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The World Tree of Eridu

“But the primitive home of Tammuz had been in that “garden” of Edin, or Eden, which Babylonian tradition placed in the immediate vicinity of Eridu. The fragment of an old bilingual hymn has been preserved, which begins in the following way : 1. “(In) Eridu a stalk grew over-shadowing; in a holy place did it […]

Selz: Connects the Apkallu with the Fallen Angels

“The correspondance between Enmeduranki, for a long time considered to be the Mesopotamian Enoch, with an apkallū named Utu-abzu, proved highly informative. (See W.G. Lambert, “Enmeduranki and Related Matters,” JCS 21 (1967): pp. 126-38; idem, “New Fragment.”) In 1974 Borger observed in an important article, that in tablet III of the omen series Bīt Mēseri (“House of […]

Melvin: On the Tower of Babel

“The story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9 provides further evidence for the human origin of civilization in the form of city-building. As Theodore Hiebert notes, the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9 is not chiefly concerned with the construction of a tower, but rather with the founding of the […]

Melvin: Human Civilization is a Gift of the gods

“At other times, the gods create civilization directly, either through the birth of the patron deities of aspects of civilization (e.g., agriculture) or by means of themes. (This phenomenon is especially prevalent in Sumerian creation accounts, which often emphasize the importance of agricultural technology by placing the creation of tools prior to and even necessary […]

Izre’el: Origins of the Adapa Myth

“Adapa the Sage Adapa was known in Ancient Mesopotamia as The Sage. The original etymology of the name Adapa may not have reached us. A lexical text lists a term adapu as meaning “wise” (Igituh I: 107), an attribute that is further attested in another late text (Lambert 1962: 74). This adjectival noun is undoubtedly […]

Kvanvig: Dates the apkallu to the Beginning of the 1st Millennium BCE

“Most of the sources we have to these imaginations developed around the apkallus are Assyrian. This does not, however, mean that the imaginations only belonged to Assyrian mythology. Of the three lists of the apkallus known, two are Babylonian, and Bīt Mēseri was known in Babylonia. The most extensive description of their role we find […]

Kvanvig: At the Brink of Legendary Time and Historical Time

“In Bīt Mēseri and Berossos, where there are narratives connected to the names, it is clear that the apkallus were those who brought humankind the basic wisdom needed to establish civilization. This is written out in a full story in Berossos; the same is referred to in Bīt Mēseri in the phrase “plans of heaven and […]

Curnow: Ziusudra Divides Invented Myth from Mythologized Fact

“After this, the story begins to become more confused. According to the legend preserved in a surviving fragmentary text (Dalley 2000, pp. 184-7), Adapa was the priest of Ea in his temple at Eridu. Eridu was regarded as one of the most ancient cities of Mesopotamia and the place where kingship first appeared as a […]

Curnow: Boundaries of Legend and History

“In this chapter I shall be concerned with wise characters from myth and legend. I would not wish to pretend that the dividing line between myth, legend and history can be established with any certainty, and it may be that some of the characters who appear here have been unfairly removed from the historical record. […]

Dalley: Apkallu-6, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD). Apkallu (continued).  Type 3 Bird-of-Prey-Headed Apkallu, Problematic Identifications.  “The three types are identified from ritual texts and labels on figurines, but because the evidence is uncommon and sometimes ambiguous there are uncertainties. Change over time may also account for some difficulties. Some overlap in the iconography with Tiamat’s composite […]

Dalley: Apkallu-4, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD).  Apkallu (continued). Type 2 Fish-cloaked Apkallu, Phenotypes. “The fish-cloak Apkallu (12*, 33*–35, 40–66), a human figure wearing a fish-cloak suspended from the top of his head and with the head of a fish on top of his human head, corresponds to Berossos’ description of the first sage, Oannes. He […]

Dalley: Apkallu, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD). Apkallu. “Mesopotamian semi-divine figure. A Babylonian tradition related by Berossos in the 3rd cent. (BURSTEIN 1978: 13f) describes a creature called Oannes that rose up out of the Red Sea in the first year of man’s history. His entire body was that of a fish, but he had another […]

