Legends of Babylon and and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition

Legends_of_Babylon_and_Egypt_in_Relation_to_Hebrew_Tradition_1000080346LEGENDS OF BABYLON AND EGYPT IN RELATION TO HEBREW TRADITION
By Leonard W. King, M.A., Litt.D., F.S.A.

First Published 1918 by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz
and Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com





Assistant Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities
in the British Museum
Professor in the University of London
King’s College



This text was prepared from a 1920 edition of the book, hence the
references to dates after 1916 in some places.

Greek text has been transliterated within brackets “{}” using an
Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. Diacritical marks have
been lost.


In these lectures an attempt is made, not so much to restate familiar
facts, as to accommodate them to new and supplementary evidence which
has been published in America since the outbreak of the war. But even
without the excuse of recent discovery, no apology would be needed for
any comparison or contrast of Hebrew tradition with the mythological
and legendary beliefs of Babylon and Egypt. Hebrew achievements in the
sphere of religion and ethics are only thrown into stronger relief
when studied against their contemporary background.

The bulk of our new material is furnished by some early texts, written
towards the close of the third millennium B.C. They incorporate
traditions which extend in unbroken outline from their own period into
the remote ages of the past, and claim to trace the history of man
back to his creation. They represent the early national traditions of
the Sumerian people, who preceded the Semites as the ruling race in
Babylonia; and incidentally they necessitate a revision of current
views with regard to the cradle of Babylonian civilization. The most
remarkable of the new documents is one which relates in poetical
narrative an account of the Creation, of Antediluvian history, and of
the Deluge. It thus exhibits a close resemblance in structure to the
corresponding Hebrew traditions, a resemblance that is not shared by
the Semitic-Babylonian Versions at present known. But in matter the
Sumerian tradition is more primitive than any of the Semitic versions.
In spite of the fact that the text appears to have reached us in a
magical setting, and to some extent in epitomized form, this early
document enables us to tap the stream of tradition at a point far
above any at which approach has hitherto been possible.

Though the resemblance of early Sumerian tradition to that of the
Hebrews is striking, it furnishes a still closer parallel to the
summaries preserved from the history of Berossus. The huge figures
incorporated in the latter’s chronological scheme are no longer to be
treated as a product of Neo-Babylonian speculation; they reappear in
their original surroundings in another of these early documents, the
Sumerian Dynastic List. The sources of Berossus had inevitably been
semitized by Babylon; but two of his three Antediluvian cities find
their place among the five of primitive Sumerian belief, and two of
his ten Antediluvian kings rejoin their Sumerian prototypes. Moreover,
the recorded ages of Sumerian and Hebrew patriarchs are strangely
alike. It may be added that in Egypt a new fragment of the Palermo
Stele has enabled us to verify, by a very similar comparison, the
accuracy of Manetho’s sources for his prehistoric period, while at the
same time it demonstrates the way in which possible inaccuracies in
his system, deduced from independent evidence, may have arisen in
remote antiquity. It is clear that both Hebrew and Hellenistic
traditions were modelled on very early lines.

Thus our new material enables us to check the age, and in some measure
the accuracy, of the traditions concerning the dawn of history which
the Greeks reproduced from native sources, both in Babylonia and
Egypt, after the conquests of Alexander had brought the Near East
within the range of their intimate acquaintance. The third body of
tradition, that of the Hebrews, though unbacked by the prestige of
secular achievement, has, through incorporation in the canons of two
great religious systems, acquired an authority which the others have
not enjoyed. In re-examining the sources of all three accounts, so far
as they are affected by the new discoveries, it will be of interest to
observe how the same problems were solved in antiquity by very
different races, living under widely divergent conditions, but within
easy reach of one another. Their periods of contact, ascertained in
history or suggested by geographical considerations, will prompt the
further question to what extent each body of belief was evolved in
independence of the others. The close correspondence that has long
been recognized and is now confirmed between the Hebrew and the
Semitic-Babylonian systems, as compared with that of Egypt, naturally
falls within the scope of our enquiry.

Excavation has provided an extraordinarily full archaeological
commentary to the legends of Egypt and Babylon; and when I received
the invitation to deliver the Schweich Lectures for 1916, I was
reminded of the terms of the Bequest and was asked to emphasize the
archaeological side of the subject. Such material illustration was
also calculated to bring out, in a more vivid manner than was possible
with purely literary evidence, the contrasts and parallels presented
by Hebrew tradition. Thanks to a special grant for photographs from
the British Academy, I was enabled to illustrate by means of lantern
slides many of the problems discussed in the lectures; and it was
originally intended that the photographs then shown should appear as
plates in this volume. But in view of the continued and increasing
shortage of paper, it was afterwards felt to be only right that all
illustrations should be omitted. This very necessary decision has
involved a recasting of certain sections of the lectures as delivered,
which in its turn has rendered possible a fuller treatment of the new
literary evidence. To the consequent shifting of interest is also due
a transposition of names in the title. On their literary side, and in
virtue of the intimacy of their relation to Hebrew tradition, the
legends of Babylon must be given precedence over those of Egypt.

For the delay in the appearance of the volume I must plead the
pressure of other work, on subjects far removed from archaeological
study and affording little time and few facilities for a continuance
of archaeological and textual research. It is hoped that the insertion
of references throughout, and the more detailed discussion of problems
suggested by our new literary material, may incline the reader to add
his indulgence to that already extended to me by the British Academy.





At the present moment most of us have little time or thought to spare
for subjects not connected directly or indirectly with the war. We
have put aside our own interests and studies; and after the war we
shall all have a certain amount of leeway to make up in acquainting
ourselves with what has been going on in countries not yet involved in
the great struggle. Meanwhile the most we can do is to glance for a
moment at any discovery of exceptional interest that may come to

The main object of these lectures will be to examine certain Hebrew
traditions in the light of new evidence which has been published in
America since the outbreak of the war. The evidence is furnished by
some literary texts, inscribed on tablets from Nippur, one of the
oldest and most sacred cities of Babylonia. They are written in
Sumerian, the language spoken by the non-Semitic people whom the
Semitic Babylonians conquered and displaced; and they include a very
primitive version of the Deluge story and Creation myth, and some
texts which throw new light on the age of Babylonian civilization and
on the area within which it had its rise. In them we have recovered
some of the material from which Berossus derived his dynasty of
Antediluvian kings, and we are thus enabled to test the accuracy of
the Greek tradition by that of the Sumerians themselves. So far then
as Babylonia is concerned, these documents will necessitate a
re-examination of more than one problem.

The myths and legends of ancient Egypt are also to some extent
involved. The trend of much recent anthropological research has been
in the direction of seeking a single place of origin for similar
beliefs and practices, at least among races which were bound to one
another by political or commercial ties. And we shall have occasion to
test, by means of our new data, a recent theory of Egyptian influence.
The Nile Valley was, of course, one the great centres from which
civilization radiated throughout the ancient East; and, even when
direct contact is unproved, Egyptian literature may furnish
instructive parallels and contrasts in any study of Western Asiatic
mythology. Moreover, by a strange coincidence, there has also been
published in Egypt since the beginning of the war a record referring
to the reigns of predynastic rulers in the Nile Valley. This, like
some of the Nippur texts, takes us back to that dim period before the
dawn of actual history, and, though the information it affords is not
detailed like theirs, it provides fresh confirmation of the general
accuracy of Manetho’s sources, and suggests some interesting points
for comparison.

But the people with whose traditions we are ultimately concerned are
the Hebrews. In the first series of Schweich Lectures, delivered in
the year 1908, the late Canon Driver showed how the literature of
Assyria and Babylon had thrown light upon Hebrew traditions concerning
the origin and early history of the world. The majority of the
cuneiform documents, on which he based his comparison, date from a
period no earlier than the seventh century B.C., and yet it was clear
that the texts themselves, in some form or other, must have descended
from a remote antiquity. He concluded his brief reference to the
Creation and Deluge Tablets with these words: “The Babylonian
narratives are both polytheistic, while the corresponding biblical
narratives (Gen. i and vi-xi) are made the vehicle of a pure and
exalted monotheism; but in spite of this fundamental difference, and
also variations in detail, the resemblances are such as to leave no
doubt that the Hebrew cosmogony and the Hebrew story of the Deluge are
both derived ultimately from the same original as the Babylonian
narratives, only transformed by the magic touch of Israel’s religion,
and infused by it with a new spirit.”[1] Among the recently published
documents from Nippur we have at last recovered one at least of those
primitive originals from which the Babylonian accounts were derived,
while others prove the existence of variant stories of the world’s
origin and early history which have not survived in the later
cuneiform texts. In some of these early Sumerian records we may trace
a faint but remarkable parallel with the Hebrew traditions of man’s
history between his Creation and the Flood. It will be our task, then,
to examine the relations which the Hebrew narratives bear both to the
early Sumerian and to the later Babylonian Versions, and to ascertain
how far the new discoveries support or modify current views with
regard to the contents of those early chapters of Genesis.

[1] Driver, /Modern Research as illustrating the Bible/ (The Schweich
Lectures, 1908), p. 23.

I need not remind you that Genesis is the book of Hebrew origins, and
that its contents mark it off to some extent from the other books of
the Hebrew Bible. The object of the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua
is to describe in their origin the fundamental institutions of the
national faith and to trace from the earliest times the course of
events which led to the Hebrew settlement in Palestine. Of this
national history the Book of Genesis forms the introductory section.
Four centuries of complete silence lie between its close and the
beginning of Exodus, where we enter on the history of a nation as
contrasted with that of a family.[1] While Exodus and the succeeding
books contain national traditions, Genesis is largely made up of
individual biography. Chapters xii-l are concerned with the immediate
ancestors of the Hebrew race, beginning with Abram’s migration into
Canaan and closing with Joseph’s death in Egypt. But the aim of the
book is not confined to recounting the ancestry of Israel. It seeks
also to show her relation to other peoples in the world, and probing
still deeper into the past it describes how the earth itself was
prepared for man’s habitation. Thus the patriarchal biographies are
preceded, in chapters i-xi, by an account of the original of the
world, the beginnings of civilization, and the distribution of the
various races of mankind. It is, of course, with certain parts of this
first group of chapters that such striking parallels have long been
recognized in the cuneiform texts.

[1] Cf., e.g., Skinner, /A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
Genesis/ (1912), p. ii f.; Driver, /The Book of Genesis/, 10th ed.
(1916), pp. 1 ff.; Ryle, /The Book of Genesis/ (1914), pp. x ff.

In approaching this particular body of Hebrew traditions, the
necessity for some caution will be apparent. It is not as though we
were dealing with the reported beliefs of a Malayan or Central
Australian tribe. In such a case there would be no difficulty in
applying a purely objective criticism, without regard to ulterior
consequences. But here our own feelings are involved, having their
roots deep in early associations. The ground too is well trodden; and,
had there been no new material to discuss, I think I should have
preferred a less contentious theme. The new material is my
justification for the choice of subject, and also the fact that,
whatever views we may hold, it will be necessary for us to assimilate
it to them. I shall have no hesitation in giving you my own reading of
the evidence; but at the same time it will be possible to indicate
solutions which will probably appeal to those who view the subject
from more conservative standpoints. That side of the discussion may
well be postponed until after the examination of the new evidence in
detail. And first of all it will be advisable to clear up some general
aspects of the problem, and to define the limits within which our
criticism may be applied.

It must be admitted that both Egypt and Babylon bear a bad name in
Hebrew tradition. Both are synonymous with captivity, the symbols of
suffering endured at the beginning and at the close of the national
life. And during the struggle against Assyrian aggression, the
disappointment at the failure of expected help is reflected in
prophecies of the period. These great crises in Hebrew history have
tended to obscure in the national memory the part which both Babylon
and Egypt may have played in moulding the civilization of the smaller
nations with whom they came in contact. To such influence the races of
Syria were, by geographical position, peculiarly subject. The country
has often been compared to a bridge between the two great continents
of Asia and Africa, flanked by the sea on one side and the desert on
the other, a narrow causeway of highland and coastal plain connecting
the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates.[1] For, except on the
frontier of Egypt, desert and sea do not meet. Farther north the
Arabian plateau is separated from the Mediterranean by a double
mountain chain, which runs south from the Taurus at varying
elevations, and encloses in its lower course the remarkable depression
of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and the `Arabah. The Judaean hills
and the mountains of Moab are merely the southward prolongation of the
Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and their neighbourhood to the sea endows
this narrow tract of habitable country with its moisture and
fertility. It thus formed the natural channel of intercourse between
the two earliest centres of civilization, and was later the battle-
ground of their opposing empires.

[1] See G. A. Smith, /Historical Geography of the Holy Land/, pp. 5
ff., 45 ff., and Myres, /Dawn of History/, pp. 137 ff.; and cf.
Hogarth, /The Nearer East/, pp. 65 ff., and Reclus, /Nouvelle
Géographie universelle/, t. IX, pp. 685 ff.

The great trunk-roads of through communication run north and south,
across the eastern plateaus of the Haurân and Moab, and along the
coastal plains. The old highway from Egypt, which left the Delta at
Pelusium, at first follows the coast, then trends eastward across the
plain of Esdraelon, which breaks the coastal range, and passing under
Hermon runs northward through Damascus and reaches the Euphrates at
its most westerly point. Other through tracks in Palestine ran then as
they do to-day, by Beesheba and Hebron, or along the `Arabah and west
of the Dead Sea, or through Edom and east of Jordan by the present
Hajj route to Damascus. But the great highway from Egypt, the most
westerly of the trunk-roads through Palestine, was that mainly
followed, with some variant sections, by both caravans and armies, and
was known by the Hebrews in its southern course as the “Way of the
Philistines” and farther north as the “Way of the East”.

The plain of Esraelon, where the road first trends eastward, has been
the battle-ground for most invaders of Palestine from the north, and
though Egyptian armies often fought in the southern coastal plain,
they too have battled there when they held the southern country.
Megiddo, which commands the main pass into the plain through the low
Samaritan hills to the southeast of Carmel, was the site of Thothmes
III’s famous battle against a Syrian confederation, and it inspired
the writer of the Apocalypse with his vision of an Armageddon of the
future. But invading armies always followed the beaten track of
caravans, and movements represented by the great campaigns were
reflected in the daily passage of international commerce.

With so much through traffic continually passing within her borders,
it may be matter for surprise that far more striking evidence of its
cultural effect should not have been revealed by archaeological
research in Palestine. Here again the explanation is mainly of a
geographical character. For though the plains and plateaus could be
crossed by the trunk-roads, the rest of the country is so broken up by
mountain and valley that it presented few facilities either to foreign
penetration or to external control. The physical barriers to local
intercourse, reinforced by striking differences in soil, altitude, and
climate, while they precluded Syria herself from attaining national
unity, always tended to protect her separate provinces, or “kingdoms,”
from the full effects of foreign aggression. One city-state could be
traversed, devastated, or annexed, without in the least degree
affecting neighbouring areas. It is true that the population of Syria
has always been predominantly Semitic, for she was on the fringe of
the great breeding-ground of the Semitic race and her landward
boundary was open to the Arabian nomad. Indeed, in the whole course of
her history the only race that bade fair at one time to oust the
Semite in Syria was the Greek. But the Greeks remained within the
cities which they founded or rebuilt, and, as Robertson Smith pointed
out, the death-rate in Eastern cities habitually exceeds the birth-
rate; the urban population must be reinforced from the country if it
is to be maintained, so that the type of population is ultimately
determined by the blood of the peasantry.[1] Hence after the Arab
conquest the Greek elements in Syria and Palestine tended rapidly to
disappear. The Moslem invasion was only the last of a series of
similar great inroads, which have followed one another since the dawn
of history, and during all that time absorption was continually taking
place from desert tribes that ranged the Syrian border. As we have
seen, the country of his adoption was such as to encourage the Semitic
nomad’s particularism, which was inherent in his tribal organization.
Thus the predominance of a single racial element in the population of
Palestine and Syria did little to break down or overstep the natural
barriers and lines of cleavage.

[1] See Robertson Smith, /Religion of the Semites/, p. 12 f.; and cf.
Smith, /Hist. Geogr./, p. 10 f.

These facts suffice to show why the influence of both Egypt and
Babylon upon the various peoples and kingdoms of Palestine was only
intensified at certain periods, when ambition for extended empire
dictated the reduction of her provinces in detail. But in the long
intervals, during which there was no attempt to enforce political
control, regular relations were maintained along the lines of trade
and barter. And in any estimate of the possible effect of foreign
influence upon Hebrew thought, it is important to realize that some of
the channels through which in later periods it may have acted had been
flowing since the dawn of history, and even perhaps in prehistoric
times. It is probable that Syria formed one of the links by which we
may explain the Babylonian elements that are attested in prehistoric
Egyptian culture.[1] But another possible line of advance may have
been by way of Arabia and across the Red Sea into Upper Egypt.

[1] Cf. /Sumer and Akkad/, pp. 322 ff.; and for a full discussion of
the points of resemblance between the early Babylonian and
Egyptian civilizations, see Sayce, /The Archaeology of the
Cuneiform Inscriptions/, chap. iv, pp. 101 ff.

The latter line of contact is suggested by an interesting piece of
evidence that has recently been obtained. A prehistoric flint knife,
with a handle carved from the tooth of a hippopotamus, has been
purchased lately by the Louvre,[1] and is said to have been found at
Gebel el-`Arak near Naga` Hamâdi, which lies on the Nile not far below
Koptos, where an ancient caravan-track leads by Wâdi Hammâmât to the
Red Sea. On one side of the handle is a battle-scene including some
remarkable representations of ancient boats. All the warriors are nude
with the exception of a loin girdle, but, while one set of combatants
have shaven heads or short hair, the others have abundant locks
falling in a thick mass upon the shoulder. On the other face of the
handle is carved a hunting scene, two hunters with dogs and desert
animals being arranged around a central boss. But in the upper field
is a very remarkable group, consisting of a personage struggling with
two lions arranged symmetrically. The rest of the composition is not
very unlike other examples of prehistoric Egyptian carving in low
relief, but here attitude, figure, and clothing are quite un-Egyptian.
The hero wears a sort of turban on his abundant hair, and a full and
rounded beard descends upon his breast. A long garment clothes him
from the waist and falls below the knees, his muscular calves ending
in the claws of a bird of prey. There is nothing like this in
prehistoric Egyptian art.

[1] See Bénédite, “Le couteau de Gebel al-`Arak”, in /Foundation
Eugène Piot, Mon. et. Mém./, XXII. i. (1916).

Perhaps Monsieur Bénédite is pressing his theme too far when he
compares the close-cropped warriors on the handle with the shaven
Sumerians and Elamites upon steles from Telloh and Susa, for their
loin-girdles are African and quite foreign to the Euphrates Valley.
And his suggestion that two of the boats, flat-bottomed and with high
curved ends, seem only to have navigated the Tigris and Euphrates,[1] will hardly command acceptance. But there is no doubt that the heroic
personage upon the other face is represented in the familiar attitude
of the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh struggling with lions, which formed
so favourite a subject upon early Sumerian and Babylonian seals. His
garment is Sumerian or Semitic rather than Egyptian, and the mixture
of human and bird elements in the figure, though not precisely
paralleled at this early period, is not out of harmony with
Mesopotamian or Susan tradition. His beard, too, is quite different
from that of the Libyan desert tribes which the early Egyptian kings
adopted. Though the treatment of the lions is suggestive of proto-
Elamite rather than of early Babylonian models, the design itself is
unmistakably of Mesopotamian origin. This discovery intensifies the
significance of other early parallels that have been noted between the
civilizations of the Euphrates and the Nile, but its evidence, so far
as it goes, does not point to Syria as the medium of prehistoric
intercourse. Yet then, as later, there can have been no physical
barrier to the use of the river-route from Mesopotamia into Syria and
of the tracks thence southward along the land-bridge to the Nile’s

[1] Op. cit., p. 32.

In the early historic periods we have definite evidence that the
eastern coast of the Levant exercised a strong fascination upon the
rulers of both Egypt and Babylonia. It may be admitted that Syria had
little to give in comparison to what she could borrow, but her local
trade in wine and oil must have benefited by an increase in the
through traffic which followed the working of copper in Cyprus and
Sinai and of silver in the Taurus. Moreover, in the cedar forests of
Lebanon and the north she possessed a product which was highly valued
both in Egypt and the treeless plains of Babylonia. The cedars
procured by Sneferu from Lebanon at the close of the IIIrd Dynasty
were doubtless floated as rafts down the coast, and we may see in them
evidence of a regular traffic in timber. It has long been known that
the early Babylonian king Sharru-kin, or Sargon of Akkad, had pressed
up the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, and we now have information
that he too was fired by a desire for precious wood and metal. One of
the recently published Nippur inscriptions contains copies of a number
of his texts, collected by an ancient scribe from his statues at
Nippur, and from these we gather additional details of his campaigns.
We learn that after his complete subjugation of Southern Babylonia he
turned his attention to the west, and that Enlil gave him the lands
“from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea”, i.e. from the Mediterranean to
the Persian Gulf. Fortunately this rather vague phrase, which survived
in later tradition, is restated in greater detail in one of the
contemporary versions, which records that Enlil “gave him the upper
land, Mari, Iarmuti, and Ibla, as far as the Cedar Forest and the
Silver Mountains”.[1] [1] See Poebel, /Historical Texts/ (Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab.
Sect., Vol. IV, No. 1, 1914), pp. 177 f., 222 ff.

Mari was a city on the middle Euphrates, but the name may here signify
the district of Mari which lay in the upper course of Sargon’s march.
Now we know that the later Sumerian monarch Gudea obtained his cedar
beams from the Amanus range, which he names /Amanum/ and describes as
the “cedar mountains”.[1] Doubtless he felled his trees on the eastern
slopes of the mountain. But we may infer from his texts that Sargon
actually reached the coast, and his “Cedar Forest” may have lain
farther to the south, perhaps as far south as the Lebanon. The “Silver
Mountains” can only be identified with the Taurus, where silver mines
were worked in antiquity. The reference to Iarmuti is interesting, for
it is clearly the same place as Iarimuta or Iarimmuta, of which we
find mention in the Tell el-Amarna letters. From the references to
this district in the letters of Rib-Adda, governor of Byblos, we may
infer that it was a level district on the coast, capable of producing
a considerable quantity of grain for export, and that it was under
Egyptian control at the time of Amenophis IV. Hitherto its position
has been conjecturally placed in the Nile Delta, but from Sargon’s
reference we must probably seek it on the North Syrian or possibly the
Cilician coast. Perhaps, as Dr. Poebel suggests, it was the plain of
Antioch, along the lower course and at the mouth of the Orontes. But
his further suggestion that the term is used by Sargon for the whole
stretch of country between the sea and the Euphrates is hardly
probable. For the geographical references need not be treated as
exhaustive, but as confined to the more important districts through
which the expedition passed. The district of Ibla which is also
mentioned by Narâm-Sin and Gudea, lay probably to the north of
Iarmuti, perhaps on the southern slopes of Taurus. It, too, we may
regard as a district of restricted extent rather than as a general
geographical term for the extreme north of Syria.

[1] Thureau-Dangin, /Les inscriptions de Sumer de d’Akkad/, p. 108 f.,
Statue B, col. v. 1. 28; Germ. ed., p. 68 f.

It is significant that Sargon does not allude to any battle when
describing this expedition, nor does he claim to have devastated the
western countries.[1] Indeed, most of these early expeditions to the
west appear to have been inspired by motives of commercial enterprise
rather than of conquest. But increase of wealth was naturally followed
by political expansion, and Egypt’s dream of an Asiatic empire was
realized by Pharaohs of the XVIIIth Dynasty. The fact that Babylonian
should then have been adopted as the medium of official intercourse in
Syria points to the closeness of the commercial ties which had already
united the Euphrates Valley with the west. Egyptian control had passed
from Canaan at the time of the Hebrew settlement, which was indeed a
comparatively late episode in the early history of Syria. Whether or
not we identify the Khabiri with the Hebrews, the character of the
latter’s incursion is strikingly illustrated by some of the Tell
el-Amarna letters. We see a nomad folk pressing in upon settled
peoples and gaining a foothold here and there.[2] [1] In some versions of his new records Sargon states that “5,400 men
daily eat bread before him” (see Poebel, op. cit., p. 178); though
the figure may be intended to convey an idea of the size of
Sargon’s court, we may perhaps see in it a not inaccurate estimate
of the total strength of his armed forces.

[2] See especially Professor Burney’s forthcoming commentary on Judges
(passim), and his forthcoming Schweich Lectures (now delivered, in

The great change from desert life consists in the adoption of
agriculture, and when once that was made by the Hebrews any further
advance in economic development was dictated by their new
surroundings. The same process had been going on, as we have seen, in
Syria since the dawn of history, the Semitic nomad passing gradually
through the stages of agricultural and village life into that of the
city. The country favoured the retention of tribal exclusiveness, but
ultimate survival could only be purchased at the cost of some
amalgamation with their new neighbours. Below the surface of Hebrew
history these two tendencies may be traced in varying action and
reaction. Some sections of the race engaged readily in the social and
commercial life of Canaanite civilization with its rich inheritance
from the past. Others, especially in the highlands of Judah and the
south, at first succeeded in keeping themselves remote from foreign
influence. During the later periods of the national life the country
was again subjected, and in an intensified degree, to those forces of
political aggression from Mesopotamia and Egypt which we have already
noted as operating in Canaan. But throughout the settled Hebrew
community as a whole the spark of desert fire was not extinguished,
and by kindling the zeal of the Prophets it eventually affected nearly
all the white races of mankind.

In his Presidential Address before the British Association at
Newcastle,[1] Sir Arthur Evans emphasized the part which recent
archaeology has played in proving the continuity of human culture from
the most remote periods. He showed how gaps in our knowledge had been
bridged, and he traced the part which each great race had taken in
increasing its inheritance. We have, in fact, ample grounds for
assuming an interchange, not only of commercial products, but, in a
minor degree, of ideas within areas geographically connected; and it
is surely not derogatory to any Hebrew writer to suggest that he may
have adopted, and used for his own purposes, conceptions current among
his contemporaries. In other words, the vehicle of religious ideas may
well be of composite origin; and, in the course of our study of early
Hebrew tradition, I suggest that we hold ourselves justified in
applying the comparative method to some at any rate of the ingredients
which went to form the finished product. The process is purely
literary, but it finds an analogy in the study of Semitic art,
especially in the later periods. And I think it will make my meaning
clearer if we consider for a moment a few examples of sculpture
produced by races of Semitic origin. I do not suggest that we should
regard the one process as in any way proving the existence of the
other. We should rather treat the comparison as illustrating in
another medium the effect of forces which, it is clear, were operative
at various periods upon races of the same stock from which the Hebrews
themselves were descended. In such material products the eye at once
detects the Semite’s readiness to avail himself of foreign models. In
some cases direct borrowing is obvious; in others, to adapt a metaphor
from music, it is possible to trace extraneous /motifs/ in the
design.[2] [1] “New Archaeological Lights on the Origins of Civilization in
Europe,” British Association, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1916.

[2] The necessary omission of plates, representing the slides shown in
the lectures, has involved a recasting of most passages in which
points of archaeological detail were discussed; see Preface. But
the following paragraphs have been retained as the majority of the
monuments referred to are well known.

Some of the most famous monuments of Semitic art date from the Persian
and Hellenistic periods, and if we glance at them in this connexion it
is in order to illustrate during its most obvious phase a tendency of
which the earlier effects are less pronounced. In the sarcophagus of
the Sidonian king Eshmu-`azar II, which is preserved in the Louvre,[1] we have indeed a monument to which no Semitic sculptor can lay claim.
Workmanship and material are Egyptian, and there is no doubt that it
was sculptured in Egypt and transported to Sidon by sea. But the
king’s own engravers added the long Phoenician inscription, in which
he adjures princes and men not to open his resting-place since there
are no jewels therein, concluding with some potent curses against any
violation of his tomb. One of the latter implores the holy gods to
deliver such violators up “to a mighty prince who shall rule over
them”, and was probably suggested by Alexander’s recent occupation of
Sidon in 332 B.C. after his reduction and drastic punishment of Tyre.
King Eshmun-`zar was not unique in his choice of burial in an Egyptian
coffin, for he merely followed the example of his royal father,
Tabnîth, “priest of `Ashtart and king of the Sidonians”, whose
sarcophagus, preserved at Constantinople, still bears in addition to
his own epitaph that of its former occupant, a certain Egyptian
general Penptah. But more instructive than these borrowed memorials is
a genuine example of Phoenician work, the stele set up by Yehaw-milk,
king of Byblos, and dating from the fourth or fifth century B.C.[2] In
the sculptured panel at the head of the stele the king is represented
in the Persian dress of the period standing in the presence of
`Ashtart or Astarte, his “Lady, Mistress of Byblos”. There is no doubt
that the stele is of native workmanship, but the influence of Egypt
may be seen in the technique of the carving, in the winged disk above
the figures, and still more in the representation of the goddess in
her character as the Egyptian Hathor, with disk and horns, vulture
head-dress and papyrus-sceptre. The inscription records the dedication
of an altar and shrine to the goddess, and these too we may conjecture
were fashioned on Egyptian lines.

[1] /Corp. Inscr. Semit./, I. i, tab. II.

[2] /C.I.S./, I. i, tab. I.

The representation of Semitic deities under Egyptian forms and with
Egyptian attributes was encouraged by the introduction of their cults
into Egypt itself. In addition to Astarte of Byblos, Ba`al, Anath, and
Reshef were all borrowed from Syria in comparatively early times and
given Egyptian characters. The conical Syrian helmet of Reshef, a god
of war and thunder, gradually gave place to the white Egyptian crown,
so that as Reshpu he was represented as a royal warrior; and Qadesh,
another form of Astarte, becoming popular with Egyptian women as a
patroness of love and fecundity, was also sometimes modelled on
Hathor.[1] [1] See W. Max Müller, /Egyptological Researches/, I, p. 32 f., pl.
41, and S. A. Cook, /Religion of Ancient Palestine/, pp. 83 ff.

Semitic colonists on the Egyptian border were ever ready to adopt
Egyptian symbolism in delineating the native gods to whom they owed
allegiance, and a particularly striking example of this may be seen on
a stele of the Persian period preserved in the Cairo Museum.[1] It was
found at Tell Defenneh, on the right bank of the Pelusiac branch of
the Nile, close to the old Egyptian highway into Syria, a site which
may be identified with that of the biblical Tahpanhes and the Daphnae
of the Greeks. Here it was that the Jewish fugitives, fleeing with
Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem, founded a Jewish colony beside a
flourishing Phoenician and Aramaean settlement. One of the local gods
of Tahpanhes is represented on the Cairo monument, an Egyptian stele
in the form of a naos with the winged solar disk upon its frieze. He
stands on the back of a lion and is clothed in Asiatic costume with
the high Syrian tiara crowning his abundant hair. The Syrian
workmanship is obvious, and the Syrian character of the cult may be
recognized in such details as the small brazen fire-altar before the
god, and the sacred pillar which is being anointed by the officiating
priest. But the god holds in his left hand a purely Egyptian sceptre
and in his right an emblem as purely Babylonian, the weapon of Marduk
and Gilgamesh which was also wielded by early Sumerian kings.

[1] Müller, op. cit., p. 30 f., pl. 40. Numismatic evidence exhibits a
similar readiness on the part of local Syrian cults to adopt the
veneer of Hellenistic civilization while retaining in great
measure their own individuality; see Hill, “Some Palestinian Cults
in the Graeco-Roman Age”, in /Proceedings of the British Academy/,
Vol. V (1912).

The Elephantine papyri have shown that the early Jews of the Diaspora,
though untrammeled by the orthodoxy of Jerusalem, maintained the
purity of their local cult in the face of considerable difficulties.
Hence the gravestones of their Aramaean contemporaries, which have
been found in Egypt, can only be cited to illustrate the temptations
to which they were exposed.[1] Such was the memorial erected by Abseli
to the memory of his parents, Abbâ and Ahatbû, in the fourth year of
Xerxes, 481 B.C.[2] They had evidently adopted the religion of Osiris,
and were buried at Saqqârah in accordance with the Egyptian rites. The
upper scene engraved upon the stele represents Abbâ and his wife in
the presence of Osiris, who is attended by Isis and Nephthys; and in
the lower panel is the funeral scene, in which all the mourners with
one exception are Asiatics. Certain details of the rites that are
represented, and mistakes in the hieroglyphic version of the text,
prove that the work is Aramaean throughout.[3] [1] It may be admitted that the Greek platonized cult of Isis and
Osiris had its origin in the fusion of Greeks and Egyptians which
took place in Ptolemaic times (cf. Scott-Moncrieff, /Paganism and
Christianity in Egypt/, p. 33 f.). But we may assume that already
in the Persian period the Osiris cult had begun to acquire a tinge
of mysticism, which, though it did not affect the mechanical
reproduction of the native texts, appealed to the Oriental mind as
well as to certain elements in Greek religion. Persian influence
probably prepared the way for the Platonic exegesis of the Osiris
and Isis legends which we find in Plutarch; and the latter may
have been in great measure a development, and not, as is often
assumed, a complete misunderstanding of the later Egyptian cult.

[2] /C.I.S./, II. i, tab. XI, No. 122.

[3] A very similar monument is the Carpentras Stele (/C.I.S./, II., i,
tab. XIII, No. 141), commemorating Taba, daughter of Tahapi, an
Aramaean lady who was also a convert to Osiris. It is rather later
than that of Abbâ and his wife, since the Aramaic characters are
transitional from the archaic to the square alphabet; see Driver,
/Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel/, pp. xviii ff.,
and Cooke, /North Semitic Inscriptions/, p. 205 f. The Vatican
Stele (op. cit. tab. XIV. No. 142), which dates from the fourth
century, represents inferior work.

If our examples of Semitic art were confined to the Persian and later
periods, they could only be employed to throw light on their own
epoch, when through communication had been organized, and there was
consequently a certain pooling of commercial and artistic products
throughout the empire.[1] It is true that under the Great King the
various petty states and provinces were encouraged to manage their own
affairs so long as they paid the required tribute, but their horizon
naturally expanded with increase of commerce and the necessity for
service in the king’s armies. At this time Aramaic was the speech of
Syria, and the population, especially in the cities, was still largely
Aramaean. As early as the thirteenth century sections of this
interesting Semitic race had begun to press into Northern Syria from
the middle Euphrates, and they absorbed not only the old Canaanite
population but also the Hittite immigrants from Cappadocia. The latter
indeed may for a time have furnished rulers to the vigorous North
Syrian principalities which resulted from this racial combination, but
the Aramaean element, thanks to continual reinforcement, was
numerically dominant, and their art may legitimately be regarded as in
great measure a Semitic product. Fortunately we have recovered
examples of sculpture which prove that tendencies already noted in the
Persian period were at work, though in a minor degree, under the later
Assyrian empire. The discoveries made at Zenjirli, for example,
illustrate the gradually increasing effect of Assyrian influence upon
the artistic output of a small North Syrian state.

[1] Cf. Bevan, /House of Seleucus/, Vol. I, pp. 5, 260 f. The artistic
influence of Mesopotamia was even more widely spread than that of
Egypt during the Persian period. This is suggested, for example,
by the famous lion-weight discovered at Abydos in Mysia, the town
on the Hellespont famed for the loves of Hero and Leander. The
letters of its Aramaic inscription (/C.I.S./, II. i, tab. VII, No.
108) prove by their form that it dates from the Persian period,
and its provenance is sufficiently attested. Its weight moreover
suggests that it was not merely a Babylonian or Persian
importation, but cast for local use, yet in design and technique
it is scarcely distinguishable from the best Assyrian work of the
seventh century.

This village in north-western Syria, on the road between Antioch and
Mar`ash, marks the site of a town which lay near the southern border
or just within the Syrian district of Sam’al. The latter is first
mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions by Shalmaneser III, the son and
successor of the great conqueror, Ashur-nasir-pal; and in the first
half of the eighth century, though within the radius of Assyrian
influence, it was still an independent kingdom. It is to this period
that we must assign the earliest of the inscribed monuments discovered
at Zenjirli and its neighbourhood. At Gerjin, not far to the north-
west, was found the colossal statue of Hadad, chief god of the
Aramaeans, which was fashioned and set up in his honour by Panammu I,
son of Qaral and king of Ya’di.[1] In the long Aramaic inscription
engraved upon the statue Panammu records the prosperity of his reign,
which he ascribes to the support he has received from Hadad and his
other gods, El, Reshef, Rekub-el, and Shamash. He had evidently been
left in peace by Assyria, and the monument he erected to his god is of
Aramaean workmanship and design. But the influence of Assyria may be
traced in Hadad’s beard and in his horned head-dress, modelled on that
worn by Babylonian and Assyrian gods as the symbol of divine power.

[1] See F. von Luschan, /Sendschirli/, I. (1893), pp. 49 ff., pl. vi;
and cf. Cooke, /North Sem. Inscr./, pp. 159 ff. The characters of
the inscription on the statue are of the same archaic type as
those of the Moabite Stone, though unlike them they are engraved
in relief; so too are the inscriptions of Panammu’s later
successor Bar-rekub (see below). Gerjin was certainly in Ya’di,
and Winckler’s suggestion that Zenjirli itself also lay in that
district but near the border of Sam’al may be provisionally
accepted; the occurrence of the names in the inscriptions can be
explained in more than one way (see Cooke, op. cit., p. 183).

The political changes introduced into Ya’di and Sam’al by Tiglath-
pileser IV are reflected in the inscriptions and monuments of
Bar-rekub, a later king of the district. Internal strife had brought
disaster upon Ya’di and the throne had been secured by Panammu II, son
of Bar-sur, whose claims received Assyrian support. In the words of
his son Bar-rekub, “he laid hold of the skirt of his lord, the king of
Assyria”, who was gracious to him; and it was probably at this time,
and as a reward for his loyalty, that Ya’di was united with the
neighbouring district of Sam’al. But Panammu’s devotion to his foreign
master led to his death, for he died at the siege of Damascus, in 733
or 732 B.C., “in the camp, while following his lord, Tiglath-pileser,
king of Assyria”. His kinsfolk and the whole camp bewailed him, and
his body was sent back to Ya’di, where it was interred by his son, who
set up an inscribed statue to his memory. Bar-rekub followed in his
father’s footsteps, as he leads us to infer in his palace-inscription
found at Zenjirli: “I ran at the wheel of my lord, the king of
Assyria, in the midst of mighty kings, possessors of silver and
possessors of gold.” It is not strange therefore that his art should
reflect Assyrian influence far more strikingly than that of Panammu I.
The figure of himself which he caused to be carved in relief on the
left side of the palace-inscription is in the Assyrian style,[1] and
so too is another of his reliefs from Zenjirli. On the latter
Bar-rekub is represented seated upon his throne with eunuch and scribe
in attendance, while in the field is the emblem of full moon and
crescent, here ascribed to “Ba`al of Harran”, the famous centre of
moon-worship in Northern Mesopotamia.[2] [1] /Sendschirli/, IV (1911), pl. lxvii. Attitude and treatment of
robes are both Assyrian, and so is the arrangement of divine
symbols in the upper field, though some of the latter are given
under unfamiliar forms. The king’s close-fitting peaked cap was
evidently the royal headdress of Sam’al; see the royal figure on a
smaller stele of inferior design, op. cit., pl. lxvi.

[2] Op. cit. pp. 257, 346 ff., and pl. lx. The general style of the
sculpture and much of the detail are obviously Assyrian. Assyrian
influence is particularly noticeable in Bar-rekub’s throne; the
details of its decoration are precisely similar to those of an
Assyrian bronze throne in the British Museum. The full moon and
crescent are not of the familiar form, but are mounted on a
standard with tassels.

