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Selz: Tracking Gilgamesh Throughout History and Literature

“The biblical patriarchs and the kings before the flood according to Genesis 5 and 4, Berossos and the Sumerian King List. The most important information we can draw from this table is: Berossos’ account of the primeval history of Mesopotamian is clearly based on an emic tradition reaching back almost two millennia. The Mesopotamian tradition […]

Selz: No Connection Between the Biblical Patriarchs and the Babylonian Antediluvian Kings

“After an increasing wealth of Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets was excavated and translated in the middle of the nineteenth century, critical evaluation of the biblical traditions gained great momentum. In 1872 George Smith delivered a paper to the Society of Biblical Archaeology in London, announcing the discovery of a Babylonian version of the biblical flood story, hereby […]

Kvanvig: Discrepancies Between the Lists

“The Sumerian concept of me, “cosmic ordinances,” has a wide range of meanings connected to culture and human conditions. The myth Inanna and Enki has a list which gives good illustration of what is regarded as me: human relations, cultural relations, political relations, occupations, sciences, crafts, arts, deeds, etc. —in short, all the human characteristics […]

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 […]

Kvanvig: The Lists of the Seven Apkallus

“There are known three lists of apkallus, two cuneiform and the one in Berossos. The first known cuneiform list of seven apkallus was published by E. Reiner in 1961, and then reedited with new pieces added by R. Borger in 1974. Already Reiner suggested that the broken tablet belonged to the Neo-Assyrian incantations series Bīt Mēseri, […]

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 […]

Recalculating the Antediluvian Reigns of Sumerian Kings

“At one time the present writer tended to interpret the large numbers associated with the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and also with the census lists in Numbers as “symbols of relative power, triumph, importance, and the like,” a position that can be sustained to a degree from ancient Near Eastern literature but does not account […]

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 […]

The Sumerians Considered the Deluge an Historic Event

” … It is, at all events, well known that the Sumerians regarded the Deluge as an historic event, which they were, practically, able to date, for some of their records contain lists of kings who reigned before the Deluge, though it must be confessed that the lengths assigned to their reigns are incredible. After […]

Selz: Patriarchs and Sages

“A central figure in the discussion about the alleged Mesopotamian model for the antediluvian patriarchs soon became Enoch, who lived for 365 (364) years and of whom we read in Genesis 5:24: “Enoch walked with God then he was no more, because God took him away.” The verb lāqah in this context has received numerous comments. Biblical sources […]

Selz: On Giants

“Dating back to the late nineteenth century and the so-called Babel-Bible dispute, the relation of the biblical traditions, especially those concerning the paradise narrative, the flood-story, and the (antediluvian) patriarchs, to the Mesopotamian world received much interest (see below). (For an overview over this politically remarkable dispute and the involvement of the German emperor Wilhelm […]

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, 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 […]

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: On the Restoration of the Temples

“There is also some evidence that the Seleucids, at least at times, accommodated themselves to Mesopotamian traditions. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Antiochus I’s royal inscription of 268 BCE. In this archaizing inscription Antiochus I appropriated the traditional language of kingship, utilized throughout earlier Mesopotamian royal inscriptions, in order to present his […]

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, […]

Editorial Note on the Apkallu and the Roadmap Ahead

I am breaking the narrative stream to speak directly to the process emerging from our reading on the apkallū, the antediluvian and postdiluvian sages of ancient Mesopotamia. If you are reading along over my shoulder, you noticed that we digressed from Martin Lang, “Mesopotamian Early History and the Flood Story,” in a post titled On the Date of the Flood. Martin […]

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 […]

Is the šãru the Solution to the Impossibly Long Antediluvian Reigns?

“Regardless of the names, however, it is apparent that when the formula for calculating the actual length of reigns is applied, the figures on Berossos’ list of ancient Sumerian kings are amenable to precisely the same treatment as the original Sumerian King List. This indicates that Berossos was thoroughly familiar with the Sumerian system of computing […]

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, […]

Oannes and the Apkallu, the Seven Sages of Sumeria

“Placed between two other books, Babyloniaca 2 takes on the function of a narrative pivot in Berossos’ work. It has connections with book one and book three, by way of recapitulation (e.g. Oannes and the sages) and anticipation (mention of kings who are treated in book three); and it brings into contact two fundamentally different […]

A Digression on Berossus and the Babyloniaca

“The books written by Berossus, priest of Marduk at Babylon in the early third century B.C., have been lost, and all that we know about them comes from the twenty-two quotations or paraphrases of his work by other ancient writers (so-called Fragmenta), and eleven statements about Berossus (Testimonia) made by classical, Jewish and Christian writers. […]

Revelation Revisited

A review of Matt Cardin, “In Search of Higher Intelligence: The Daemonic Muses(s) of Crowley, Leary & RAW.”