Kvanvig: On the Destiny of Adapa

“The problem in the fragments to the Adapa Myth is that there is one crucial place where Amarna fragment B and the Nineveh fragment D overlap and they are significantly different. The last visible part of fragment B reads as follows, according to Izre’el’s translation: “Come Adapa, why did you not eat and drink? Hence […]

Kvanvig: Introducing the Apkallu Odakon

“In the first survey of the Sumerian tablets found in Tell Haddad, ancient Meturan, from 1993, A. Cavigneaux and F. Al-Rawi call attention to two pieces containing the Adapa Myth in Sumerian. They are dated to the Old Babylonian period. Since the manuscripts are not yet published, we have to rely on the description of […]

Kvanvig: Berossos and Primeval History

“Berossos does not only list the sages in succession. He is especially interesting because of the information he gives about the first sage, Oannes, who parallels Uan in the two other lists. Berossos’ account is here so noteworthy that we quote it as a whole: “In Babylonia there was a large number of people of […]

Kvanvig: The Apkallu List from Bīt Mēseri

“Reiner numbers the lines 1’-31’, which covers the lines 9-31 in Weiher’s edition. Borger knew Weiher’s work on the Uruk recension of Bīt Mēseri when he translated the text, even though Weiher’s final edition was published afterwards. We will return to the different aspects of the text later. 1-2: Incantation: Uanna, who completed the plans […]

Timeline: Sumer

Timeline: Sumer 5400 BCE: The City of Eridu is founded. 5000 BCE: Godin Tepe settled. 5000 BCE – 1750 BCE: Sumerian civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. 5000 BCE: Sumer inhabited by Ubaid people. 5000 BCE – 4100 BCE: The Ubaid Period in Sumer. 5000 BCE: Evidence of burial in Sumer. 4500 BCE: The Sumerians built their first temple. 4500 BCE: The City of Uruk founded. […]

Lenzi: The Antediluvian Medical Tablet from Ashurbanipal’s Library (K.4023)

“As is well-known, antediluvian knowledge had special significance in Mesopotamia. (For other examples of antediluvian knowledge (though sometimes in a broken context), see the examples gathered by Lambert, “Catalogue of Texts and Authors,” 72 at the note on VI 15.) The most important example of this fact for the purposes of this study comes from […]

Lenzi: Human apkallū are a Later Inclusion

Lenzi states that human apkallū in lists deriving from rituals were artificially grafted onto ancient texts.

Lenzi: The Mythology of Scribal Succession

“The text of the ULKS is as follows: “During the reign of Ayalu, the king, Adapa was sage. During the reign of Alalgar, the king, Uanduga was sage. During the reign of Ameluana, the king, Enmeduga was sage. During the reign of Amegalana, the king, Enmegalama was sage. During the reign of Enmeušumgalana, the king, […]

Nakamura: The Figurines as Magical Objects

“While such apotropaic figures appear in grand scale and idealized form on wall reliefs flanking entrances of kingly palaces purifying all who passed through the gates, the figures standing guard in floor deposits performed an additional task.”

Each King had his Apkallu

“The fish-figurines would seem to confirm the theory attractively put forward by Zimmern (KAT 535 ff. and subsequently ZA 35 151 ff.), that the apkallu’s, often occurring in groups of seven and sometimes identified with purādu-fish (Sumerian s u h u r . k u), represent Oannes and the other fish-like monsters who, according to Berosso’s account, taught mankind all crafts and […]

Erica Reiner on the Etiological Myth of the “Seven Sages”

“The bilingual text LKA No. 76 has been characterized by Ebeling, in the catalog LKA p. x, as “Zweisprachiger Text von den ‘sieben Söhnen von Nippur’, mystischen Inhalts.” The obverse of the text contains an unusual self-description given by the “sons of Nippur,” to which I have been unable to find a parallel, but the […]

On the Fish-Apkallu

“Lamaštu amulets: The fish-apkallū on Lamaštu amulet 2 (and 4?), exactly like the ūmu-apkallū on Lamaštu amulets 3 and 61, has his left hand on the bed of the sick man. The right hand is slightly damaged, but probably greeting. Wrong hand: Occasionally apkallū are attested holding the bucket in their right hand: AfO 28 57f. 30 (above IIiI/6), Lamaštu […]