The detailed history and artistic development of Sam’al and Ya’di
convey a very vivid impression of the social and material effects upon
the native population of Syria, which followed the westward advance of
Assyria in the eighth century. We realize not only the readiness of
one party in the state to defeat its rival with the help of Assyrian
support, but also the manner in which the life and activities of the
nation as a whole were unavoidably affected by their action. Other
Hittite-Aramaean and Phoenician monuments, as yet undocumented with
literary records, exhibit a strange but not unpleasing mixture of
foreign /motifs/, such as we see on the stele from Amrith[1] in the
inland district of Arvad. But perhaps the most remarkable example of
Syrian art we possess is the king’s gate recently discovered at
Carchemish.[2] The presence of the hieroglyphic inscriptions points to
the survival of Hittite tradition, but the figures represented in the
reliefs are of Aramaean, not Hittite, type. Here the king is seen
leading his eldest son by the hand in some stately ceremonial, and
ranged in registers behind them are the younger members of the royal
family, whose ages are indicated by their occupations.[3] The
employment of basalt in place of limestone does not disguise the
sculptor’s debt to Assyria. But the design is entirely his own, and
the combined dignity and homeliness of the composition are
refreshingly superior to the arrogant spirit and hard execution which
mar so much Assyrian work. This example is particularly instructive,
as it shows how a borrowed art may be developed in skilled hands and
made to serve a purpose in complete harmony with its new environment.

[1] /Collection de Clercq/, t. II, pl. xxxvi. The stele is sculptured
in relief with the figure of a North Syrian god. Here the winged
disk is Egyptian, as well as the god’s helmet with uraeus, and his
loin-cloth; his attitude and his supporting lion are Hittite; and
the lozenge-mountains, on which the lion stands, and the technique
of the carving are Assyrian. But in spite of its composite
character the design is quite successful and not in the least

[2] Hogarth, /Carchemish/, Pt. I (1914), pl. B. 7 f.

[3] Two of the older boys play at knuckle-bones, others whip spinning-
tops, and a little naked girl runs behind supporting herself with
a stick, on the head of which is carved a bird. The procession is
brought up by the queen-mother, who carries the youngest baby and
leads a pet lamb.

Such monuments surely illustrate the adaptability of the Semitic
craftsman among men of Phoenician and Aramaean strain. Excavation in
Palestine has failed to furnish examples of Hebrew work. But Hebrew
tradition itself justifies us in regarding this /trait/ as of more
general application, or at any rate as not repugnant to Hebrew
thought, when it relates that Solomon employed Tyrian craftsmen for
work upon the Temple and its furniture; for Phoenician art was
essentially Egyptian in its origin and general character. Even Eshmun-
`zar’s desire for burial in an Egyptian sarcophagus may be paralleled
in Hebrew tradition of a much earlier period, when, in the last verse
of Genesis,[1] it is recorded that Joseph died, “and they embalmed
him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt”. Since it formed the subject
of prophetic denunciation, I refrain for the moment from citing the
notorious adoption of Assyrian customs at certain periods of the later
Judaean monarchy. The two records I have referred to will suffice, for
we have in them cherished traditions, of which the Hebrews themselves
were proud, concerning the most famous example of Hebrew religious
architecture and the burial of one of the patriarchs of the race. A
similar readiness to make use of the best available resources, even of
foreign origin, may on analogy be regarded as at least possible in the
composition of Hebrew literature.

[1] Gen. l. 26, assigned by critics to E.

We shall see that the problems we have to face concern the possible
influence of Babylon, rather than of Egypt, upon Hebrew tradition. And
one last example, drawn from the later period, will serve to
demonstrate how Babylonian influence penetrated the ancient world and
has even left some trace upon modern civilization. It is a fact,
though one perhaps not generally realized, that the twelve divisions
on the dials of our clocks and watches have a Babylonian, and
ultimately a Sumerian, ancestry. For why is it we divide the day into
twenty-four hours? We have a decimal system of reckoning, we count by
tens; why then should we divide the day and night into twelve hours
each, instead of into ten or some multiple of ten? The reason is that
the Babylonians divided the day into twelve double-hours; and the
Greeks took over their ancient system of time-division along with
their knowledge of astronomy and passed it on to us. So if we
ourselves, after more than two thousand years, are making use of an
old custom from Babylon, it would not be surprising if the Hebrews, a
contemporary race, should have fallen under her influence even before
they were carried away as captives and settled forcibly upon her

We may pass on, then, to the site from which our new material has been
obtained–the ancient city of Nippur, in central Babylonia. Though the
place has been deserted for at least nine hundred years, its ancient
name still lingers on in local tradition, and to this day /Niffer/ or
/Nuffar/ is the name the Arabs give the mounds which cover its
extensive ruins. No modern town or village has been built upon them or
in their immediate neighbourhood. The nearest considerable town is
Dîwânîyah, on the left bank of the Hillah branch of the Euphrates,
twenty miles to the south-west; but some four miles to the south of
the ruins is the village of Sûq el-`Afej, on the eastern edge of the
`Afej marshes, which begin to the south of Nippur and stretch away
westward. Protected by its swamps, the region contains a few primitive
settlements of the wild `Afej tribesmen, each a group of reed-huts
clustering around the mud fort of its ruling sheikh. Their chief
enemies are the Shammâr, who dispute with them possession of the
pastures. In summer the marshes near the mounds are merely pools of
water connected by channels through the reed-beds, but in spring the
flood-water converts them into a vast lagoon, and all that meets the
eye are a few small hamlets built on rising knolls above the water-
level. Thus Nippur may be almost isolated during the floods, but the
mounds are protected from the waters’ encroachment by an outer ring of
former habitation which has slightly raised the level of the
encircling area. The ruins of the city stand from thirty to seventy
feet above the plain, and in the north-eastern corner there rose,
before the excavations, a conical mound, known by the Arabs as /Bint
el-Emîr/ or “The Princess”. This prominent landmark represents the
temple-tower of Enlil’s famous sanctuary, and even after excavation it
is still the first object that the approaching traveller sees on the
horizon. When he has climbed its summit he enjoys an uninterrupted
view over desert and swamp.

The cause of Nippur’s present desolation is to be traced to the change
in the bed of the Euphrates, which now lies far to the west. But in
antiquity the stream flowed through the centre of the city, along the
dry bed of the Shatt en-Nîl, which divides the mounds into an eastern
and a western group. The latter covers the remains of the city proper
and was occupied in part by the great business-houses and bazaars.
Here more than thirty thousand contracts and accounts, dating from the
fourth millennium to the fifth century B.C., were found in houses
along the former river-bank. In the eastern half of the city was
Enlil’s great temple Ekur, with its temple-tower Imkharsag rising in
successive stages beside it. The huge temple-enclosure contained not
only the sacrificial shrines, but also the priests’ apartments, store-
chambers, and temple-magazines. Outside its enclosing wall, to the
south-west, a large triangular mound, christened “Tablet Hill” by the
excavators, yielded a further supply of records. In addition to
business-documents of the First Dynasty of Babylon and of the later
Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Persian periods, between two and three
thousand literary texts and fragments were discovered here, many of
them dating from the Sumerian period. And it is possible that some of
the early literary texts that have been published were obtained in
other parts of the city.

No less than twenty-one different strata, representing separate
periods of occupation, have been noted by the American excavators at
various levels within the Nippur mounds,[1] the earliest descending to
virgin soil some twenty feet below the present level of the
surrounding plain. The remote date of Nippur’s foundation as a city
and cult-centre is attested by the fact that the pavement laid by
Narâm-Sin in the south-eastern temple-court lies thirty feet above
virgin soil, while only thirty-six feet of superimposed /débris/
represent the succeeding millennia of occupation down to Sassanian and
early Arab times. In the period of the Hebrew captivity the city still
ranked as a great commercial market and as one of the most sacred
repositories of Babylonian religious tradition. We know that not far
off was Tel-abib, the seat of one of the colonies of Jewish exiles,
for that lay “by the river of Chebar”,[2] which we may identify with
the Kabaru Canal in Nippur’s immediate neighbourhood. It was “among
the captives by the river Chebar” that Ezekiel lived and prophesied,
and it was on Chebar’s banks that he saw his first vision of the
Cherubim.[3] He and other of the Jewish exiles may perhaps have
mingled with the motley crowd that once thronged the streets of
Nippur, and they may often have gazed on the huge temple-tower which
rose above the city’s flat roofs. We know that the later population of
Nippur itself included a considerable Jewish element, for the upper
strata of the mounds have yielded numerous clay bowls with Hebrew,
Mandaean, and Syriac magical inscriptions;[4] and not the least
interesting of the objects recovered was the wooden box of a Jewish
scribe, containing his pen and ink-vessel and a little scrap of
crumbling parchment inscribed with a few Hebrew characters.[5] [1] See Hilprecht, /Explorations in Bible Lands/, pp. 289 ff., 540
ff.; and Fisher, /Excavations at Nippur/, Pt. I (1905), Pt. II

[2] Ezek. iii. 15.

[3] Ezek. i. 1, 3; iii. 23; and cf. x. 15, 20, 22, and xliii. 3.

[4] See J. A. Montgomery, /Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur/,

[5] Hilprecht, /Explorations/, p. 555 f.

Of the many thousands of inscribed clay tablets which were found in
the course of the expeditions, some were kept at Constantinople, while
others were presented by the Sultan Abdul Hamid to the excavators, who
had them conveyed to America. Since that time a large number have been
published. The work was necessarily slow, for many of the texts were
found to be in an extremely bad state of preservation. So it happened
that a great number of the boxes containing tablets remained until
recently still packed up in the store-rooms of the Pennsylvania
Museum. But under the present energetic Director of the Museum, Dr. G.
B. Gordon, the process of arranging and publishing the mass of
literary material has been “speeded up”. A staff of skilled workmen
has been employed on the laborious task of cleaning the broken tablets
and fitting the fragments together. At the same time the help of
several Assyriologists was welcomed in the further task of running
over and sorting the collections as they were prepared for study.
Professor Clay, Professor Barton, Dr. Langdon, Dr. Edward Chiera, and
Dr. Arno Poebel have all participated in the work. But the lion’s
share has fallen to the last-named scholar, who was given leave of
absence by John Hopkins University in order to take up a temporary
appointment at the Pennsylvania Museum. The result of his labours was
published by the Museum at the end of 1914.[1] The texts thus made
available for study are of very varied interest. A great body of them
are grammatical and represent compilations made by Semitic scribes of
the period of Hammurabi’s dynasty for their study of the old Sumerian
tongue. Containing, as most of them do, Semitic renderings of the
Sumerian words and expressions collected, they are as great a help to
us in our study of Sumerian language as they were to their compilers;
in particular they have thrown much new light on the paradigms of the
demonstrative and personal pronouns and on Sumerian verbal forms. But
literary texts are also included in the recent publications.

[1] Poebel, /Historical Texts/ and /Historical and Grammatical Texts/
(Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sect., Vol. IV, No. 1, and Vol.
V), Philadelphia, 1914.

When the Pennsylvania Museum sent out its first expedition, lively
hopes were entertained that the site selected would yield material of
interest from the biblical standpoint. The city of Nippur, as we have
seen, was one of the most sacred and most ancient religious centres in
the country, and Enlil, its city-god, was the head of the Babylonian
pantheon. On such a site it seemed likely that we might find versions
of the Babylonian legends which were current at the dawn of history
before the city of Babylonia and its Semitic inhabitants came upon the
scene. This expectation has proved to be not unfounded, for the
literary texts include the Sumerian Deluge Version and Creation myth
to which I referred at the beginning of the lecture. Other texts of
almost equal interest consist of early though fragmentary lists of
historical and semi-mythical rulers. They prove that Berossus and the
later Babylonians depended on material of quite early origin in
compiling their dynasties of semi-mythical kings. In them we obtain a
glimpse of ages more remote than any on which excavation in Babylonia
has yet thrown light, and for the first time we have recovered genuine
native tradition of early date with regard to the cradle of Babylonian
culture. Before we approach the Sumerian legends themselves, it will
be as well to-day to trace back in this tradition the gradual merging
of history into legend and myth, comparing at the same time the
ancient Egyptian’s picture of his own remote past. We will also
ascertain whether any new light is thrown by our inquiry upon Hebrew
traditions concerning the earliest history of the human race and the
origins of civilization.

In the study of both Egyptian and Babylonian chronology there has been
a tendency of late years to reduce the very early dates that were
formerly in fashion. But in Egypt, while the dynasties of Manetho have
been telescoped in places, excavation has thrown light on predynastic
periods, and we can now trace the history of culture in the Nile
Valley back, through an unbroken sequence, to its neolithic stage.
Quite recently, too, as I mentioned just now, a fresh literary record
of these early predynastic periods has been recovered, on a fragment
of the famous Palermo Stele, our most valuable monument for early
Egyptian history and chronology. Egypt presents a striking contrast to
Babylonia in the comparatively small number of written records which
have survived for the reconstruction of her history. We might well
spare much of her religious literature, enshrined in endless temple-
inscriptions and papyri, if we could but exchange it for some of the
royal annals of Egyptian Pharaohs. That historical records of this
character were compiled by the Egyptian scribes, and that they were as
detailed and precise in their information as those we have recovered
from Assyrian sources, is clear from the few extracts from the annals
of Thothmes III’s wars which are engraved on the walls of the temple
at Karnak.[1] As in Babylonia and Assyria, such records must have
formed the foundation on which summaries of chronicles of past
Egyptian history were based. In the Palermo Stele it is recognized
that we possess a primitive chronicle of this character.

[1] See Breasted, /Ancient Records/, I, p. 4, II, pp. 163 ff.

Drawn up as early as the Vth Dynasty, its historical summary proves
that from the beginning of the dynastic age onward a yearly record was
kept of the most important achievements of the reigning Pharaoh. In
this fragmentary but invaluable epitome, recording in outline much of
the history of the Old Kingdom,[1] some interesting parallels have
long been noted with Babylonian usage. The early system of time-
reckoning, for example, was the same in both countries, each year
being given an official title from the chief event that occurred in
it. And although in Babylonia we are still without material for
tracing the process by which this cumbrous method gave place to that
of reckoning by regnal years, the Palermo Stele demonstrates the way
in which the latter system was evolved in Egypt. For the events from
which the year was named came gradually to be confined to the fiscal
“numberings” of cattle and land. And when these, which at first had
taken place at comparatively long intervals, had become annual events,
the numbered sequence of their occurrence corresponded precisely to
the years of the king’s reign. On the stele, during the dynastic
period, each regnal year is allotted its own space or rectangle,[2] arranged in horizontal sequence below the name and titles of the
ruling king.

[1] Op. cit., I, pp. 57 ff.

[2] The spaces are not strictly rectangles, as each is divided
vertically from the next by the Egyptian hieroglyph for “year”.

The text, which is engraved on both sides of a great block of black
basalt, takes its name from the fact that the fragment hitherto known
has been preserved since 1877 at the Museum of Palermo. Five other
fragments of the text have now been published, of which one
undoubtedly belongs to the same monument as the Palermo fragment,
while the others may represent parts of one or more duplicate copies
of that famous text. One of the four Cairo fragments[1] was found by a
digger for /sebakh/ at Mitrahîneh (Memphis); the other three, which
were purchased from a dealer, are said to have come from Minieh, while
the fifth fragment, at University College, is also said to have come
from Upper Egypt,[2] though it was purchased by Professor Petrie while
at Memphis. These reports suggest that a number of duplicate copies
were engraved and set up in different Egyptian towns, and it is
possible that the whole of the text may eventually be recovered. The
choice of basalt for the records was obviously dictated by a desire
for their preservation, but it has had the contrary effect; for the
blocks of this hard and precious stone have been cut up and reused in
later times. The largest and most interesting of the new fragments has
evidently been employed as a door-sill, with the result that its
surface is much rubbed and parts of its text are unfortunately almost
undecipherable. We shall see that the earliest section of its record
has an important bearing on our knowledge of Egyptian predynastic
history and on the traditions of that remote period which have come
down to us from the history of Manetho.

[1] See Gautier, /Le Musée Égyptien/, III (1915), pp. 29 ff., pl. xxiv
ff., and Foucart, /Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie
Orientale/, XII, ii (1916), pp. 161 ff.; and cf. Gardiner, /Journ.
of Egypt. Arch./, III, pp. 143 ff., and Petrie, /Ancient Egypt/,
1916, Pt. III, pp. 114 ff.

[2] Cf. Petrie, op. cit., pp. 115, 120.

From the fragment of the stele preserved at Palermo we already knew
that its record went back beyond the Ist Dynasty into predynastic
times. For part of the top band of the inscription, which is there
preserved, contains nine names borne by kings of Lower Egypt or the
Delta, which, it had been conjectured, must follow the gods of Manetho
and precede the “Worshippers of Horus”, the immediate predecessors of
the Egyptian dynasties.[1] But of contemporary rulers of Upper Egypt
we had hitherto no knowledge, since the supposed royal names
discovered at Abydos and assigned to the time of the “Worshippers of
Horus” are probably not royal names at all.[2] With the possible
exception of two very archaic slate palettes, the first historical
memorials recovered from the south do not date from an earlier period
than the beginning of the Ist Dynasty. The largest of the Cairo
fragments now helps us to fill in this gap in our knowledge.

[1] See Breasted, /Anc. Rec./, I, pp. 52, 57.

[2] Cf. Hall, /Ancient History of the Near East/, p. 99 f.

On the top of the new fragment[1] we meet the same band of rectangles
as at Palermo,[2] but here their upper portions are broken away, and
there only remains at the base of each of them the outlined figure of
a royal personage, seated in the same attitude as those on the Palermo
stone. The remarkable fact about these figures is that, with the
apparent exception of the third figure from the right,[3] each wears,
not the Crown of the North, as at Palermo, but the Crown of the South.
We have then to do with kings of Upper Egypt, not the Delta, and it is
no longer possible to suppose that the predynastic rulers of the
Palermo Stele were confined to those of Lower Egypt, as reflecting
northern tradition. Rulers of both halves of the country are
represented, and Monsieur Gautier has shown,[4] from data on the
reverse of the inscription, that the kings of the Delta were arranged
on the original stone before the rulers of the south who are outlined
upon our new fragment. Moreover, we have now recovered definite proof
that this band of the inscription is concerned with predynastic
Egyptian princes; for the cartouche of the king, whose years are
enumerated in the second band immediately below the kings of the
south, reads Athet, a name we may with certainty identify with
Athothes, the second successor of Menes, founder of the Ist Dynasty,
which is already given under the form Ateth in the Abydos List of
Kings.[5] It is thus quite certain that the first band of the
inscription relates to the earlier periods before the two halves of
the country were brought together under a single ruler.

[1] Cairo No. 1; see Gautier, /Mus. Égypt./, III, pl. xxiv f.

[2] In this upper band the spaces are true rectangles, being separated
by vertical lines, not by the hieroglyph for “year” as in the
lower bands; and each rectangle is assigned to a separate king,
and not, as in the other bands, to a year of a king’s reign.

[3] The difference in the crown worn by this figure is probably only
apparent and not intentional; M. Foucart, after a careful
examination of the fragment, concludes that it is due to
subsequent damage or to an original defect in the stone; cf.
/Bulletin/, XII, ii, p. 162.

[4] Op. cit., p. 32 f.

[5] In Manetho’s list he corresponds to {Kenkenos}, the second
successor of Menes according to both Africanus and Eusebius, who
assign the name Athothis to the second ruler of the dynasty only,
the Teta of the Abydos List. The form Athothes is preserved by
Eratosthenes for both of Menes’ immediate successors.

Though the tradition of these remote times is here recorded on a
monument of the Vth Dynasty, there is no reason to doubt its general
accuracy, or to suppose that we are dealing with purely mythological
personages. It is perhaps possible, as Monsieur Foucart suggests, that
missing portions of the text may have carried the record back through
purely mythical periods to Ptah and the Creation. In that case we
should have, as we shall see, a striking parallel to early Sumerian
tradition. But in the first extant portions of the Palermo text we are
already in the realm of genuine tradition. The names preserved appear
to be those of individuals, not of mythological creations, and we may
assume that their owners really existed. For though the invention of
writing had not at that time been achieved, its place was probably
taken by oral tradition. We know that with certain tribes of Africa at
the present day, who possess no knowledge of writing, there are
functionaries charged with the duty of preserving tribal traditions,
who transmit orally to their successors a remembrance of past chiefs
and some details of events that occurred centuries before.[1] The
predynastic Egyptians may well have adopted similar means for
preserving a remembrance of their past history.

[1] M. Foucart illustrates this point by citing the case of the
Bushongos, who have in this way preserved a list of no less than a
hundred and twenty-one of their past kings; op. cit., p. 182, and
cf. Tordey and Joyce, “Les Bushongos”, in /Annales du Musée du
Congo Belge/, sér. III, t. II, fasc. i (Brussels, 1911).

Moreover, the new text furnishes fresh proof of the general accuracy
of Manetho, even when dealing with traditions of this prehistoric age.
On the stele there is no definite indication that these two sets of
predynastic kings were contemporaneous rulers of Lower and Upper Egypt
respectively; and since elsewhere the lists assign a single sovereign
to each epoch, it has been suggested that we should regard them as
successive representatives of the legitimate kingdom.[1] Now Manetho,
after his dynasties of gods and demi-gods, states that thirty Memphite
kings reigned for 1,790 years, and were followed by ten Thinite kings
whose reigns covered a period of 350 years. Neglecting the figures as
obviously erroneous, we may well admit that the Greek historian here
alludes to our two pre-Menite dynasties. But the fact that he should
regard them as ruling consecutively does not preclude the other
alternative. The modern convention of arranging lines of
contemporaneous rulers in parallel columns had not been evolved in
antiquity, and without some such method of distinction contemporaneous
rulers, when enumerated in a list, can only be registered
consecutively. It would be natural to assume that, before the
unification of Egypt by the founder of the Ist Dynasty, the rulers of
North and South were independent princes, possessing no traditions of
a united throne on which any claim to hegemony could be based. On the
assumption that this was so, their arrangement in a consecutive series
would not have deceived their immediate successors. But it would
undoubtedly tend in course of time to obliterate the tradition of
their true order, which even at the period of the Vth Dynasty may have
been completely forgotten. Manetho would thus have introduced no
strange or novel confusion; and this explanation would of course apply
to other sections of his system where the dynasties he enumerates
appear to be too many for their period. But his reproduction of two
lines of predynastic rulers, supported as it now is by the early
evidence of the Palermo text, only serves to increase our confidence
in the general accuracy of his sources, while at the same time it
illustrates very effectively the way in which possible inaccuracies,
deduced from independent data, may have arisen in quite early times.

[1] Foucart, loc. cit.

In contrast to the dynasties of Manetho, those of Berossus are so
imperfectly preserved that they have never formed the basis of
Babylonian chronology.[1] But here too, in the chronological scheme, a
similar process of reduction has taken place. Certain dynasties,
recovered from native sources and at one time regarded as consecutive,
were proved to have been contemporaneous; and archaeological evidence
suggested that some of the great gaps, so freely assumed in the royal
sequence, had no right to be there. As a result, the succession of
known rulers was thrown into truer perspective, and such gaps as
remained were being partially filled by later discoveries. Among the
latter the most important find was that of an early list of kings,
recently published by Père Scheil[2] and subsequently purchased by the
British Museum shortly before the war. This had helped us to fill in
the gap between the famous Sargon of Akkad and the later dynasties,
but it did not carry us far beyond Sargon’s own time. Our
archaeological evidence also comes suddenly to an end. Thus the
earliest picture we have hitherto obtained of the Sumerians has been
that of a race employing an advanced system of writing and possessed
of a knowledge of metal. We have found, in short, abundant remains of
a bronze-age culture, but no traces of preceding ages of development
such as meet us on early Egyptian sites. It was a natural inference
that the advent of the Sumerians in the Euphrates Valley was sudden,
and that they had brought their highly developed culture with them
from some region of Central or Southern Asia.

[1] While the evidence of Herodotus is extraordinarily valuable for
the details he gives of the civilizations of both Egypt and
Babylonia, and is especially full in the case of the former, it is
of little practical use for the chronology. In Egypt his report of
the early history is confused, and he hardly attempts one for
Babylonia. It is probable that on such subjects he sometimes
misunderstood his informants, the priests, whose traditions were
more accurately reproduced by the later native writers Manetho and
Berossus. For a detailed comparison of classical authorities in
relation to both countries, see Griffith in Hogarth’s /Authority
and Archaeology/, pp. 161 ff.

[2] See /Comptes rendus/, 1911 (Oct.), pp. 606 ff., and /Rev.
d’Assyr./, IX (1912), p. 69.

The newly published Nippur documents will cause us to modify that
view. The lists of early kings were themselves drawn up under the
Dynasty of Nîsin in the twenty-second century B.C., and they give us
traces of possibly ten and at least eight other “kingdoms” before the
earliest dynasty of the known lists.[1] One of their novel features is
that they include summaries at the end, in which it is stated how
often a city or district enjoyed the privilege of being the seat of
supreme authority in Babylonia. The earliest of their sections lie
within the legendary period, and though in the third dynasty preserved
we begin to note signs of a firmer historical tradition, the great
break that then occurs in the text is at present only bridged by
titles of various “kingdoms” which the summaries give; a few even of
these are missing and the relative order of the rest is not assured.
But in spite of their imperfect state of preservation, these documents
are of great historical value and will furnish a framework for future
chronological schemes. Meanwhile we may attribute to some of the later
dynasties titles in complete agreement with Sumerian tradition. The
dynasty of Ur-Engur, for example, which preceded that of Nîsin,
becomes, if we like, the Third Dynasty of Ur. Another important fact
which strikes us after a scrutiny of the early royal names recovered
is that, while two or three are Semitic,[2] the great majority of
those borne by the earliest rulers of Kish, Erech, and Ur are as
obviously Sumerian.

[1] See Poebel, /Historical Texts/, pp. 73 ff. and /Historical and
Grammatical Texts/, pl. ii-iv, Nos. 2-5. The best preserved of the
lists is No. 2; Nos. 3 and 4 are comparatively small fragments;
and of No. 5 the obverse only is here published for the first
time, the contents of the reverse having been made known some
years ago by Hilprecht (cf. /Mathematical, Metrological, and
Chronological Tablets/, p. 46 f., pl. 30, No. 47). The fragments
belong to separate copies of the Sumerian dynastic record, and it
happens that the extant portions of their text in some places
cover the same period and are duplicates of one another.

[2] Cf., e.g., two of the earliest kings of Kish, Galumum and Zugagib.
The former is probably the Semitic-Babylonian word /kalumum/,
“young animal, lamb,” the latter /zukakîbum/, “scorpion”; cf.
Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 111. The occurrence of these names
points to Semitic infiltration into Northern Babylonia since the
dawn of history, a state of things we should naturally expect. It
is improbable that on this point Sumerian tradition should have
merely reflected the conditions of a later period.

It is clear that in native tradition, current among the Sumerians
themselves before the close of the third millennium, their race was
regarded as in possession of Babylonia since the dawn of history. This
at any rate proves that their advent was not sudden nor comparatively
recent, and it further suggests that Babylonia itself was the cradle
of their civilization. It will be the province of future
archaeological research to fill out the missing dynasties and to
determine at what points in the list their strictly historical basis
disappears. Some, which are fortunately preserved near the beginning,
bear on their face their legendary character. But for our purpose they
are none the worse for that.

In the first two dynasties, which had their seats at the cities of
Kish and Erech, we see gods mingling with men upon the earth. Tammuz,
the god of vegetation, for whose annual death Ezekiel saw women
weeping beside the Temple at Jerusalem, is here an earthly monarch. He
appears to be described as “a hunter”, a phrase which recalls the
death of Adonis in Greek mythology. According to our Sumerian text he
reigned in Erech for a hundred years.

Another attractive Babylonian legend is that of Etana, the prototype
of Icarus and hero of the earliest dream of human flight.[1] Clinging
to the pinions of his friend the Eagle he beheld the world and its
encircling stream recede beneath him; and he flew through the gate of
heaven, only to fall headlong back to earth. He is here duly entered
in the list, where we read that “Etana, the shepherd who ascended to
heaven, who subdued all lands”, ruled in the city of Kish for 635

[1] The Egyptian conception of the deceased Pharaoh ascending to
heaven as a falcon and becoming merged into the sun, which first
occurs in the Pyramid texts (see Gardiner in Cumont’s /Études
Syriennes/, pp. 109 ff.), belongs to a different range of ideas.
But it may well have been combined with the Etana tradition to
produce the funerary eagle employed so commonly in Roman Syria in
representations of the emperor’s apotheosis (cf. Cumont, op. cit.,
pp. 37 ff., 115).

The god Lugal-banda is another hero of legend. When the hearts of the
other gods failed them, he alone recovered the Tablets of Fate, stolen
by the bird-god Zû from Enlil’s palace. He is here recorded to have
reigned in Erech for 1,200 years.

Tradition already told us that Erech was the native city of Gilgamesh,
the hero of the national epic, to whom his ancestor Ut-napishtim
related the story of the Flood. Gilgamesh too is in our list, as king
of Erech for 126 years.

We have here in fact recovered traditions of Post-diluvian kings.
Unfortunately our list goes no farther back than that, but it is
probable that in its original form it presented a general
correspondence to the system preserved from Berossus, which enumerates
ten Antediluvian kings, the last of them Xisuthros, the hero of the
Deluge. Indeed, for the dynastic period, the agreement of these old
Sumerian lists with the chronological system of Berossus is striking.
The latter, according to Syncellus, gives 34,090 or 34,080 years as
the total duration of the historical period, apart from his preceding
mythical ages, while the figure as preserved by Eusebius is 33,091
years.[1] The compiler of one of our new lists,[2] writing some 1,900
years earlier, reckons that the dynastic period in his day had lasted
for 32,243 years. Of course all these figures are mythical, and even
at the time of the Sumerian Dynasty of Nîsin variant traditions were
current with regard to the number of historical and semi-mythical
kings of Babylonia and the duration of their rule. For the earlier
writer of another of our lists,[3] separated from the one already
quoted by an interval of only sixty-seven years, gives 28,876[4] years
as the total duration of the dynasties at his time. But in spite of
these discrepancies, the general resemblance presented by the huge
totals in the variant copies of the list to the alternative figures of
Berossus, if we ignore his mythical period, is remarkable. They
indicate a far closer correspondence of the Greek tradition with that
of the early Sumerians themselves than was formerly suspected.

[1] The figure 34,090 is that given by Syncellus (ed. Dindorf, p.
147); but it is 34,080 in the equivalent which is added in “sars”,
&c. The discrepancy is explained by some as due to an intentional
omission of the units in the second reckoning; others would regard
34,080 as the correct figure (cf. /Hist. of Bab./, p. 114 f.). The
reading of ninety against eighty is supported by the 33,091 of
Eusebius (/Chron. lib. pri./, ed. Schoene, col. 25).

[2] No. 4.

[3] No. 2.

[4] The figures are broken, but the reading given may be accepted with
some confidence; see Poebel, /Hist. Inscr./, p. 103.

Further proof of this correspondence may be seen in the fact that the
new Sumerian Version of the Deluge Story, which I propose to discuss
in the second lecture, gives us a connected account of the world’s
history down to that point. The Deluge hero is there a Sumerian king
named Ziusudu, ruling in one of the newly created cities of Babylonia
and ministering at the shrine of his city-god. He is continually given
the royal title, and the foundation of the Babylonian “kingdom” is
treated as an essential part of Creation. We may therefore assume that
an Antediluvian period existed in Sumerian tradition as in
Berossus.[1] And I think Dr. Poebel is right in assuming that the
Nippur copies of the Dynastic List begin with the Post-diluvian
period.[2] [1] Of course it does not necessarily follow that the figure assigned
to the duration of the Antediluvian or mythical period by the
Sumerians would show so close a resemblance to that of Berossus as
we have already noted in their estimates of the dynastic or
historical period. But there is no need to assume that Berossus’
huge total of a hundred and twenty “sars” (432,000 years) is
entirely a product of Neo-Babylonian speculation; the total
432,000 is explained as representing ten months of a cosmic year,
each month consisting of twelve “sars”, i.e. 12 x 3600 = 43,200
years. The Sumerians themselves had no difficulty in picturing two
of their dynastic rulers as each reigning for two “ners” (1,200
years), and it would not be unlikely that “sars” were distributed
among still earlier rulers; the numbers were easily written. For
the unequal distribution of his hundred and twenty “sars” by
Berossus among his ten Antediluvian kings, see Appendix II.

[2] The exclusion of the Antediluvian period from the list may perhaps
be explained on the assumption that its compiler confined his
record to “kingdoms”, and that the mythical rulers who preceded
them did not form a “kingdom” within his definition of the term.
In any case we have a clear indication that an earlier period was
included before the true “kingdoms”, or dynasties, in an Assyrian
copy of the list, a fragment of which is preserved in the British
Museum from the Library of Ashur-bani-pal at Nineveh; see /Chron.
conc. Early Bab. Kings/ (Studies in East. Hist., II f.), Vol. I,
pp. 182 ff., Vol. II, pp. 48 ff., 143 f. There we find traces of
an extra column of text preceding that in which the first Kingdom
of Kish was recorded. It would seem almost certain that this extra
column was devoted to Antediluvian kings. The only alternative
explanation would be that it was inscribed with the summaries
which conclude the Sumerian copies of our list. But later scribes
do not so transpose their material, and the proper place for
summaries is at the close, not at the beginning, of a list. In the
Assyrian copy the Dynastic List is brought up to date, and extends
down to the later Assyrian period. Formerly its compiler could
only be credited with incorporating traditions of earlier times.
But the correspondence of the small fragment preserved of its
Second Column with part of the First Column of the Nippur texts
(including the name of “Enmennunna”) proves that the Assyrian
scribe reproduced an actual copy of the Sumerian document.

Though Professor Barton, on the other hand, holds that the Dynastic
List had no concern with the Deluge, his suggestion that the early
names preserved by it may have been the original source of Berossus’
Antediluvian rulers[1] may yet be accepted in a modified form. In
coming to his conclusion he may have been influenced by what seems to
me an undoubted correspondence between one of the rulers in our list
and the sixth Antediluvian king of Berossus. I think few will be
disposed to dispute the equation

{Daonos poimon} = Etana, a shepherd.

Each list preserves the hero’s shepherd origin and the correspondence
of the names is very close, Daonos merely transposing the initial
vowel of Etana.[2] That Berossus should have translated a Post-
diluvian ruler into the Antediluvian dynasty would not be at all
surprising in view of the absence of detailed correspondence between
his later dynasties and those we know actually occupied the Babylonian
throne. Moreover, the inclusion of Babylon in his list of Antediluvian
cities should make us hesitate to regard all the rulers he assigns to
his earliest dynasty as necessarily retaining in his list their
original order in Sumerian tradition. Thus we may with a clear
conscience seek equations between the names of Berossus’ Antediluvian
rulers and those preserved in the early part of our Dynastic List,
although we may regard the latter as equally Post-diluvian in Sumerian

[1] See the brief statement he makes in the course of a review of Dr.
Poebel’s volumes in the /American Journal of Semitic Languages and
Literature/, XXXI, April 1915, p. 225. He does not compare any of
the names, but he promises a study of those preserved and a
comparison of the list with Berossus and with Gen. iv and v. It is
possible that Professor Barton has already fulfilled his promise
of further discussion, perhaps in his /Archaeology and the Bible/,
to the publication of which I have seen a reference in another
connexion (cf. /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc., Vol. XXXVI, p. 291); but I
have not yet been able to obtain sight of a copy.

[2] The variant form {Daos} is evidently a mere contraction, and any
claim it may have had to represent more closely the original form
of the name is to be disregarded in view of our new equation.

This reflection, and the result already obtained, encourage us to
accept the following further equation, which is yielded by a renewed
scrutiny of the lists:

{‘Ammenon} = Enmenunna.

Here Ammenon, the fourth of Berossus’ Antediluvian kings, presents a
wonderfully close transcription of the Sumerian name. The /n/ of the
first syllable has been assimilated to the following consonant in
accordance with a recognized law of euphony, and the resultant
doubling of the /m/ is faithfully preserved in the Greek. Precisely
the same initial component, /Enme/, occurs in the name Enmeduranki,
borne by a mythical king of Sippar, who has long been recognized as
the original of Berossus’ seventh Antediluvian king, {Euedorakhos}.[1] There too the original /n/ has been assimilated, but the Greek form
retains no doubling of the /m/ and points to its further weakening.

[1] Var. {Euedoreskhos}; the second half of the original name,
Enmeduranki, is more closely preserved in /Edoranchus/, the form
given by the Armenian translator of Eusebius.

I do not propose to detain you with a detailed discussion of Sumerian
royal names and their possible Greek equivalents. I will merely point
out that the two suggested equations, which I venture to think we may
regard as established, throw the study of Berossus’ mythological
personages upon a new plane. No equivalent has hitherto been suggested
for {Daonos}; but {‘Ammenon} has been confidently explained as the
equivalent of a conjectured Babylonian original, Ummânu, lit.
“Workman”. The fact that we should now have recovered the Sumerian
original of the name, which proves to have no connexion in form or
meaning with the previously suggested Semitic equivalent, tends to
cast doubt on other Semitic equations proposed. Perhaps {‘Amelon} or
{‘Amillaros} may after all not prove to be the equivalent of Amêlu,
“Man”, nor {‘Amempsinos} that of Amêl-Sin. Both may find their true
equivalents in some of the missing royal names at the head of the
Sumerian Dynastic List. There too we may provisionally seek {‘Aloros},
the “first king”, whose equation with Aruru, the Babylonian mother-
goddess, never appeared a very happy suggestion.[1] The ingenious
proposal,[2] on the other hand, that his successor, {‘Alaparos},
represents a miscopied {‘Adaparos}, a Greek rendering of the name of
Adapa, may still hold good in view of Etana’s presence in the Sumerian
dynastic record. Ut-napishtim’s title, Khasisatra or Atrakhasis, “the
Very Wise”, still of course remains the established equivalent of
{Xisouthros}; but for {‘Otiartes} (? {‘Opartes}), a rival to Ubar-
Tutu, Ut-napishtim’s father, may perhaps appear. The new
identifications do not of course dispose of the old ones, except in
the case of Ummânu; but they open up a new line of approach and
provide a fresh field for conjecture.[3] Semitic, and possibly
contracted, originals are still possible for unidentified mythical
kings of Berossus; but such equations will inspire greater confidence,
should we be able to establish Sumerian originals for the Semitic
renderings, from new material already in hand or to be obtained in the

[1] Dr. Poebel (/Hist Inscr./, p. 42, n. 1) makes the interesting
suggestion that {‘Aloros} may represent an abbreviated and corrupt
form of the name Lal-ur-alimma, which has come down to us as that
of an early and mythical king of Nippur; see Rawlinson, /W.A.I./,
IV, 60 (67), V, 47 and 44, and cf. /Sev. Tabl. of Creat./, Vol. I,
p. 217, No. 32574, Rev., l. 2 f. It may be added that the
sufferings with which the latter is associated in the tradition
are perhaps such as might have attached themselves to the first
human ruler of the world; but the suggested equation, though
tempting by reason of the remote parallel it would thus furnish to
Adam’s fate, can at present hardly be accepted in view of the
possibility that a closer equation to {‘Aloros} may be

[2] Hommel, /Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol. XV (1893), p. 243.

[3] See further Appendix II.

