james barney
james barney
james barney


Here are a collection of links, in no particular order, to things I find interesting. I hope you do, too.

Interesting Facts About Ziggurats

Part of the The Genesis Key involves the excavation of a ziggurat in Tell-Fara, Iraq, near Babylon. Tell-fara was known as Shuruppak in ancient Sumer and is closely linked to the Great Flood story in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The Tell-Fara ziggurat in my book is fictional, but here are some interesting facts about real ziggurats:

  • Ziggurats were common in ancient Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria.
  • The earliest known ziggurats date from around 3000 BCE, more than five thousand years ago.
  • Ziggurats resembled crude pyramids, with successive tiers built upon a rectangular or square platform. They were made of sun-baked bricks over a core of mounded earth. The outer bricks were often glazed in different colors and designs.
  • Typically, a ziggurat would contain a shrine or temple at the summit, which could be accessed by stairs or ramps on one side or more sides of the ziggurat, or by a spiral ramp winding all around the outside of the ziggurat. Only priests were permitted to enter the temple. For a cool, interactive description (made for kids, but nicely done), click here.
  • There are about 25 known ziggurats still in existence today, located mostly in Iran and Iraq. One of the best preserved is the ziggurat of Ur in the present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq. The largest ziggurat in existence is the ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil in the Khuzestan province of Iran.
  • Perhaps the most famous ziggurat is one that no longer remains, the massive Marduk ziggurat, or Etemenanki, in ancient Babylon. Many believe Etemananki was the basis for the story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. The remains of the base of the Etemananki ziggurat, measuring a massive 91 square meters, were discovered by German archeologist Robert Koldewey in 1913.

If you would like to read a fictional account (that I wrote) of a murder that took place in an unusual ziggurat in ancient Sumer, click here (PDF).

The "INDY" Gene

In The Genesis Key, the protagonist, Dr. Kathleen Sainsbury, is researching a gene called the "INDY" gene in fruit flies. This is a real technology that biologists have been looking into for the past decade or so. The term "INDY" refers to a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where an apparent plague victim, after being thrown onto a cart of corpses for burial, murmurs "I'm not dead yet." More information about the INDY gene can be found here, here, here, and here.

If you're interested in fruit fly genetics generally, you can find information here, here, and here. Here's an interesting fact: did you know that the fruit fly's scientific name, Drosophila melanogaster, comes from the Greek for "dark-bellied dew lover?" Makes sense to me. If you want to see a bunch of creepy pictures of fruit flies, click here.

The Book of Genesis

The Book of Genesis plays a prominent role in The Genesis Key. One passage, in particular, comes up again and again:

  1. And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
  2. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
  3. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
  4. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Genesis 6:1-4

Of course, much has been written about virtually every passage in the Bible. You can find interesting interpretations of this particular passage here, here, here, here, and here.

Other ancient texts that are mentioned in The Genesis Key are:

The Book of Giants—an apocryphal Jewish book found among the Dead Sea scrolls in Qumran, dating to some time before the 2nd century BCE.

The Book of Watchers—a chapter in The Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.

The Weld—Blundell Prism —a prism of clay imprinted with intricate cuneiform writing, which was purchased on the antiquities market shortly after World War I. It contains the most complete surviving list of the Sumerian kings from c. 3200-1800 BCE.


I love to sail. Here are some of the places I've sailed to over the years, a few of which found their way into The Genesis Key:

Washington, DC and the Federal Government

Much of the The Genesis Key takes place in and around Washington, DC and involves agencies of the U.S. government. Here are some links to relevant material that you may find interesting.