On the Names of the Umu-Apkallu

“History. The name-like designations of the ūmu-apkallū are artificial and systematic; they do not even pretend to be historical realities. The names all start with ūmu / UD and may have been grafted on the u4- and p i r i g – names of other apkallū (Güterbook ZA 42103, Hallo JAOS 83 175, Reiner […]

Lahmu, “The Hairy One,” is Not Apkallu

“The Babylonian scientific and religious texts reveal the names of over three thousand gods and demons, members of local and national pantheons. Most, if not all, play a part in cult or magic, and must have been represented in some form. Gods and demons, cult and magic, are the main subjects of Babylonian art, but generally […]

On the Apkallu

“During the course of the years studying and teaching the Primeval History as recorded in the literary texts of ancient Mesopotamia, this writer has been struck by certain similarities between the Akkadian apkallu (Sumerian algal / NUN.ME / EN.ME), creatures of the god Ea, the “sages of old,” and the biblical nēpīlîm of Genesis 6 […]

On the Mythic Reigns of Antediluvian Kings in Sumeria

“Of the many fascinating and instructive artifacts that have been recovered from sites in Iraq where flourishing Sumerian cities once stood, few have been more intriguing than a prism now in the Weld-Blundell collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. Known more popularly as the Sumerian King List, it is held to have been […]

On the Date of The Flood

“I now turn to Berossos’ account of the Flood as the central narrative of book 2. The extant fragments contain the following elements: – Kronos reveals the destruction of mankind in a dream – Xisouthros is told he must bury the tablets in Sippar – He must build a boat and embark together with family, […]

Augury Through the Flights of Birds and the Voice of the Thunder

“The divine storm-bird,” however, who invested himself by stealth with the attributes of Mul-lil, and carried the knowledge of futurity to mankind, served to unite the two species of augury which read the future in the flight of birds and the flash of the lightning. The first species was but a branch of the general pseudo-science which discovered […]

The Knowledge of Fire and Prognostication Were Stolen From the Gods

“It was thus that “the divine storm-bird” of the ancient Accadian faith passed into the god Zu of the Semitic epoch. “The divine storm-bird” was a ravenous bird of prey, of large size and sharp beak, who darted on its spoil and devoured the flesh. The Semitic Babylonians identified it with their Zu, partly because zu signified a […]

More Totemism

“We can learn a good deal about this totemism from the old ideographic representations of the names of the chief deities. They are like fossils, embodying the beliefs of a period which had long passed away at the date of the earliest monuments that have come down to us. The name of Ea himself affords us […]

Totemic Depictions of the Gods

“It is only the demons and inferior spirits, or mythical personages like Ea-bani, the friend of Gisdhubar, who are portrayed as animals, or as composite figures partly human and partly bestial. Ea alone, in his character of “god of life,” is given the fish’s skin, and even then the skin is but thrown over his […]

Semiramis, Queen of Assyria

“But Istar was not merely the goddess of love. By the side of the amorous goddess there was also a warlike one. The Syrian goddess who migrated westward was a warrior as well as a bride. Among the Hittites and their disciples in Asia Minor, she was served not only by Galli, but by Amazons–warrior priestesses–as well. The Artemis […]

Syncretic Istar

“But who, all this while, was the goddess, whom one legend made the faithful wife enduring even death for her husband’s sake, while another regarded her as the most faithless and cruel of coquettes? I have already spoken of her as the goddess of love, and such, indeed, she was to the Babylonian or Assyrian […]

The Tree of Life = The Tree of Knowledge

“But the cedar was something more than a world-tree. It was employed, as we have seen, in incantations and magic rites which were intended to restore strength and life to the human frame. It was thus essentially “a tree of life,” and the prototype and original of those conventional trees of Iife with which the walls […]

Tammuz, Attys, Hadad, Adonis, Gingras, & Artemis, Istar, Aphrodite, Semiramis, Gingira

“Greek mythology itself knew the name of Tammuz as well as that of Adonis. Theias or Thoas was not only the Lemnian husband of Myrina and the king of the Tauric Khersonese who immolated strangers on the altars of Artemis, he was also king of Assyria and father of Adonis and his sister Myrrha or Smyrna. […]