But it is time I read you extracts from the earlier extant portions of
the Sumerian Dynastic List, in order to illustrate the class of
document with which we are dealing. From them it will be seen that the
record is not a tabular list of names like the well-known King’s Lists
of the Neo-Babylonian period. It is cast in the form of an epitomized
chronicle and gives under set formulae the length of each king’s
reign, and his father’s name in cases of direct succession to father
or brother. Short phrases are also sometimes added, or inserted in the
sentence referring to a king, in order to indicate his humble origin
or the achievement which made his name famous in tradition. The head
of the First Column of the text is wanting, and the first royal name
that is completely preserved is that of Galumum, the ninth or tenth
ruler of the earliest “kingdom”, or dynasty, of Kish. The text then
runs on connectedly for several lines:

Galumum ruled for nine hundred years.
Zugagib ruled for eight hundred and forty years.
Arpi, son of a man of the people, ruled for seven hundred and twenty
Etana, the shepherd who ascended to heaven, who subdued all lands,
ruled for six hundred and thirty-five years.[1] Pili . . ., son of Etana, ruled for four hundred and ten years.
Enmenunna ruled for six hundred and eleven years.
Melamkish, son of Enmenunna, ruled for nine hundred years.
Barsalnunna, son of Enmenunna, ruled for twelve hundred years.
Mesza[. . .], son of Barsalnunna, ruled for [. . .] years.
[. . .], son of Barsalnunna, ruled for [. . .] years.

[1] Possibly 625 years.

A small gap then occurs in the text, but we know that the last two
representatives of this dynasty of twenty-three kings are related to
have ruled for nine hundred years and six hundred and twenty-five
years respectively. In the Second Column of the text the lines are
also fortunately preserved which record the passing of the first
hegemony of Kish to the “Kingdom of Eanna”, the latter taking its name
from the famous temple of Anu and Ishtar in the old city of Erech. The
text continues:

The kingdom of Kish passed to Eanna.
In Eanna, Meskingasher, son of the Sun-god, ruled as high priest and
king for three hundred and twenty-five years. Meskingasher entered
into[1] [. . .] and ascended to [. . .].
Enmerkar, son of Meskingasher, the king of Erech who built [. . .] with the people of Erech,[2] ruled as king for four hundred and
twenty years.
Lugalbanda, the shepherd, ruled for twelve hundred years.
Dumuzi,[3], the hunter(?), whose city was . . ., ruled for a hundred
Gishbilgames,[4] whose father was A,[5] the high priest of Kullab,
ruled for one hundred and twenty-six[6] years.
[. . .]lugal, son of Gishbilgames, ruled for [. . .] years.

[1] The verb may also imply descent into.

[2] The phrase appears to have been imperfectly copied by the scribe.
As it stands the subordinate sentence reads “the king of Erech who
built with the people of Erech”. Either the object governed by the
verb has been omitted, in which case we might restore some such
phrase as “the city”; or, perhaps, by a slight transposition, we
should read “the king who built Erech with the people of Erech”.
In any case the first building of the city of Erech, as
distinguished from its ancient cult-centre Eanna, appears to be
recorded here in the tradition. This is the first reference to
Erech in the text; and Enmerkar’s father was high priest as well
as king.

[3] i.e. Tammuz.

[4] i.e. Gilgamesh.

[5] The name of the father of Gilgamesh is rather strangely expressed
by the single sign for the vowel /a/ and must apparently be read
as A. As there is a small break in the text at the end of this
line, Dr. Poebel not unnaturally assumed that A was merely the
first syllable of the name, of which the end was wanting. But it
has now been shown that the complete name was A; see Förtsch,
/Orient. Lit.-Zeit./, Vol. XVIII, No. 12 (Dec., 1915), col. 367
ff. The reading is deduced from the following entry in an Assyrian
explanatory list of gods (/Cun. Texts in the Brit. Mus./, Pt.
XXIV, pl. 25, ll. 29-31): “The god A, who is also equated to the
god Dubbisaguri (i.e. ‘Scribe of Ur’), is the priest of Kullab;
his wife is the goddess Ninguesirka (i.e. ‘Lady of the edge of the
street’).” A, the priest of Kullab and the husband of a goddess,
is clearly to be identified with A, the priest of Kullab and
father of Gilgamesh, for we know from the Gilgamesh Epic that the
hero’s mother was the goddess Ninsun. Whether Ninguesirka was a
title of Ninsun, or represents a variant tradition with regard to
the parentage of Gilgamesh on the mother’s side, we have in any
case confirmation of his descent from priest and goddess. It was
natural that A should be subsequently deified. This was not the
case at the time our text was inscribed, as the name is written
without the divine determinative.

[6] Possibly 186 years.

This group of early kings of Erech is of exceptional interest. Apart
from its inclusion of Gilgamesh and the gods Tammuz and Lugalbanda,
its record of Meskingasher’s reign possibly refers to one of the lost
legends of Erech. Like him Melchizedek, who comes to us in a chapter
of Genesis reflecting the troubled times of Babylon’s First
Dynasty,[1] was priest as well as king.[2] Tradition appears to have
credited Meskingasher’s son and successor, Enmerkar, with the building
of Erech as a city around the first settlement Eanna, which had
already given its name to the “kingdom”. If so, Sumerian tradition
confirms the assumption of modern research that the great cities of
Babylonia arose around the still more ancient cult-centres of the
land. We shall have occasion to revert to the traditions here recorded
concerning the parentage of Meskingasher, the founder of this line of
kings, and that of its most famous member, Gilgamesh. Meanwhile we may
note that the closing rulers of the “Kingdom of Eanna” are wanting.
When the text is again preserved, we read of the hegemony passing from
Erech to Ur and thence to Awan:

The k[ingdom of Erech[3] passed to] Ur.
In Ur Mesannipada became king and ruled for eighty years.
Meskiagunna, son of Mesannipada, ruled for thirty years.
Elu[. . .] ruled for twenty-five years.
Balu[. . .] ruled for thirty-six years.
Four kings (thus) ruled for a hundred and seventy-one years.
The kingdom of Ur passed to Awan.
In Awan . . .

[1] Cf. /Hist. of Bab./, p. 159 f.

[2] Gen. xiv. 18.

[3] The restoration of Erech here, in place of Eanna, is based on the
absence of the latter name in the summary; after the building of
Erech by Enmerkar, the kingdom was probably reckoned as that of

With the “Kingdom of Ur” we appear to be approaching a firmer
historical tradition, for the reigns of its rulers are recorded in
decades, not hundreds of years. But we find in the summary, which
concludes the main copy of our Dynastic List, that the kingdom of
Awan, though it consisted of but three rulers, is credited with a
total duration of three hundred and fifty-six years, implying that we
are not yet out of the legendary stratum. Since Awan is proved by
newly published historical inscriptions from Nippur to have been an
important deity of Elam at the time of the Dynasty of Akkad,[1] we
gather that the “Kingdom of Awan” represented in Sumerian tradition
the first occasion on which the country passed for a time under
Elamite rule. At this point a great gap occurs in the text, and when
the detailed dynastic succession in Babylonia is again assured, we
have passed definitely from the realm of myth and legend into that of
history.[2] [1] Poebel, /Hist. Inscr./, p. 128.

[2] See further, Appendix II.

What new light, then, do these old Sumerian records throw on Hebrew
traditions concerning the early ages of mankind? I think it will be
admitted that there is something strangely familiar about some of
those Sumerian extracts I read just now. We seem to hear in them the
faint echo of another narrative, like them but not quite the same.

And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years;
and he died.
And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enosh: and Seth
lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and
begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Seth were nine
hundred and twelve years: and he died.
. . . and all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years:
and he died.
. . . and all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years: and
he died.
. . . and all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred ninety and
five years: and he died.
. . . and all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two
years: and he died.
. . . and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five
years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took
. . . and all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and
nine years: and he died.
. . . and all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and
seven years: and he died.
And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and

Throughout these extracts from “the book of the generations of
Adam”,[1] Galumum’s nine hundred years[2] seem to run almost like a
refrain; and Methuselah’s great age, the recognized symbol for
longevity, is even exceeded by two of the Sumerian patriarchs. The
names in the two lists are not the same,[3] but in both we are moving
in the same atmosphere and along similar lines of thought. Though each
list adheres to its own set formulae, it estimates the length of human
life in the early ages of the world on much the same gigantic scale as
the other. Our Sumerian records are not quite so formal in their
structure as the Hebrew narrative, but the short notes which here and
there relieve their stiff monotony may be paralleled in the Cainite
genealogy of the preceding chapter in Genesis.[4] There Cain’s city-
building, for example, may pair with that of Enmerkar; and though our
new records may afford no precise equivalents to Jabal’s patronage of
nomad life, or to the invention of music and metal-working ascribed to
Jubal and Tubal-cain, these too are quite in the spirit of Sumerian
and Babylonian tradition, in their attempt to picture the beginnings
of civilization. Thus Enmeduranki, the prototype of the seventh
Antediluvian patriarch of Berossus, was traditionally revered as the
first exponent of divination.[5] It is in the chronological and
general setting, rather than in the Hebrew names and details, that an
echo seems here to reach us from Sumer through Babylon.

[1] Gen. v. 1 ff. (P).

[2] The same length of reign is credited to Melamkish and to one and
perhaps two other rulers of that first Sumerian “kingdom”.

[3] The possibility of the Babylonian origin of some of the Hebrew
names in this geneaology and its Cainite parallel has long been
canvassed; and considerable ingenuity has been expended in
obtaining equations between Hebrew names and those of the
Antediluvian kings of Berossus by tracing a common meaning for
each suggested pair. It is unfortunate that our new identification
of {‘Ammenon} with the Sumerian /Enmenunna/ should dispose of one
of the best parallels obtained, viz. {‘Ammenon} = Bab. /ummânu/,
“workman” || Cain, Kenan = “smith”. Another satisfactory pair
suggested is {‘Amelon} = Bab. /amêlu/, “man” || Enosh = “man”; but
the resemblance of the former to /amêlu/ may prove to be
fortuitous, in view of the possibility of descent from a quite
different Sumerian original. The alternative may perhaps have to
be faced that the Hebrew parallels to Sumerian and Babylonian
traditions are here confined to chronological structure and
general contents, and do not extend to Hebrew renderings of
Babylonian names. It may be added that such correspondence between
personal names in different languages is not very significant by
itself. The name of Zugagib of Kish, for example, is paralleled by
the title borne by one of the earliest kings of the Ist Dynasty of
Egypt, Narmer, whose carved slate palettes have been found at
Kierakonpolis; he too was known as “the Scorpion.”

[4] Gen. iv. 17 ff. (J).

[5] It may be noted that an account of the origin of divination is
included in his description of the descendents of Noah by the
writer of the Biblical Antiquities of Philo, a product of the same
school as the Fourth Book of Esdras and the Apocalypse of Baruch;
see James, /The Biblical Antiquities of Philo/, p. 86.

I may add that a parallel is provided by the new Sumerian records to
the circumstances preceding the birth of the Nephilim at the beginning
of the sixth chapter of Genesis.[1] For in them also great prowess or
distinction is ascribed to the progeny of human and divine unions. We
have already noted that, according to the traditions the records
embody, the Sumerians looked back to a time when gods lived upon the
earth with men, and we have seen such deities as Tammuz and Lugalbanda
figuring as rulers of cities in the dynastic sequence. As in later
periods, their names are there preceded by the determinative for
divinity. But more significant still is the fact that we read of two
Sumerian heroes, also rulers of cities, who were divine on the
father’s or mother’s side but not on both. Meskingasher is entered in
the list as “son of the Sun-god”,[2] and no divine parentage is
recorded on the mother’s side. On the other hand, the human father of
Gilgamesh is described as the high priest of Kullab, and we know from
other sources that his mother was the goddess Ninsun.[3] That this is
not a fanciful interpretation is proved by a passage in the Gilgamesh
Epic itself,[4] in which its hero is described as two-thirds god and
one-third man. We again find ourselves back in the same stratum of
tradition with which the Hebrew narratives have made us so familiar.

[1] Gen. vi. 1-4 (J).

[2] The phrase recalls the familiar Egyptian royal designation “son of
the Sun,” and it is possible that we may connect with this same
idea the Palermo Stele’s inclusion of the mother’s and omission of
the father’s name in its record of the early dynastic Pharaohs.
This suggestion does not exclude the possibility of the prevalence
of matrilineal (and perhaps originally also of matrilocal and
matripotestal) conditions among the earliest inhabitants of Egypt.
Indeed the early existence of some form of mother-right may have
originated, and would certainly have encouraged, the growth of a
tradition of solar parentage for the head of the state.

[3] Poebel, /Hist. Inscr./, p. 124 f.

[4] Tablet I, Col. ii, l. 1; and cf. Tablet IX, Col. ii. l. 16.

What light then does our new material throw upon traditional origins
of civilization? We have seen that in Egypt a new fragment of the
Palermo Stele has confirmed in a remarkable way the tradition of the
predynastic period which was incorporated in his history by Manetho.
It has long been recognized that in Babylonia the sources of Berossus
must have been refracted by the political atmosphere of that country
during the preceding nineteen hundred years. This inference our new
material supports; but when due allowance has been made for a
resulting disturbance of vision, the Sumerian origin of the remainder
of his evidence is notably confirmed. Two of his ten Antediluvian
kings rejoin their Sumerian prototypes, and we shall see that two of
his three Antediluvian cities find their place among the five of
primitive Sumerian belief. It is clear that in Babylonia, as in Egypt,
the local traditions of the dawn of history, current in the
Hellenistic period, were modelled on very early lines. Both countries
were the seats of ancient civilizations, and it is natural that each
should stage its picture of beginnings upon its own soil and embellish
it with local colouring.

It is a tribute to the historical accuracy of Hebrew tradition to
recognize that it never represented Palestine as the cradle of the
human race. It looked to the East rather than to the South for
evidence of man’s earliest history and first progress in the arts of
life. And it is in the East, in the soil of Babylonia, that we may
legitimately seek material in which to verify the sources of that
traditional belief.

The new parallels I have to-day attempted to trace between some of the
Hebrew traditions, preserved in Gen. iv-vi, and those of the early
Sumerians, as presented by their great Dynastic List, are essentially
general in character and do not apply to details of narrative or to
proper names. If they stood alone, we should still have to consider
whether they are such as to suggest cultural influence or independent
origin. But fortunately they do not exhaust the evidence we have
lately recovered from the site of Nippur, and we will postpone
formulating our conclusions with regard to them until the whole field
has been surveyed. From the biblical standpoint by far the most
valuable of our new documents is one that incorporates a Sumerian
version of the Deluge story. We shall see that it presents a variant
and more primitive picture of that great catastrophe than those of the
Babylonian and Hebrew versions. And what is of even greater interest,
it connects the narrative of the Flood with that of Creation, and
supplies a brief but intermediate account of the Antediluvian period.
How then are we to explain this striking literary resemblance to the
structure of the narrative in Genesis, a resemblance that is
completely wanting in the Babylonian versions? But that is a problem
we must reserve for the next lecture.



In the first lecture we saw how, both in Babylonia and Egypt, recent
discoveries had thrown light upon periods regarded as prehistoric, and
how we had lately recovered traditions concerning very early rulers
both in the Nile Valley and along the lower Euphrates. On the strength
of the latter discovery we noted the possibility that future
excavation in Babylonia would lay bare stages of primitive culture
similar to those we have already recovered in Egyptian soil. Meanwhile
the documents from Nippur had shown us what the early Sumerians
themselves believed about their own origin, and we traced in their
tradition the gradual blending of history with legend and myth. We saw
that the new Dynastic List took us back in the legendary sequence at
least to the beginning of the Post-diluvian period. Now one of the
newly published literary texts fills in the gap beyond, for it gives
us a Sumerian account of the history of the world from the Creation to
the Deluge, at about which point, as we saw, the extant portions of
the Dynastic List take up the story. I propose to devote my lecture
to-day to this early version of the Flood and to the effect of its
discovery upon some current theories.

The Babylonian account of the Deluge, which was discovered by George
Smith in 1872 on tablets from the Royal Library at Nineveh, is, as you
know, embedded in a long epic of twelve Books recounting the
adventures of the Old Babylonian hero Gilgamesh. Towards the end of
this composite tale, Gilgamesh, desiring immortality, crosses the
Waters of Death in order to beg the secret from his ancestor
Ut-napishtim, who in the past had escaped the Deluge and had been
granted immortality by the gods. The Eleventh Tablet, or Book, of the
epic contains the account of the Deluge which Ut-napishtim related to
his kinsman Gilgamesh. The close correspondence of this Babylonian
story with that contained in Genesis is recognized by every one and
need not detain us. You will remember that in some passages the
accounts tally even in minute details, such, for example, as the
device of sending out birds to test the abatement of the waters. It is
true that in the Babylonian version a dove, a swallow, and a raven are
sent forth in that order, instead of a raven and the dove three times.
But such slight discrepancies only emphasize the general resemblance
of the narratives.

In any comparison it is usually admitted that two accounts have been
combined in the Hebrew narrative. I should like to point out that this
assumption may be made by any one, whatever his views may be with
regard to the textual problems of the Hebrew Bible and the traditional
authorship of the Pentateuch. And for our purpose at the moment it is
immaterial whether we identify the compiler of these Hebrew narratives
with Moses himself, or with some later Jewish historian whose name has
not come down to us. Whoever he was, he has scrupulously preserved his
two texts and, even when they differ, he has given each as he found
it. Thanks to this fact, any one by a careful examination of the
narrative can disentangle the two versions for himself. He will find
each gives a consistent story. One of them appears to be simpler and
more primitive than the other, and I will refer to them as the earlier
and the later Hebrew Versions.[1] The Babylonian text in the Epic of
Gilgamesh contains several peculiarities of each of the Hebrew
versions, though the points of resemblance are more detailed in the
earlier of the two.

[1] In the combined account in Gen. vi. 5-ix. 17, if the following
passages be marked in the margin or underlined, and then read
consecutively, it will be seen that they give a consistent and
almost complete account of the Deluge: Gen. vi. 9-22; vii. 6, 11,
13-16 (down to “as God commanded him”), 17 (to “upon the earth”),
18-21, 24; viii. 1, 2 (to “were stopped”), 3 (from “and after”)-5,
13 (to “from off the earth”), 14-19; and ix. 1-17. The marked
passages represent the “later Hebrew Version.” If the remaining
passages be then read consecutively, they will be seen to give a
different version of the same events, though not so completely
preserved as the other; these passages substantially represent the
“earlier Hebrew Version”. In commentaries on the Hebrew text they
are, of course, usually referred to under the convenient symbols J
and P, representing respectively the earlier and the later
versions. For further details, see any of the modern commentaries
on Genesis, e.g. Driver, /Book of Genesis/, pp. 85 ff.; Skinner,
/Genesis/, pp. 147 ff.; Ryle, /Genesis/, p. 96 f.

Now the tablets from the Royal Library at Nineveh inscribed with the
Gilgamesh Epic do not date from an earlier period than the seventh
century B.C. But archaeological evidence has long shown that the
traditions themselves were current during all periods of Babylonian
history; for Gilgamesh and his half-human friend Enkidu were favourite
subjects for the seal-engraver, whether he lived in Sumerian times or
under the Achaemenian kings of Persia. We have also, for some years
now, possessed two early fragments of the Deluge narrative, proving
that the story was known to the Semitic inhabitants of the country at
the time of Hammurabi’s dynasty.[1] Our newly discovered text from
Nippur was also written at about that period, probably before 2100
B.C. But the composition itself, apart from the tablet on which it is
inscribed, must go back very much earlier than that. For instead of
being composed in Semitic Babylonian, the text is in Sumerian, the
language of the earliest known inhabitants of Babylonia, whom the
Semites eventually displaced. This people, it is now recognized, were
the originators of the Babylonian civilization, and we saw in the
first lecture that, according to their own traditions, they had
occupied that country since the dawn of history.

[1] The earlier of the two fragments is dated in the eleventh year of
Ammizaduga, the tenth king of Hammurabi’s dynasty, i.e. in 1967
B.C.; it was published by Scheil, /Recueil de travaux/, Vol. XX,
pp. 55 ff. Here the Deluge story does not form part of the
Gilgamesh Epic, but is recounted in the second tablet of a
different work; its hero bears the name Atrakhasis, as in the
variant version of the Deluge from the Nineveh library. The other
and smaller fragment, which must be dated by its script, was
published by Hilprecht (/Babylonian Expedition/, series D, Vol. V,
Fasc. 1, pp. 33 ff.), who assigned it to about the same period;
but it is probably of a considerably later date. The most
convenient translations of the legends that were known before the
publication of the Nippur texts are those given by Rogers,
/Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament/ (Oxford, 1912), and
Dhorme, /Choix de textes religieux Assyro-Babyloniens/ (Paris,

The Semites as a ruling race came later, though the occurrence of
Semitic names in the Sumerian Dynastic List suggests very early
infiltration from Arabia. After a long struggle the immigrants
succeeded in dominating the settled race; and in the process they in
turn became civilized. They learnt and adopted the cuneiform writing,
they took over the Sumerian literature. Towards the close of the third
millennium, when our tablet was written, the Sumerians as a race had
almost ceased to exist. They had been absorbed in the Semitic
population and their language was no longer the general language of
the country. But their ancient literature and sacred texts were
carefully preserved and continued to be studied by the Semitic priests
and scribes. So the fact that the tablet is written in the old
Sumerian tongue proves that the story it tells had come down from a
very much earlier period. This inference is not affected by certain
small differences in idiom which its language presents when compared
with that of Sumerian building-inscriptions. Such would naturally
occur in the course of transmission, especially in a text which, as we
shall see, had been employed for a practical purpose after being
subjected to a process of reduction to suit it to its new setting.

When we turn to the text itself, it will be obvious that the story
also is very primitive. But before doing so we will inquire whether
this very early version is likely to cast any light on the origin of
Deluge stories such as are often met with in other parts of the world.
Our inquiry will have an interest apart from the question itself, as
it will illustrate the views of two divergent schools among students
of primitive literature and tradition. According to one of these
views, in its most extreme form, the tales which early or primitive
man tells about his gods and the origin of the world he sees around
him are never to be regarded as simple stories, but are to be
consistently interpreted as symbolizing natural phenomena. It is, of
course, quite certain that, both in Egypt and Babylonia, mythology in
later periods received a strong astrological colouring; and it is
equally clear that some legends derive their origin from nature myths.
But the theory in the hands of its more enthusiastic adherents goes
further than that. For them a complete absence of astrological
colouring is no deterrent from an astrological interpretation; and,
where such colouring does occur, the possibility of later
embellishment is discounted, and it is treated without further proof
as the base on which the original story rests. One such interpretation
of the Deluge narrative in Babylonia, particularly favoured by recent
German writers, would regard it as reflecting the passage of the Sun
through a portion of the ecliptic. It is assumed that the primitive
Babylonians were aware that in the course of ages the spring equinox
must traverse the southern or watery region of the zodiac. This, on
their system, signified a submergence of the whole universe in water,
and the Deluge myth would symbolize the safe passage of the vernal
Sun-god through that part of the ecliptic. But we need not spend time
over that view, as its underlying conception is undoubtedly quite a
late development of Babylonian astrology.

More attractive is the simpler astrological theory that the voyage of
any Deluge hero in his boat or ark represents the daily journey of the
Sun-god across the heavenly ocean, a conception which is so often
represented in Egyptian sculpture and painting. It used to be assumed
by holders of the theory that this idea of the Sun as “the god in the
boat” was common among primitive races, and that that would account
for the widespread occurrence of Deluge-stories among scattered races
of the world. But this view has recently undergone some modification
in accordance with the general trend of other lines of research. In
recent years there has been an increased readiness among
archaeologists to recognize evidence of contact between the great
civilizations of antiquity. This has been particularly the case in the
area of the Eastern Mediterranean; but the possibility has also been
mooted of the early use of land-routes running from the Near East to
Central and Southern Asia. The discovery in Chinese Turkestan, to the
east of the Caspian, of a prehistoric culture resembling that of Elam
has now been followed by the finding of similar remains by Sir Aurel
Stein in the course of the journey from which he has lately
returned.[1] They were discovered in an old basin of the Helmand River
in Persian Seistan, where they had been laid bare by wind-erosion. But
more interesting still, and an incentive to further exploration in
that region, is another of his discoveries last year, also made near
the Afghan border. At two sites in the Helmand Delta, well above the
level of inundation, he came across fragments of pottery inscribed in
early Aramaic characters,[2] though, for obvious reasons, he has left
them with all his other collections in India. This unexpected find, by
the way, suggests for our problem possibilities of wide transmission
in comparatively early times.

[1] See his “Expedition in Central Asia”, in /The Geographical
Journal/, Vol. XLVII (Jan.-June, 1916), pp. 358 ff.

[2] Op. cit., p. 363.

The synthetic tendency among archaeologists has been reflected in
anthropological research, which has begun to question the separate and
independent origin, not only of the more useful arts and crafts, but
also of many primitive customs and beliefs. It is suggested that too
much stress has been laid on environment; and, though it is readily
admitted that similar needs and experiences may in some cases have
given rise to similar expedients and explanations, it is urged that
man is an imitative animal and that inventive genius is far from
common.[1] Consequently the wide dispersion of many beliefs and
practices, which used generally to be explained as due to the similar
and independent working of the human mind under like conditions, is
now often provisionally registered as evidence of migratory movement
or of cultural drift. Much good work has recently been done in
tabulating the occurrence of many customs and beliefs, in order to
ascertain their lines of distribution. Workers are as yet in the
collecting stage, and it is hardly necessary to say that explanatory
theories are still to be regarded as purely tentative and provisional.
At the meetings of the British Association during the last few years,
the most breezy discussions in the Anthropological Section have
undoubtedly centred around this subject. There are several works in
the field, but the most comprehensive theory as yet put forward is one
that concerns us, as it has given a new lease of life to the old solar
interpretation of the Deluge story.

[1] See, e.g. Marett, /Anthropology/ (2nd ed., 1914), Chap. iv,
“Environment,” pp. 122 ff.; and for earlier tendencies,
particularly in the sphere of mythological exegesis, see S.
Reinach, /Cultes, Mythes et Religions/, t. IV (1912), pp. 1 ff.

In a land such as Egypt, where there is little rain and the sky is
always clear, the sun in its splendour tended from the earliest period
to dominate the national consciousness. As intercourse increased along
the Nile Valley, centres of Sun-worship ceased to be merely local, and
the political rise of a city determined the fortunes of its cult. From
the proto-dynastic period onward, the “King of the two Lands” had
borne the title of “Horus” as the lineal descendant of the great Sun-
god of Edfu, and the rise of Ra in the Vth Dynasty, through the
priesthood of Heliopolis, was confirmed in the solar theology of the
Middle Kingdom. Thus it was that other deities assumed a solar
character as forms of Ra. Amen, the local god of Thebes, becomes
Amen-Ra with the political rise of his city, and even the old
Crocodile-god, Sebek, soars into the sky as Sebek-Ra. The only other
movement in the religion of ancient Egypt, comparable in importance to
this solar development, was the popular cult of Osiris as God of the
Dead, and with it the official religion had to come to terms. Horus is
reborn as the posthumous son of Osiris, and Ra gladdens his abode
during his nightly journey through the Underworld. The theory with
which we are concerned suggests that this dominant trait in Egyptian
religion passed, with other elements of culture, beyond the bounds of
the Nile Valley and influenced the practice and beliefs of distant

This suggestion has been gradually elaborated by its author, Professor
Elliot Smith, who has devoted much attention to the anatomical study
of Egyptian mummification. Beginning with a scrutiny of megalithic
building and sun-worship,[1] he has subsequently deduced, from
evidence of common distribution, the existence of a culture-complex,
including in addition to these two elements the varied practices of
tattooing, circumcision, ear-piercing, that quaint custom known as
couvade, head-deformation, and the prevalence of serpent-cults, myths
of petrifaction and the Deluge, and finally of mummification. The last
ingredient was added after an examination of Papuan mummies had
disclosed their apparent resemblance in points of detail to Egyptian
mummies of the XXIst Dynasty. As a result he assumes the existence of
an early cultural movement, for which the descriptive title
“heliolithic” has been coined.[2] Starting with Egypt as its centre,
one of the principal lines of its advance is said to have lain through
Syria and Mesopotamia and thence along the coastlands of Asia to the
Far East. The method of distribution and the suggested part played by
the Phoenicians have been already criticized sufficiently. But in a
modified form the theory has found considerable support, especially
among ethnologists interested in Indonesia. I do not propose to
examine in detail the evidence for or against it. It will suffice to
note that the Deluge story and its alleged Egyptian origin in solar
worship form one of the prominent strands in its composition.

[1] Cf. Elliot Smith, /The Ancient Egyptians/, 1911.

[2] See in particular his monograph “On the significance of the
Geographical Distribution of the Practice of Mummification” in the
/Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society/,

One weakness of this particular strand is that the Egyptians
themselves possessed no tradition of the Deluge. Indeed the annual
inundation of the Nile is not such as would give rise to a legend of
world-destruction; and in this respect it presents a striking contrast
to the Tigris and Euphrates. The ancient Egyptian’s conception of his
own gentle river is reflected in the form he gave the Nile-god, for
Hapi is represented as no fierce warrior or monster. He is given a
woman’s breasts as a sign of his fecundity. The nearest Egyptian
parallel to the Deluge story is the “Legend of the Destruction of
Mankind”, which is engraved on the walls of a chamber in the tomb of
Seti I.[1] The late Sir Gaston Maspero indeed called it “a dry deluge
myth”, but his paradox was intended to emphasize the difference as
much as the parallelism presented. It is true that in the Egyptian
myth the Sun-god causes mankind to be slain because of their impiety,
and he eventually pardons the survivors. The narrative thus betrays
undoubted parallelism to the Babylonian and Hebrew stories, so far as
concerns the attempted annihilation of mankind by the offended god,
but there the resemblance ends. For water has no part in man’s
destruction, and the essential element of a Deluge story is thus
absent.[2] Our new Sumerian document, on the other hand, contains what
is by far the earliest example yet recovered of a genuine Deluge tale;
and we may thus use it incidentally to test this theory of Egyptian
influence, and also to ascertain whether it furnishes any positive
evidence on the origin of Deluge stories in general.

[1] It was first published by Monsieur Naville, /Tranc. Soc. Bibl.
Arch./, IV (1874), pp. 1 ff. The myth may be most conveniently
studied in Dr. Budge’s edition in /Egyptian Literature/, Vol. I,
“Legends of the Gods” (1912), pp. 14 ff., where the hieroglyphic
text and translation are printed on opposite pages; cf. the
summary, op. cit., pp. xxiii ff., where the principal literature
is also cited. See also his /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I, chap.
xii, pp. 388 ff.

[2] The undoubted points of resemblance, as well as the equally
striking points of divergence, presented by the Egyptian myth when
compared with the Babylonian and Hebrew stories of a Deluge may be
briefly indicated. The impiety of men in complaining of the age of
Ra finds a parallel in the wickedness of man upon the earth (J)
and the corruption of all flesh (P) of the Hebrew Versions. The
summoning by Ra of the great Heliopolitan cosmic gods in council,
including his personified Eye, the primaeval pair Shu and Tefnut,
Keb the god of the earth and his consort Nut the sky-goddess, and
Nu the primaeval water-god and originally Nut’s male counterpart,
is paralleled by the /puhur ilâni/, or “assembly of the gods”, in
the Babylonian Version (see Gilg. Epic. XI. l. 120 f., and cf. ll.
10 ff.); and they meet in “the Great House”, or Sun-temple at
Heliopolis, as the Babylonian gods deliberate in Shuruppak.
Egyptian, Babylonian, and Hebrew narratives all agree in the
divine determination to destroy mankind and in man’s ultimate
survival. But the close of the Egyptian story diverges into
another sphere. The slaughter of men by the Eye of Ra in the form
of the goddess Hathor, who during the night wades in their blood,
is suggestive of Africa; and so too is her drinking of men’s blood
mixed with the narcotic mandrake and with seven thousand vessels
of beer, with the result that through drunkenness she ceased from
slaughter. The latter part of the narrative is directly connected
with the cult-ritual and beer-drinking at the Festivals of Hathor
and Ra; but the destruction of men by slaughter in place of
drowning appears to belong to the original myth. Indeed, the only
suggestion of a Deluge story is suggested by the presence of Nu,
the primaeval water-god, at Ra’s council, and that is explicable
on other grounds. In any case the points of resemblance presented
by the earlier part of the Egyptian myth to Semitic Deluge stories
are general, not detailed; and though they may possibly be due to
reflection from Asia, they are not such as to suggest an Egyptian
origin for Deluge myths.

The tablet on which our new version of the Deluge is inscribed was
excavated at Nippur during the third Babylonian expedition sent out by
the University of Pennsylvania; but it was not until the summer of
1912 that its contents were identified, when the several fragments of
which it was composed were assembled and put together. It is a large
document, containing six columns of writing, three on each side; but
unfortunately only the lower half has been recovered, so that
considerable gaps occur in the text.[1] The sharp edges of the broken
surface, however, suggest that it was damaged after removal from the
soil, and the possibility remains that some of the missing fragments
may yet be recovered either at Pennsylvania or in the Museum at
Constantinople. As it is not dated, its age must be determined mainly
by the character of its script. A close examination of the writing
suggests that it can hardly have been inscribed as late as the Kassite
Dynasty, since two or three signs exhibit more archaic forms than
occur on any tablets of that period;[2] and such linguistic
corruptions as have been noted in its text may well be accounted for
by the process of decay which must have already affected the Sumerian
language at the time of the later kings of Nisin. Moreover, the tablet
bears a close resemblance to one of the newly published copies of the
Sumerian Dynastic List from Nippur;[3] for both are of the same shape
and composed of the same reddish-brown clay, and both show the same
peculiarities of writing. The two tablets in fact appear to have been
written by the same hand, and as that copy of the Dynastic List was
probably drawn up before the latter half of the First Dynasty of
Babylon, we may assign the same approximate date for the writing of
our text. This of course only fixes a lower limit for the age of the
myth which it enshrines.

[1] The breadth of the tablet is 5 5/8 in., and it originally measured
about 7 in. in length from top to bottom; but only about one-third
of its inscribed surface is preserved.

[2] Cf. Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, pp. 66 ff.

[3] No. 5.

That the composition is in the form of a poem may be seen at a glance
from the external appearance of the tablet, the division of many of
the lines and the blank spaces frequently left between the sign-groups
being due to the rhythmical character of the text. The style of the
poetry may be simple and abrupt, but it exhibits a familiar feature of
both Semitic-Babylonian and Hebrew poetry, in its constant employment
of partial repetition or paraphrase in parallel lines. The story it
tells is very primitive and in many respects unlike the Babylonian
Versions of the Deluge which we already possess. Perhaps its most
striking peculiarity is the setting of the story, which opens with a
record of the creation of man and animals, goes on to tell how the
first cities were built, and ends with a version of the Deluge, which
is thus recounted in its relation to the Sumerian history of the
world. This literary connexion between the Creation and Deluge
narratives is of unusual interest, in view of the age of our text. In
the Babylonian Versions hitherto known they are included in separate
epics with quite different contexts. Here they are recounted together
in a single document, much as they probably were in the history of
Berossus and as we find them in the present form of the Book of
Genesis. This fact will open up some interesting problems when we
attempt to trace the literary descent of the tradition.

But one important point about the text should be emphasized at once,
since it will affect our understanding of some very obscure passages,
of which no satisfactory explanation has yet been given. The
assumption has hitherto been made that the text is an epic pure and
simple. It is quite true that the greater part of it is a myth,
recounted as a narrative in poetical form. but there appear to me to
be clear indications that the myth was really embedded in an
incantation. If this was so, the mythological portion was recited for
a magical purpose, with the object of invoking the aid of the chief
deities whose actions in the past are there described, and of
increasing by that means the potency of the spell.[1] In the third
lecture I propose to treat in more detail the employment and
significance of myth in magic, and we shall have occasion to refer to
other instances, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian, in which a myth
has reached us in a magical setting.

[1] It will be seen that the subject-matter of any myth treated in
this way has a close connexion with the object for which the
incantation was performed.

In the present case the inference of magical use is drawn from certain
passages in the text itself, which appear to be explicable only on
that hypothesis. In magical compositions of the later period intended
for recitation, the sign for “Incantation” is usually prefixed.
Unfortunately the beginning of our text is wanting; but its opening
words are given in the colophon, or title, which is engraved on the
left-hand edge of the tablet, and it is possible that the traces of
the first sign there are to be read as EN, “Incantation”.[1] Should a
re-examination of the tablet establish this reading of the word, we
should have definite proof of the suggested magical setting of the
narrative. But even if we assume its absence, that would not
invalidate the arguments that can be adduced in favour of recognizing
the existence of a magical element, for they are based on internal
evidence and enable us to explain certain features which are
inexplicable on Dr. Poebel’s hypothesis. Moreover, we shall later on
examine another of the newly published Sumerian compositions from
Nippur, which is not only semi-epical in character, but is of
precisely the same shape, script, and period as our text, and is very
probably a tablet of the same series. There also the opening signs of
the text are wanting, but far more of its contents are preserved and
they present unmistakable traces of magical use. Its evidence, as that
of a parallel text, may therefore be cited in support of the present
contention. It may be added that in Sumerian magical compositions of
this early period, of which we have not yet recovered many quite
obvious examples, it is possible that the prefix “Incantation” was not
so invariable as in the later magical literature.

[1] Cf. Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 63, and /Hist. and Gram. Texts/, pl.
i. In the photographic reproduction of the edges of the tablet
given in the latter volume, pl. lxxxix, the traces of the sign
suggest the reading EN (= Sem. /šiptu/, “incantation”). But the
sign may very possibly be read AN. In the latter case we may read,
in the traces of the two sign-groups at the beginning of the text,
the names of both Anu and Enlil, who appear so frequently as the
two presiding deities in the myth.

It has already been remarked that only the lower half of our tablet
has been recovered, and that consequently a number of gaps occur in
the text. On the obverse the upper portion of each of the first three
columns is missing, while of the remaining three columns, which are
inscribed upon the reverse, the upper portions only are preserved.
This difference in the relative positions of the textual fragments
recovered is due to the fact that Sumerian scribes, like their later
Babylonian and Assyrian imitators, when they had finished writing the
obverse of a tablet, turned it over from bottom to top–not, as we
should turn a sheet of paper, from right to left. But in spite of the
lacunae, the sequence of events related in the mythological narrative
may be followed without difficulty, since the main outline of the
story is already familiar enough from the versions of the Semitic-
Babylonian scribes and of Berossus. Some uncertainties naturally
remain as to what exactly was included in the missing portions of the
tablet; but the more important episodes are fortunately recounted in
the extant fragments, and these suffice for a definition of the
distinctive character of the Sumerian Version. In view of its literary
importance it may be advisable to attempt a somewhat detailed
discussion of its contents, column by column;[1] and the analysis may
be most conveniently divided into numbered sections, each of which
refers to one of the six columns of the tablet. The description of the
First Column will serve to establish the general character of the
text. Through the analysis of the tablet parallels and contrasts will
be noted with the Babylonian and Hebrew Versions. It will then be
possible to summarise, on a surer foundation, the literary history of
the traditions, and finally to estimate the effect of our new evidence
upon current theories as to the origin and wide dispersion of Deluge

[1] In the lecture as delivered the contents of each column were
necessarily summarized rather briefly, and conclusions were given
without discussion of the evidence.

The following headings, under which the six numbered sections may be
arranged, indicate the contents of each column and show at a glance
the main features of the Sumerian Version:

I. Introduction to the Myth, and account of Creation.
II. The Antediluvian Cities.
III. The Council of the Gods, and Ziusudu’s piety.
IV. The Dream-Warning.
V. The Deluge, the Escape of the Great Boat, and the Sacrifice to
the Sun-god.
VI. The Propitiation of the Angry Gods, and Ziusudu’s Immortality.


The beginning of the text is wanting, and the earliest lines preserved
of the First Column open with the closing sentences of a speech,
probably by the chief of the four creating deities, who are later on
referred to by name. In it there is a reference to a future
destruction of mankind, but the context is broken; the lines in
question begin:

“As for my human race, from (/or/ in) its destruction will I cause
it to be [. . .],
For Nintu my creatures [. . .] will I [. . .].”