On Prognostication

And Divinity I was talking with my old friend Ranger Harry Hunter, formerly a senior medical sergeant at the 1st Ranger Battalion, a veteran of Operation Urgent Fury. Harry and I share some history that will only be interesting to old Rangers, but he was the senior sergeant in my 300F1 class at Fort Sam […]

Gane: Applying Black’s Theory of Metaphor

“Composite creatures are found on various cosmic levels. For that reason, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, by Wayne Horowitz (1998; rev. 2011), has informed the present study, especially with regard to the “Babylonian Map of the World” and Enuma Elish texts, which mention a significant number of mixed beings found in the Neo-Babylonian iconographic repertoire. (Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian […]

Selz: On Sacred Marriage

“This passage reminds one of the old Mesopotamian concept—and I am convinced it is a Mesopotamian concept, not a mere invention of modern scholarship—according to which a (mythical) ruler is thought to cohabit with a goddess or with her priestly incarnation. (This is a much disputed issue, best known under the heading “Sacred Marriage” concept. […]

Melvin: Divine or Semi-Divine Intermediaries

The Divine Source of Civilization in Mesopotamian Myths “The motif of the divine origin of civilization is common in the ancient Near East, especially in Mesopotamia, and it stands in stark contrast to the portrayal of the rise of civilization in Genesis 1– 11. (Although many of my observations with regard to the view of […]

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: Antediluvian Scribes of the gods

“We find an indication that Uanadapa was regarded as a recipient of revelations, we find it in the Verse Account of Nabonidus, where the king compares himself with Adapa. He boasts of his “wisdom;” he has “seen what is hidden” and “secret things:” “He would stand in the assembly (and) exalt him[self] (as follows): “I […]

Kvanvig: The Apkallus as Protective Spirits

“The apkallus are especially known from two incantation rituals: the one is Bīt Mēseri, as already stated; the other is called: šēp lemutti ina bit amēli parāsu, “to block the foot of evil into a man’s house” (KAR 298). The two incantation series have a different scope. Bīt Mēseri prescribes the procedures to be performed […]

Kvanvig: The Adapa Myth Symbolizes the Initiation of Humanity into Civilization

“The relationship between the first and seventh sage is complicated as well. In Bīt Mēseri the seventh sage is said to have ascended to heaven. In the fragmentary two other lists of sages in Bīt Mēseri the seventh sage is also related to heaven: in the second list he ascends like in the first; in […]

Kvanvig: Bīt Mēseri and the Adapa Myth

“The exact form and meaning of the name of the first apkallu is not easy to decide. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand there seems to be a connection in the cuneiform sources between Uan as the name is given in the Uruk tablet and Bīt Mēseri, and the Adapa known from the myth. […]

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: Introducing Ahiqar

“The figures in the next list of ten are generally designated ummanu, which is the common designation for a scholar of high reputation. There are one or perhaps two exceptions. The first figure of the second list, Nungalpiriggal, is designated apkallu. This might be a reflection of a tradition, since this figure is also designated […]

Lenzi: On the apkallū–ummânū Association

“There are of course quite early precedents for king lists, antediluvian or otherwise; there are also several earlier examples of kings being listed with their chief scholarly advisor (see the overview in A. Kirk Greyson, “Königslisten und Chroniken,” Reallexikon der Assyriologie 6 (1980) 86-135). But there is nothing that traces the royal scholars back through […]

Nakamura: Magic as Mimesis in Mesopotamia

“Merleau-Ponty’s (1968) notion of intertwining or chiasm between interior and exterior experience might provide a helpful ontological frame here. This bare movement of perception posits the emergence of various social worlds from the sensuous interchange between interior and exterior phenomena, namely, nodes of self-organization (perception) and the “chaos” of indeterminacy (being). There exists a necessary […]

Why No Canonical Literature Regarding the Apkallu?

“In adducing the motif of the “wise vizier”, I have only meant to show that the “wise men” of a tradition are not necessarily kings, and furthermore, to show the complexity of a problem that, if I do not pretend to solve, I neither am inclined to embezzle. In my opinion, the myth of the […]

On Dagon, Anu, Ishtar

In the Assyrian inscriptions Anu is coupled with Dagan, “the exalted one,” whose female consort seems to have been Dalas or Salas. Thus Assur-natsir-pal calls himself “the beloved of Anu and Dagon;” and Sargon asserts that he “had extended his protection over the city of Harran, and, according to the ordinance of Anu and Dagon, had written down their […]

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The Demons Named

” … The existence of several elaborate incantation series in Ashurbanapal’s library, prescribing a large number of formulas to be recited in connection with symbolical rites to get rid of the demons, furnishes the proof for the practical significance attached to incantations in both Babylonia and Assyria. These series, Babylonian in origin, revert to Sumerian […]

Babylonian Religion

” … Outside the inscriptions of Babylonia and Assyria, there is but little bearing upon the religion of those countries, the most important fragment being the extracts from Berosus and Damascius referred to above. Among the Babylonian and Assyrian remains, however, we have an extensive and valuable mass of material, dating from the fourth or […]

Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Nameless Harlot

THE EPIC OF GILGAMISH. “The narrative of the life, exploits and travels of Gilgamish, king of Erech, filled Twelve Tablets which formed the Series called from the first three words of the First Tablet, SHA NAGBU IMURU, i.e., “He who hath seen all things.” The exact period of the reign of this king is unknown, but […]

The Library of Ashur-bani-pal

ASHUR-BANI-PAL, BOOK-COLLECTOR AND PATRON OF LEARNING. “Ashur-bani-pal (the Asnapper of Ezra iv, 10) succeeded his father Esarhaddon B.C. 669, and at a comparatively early period of his reign he seems to have devoted himself to the study of the history of his country, and to the making of a great Private Library. The tablets that […]