Sala of the Copper Hand = Ishtar, Evening Star

“Rimmon, accordingly, among the Babylonians and Assyrians, is the god of winds and cloud, of thunder and lightning, of storm and rain; he is the inundator who is called upon to cover the fields of the impious and unjust with water, and to pour his refreshing streams into a thirsty land. His wife went by the Accadian […]

Hymns On the Seven Matu Gods

An Accadian hymn about the Seven Harmful Spirits: “They are the destructive reptiles, even the winds that create evil! as an evil reptile, as an evil wind, do they appear! as an evil reptile, as an evil wind, who marches in front are they ! Children monstrous (gitmalutu), monstrous sons are they! Messengers of the pest-demon are they! Throne-bearers of […]

On the Babylonian Winds

“The primitive inhabitant of Babylonia paid a special worship to the winds. He beheld in them spirits of good and evil. He prayed for (‘the good wind” which cooled the heats of summer and brought moisture to the parched earth, and he saw in the storm and tempest, in the freezing blasts of winter and […]

Trinities versus Male-Female Dualism

“The early importance and supremacy of Erech in Semitic Babylonia caused its god to assume a place by the side of Ea of Eridu and Mul-lil, the older Bel. It is possible that the extension of his cult had already begun in Accadian days. The Ana, or Sky-god, to whom Gudea at Tel-loh erected a […]

Assyrian Monotheism versus Babylonian Pantheism

“Henceforward “the heaven of Anu” denoted the serene and changeless regions to which the gods fled when the deluge had broken up the face of the lower heaven, and which an Assyrian poet calls “the land of the silver sky.” It was to this spiritualised heaven that the spirit of Ea-bani, the friend of Gisdhubar, ascended, and […]

Unu-ki = Unuk = Uruk = Erech

“It was not of Semitic foundation, however. Its earliest name was the Accadian Unu-ki or Unuk, “the place of the settlement,” of which the collateral form Uruk does not seem to have come into vogue before the Semitic period. If I am right in identifying Unuk with the Enoch of Genesis, the city built by Kain […]

Marduk Assimilates All Other Gods

“THE entire religious system of Babylonia is overshadowed, by Merodach, its great patron deity. We remember how he usurped the place of Ea, and in what manner even the legends of that god were made over to him, so that at last he came to be regarded as not only the national god of Babylonia […]

Ea, Father of Merodach

“Ea developed with the centuries, and about the epoch of Khammurabi appears to have achieved a high standard of godhead, probably because of the very considerable amount of theological moulding which he had received. In the later Babylonian period we find him described as the protagonist of mankind, the father of Merodach, and, along with […]

Nipur, City of Magic

“It is thus clear that, just as Eridu in southern Babylonia was the primitive seat of the worship of the Chaldean culture-god and of the civilisation with which his name was connected, Nipur in northern Babylonia was the original home of a very different kind of worship, which concerned itself with ghosts and demons and […]

Origins of Lilith

“We can now understand why it was that in the theology of Eridu the Sun-god was the offspring of Ea and Dav-kina. The name that he bore there was Dumuzi or Tammuz, “the only-begotten one,” of whom I shall have much to say in the next Lecture. At present I need only remark that he was the primeval Merodach; […]

The Oracles of Ea

“How a water-god became the demiurge seems at first sight obscure. But it ceases to be so when we remember the local character of Babylonian religion. Ea was as much the local god of Eridu as Merodach was of Babylon, or Assur of Assyria. His connection with the water was due to the position of Eridu […]

Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Babylonian Cuneiform Share No Common Ancestor

“Ea was [ … ] the source of their culture. He was symbolised, it would seem, by a serpent; … the primeval seat of the worship of Ea was the city of Eridu, now represented by the mounds of Abu Shahrein on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, and not far to the south of Mugheir or Ur. […]

Temples of the Cults

” … We have already indicated, in connection with the discussion of the chief figures in the pantheon, the tendency to group around the cult of the patron deity of an important centre the worship of other gods, and we have seen that this tendency goes hand in hand with the political expansion of such […]