From the reference to “my human race” it is clear that the speaker is
a creating deity; and since the expression is exactly parallel to the
term “my people” used by Ishtar, or Bêlit-ili, “the Lady of the gods”,
in the Babylonian Version of the Deluge story when she bewails the
destruction of mankind, Dr. Poebel assigns the speech to Ninkharsagga,
or Nintu,[1] the goddess who later in the column is associated with
Anu, Enlil, and Enki in man’s creation. But the mention of Nintu in
her own speech is hardly consistent with that supposition,[2] if we
assume with Dr. Poebel, as we are probably justified in doing, that
the title Nintu is employed here and elsewhere in the narrative merely
as a synonym of Ninkharsagga.[3] It appears to me far more probable
that one of the two supreme gods, Anu or Enlil, is the speaker,[4] and
additional grounds will be cited later in support of this view. It is
indeed possible, in spite of the verbs and suffixes in the singular,
that the speech is to be assigned to both Anu and Enlil, for in the
last column, as we shall see, we find verb in the singular following
references to both these deities. In any case one of the two chief
gods may be regarded as speaking and acting on behalf of both, though
it may be that the inclusion of the second name in the narrative was
not original but simply due to a combination of variant traditions.
Such a conflate use of Anu-Enlil would present a striking parallel to
the Hebrew combination Yahweh-Elohim, though of course in the case of
the former pair the subsequent stage of identification was never
attained. But the evidence furnished by the text is not conclusive,
and it is preferable here and elsewhere in the narrative to regard
either Anu or Enlil as speaking and acting both on his own behalf and
as the other’s representative.

[1] Op. cit., p. 21 f.; and cf. Jastrow, /Hebrew and Babylonian
Traditions/, p. 336.

[2] It necessitates the taking of (/dingir/) /Nin-tu-ra/ as a
genitive, not a dative, and the very awkward rendering “my,
Nintu’s, creations”.

[3] Another of the recently published Sumerian mythological
compositions from Nippur includes a number of myths in which Enki
is associated first with Ninella, referred to also as Nintu, “the
Goddess of Birth”, then with Ninshar, referred to also as
Ninkurra, and finally with Ninkharsagga. This text exhibits the
process by which separate traditions with regard to goddesses
originally distinct were combined together, with the result that
their heroines were subsequently often identified with one
another. There the myths that have not been subjected to a very
severe process of editing, and in consequence the welding is not
so complete as in the Sumerian Version of the Deluge.

[4] If Enlil’s name should prove to be the first word of the
composition, we should naturally regard him as the speaker here
and as the protagonist of the gods throughout the text, a /rôle/
he also plays in the Semitic-Babylonian Version.

This reference to the Deluge, which occurs so early in the text,
suggests the probability that the account of the Creation and of the
founding of Antediluvian cities, included in the first two columns, is
to be taken merely as summarizing the events that led up to the
Deluge. And an almost certain proof of this may be seen in the opening
words of the composition, which are preserved in its colophon or title
on the left-hand edge of the tablet. We have already noted that the
first two words are there to be read, either as the prefix
“Incantation” followed by the name “Enlil”, or as the two divine names
“Anu (and) Enlil”. Now the signs which follow the traces of Enlil’s
name are quite certain; they represent “Ziusudu”, which, as we shall
see in the Third Column, is the name of the Deluge hero in our
Sumerian Version. He is thus mentioned in the opening words of the
text, in some relation to one or both of the two chief gods of the
subsequent narrative. But the natural place for his first introduction
into the story is in the Third Column, where it is related that “at
that time Ziusudu, the king” did so-and-so. The prominence given him
at the beginning of the text, at nearly a column’s interval before the
lines which record the creation of man, is sufficient proof that the
Deluge story is the writer’s main interest, and that preceding
episodes are merely introductory to it.

What subject then may we conjecture was treated in the missing lines
of this column, which precede the account of Creation and close with
the speech of the chief creating deity? Now the Deluge narrative
practically ends with the last lines of the tablet that are preserved,
and the lower half of the Sixth Column is entirely wanting. We shall
see reason to believe that the missing end of the tablet was not left
blank and uninscribed, but contained an incantation, the magical
efficacy of which was ensured by the preceding recitation of the
Deluge myth. If that were so, it would be natural enough that the text
should open with its main subject. The cause of the catastrophe and
the reason for man’s rescue from it might well be referred to by one
of the creating deities in virtue of the analogy these aspects of the
myth would present to the circumstances for which the incantation was
designed. A brief account of the Creation and of Antediluvian history
would then form a natural transition to the narrative of the Deluge
itself. And even if the text contained no incantation, the narrative
may well have been introduced in the manner suggested, since this
explanation in any case fits in with what is still preserved of the
First Column. For after his reference to the destruction of mankind,
the deity proceeds to fix the chief duty of man, either as a
preliminary to his creation, or as a reassertion of that duty after
his rescue from destruction by the Flood. It is noteworthy that this
duty consists in the building of temples to the gods “in a clean
spot”, that is to say “in hallowed places”. The passage may be given
in full, including the two opening lines already discussed:

“As for my human race, from (/or/ in) its destruction will I cause
it to be [. . .],
For Nintu my creatures [. . .] will I [. . .].
The people will I cause to . . . in their settlements,
Cities . . . shall (man) build, in there protection will I cause him
to rest,
That he may lay the brick of our houses in a clean spot,
That in a clean spot he may establish our . . . !”

In the reason here given for man’s creation, or for his rescue from
the Flood, we have an interesting parallel to the Sixth Tablet of the
Semitic-Babylonian Creation Series. At the opening of that tablet
Marduk, in response to “the word of the gods”, is urged by his heart
to devise a cunning plan which he imparts to Ea, namely the creation
of man from his own divine blood and from bone which he will fashion.
And the reason he gives for his proposal is precisely that which, as
we have seen, prompted the Sumerian deity to create or preserve the
human race. For Marduk continues:

“I will create man who shall inhabit [. . .],
That the service of the gods may be established and that their
shrines may be built.”[1] [1] See /The Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. 86 ff.

We shall see later, from the remainder of Marduk’s speech, that the
Semitic Version has been elaborated at this point in order to
reconcile it with other ingredients in its narrative, which were
entirely absent from the simpler Sumerian tradition. It will suffice
here to note that, in both, the reason given for man’s existence is
the same, namely, that the gods themselves may have worshippers.[1] The conception is in full agreement with early Sumerian thought, and
reflects the theocratic constitution of the earliest Sumerian
communities. The idea was naturally not repugnant to the Semites, and
it need not surprise us to find the very words of the principal
Sumerian Creator put into the mouth of Marduk, the city-god of

[1] It may be added that this is also the reason given for man’s
creation in the introduction to a text which celebrates the
founding or rebuilding of a temple.

The deity’s speech perhaps comes to an end with the declaration of his
purpose in creating mankind or in sanctioning their survival of the
Deluge; and the following three lines appear to relate his
establishment of the divine laws in accordance with which his
intention was carried out. The passage includes a refrain, which is
repeated in the Second Column:

The sublime decrees he made perfect for it.

It may probably be assumed that the refrain is employed in relation to
the same deity in both passages. In the Second Column it precedes the
foundation of the Babylonian kingdom and the building of the
Antediluvian cities. In that passage there can be little doubt that
the subject of the verb is the chief Sumerian deity, and we are
therefore the more inclined to assign to him also the opening speech
of the First Column, rather than to regard it as spoken by the
Sumerian goddess whose share in the creation would justify her in
claiming mankind as her own. In the last four lines of the column we
have a brief record of the Creation itself. It was carried out by the
three greatest gods of the Sumerian pantheon, Anu, Enlil and Enki,
with the help of the goddess Ninkharsagga; the passage reads:

When Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninkharsagga
Created the blackheaded (i.e. mankind),
The /niggil(ma)/ of the earth they caused the earth to produce(?),
The animals, the four-legged creatures of the field, they artfully
called into existence.

The interpretation of the third line is obscure, but there is no doubt
that it records the creation of something which is represented as
having taken place between the creation of mankind and that of
animals. This object, which is written as /nig-gil/ or /nig-gil-ma/,
is referred to again in the Sixth Column, where the Sumerian hero of
the Deluge assigns to it the honorific title, “Preserver of the Seed
of Mankind”. It must therefore have played an important part in man’s
preservation from the Flood; and the subsequent bestowal of the title
may be paralleled in the early Semitic Deluge fragment from Nippur,
where the boat in which Ut-napishtim escapes is assigned the very
similar title “Preserver of Life”.[1] But /niggilma/ is not the word
used in the Sumerian Version of Ziusudu’s boat, and I am inclined to
suggest a meaning for it in connexion with the magical element in the
text, of the existence of which there is other evidence. On that
assumption, the prominence given to its creation may be paralleled in
the introduction to a later magical text, which described, probably in
connexion with an incantation, the creation of two small creatures,
one white and one black, by Nin-igi-azag, “The Lord of Clear Vision”,
one of the titles borne by Enki or Ea. The time of their creation is
indicated as after that of “cattle, beasts of the field and creatures
of the city”, and the composition opens in a way which is very like
the opening of the present passage in our text.[2] In neither text is
there any idea of giving a complete account of the creation of the
world, only so much of the original myth being included in each case
as suffices for the writer’s purpose. Here we may assume that the
creation of mankind and of animals is recorded because they were to be
saved from the Flood, and that of the /niggilma/ because of the part
it played in ensuring their survival.

[1] See Hilprecht, /Babylonian Expedition/, Series D, Vol. V, Fasc. 1,
plate, Rev., l. 8; the photographic reproduction clearly shows, as
Dr. Poebel suggests (/Hist. Texts/, p. 61 n 3), that the line
should read: /[(isu)elippu] ši-i lu (isu)ma-gur-gur-ma šum-ša lu
na-si-rat na-piš-tim/, “That ship shall be a /magurgurru/ (giant
boat), and its name shall be ‘Preserver of Life’ (lit. ‘She that
preserves life’).”

[2] See /Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. 122 ff. The text
opens with the words “When the gods in their assembly had made
[the world], and had created the heavens, and had formed the
earth, and had brought living creatures into being . . .”, the
lines forming an introduction to the special act of creation with
which the composition was concerned.

The discussion of the meaning of /niggilma/ may best be postponed till
the Sixth Column, where we find other references to the word.
Meanwhile it may be noted that in the present passage the creation of
man precedes that of animals, as it did in the earlier Hebrew Version
of Creation, and probably also in the Babylonian version, though not
in the later Hebrew Version. It may be added that in another Sumerian
account of the Creation[1] the same order, of man before animals, is

[1] Cf. /Sev. Tabl./, Vol. I, p. 134 f.; but the text has been
subjected to editing, and some of its episodes are obviously


As we saw was the case with the First Column of the text, the earliest
part preserved of the Second Column contains the close of a speech by
a deity, in which he proclaims an act he is about to perform. Here we
may assume with some confidence that the speaker is Anu or Enlil,
preferably the latter, since it would be natural to ascribe the
political constitution of Babylonia, the foundation of which is
foreshadowed, to the head of the Sumerian pantheon. It would appear
that a beginning had already been made in the establishment of “the
kingdom”, and, before proceeding to his further work of founding the
Antediluvian cities, he follows the example of the speaker in the
First Column of the text and lays down the divine enactments by which
his purpose was accomplished. The same refrain is repeated:

The sub[lime decrees] he made perfect for it.

The text then relates the founding by the god of five cities, probably
“in clean places”, that is to say on hallowed ground. He calls each by
its name and assigns it to its own divine patron or city-god:

[In clean place]s he founded [five] cit[ies].
And after he had called their names and they had been allotted to
divine rulers(?),–
The . . . of these cities, Eridu, he gave to the leader, Nu-dimmud,
Secondly, to Nugira(?) he gave Bad-. . .,[1] Thirdly, Larak he gave to Pabilkharsag,
Fourthly, Sippar he gave to the hero, the Sun-god,
Fifthly, Shuruppak he gave to “the God of Shuruppak”,–
After he had called the names of these cities, and they had been
allotted to divine rulers(?),

[1] In Semitic-Babylonian the first component of this city-name would
read “Dûr”.

The completion of the sentence, in the last two lines of the column,
cannot be rendered with any certainty, but the passage appears to have
related the creation of small rivers and pools. It will be noted that
the lines which contain the names of the five cities and their patron
gods[1] form a long explanatory parenthesis, the preceding line being
repeated after their enumeration.

[1] The precise meaning of the sign-group here provisionally rendered
“divine ruler” is not yet ascertained.

As the first of the series of five cities of Eridu, the seat of
Nudimmud or Enki, who was the third of the creating deities, it has
been urged that the upper part of the Second Column must have included
an account of the founding of Erech, the city of Anu, and of Nippur,
Enlil’s city.[1] But the numbered sequence of the cities would be
difficult to reconcile with the earlier creation of other cities in
the text, and the mention of Eridu as the first city to be created
would be quite in accord with its great age and peculiarly sacred
character as a cult-centre. Moreover the evidence of the Sumerian
Dynastic List is definitely against any claim of Erech to Antediluvian
existence. For when the hegemony passed from the first Post-diluvian
“kingdom” to the second, it went not to Erech but to the shrine Eanna,
which gave its name to the second “kingdom”; and the city itself was
apparently not founded before the reign of Enmerkar, the second
occupant of the throne, who is the first to be given the title “King
of Erech”. This conclusion with regard to Erech incidentally disposes
of the arguments for Nippur’s Antediluvian rank in primitive Sumerian
tradition, which have been founded on the order of the cities
mentioned at the beginning of the later Sumerian myth of Creation.[2] The evidence we thus obtain that the early Sumerians themselves
regarded Eridu as the first city in the world to be created, increases
the hope that future excavation at Abu Shahrain may reveal Sumerian
remains of periods which, from an archaeological standpoint, must
still be regarded as prehistoric.

[1] Cf. Poebel, op. cit., p. 41.

[2] The city of Nippur does not occur among the first four “kingdoms”
of the Sumerian Dynastic List; but we may probably assume that it
was the seat of at least one early “kingdom”, in consequence of
which Enlil, its city-god, attained his later pre-eminent rank in
the Sumerian pantheon.

It is noteworthy that no human rulers are mentioned in connexion with
Eridu and the other four Antediluvian cities; and Ziusudu, the hero of
the story, is apparently the only mortal whose name occurred in our
text. But its author’s principal subject is the Deluge, and the
preceding history of the world is clearly not given in detail, but is
merely summarized. In view of the obviously abbreviated form of the
narrative, of which we have already noted striking evidence in its
account of the Creation, we may conclude that in the fuller form of
the tradition the cities were also assigned human rulers, each one the
representative of his city-god. These would correspond to the
Antediluvian dynasty of Berossus, the last member of which was
Xisuthros, the later counterpart of Ziusudu.

In support of the exclusion of Nippur and Erech from the myth, it will
be noted that the second city in the list is not Adab,[1] which was
probably the principal seat of the goddess Ninkharsagga, the fourth of
the creating deities. The names of both deity and city in that line
are strange to us. Larak, the third city in the series, is of greater
interest, for it is clearly Larankha, which according to Berossus was
the seat of the eighth and ninth of his Antediluvian kings. In
commercial documents of the Persian period, which have been found
during the excavations at Nippur, Larak is described as lying “on the
bank of the old Tigris”, a phrase which must be taken as referring to
the Shatt el-Hai, in view of the situation of Lagash and other early
cities upon it or in its immediate neighbourhood. The site of the city
should perhaps be sought on the upper course of the stream, where it
tends to approach Nippur. It would thus have lain in the neighbourhood
of Bismâya, the site of Adab. Like Adab, Lagash, Shuruppak, and other
early Sumerian cities, it was probably destroyed and deserted at a
very early period, though it was reoccupied under its old name in Neo-
Babylonian or Persian times. Its early disappearance from Babylonian
history perhaps in part accounts for our own unfamiliarity with
Pabilkharsag, its city-god, unless we may regard the name as a variant
from of Pabilsag; but it is hardly likely that the two should be

[1] The site of Adab, now marked by the mounds of Bismâya, was
partially excavated by an expedition sent out in 1903 by the
University of Chicago, and has provided valuable material for the
study of the earliest Sumerian period; see /Reports of the
Expedition of the Oriental Exploration Fund/ (Babylonian Section
of the University of Chicago), and Banks, /Bismya/ (1912). On
grounds of antiquity alone we might perhaps have expected its
inclusion in the myth.

In Sibbar, the fourth of the Antediluvian cities in our series, we
again have a parallel to Berossus. it has long been recognized that
Pantibiblon, or Pantibiblia, from which the third, fourth, fifth,
sixth, and seventh of his Antediluvian kings all came, was the city of
Sippar in Northern Babylonia. For the seventh of these rulers,
{Euedorakhos}, is clearly Enmeduranki, the mythical king of Sippar,
who in Babylonian tradition was regarded as the founder of divination.
In a fragmentary composition that has come down to us he is described,
not only as king of Sippar, but as “beloved of Anu, Enlil, and Enki”,
the three creating gods of our text; and it is there recounted how the
patron deities of divination, Shamash and Adad, themselves taught him
to practise their art.[1] Moreover, Berossus directly implies the
existence of Sippar before the Deluge, for in the summary of his
version that has been preserved Xisuthros, under divine instruction,
buries the sacred writings concerning the origin of the world in
“Sispara”, the city of the Sun-god, so that after the Deluge they
might be dug up and transmitted to mankind. Ebabbar, the great
Sun-temple, was at Sippar, and it is to the Sun-god that the city is
naturally allotted in the new Sumerian Version.

[1] Cf. Zimmern, /Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Bab. Relig./, pp. 116 ff.

The last of the five Antediluvian cities in our list is Shuruppak, in
which dwelt Ut-napishtim, the hero of the Babylonian version of the
Deluge. Its site has been identified with the mounds of Fâra, in the
neighbourhood of the Shatt el-Kâr, the former bed of the Euphrates;
and the excavations that were conducted there in 1902 have been most
productive of remains dating from the prehistoric period of Sumerian
culture.[1] Since our text is concerned mainly with the Deluge, it is
natural to assume that the foundation of the city from which the
Deluge-hero came would be recorded last, in order to lead up to the
central episode of the text. The city of Ziusudu, the hero of the
Sumerian story, is unfortunately not given in the Third Column, but,
in view of Shuruppak’s place in the list of Antediluvian cities, it is
not improbable that on this point the Sumerian and Babylonian Versions
agreed. In the Gilgamesh Epic Shuruppak is the only Antediluvian city
referred to, while in the Hebrew accounts no city at all is mentioned
in connexion with Noah. The city of Xisuthros, too, is not recorded,
but as his father came from Larankha or Larak, we may regard that city
as his in the Greek Version. Besides Larankha, the only Antediluvian
cities according to Berossus were Babylon and Sippar, and the
influence of Babylonian theology, of which we here have evidence,
would be sufficient to account for a disturbance of the original
traditions. At the same time it is not excluded that Larak was also
the scene of the Deluge in our text, though, as we have noted, the
position of Shuruppak at the close of the Sumerian list points to it
as the more probable of the two. It may be added that we cannot yet
read the name of the deity to whom Shuruppak was allotted, but as it
is expressed by the city’s name preceded by the divine determinative,
the rendering “the God of Shuruppak” will meanwhile serve.

[1] See /Hist. of Sum. and Akk./, pp. 24 ff.

The creation of small rivers and pools, which seems to have followed
the foundation of the five sacred cities, is best explained on the
assumption that they were intended for the supply of water to the
cities and to the temples of their five patron gods. The creation of
the Euphrates and the Tigris, if recorded in our text at all, or in
its logical order, must have occurred in the upper portion of the
column. The fact that in the later Sumerian account their creation is
related between that of mankind and the building of Nippur and Erech
cannot be cited in support of this suggestion, in view of the absence
of those cities from our text and of the process of editing to which
the later version has been subjected, with a consequent disarrangement
of its episodes.


From the lower part of the Third Column, where its text is first
preserved, it is clear that the gods had already decided to send a
Deluge, for the goddess Nintu or Ninkharsagga, here referred to also
as “the holy Innanna”, wails aloud for the intended destruction of
“her people”. That this decision has been decreed by the gods in
council is clear from a passage in the Fourth Column, where it is
stated that the sending of a flood to destroy mankind was “the word of
the assembly [of the gods]”. The first lines preserved in the present
column describe the effect of the decision on the various gods
concerned and their action at the close of the council.

In the lines which described the Council of the Gods, broken
references to “the people” and “a flood” are preserved, after which
the text continues:

At that time Nintu [. . .] like a [. . .],
The holy Innanna lament[ed] on account of her people.
Enki in his own heart [held] counsel;
Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninkharsagga [. . .].
The gods of heaven and earth in[voked] the name of Anu and Enlil.

It is unfortunate that the ends of all the lines in this column are
wanting, but enough remains to show a close correspondence of the
first two lines quoted with a passage in the Gilgamesh Epic where
Ishtar is described as lamenting the destruction of mankind.[1] This
will be seen more clearly by printing the two couplets in parallel


At that time Nintu [. . .] like Ishtar cried aloud like a woman
a [. . .], in travail,
The holy Innanna lament[ed] on Bêlit-ili lamented with a loud
account of her people. voice.

[1] Gilg. Epic, XI, l. 117 f.

The expression Bêlit-ili, “the Lady of the Gods”, is attested as a
title borne both by the Semitic goddess Ishtar and by the Sumerian
goddess Nintu or Ninkharsagga. In the passage in the Babylonian
Version, “the Lady of the Gods” has always been treated as a synonym
of Ishtar, the second half of the couplet being regarded as a
restatement of the first, according to a recognized law of Babylonian
poetry. We may probably assume that this interpretation is correct,
and we may conclude by analogy that “the holy Innanna” in the second
half of the Sumerian couplet is there merely employed as a synonym of
Nintu.[1] When the Sumerian myth was recast in accordance with Semitic
ideas, the /rôle/ of creatress of mankind, which had been played by
the old Sumerian goddess Ninkharsagga or Nintu, was naturally
transferred to the Semitic Ishtar. And as Innanna was one of Ishtar’s
designations, it was possible to make the change by a simple
transcription of the lines, the name Nintu being replaced by the
synonymous title Bêlit-ili, which was also shared by Ishtar.
Difficulties are at once introduced if we assume with Dr. Poebel that
in each version two separate goddesses are represented as lamenting,
Nintu or Bêlit-ili and Innanna or Ishtar. For Innanna as a separate
goddess had no share in the Sumerian Creation, and the reference to
“her people” is there only applicable to Nintu. Dr. Poebel has to
assume that the Sumerian names should be reversed in order to restore
them to their original order, which he suggests the Babylonian Version
has preserved. But no such textual emendation is necessary. In the
Semitic Version Ishtar definitely displaces Nintu as the mother of
men, as is proved by a later passage in her speech where she refers to
her own bearing of mankind.[2] The necessity for the substitution of
her name in the later version is thus obvious, and we have already
noted how simply this was effected.

[1] Cf. also Jastrow, /Hebr. and Bab. Trad./, p. 336.

[2] Gilg. Epic, XI, l. 123.

Another feature in which the two versions differ is that in the
Sumerian text the lamentation of the goddess precedes the sending of
the Deluge, while in the Gilgamesh Epic it is occasioned by the actual
advent of the storm. Since our text is not completely preserved, it is
just possible that the couplet was repeated at the end of the Fourth
Column after mankind’s destruction had taken place. But a further
apparent difference has been noted. While in the Sumerian Version the
goddess at once deplores the divine decision, it is clear from
Ishtar’s words in the Gilgamesh Epic that in the assembly of the gods
she had at any rate concurred in it.[1] On the other hand, in Bêlit-
ili’s later speech in the Epic, after Ut-napishtim’s sacrifice upon
the mountain, she appears to subscribe the decision to Enlil alone.[2] The passages in the Gilgamesh Epic are not really contradictory, for
they can be interpreted as implying that, while Enlil forced his will
upon the other gods against Bêlit-ili’s protest, the goddess at first
reproached herself with her concurrence, and later stigmatized Enlil
as the real author of the catastrophe. The Semitic narrative thus does
not appear, as has been suggested, to betray traces of two variant
traditions which have been skilfully combined, though it may perhaps
exhibit an expansion of the Sumerian story. On the other hand, most of
the apparent discrepancies between the Sumerian and Babylonian
Versions disappear, on the recognition that our text gives in many
passages only an epitome of the original Sumerian Version.

[1] Cf. l. 121 f., “Since I commanded evil in the assembly of the
gods, (and) commanded battle for the destruction of my people”.

[2] Cf. ll. 165 ff., “Ye gods that are here! So long as I forget not
the (jewels of) lapis lazuli upon my neck, I will keep these days
in my memory, never will I forget them! Let the gods come to the
offering, but let not Enlil come to the offering, since he took
not counsel but sent the deluge and surrendered my people to

The lament of the goddess is followed by a brief account of the action
taken by the other chief figures in the drama. Enki holds counsel with
his own heart, evidently devising the project, which he afterwards
carried into effect, of preserving the seed of mankind from
destruction. Since the verb in the following line is wanting, we do
not know what action is there recorded of the four creating deities;
but the fact that the gods of heaven and earth invoked the name of Anu
and Enlil suggests that it was their will which had been forced upon
the other gods. We shall see that throughout the text Anu and Enlil
are the ultimate rulers of both gods and men.

The narrative then introduces the human hero of the Deluge story:

At that time Ziusudu, the king, . . . priest of the god [. . .],
Made a very great . . ., [. . .].
In humility he prostrates himself, in reverence [. . .],
Daily he stands in attendance [. . .].
A dream,[1] such as had not been before, comes forth[2] . . . [. . .],
By the Name of Heaven and Earth he conjures [. . .].

[1] The word may also be rendered “dreams”.

[2] For this rendering of the verb /e-de/, for which Dr. Poebel does
not hazard a translation, see Rawlinson, /W.A.I./, IV, pl. 26, l.
24 f.(a), /nu-e-de/ = Sem. /la us-su-u/ (Pres.); and cf. Brünnow,
/Classified List/, p. 327. An alternative rendering “is created”
is also possible, and would give equally good sense; cf. /nu-e-de/
= Sem. /la šu-pu-u/, /W.A.I./, IV, pl. 2, l. 5 (a), and Brünnow,
op. cit., p. 328.

The name of the hero, Ziusudu, is the fuller Sumerian equivalent of
Ut-napishtim (or Uta-napishtim), the abbreviated Semitic form which we
find in the Gilgamesh Epic. For not only are the first two elements of
the Sumerian name identical with those of the Semitic Ut-napishtim,
but the names themselves are equated in a later Babylonian syllabary
or explanatory list of words.[1] We there find “Ut-napishte” given as
the equivalent of the Sumerian “Zisuda”, evidently an abbreviated form
of the name Ziusudu;[2] and it is significant that the names occur in
the syllabary between those of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, evidently in
consequence of the association of the Deluge story by the Babylonians
with their national epic of Gilgamesh. The name Ziusudu may be
rendered “He who lengthened the day of life” or “He who made life long
of days”,[3] which in the Semitic form is abbreviated by the omission
of the verb. The reference is probably to the immortality bestowed
upon Ziusudu at the close of the story, and not to the prolongation of
mankind’s existence in which he was instrumental. It is scarcely
necessary to add that the name has no linguistic connexion with the
Hebrew name Noah, to which it also presents no parallel in meaning.

[1] Cf. /Cun. Texts in the Brit. Mus./, Pt. XVIII, pl. 30, l. 9 (a).

[2] The name in the Sumerian Version is read by Dr. Poebel as
Ziugiddu, but there is much in favour of Prof. Zimmern’s
suggestion, based on the form Zisuda, that the third syllable of
the name should be read as /su/. On a fragment of another Nippur
text, No. 4611, Dr. Langdon reads the name as /Zi-u-sud-du/ (cf.
Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sec., Vol. X, No. 1, p. 90, pl.
iv a); the presence of the phonetic complement /du/ may be cited
in favour of this reading, but it does not appear to be supported
by the photographic reproductions of the name in the Sumerian
Deluge Version given by Dr. Poebel (/Hist. and Gramm. Texts/, pl.
lxxxviii f.). It may be added that, on either alternative, the
meaning of the name is the same.

[3] The meaning of the Sumerian element /u/ in the name, rendered as
/utu/ in the Semitic form, is rather obscure, and Dr. Poebel left
it unexplained. It is very probable, as suggested by Dr. Langdon
(cf. /Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch./, XXXVI, 1914, p. 190), that we
should connect it with the Semitic /uddu/; in that case, in place
of “breath”, the rending he suggests, I should be inclined to
render it here as “day”, for /uddu/ as the meaning “dawn” and the
sign UD is employed both for /urru/, “day-light”, and /ûmu/,

It is an interesting fact that Ziusudu should be described simply as
“the king”, without any indication of the city or area he ruled; and
in three of the five other passages in the text in which his name is
mentioned it is followed by the same title without qualification. In
most cases Berossus tells us the cities from which his Antediluvian
rulers came; and if the end of the line had been preserved it might
have been possible to determine definitely Ziusudu’s city, and
incidentally the scene of the Deluge in the Sumerian Version, by the
name of the deity in whose service he acted as priest. We have already
noted some grounds for believing that his city may have been
Shuruppak, as in the Babylonian Version; and if that were so, the
divine name reads as “the God of Shurrupak” should probably be
restored at the end of the line.[1] [1] The remains that are preserved of the determinative, which is not
combined with the sign EN, proves that Enki’s name is not to be
restored. Hence Ziusudu was not priest of Enki, and his city was
probably not Eridu, the seat of his divine friend and counsellor,
and the first of the Antediluvian cities. Sufficient reason for
Enki’s intervention on Ziusudu’s behalf is furnished by the fact
that, as God of the Deep, he was concerned in the proposed method
of man’s destruction. His rivalry of Enlil, the God of the Earth,
is implied in the Babylonian Version (cf. Gilg. Epic. XI, ll. 39-
42), and in the Sumerian Version this would naturally extend to
Anu, the God of Heaven.

The employment of the royal title by itself accords with the tradition
from Berossus that before the Deluge, as in later periods, the land
was governed by a succession of supreme rulers, and that the hero of
the Deluge was the last of them. In the Gilgamesh Epic, on the other
hand, Ut-napishtim is given no royal nor any other title. He is merely
referred to as a “man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu”, and he appears
in the guise of an ancient hero or patriarch not invested with royal
power. On this point Berossus evidently preserves the original
Sumerian traditions, while the Hebrew Versions resemble the Semitic-
Babylonian narrative. The Sumerian conception of a series of supreme
Antediluvian rulers is of course merely a reflection from the
historical period, when the hegemony in Babylonia was contested among
the city-states. The growth of the tradition may have been encouraged
by the early use of /lugal/, “king”, which, though always a term of
secular character, was not very sharply distinguished from that of
/patesi/ and other religious titles, until, in accordance with
political development, it was required to connote a wider dominion. In
Sumer, at the time of the composition of our text, Ziusudu was still
only one in a long line of Babylonian rulers, mainly historical but
gradually receding into the realms of legend and myth. At the time of
the later Semites there had been more than one complete break in the
tradition and the historical setting of the old story had become dim.
The fact that Hebrew tradition should range itself in this matter with
Babylon rather than with Sumer is important as a clue in tracing the
literary history of our texts.

The rest of the column may be taken as descriptive of Ziusudu’s
activities. One line records his making of some very great object or
the erection of a huge building;[1] and since the following lines are
concerned solely with religious activities, the reference is possibly
to a temple or some other structure of a sacred character. Its
foundation may have been recorded as striking evidence of his devotion
to his god; or, since the verb in this sentence depends on the words
“at that time” in the preceding line, we may perhaps regard his action
as directly connected with the revelation to be made to him. His
personal piety is then described: daily he occupied himself in his
god’s service, prostrating himself in humility and constant in his
attendance at the shrine. A dream (or possibly dreams), “such as had
not been before”, appears to him and he seems to be further described
as conjuring “by the Name of Heaven and Earth”; but as the ends of all
these lines are broken, the exact connexion of the phrases is not
quite certain.

[1] The element /gur-gur/, “very large” or “huge”, which occurs in the
name of this great object or building, /an-sag-gur-gur/, is
employed later in the term for the “huge boat”, /(gish)ma-gur-
gur/, in which Ziusudu rode out the storm. There was, of course,
even at this early period a natural tendency to picture on a
superhuman scale the lives and deeds of remote predecessors, a
tendency which increased in later times and led, as we shall see,
to the elaboration of extravagant detail.

It is difficult not to associate the reference to a dream, or possibly
to dream-divination, with the warning in which Enki reveals the
purpose of the gods. For the later versions prepare us for a reference
to a dream. If we take the line as describing Ziusudu’s practice of
dream-divination in general, “such as had not been before”, he may
have been represented as the first diviner of dreams, as Enmeduranki
was held to be the first practitioner of divination in general. But it
seems to me more probable that the reference is to a particular dream,
by means of which he obtained knowledge of the gods’ intentions. On
the rendering of this passage depends our interpretation of the whole
of the Fourth Column, where the point will be further discussed.
Meanwhile it may be noted that the conjuring “by the Name of Heaven
and Earth”, which we may assume is ascribed to Ziusudu, gains in
significance if we may regard the setting of the myth as a magical
incantation, an inference in support of which we shall note further
evidence. For we are furnished at once with the grounds for its
magical employment. If Ziusudu, through conjuring by the Name of
Heaven and earth, could profit by the warning sent him and so escape
the impending fate of mankind, the application of such a myth to the
special needs of a Sumerian in peril or distress will be obvious. For
should he, too, conjure by the Name of Heaven and Earth, he might look
for a similar deliverance; and his recital of the myth itself would
tend to clinch the magical effect of his own incantation.

The description of Ziusudu has also great interest in furnishing us
with a close parallel to the piety of Noah in the Hebrew Versions. For
in the Gilgamesh Epic and in Berossus this feature of the story is
completely absent. We are there given no reason why Ut-napishtim was
selected by Ea, nor Xisuthros by Kronos. For all that those versions
tell us, the favour of each deity might have been conferred
arbitrarily, and not in recognition of, or in response to, any
particular quality or action on the part of its recipient. The
Sumerian Version now restores the original setting of the story and
incidentally proves that, in this particular, the Hebrew Versions have
not embroidered a simpler narrative for the purpose of edification,
but have faithfully reproduced an original strand of the tradition.


The top of the Fourth Column of the text follows immediately on the
close of the Third Column, so that at this one point we have no great
gap between the columns. But unfortunately the ends of all the lines
in both columns are wanting, and the exact content of some phrases
preserved and their relation to each other are consequently doubtful.
This materially affects the interpretation of the passage as a whole,
but the main thread of the narrative may be readily followed. Ziusudu
is here warned that a flood is to be sent “to destroy the seed of
mankind”; the doubt that exists concerns the manner in which the
warning is conveyed. In the first line of the column, after a
reference to “the gods”, a building seems to be mentioned, and
Ziusudu, standing beside it, apparently hears a voice, which bids him
take his stand beside a wall and then conveys to him the warning of
the coming flood. The destruction of mankind had been decreed in “the
assembly [of the gods]” and would be carried out by the commands of
Anu and Enlil. Before the text breaks off we again have a reference to
the “kingdom” and “its rule”, a further trace of the close association
of the Deluge with the dynastic succession in the early traditions of

In the opening words of the warning to Ziusudu, with its prominent
repetition of the word “wall”, we must evidently trace some connexion
with the puzzling words of Ea in the Gilgamesh Epic, when he begins
his warning to Ut-napishtim. The warnings, as given in the two
versions, are printed below in parallel columns for comparison.[1] The
Gilgamesh Epic, after relating how the great gods in Shuruppak had
decided to send a deluge, continues as follows in the right-hand


For [. . .] . . . the gods a Nin-igi-azag,[2] the god Ea,
. . . [. . .]; sat with them,
Ziusudu standing at its side And he repeated their word to
heard [. . .]: the house of reeds:
“At the wall on my left side take “Reed-hut, reed-hut! Wall,
thy stand and [. . .], wall!
At the wall I will speak a word O reed-hut, hear! O wall,
to thee [. . .]. understand!
O my devout one . . . [. . .], Thou man of Shuruppak, son of
By our hand(?) a flood[3] . . . Pull down thy house, build a
[. . .] will be [sent]. ship,
To destroy the seed of mankind Leave thy possessions, take
[. . .] heed for thy life,
Is the decision, the word of the Abandon thy property, and save
assembly[4] [of the gods] thy life.
The commands of Anu (and) And bring living seed of every
En[lil . . .] kind into the ship.
Its kingdom, its rule [. . .] As for the ship, which thou
shalt build,
To his [. . .]” Of which the measurements
shall be carefully measured,
[. . .] Its breadth and length shall
[. . .] In the deep shalt thou immerse

[1] Col. IV, ll. 1 ff. are there compared with Gilg. Epic, XI, ll.

[2] Nin-igi-azag, “The Lord of Clear Vision”, a title borne by Enki,
or Ea, as God of Wisdom.

[3] The Sumerian term /amaru/, here used for the flood and rendered as
“rain-storm” by Dr. Poebel, is explained in a later syllabary as
the equivalent of the Semitic-Babylonian word /abûbu/ (cf.
Meissner, /S.A.I./, No. 8909), the term employed for the flood
both in the early Semitic version of the Atrakhasis story dated in
Ammizaduga’s reign and in the Gilgamesh Epic. The word /abûbu/ is
often conventionally rendered “deluge”, but should be more
accurately translated “flood”. It is true that the tempests of the
Sumerian Version probably imply rain; and in the Gilgamesh Epic
heavy rain in the evening begins the flood and is followed at dawn
by a thunderstorm and hurricane. But in itself the term /abûbu/
implies flood, which could take place through a rise of the rivers
unaccompanied by heavy local rain. The annual rainfall in
Babylonia to-day is on an average only about 8 in., and there have
been years in succession when the total rainfall has not exceeded
4 in.; and yet the /abûbu/ is not a thing of the past.

[4] The word here rendered “assembly” is the Semitic loan-word
/buhrum/, in Babylonian /puhrum/, the term employed for the
“assembly” of the gods both in the Babylonian Creation Series and
in the Gilgamesh Epic. Its employment in the Sumerian Version, in
place of its Sumerian equivalent /ukkin/, is an interesting
example of Semitic influence. Its occurrence does not necessarily
imply the existence of a recognized Semitic Version at the period
our text was inscribed. The substitution of /buhrum/ for /ukkin/
in the text may well date from the period of Hammurabi, when we
may assume that the increased importance of the city-council was
reflected in the general adoption of the Semitic term (cf. Poebel,
/Hist. Texts/, p. 53).

In the Semitic Version Ut-napishtim, who tells the story in the first
person, then says that he “understood”, and that, after assuring Ea
that he would carry out his commands, he asked how he was to explain
his action to “the city, the people, and the elders”; and the god told
him what to say. Then follows an account of the building of the ship,
introduced by the words “As soon as the dawn began to break”. In the
Sumerian Version the close of the warning, in which the ship was
probably referred to, and the lines prescribing how Ziusudu carried
out the divine instructions are not preserved.

It will be seen that in the passage quoted from the Semitic Version
there is no direct mention of a dream; the god is represented at first
as addressing his words to a “house of reeds” and a “wall”, and then
as speaking to Ut-napishtim himself. But in a later passage in the
Epic, when Ea seeks to excuse his action to Enlil, he says that the
gods’ decision was revealed to Atrakhasis through a dream.[1] Dr.
Poebel rightly compares the direct warning of Ut-napishtim by Ea in
the passage quoted above with the equally direct warning Ziusudu
receives in the Sumerian Version. But he would have us divorce the
direct warning from the dream-warning, and he concludes that no less
than three different versions of the story have been worked together
in the Gilgamesh Epic. In the first, corresponding to that in our
text, Ea communicates the gods’ decision directly to Ut-napishtim; in
the second he sends a dream from which Atrakhasis, “the Very Wise
one”, guesses the impending peril; while in the third he relates the
plan to a wall, taking care that Ut-napishtim overhears him.[2] The
version of Berossus, that Kronos himself appears to Xisuthros in a
dream and warns him, is rejected by Dr. Poebel, who remarks that here
the “original significance of the dream has already been obliterated”.
Consequently there seems to him to be “no logical connexion” between
the dreams or dream mentioned at the close of the Third Column and the
communication of the plan of the gods at the beginning of the Fourth
Column of our text.[3] [1] Cf. l. 195 f.; “I did not divulge the decision of the great gods.
I caused Atrakhasis to behold a dream and thus he heard the
decision of the gods.”

