaller rooms attached to it. Unlike typical castle rooms, this was rather heavily modified. One was the bed chambers with a four poster bed. The poster had light silver and blue drapes for privacy. On one wall was a large fire place where the fire was still burning, trying to keep the countryside cold and dampness away. Another wall opened onto a large balcony which faced the gardens below. The room had two smaller rooms attached. One was a bathroom with a toilet and a bathtub. The second room was empty apart from a nice table and chair. An empty bookshelf stood on one corner, probably waiting for him to fill it up. He had already filled half of one shelf with the books he had brought from France.
He took out one book and made himself comfortable on one of the chairs facing the fireplace. Flicker of dancing lights from the fire lit everything up. The book was a novel written by the famous Italian wizard Giovanni Belzoni the Third, who is a historian, adventurer and archaeologist. He was like the Indiana Jones of Wizarding World.
The book itself was quite interesting. Rather than dealing with fairy tales, it was based on his own adventures across the globe. He was responsible for finding the magical areas of Machu Picchu and his work on South American Wizard Archaeology.
He had read the series's earlier books which were written by the author's grandfather Giovanni Battista Belzoni and later his father until it was the author's turn. It was like a tradition to take on an adventure and record it's findings for everyone to read.
The author's grandfather was a pioneer archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities. He is known for his removal to England of the seven-tonne bust of Ramesses II, the clearing of sand from the entrance of the great temple at Abu Simbel, the discovery and documentation of the tomb of Seti I (still sometimes known as "Belzoni's Tomb"), including the Sarcophagus of Seti I, and the first to penetrate into the second pyramid of Giza. His father Giovanni Belzoni the Second later followed it by his own adventure and discovered the magical portions of the City of Ur and spent his life working on it and nearby regions. In fact he was the one who discovered the magical aspects of Ziggurats.
In between, a plate of tea and cakes along with butter and jam was delivered to his room as snacks.
And so evening came. The dinner was roasted lamb with salad and bread. Once again the dinner was difficult. It was not the fault of the food, but rather his habit. He had become habituated to french cuisine with every once in a while having something different or bastardized. Although he did believe that he might actually start to enjoy it soon.
The day passed and morning came. This time breakfast was earlier than his class. Unlike yesterday he didn't want to spend hours on an empty stomach. The breakfast was simple, milk, cereals ( which he found quite muggle) and toast along with butter and jam. Gulping down the breakfast he rushed to his Aunt's study which was in the east side.
This time his aunt was already waiting for him. Without wasting any time they started the lessons. The lessons this time talked about Mesopotamia after the fall of Babylon. It's conquest by The First Persian Empire or Achaemenid Empire. It's fall into the hands of Alexander and later the Seleucid Empire. It's conquest division by caliphates were put to the side for the next day.
In between she touched upon the religious and technological aspects of the empire which influenced it's magical development. She also talked about Gilgamesh, a wizard who had become fascinated with immortality and spent a huge amount of time, money and manpower searching artifacts to gain immortality. She specially spent a few hours describing Gilgamesh's deed. He was an extremely strong Wizard whose strength reached the limits of humankind and touched the boundary of Gods. How the spirits had created Enkidu, the first golem to bait Gilgamesh into a trap. How Enkidu had betrayed the spirits for Gilgamesh. This had led to his declaration as God King. He forcefully suppressed the sacrifices and prayers to Spirits and instead had himself consecrated in place of them.
As noon came, she bade him goodbye and immediately flooed somewhere.
He wasn't sure what was going on with her. He had been here for only two days and most of the time she was out somewhere. Shaking his head, he walked back to his room.
And so, four more days pass by. His schedule remained the same. The morning was spent studying history. After lunch he was free to do anything he wished. Just recently he had started taking books from his Aunt's library for reading. She had a rather impressive collection of both muggle and magical books.
In her lessons she had moved towards the fall of Mesopotamian Civilization. It was rather bland apart from Alexander's conquest.
She specially talked about Mesopotamia's last known great wizard, King Soloman who had created the missing legendary Grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon or Ars Goetia. In it he had recorded the true names of 72 Demons who he had forcefully binded with the grimoire. It recorded their appearances, strengths and rituals to call on them and even kill them. It was considered 'The' book on demonology. But it had been missing since his death. Some muggles had managed to learn about it during the 17th century and created a big mess out of it.
The civil war during his son's reign destroyed a large portion of Ancient Wizarding inheritance and knowledge. Over a period of time as new kingdoms emerged, the left inheritance was further scattered. The newly risen kings went to war with each other to gain the remnants. Those who got them, studied and hid them to prevent others from finding it. And very soon almost no complete knowledge or inheritance was left.
Later invasion by foreign forces such as the Persians, Macedonians and Romans further destroyed whatever was left. The Persians went above and beyond in destroying most of the Magical Inheritances to prevent any rise of rebellion. And so such an ancient civilization fell. Now only some scattered ruins can be found.
At the end of the sessions she finally asked, "So what do you think is the influence of this in today's magic?"
Harry thought for a bit. Although the knowledge covered was vast it was rather interesting. With his own eidetic memory and the rather interesting way she had taught, he could remember almost everything. He slowly answered as he went over trying not to make mistakes, " They were the ones who created Wizarding Towers. The first Golem. It's also not hard to believe that they might have studied the Underworld and the Netherworld quitte closely. Many wizards during that period were studying immortality. Some even succeeded such as Utnapishtim. And with spirits being something similar to soul, the wizards would have definitely dwelled in the soul aspect. Soloman's achievement in binding 72 demons suggests a great amount of study in the field of demonology which is closely tied to the Underworld. And if Soloman did manage to do so, it means he did have the capability to travel from Earth to other planes…"
She nodded. " Yes, together with Egyptians and Japanese, Mesopotamians had a deep knowledge on the aspect of souls. It started with a wish to come out of the Spirit's influences and later even suppress or vanquish them. It was only many centuries later, would they start studying the effects of soul on immortality."
She continued further. "The study of the Underworld was closely linked to the study of the soul. It was during the search for the Netherworld, the Egyptians discovered the Underworld. The portal which linked Earth to Underworld became famous as the place for battle between Ra and Apep. The Egyptians didn't know how to close the gate, so a great number of wizards would battle daily keeping away the corroding influence of Underworld and it's demons. The knowledge soon spread among other civilizations. Soloman was one of the strongest and luckiest. With his Wizarding Army and special rituals he managed to create Ars Goetia. But he would soon die due to injuries taken during the battle."
"As for the capabilities of travelling across planes...we don't know. We have no idea about who created it and how the knowledge was spread. During the start of this era all the knowledge regarding plane travel was destroyed. No one knows why…" she ended wistfully. Plane travel. Just thinking about other worlds gave Harry shivers.
Suddenly another thought came to him, "Wait...do Gods exist?"
She looked at him and smiled mysteriously, "Oh, we will soon learn about them."