The idea for the Mortal Path series originated with the looting of the National Museum of Iraq for three days in April 2003, but I didn't begin researching and writing it until years later.
Thousands of irreplaceable treasures from some of the oldest civilizations were lost in the museum looting. These losses were heartbreaking to me because of my interest in archaeology and specifically in Sumer (roughly 5,400 BCE to 1,800 BCE), during which so many inventions arose: written communication, a number system, timekeeping with hours and seconds, the first wheeled vehicles, the calendar, metallurgy, and the kiln, to mention some.
Ancient Sumer is present-day Iraq. Seeing photos of lost or smashed treasures that had survived five millennia generated ideas of other things that could have survived from that time.
Sumerians believed their gods came from outer space about 450,000 years ago. Eventually the major gods got around to creating humans as their servants when the lesser gods and demons refused to do the dreary work of maintaining a world. The gods all left Earth to return to space 12,500 years ago.
This creation myth correlates with today's search for Planet X, also known as Nibiru, the supposed home planet of those gods. This is a huge topic with many mind-boggling theories and dubious speculations. Planet X collided with Earth and created the moon; Planet X's orbit brings it close to Earth every 3,600 years; the planet will return in December 2012 and is described in the Book of Revelation as the prophecy of the sixth seal; previous close passages of Planet X caused the Great Flood in Noah's time and the sinking of Atlantis. Google Planet X and you'll see what I mean.
The primary gods of Sumeria are known as the Seven Who Decreed Fate.
Anu, the Sky god, and his wife Ninmah, the Earth goddess, were supreme.
Their son Enlil, the Air god, was next in power and influence, but he had a troubled life. Enlil had an intended bride named Ninlil, but he chose not to wait for their wedding day and raped her before marriage. Sex was continually tripping up both gods and goddesses, and many of their convoluted stories, relationships, jealousies, accomplishments, and failures came back to who was sleeping with whom. Enlil was banished to the Underworld for jumping the gun. His bride followed him into exile, probably because she was already pregnant.
Their first child, conceived of the rape, was Nanna, the Moon god, also known as Sin. Nanna and his wife fathered two more of the top gods, Utu, god of Justice, and Inanna, goddess of Love and War.
Enlil's next son was Nergal, who agreed to remain permanently in the Underworld as a tradeoff so that his father, banished there for rape, could leave. That was good for Enlil, who got to go free. His son Nergal was stuck with some less than than desireable real estate but at least he was Lord of the Underworld, ruler over Rabishu and the other demons, and obtained a prize of a wife, Queen Ereshkigal.
That accounts for six out of the Seven Who Decreed Fate.
The last one was Enki, god of the Primeval Sea and Fertility, well known for his rampant life style, even by the loose standards of the Sumerian gods. He was the twin brother to the Queen of the Underworld. Enki created humans from clay. He did this by mixing the clay with the "life essence" of the primeval sea-his semen or his DNA, depending on the interpretation of essence. There was some trial-and-error involved because there were several flawed versions of humans before Enki got it right, with the help of some constructive criticism from Anu's wife. Enki's emblem was serpents intertwined on a staff, the basis for the caduceus, the medical symbol still in use today.
Humans were created to be slaves and take over all the work of running Earth that the minor gods were tired of doing, such as plowing fields, planting, and building. It was not until many thousands of years later that the gods freed humans.
From this platform, I took a leap into fiction (or some would say, further into fiction). Suppose that a remnant of that pantheon of (alien?) gods and demons still exists in the present. They didn't all leave. Some of them are here, playing their tug-of-war of good and evil, with humans as pawns. The Mortal Path series explores that intriguing concept.