[2] Cf. Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 51 f. With the god’s apparent
subterfuge in the third of these supposed versions Sir James
Frazer (/Ancient Stories of a Great Flood/, p. 15) not inaptly
compares the well-known story of King Midas’s servant, who, unable
to keep the secret of the king’s deformity to himself, whispered
it into a hole in the ground, with the result that the reeds which
grew up there by their rustling in the wind proclaimed it to the
world (Ovid, /Metamorphoses/, xi, 174 ff.).

[3] Op. cit., p. 51; cf. also Jastrow, /Heb. and Bab. Trad./, p. 346.

So far from Berossus having missed the original significance of the
narrative he relates, I think it can be shown that he reproduces very
accurately the sense of our Sumerian text; and that the apparent
discrepancies in the Semitic Version, and the puzzling references to a
wall in both it and the Sumerian Version, are capable of a simple
explanation. There appears to me no justification for splitting the
Semitic narrative into the several versions suggested, since the
assumption that the direct warning and the dream-warning must be
distinguished is really based on a misunderstanding of the character
of Sumerian dreams by which important decisions of the gods in council
were communicated to mankind. We fortunately possess an instructive
Sumerian parallel to our passage. In it the will of the gods is
revealed in a dream, which is not only described in full but is
furnished with a detailed interpretation; and as it seems to clear up
our difficulties, it may be well to summarize its main features.

The occasion of the dream in this case was not a coming deluge but a
great dearth of water in the rivers, in consequence of which the crops
had suffered and the country was threatened with famine. This occurred
in the reign of Gudea, patesi of Lagash, who lived some centuries
before our Sumerian document was inscribed. In his own inscription[1] he tells us that he was at a loss to know by what means he might
restore prosperity to his country, when one night he had a dream; and
it was in consequence of the dream that he eventually erected one of
the most sumptuously appointed of Sumerian temples and thereby
restored his land to prosperity. Before recounting his dream he
describes how the gods themselves took counsel. On the day in which
destinies were fixed in heaven and earth, Enlil, the chief of the
gods, and Ningirsu, the city-god of Lagash, held converse; and Enlil,
turning to Ningirsu, described the sad condition of Southern
Babylonia, and remarked that “the decrees of the temple Eninnû should
be made glorious in heaven and upon earth”, or, in other words, that
Ningirsu’s city-temple must be rebuilt. Thereupon Ningirsu did not
communicate his orders directly to Gudea, but conveyed the will of the
gods to him by means of a dream.

[1] See Thureau-Dangin, /Les inscriptions de Sumer et d’Akkad/, Cyl.
A, pp. 134 ff., Germ. ed., pp. 88 ff.; and cf. King and Hall, /Eg.
and West. Asia/, pp. 196 ff.

It will be noticed that we here have a very similar situation to that
in the Deluge story. A conference of the gods has been held; a
decision has been taken by the greatest god, Enlil; and, in
consequence, another deity is anxious to inform a Sumerian ruler of
that decision. The only difference is that here Enlil desires the
communication to be made, while in the Deluge story it is made without
his knowledge, and obviously against his wishes. So the fact that
Ningirsu does not communicate directly with the patesi, but conveys
his message by means of a dream, is particularly instructive. For here
there can be no question of any subterfuge in the method employed,
since Enlil was a consenting party.

The story goes on to relate that, while the patesi slept, a vision of
the night came to him, and he beheld a man whose stature was so great
that it equalled the heavens and the earth. By the diadem he wore upon
his head Gudea knew that the figure must be a god. Beside the god was
the divine eagle, the emblem of Lagash; his feet rested upon the
whirlwind, and a lion crouched upon his right hand and upon his left.
The figure spoke to the patesi, but he did not understand the meaning
of the words. Then it seemed to Gudea that the Sun rose from the
earth; and he beheld a woman holding in her hand a pure reed, and she
carried also a tablet on which was a star of the heavens, and she
seemed to take counsel with herself. While Gudea was gazing, he seemed
to see a second man, who was like a warrior; and he carried a slab of
lapis lazuli, on which he drew out the plan of a temple. Before the
patesi himself it seemed that a fair cushion was placed, and upon the
cushion was set a mould, and within the mould was a brick. And on the
right hand the patesi beheld an ass that lay upon the ground. Such was
the dream of Gudea, and he was troubled because he could not interpret
it.[1] [1] The resemblance its imagery bears to that of apocalyptic visions
of a later period is interesting, as evidence of the latter’s
remote ancestry, and of the development in the use of primitive
material to suit a completely changed political outlook. But those
are points which do not concern our problem.

To cut the long story short, Gudea decided to seek the help of Ninâ,
“the child of Eridu”, who, as daughter of Enki, the God of Wisdom,
could divine all the mysteries of the gods. But first of all by
sacrifices and libations he secured the mediation of his own city-god
and goddess, Ningirsu and Gatumdug; and then, repairing to Ninâ’s
temple, he recounted to her the details of his vision. When the patesi
had finished, the goddess addressed him and said she would explain to
him the meaning of his dream. Here, no doubt, we are to understand
that she spoke through the mouth of her chief priest. And this was the
interpretation of the dream. The man whose stature was so great, and
whose head was that of a god, was the god Ningirsu, and the words
which he uttered were an order to the patesi to rebuild the temple
Eninnû. The Sun which rose from the earth was the god Ningishzida, for
like the Sun he goes forth from the earth. The maiden who held the
pure reed and carried the tablet with the star was the goddess Nisaba;
the star was the pure star of the temple’s construction, which she
proclaimed. The second man, who was like a warrior, was the god Nibub;
and the plan of the temple which he drew was the plan of Eninnû; and
the ass that lay upon the ground was the patesi himself.[1] [1] The symbolism of the ass, as a beast of burden, was applicable to
the patesi in his task of carrying out the building of the temple.

The essential feature of the vision is that the god himself appeared
to the sleeper and delivered his message in words. That is precisely
the manner in which Kronos warned Xisuthros of the coming Deluge in
the version of Berossus; while in the Gilgamesh Epic the apparent
contradiction between the direct warning and the dream-warning at once
disappears. It is true that Gudea states that he did not understand
the meaning of the god’s message, and so required an interpretation;
but he was equally at a loss as to the identity of the god who gave
it, although Ningirsu was his own city-god and was accompanied by his
own familiar city-emblem. We may thus assume that the god’s words, as
words, were equally intelligible to Gudea. But as they were uttered in
a dream, it was necessary that the patesi, in view of his country’s
peril, should have divine assurance that they implied no other
meaning. And in his case such assurance was the more essential, in
view of the symbolism attaching to the other features of his vision.
That this is sound reasoning is proved by a second vision vouchsafed
to Gudea by Ningirsu. For the patesi, though he began to prepare for
the building of the temple, was not content even with Ninâ’s
assurance. He offered a prayer to Ningirsu himself, saying that he
wished to build the temple, but had received no sign that this was the
will of the god; and he prayed for a sign. Then, as the patesi lay
stretched upon the ground, the god again appeared to him and gave him
detailed instructions, adding that he would grant the sign for which
he asked. The sign was that he should feel his side touched as by a
flame,[1] and thereby he should know that he was the man chosen by
Ningirsu to carry out his commands. Here it is the sign which confirms
the apparent meaning of the god’s words. And Gudea was at last content
and built the temple.[2] [1] Cyl. A., col. xii, l. 10 f.; cf. Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., p. 150
f., Germ. ed., p. 102 f. The word translated “side” may also be
rendered as “hand”; but “side” is the more probable rendering of
the two. The touching of Gudea’s side (or hand) presents an
interesting resemblance to the touching of Jacob’s thigh by the
divine wrestler at Peniel in Gen. xxxii. 24 ff. (J or JE). Given a
belief in the constant presence of the unseen and its frequent
manifestation, such a story as that of Peniel might well arise
from an unexplained injury to the sciatic muscle, while more than
one ailment of the heart or liver might perhaps suggest the touch
of a beckoning god. There is of course no connexion between the
Sumerian and Hebrew stories beyond their common background. It may
be added that those critics who would reverse the /rôles/ of Jacob
and the wrestler miss the point of the Hebrew story.

[2] Even so, before starting on the work, he took the further
precautions of ascertaining that the omens were favourable and of
purifying his city from all malign influence.

We may conclude, then, that in the new Sumerian Version of the Deluge
we have traced a logical connexion between the direct warning to
Ziusudu in the Fourth Column of the text and the reference to a dream
in the broken lines at the close of the Third Column. As in the
Gilgamesh Epic and in Berossus, here too the god’s warning is conveyed
in a dream; and the accompanying reference to conjuring by the Name of
Heaven and Earth probably represents the means by which Ziusudu was
enabled to verify its apparent meaning. The assurance which Gudea
obtained through the priest of Ninâ and the sign, the priest-king
Ziusudu secured by his own act, in virtue of his piety and practice of
divination. And his employment of the particular class of incantation
referred to, that which conjures by the Name of Heaven and Earth, is
singularly appropriate to the context. For by its use he was enabled
to test the meaning of Enki’s words, which related to the intentions
of Anu and Enlil, the gods respectively of Heaven and of Earth. The
symbolical setting of Gudea’s vision also finds a parallel in the
reed-house and wall of the Deluge story, though in the latter case we
have not the benefit of interpretation by a goddess. In the Sumerian
Version the wall is merely part of the vision and does not receive a
direct address from the god. That appears as a later development in
the Semitic Version, and it may perhaps have suggested the excuse, put
in that version into the mouth of Ea, that he had not directly
revealed the decision of the gods.[1] [1] In that case the parallel suggested by Sir James Frazer between
the reed-house and wall of the Gilgamesh Epic, now regarded as a
medium of communication, and the whispering reeds of the Midas
story would still hold good.

The omission of any reference to a dream before the warning in the
Gilgamesh Epic may be accounted for on the assumption that readers of
the poem would naturally suppose that the usual method of divine
warning was implied; and the text does indicate that the warning took
place at night, for Gilgamesh proceeds to carry out the divine
instructions at the break of day. The direct warning of the Hebrew
Versions, on the other hand, does not carry this implication, since
according to Hebrew ideas direct speech, as well as vision, was
included among the methods by which the divine will could be conveyed
to man.


The missing portion of the Fourth Column must have described Ziusudu’s
building of his great boat in order to escape the Deluge, for at the
beginning of the Fifth Column we are in the middle of the Deluge
itself. The column begins:

All the mighty wind-storms together blew,
The flood . . . raged.
When for seven days, for seven nights,
The flood had overwhelmed the land
When the wind-storm had driven the great boat over the mighty
The Sun-god came forth, shedding light over heaven and earth.
Ziusudu opened the opening of the great boat;
The light of the hero, the Sun-god, (he) causes to enter into the
interior(?) of the great boat.
Ziusudu, the king,
Bows himself down before the Sun-god;
The king sacrifices an ox, a sheep he slaughters(?).

The connected text of the column then breaks off, only a sign or two
remaining of the following half-dozen lines. It will be seen that in
the eleven lines that are preserved we have several close parallels to
the Babylonian Version and some equally striking differences. While
attempting to define the latter, it will be well to point out how
close the resemblances are, and at the same time to draw a comparison
between the Sumerian and Babylonian Versions of this part of the story
and the corresponding Hebrew accounts.

Here, as in the Babylonian Version, the Flood is accompanied by
hurricanes of wind, though in the latter the description is worked up
in considerable detail. We there read[1] that at the appointed time
the ruler of the darkness at eventide sent a heavy rain. Ut-napishtim
saw its beginning, but fearing to watch the storm, he entered the
interior of the ship by Ea’s instructions, closed the door, and handed
over the direction of the vessel to the pilot Puzur-Amurri. Later a
thunder-storm and hurricane added their terrors to the deluge. For at
early dawn a black cloud came up from the horizon, Adad the Storm-god
thundering in its midst, and his heralds, Nabû and Sharru, flying over
mountain and plain. Nergal tore away the ship’s anchor, while Ninib
directed the storm; the Anunnaki carried their lightning-torches and
lit up the land with their brightness; the whirlwind of the Storm-god
reached the heavens, and all light was turned into darkness. The storm
raged the whole day, covering mountain and people with water.[2] No
man beheld his fellow; the gods themselves were afraid, so that they
retreated into the highest heaven, where they crouched down, cowering
like dogs. Then follows the lamentation of Ishtar, to which reference
has already been made, the goddess reproaching herself for the part
she had taken in the destruction of her people. This section of the
Semitic narrative closes with the picture of the gods weeping with
her, sitting bowed down with their lips pressed together.

[1] Gilg. Epic, XI, ll. 90 ff.

[2] In the Atrakhasis version, dated in the reign of Ammizaduga, Col.
I, l. 5, contains a reference to the “cry” of men when Adad the
Storm-god, slays them with his flood.

It is probable that the Sumerian Version, in the missing portion of
its Fourth Column, contained some account of Ziusudu’s entry into his
boat; and this may have been preceded, as in the Gilgamesh Epic, by a
reference to “the living seed of every kind”, or at any rate to “the
four-legged creatures of the field”, and to his personal possessions,
with which we may assume he had previously loaded it. But in the Fifth
Column we have no mention of the pilot or of any other companions who
may have accompanied the king; and we shall see that the Sixth Column
contains no reference to Ziusudu’s wife. The description of the storm
may have begun with the closing lines of the Fourth Column, though it
is also quite possible that the first line of the Fifth Column
actually begins the account. However that may be, and in spite of the
poetic imagery of the Semitic Babylonian narrative, the general
character of the catastrophe is the same in both versions.

We find an equally close parallel, between the Sumerian and Babylonian
accounts, in the duration of the storm which accompanied the Flood, as
will be seen by printing the two versions together:[3]


When for seven days, for seven For six days and nights
The flood had overwhelmed the The wind blew, the flood, the
land, tempest overwhelmed the land.
When the wind-storm had driven When the seventh day drew near,
the great boat over the the tempest, the flood, ceased
mighty waters, from the battle
In which it had fought like a
The Sun-god came forth shedding Then the sea rested and was
light over heaven and earth. still, and the wind-storm, the
flood, ceased.

[3] Col. V, ll. 3-6 are here compared with Gilg. Epic, XI, ll. 128-32.

The two narratives do not precisely agree as to the duration of the
storm, for while in the Sumerian account the storm lasts seven days
and seven nights, in the Semitic-Babylonian Version it lasts only six
days and nights, ceasing at dawn on the seventh day. The difference,
however, is immaterial when we compare these estimates with those of
the Hebrew Versions, the older of which speaks of forty days’ rain,
while the later version represents the Flood as rising for no less
than a hundred and fifty days.

The close parallel between the Sumerian and Babylonian Versions is
not, however, confined to subject-matter, but here, even extends to
some of the words and phrases employed. It has already been noted that
the Sumerian term employed for “flood” or “deluge” is the attested
equivalent of the Semitic word; and it may now be added that the word
which may be rendered “great boat” or “great ship” in the Sumerian
text is the same word, though partly expressed by variant characters,
which occurs in the early Semitic fragment of the Deluge story from
Nippur.[1] In the Gilgamesh Epic, on the other hand, the ordinary
ideogram for “vessel” or “ship”[2] is employed, though the great size
of the vessel is there indicated, as in Berossus and the later Hebrew
Version, by detailed measurements. Moreover, the Sumerian and Semitic
verbs, which are employed in the parallel passages quoted above for
the “overwhelming” of the land, are given as synonyms in a late
syllabary, while in another explanatory text the Sumerian verb is
explained as applying to the destructive action of a flood.[3] Such
close linguistic parallels are instructive as furnishing additional
proof, if it were needed, of the dependence of the Semitic-Babylonian
and Assyrian Versions upon Sumerian originals.

[1] The Sumerian word is /(gish)ma-gur-gur/, corresponding to the term
written in the early Semitic fragment, l. 8, as /(isu)ma-gur-gur/,
which is probably to be read under its Semitized form
/magurgurru/. In l. 6 of that fragment the vessel is referred to
under the synonymous expression /(isu)elippu ra-be-tu/, “a great

[2] i.e. (GISH)MA, the first element in the Sumerian word, read in
Semitic Babylonian as /elippu/, “ship”; when employed in the early
Semitic fragment it is qualified by the adj. /ra-be-tu/, “great”.
There is no justification for assuming, with Prof. Hilbrecht, that
a measurement of the vessel was given in l. 7 of the early Semitic

[3] The Sumerian verb /ur/, which is employed in l. 2 of the Fifth
Column in the expression /ba-an-da-ab-ur-ur/, translated as
“raged”, occurs again in l. 4 in the phrase /kalam-ma ba-ur-ra/,
“had overwhelmed the land”. That we are justified in regarding the
latter phrase as the original of the Semitic /i-sap-pan mâta/
(Gilg. Epic, XI, l. 129) is proved by the equation Sum. /ur-ur/ =
Sem. /sa-pa-nu/ (Rawlinson, /W.A.I./, Vol. V, pl. 42, l. 54 c) and
by the explanation Sum. /ur-ur/ = Sem. /ša-ba-tu ša a-bu-bi/, i.e.
“/ur-ur/ = to smite, of a flood” (/Cun. Texts, Pt. XII, pl. 50,
Obv., l. 23); cf. Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 54, n. 1.

It may be worth while to pause for a moment in our study of the text,
in order to inquire what kind of boat it was in which Ziusudu escaped
the Flood. It is only called “a great boat” or “a great ship” in the
text, and this term, as we have noted, was taken over, semitized, and
literally translated in an early Semitic-Babylonian Version. But the
Gilgamesh Epic, representing the later Semitic-Babylonian Version,
supplies fuller details, which have not, however, been satisfactorily
explained. Either the obvious meaning of the description and figures
there given has been ignored, or the measurements have been applied to
a central structure placed upon a hull, much on the lines of a modern
“house-boat” or the conventional Noah’s ark.[1] For the latter
interpretation the text itself affords no justification. The statement
is definitely made that the length and breadth of the vessel itself
are to be the same;[2] and a later passage gives ten /gar/ for the
height of its sides and ten /gar/ for the breadth of its deck.[3] This
description has been taken to imply a square box-like structure,
which, in order to be seaworthy, must be placed on a conjectured hull.

[1] Cf., e.g., Jastrow, /Hebr. and Bab. Trad./, p. 329.

[2] Gilg. Epic, XI, ll. 28-30.

[3] L. 58 f. The /gar/ contained twelve cubits, so that the vessel
would have measured 120 cubits each way; taking the Babylonian
cubit, on the basis of Gudea’s scale, at 495 mm. (cf. Thureau-
Dangin, /Journal Asiatique/, Dix. Sér., t. XIII, 1909, pp. 79 ff.,
97), this would give a length, breadth, and height of nearly 195

I do not think it has been noted in this connexion that a vessel,
approximately with the relative proportions of that described in the
Gilgamesh Epic, is in constant use to-day on the lower Tigris and
Euphrates. A /kuffah/,[1] the familiar pitched coracle of Baghdad,
would provide an admirable model for the gigantic vessel in which
Ut-napishtim rode out the Deluge. “Without either stem or stern, quite
round like a shield”–so Herodotus described the /kuffah/ of his
day;2[] so, too, is it represented on Assyrian slabs from Nineveh,
where we see it employed for the transport of heavy building
material;[3] its form and structure indeed suggest a prehistoric
origin. The /kuffah/ is one of those examples of perfect adjustment to
conditions of use which cannot be improved. Any one who has travelled
in one of these craft will agree that their storage capacity is
immense, for their circular form and steeply curved side allow every
inch of space to be utilized. It is almost impossible to upset them,
and their only disadvantage is lack of speed. For their guidance all
that is required is a steersman with a paddle, as indicated in the
Epic. It is true that the larger kuffah of to-day tends to increase in
diameter as compared to height, but that detail might well be ignored
in picturing the monster vessel of Ut-napishtim. Its seven horizontal
stages and their nine lateral divisions would have been structurally
sound in supporting the vessel’s sides; and the selection of the
latter uneven number, though prompted doubtless by its sacred
character, is only suitable to a circular craft in which the interior
walls would radiate from the centre. The use of pitch and bitumen for
smearing the vessel inside and out, though unusual even in
Mesopotamian shipbuilding, is precisely the method employed in the
/kuffah’s/ construction.

[1] Arab. /kuffah/, pl. /kufaf/; in addition to its common use for the
Baghdad coracle, the word is also employed for a large basket.

[2] Herodotus, I, 194.

[3] The /kuffah/ is formed of wicker-work coated with bitumen. Some of
those represented on the Nineveh sculptures appear to be covered with
skins; and Herodotus (I, 94) states that “the boats which come down
the river to Babylon are circular and made of skins.” But his further
description shows that he is here referred to the /kelek/ or
skin-raft, with which he has combined a description of the /kuffah/.
The late Sir Henry Rawlinson has never seen or heard of a skin-covered
/kuffah/ on either the Tigris or Euphrates, and there can be little
doubt that bitumen was employed for their construction in antiquity,
as it is to-day. These craft are often large enough to carry five or
six horses and a dozen men.

We have no detailed description of Ziusudu’s “great boat”, beyond the
fact that it was covered in and had an opening, or light-hole, which
could be closed. But the form of Ut-napishtim’s vessel was no doubt
traditional, and we may picture that of Ziusudu as also of the
/kuffah/ type, though smaller and without its successor’s elaborate
internal structure. The gradual development of the huge coracle into a
ship would have been encouraged by the Semitic use of the term “ship”
to describe it; and the attempt to retain something of its original
proportions resulted in producing the unwieldy ark of later
tradition.[1] [1] The description of the ark is not preserved from the earlier
Hebrew Version (J), but the latter Hebrew Version (P), while
increasing the length of the vessel, has considerably reduced its
height and breadth. Its measurements are there given (Gen. vi. 15)
as 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in breadth, and 30 cubits in
height; taking the ordinary Hebrew cubit at about 18 in., this
would give a length of about 450 ft., a breadth of about 75 ft.,
and a height of about 45 ft. The interior stories are necessarily
reduced to three. The vessel in Berossus measures five stadia by
two, and thus had a length of over three thousand feet and a
breadth of more than twelve hundred.

We will now return to the text and resume the comparison we were
making between it and the Gilgamesh Epic. In the latter no direct
reference is made to the appearance of the Sun-god after the storm,
nor is Ut-napishtim represented as praying to him. But the sequence of
events in the Sumerian Version is very natural, and on that account
alone, apart from other reasons, it may be held to represent the
original form of the story. For the Sun-god would naturally reappear
after the darkness of the storm had passed, and it would be equally
natural that Ziusudu should address himself to the great light-god.
Moreover, the Gilgamesh Epic still retains traces of the Sumerian
Version, as will be seen from a comparison of their narratives,[1] the
Semitic Version being quoted from the point where the hurricane ceased
and the sea became still.

[1] Col. V, ll. 7-11 are here compared with Gilg. Epic, XI, ll. 133-9.


When I looked at the storm, the
uproar had ceased,
And all mankind was turned into
In place of fields there was a
Ziusudu opened the opening of I opened the opening (lit.
the great boat; “hole”), and daylight fell
upon my countenance.
The light of the hero, the Sun-
god, (he) causes to enter into
the interior(?) of the great
Ziusudu, the king,
Bows himself down before the I bowed myself down and sat down
Sun-god; weeping;
The king sacrifices an ox, a Over my countenance flowed my
sheep he slaughters(?). tears.
I gazed upon the quarters (of
the world)–all(?) was sea.

It will be seen that in the Semitic Version the beams of the Sun-god
have been reduced to “daylight”, and Ziusudu’s act of worship has
become merely prostration in token of grief.

Both in the Gilgamesh Epic and in Berossus the sacrifice offered by
the Deluge hero to the gods follows the episode of the birds, and it
takes place on the top of the mountain after the landing from the
vessel. It is hardly probable that two sacrifices were recounted in
the Sumerian Version, one to the Sun-god in the boat and another on
the mountain after landing; and if we are right in identifying
Ziusudu’s recorded sacrifice with that of Ut-napishtim and Xisuthros,
it would seem that, according to the Sumerian Version, no birds were
sent out to test the abatement of the waters. This conclusion cannot
be regarded as quite certain, inasmuch as the greater part of the
Fifth Column is waning. We have, moreover, already seen reason to
believe that the account on our tablet is epitomized, and that
consequently the omission of any episode from our text does not
necessarily imply its absence from the original Sumerian Version which
it follows. But here at least it is clear that nothing can have been
omitted between the opening of the light-hole and the sacrifice, for
the one act is the natural sequence of the other. On the whole it
seems preferable to assume that we have recovered a simpler form of
the story.

As the storm itself is described in a few phrases, so the cessation of
the flood may have been dismissed with equal brevity; the gradual
abatement of the waters, as attested by the dove, the swallow, and the
raven, may well be due to later elaboration or to combination with
some variant account. Under its amended form the narrative leads
naturally up to the landing on the mountain and the sacrifice of
thanksgiving to the gods. In the Sumerian Version, on the other hand,
Ziusudu regards himself as saved when he sees the Sun shining; he
needs no further tests to assure himself that the danger is over, and
his sacrifice too is one of gratitude for his escape. The
disappearance of the Sun-god from the Semitic Version was thus a
necessity, to avoid an anti-climax; and the hero’s attitude of worship
had obviously to be translated into one of grief. An indication that
the sacrifice was originally represented as having taken place on
board the boat may be seen in the lines of the Gilgamesh Epic which
recount how Enlil, after acquiescing in Ut-napishtim’s survival of the
Flood, went up into the ship and led him forth by the hand, although,
in the preceding lines, he had already landed and had sacrificed upon
the mountain. The two passages are hardly consistent as they stand,
but they find a simple explanation of we regard the second of them as
an unaltered survival from an earlier form of the story.

If the above line of reasoning be sound, it follows that, while the
earlier Hebrew Version closely resembles the Gilgamesh Epic, the later
Hebrew Version, by its omission of the birds, would offer a parallel
to the Sumerian Version. But whether we may draw any conclusion from
this apparent grouping of our authorities will be best dealt with when
we have concluded our survey of the new evidence.

As we have seen, the text of the Fifth Column breaks off with
Ziusudu’s sacrifice to the Sun-god, after he had opened a light-hole
in the boat and had seen by the god’s beams that the storm was over.
The missing portion of the Fifth Column must have included at least
some account of the abatement of the waters, the stranding of the
boat, and the manner in which Anu and Enlil became apprised of
Ziusudu’s escape, and consequently of the failure of their intention
to annihilate mankind. For in the Sixth Column of the text we find
these two deities reconciled to Ziusudu and bestowing immortality upon
him, as Enlil bestows immortality upon Ut-napishtim at the close of
the Semitic Version. In the latter account, after the vessel had
grounded on Mount Nisir and Ut-napishtim had tested the abatement of
the waters by means of the birds, he brings all out from the ship and
offers his libation and sacrifice upon the mountain, heaping up reed,
cedar-wood, and myrtle beneath his seven sacrificial vessels. And it
was by this act on his part that the gods first had knowledge of his
escape. For they smelt the sweet savour of the sacrifice, and
“gathered like flies over the sacrificer”.[1] [1] Gilg. Epic, XI, l. 162.

It is possible in our text that Ziusudu’s sacrifice in the boat was
also the means by which the gods became acquainted with his survival;
and it seems obvious that the Sun-god, to whom it was offered, should
have continued to play some part in the narrative, perhaps by assisting
Ziusudu in propitiating Anu and Enlil. In the Semitic-Babylonian
Version, the first deity to approach the sacrifice is Bêlit-ili or
Ishtar, who is indignant with Enlil for what he has done. When Enlil
himself approaches and sees the ship he is filled with anger against
the gods, and, asking who has escaped, exclaims that no man must live
in the destruction. Thereupon Ninib accuses Ea, who by his pleading
succeeds in turning Enlil’s purpose. He bids Enlil visit the sinner
with his sin and lay his transgression on the transgressor; Enlil
should not again send a deluge to destroy the whole of mankind, but
should be content with less wholesale destruction, such as that
wrought by wild beasts, famine, and plague. Finally he confesses that
it was he who warned Ziusudu of the gods’ decision by sending him a
dream. Enlil thereupon changes his intention, and going up into the
ship, leads Ut-napishtim forth. Though Ea’s intervention finds, of
course, no parallel in either Hebrew version, the subject-matter of
his speech is reflected in both. In the earlier Hebrew Version Yahweh
smells the sweet savour of Noah’s burnt offering and says in his heart
he will no more destroy every living creature as he had done; while in
the later Hebrew Version Elohim, after remembering Noah and causing
the waters to abate, establishes his covenant to the same effect, and,
as a sign of the covenant, sets his bow in the clouds.

In its treatment of the climax of the story we shall see that the
Sumerian Version, at any rate in the form it has reached us, is on a
lower ethical level than the Babylonian and Hebrew Versions. Ea’s
argument that the sinner should bear his own sin and the transgressor
his own transgression in some measure forestalls that of Ezekiel;[1] and both the Hebrew Versions represent the saving of Noah as part of
the divine intention from the beginning. But the Sumerian Version
introduces the element of magic as the means by which man can bend the
will of the gods to his own ends. How far the details of the Sumerian
myth at this point resembled that of the Gilgamesh Epic it is
impossible to say, but the general course of the story must have been
the same. In the latter Enlil’s anger is appeased, in the former that
of Anu and Enlil; and it is legitimate to suppose that Enki, like Ea,
was Ziusudu’s principal supporter, in view of the part he had already
taken in ensuring his escape.

[1] Cf. Ezek. xviii, passim, esp. xviii. 20.


The presence of the puzzling lines, with which the Sixth Column of our
text opens, was not explained by Dr. Poebel; indeed, they would be
difficult to reconcile with his assumption that our text is an epic
pure and simple. But if, as is suggested above, we are dealing with a
myth in magical employment, they are quite capable of explanation. The
problem these lines present will best be stated by giving a
translation of the extant portion of the column, where they will be
seen with their immediate context in relation to what follows them:

“By the Soul of Heaven, by the soul of Earth, shall ye conjure him,
That with you he may . . . !
Anu and Enlil by the Soul of Heaven, by the Soul of Earth, shall ye
And with you will he . . . !
“The /niggilma/ of the ground springs forth in abundance(?)!”
Ziusudu, the king,
Before Anu and Enlil bows himself down.
Life like (that of) a god he gives to him,
An eternal soul like (that of) a god he creates for him.
At that time Ziusudu, the king,
The name of the /niggilma/ (named) “Preserver of the Seed of
In a . . . land,[1] the land[1] of Dilmun(?), they caused him to

[1] Possibly to be translated “mountain”. The rendering of the proper
name as that of Dilmun is very uncertain. For the probable
identification of Dilmun with the island of Bahrein in the Persian
Gulf, cf. Rawlinson, /Journ. Roy. As. Soc./, 1880, pp. 20 ff.; and
see further, Meissner, /Orient. Lit-Zeit./, XX. No. 7, col. 201

The first two lines of the column are probably part of the speech of
some deity, who urges the necessity of invoking or conjuring Anu and
Enlil “by the Soul of Heaven, by the Soul of Earth”, in order to
secure their support or approval. Now Anu and Enlil are the two great
gods who had determined on mankind’s destruction, and whose wrath at
his own escape from death Ziusudu must placate. It is an obvious
inference that conjuring “by the Soul of Heaven” and “by the Soul of
Earth” is either the method by which Ziusudu has already succeeded in
appeasing their anger, or the means by which he is here enjoined to
attain that end. Against the latter alternative it is to be noted that
the god is addressing more than one person; and, further, at Ziusudu
is evidently already pardoned, for, so far from following the deity’s
advice, he immediately prostrates himself before Anu and Enlil and
receives immortality. We may conjecture that at the close of the Fifth
Column Ziusudu had already performed the invocation and thereby had
appeased the divine wrath; and that the lines at the beginning of the
Sixth Column point the moral of the story by enjoining on Ziusudu and
his descendants, in other words on mankind, the advisability of
employing this powerful incantation at their need. The speaker may
perhaps have been one of Ziusudu’s divine helpers–the Sun-god to whom
he had sacrificed, or Enki who had saved him from the Flood. But it
seems to me more probable that the words are uttered by Anu and Enlil
themselves.[1] For thereby they would be represented as giving their
own sanction to the formula, and as guaranteeing its magical efficacy.
That the incantation, as addressed to Anu and Enlil, would be
appropriate is obvious, since each would be magically approached
through his own sphere of control.

[1] One of them may have been the speaker on behalf of both.

It is significant that at another critical point of the story we have
already met with a reference to conjuring “by the Name of Heaven and
Earth”, the phrase occurring at the close of the Third Column after
the reference to the dream or dreams. There, as we saw, we might
possibly explain the passage as illustrating one aspect of Ziusudu’s
piety: he may have been represented as continually practising this
class of divination, and in that case it would be natural enough that
in the final crisis of the story he should have propitiated the gods
he conjured by the same means. Or, as a more probable alternative, it
was suggested that we might connect the line with Enki’s warning, and
assume that Ziusudu interpreted the dream-revelation of Anu and
Enlil’s purpose by means of the magical incantation which was
peculiarly associated with them. On either alternative the phrase fits
into the story itself, and there is no need to suppose that the
narrative is interrupted, either in the Third or in the Sixth Column,
by an address to the hearers of the myth, urging them to make the
invocation on their own behalf.

On the other hand, it seems improbable that the lines in question
formed part of the original myth; they may have been inserted to weld
the myth more closely to the magic. Both incantation and epic may have
originally existed independently, and, if so, their combination would
have been suggested by their contents. For while the former is
addressed to Anu and Enlil, in the latter these same gods play the
dominant parts: they are the two chief creators, it is they who send
the Flood, and it is their anger that must be appeased. If once
combined, the further step of making the incantation the actual means
by which Ziusudu achieved his own rescue and immortality would be a
natural development. It may be added that the words would have been an
equally appropriate addition if the incantation had not existed
independently, but had been suggested by, and developed from, the

In the third and eleventh lines of the column we have further
references to the mysterious object, the creation of which appears to
have been recorded in the First Column of the text between man’s
creation and that of animals. The second sign of the group composing
its name was not recognized by Dr. Poebel, but it is quite clearly
written in two of the passages, and has been correctly identified by
Professor Barton.[1] The Sumerian word is, in fact, to be read /nig-
gil-ma/,[2] which, when preceded by the determinative for “pot”,
“jar”, or “bowl”, is given in a later syllabary as the equivalent of
the Semitic word /mashkhalu/. Evidence that the word /mashkhalu/ was
actually employed to denote a jar or vessel of some sort is furnished
by one of the Tel el-Amarna letters which refers to “one silver
/mashkhalu/” and “one (or two) stone /mashkhalu/”.[3] In our text the
determinative is absent, and it is possible that the word is used in
another sense. Professor Barton, in both passages in the Sixth Column,
gives it the meaning “curse”; he interprets the lines as referring to
the removal of a curse from the earth after the Flood, and he compares
Gen. viii. 21, where Yahweh declares he will not again “curse the
ground for man’s sake”. But this translation ignores the occurrence of
the word in the First Column, where the creation of the /niggilma/ is
apparently recorded; and his rendering “the seed that was cursed” in
l. 11 is not supported by the photographic reproduction of the text,
which suggests that the first sign in the line is not that for “seed”,
but is the sign for “name”, as correctly read by Dr. Poebel. In that
passage the /niggilma/ appears to be given by Ziusudu the name
“Preserver of the Seed of Mankind”, which we have already compared to
the title bestowed on Uta-napishtim’s ship, “Preserver of Life”. Like
the ship, it must have played an important part in man’s preservation,
which would account not only for the honorific title but for the
special record of its creation.

[1] See /American Journal of Semitic Languages/, Vol. XXXI, April
1915, p. 226.

[2] It is written /nig-gil/ in the First Column.

[3] See Winckler, /El-Amarna/, pl. 35 f., No. 28, Obv., Col. II, l.
45, Rev., Col. I, l. 63, and Knudtzon, /El-Am. Taf./, pp. 112,
122; the vessels were presents from Amenophis IV to Burnaburiash.

It we may connect the word with the magical colouring of the myth, we
might perhaps retain its known meaning, “jar” or “bowl”, and regard it
as employed in the magical ceremony which must have formed part of the
invocation “by the Soul of Heaven, by the Soul of Earth”. But the
accompanying references to the ground, to its production from the
ground, and to its springing up, if the phrases may be so rendered,
suggest rather some kind of plant;[1] and this, from its employment in
magical rites, may also have given its name to a bowl or vessel which
held it. A very similar plant was that found and lost by Gilgamesh,
after his sojourn with Ut-napishtim; it too had potent magical power
and bore a title descriptive of its peculiar virtue of transforming
old age to youth. Should this suggestion prove to be correct, the
three passages mentioning the /niggilma/ must be classed with those in
which the invocation is referred to, as ensuring the sanction of the
myth to further elements in the magic. In accordance with this view,
the fifth line in the Sixth Column is probably to be included in the
divine speech, where a reference to the object employed in the ritual
would not be out of place. But it is to be hoped that light will be
thrown on this puzzling word by further study, and perhaps by new
fragments of the text; meanwhile it would be hazardous to suggest a
more definite rendering.

[1] The references to “the ground”, or “the earth”, also tend to
connect it peculiarly with Enlil. Enlil’s close association with
the earth, which is, of course, independently attested, is
explicitly referred to in the Babylonian Version (cf. Gilg. Epic.
XI, ll. 39-42). Suggested reflections of this idea have long been
traced in the Hebrew Versions; cf. Gen. viii. 21 (J), where Yahweh
says he will not again curse the ground, and Gen. ix. 13 (P),
where Elohim speaks of his covenant “between me and the earth”.

With the sixth line of the column it is clear that the original
narrative of the myth is resumed.[1] Ziusudu, the king, prostrates
himself before Anu and Enlil, who bestow immortality upon him and
cause him to dwell in a land, or mountain, the name of which may
perhaps be read as Dilmun. The close parallelism between this portion
of the text and the end of the myth in the Gilgamesh Epic will be seen
from the following extracts,[2] the magical portions being omitted
from the Sumerian Version:

[1] It will also be noted that with this line the text again falls
naturally into couplets.

[2] Col. VI, ll. 6-9 and 12 are there compared with Gilg. Epic, XI,
ll. 198-205.


Then Enlil went up into the
Ziusudu, the king, He took me by the hand and led
me forth.
Before Anu and Enlil bows himself He brought out my wife and
down. caused her to bow down at my
He touched our brows, standing
between us and blessing us:
Life like (that of) a god he “Formerly was Ut-napishtim of
gives to him. mankind,
An eternal soul like (that of) a But now let Ut-napishtim be like
god he creates for him. the gods, even us!
And let Ut-napishtim dwell afar
off at the mouth of the
In a . . . land, the land of[1] Then they took me and afar off,
Dilmun(?), they caused him to at the mouth of the rivers,
dwell. they caused me to dwell.

[1] Or, “On a mountain, the mountain of”, &c.

The Sumerian Version thus apparently concludes with the familiar
ending of the legend which we find in the Gilgamesh Epic and in
Berossus, though it here occurs in an abbreviated form and with some
variations in detail. In all three versions the prostration of the
Deluge hero before the god is followed by the bestowal of immortality
upon him, a fate which, according to Berossus, he shared with his
wife, his daughter, and the steersman. The Gilgamesh Epic perhaps
implies that Ut-napishtim’s wife shared in his immortality, but the
Sumerian Version mentions Ziusudu alone. In the Gilgamesh Epic
Ut-napishtim is settled by the gods at the mouth of the rivers, that
is to say at the head of the Persian Gulf, while according to a
possible rendering of the Sumerian Version he is made to dwell on
Dilmun, an island in the Gulf itself. The fact that Gilgamesh in the
Epic has to cross the sea to reach Ut-napishtim may be cited in favour
of the reading “Dilmun”; and the description of the sea as “the Waters
of Death”, if it implies more than the great danger of their passage,
was probably a later development associated with Ut-napishtim’s
immortality. It may be added that in neither Hebrew version do we find
any parallel to the concluding details of the original story, the
Hebrew narratives being brought to an end with the blessing of Noah
and the divine promise to, or covenant with, mankind.

Such then are the contents of our Sumerian document, and from the
details which have been given it will have been seen that its story,
so far as concerns the Deluge, is in essentials the same as that we
already find in the Gilgamesh Epic. It is true that this earlier
version has reached us in a magical setting, and to some extent in an
abbreviated form. In the next lecture I shall have occasion to refer
to another early mythological text from Nippur, which was thought by
its first interpreter to include a second Sumerian Version of the
Deluge legend. That suggestion has not been substantiated, though we
shall see that the contents of the document are of a very interesting
character. But in view of the discussion that has taken place in the
United States over the interpretation of the second text, and of the
doubts that have subsequently been expressed in some quarters as to
the recent discovery of any new form of the Deluge legend, it may be
well to formulate briefly the proof that in the inscription published
by Dr. Poebel an early Sumerian Version of the Deluge story has
actually been recovered. Any one who has followed the detailed
analysis of the new text which has been attempted in the preceding
paragraphs will, I venture to think, agree that the following
conclusions may be drawn:

(i) The points of general resemblance presented by the narrative to
that in the Gilgamesh Epic are sufficiently close in themselves to
show that we are dealing with a Sumerian Version of that story. And
this conclusion is further supported (a) by the occurrence throughout
the text of the attested Sumerian equivalent of the Semitic word,
employed in the Babylonian Versions, for the “Flood” or “Deluge”, and
(b) by the use of precisely the same term for the hero’s “great boat”,
which is already familiar to us from an early Babylonian Version.

(ii) The close correspondence in language between portions of the
Sumerian legend and the Gilgamesh Epic suggest that the one version
was ultimately derived from the other. And this conclusion in its turn
is confirmed (a) by the identity in meaning of the Sumerian and
Babylonian names for the Deluge hero, which are actually found equated
in a late explanatory text, and (b) by small points of difference in
the Babylonian form of the story which correspond to later political
and religious developments and suggest the work of Semitic redactors.

The cumulative effect of such general and detailed evidence is
overwhelming, and we may dismiss all doubts as to the validity of Dr.
Poebel’s claim. We have indeed recovered a very early, and in some of
its features a very primitive, form of the Deluge narrative which till
now has reached us only in Semitic and Greek renderings; and the
stream of tradition has been tapped at a point far above any at which
we have hitherto approached it. What evidence, we may ask, does this
early Sumerian Version offer with regard to the origin and literary
history of the Hebrew Versions?

The general dependence of the biblical Versions upon the Babylonian
legend as a whole has long been recognized, and needs no further
demonstration; and it has already been observed that the parallelisms
with the version in the Gilgamesh Epic are on the whole more detailed
and striking in the earlier than in the later Hebrew Version.[1] In
the course of our analysis of the Sumerian text its more striking
points of agreement or divergence, in relation to the Hebrew Versions,
were noted under the different sections of its narrative. It was also
obvious that, in many features in which the Hebrew Versions differ
from the Gilgamesh Epic, the latter finds Sumerian support. These
facts confirm the conclusion, which we should naturally base on
grounds of historical probability, that while the Semitic-Babylonian
Versions were derived from Sumer, the Hebrew accounts were equally
clearly derived from Babylon. But there are one or two pieces of
evidence which are apparently at variance with this conclusion, and
these call for some explanation.

[1] For details see especially Skinner, /Genesis/, pp. 177 ff.

Not too much significance should be attached to the apparent omission
of the episode of the birds from the Sumerian narrative, in which it
would agree with the later as against the earlier Hebrew Version; for,
apart from its epitomized character, there is so much missing from the
text that the absence of this episode cannot be regarded as
established with certainty. And in any case it could be balanced by
the Sumerian order of Creation of men before animals, which agrees
with the earlier Hebrew Version against the later. But there is one
very striking point in which our new Sumerian text agrees with both
the Hebrew Versions as against the Gilgamesh Epic and Berossus; and
that is in the character of Ziusudu, which presents so close a
parallel to the piety of Noah. As we have already seen, the latter is
due to no Hebrew idealization of the story, but represents a genuine
strand of the original tradition, which is completely absent from the
Babylonian Versions. But the Babylonian Versions are the media through
which it has generally been assumed that the tradition of the Deluge
reached the Hebrews. What explanation have we of this fact?

This grouping of Sumerian and Hebrew authorities, against the extant
sources from Babylon, is emphasized by the general framework of the
Sumerian story. For the literary connexion which we have in Genesis
between the Creation and the Deluge narratives has hitherto found no
parallel in the cuneiform texts. In Babylon and Assyria the myth of
Creation and the Deluge legend have been divorced. From the one a
complete epic has been evolved in accordance with the tenets of
Babylonian theology, the Creation myth being combined in the process
with other myths of a somewhat analogous character. The Deluge legend
has survived as an isolated story in more than one setting, the
principal Semitic Version being recounted to the national hero
Gilgamesh, towards the close of the composite epic of his adventures
which grew up around the nucleus of his name. It is one of the chief
surprises of the newly discovered Sumerian Version that the Hebrew
connexion of the narratives is seen to be on the lines of very
primitive tradition. Noah’s reputation for piety does not stand alone.
His line of descent from Adam, and the thread of narrative connecting
the creation of the world with its partial destruction by the Deluge,
already appear in Sumerian form at a time when the city of Babylon
itself had not secured its later power. How then are we to account for
this correspondence of Sumerian and Hebrew traditions, on points
completely wanting in our intermediate authorities, from which,
however, other evidence suggests that the Hebrew narratives were

At the risk of anticipating some of the conclusions to be drawn in the
next lecture, it may be well to define an answer now. It is possible
that those who still accept the traditional authorship of the
Pentateuch may be inclined to see in this correspondence of Hebrew and
Sumerian ideas a confirmation of their own hypothesis. But it should
be pointed out at once that this is not an inevitable deduction from
the evidence. Indeed, it is directly contradicted by the rest of the
evidence we have summarized, while it would leave completely
unexplained some significant features of the problem. It is true that
certain important details of the Sumerian tradition, while not
affecting Babylon and Assyria, have left their stamp upon the Hebrew
narratives; but that is not an exhaustive statement of the case. For
we have also seen that a more complete survival of Sumerian tradition
has taken place in the history of Berossus. There we traced the same
general framework of the narratives, with a far closer correspondence
in detail. The kingly rank of Ziusudu is in complete harmony with the
Berossian conception of a series of supreme Antediluvian rulers, and
the names of two of the Antediluvian cites are among those of their
newly recovered Sumerian prototypes. There can thus be no suggestion
that the Greek reproductions of the Sumerian tradition were in their
turn due to Hebrew influence. On the contrary we have in them a
parallel case of survival in a far more complete form.

The inference we may obviously draw is that the Sumerian narrative
continued in existence, in a literary form that closely resembled the
original version, into the later historical periods. In this there
would be nothing to surprise us, when we recall the careful
preservation and study of ancient Sumerian religious texts by the
later Semitic priesthood of the country. Each ancient cult-centre in
Babylonia continued to cling to its own local traditions, and the
Sumerian desire for their preservation, which was inherited by their
Semitic guardians, was in great measure unaffected by political
occurrences elsewhere. Hence it was that Ashur-bani-pal, when forming
his library at Nineveh, was able to draw upon so rich a store of the
more ancient literary texts of Babylonia. The Sumerian Version of the
Deluge and of Antediluvian history may well have survived in a less
epitomized form than that in which we have recovered it; and, like
other ancient texts, it was probably provided with a Semitic
translation. Indeed its literary study and reproduction may have
continued without interruption in Babylon itself. But even if Sumerian
tradition died out in the capital under the influence of the
Babylonian priesthood, its re-introduction may well have taken place
in Neo-Babylonian times. Perhaps the antiquarian researches of
Nabonidus were characteristic of his period; and in any case the
collection of his country’s gods into the capital must have been
accompanied by a renewed interest in the more ancient versions of the
past with which their cults were peculiarly associated. In the extant
summary from Berossus we may possibly see evidence of a subsequent
attempt to combine with these more ancient traditions the continued
religious dominance of Marduk and of Babylon.

Our conclusion, that the Sumerian form of the tradition did not die
out, leaves the question as to the periods during which Babylonian
influence may have acted upon Hebrew tradition in great measure
unaffected; and we may therefore postpone its further consideration to
the next lecture. To-day the only question that remains to be
considered concerns the effect of our new evidence upon the wider
problem of Deluge stories as a whole. What light does it throw on the
general character of Deluge stories and their suggested Egyptian

One thing that strikes me forcibly in reading this early text is the
complete absence of any trace or indication of astrological /motif/.
It is true that Ziusudu sacrifices to the Sun-god; but the episode is
inherent in the story, the appearance of the Sun after the storm
following the natural sequence of events and furnishing assurance to
the king of his eventual survival. To identify the worshipper with his
god and to transfer Ziusudu’s material craft to the heavens is surely
without justification from the simple narrative. We have here no
prototype of Ra sailing the heavenly ocean. And the destructive flood
itself is not only of an equally material and mundane character, but
is in complete harmony with its Babylonian setting.

In the matter of floods the Tigris and Euphrates present a striking
contrast to the Nile. It is true that the life-blood of each country
is its river-water, but the conditions of its use are very different,
and in Mesopotamia it becomes a curse when out of control. In both
countries the river-water must be used for maturing the crops. But
while the rains of Abyssinia cause the Nile to rise between August and
October, thus securing both summer and winter crops, the melting snows
of Armenia and the Taurus flood the Mesopotamian rivers between March
and May. In Egypt the Nile flood is gentle; it is never abrupt, and
the river gives ample warning of its rise and fall. It contains just
enough sediment to enrich the land without choking the canals; and the
water, after filling its historic basins, may when necessary be
discharged into the falling river in November. Thus Egypt receives a
full and regular supply of water, and there is no difficulty in
disposing of any surplus. The growth in such a country of a legend of
world-wide destruction by flood is inconceivable.

In Mesopotamia, on the other hand, the floods, which come too late for
the winter crops, are followed by the rainless summer months; and not
only must the flood-water be controlled, but some portion of it must
be detained artificially, if it is to be of use during the burning
months of July, August, and September, when the rivers are at their
lowest. Moreover, heavy rain in April and a warm south wind melting
the snow in the hills may bring down such floods that the channels
cannot contain them; the dams are then breached and the country is
laid waste. Here there is first too much water and then too little.

The great danger from flood in Babylonia, both in its range of action
and in its destructive effect, is due to the strangely flat character
of the Tigris and Euphrates delta.[1] Hence after a severe breach in
the Tigris or Euphrates, the river after inundating the country may
make itself a new channel miles away from the old one. To mitigate the
danger, the floods may be dealt with in two ways–by a multiplication
of canals to spread the water, and by providing escapes for it into
depressions in the surrounding desert, which in their turn become
centres of fertility. Both methods were employed in antiquity; and it
may be added that in any scheme for the future prosperity of the
country they must be employed again, of course with the increased
efficiency of modern apparatus.[2] But while the Babylonians succeeded
in controlling the Euphrates, the Tigris was never really tamed,[3] and whenever it burst its right bank the southern plains were
devastated. We could not have more suitable soil for the growth of a
Deluge story.

[1] Baghdad, though 300 miles by crow-fly from the sea and 500 by
river, is only 120 ft. above sea-level.

[2] The Babylonians controlled the Euphrates, and at the same time
provided against its time of “low supply”, by escapes into two
depressions in the western desert to the NW. of Babylon, known
to-day as the Habbânîyah and Abu Dîs depressions, which lie S. of
the modern town of Ramâdi and N. of Kerbela. That these
depressions were actually used as reservoirs in antiquity is
proved by the presence along their edges of thick beds of
Euphrates shells. In addition to canals and escapes, the
Babylonian system included well-constructed dikes protected by
brushwood. By cutting an eight-mile channel through a low hill
between the Habbânîyah and Abu Dîs depressions and by building a
short dam 50 ft. high across the latter’s narrow outlet, Sir
William Willcocks estimates that a reservoir could be obtained
holding eighteen milliards of tons of water. See his work /The
Irrigations of Mesopotamia/ (E. and F. N. Spon, 1911),
/Geographical Journal/, Vol. XL, No. 2 (Aug., 1912), pp. 129 ff.,
and the articles in /The Near East/ cited on p. 97, n. 1, and p.
98, n. 2. Sir William Willcocks’s volume and subsequent papers
form the best introduction to the study of Babylonian Deluge
tradition on its material side.

[3] Their works carried out on the Tigris were effective for
irrigation; but the Babylonians never succeeded in controlling its
floods as they did those of the Euphrates. A massive earthen dam,
the remains of which are still known as “Nimrod’s Dam”, was thrown
across the Tigris above the point where it entered its delta; this
served to turn the river over hard conglomerate rock and kept it
at a high level so that it could irrigate the country on both
banks. Above the dam were the heads of the later Nahrwân Canal, a
great stream 400 ft. wide and 17 ft. deep, which supplied the
country east of the river. The Nâr Sharri or “King’s Canal”, the
Nahar Malkha of the Greeks and the Nahr el-Malik of the Arabs,
protected the right bank of the Tigris by its own high artificial
banks, which can still be traced for hundreds of miles; but it
took its supply from the Euphrates at Sippar, where the ground is
some 25 ft. higher than on the Tigris. The Tigris usually flooded
its left bank; it was the right bank which was protected, and a
breach here meant disaster. Cf. Willcocks, op. cit., and /The Near
East/, Sept. 29, 1916 (Vol. XI, No. 282), p. 522.

It was only by constant and unremitting attention that disaster from
flood could be averted; and the difficulties of the problem were and
are increased by the fact that the flood-water of the Mesopotamian
rivers contains five times as much sediment as the Nile. In fact, one
of the most pressing of the problems the Sumerian and early Babylonian
engineers had to solve was the keeping of the canals free from
silt.[1] What the floods, if left unchecked, may do in Mesopotamia, is
well illustrated by the decay of the ancient canal-system, which has
been the immediate cause of the country’s present state of sordid
desolation. That the decay was gradual was not the fault of the
rivers, but was due to the sound principles on which the old system of
control had been evolved through many centuries of labour. At the time
of the Moslem conquest the system had already begun to fail. In the
fifth century there had been bad floods; but worse came in A.D. 629,
when both rivers burst their banks and played havoc with the dikes and
embankments. It is related that the Sassanian king Parwiz, the
contemporary of Mohammed, crucified in one day forty canal-workers at
a certain breach, and yet was unable to master the flood.[2] All
repairs were suspended during the anarchy of the Moslem invasion. As a
consequence the Tigris left its old bed for the Shatt el-Hai at Kût,
and pouring its own and its tributaries’ waters into the Euphrates
formed the Great Euphrates Swamp, two hundred miles long and fifty
broad. But even then what was left of the old system was sufficient to
support the splendour of the Eastern Caliphate.

[1] Cf. /Letters of Hammurabi/, Vol. III, pp. xxxvi ff.; it was the
duty of every village or town upon the banks of the main canals in
Babylonia to keep its own section clear of silt, and of course it
was also responsible for its own smaller irrigation-channels.
While the invention of the system of basin-irrigation was
practically forced on Egypt, the extraordinary fertility of
Babylonia was won in the teeth of nature by the system of
perennial irrigation, or irrigation all the year round. In
Babylonia the water was led into small fields of two or three
acres, while the Nile valley was irrigated in great basins each
containing some thirty to forty thousand acres. The Babylonian
method gives far more profitable results, and Sir William
Willcocks points out that Egypt to-day is gradually abandoning its
own system and adopting that of its ancient rival; see /The Near
East/, Sept. 29, 1916, p. 521.

[2] See Le Strange, /The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate/, p. 27.

The second great blow to the system followed the Mongol conquest, when
the Nahrwân Canal, to the east of the Tigris, had its head swept away
by flood and the area it had irrigated became desert. Then, in about
the fifteenth century, the Tigris returned to its old course; the
Shatt el-Hai shrank, and much of the Great Swamp dried up into the
desert it is to-day.[1] Things became worse during the centuries of
Turkish misrule. But the silting up of the Hillah, or main, branch of
the Euphrates about 1865, and the transference of a great part of its
stream into the Hindîyah Canal, caused even the Turks to take action.
They constructed the old Hindîyah Barrage in 1890, but it gave way in
1903 and the state of things was even worse than before; for the
Hillah branch then dried entirely.[2] [1] This illustrates the damage the Tigris itself is capable of
inflicting on the country. It may be added that Sir William
Willcocks proposes to control the Tigris floods by an escape into
the Tharthâr depression, a great salt pan at the tail of Wadi
Tharthâr, which lies 14 ft. below sea level and is 200 ft. lower
than the flood-level of the Tigris some thirty-two miles away. The
escape would leave the Tigris to the S. of Sâmarra, the proposed
Beled Barrage being built below it and up-stream of “Nimrod’s
Dam”. The Tharthâr escape would drain into the Euphrates, and the
latter’s Habbânîyah escape would receive any surplus water from
the Tigris, a second barrage being thrown across the Euphrates up-
stream of Fallûjah, where there is an outcrop of limestone near
the head of the Sakhlawîyah Canal. The Tharthâr depression,
besides disposing of the Tigris flood-water, would thus probably
feed the Euphrates; and a second barrage on the Tigris, to be
built at Kût, would supply water to the Shatt el-Hai. When the
country is freed from danger of flood, the Baghdad Railway could
be run through the cultivated land instead of through the eastern
desert; see Willcocks, /The Near East/, Oct. 6, 1916 (Vol. XI, No.
283), p. 545 f.

[2] It was then that Sir William Willcocks designed the new Hindîyah
Barrage, which was completed in 1913. The Hindîyah branch, to-day
the main stream of the Euphrates, is the old low-lying Pallacopas
Canal, which branched westward above Babylon and discharged its
waters into the western marshes. In antiquity the head of this
branch had to be opened in high floods and then closed again
immediately after the flood to keep the main stream full past
Babylon, which entailed the employment of an enormous number of
men. Alexander the Great’s first work in Babylonia was cutting a
new head for the Pallacopas in solid ground, for hitherto it had
been in sandy soil; and it was while reclaiming the marshes
farther down-stream that he contracted the fever that killed him.

From this brief sketch of progressive disaster during the later
historical period, the inevitable effect of neglected silt and flood,
it will be gathered that the two great rivers of Mesopotamia present a
very strong contrast to the Nile. For during the same period of
misgovernment and neglect in Egypt the Nile did not turn its valley
and delta into a desert. On the Tigris and Euphrates, during ages when
the earliest dwellers on their banks were struggling to make effective
their first efforts at control, the waters must often have regained
the upper hand. Under such conditions the story of a great flood in
the past would not be likely to die out in the future; the tradition
would tend to gather illustrative detail suggested by later
experience. Our new text reveals the Deluge tradition in Mesopotamia
at an early stage of its development, and incidentally shows us that
there is no need to postulate for its origin any convulsion of nature
or even a series of seismic shocks accompanied by cyclone in the
Persian Gulf.

If this had been the only version of the story that had come down to
us, we should hardly have regarded it as a record of world-wide
catastrophe. It is true the gods’ intention is to destroy mankind, but
the scene throughout is laid in Southern Babylonia. After seven days’
storm, the Sun comes out, and the vessel with the pious priest-king
and his domestic animals on board grounds, apparently still in
Babylonia, and not on any distant mountain, such as Mt. Nisir or the
great mass of Ararat in Armenia. These are obviously details which
tellers of the story have added as it passed down to later
generations. When it was carried still farther afield, into the area
of the Eastern Mediterranean, it was again adapted to local
conditions. Thus Apollodorus makes Deucalion land upon Parnassus,[1] and the pseudo-Lucian relates how he founded the temple of Derketo at
Hierapolis in Syria beside the hole in the earth which swallowed up
the Flood.[2] To the Sumerians who first told the story, the great
Flood appeared to have destroyed mankind, for Southern Babylonia was
for them the world. Later peoples who heard it have fitted the story
to their own geographical horizon, and in all good faith and by a
purely logical process the mountain-tops are represented as submerged,
and the ship, or ark, or chest, is made to come to ground on the
highest peak known to the story-teller and his hearers. But in its
early Sumerian form it is just a simple tradition of some great
inundation, which overwhelmed the plain of Southern Babylonia and was
peculiarly disastrous in its effects. And so its memory survived in
the picture of Ziusudu’s solitary coracle upon the face of the waters,
which, seen through the mists of the Deluge tradition, has given us
the Noah’s ark of our nursery days.

[1] Hesiod is our earliest authority for the Deucalion Flood story.
For its probable Babylonian origin, cf. Farnell, /Greece and
Babylon/ (1911), p. 184.

[2] /De Syria dea/, 12 f.

Thus the Babylonian, Hebrew, and Greek Deluge stories resolve
themselves, not into a nature myth, but into an early legend, which
has the basis of historical fact in the Euphrates Valley. And it is
probable that we may explain after a similar fashion the occurrence of
tales of a like character at least in some other parts of the world.
Among races dwelling in low-lying or well-watered districts it would
be surprising if we did not find independent stories of past floods
from which few inhabitants of the land escaped. It is only in hilly
countries such as Palestine, where for the great part of the year
water is scarce and precious, that we are forced to deduce borrowing;
and there is no doubt that both the Babylonian and the biblical
stories have been responsible for some at any rate of the scattered
tales. But there is no need to adopt the theory of a single source for
all of them, whether in Babylonia or, still less, in Egypt.[1] [1] This argument is taken from an article I published in Professor
Headlam’s /Church Quarterly Review/, Jan., 1916, pp. 280 ff.,
containing an account of Dr. Poebel’s discovery.

I should like to add, with regard to this reading of our new evidence,
that I am very glad to know Sir James Frazer holds a very similar
opinion. For, as you are doubtless all aware, Sir James is at present
collecting Flood stories from all over the world, and is supplementing
from a wider range the collections already made by Lenormant, Andree,
Winternitz, and Gerland. When his work is complete it will be possible
to conjecture with far greater confidence how particular traditions or
groups of tradition arose, and to what extent transmission has taken
place. Meanwhile, in his recent Huxley Memorial Lecture,[1] he has
suggested a third possibility as to the way Deluge stories may have

[1] Sir J. G. Frazer, /Ancient Stories of a Great Flood/ (the Huxley
Memorial Lecture, 1916), Roy. Anthrop. Inst., 1916.

Stated briefly, it is that a Deluge story may arise as a popular
explanation of some striking natural feature in a country, although to
the scientific eye the feature in question is due to causes other than
catastrophic flood. And he worked out the suggestion in the case of
the Greek traditions of a great deluge, associated with the names of
Deucalion and Dardanus. Deucalion’s deluge, in its later forms at any
rate, is obviously coloured by Semitic tradition; but both Greek
stories, in their origin, Sir James Frazer would trace to local
conditions–the one suggested by the Gorge of Tempe in Thessaly, the
other explaining the existence of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. As he
pointed out, they would be instances, not of genuine historical
traditions, but of what Sir James Tyler calls “observation myths”. A
third story of a great flood, regarded in Greek tradition as the
earliest of the three, he would explain by an extraordinary inundation
of the Copaic Lake in Boeotia, which to this day is liable to great
fluctuations of level. His new theory applies only to the other two
traditions. For in them no historical kernel is presupposed, though
gradual erosion by water is not excluded as a cause of the surface
features which may have suggested the myths.

This valuable theory thus opens up a third possibility for our
analysis. It may also, of course, be used in combination, if in any
particular instance we have reason to believe that transmission, in
some vague form, may already have taken place. And it would with all
deference suggest the possibility that, in view of other evidence,
this may have occurred in the case of the Greek traditions. With
regard to the theory itself we may confidently expect that further
examples will be found in its illustration and support. Meanwhile in
the new Sumerian Version I think we may conclude that we have
recovered beyond any doubt the origin of the Babylonian and Hebrew
traditions and of the large group of stories to which they in their
turn have given rise.



In our discussion of the new Sumerian version of the Deluge story we
came to the conclusion that it gave no support to any theory which
would trace all such tales to a single origin, whether in Egypt or in
Babylonia. In spite of strong astrological elements in both the
Egyptian and Babylonian religious systems, we saw grounds for
regarding the astrological tinge of much ancient mythology as a later
embellishment and not as primitive material. And so far as our new
version of the Deluge story was concerned, it resolved itself into a
legend, which had a basis of historical fact in the Euphrates Valley.
It will be obvious that the same class of explanation cannot be
applied to narratives of the Creation of the World. For there we are
dealing, not with legends, but with myths, that is, stories
exclusively about the gods. But where an examination of their earlier
forms is possible, it would seem to show that many of these tales
also, in their origin, are not to be interpreted as nature myths, and
that none arose as mere reflections of the solar system. In their more
primitive and simpler aspects they seem in many cases to have been
suggested by very human and terrestrial experience. To-day we will
examine the Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian myths of Creation, and,
after we have noted the more striking features of our new material, we
will consider the problem of foreign influences upon Hebrew traditions
concerning the origin and early history of the world.

In Egypt, as until recently in Babylonia, we have to depend for our
knowledge of Creation myths on documents of a comparatively late
period. Moreover, Egyptian religious literature as a whole is
textually corrupt, and in consequence it is often difficult to
determine the original significance of its allusions. Thanks to the
funerary inscriptions and that great body of magical formulae and
ritual known as “The Chapters of Coming forth by Day”, we are very
fully informed on the Egyptian doctrines as to the future state of the
dead. The Egyptian’s intense interest in his own remote future,
amounting almost to an obsession, may perhaps in part account for the
comparatively meagre space in the extant literature which is occupied
by myths relating solely to the past. And it is significant that the
one cycle of myth, of which we are fully informed in its latest stage
of development, should be that which gave its sanction to the hope of
a future existence for man. The fact that Herodotus, though he claims
a knowledge of the sufferings or “Mysteries” of Osiris, should
deliberately refrain from describing them or from even uttering the
name,[1] suggests that in his time at any rate some sections of the
mythology had begun to acquire an esoteric character. There is no
doubt that at all periods myth played an important part in the ritual
of feast-days. But mythological references in the earlier texts are
often obscure; and the late form in which a few of the stories have
come to us is obviously artificial. The tradition, for example, which
relates how mankind came from the tears which issued from Ra’s eye
undoubtedly arose from a play upon words.

[1] Herodotus, II, 171.

On the other hand, traces of myth, scattered in the religious
literature of Egypt, may perhaps in some measure betray their relative
age by the conceptions of the universe which underlie them. The
Egyptian idea that the sky was a heavenly ocean, which is not unlike
conceptions current among the Semitic Babylonians and Hebrews,
presupposes some thought and reflection. In Egypt it may well have
been evolved from the probably earlier but analogous idea of the river
in heaven, which the Sun traversed daily in his boats. Such a river
was clearly suggested by the Nile; and its world-embracing character
is reminiscent of a time when through communication was regularly
established, at least as far south as Elephantine. Possibly in an
earlier period the long narrow valley, or even a section of it, may
have suggested the figure of a man lying prone upon his back. Such was
Keb, the Earth-god, whose counterpart in the sky was the goddess Nut,
her feet and hands resting at the limits of the world and her curved
body forming the vault of heaven. Perhaps still more primitive, and
dating from a pastoral age, may be the notion that the sky was a great
cow, her body, speckled with stars, alone visible from the earth
beneath. Reference has already been made to the dominant influence of
the Sun in Egyptian religion, and it is not surprising that he should
so often appear as the first of created beings. His orb itself, or
later the god in youthful human form, might be pictured as emerging
from a lotus on the primaeval waters, or from a marsh-bird’s egg, a
conception which influenced the later Phoenician cosmogeny. The
Scarabaeus, or great dung-feeding beetle of Egypt, rolling the ball
before it in which it lays its eggs, is an obvious theme for the early
myth-maker. And it was natural that the Beetle of Khepera should have
been identified with the Sun at his rising, as the Hawk of Ra
represented his noonday flight, and the aged form of Attun his setting
in the west. But in all these varied conceptions and explanations of
the universe it is difficult to determine how far the poetical imagery
of later periods has transformed the original myths which may lie
behind them.

As the Egyptian Creator the claims of Ra, the Sun-god of Heliopolis,
early superseded those of other deities. On the other hand, Ptah of
Memphis, who for long ages had been merely the god of architects and
craftsmen, became under the Empire the architect of the universe and
is pictured as a potter moulding the world-egg. A short poem by a
priest of Ptah, which has come down to us from that period, exhibits
an attempt to develop this idea on philosophical lines.[1] Its author
represents all gods and living creatures as proceeding directly from
the mind and thought of Ptah. But this movement, which was more
notably reflected in Akhenaton’s religious revolution, died out in
political disaster, and the original materialistic interpretation of
the myths was restored with the cult of Amen. How materialistic this
could be is well illustrated by two earlier members of the XVIIIth
Dynasty, who have left us vivid representations of the potter’s wheel
employed in the process of man’s creation. When the famous Hatshepsut,
after the return of her expedition to Punt in the ninth year of her
young consort Thothmes III, decided to build her temple at Deir
el-Bahari in the necropolis of Western Thebes, she sought to emphasize
her claim to the throne of Egypt by recording her own divine origin
upon its walls. We have already noted the Egyptians’ belief in the
solar parentage of their legitimate rulers, a myth that goes back at
least to the Old Kingdom and may have had its origin in prehistoric
times. With the rise of Thebes, Amen inherited the prerogatives of Ra;
and so Hatshepsut seeks to show, on the north side of the retaining
wall of her temple’s Upper Platform, that she was the daughter of Amen
himself, “the great God, Lord of the sky, Lord of the Thrones of the
Two Lands, who resides at Thebes”. The myth was no invention of her
own, for obviously it must have followed traditional lines, and though
it is only employed to exhibit the divine creation of a single
personage, it as obviously reflects the procedure and methods of a
general Creation myth.

[1] See Breasted, /Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache/, XXXIX, pp. 39
ff., and /History of Egypt/, pp. 356 ff.

This series of sculptures shared the deliberate mutilation that all
her records suffered at the hands of Thothmes III after her death, but
enough of the scenes and their accompanying text has survived to
render the detailed interpretation of the myth quite certain.[1] Here,
as in a general Creation myth, Amen’s first act is to summon the great
gods in council, in order to announce to them the future birth of the
great princess. Of the twelve gods who attend, the first is Menthu, a
form of the Sun-god and closely associated with Amen.[2] But the
second deity is Atum, the great god of Heliopolis, and he is followed
by his cycle of deities–Shu, “the son of Ra”; Tefnut, “the Lady of
the sky”; Keb, “the Father of the Gods”; Nut, “the Mother of the
Gods”; Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Set, Horus, and Hathor. We are here in
the presence of cosmic deities, as befits a projected act of creation.
The subsequent scenes exhibit the Egyptian’s literal interpretation of
the myth, which necessitates the god’s bodily presence and personal
participation. Thoth mentions to Amen the name of queen Aahmes as the
future mother of Hatshepsut, and we later see Amen himself, in the
form of her husband, Aa-kheperka-Ra (Thothmes I), sitting with Aahmes
and giving her the Ankh, or sign of Life, which she receives in her
hand and inhales through her nostrils.[3] God and queen are seated on
thrones above a couch, and are supported by two goddesses. After
leaving the queen, Amen calls on Khnum or Khnemu, the flat-horned ram-
god, who in texts of all periods is referred to as the “builder” of
gods and men;[4] and he instructs him to create the body of his future
daughter and that of her /Ka/, or “double”, which would be united to
her from birth.

[1] See Naville, /Deir el-Bahari/, Pt. II, pp. 12 ff., plates xlvi ff.

[2] See Budge, /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. II, pp. 23 ff. His chief
cult-centre was Hermonthis, but here as elsewhere he is given his
usual title “Lord of Thebes”.

[3] Pl. xlvii. Similar scenes are presented in the “birth-temples” at
Denderah, Edfu, Philae, Esneh, and Luxor; see Naville, op. cit.,
p. 14.

[4] Cf. Budge, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 50.

The scene in the series, which is of greatest interest in the present
connexion, is that representing Khnum at his work of creation. He is
seated before a potter’s wheel which he works with his foot,[1] and on
the revolving table he is fashioning two children with his hands, the
baby princess and her “double”. It was always Hatshepsut’s desire to
be represented as a man, and so both the children are boys.[2] As yet
they are lifeless, but the symbol of Life will be held to their
nostrils by Heqet, the divine Potter’s wife, whose frog-head typifies
birth and fertility. When Amenophis III copied Hatshepsut’s sculptures
for his own series at Luxor, he assigned this duty to the greater
goddess Hathor, perhaps the most powerful of the cosmic goddesses and
the mother of the world. The subsequent scenes at Deir el-Bahari
include the leading of queen Aahmes by Khnum and Heqet to the birth-
chamber; the great birth scene where the queen is attended by the
goddesses Nephthys and Isis, a number of divine nurses and midwives
holding several of the “doubles” of the baby, and favourable genii, in
human form or with the heads of crocodiles, jackals, and hawks,
representing the four cardinal points and all bearing the gift of
life; the presentation of the young child by the goddess Hathor to
Amen, who is well pleased at the sight of his daughter; and the divine
suckling of Hatshepsut and her “doubles”. But these episodes do not
concern us, as of course they merely reflect the procedure following a
royal birth. But Khnum’s part in the princess’s origin stands on a
different plane, for it illustrates the Egyptian myth of Creation by
the divine Potter, who may take the form of either Khnum or Ptah.
Monsieur Naville points out the extraordinary resemblance in detail
which Hatshepsut’s myth of divine paternity bears to the Greek legend
of Zeus and Alkmene, where the god takes the form of Amphitryon,
Alkmene’s husband, exactly as Amen appears to the queen;[3] and it may
be added that the Egyptian origin of the Greek story was traditionally
recognized in the ancestry ascribed to the human couple.[4] [1] This detail is not clearly preserved at Deir el-Bahari; but it is
quite clear in the scene on the west wall of the “Birth-room” in
the Temple at Luxor, which Amenophis III evidently copied from
that of Hatshepsut.

[2] In the similar scene at Luxor, where the future Amenophis III is
represented on the Creator’s wheel, the sculptor has distinguished
the human child from its spiritual “double” by the quaint device
of putting its finger in its mouth.

[3] See Naville, op. cit., p. 12.

[4] Cf., e.g., Herodotus, II, 43.

The only complete Egyptian Creation myth yet recovered is preserved in
a late papyrus in the British Museum, which was published some years
ago by Dr. Budge.[1] It occurs under two separate versions embedded in
“The Book of the Overthrowing of Apep, the Enemy of Ra”. Here Ra, who
utters the myth under his late title of Neb-er-tcher, “Lord to the
utmost limit”, is self-created as Khepera from Nu, the primaeval
water; and then follow successive generations of divine pairs, male
and female, such as we find at the beginning of the Semitic-Babylonian
Creation Series.[2] Though the papyrus was written as late as the year
311 B.C., the myth is undoubtedly early. For the first two divine
pairs Shu and Tefnut, Keb and Nut, and four of the latter pairs’ five
children, Osiris and Isis, Set and Nephthys, form with the Sun-god
himself the Greater Ennead of Heliopolis, which exerted so wide an
influence on Egyptian religious speculation. The Ennead combined the
older solar elements with the cult of Osiris, and this is indicated in
the myth by a break in the successive generations, Nut bringing forth
at a single birth the five chief gods of the Osiris cycle, Osiris
himself and his son Horus, with Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Thus we may
see in the myth an early example of that religious syncretism which is
so characteristic of later Egyptian belief.

[1] See /Archaeologia/, Vol. LII (1891). Dr. Budge published a new
edition of the whole papyrus in /Egyptian Hieratic Papyri in the
British Museum/ (1910), and the two versions of the Creation myth
are given together in his /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I (1904),
Chap. VIII, pp. 308 ff., and more recently in his /Egyptian
Literature/, Vol. I, “Legends of the Gods” (1912), pp. 2 ff. An
account of the papyrus is included in the Introduction to “Legends
of the Gods”, pp. xiii ff.

[2] In /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I, Chap. VII, pp. 288 ff., Dr.
Budge gives a detailed comparison of the Egyptian pairs of
primaeval deities with the very similar couples of the Babylonian

The only parallel this Egyptian myth of Creation presents to the
Hebrew cosmogony is in its picture of the primaeval water,
corresponding to the watery chaos of Genesis i. But the resemblance is
of a very general character, and includes no etymological equivalence
such as we find when we compare the Hebrew account with the principal
Semitic-Babylonian Creation narrative.[1] The application of the Ankh,
the Egyptian sign for Life, to the nostrils of a newly-created being
is no true parallel to the breathing into man’s nostrils of the breath
of life in the earlier Hebrew Version,[2] except in the sense that
each process was suggested by our common human anatomy. We should
naturally expect to find some Hebrew parallel to the Egyptian idea of
Creation as the work of a potter with his clay, for that figure
appears in most ancient mythologies. The Hebrews indeed used the
conception as a metaphor or parable,[3] and it also underlies their
earlier picture of man’s creation. I have not touched on the grosser
Egyptian conceptions concerning the origin of the universe, which we
may probably connect with African ideas; but those I have referred to
will serve to demonstrate the complete absence of any feature that
presents a detailed resemblance of the Hebrew tradition.

[1] For the wide diffusion, in the myths of remote peoples, of a vague
theory that would trace all created things to a watery origin, see
Farnell, /Greece and Babylon/, p. 180.

[2] Gen. ii. 7 (J).

[3] Cf., e.g., Isaiah xxix. 16, xlv. 9; and Jeremiah xviii. 2f.

When we turn to Babylonia, we find there also evidence of conflicting
ideas, the product of different and to some extent competing religious
centres. But in contrast to the rather confused condition of Egyptian
mythology, the Semitic Creation myth of the city of Babylon, thanks to
the latter’s continued political ascendancy, succeeded in winning a
dominant place in the national literature. This is the version in
which so many points of resemblance to the first chapter of Genesis
have long been recognized, especially in the succession of creative
acts and their relative order. In the Semitic-Babylonian Version the
creation of the world is represented as the result of conflict, the
emergence of order out of chaos, a result that is only attained by the
personal triumph of the Creator. But this underlying dualism does not
appear in the more primitive Sumerian Version we have now recovered.
It will be remembered that in the second lecture I gave some account
of the myth, which occurs in an epitomized form as an introduction to
the Sumerian Version of the Deluge, the two narratives being recorded
in the same document and connected with one another by a description
of the Antediluvian cities. We there saw that Creation is ascribed to
the three greatest gods of the Sumerian pantheon, Anu, Enlil, and
Enki, assisted by the goddess Ninkharsagga.

It is significant that in the Sumerian version no less than four
deities are represented as taking part in the Creation. For in this we
may see some indication of the period to which its composition must be
assigned. Their association in the text suggests that the claims of
local gods had already begun to compete with one another as a result
of political combination between the cities of their cults. To the
same general period we must also assign the compilation of the
Sumerian Dynastic record, for that presupposes the existence of a
supreme ruler among the Sumerian city-states. This form of political
constitution must undoubtedly have been the result of a long process
of development, and the fact that its existence should be regarded as
dating from the Creation of the world indicates a comparatively
developed stage of the tradition. But behind the combination of cities
and their gods we may conjecturally trace anterior stages of
development, when each local deity and his human representative seemed
to their own adherents the sole objects for worship and allegiance.
And even after the demands of other centres had been conceded, no
deity ever quite gave up his local claims.

Enlil, the second of the four Sumerian creating deities, eventually
ousted his rivals. It has indeed long been recognized that the /rôle/
played by Marduk in the Babylonian Version of Creation had been
borrowed from Enlil of Nippur; and in the Atrakhasis legend Enlil
himself appears as the ultimate ruler of the world and the other gods
figure as “his sons”. Anu, who heads the list and plays with Enlil the
leading part in the Sumerian narrative, was clearly his chief rival.
And though we possess no detailed account of Anu’s creative work, the
persistent ascription to him of the creation of heaven, and his
familiar title, “the Father of the Gods”, suggest that he once
possessed a corresponding body of myth in Eanna, his temple at Erech.
Enki, the third of the creating gods, was naturally credited, as God
of Wisdom, with special creative activities, and fortunately in his
case we have some independent evidence of the varied forms these could

According to one tradition that has come down to us,[1] after Anu had
made the heavens, Enki created Apsû or the Deep, his own dwelling-
place. Then taking from it a piece of clay[2] he proceeded to create
the Brick-god, and reeds and forests for the supply of building
material. From the same clay he continued to form other deities and
materials, including the Carpenter-god; the Smith-god; Arazu, a patron
deity of building; and mountains and seas for all that they produced;
the Goldsmith-god, the Stone-cutter-god, and kindred deities, together
with their rich products for offerings; the Grain-deities, Ashnan and
Lakhar; Siris, a Wine-god; Ningishzida and Ninsar, a Garden-god, for
the sake of the rich offerings they could make; and a deity described
as “the High priest of the great gods,” to lay down necessary
ordinances and commands. Then he created “the King”, for the equipment
probably of a particular temple, and finally men, that they might
practise the cult in the temple so elaborately prepared.

[1] See Weissbach, /Babylonische Miscellen/, pp. 32 ff.

[2] One of the titles of Enki was “the Potter”; cf. /Cun. Texts in the
Brit. Mus., Pt. XXIV, pl. 14 f., ll. 41, 43.

It will be seen from this summary of Enki’s creative activities, that
the text from which it is taken is not a general Creation myth, but in
all probability the introductory paragraph of a composition which
celebrated the building or restoration of a particular temple; and the
latter’s foundation is represented, on henotheistic lines, as the main
object of creation. Composed with that special purpose, its narrative
is not to be regarded as an exhaustive account of the creation of the
world. The incidents are eclective, and only such gods and materials
are mentioned as would have been required for the building and
adornment of the temple and for the provision of its offerings and
cult. But even so its mythological background is instructive. For
while Anu’s creation of heaven is postulated as the necessary
precedent of Enki’s activities, the latter creates the Deep,
vegetation, mountains, seas, and mankind. Moreover, in his character
as God of Wisdom, he is not only the teacher but the creator of those
deities who were patrons of man’s own constructive work. From such
evidence we may infer that in his temple at Eridu, now covered by the
mounds of Abu Shahrain in the extreme south of Babylonia, and regarded
in early Sumerian tradition as the first city in the world, Enki
himself was once celebrated as the sole creator of the universe.

The combination of the three gods Anu, Enlil, and Enki, is persistent
in the tradition; for not only were they the great gods of the
universe, representing respectively heaven, earth, and the watery
abyss, but they later shared the heavenly sphere between them. It is
in their astrological character that we find them again in creative
activity, though without the co-operation of any goddess, when they
appear as creators of the great light-gods and as founders of time
divisions, the day and the month. This Sumerian myth, though it
reaches us only in an extract or summary in a Neo-Babylonian
schoolboy’s exercise,[1] may well date from a comparatively early
period, but probably from a time when the “Ways” of Anu, Enlil, and
Enki had already been fixed in heaven and their later astrological
characters had crystallized.

[1] See /The Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. 124 ff. The
tablet gives extracts from two very similar Sumerian and Semitic
texts. In both of them Anu, Enlil, and Enki appear as creators
“through their sure counsel”. In the Sumerian extract they create
the Moon and ordain its monthly course, while in the Semitic text,
after establishing heaven and earth, they create in addition to
the New Moon the bright Day, so that “men beheld the Sun-god in
the Gate of his going forth”.

The idea that a goddess should take part with a god in man’s creation
is already a familiar feature of Babylonian mythology. Thus the
goddess Aruru, in co-operation with Marduk, might be credited with the
creation of the human race,[1] as she might also be pictured creating
on her own initiative an individual hero such as Enkidu of the
Gilgamesh Epic. The /rôle/ of mother of mankind was also shared, as we
have seen, by the Semitic Ishtar. And though the old Sumerian goddess,
Ninkharsagga, the “Lady of the Mountains”, appears in our Sumerian
text for the first time in the character of creatress, some of the
titles we know she enjoyed, under her synonyms in the great God List
of Babylonia, already reflected her cosmic activities.[2] For she was
known as

“The Builder of that which has Breath”,
“The Carpenter of Mankind”,
“The Carpenter of the Heart”,
“The Coppersmith of the Gods”,
“The Coppersmith of the Land”, and
“The Lady Potter”.

[1] Op. cit., p. 134 f.

[2] Cf. /Cun. Texts in the Brit. Mus./, Pt. XXIV, pl. 12, ll. 32, 26,
27, 25, 24, 23, and Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 34.

In the myth we are not told her method of creation, but from the above
titles it is clear that in her own cycle of tradition Ninkhasagga was
conceived as fashioning men not only from clay but also from wood, and
perhaps as employing metal for the manufacture of her other works of
creation. Moreover, in the great God List, where she is referred to
under her title Makh, Ninkhasagga is associated with Anu, Enlil, and
Enki; she there appears, with her dependent deities, after Enlil and
before Enki. We thus have definite proof that her association with the
three chief Sumerian gods was widely recognized in the early Sumerian
period and dictated her position in the classified pantheon of
Babylonia. Apart from this evidence, the important rank assigned her
in the historical and legal records and in votive inscriptions,[1] especially in the early period and in Southern Babylonia, accords
fully with the part she here plays in the Sumerian Creation myth.
Eannatum and Gudea of Lagash both place her immediately after Anu and
Enlil, giving her precedence over Enki; and even in the Kassite
Kudurru inscriptions of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, where
she is referred to, she takes rank after Enki and before the other
gods. In Sumer she was known as “the Mother of the Gods”, and she was
credited with the power of transferring the kingdom and royal insignia
from one king to his successor.

[1] See especially, Poebel, op. cit., pp. 24 ff.

Her supreme position as a goddess is attested by the relative
insignificance of her husband Dunpae, whom she completely overshadows,
in which respect she presents a contrast to the goddess Ninlil,
Enlil’s female counterpart. The early clay figurines found at Nippur
and on other sites, representing a goddess suckling a child and
clasping one of her breasts, may well be regarded as representing
Ninkharsagga and not Ninlil. Her sanctuaries were at Kesh and Adab,
both in the south, and this fact sufficiently explains her comparative
want of influence in Akkad, where the Semitic Ishtar took her place.
She does indeed appear in the north during the Sargonic period under
her own name, though later she survives in her synonyms of Ninmakh,
“the Sublime Lady”, and Nintu, “the Lady of Child-bearing”. It is
under the latter title that Hammurabi refers to her in his Code of
Laws, where she is tenth in a series of eleven deities. But as Goddess
of Birth she retained only a pale reflection of her original cosmic
character, and her functions were gradually specialized.[1] [1] Cf. Poebel, op. cit., p. 33. It is possible that, under one of her
later synonyms, we should identify her, as Dr. Poebel suggests,
with the Mylitta of Herodotus.

From a consideration of their characters, as revealed by independent
sources of evidence, we thus obtain the reason for the co-operation of
four deities in the Sumerian Creation. In fact the new text
illustrates a well-known principle in the development of myth, the
reconciliation of the rival claims of deities, whose cults, once
isolated, had been brought from political causes into contact with
each other. In this aspect myth is the medium through which a working
pantheon is evolved. Naturally all the deities concerned cannot
continue to play their original parts in detail. In the Babylonian
Epic of Creation, where a single deity, and not a very prominent one,
was to be raised to pre-eminent rank, the problem was simple enough.
He could retain his own qualities and achievements while borrowing
those of any former rival. In the Sumerian text we have the result of
a far more delicate process of adjustment, and it is possible that the
brevity of the text is here not entirely due to compression of a
longer narrative, but may in part be regarded as evidence of early
combination. As a result of the association of several competing
deities in the work of creation, a tendency may be traced to avoid
discrimination between rival claims. Thus it is that the assembled
gods, the pantheon as a whole, are regarded as collectively
responsible for the creation of the universe. It may be added that
this use of /ilâni/, “the gods”, forms an interesting linguistic
parallel to the plural of the Hebrew divine title Elohim.

It will be remembered that in the Sumerian Version the account of
Creation is not given in full, only such episodes being included as
were directly related to the Deluge story. No doubt the selection of
men and animals was suggested by their subsequent rescue from the
Flood; and emphasis was purposely laid on the creation of the
/niggilma/ because of the part it played in securing mankind’s
survival. Even so, we noted one striking parallel between the Sumerian
Version and that of the Semitic Babylonians, in the reason both give
for man’s creation. But in the former there is no attempt to explain
how the universe itself had come into being, and the existence of the
earth is presupposed at the moment when Anu, Enlil, Enki, and
Ninkharsagga undertake the creation of man. The Semitic-Babylonian
Version, on the other hand, is mainly occupied with events that led up
to the acts of creation, and it concerns our problem to inquire how
far those episodes were of Semitic and how far of Sumerian origin. A
further question arises as to whether some strands of the narrative
may not at one time have existed in Sumerian form independently of the
Creation myth.

The statement is sometimes made that there is no reason to assume a
Sumerian original for the Semitic-Babylonian Version, as recorded on
“the Seven Tablets of Creation”;[1] and this remark, though true of
that version as a whole, needs some qualification. The composite
nature of the poem has long been recognized, and an analysis of the
text has shown that no less than five principal strands have been
combined for its formation. These consist of (i) The Birth of the
Gods; (ii) The Legend of Ea and Apsû; (iii) The principal Dragon Myth;
(iv) The actual account of Creation; and (v) the Hymn to Marduk under
his fifty titles.[2] The Assyrian commentaries to the Hymn, from which
considerable portions of its text are restored, quote throughout a
Sumerian original, and explain it word for word by the phrases of the
Semitic Version;[3] so that for one out of the Seven Tablets a Semitic
origin is at once disproved. Moreover, the majority of the fifty
titles, even in the forms in which they have reached us in the Semitic
text, are demonstrably Sumerian, and since many of them celebrate
details of their owner’s creative work, a Sumerian original for other
parts of the version is implied. Enlil and Ea are both represented as
bestowing their own names upon Marduk,[4] and we may assume that many
of the fifty titles were originally borne by Enlil as a Sumerian
Creator.[5] Thus some portions of the actual account of Creation were
probably derived from a Sumerian original in which “Father Enlil”
figured as the hero.

[1] Cf., e.g., Jastrow, /Journ. of the Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI
(1916), p. 279.

[2] See /The Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. lxvi ff.; and cf.
Skinner, /Genesis/, pp. 43 ff.

[3] Cf. /Sev. Tabl./, Vol. I, pp. 157 ff.

[4] Cf. Tabl. VII, ll. 116 ff.

[5] The number fifty was suggested by an ideogram employed for Enlil’s

For what then were the Semitic Babylonians themselves responsible? It
seems to me that, in the “Seven Tablets”, we may credit them with
considerable ingenuity in the combination of existing myths, but not
with their invention. The whole poem in its present form is a
glorification of Marduk, the god of Babylon, who is to be given
pre-eminent rank among the gods to correspond with the political
position recently attained by his city. It would have been quite out
of keeping with the national thought to make a break in the tradition,
and such a course would not have served the purpose of the Babylonian
priesthood, which was to obtain recognition of their claims by the
older cult-centres in the country. Hence they chose and combined the
more important existing myths, only making such alterations as would
fit them to their new hero. Babylon herself had won her position by
her own exertions; and it would be a natural idea to give Marduk his
opportunity of becoming Creator of the world as the result of
successful conflict. A combination of the Dragon myth with the myth of
Creation would have admirably served their purpose; and this is what
we find in the Semitic poem. But even that combination may not have
been their own invention; for, though, as we shall see, the idea of
conflict had no part in the earlier forms of the Sumerian Creation
myth, its combination with the Dragon /motif/ may have characterized
the local Sumerian Version of Nippur. How mechanical was the
Babylonian redactors’ method of glorifying Marduk is seen in their use
of the description of Tiamat and her monster brood, whom Marduk is
made to conquer. To impress the hearers of the poem with his prowess,
this is repeated at length no less than four times, one god carrying
the news of her revolt to another.

Direct proof of the manner in which the later redactors have been
obliged to modify the original Sumerian Creation myth, in consequence
of their incorporation of other elements, may be seen in the Sixth
Tablet of the poem, where Marduk states the reason for man’s creation.
In the second lecture we noted how the very words of the principal
Sumerian Creator were put into Marduk’s mouth; but the rest of the
Semitic god’s speech finds no equivalent in the Sumerian Version and
was evidently inserted in order to reconcile the narrative with its
later ingredients. This will best be seen by printing the two passages
in parallel columns:[1] [1] The extract from the Sumerian Version, which occurs in the lower
part of the First Column, is here compared with the Semitic-
Babylonian Creation Series, Tablet VI, ll. 6-10 (see /Seven
Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. 86 ff.). The comparison is justified whether
we regard the Sumerian speech as a direct preliminary to man’s
creation, or as a reassertion of his duty after his rescue from
destruction by the Flood.


“The people will I cause to . . . “I will make man, that man may
in their settlements, [. . .].
Cities . . . shall (man) build, I will create man who shall
in their protection will I cause inhabit [. . .],
him to rest,
That he may lay the brick of our That the service of the gods may
house in a clean spot, be established, and that
[their] shrines [may be
That in a clean spot he may But I will alter the ways of the
establish our . . . !” gods, and I will change [their
Together shall they be
oppressed, and unto evil shall
[they . . .]!”

The welding of incongruous elements is very apparent in the Semitic
Version. For the statement that man will be created in order that the
gods may have worshippers is at once followed by the announcement that
the gods themselves must be punished and their “ways” changed. In the
Sumerian Version the gods are united and all are naturally regarded as
worthy of man’s worship. The Sumerian Creator makes no distinctions;
he refers to “our houses”, or temples, that shall be established. But
in the later version divine conflict has been introduced, and the
future head of the pantheon has conquered and humiliated the revolting
deities. Their “ways” must therefore be altered before they are fit to
receive the worship which was accorded them by right in the simpler
Sumerian tradition. In spite of the epitomized character of the
Sumerian Version, a comparison of these passages suggests very
forcibly that the Semitic-Babylonian myth of Creation is based upon a
simpler Sumerian story, which has been elaborated to reconcile it with
the Dragon myth.

The Semitic poem itself also supplies evidence of the independent
existence of the Dragon myth apart from the process of Creation, for
the story of Ea and Apsû, which it incorporates, is merely the local
Dragon myth of Eridu. Its inclusion in the story is again simply a
tribute to Marduk; for though Ea, now become Marduk’s father, could
conquer Apsû, he was afraid of Tiamat, “and turned back”.[1] The
original Eridu myth no doubt represented Enki as conquering the watery
Abyss, which became his home; but there is nothing to connect this
tradition with his early creative activities. We have long possessed
part of another local version of the Dragon myth, which describes the
conquest of a dragon by some deity other than Marduk; and the fight is
there described as taking place, not before Creation, but at a time
when men existed and cities had been built.[2] Men and gods were
equally terrified at the monster’s appearance, and it was to deliver
the land from his clutches that one of the gods went out and slew him.
Tradition delighted to dwell on the dragon’s enormous size and
terrible appearance. In this version he is described as fifty
/bêru/[3] in length and one in height; his mouth measured six cubits
and the circuit of his ears twelve; he dragged himself along in the
water, which he lashed with his tail; and, when slain, his blood
flowed for three years, three months, a day and a night. From this
description we can see he was given the body of an enormous
serpent.[4] [1] Tabl. III, l. 53, &c. In the story of Bel and the Dragon, the
third of the apocryphal additions to Daniel, we have direct
evidence of the late survival of the Dragon /motif/ apart from any
trace of the Creation myth; in this connexion see Charles,
/Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha/, Vol. I (1913), p. 653 f.

[2] See /Seven Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. 116 ff., lxviii f. The text is
preserved on an Assyrian tablet made for the library of Ashur-

[3] The /bêru/ was the space that could be covered in two hours’

[4] The Babylonian Dragon has progeny in the later apocalyptic
literature, where we find very similar descriptions of the
creatures’ size. Among them we may perhaps include the dragon in
the Apocalypse of Baruch, who, according to the Slavonic Version,
apparently every day drinks a cubit’s depth from the sea, and yet
the sea does not sink because of the three hundred and sixty
rivers that flow into it (cf. James, “Apocrypha Anecdota”, Second
Series, in Armitage Robinson’s /Texts and Studies/, V, No. 1, pp.
lix ff.). But Egypt’s Dragon /motif/ was even more prolific, and
the /Pistis Sophia/ undoubtedly suggested descriptions of the
Serpent, especially in connexion with Hades.

A further version of the Dragon myth has now been identified on one of
the tablets recovered during the recent excavations at Ashur,[1] and
in it the dragon is not entirely of serpent form, but is a true dragon
with legs. Like the one just described, he is a male monster. The
description occurs as part of a myth, of which the text is so badly
preserved that only the contents of one column can be made out with
any certainty. In it a god, whose name is wanting, announces the
presence of the dragon: “In the water he lies and I [. . .]!”
Thereupon a second god cries successively to Aruru, the mother-
goddess, and to Pallil, another deity, for help in his predicament.
And then follows the description of the dragon:

In the sea was the Serpent cre[ated].
Sixty /bêru/ is his length;
Thirty /bêru/ high is his he[ad].[2] For half (a /bêru/) each stretches the surface of his ey[es];[3] For twenty /bêru/ go [his feet].[4] He devours fish, the creatures [of the sea],
He devours birds, the creatures [of the heaven],
He devours wild asses, the creatures [of the field],
He devours men,[5] to the peoples [he . . .].

[1] For the text, see Ebeling, /Assurtexte/ I, No. 6; it is translated
by him in /Orient. Lit.-Zeit./, Vol. XIX, No. 4 (April, 1916).

[2] The line reads: /30 bêru ša-ka-a ri-[ša-a-šu]/. Dr. Ebeling
renders /ri-ša-a/ as “heads” (Köpfe), implying that the dragon had
more than one head. It may be pointed out that, if we could accept
this translation, we should have an interesting parallel to the
description of some of the primaeval monsters, preserved from
Berossus, as {soma men ekhontas en, kephalas de duo}. But the
common word for “head” is /kakkadu/, and there can be little doubt
that /rîšâ/ is here used in its ordinary sense of “head, summit,
top” when applied to a high building.

[3] The line reads: /a-na 1/2 ta-am la-bu-na li-bit ên[a-šu]/. Dr.
Ebeling translates, “auf je eine Hälfte ist ein Ziegel [ihrer] Auge[n] gelegt”. But /libittu/ is clearly used here, not with its
ordinary meaning of “brick”, which yields a strange rendering, but
in its special sense, when applied to large buildings, of
“foundation, floor-space, area”, i.e. “surface”. Dr. Ebeling reads
/ênâ-šu/ at the end of the line, but the sign is broken; perhaps
the traces may prove to be those of /uznâ šu/, “his ears”, in
which case /li-bit uz[nâ-šu]/ might be rendered either as “surface
of his ears”, or as “base (lit. foundation) of his ears”.

[4] i.e. the length of his pace was twenty /bêru/.

[5] Lit. “the black-headed”.

The text here breaks off, at the moment when Pallil, whose help
against the dragon had been invoked, begins to speak. Let us hope we
shall recover the continuation of the narrative and learn what became
of this carnivorous monster.

There are ample grounds, then, for assuming the independent existence
of the Babylonian Dragon-myth, and though both the versions recovered
have come to us in Semitic form, there is no doubt that the myth
itself existed among the Sumerians. The dragon /motif/ is constantly
recurring in descriptions of Sumerian temple-decoration, and the twin
dragons of Ningishzida on Gudea’s libation-vase, carved in green
steatite and inlaid with shell, are a notable product of Sumerian
art.[1] The very names borne by Tiamat’s brood of monsters in the
“Seven Tablets” are stamped in most cases with their Sumerian descent,
and Kingu, whom she appointed as her champion in place of Apsû, is
equally Sumerian. It would be strange indeed if the Sumerians had not
evolved a Dragon myth,[2] for the Dragon combat is the most obvious of
nature myths and is found in most mythologies of Europe and the Near
East. The trailing storm-clouds suggest his serpent form, his fiery
tongue is seen in the forked lightning, and, though he may darken the
world for a time, the Sun-god will always be victorious. In Egypt the
myth of “the Overthrowing of Apep, the enemy of Ra” presents a close
parallel to that of Tiamat;[3] but of all Eastern mythologies that of
the Chinese has inspired in art the most beautiful treatment of the
Dragon, who, however, under his varied forms was for them essentially
beneficent. Doubtless the Semites of Babylonia had their own versions
of the Dragon combat, both before and after their arrival on the
Euphrates, but the particular version which the priests of Babylon
wove into their epic is not one of them.

[1] See E. de Sarzec, /Découvertes en Chaldée/, pl. xliv, Fig. 2, and
Heuzey, /Catalogue des antiquités chaldéennes/, p. 281.

[2] In his very interesting study of “Sumerian and Akkadian Views of
Beginnings”, contributed to the /Journ. of the Amer. Or. Soc./,
Vol. XXXVI (1916), pp. 274 ff., Professor Jastrow suggests that
the Dragon combat in the Semitic-Babylonian Creation poem is of
Semitic not Sumerian origin. He does not examine the evidence of
the poem itself in detail, but bases the suggestion mainly on the
two hypotheses, that the Dragon combat of the poem was suggested
by the winter storms and floods of the Euphrates Valley, and that
the Sumerians came from a mountain region where water was not
plentiful. If we grant both assumptions, the suggested conclusion
does not seem to me necessarily to follow, in view of the evidence
we now possess as to the remote date of the Sumerian settlement in
the Euphrates Valley. Some evidence may still be held to point to
a mountain home for the proto-Sumerians, such as the name of their
early goddess Ninkharsagga, “the Lady of the Mountains”. But, as
we must now regard Babylonia itself as the cradle of their
civilization, other data tend to lose something of their apparent
significance. It is true that the same Sumerian sign means “land”
and “mountain”; but it may have been difficult to obtain an
intelligible profile for “land” without adopting a mountain form.
Such a name as Ekur, the “Mountain House” of Nippur, may perhaps
indicate size, not origin; and Enki’s association with metal-
working may be merely due to his character as God of Wisdom, and
is not appropriate solely “to a god whose home is in the mountains
where metals are found” (op. cit., p. 295). It should be added
that Professor Jastrow’s theory of the Dragon combat is bound up
with his view of the origin of an interesting Sumerian “myth of
beginnings”, to which reference is made later.

[3] Cf. Budge, /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I, pp. 324 ff. The
inclusion of the two versions of the Egyptian Creation myth,
recording the Birth of the Gods in the “Book of Overthrowing
Apep”, does not present a very close parallel to the combination
of Creation and Dragon myths in the Semitic-Babylonian poem, for
in the Egyptian work the two myths are not really combined, the
Creation Versions being inserted in the middle of the spells
against Apep, without any attempt at assimilation (see Budge,
/Egyptian Literature/, Vol. I, p. xvi).

We have thus traced four out of the five strands which form the
Semitic-Babylonian poem of Creation to a Sumerian ancestry. And we now
come back to the first of the strands, the Birth of the Gods, from
which our discussion started. For if this too should prove to be
Sumerian, it would help to fill in the gap in our Sumerian Creation
myth, and might furnish us with some idea of the Sumerian view of
“beginnings”, which preceded the acts of creation by the great gods.
It will be remembered that the poem opens with the description of a
time when heaven and earth did not exist, no field or marsh even had
been created, and the universe consisted only of the primaeval water-
gods, Apsû, Mummu, and Tiamat, whose waters were mingled together.
Then follows the successive generation of two pairs of deities, Lakhmu
and Lakhamu, and Anshar and Kishar, long ages separating the two
generations from each other and from the birth of the great gods which
subsequently takes place. In the summary of the myth which is given by
Damascius[1] the names of the various deities accurately correspond to
those in the opening lines of the poem; but he makes some notable
additions, as will be seen from the following table:


{‘Apason—Tauthe} Apsû—Tiamat
{Moumis} Mummu
{Lakhos—Lakhe}[2] Lakhmu—Lakhamu
{‘Assoros—Kissare} Anshar—Kishar
{‘Anos, ‘Illinos, ‘Aos} Anu, [ ], Nudimmud (= Ea)

[1] /Quaestiones de primis principiis/, cap. 125; ed. Kopp, p. 384.

[2] Emended from the reading {Dakhen kai Dakhon} of the text.

In the passage of the poem which describes the birth of the great gods
after the last pair of primaeval deities, mention is duly made of Anu
and Nudimmud (the latter a title of Ea), corresponding to the {‘Anos}
and {‘Aos} of Damascius; and there appears to be no reference to
Enlil, the original of {‘Illinos}. It is just possible that his name
occurred at the end of one of the broken lines, and, if so, we should
have a complete parallel to Damascius. But the traces are not in
favour of the restoration;[1] and the omission of Enlil’s name from
this part of the poem may be readily explained as a further tribute to
Marduk, who definitely usurps his place throughout the subsequent
narrative. Anu and Ea had both to be mentioned because of the parts
they play in the Epic, but Enlil’s only recorded appearance is in the
final assembly of the gods, where he bestows his own name “the Lord of
the World”[2] upon Marduk. The evidence of Damascius suggests that
Enlil’s name was here retained, between those of Anu and Ea, in other
versions of the poem. But the occurrence of the name in any version is
in itself evidence of the antiquity of this strand of the narrative.
It is a legitimate inference that the myth of the Birth of the Gods
goes back to a time at least before the rise of Babylon, and is
presumably of Sumerian origin.

[1] Anu and Nudimmud are each mentioned for the first time at the
beginning of a line, and the three lines following the reference
to Nudimmud are entirely occupied with descriptions of his wisdom
and power. It is also probable that the three preceding lines (ll.
14-16), all of which refer to Anu by name, were entirely occupied
with his description. But it is only in ll. 13-16 that any
reference to Enlil can have occurred, and the traces preserved of
their second halves do not suggestion the restoration.

[2] Cf. Tabl. VII, . 116.

Further evidence of this may be seen in the fact that Anu, Enlil, and
Ea (i.e. Enki), who are here created together, are the three great
gods of the Sumerian Version of Creation; it is they who create
mankind with the help of the goddess Ninkharsagga, and in the fuller
version of that myth we should naturally expect to find some account
of their own origin. The reference in Damascius to Marduk ({Belos}) as
the son of Ea and Damkina ({Dauke}) is also of interest in this
connexion, as it exhibits a goddess in close connexion with one of the
three great gods, much as we find Ninkharsagga associated with them in
the Sumerian Version.[1] Before leaving the names, it may be added
that, of the primaeval deities, Anshar and Kishar are obviously
Sumerian in form.

[1] Damkina was the later wife of Ea or Enki; and Ninkharsagga is
associated with Enki, as his consort, in another Sumerian myth.

It may be noted that the character of Apsû and Tiamat in this portion
of the poem[1] is quite at variance with their later actions. Their
revolt at the ordered “way” of the gods was a necessary preliminary to
the incorporation of the Dragon myths, in which Ea and Marduk are the
heroes. Here they appear as entirely beneficent gods of the primaeval
water, undisturbed by storms, in whose quiet depths the equally
beneficent deities Lakhmu and Lakhamu, Anshar and Kishar, were
generated.[2] This interpretation, by the way, suggests a more
satisfactory restoration for the close of the ninth line of the poem
than any that has yet been proposed. That line is usually taken to
imply that the gods were created “in the midst of [heaven]”, but I
think the following rendering, in connexion with ll. 1-5, gives better

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not bear a name,
And the primaeval Apsû who begat them,[3] And Mummu, and Tiamat who bore them[3] all,–
Their waters were mingled together,
. . .
. . .
. . .
Then were created the gods in the midst of [their waters],[4] Lakhmu and Lakhamu were called into being . . .

[1] Tabl. I, ll. 1-21.

[2] We may perhaps see a survival of Tiamat’s original character in
her control of the Tablets of Fate. The poem does not represent
her as seizing them in any successful fight; they appear to be
already hers to bestow on Kingu, though in the later mythology
they are “not his by right” (cf. Tabl. I, ll. 137 ff., and Tabl.
IV, l. 121).

[3] i.e. the gods.

[4] The ninth line is preserved only on a Neo-Babylonian duplicate
(/Seven Tablets/, Vol. II, pl. i). I suggested the restoration
/ki-rib š[a-ma-mi]/, “in the midst of heaven”, as possible, since
the traces of the first sign in the last word of the line seemed
to be those of the Neo-Babylonian form of /ša/. The restoration
appeared at the time not altogether satisfactory in view of the
first line of the poem, and it could only be justified by
supposing that /šamâmu/, or “heaven”, was already vaguely
conceived as in existence (op. cit., Vol. I, p. 3, n. 14). But the
traces of the sign, as I have given them (op. cit., Vol. II, pl.
i), may also possibly be those of the Neo-Babylonian form of the
sign /me/; and I would now restore the end of the line in the Neo-
Babylonian tablet as /ki-rib m[e-e-šu-nu]/, “in the midst of
[their waters]”, corresponding to the form /mu-u-šu-nu/ in l. 5 of
this duplicate. In the Assyrian Version /mé(pl)-šu-nu/ would be
read in both lines. It will be possible to verify the new reading,
by a re-examination of the traces on the tablet, when the British
Museum collections again become available for study after the war.

If the ninth line of the poem be restored as suggested, its account of
the Birth of the Gods will be found to correspond accurately with the
summary from Berossus, who, in explaining the myth, refers to the
Babylonian belief that the universe consisted at first of moisture in
which living creatures, such as he had already described, were
generated.[1] The primaeval waters are originally the source of life,
not of destruction, and it is in them that the gods are born, as in
Egyptian mythology; there Nu, the primaeval water-god from whom Ra was
self-created, never ceased to be the Sun-god’s supporter. The change
in the Babylonian conception was obviously introduced by the
combination of the Dragon myth with that of Creation, a combination
that in Egypt would never have been justified by the gentle Nile. From
a study of some aspects of the names at the beginning of the
Babylonian poem we have already seen reason to suspect that its
version of the Birth of the Gods goes back to Sumerian times, and it
is pertinent to ask whether we have any further evidence that in
Sumerian belief water was the origin of all things.

[1] {ugrou gar ontos tou pantos kai zoon en auto gegennemenon
[toionde] ktl}. His creatures of the primaeval water were killed
by the light; and terrestrial animals were then created which
could bear (i.e. breathe and exist in) the air.

For many years we have possessed a Sumerian myth of Creation, which
has come to us on a late Babylonian tablet as the introductory section
of an incantation. It is provided with a Semitic translation, and to
judge from its record of the building of Babylon and Egasila, Marduk’s
temple, and its identification of Marduk himself with the Creator, it
has clearly undergone some editing at the hands of the Babylonian
priests. Moreover, the occurrence of various episodes out of their
logical order, and the fact that the text records twice over the
creation of swamps and marshes, reeds and trees or forests, animals
and cities, indicate that two Sumerian myths have been combined. Thus
we have no guarantee that the other cities referred to by name in the
text, Nippur, Erech, and Eridu, are mentioned in any significant
connexion with each other.[1] Of the actual cause of Creation the text
appears to give two versions also, one in its present form impersonal,
and the other carried out by a god. But these two accounts are quite
unlike the authorized version of Babylon, and we may confidently
regard them as representing genuine Sumerian myths. The text resembles
other early accounts of Creation by introducing its narrative with a
series of negative statements, which serve to indicate the preceding
non-existence of the world, as will be seen from the following

No city had been created, no creature had been made,
Nippur had not been created, Ekur had not been built,
Erech had not been created, Eanna had not been built,
Apsû had not been created, Eridu had not been built,
Of the holy house, the house of the gods, the habitation had not
been created.
All lands[3] were sea.
At the time when a channel (was formed) in the midst of the sea,
Then was Eridu created, Esagila built, etc.

Here we have the definite statement that before Creation all the world
was sea. And it is important to note that the primaeval water is not
personified; the ordinary Sumerian word for “sea” is employed, which
the Semitic translator has faithfully rendered in his version of the
text.[4] The reference to a channel in the sea, as the cause of
Creation, seems at first sight a little obscure; but the word implies
a “drain” or “water-channel”, not a current of the sea itself, and the
reference may be explained as suggested by the drainage of a flood-
area. No doubt the phrase was elaborated in the original myth, and it
is possible that what appears to be a second version of Creation later
on in the text is really part of the more detailed narrative of the
first myth. There the Creator himself is named. He is the Sumerian god
Gilimma, and in the Semitic translation Marduk’s name is substituted.
To the following couplet, which describes Gilimma’s method of
creation, is appended a further extract from a later portion of the
text, there evidently displaced, giving additional details of the
Creator’s work:

Gilimma bound reeds in the face of the waters,
He formed soil and poured it out beside the reeds.[5] [He][6] filled in a dike by the side of the sea,
[He . . .] a swamp, he formed a marsh.
[. . .], he brought into existence,
[Reeds he form]ed,[7] trees he created.

[1] The composite nature of the text is discussed by Professor Jastrow
in his /Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions/, pp. 89 ff.; and in his
paper in the /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI (1916), pp. 279
ff.; he has analysed it into two main versions, which he suggests
originated in Eridu and Nippur respectively. The evidence of the
text does not appear to me to support the view that any reference
to a watery chaos preceding Creation must necessarily be of
Semitic origin. For the literature of the text (first published by
Pinches, /Journ. Roy. Asiat. Soc./, Vol. XXIII, pp. 393 ff.), see
/Sev. Tabl./, Vol. I, p. 130.

[2] Obv., ll. 5-12.

[3] Sum. /nigin-kur-kur-ra-ge/, Sem. /nap-har ma-ta-a-tu/, lit. “all
lands”, i.e. Sumerian and Babylonian expressions for “the world”.

[4] Sum. /a-ab-ba/, “sea”, is here rendered by /tâmtum/, not by its
personified equivalent Tiamat.

[5] The suggestion has been made that /amu/, the word in the Semitic
version here translated “reeds”, should be connected with
/ammatu/, the word used for “earth” or “dry land” in the
Babylonian Creation Series, Tabl. I, l. 2, and given some such
meaning as “expanse”. The couplet is thus explained to mean that
the god made an expanse on the face of the waters, and then poured
out dust “on the expanse”. But the Semitic version in l. 18 reads
/itti ami/, “beside the /a./”, not /ina ami/, “on the /a./”; and
in any case there does not seem much significance in the act of
pouring out specially created dust on or beside land already
formed. The Sumerian word translated by /amu/ is written /gi-dir/,
with the element /gi/, “reed”, in l. 17, and though in the
following line it is written under its variant form /a-dir/
without /gi/, the equation /gi-a-dir/ = /amu/ is elsewhere
attested (cf. Delitzsch, /Handwörterbuch/, p. 77). In favour of
regarding /amu/ as some sort of reed, here used collectively, it
may be pointed out that the Sumerian verb in l. 17 is /kešda/, “to
bind”, accurately rendered by /rakašu/ in the Semitic version.
Assuming that l. 34 belongs to the same account, the creation of
reeds in general beside trees, after dry land is formed, would not
of course be at variance with the god’s use of some sort of reed
in his first act of creation. He creates the reed-bundles, as he
creates the soil, both of which go to form the first dike; the
reed-beds, like the other vegetation, spring up from the ground
when it appears.

[6] The Semitic version here reads “the lord Marduk”; the
corresponding name in the Sumerian text is not preserved.

[7] The line is restored from l. 2 o the obverse of the text.

Here the Sumerian Creator is pictured as forming dry land from the
primaeval water in much the same way as the early cultivator in the
Euphrates Valley procured the rich fields for his crops. The existence
of the earth is here not really presupposed. All the world was sea
until the god created land out of the waters by the only practical
method that was possible in Mesopotamia.

In another Sumerian myth, which has been recovered on one of the early
tablets from Nippur, we have a rather different picture of beginnings.
For there, though water is the source of life, the existence of the
land is presupposed. But it is bare and desolate, as in the
Mesopotamian season of “low water”. The underlying idea is suggestive
of a period when some progress in systematic irrigation had already
been made, and the filling of the dry canals and subsequent irrigation
of the parched ground by the rising flood of Enki was not dreaded but
eagerly desired. The myth is only one of several that have been
combined to form the introductory sections of an incantation; but in
all of them Enki, the god of the deep water, plays the leading part,
though associated with different consorts.[1] The incantation is
directed against various diseases, and the recitation of the closing
mythical section was evidently intended to enlist the aid of special
gods in combating them. The creation of these deities is recited under
set formulae in a sort of refrain, and the divine name assigned to
each bears a magical connexion with the sickness he or she is intended
to dispel.[2] [1] See Langdon, Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sect., Vol. X, No. 1
(1915), pl. i f., pp. 69 ff.; /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI
(1916), pp. 140 ff.; cf. Prince, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol.
XXXVI, pp. 90 ff.; Jastrow, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI,
pp. 122 ff., and in particular his detailed study of the text in
/Amer. Journ. Semit. Lang./, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 91 ff. Dr. Langdon’s
first description of the text, in /Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol.
XXXVI (1914), pp. 188 ff., was based on a comparatively small
fragment only; and on his completion of the text from other
fragments in Pennsylvania. Professor Sayce at once realized that
the preliminary diagnosis of a Deluge myth could not be sustained
(cf. /Expos. Times/, Nov., 1915, pp. 88 ff.). He, Professor
Prince, and Professor Jastrow independently showed that the action
of Enki in the myth in sending water on the land was not punitive
but beneficent; and the preceding section, in which animals are
described as not performing their usual activities, was shown
independently by Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow to have
reference, not to their different nature in an ideal existence in
Paradise, but, on familiar lines, to their non-existence in a
desolate land. It may be added that Professor Barton and Dr. Peters
agree generally with Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow in
their interpretation of the text, which excludes the suggested
biblical parallels; and I understand from Dr. Langdon that he very
rightly recognizes that the text is not a Deluge myth. It is a
subject for congratulation that the discussion has materially
increased our knowledge of this difficult composition.

[2] Cf. Col. VI, ll. 24 ff.; thus /Ab/-u was created for the sickness
of the cow (/ab/); Nin-/tul/ for that of the flock (u-/tul/); Nin-
/ka/-u-tu and Nin-/ka/-si for that of the mouth (/ka/); Na-zi for
that of the /na-zi/ (meaning uncertain); /Da zi/-ma for that of
the /da-zi/ (meaning uncertain); Nin-/til/ for that of /til/
(life); the name of the eighth and last deity is imperfectly

We have already noted examples of a similar use of myth in magic,
which was common to both Egypt and Babylonia; and to illustrate its
employment against disease, as in the Nippur document, it will suffice
to cite a well-known magical cure for the toothache which was adopted
in Babylon.[1] There toothache was believed to be caused by the
gnawing of a worm in the gum, and a myth was used in the incantation
to relieve it. The worm’s origin is traced from Anu, the god of
heaven, through a descending scale of creation; Anu, the heavens, the
earth, rivers, canals and marshes are represented as each giving rise
to the next in order, until finally the marshes produce the worm. The
myth then relates how the worm, on being offered tempting food by Ea
in answer to her prayer, asked to be allowed to drink the blood of the
teeth, and the incantation closes by invoking the curse of Ea because
of the worm’s misguided choice. It is clear that power over the worm
was obtained by a recital of her creation and of her subsequent
ingratitude, which led to her present occupation and the curse under
which she laboured. When the myth and invocation had been recited
three times over the proper mixture of beer, a plant, and oil, and the
mixture had been applied to the offending tooth, the worm would fall
under the spell of the curse and the patient would at once gain
relief. The example is instructive, as the connexion of ideas is quite
clear. In the Nippur document the recital of the creation of the eight
deities evidently ensured their presence, and a demonstration of the
mystic bond between their names and the corresponding diseases
rendered the working of their powers effective. Our knowledge of a
good many other myths is due solely to their magical employment.

[1] See Thompson, /Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia/, Vol. II, pp.
160 ff.; for a number of other examples, see Jastrow, /J.A.O.S./,
Vol. XXXVI, p. 279, n. 7.

Perhaps the most interesting section of the new text is one in which
divine instructions are given in the use of plants, the fruit or roots
of which may be eaten. Here Usmû, a messenger from Enki, God of the
Deep, names eight such plants by Enki’s orders, thereby determining
the character of each. As Professor Jastrow has pointed out, the
passage forcibly recalls the story from Berossus, concerning the
mythical creature Oannes, who came up from the Erythraean Sea, where
it borders upon Babylonia, to instruct mankind in all things,
including “seeds and the gathering of fruits”.[1] But the only part of
the text that concerns us here is the introductory section, where the
life-giving flood, by which the dry fields are irrigated, is pictured
as following the union of the water-deities, Enki and Ninella.[2] Professor Jastrow is right in emphasizing the complete absence of any
conflict in this Sumerian myth of beginnings; but, as with the other
Sumerian Versions we have examined, it seems to me there is no need to
seek its origin elsewhere than in the Euphrates Valley.

[1] Cf. Jastrow, /J.A.O.S./, Vol. XXXVI, p. 127, and /A.J.S.L./, Vol.
XXXIII, p. 134 f. It may be added that the divine naming of the
plants also presents a faint parallel to the naming of the beasts
and birds by man himself in Gen. ii. 19 f.

[2] Professor Jastrow (/A.J.S.L./, Vol. XXXIII, p. 115) compares
similar myths collected by Sir James Frazer (/Magic Art/, Vol. II,
chap. xi and chap. xii, § 2). He also notes the parallel the
irrigation myth presents to the mist (or flood) of the earlier
Hebrew Version (Gen. ii. 5 f). But Enki, like Ea, was no rain-god;
he had his dwellings in the Euphrates and the Deep.

Even in later periods, when the Sumerian myths of Creation had been
superseded by that of Babylon, the Euphrates never ceased to be
regarded as the source of life and the creator of all things. And this
is well brought out in the following introductory lines of a Semitic
incantation, of which we possess two Neo-Babylonian copies:[1]

O thou River, who didst create all things,
When the great gods dug thee out,
They set prosperity upon thy banks,
Within thee Ea, King of the Deep, created his dwelling.
The Flood they sent not before thou wert!

Here the river as creator is sharply distinguished from the Flood; and
we may conclude that the water of the Euphrates Valley impressed the
early Sumerians, as later the Semites, with its creative as well as
with its destructive power. The reappearance of the fertile soil,
after the receding inundation, doubtless suggested the idea of
creation out of water, and the stream’s slow but automatic fall would
furnish a model for the age-long evolution of primaeval deities. When
a god’s active and artificial creation of the earth must be portrayed,
it would have been natural for the primitive Sumerian to picture the
Creator working as he himself would work when he reclaimed a field
from flood. We are thus shown the old Sumerian god Gilimma piling
reed-bundles in the water and heaping up soil beside them, till the
ground within his dikes dries off and produces luxuriant vegetation.
But here there is a hint of struggle in the process, and we perceive
in it the myth-redactor’s opportunity to weave in the Dragon /motif/.
No such excuse is afforded by the other Sumerian myth, which pictures
the life-producing inundation as the gift of the two deities of the
Deep and the product of their union.

But in their other aspect the rivers of Mesopotamia could be terrible;
and the Dragon /motif/ itself, on the Tigris and Euphrates, drew its
imagery as much from flood as from storm. When therefore a single
deity must be made to appear, not only as Creator, but also as the
champion of his divine allies and the conqueror of other gods, it was
inevitable that the myths attaching to the waters under their two
aspects should be combined. This may already have taken place at
Nippur, when Enlil became the head of the pantheon; but the existence
of his myth is conjectural.[1] In a later age we can trace the process
in the light of history and of existing texts. There Marduk,
identified wholly as the Sun-god, conquers the once featureless
primaeval water, which in the process of redaction has now become the
Dragon of flood and storm.

[1] The aspect of Enlil as the Creator of Vegetation is emphasized in
Tablet VII of the Babylonian poem of Creation. It is significant
that his first title, Asara, should be interpreted as “Bestower of
planting”, “Founder of sowing”, “Creator of grain and plants”, “He
who caused the green herb to spring up” (cf. /Seven Tablets/, Vol.
I, p. 92 f.). These opening phrases, by which the god is hailed,
strike the key-note of the whole composition. It is true that, as
Sukh-kur, he is “Destroyer of the foe”; but the great majority of
the titles and their Semitic glosses refer to creative activities,
not to the Dragon myth.

Thus the dualism which is so characteristic a feature of the Semitic-
Babylonian system, though absent from the earliest Sumerian ideas of
Creation, was inherent in the nature of the local rivers, whose varied
aspects gave rise to or coloured separate myths. Its presence in the
later mythology may be traced as a reflection of political
development, at first probably among the warring cities of Sumer, but
certainly later in the Semitic triumph at Babylon. It was but to be
expected that the conqueror, whether Sumerian or Semite, should
represent his own god’s victory as the establishment of order out of
chaos. But this would be particularly in harmony with the character of
the Semitic Babylonians of the First Dynasty, whose genius for method
and organization produced alike Hammurabi’s Code of Laws and the
straight streets of the capital.

We have thus been able to trace the various strands of the Semitic-
Babylonian poem of Creation to Sumerian origins; and in the second
lecture we arrived at a very similar conclusion with regard to the
Semitic-Babylonian Version of the Deluge preserved in the Epic of
Gilgamesh. We there saw that the literary structure of the Sumerian
Version, in which Creation and Deluge are combined, must have survived
under some form into the Neo-Babylonian period, since it was
reproduced by Berossus. And we noted the fact that the same
arrangement in Genesis did not therefore prove that the Hebrew
accounts go back directly to early Sumerian originals. In fact, the
structural resemblance presented by Genesis can only be regarded as an
additional proof that the Sumerian originals continued to be studied
and translated by the Semitic priesthood, although they had long been
superseded officially by their later descendants, the Semitic epics. A
detailed comparison of the Creation and Deluge narratives in the
various versions at once discloses the fact that the connexion between
those of the Semitic Babylonians and the Hebrews is far closer and
more striking than that which can be traced when the latter are placed
beside the Sumerian originals. We may therefore regard it as certain
that the Hebrews derived their knowledge of Sumerian tradition, not
directly from the Sumerians themselves, but through Semitic channels
from Babylon.

It will be unnecessary here to go in detail through the points of
resemblance that are admitted to exist between the Hebrew account of
Creation in the first chapter of Genesis and that preserved in the
“Seven Tablets”.[1] It will suffice to emphasize two of them, which
gain in significance through our newly acquired knowledge of early
Sumerian beliefs. It must be admitted that, on first reading the poem,
one is struck more by the differences than by the parallels; but that
is due to the polytheistic basis of the poem, which attracts attention
when compared with the severe and dignified monotheism of the Hebrew
writer. And if allowance be made for the change in theological
standpoint, the material points of resemblance are seen to be very
marked. The outline or general course of events is the same. In both
we have an abyss of waters at the beginning denoted by almost the same
Semitic word, the Hebrew /tehôm/, translated “the deep” in Gen. i. 2,
being the equivalent of the Semitic-Babylonian /Tiamat/, the monster
of storm and flood who presents so striking a contrast to the Sumerian
primaeval water.[2] The second act of Creation in the Hebrew narrative
is that of a “firmament”, which divided the waters under it from those
above.[3] But this, as we have seen, has no parallel in the early
Sumerian conception until it was combined with the Dragon combat in
the form in which we find it in the Babylonian poem. There the body of
Tiamat is divided by Marduk, and from one half of her he constructs a
covering or dome for heaven, that is to say a “firmament”, to keep her
upper waters in place. These will suffice as text passages, since they
serve to point out quite clearly the Semitic source to which all the
other detailed points of Hebrew resemblance may be traced.

[1] See /Seven Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. lxxxi ff., and Skinner,
/Genesis/, pp. 45 ff.

[2] The invariable use of the Hebrew word /tehôm/ without the article,
except in two passages in the plural, proves that it is a proper
name (cf. Skinner, op. cit., p. 17); and its correspondence with
/Tiamat/ makes the resemblance of the versions far more
significant than if their parallelism were confined solely to

[3] Gen. i. 6-8.

In the case of the Deluge traditions, so conclusive a demonstration is
not possible, since we have no similar criterion to apply. And on one
point, as we saw, the Hebrew Versions preserve an original Sumerian
strand of the narrative that was not woven into the Gilgamesh Epic,
where there is no parallel to the piety of Noah. But from the detailed
description that was given in the second lecture, it will have been
noted that the Sumerian account is on the whole far simpler and more
primitive than the other versions. It is only in the Babylonian Epic,
for example, that the later Hebrew writer finds material from which to
construct the ark, while the sweet savour of Ut-napishtim’s sacrifice,
and possibly his sending forth of the birds, though reproduced in the
earlier Hebrew Version, find no parallels in the Sumerian account.[1] As to the general character of the Flood, there is no direct reference
to rain in the Sumerian Version, though its presence is probably
implied in the storm. The heavy rain of the Babylonian Epic has been
increased to forty days of rain in the earlier Hebrew Version, which
would be suitable to a country where local rain was the sole cause of
flood. But the later Hebrew writer’s addition of “the fountains of the
deep” to “the windows of heaven” certainly suggests a more intimate
knowledge of Mesopotamia, where some contributary cause other than
local rain must be sought for the sudden and overwhelming catastrophes
of which the rivers are capable.

[1] For detailed lists of the points of agreement presented by the
Hebrew Versions J and P to the account in the Gilgamesh Epic, see
Skinner, op. cit., p. 177 f.; Driver, /Genesis/, p. 106 f.; and
Gordon, /Early Traditions of Genesis/ (1907), pp. 38 ff.

Thus, viewed from a purely literary standpoint, we are now enabled to
trace back to a primitive age the ancestry of the traditions, which,
under a very different aspect, eventually found their way into Hebrew
literature. And in the process we may note the changes they underwent
as they passed from one race to another. The result of such literary
analysis and comparison, so far from discrediting the narratives in
Genesis, throws into still stronger relief the moral grandeur of the
Hebrew text.

We come then to the question, at what periods and by what process did
the Hebrews become acquainted with Babylonian ideas? The tendency of
the purely literary school of critics has been to explain the process
by the direct use of Babylonian documents wholly within exilic times.
If the Creation and Deluge narratives stood alone, a case might
perhaps be made out for confining Babylonian influence to this late
period. It is true that during the Captivity the Jews were directly
exposed to such influence. They had the life and civilization of their
captors immediately before their eyes, and it would have been only
natural for the more learned among the Hebrew scribes and priests to
interest themselves in the ancient literature of their new home. And
any previous familiarity with the myths of Babylonia would undoubtedly
have been increased by actual residence in the country. We may perhaps
see a result of such acquaintance with Babylonian literature, after
Jehoiachin’s deportation,, in an interesting literary parallel that
has been pointed out between Ezek. xiv. 12-20 and a speech in the
Babylonian account of the Deluge in the Gilgamesh Epic, XI, ll. 180-
194.[1] The passage in Ezekiel occurs within chaps. i-xxiv, which
correspond to the prophet’s first period and consist in the main of
his utterances in exile before the fall of Jerusalem. It forms, in
fact, the introduction to the prophet’s announcement of the coming of
“four sore judgements upon Jerusalem”, from which there “shall be left
a remnant that shall be carried forth”.[2] But in consequence, here
and there, of traces of a later point of view, it is generally
admitted that many of the chapters in this section may have been
considerably amplified and altered by Ezekiel himself in the course of
writing. And if we may regard the literary parallel that has been
pointed out as anything more than fortuitous, it is open to us to
assume that chap. xiv may have been worked up by Ezekiel many years
after his prophetic call at Tel-abib.

[1] See Daiches, “Ezekiel and the Babylonian Account of the Deluge”,
in the /Jewish Quarterly Review/, April 1905. It has of course
long been recognized that Ezekiel, in announcing the punishment of
the king of Egypt in xxxii. 2 ff., uses imagery which strongly
recalls the Babylonian Creation myth. For he compares Pharaoh to a
sea-monster over whom Yahweh will throw his net (as Marduk had
thrown his over Tiamat); cf. Loisy, /Les mythes babyloniens et les
premiers chaptires de la Genèse/ (1901), p. 87.

[2] Ezek. xiv. 21 f.

In the passage of the Babylonian Epic, Enlil had already sent the
Flood and had destroyed the good with the wicked. Ea thereupon
remonstrates with him, and he urges that in future the sinner only
should be made to suffer for his sin; and, instead of again causing a
flood, let there be discrimination in the divine punishments sent on
men or lands. While the flood made the escape of the deserving
impossible, other forms of punishment would affect the guilty only. In
Ezekiel the subject is the same, but the point of view is different.
The land the prophet has in his mind in verse 13 is evidently Judah,
and his desire is to explain why it will suffer although not all its
inhabitants deserved to share its fate. The discrimination, which Ea
urges, Ezekiel asserts will be made; but the sinner must bear his own
sin, and the righteous, however eminent, can only save themselves by
their righteousness. The general principle propounded in the Epic is
here applied to a special case. But the parallelism between the
passages lies not only in the general principle but also in the
literary setting. This will best be brought out by printing the
passages in parallel columns.

Gilg. Epic, XI, 180-194 Ezek. xiv. 12-20

Ea opened his mouth and spake, And the word of the Lord came
He said to the warrior Enlil; unto me, saying,
Thou director of the gods! O Son of man, when a land sinneth
warrior! against me by committing a
Why didst thou not take counsel trespass, and I stretch out
but didst cause a flood? mine hand upon it, and break
On the transgressor lay his the staff of the bread
transgression! thereof, and send /famine/
Be merciful, so that (all) be not upon it, and cut off from it
destroyed! Have patience, so man and beast; though these
that (all) be not [cut off]! three men, Noah, Daniel, and
Instead of causing a flood, Job, were in it, they should
Let /lions/[1] come and diminish deliver but their own souls by
mankind! their righteousness, saith the
Instead of causing a flood, Lord God.
Let /leopards/[1] come and If I cause /noisome beasts/ to
diminish mankind! pass through the land, and
Instead of causing a flood, they spoil it, so that it be
Let /famine/ be caused and let it desolate, that no man may pass
smite the land! through because of the beasts;
Instead of causing a flood, though these three men were in
Let the /Plague-god/ come and it, as I live, saith the Lord
[slay] mankind! God, they shall deliver
neither sons nor daughters;
they only shall be delivered,
but the land shall be
Or if I bring a /sword/ upon
that land, and say, Sword, go
through the land; so that I
cut off from it man and beast;
though these three men were in
it, as I live, saith the Lord
God, they shall deliver
neither sons nor daughters,
but they only shall be
delivered themselves.
Or if I send a /pestilence/ into
that land, and pour out my
fury upon it in blood, to cut
off from it man and beast;
though Noah, Daniel, and Job,
were in it, as I live, saith
the Lord God, they shall
deliver neither son nor
daughter; they shall but
deliver their own souls by
their righteousness.

[1] Both Babylonian words are in the singular, but probably used
collectively, as is the case with their Hebrew equivalent in Ezek.
xiv. 15.

It will be seen that, of the four kinds of divine punishment
mentioned, three accurately correspond in both compositions. Famine
and pestilence occur in both, while the lions and leopards of the Epic
find an equivalent in “noisome beasts”. The sword is not referred to
in the Epic, but as this had already threatened Jerusalem at the time
of the prophecy’s utterance its inclusion by Ezekiel was inevitable.
Moreover, the fact that Noah should be named in the refrain, as the
first of the three proverbial examples of righteousness, shows that
Ezekiel had the Deluge in his mind, and increases the significance of
the underlying parallel between his argument and that of the
Babylonian poet.[1] It may be added that Ezekiel has thrown his
prophecy into poetical form, and the metre of the two passages in the
Babylonian and Hebrew is, as Dr. Daiches points out, not dissimilar.

[1] This suggestion is in some measure confirmed by the /Biblical
Antiquities of Philo/, ascribed by Dr. James to the closing years
of the first century A.D.; for its writer, in his account of the
Flood, has actually used Ezek. xiv. 12 ff. in order to elaborate
the divine speech in Gen. viii. 21 f. This will be seen from the
following extract, in which the passage interpolated between
verses 21 and 22 of Gen. viii is enclosed within brackets: “And
God said: I will not again curse the earth for man’s sake, for the
guise of man’s heart hath left off (sic) from his youth. And
therefore I will not again destroy together all living as I have
done. [But it shall be, when the dwellers upon earth have sinned,
I will judge them by /famine/ or by the /sword/ or by fire or by
/pestilence/ (lit. death), and there shall be earthquakes, and
they shall be scattered into places not inhabited (or, the places
of their habitation shall be scattered). But I will not again
spoil the earth with the water of a flood, and] in all the days of
the earth seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and autumn,
day and night shall not cease . . .”; see James, /The Biblical
Antiquities of Philo/, p. 81, iii. 9. Here wild beasts are
omitted, and fire, earthquakes, and exile are added; but famine,
sword, and pestilence are prominent, and the whole passage is
clearly suggested by Ezekiel. As a result of the combination, we
have in the /Biblical Antiquities/ a complete parallel to the
passage in the Gilgamesh Epic.

It may of course be urged that wild beasts, famine, and pestilence are
such obvious forms of divine punishment that their enumeration by both
writers is merely due to chance. But the parallelism should be
considered with the other possible points of connexion, namely, the
fact that each writer is dealing with discrimination in divine
punishments of a wholesale character, and that while the one is
inspired by the Babylonian tradition of the Flood, the other takes the
hero of the Hebrew Flood story as the first of his selected types of
righteousness. It is possible that Ezekiel may have heard the
Babylonian Version recited after his arrival on the Chebar. And
assuming that some form of the story had long been a cherished
tradition of the Hebrews themselves, we could understand his intense
interest in finding it confirmed by the Babylonians, who would show
him where their Flood had taken place. To a man of his temperament,
the one passage in the Babylonian poem that would have made a special
appeal would have been that quoted above, where the poet urges that
divine vengeance should be combined with mercy, and that all,
righteous and wicked alike, should not again be destroyed. A problem
continually in Ezekiel’s thoughts was this very question of wholesale
divine punishment, as exemplified in the case of Judah; and it would
not have been unlikely that the literary structure of the Babylonian
extract may have influenced the form in which he embodied his own

But even if we regard this suggestion as unproved or improbable,
Ezekiel’s reference to Noah surely presupposes that at least some
version of the Flood story was familiar to the Hebrews before the
Captivity. And this conclusion is confirmed by other Babylonian
parallels in the early chapters of Genesis, in which oral tradition
rather than documentary borrowing must have played the leading
part.[1] Thus Babylonian parallels may be cited for many features in
the story of Paradise,[2] though no equivalent of the story itself has
been recovered. In the legend of Adapa, for example, wisdom and
immortality are the prerogative of the gods, and the winning of
immortality by man is bound up with eating the Food of Life and
drinking the Water of Life; here too man is left with the gift of
wisdom, but immortality is withheld. And the association of winged
guardians with the Sacred Tree in Babylonian art is at least
suggestive of the Cherubim and the Tree of Life. The very side of Eden
has now been identified in Southern Babylonia by means of an old
boundary-stone acquired by the British Museum a year or two ago.[3] [1] See Loisy, /Les mythes babyloniens/, pp. 10 ff., and cf. S.
Reinach, /Cultes, Mythes et Religions/, t. II, pp. 386 ff.

[2] Cf. especially Skinner, /Genesis/, pp. 90 ff. For the latest
discussion of the Serpent and the Tree of Life, suggested by Dr.
Skinner’s summary of the evidence, see Frazer in /Essays and
Studies presented to William Ridgeway/ (1913), pp. 413 ff.

[3] See /Babylonian Boundary Stones in the British Museum/ (1912), pp.
76 ff., and cf. /Geographical Journal/, Vol. XL, No. 2 (Aug.,
1912), p. 147. For the latest review of the evidence relating to
the site of Paradise, see Boissier, “La situation du paradis
terrestre”, in /Le Globe/, t. LV, Mémoires (Geneva, 1916).

But I need not now detain you by going over this familiar ground. Such
possible echoes from Babylon seem to suggest pre-exilic influence
rather than late borrowing, and they surely justify us in inquiring to
what periods of direct or indirect contact, earlier than the
Captivity, the resemblances between Hebrew and Babylonian ideas may be
traced. One point, which we may regard as definitely settled by our
new material, is that these stories of the Creation and of the early
history of the world were not of Semitic origin. It is no longer
possible to regard the Hebrew and Babylonian Versions as descended
from common Semitic originals. For we have now recovered some of those
originals, and they are not Semitic but Sumerian. The question thus
resolves itself into an inquiry as to periods during which the Hebrews
may have come into direct or indirect contact with Babylonia.

There are three pre-exilic periods at which it has been suggested the
Hebrews, or the ancestors of the race, may have acquired a knowledge
of Babylonian traditions. The earliest of these is the age of the
patriarchs, the traditional ancestors of the Hebrew nation. The second
period is that of the settlement in Canaan, which we may put from 1200
B.C. to the establishment of David’s kingdom at about 1000 B.C. The
third period is that of the later Judaean monarch, from 734 B.C. to
586 B.C., the date of the fall of Jerusalem; and in this last period
there are two reigns of special importance in this connexion, those of
Ahaz (734-720 B.C.) and Manasseh (693-638 B.C.).

With regard to the earliest of these periods, those who support the
Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch may quite consistently assume that
Abraham heard the legends in Ur of the Chaldees. And a simple
retention of the traditional view seems to me a far preferable
attitude to any elaborate attempt at rationalizing it. It is admitted
that Arabia was the cradle of the Semitic race; and the most natural
line of advance from Arabia to Aram and thence to Palestine would be
up the Euphrates Valley. Some writers therefore assume that nomad
tribes, personified in the traditional figure of Abraham, may have
camped for a time in the neighbourhood of Ur and Babylon; and that
they may have carried the Babylonian stories with them in their
wanderings, and continued to preserve them during their long
subsequent history. But, even granting that such nomads would have
taken any interest in traditions of settled folk, this view hardly
commends itself. For stories received from foreign sources become more
and more transformed in the course of centuries.[1] The vivid
Babylonian colouring of the Genesis narratives cannot be reconciled
with this explanation of their source.

[1] This objection would not of course apply to M. Naville’s suggested
solution, that cuneiform tablets formed the medium of
transmission. But its author himself adds that he does not deny
its conjectural character; see /The Text of the Old Testament/
(Schweich Lectures, 1915), p. 32.

A far greater number of writers hold that it was after their arrival
in Palestine that the Hebrew patriarchs came into contact with
Babylonian culture. It is true that from an early period Syria was the
scene of Babylonian invasions, and in the first lecture we noted some
newly recovered evidence upon this point. Moreover, the dynasty to
which Hammurabi belonged came originally from the north-eastern border
of Canaan and Hammurabi himself exercised authority in the west. Thus
a plausible case could be made out by exponents of this theory,
especially as many parallels were noted between the Mosaic legislation
and that contained in Hammurabi’s Code. But it is now generally
recognized that the features common to both the Hebrew and the
Babylonian legal systems may be paralleled to-day in the Semitic East
and elsewhere,[1] and cannot therefore be cited as evidence of
cultural contact. Thus the hypothesis that the Hebrew patriarchs were
subjects of Babylon in Palestine is not required as an explanation of
the facts; and our first period still stands or falls by the question
of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which must be decided on
quite other grounds. Those who do not accept the traditional view will
probably be content to rule this first period out.

[1] See Cook, /The Laws of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi/, p. 281
f.; Driver, /Genesis/, p. xxxvi f.; and cf. Johns, “The Laws of
Babylonia and the Laws of the Hebrew Peoples/ (Schweich Lectures,
1912), pp. 50 ff.

During the second period, that of the settlement in Canaan, the
Hebrews came into contact with a people who had used the Babylonian
language as the common medium of communication throughout the Near
East. It is an interesting fact that among the numerous letters found
at Tell el-Amarna were two texts of quite a different character. These
were legends, both in the form of school exercises, which had been
written out for practice in the Babylonian tongue. One of them was the
legend of Adapa, in which we noted just now a distant resemblance to
the Hebrew story of Paradise. It seems to me we are here standing on
rather firmer ground; and provisionally we might place the beginning
of our process after the time of Hebrew contact with the Canaanites.

Under the earlier Hebrew monarchy there was no fresh influx of
Babylonian culture into Palestine. That does not occur till our last
main period, the later Judaean monarchy, when, in consequence of the
westward advance of Assyria, the civilization of Babylon was once more
carried among the petty Syrian states. Israel was first drawn into the
circle of Assyrian influence, when Arab fought as the ally of Benhadad
of Damascus at the battle of Karkar in 854 B.C.; and from that date
onward the nation was menaced by the invading power. In 734 B.C., at
the invitation of Ahaz of Judah, Tiglath-Pileser IV definitely
intervened in the affairs of Israel. For Ahaz purchased his help
against the allied armies of Israel and Syria in the Syro-Ephraimitish
war. Tiglath-pileser threw his forces against Damascus and Israel, and
Ahaz became his vassal.[1] To this period, when Ahaz, like Panammu II,
“ran at the wheel of his lord, the king of Assyria”, we may ascribe
the first marked invasion of Assyrian influence over Judah. Traces of
it may be seen in the altar which Ahaz caused to be erected in
Jerusalem after the pattern of the Assyrian altar at Damascus.[2] We
saw in the first lecture, in the monuments we have recovered of
Panammu I and of Bar-rekub, how the life of another small Syrian state
was inevitably changed and thrown into new channels by the presence of
Tiglath-pileser and his armies in the West.

[1] 2 Kings xvi. 7 ff.

[2] 2 Kings xvi. 10 ff.

Hezekiah’s resistance checked the action of Assyrian influence on
Judah for a time. But it was intensified under his son Manasseh, when
Judah again became tributary to Assyria, and in the house of the Lord
altars were built to all the host of heaven.[1] Towards the close of
his long reign Manasseh himself was summoned by Ashur-bani-pal to
Babylon.[2] So when in the year 586 B.C. the Jewish exiles came to
Babylon they could not have found in its mythology an entirely new and
unfamiliar subject. They must have recognized several of its stories
as akin to those they had assimilated and now regarded as their own.
And this would naturally have inclined them to further study and

[1] 2 Kings xxi. 5.

[2] Cf. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ff.

The answer I have outlined to this problem is the one that appears to
me most probable, but I do not suggest that it is the only possible
one that can be given. What I do suggest is that the Hebrews must have
gained some acquaintance with the legends of Babylon in pre-exilic
times. And it depends on our reading of the evidence into which of the
three main periods the beginning of the process may be traced.

So much, then, for the influence of Babylon. We have seen that no
similar problem arises with regard to the legends of Egypt. At first
sight this may seem strange, for Egypt lay nearer than Babylon to
Palestine, and political and commercial intercourse was at least as
close. We have already noted how Egypt influenced Semitic art, and how
she offered an ideal, on the material side of her existence, which was
readily adopted by her smaller neighbours. Moreover, the Joseph
traditions in Genesis give a remarkably accurate picture of ancient
Egyptian life; and even the Egyptian proper names embedded in that
narrative may be paralleled with native Egyptian names than that to
which the traditions refer. Why then is it that the actual myths and
legends of Egypt concerning the origin of the world and its
civilization should have failed to impress the Hebrew mind, which, on
the other hand, was so responsive to those of Babylon?

One obvious answer would be, that it was Nebuchadnezzar II, and not
Necho, who carried the Jews captive. And we may readily admit that the
Captivity must have tended to perpetuate and intensify the effects of
any Babylonian influence that may have previously been felt. But I
think there is a wider and in that sense a better answer than that.

I do not propose to embark at this late hour on what ethnologists know
as the “Hamitic” problem. But it is a fact that many striking
parallels to Egyptian religious belief and practice have been traced
among races of the Sudan and East Africa. These are perhaps in part to
be explained as the result of contact and cultural inheritance. But at
the same time they are evidence of an African, but non-Negroid,
substratum in the religion of ancient Egypt. In spite of his proto-
Semitic strain, the ancient Egyptian himself never became a Semite.
The Nile Valley, at any rate until the Moslem conquest, was stronger
than its invaders; it received and moulded them to its own ideal. This
quality was shared in some degree by the Euphrates Valley. But
Babylonia was not endowed with Egypt’s isolation; she was always open
on the south and west to the Arabian nomad, who at a far earlier
period sealed her Semitic type.

To such racial division and affinity I think we may confidently trace
the influence exerted by Egypt and Babylon respectively upon Hebrew



N.B.–Parallels with the new Sumerian Version are in upper-case.

Sumerian Version. Seven Tablets Gilgamesh Epic, XI Berossus[‘Damscius] Earlier Heb. (J) Later Heb. (P)
[No heaven or earth No heaven or earth Darkness and water Creation of earth Earth without form
First Creation from Primaeval water- [Primaeval water- and heaven and void; darkness
primaeval water gods: Apsû-Tiamat, gods: {‘Apason- No plant or herb on face of /tehôm/,
without conflict; Mummu Tauthe}, {Moumis} Ground watered by the primaeval water
cf. Later Sum. Ver. Generation of: Generation of: mist (or flood) Divine spirit moving
Lakhmu-Lakhamu {Lakhos-Lakhe} [cf. Sumerian (hovering, brooding)
Anshar-Kishar {‘Assoros-Kissare} irrigation myth of upon face of waters

The great gods: Birth of great gods: Birth of great gods:
ANU, ENLIL, ENKI, ANU, Nudimmud (=EA) {‘Anos, ‘Illinos,
and Ninkharsagga, Apsû and Tiamat ‘Aos, ‘Aois-Lauke,
creating deities revolt Belos] Conquest of Tiamat Conquest of {‘Omorka}, Creation of light
by Marduk as Sun- or {Thamte}, by
god {Belos}
Creation of covering Creation of heaven and Creation of firmament,
for heaven from earth from two halves or heaven, to divide
half of Tiamat’s of body of Thamte waters; followed by
body, to keep her emergence of land
waters in place Creation of vegetation
Creation of luminaries Creation of luminaries Creation of luminaries
[Creation of (probable order) Creation of animals

CREATION: worship of CREATION: worship of
gods gods
Creation of MAN Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN in
Creator’s blood and Creator’s blood and dust and Creator’s image of Creator, to
from bone from earth breath of life have dominion
Creation of ANIMALS [Creation of animals] Creation of ANIMALS Creation of vegetation
Hymn on Seventh Tablet able to bear the air ANIMALS, and woman Rest on Seventh Day

Creation of KINGDOM 10 Antediluvian KINGS The line of Cain Antediluvian
5 ANTEDILUVIAN CITIES: Antediluvian city: 3 ANTEDILUVIAN CITIES: The Nephilim [cf. patriarchs [cf.
Eridu, Bad.., LARAK, SHURUPPAK Babylon, SIPPAR, Sumerian Dynastic Sumerian Dynastic

Gods decree MANKIND’S Gods decree flood, Destruction of MAN Destruction of all
destruction by flood, goddess ISHTAR decreed, because of flesh decreed, because
NINTU protesting protesting his wickedness of its corruption

ZIUSUDU, hero of UT-NAPISHTIM, hero {Xisouthros} Noah, hero of Deluge Noah, hero of Deluge
Deluge, KING and of Deluge (=Khasisatra), hero
priest of Deluge, KING


WARNING of Ziusudu by WARNING of Ut-nap- WARNING of Xisuthros WARNING of Noah, and
Enki in DREAM ishtim by Ea in DREAM by Kronos in DREAM instructions for ark

Ziusudu’s vessel a SHIP: 120x120x120 Size of SHIP: 5×2 Instructions to enter Size of ARK: 300x50x30
HUGE SHIP cubits; 7 stories; 9 stadia ark cubits; 3 stories

All kinds of animals All kinds of animals 7(x2) clean, 2 unclean 2 of all animals

Flood and STORM for 7 FLOOD from heavy rain FLOOD FLOOD from rain for 40 FLOOD; founts. of deep
days and STORM for 6 days days and rain, 150 days

Ship on Mt. Nisir Ark on Ararat

Abatement of waters Abatement of waters Abatement of waters Abatement of waters
tested by birds tested by birds tested by birds through drying wind

SACRIFICE to Sun-god SACRIFICE with sweet SACRIFICE to gods, SACRIFICE with sweet Landing from ark [after
in ship savour on mountain after landing and savour after landing year (+10 days)] paying adoration to

Anu and Enlil appeased Ea’s protest to ENLIL APOTHEOSIS of X., Divine promise to Noah Divine covenant not
[by “Heaven and Earth”] IMMORTALITY of Ut-nap- wife, daughter, and not again to curse again to destroy EARTH
IMMORTALITY of Ziusudu ishtim and his wife pilot the GROUND by flood; bow as sign



It may be of assistance to the reader to repeat in tabular form the
equivalents to the mythical kings of Berossus which are briefly
discussed in Lecture I. In the following table the two new equations,
obtained from the earliest section of the Sumerian Dynastic List, are
in upper-case.[1] The established equations to other names are in
normal case, while those for which we should possibly seek other
equivalents are enclosed within brackets.[2] Aruru has not been
included as a possible equivalent for {‘Aloros}.[3]

1. {‘Aloros}
2. {‘Alaparos [? ‘Adaparos]}, /Alaporus/, /Alapaurus/ [Adapa] 3. {‘Amelon, ‘Amillaros}, /Almelon/ [Amêlu] 4. {‘Ammenon} ENMENUNNA
5. {Megalaros, Megalanos}, /Amegalarus/
6. {Daonos, Daos} ETANA
7. {Euedorakhos, Euedoreskhos}, /Edoranchus/ Enmeduranki
8. {‘Amemphinos}, /Amemphsinus/ [Amêl-Sin] 9. {‘Otiartes [? ‘Opartes]} [Ubar-Tutu] 10. {Xisouthros, Sisouthros, Sisithros} Khasisatra, Atrakhasis[4] [1] For the royal names of Berossus, see /Euseb. chron. lib. pri./,
ed. Schoene, cols. 7 f., 31 ff. The latinized variants correspond
to forms in the Armenian translation of Eusebius.

[2] For the principal discussions of equivalents, see Hommel, /Proc.
Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol. XV (1893), pp. 243 ff., and /Die
altorientalischen Denkmäler und das Alte Testament/ (1902), pp. 23
ff.; Zimmern, /Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament/, 3rd
ed. (1902), pp. 531 ff.; and cf. Lenormant, /Les origines de
l’histoire/, I (1880), pp. 214 ff. See also Driver, /Genesis/,
10th ed. (1916), p. 80 f.; Skinner, /Genesis/, p. 137 f.; Ball,
/Genesis/, p. 50; and Gordon, /Early Traditions of Genesis/, pp.
46 ff.

[3] There is a suggested equation of Lal-ur-alimma with {‘Aloros}.

[4] The hundred and twenty “sars”, or 432,000 years assigned by
Berossus for the duration of the Antediluvian dynasty, are
distributed as follows among the ten kings; the numbers are given
below first in “sars”, followed by their equivalents in years
within brackets: 1. Ten “sars” (36,000); 2. Three (10,800); 3.
Thirteen (46,800); 4. Twelve (43,200); 5. Eighteen (64,800); 6.
Ten (36,000); 7. Eighteen (64,800); 8. Ten (36,000); 9. Eight
(28,800); 10. Eighteen (64,800).

For comparison with Berossus it may be useful to abstract from the
Sumerian Dynastic List the royal names occurring in the earliest
extant dynasties. They are given below with variant forms from
duplicate copies of the list, and against each is added the number of
years its owner is recorded to have ruled. The figures giving the
total duration of each dynasty, either in the summaries or under the
separate reigns, are sometimes not completely preserved; in such cases
an x is added to the total of the figures still legible. Except in
those cases referred to in the foot-notes, all the names are written
in the Sumerian lists without the determinative for “god”.

(23 kings; 18,000 + x years, 3 months, 3 days)

. . .[1] 8. [. . .] 900(?) years
9. Galumum, Kalumum 900 ”
10. Zugagib, Zugakib 830 ”
11. Arpi, Arpiu, Arbum 720 ”
12. Etana[2] 635 (or 625) years
13. Pili . . .[3] 410 years
14. Enmenunna, Enmennunna[4] 611 ”
15. Melamkish 900 ”
16. Barsalnunna 1,200 ”
17. Mesza[. . .] [. . .] ”
. . .[5] 22. . . . 900 years
23. . . . 625 ”

KINGDOM OF EANNA (ERECH)[6] (About 10-12 kings; 2,171 + x years)

1. Meskingasher 325 years
2. Enmerkar 420 ”
3. Lugalbanda[7] 1,200 ”
4. Dumuzi[8] (i.e. Tammuz) 100 ”
5. Gishbilgames[9] (i.e. Gilgamesh) 126 (or 186) years
6. [. . .]lugal [. . .] years
. . .[10]

(4 kings; 171 years)

1. Mesannipada 80 years
2. Meskiagnunna 30 ”
3. Elu[. . .] 25 ”
4. Balu[. . .] 36 ”

(3 kings; 356 years)
. . .[11] [1] Gap of seven, or possibly eight, names.

[2] The name Etana is written in the lists with and without the
determinative for “god”.

[3] The reading of the last sign in the name is unknown. A variant
form of the name possibly begins with Bali.

[4] This form is given on a fragment of a late Assyrian copy of the
list; cf. /Studies in Eastern History/, Vol. III, p. 143.

[5] Gap of four, or possibly three, names.

[6] Eanna was the great temple of Erech. In the Second Column of the
list “the kingdom” is recorded to have passed from Kish to Eanna,
but the latter name does not occur in the summary.

[7] The name Lugalbanda is written in the lists with and without the
determinative for “god”.

[8] The name Dumuzi is written in the list with the determinative for

[9] The name Gishbilgames is written in the list with the
determinative for “god”.

[10] Gap of about four, five, or six kings.

[11] Wanting.

At this point a great gap occurs in our principal list. The names of
some of the missing “kingdoms” may be inferred from the summaries, but
their relative order is uncertain. Of two of them we know the
duration, a second Kingdom of Ur containing four kings and lasting for
a hundred and eight years, and another kingdom, the name of which is
not preserved, consisting of only one king who ruled for seven years.
The dynastic succession only again becomes assured with the opening of
the Dynastic chronicle published by Père Scheil and recently acquired
by the British Museum. It will be noted that with the Kingdom of Ur
the separate reigns last for decades and not hundreds of years each,
so that we here seem to approach genuine tradition, though the Kingdom
of Awan makes a partial reversion to myth so far as its duration is
concerned. The two suggested equations with Antediluvian kings of
Berossus both occur in the earliest Kingdom of Kish and lie well
within the Sumerian mythical period. The second of the rulers
concerned, Enmenunna (Ammenon), is placed in Sumerian tradition
several thousand years before the reputed succession of the gods
Lugalbanda and Tammuz and of the national hero Gilgamesh to the throne
of Erech. In the first lecture some remarkable points of general
resemblance have already been pointed out between Hebrew and Sumerian
traditions of these early ages of the world.

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