Author: seralwan

ENUMA ELISH – THE EPIC OF CREATION

No Comments

ENUMA ELISH 
THE EPIC OF CREATION
L.W. King Translator
(from The Seven Tablets of Creation, London 1902)

The Enuma Elish (which are the first two words of the epic and mean simply “When on high”) is the creation myth of ancient Mesopotamia. This is the Babylonian version of a much older Sumerian myth and originally the chief figure of the myth was Enlil, the Sumerian storm god. When Babylon conquered the rest of Mesopotamia and established the Old Babylonian Empire around 1800 BCE, it became necessary to explain how the local god of Babylon, Marduk, had now become supreme among the gods. Therefore, the older Sumerian myth of creation was retold and Marduk was substituted for Enlil.

THE FIRST TABLET

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being…
Ages increased,…
Then Ansar and Kisar were created, and over them….
Long were the days, then there came forth…..
Anu, their son,…
Ansar and Anu…
And the god Anu…
Nudimmud, whom his fathers, his begetters…..
Abounding in all wisdom,…’
He was exceeding strong…
He had no rival –
Thus were established and were… the great gods.
But Tiamat and Apsu were still in confusion…
They were troubled and…
In disorder…
Apru was not diminished in might…
And Tiamat roared…
She smote, and their deeds…
Their way was evil…
Then Apsu, the begetter of the great gods,
Cried unto Mummu, his minister, and said unto him:
“O Mummu, thou minister that rejoicest my spirit,
Come, unto Tiamut let us go!
So they went and before Tiamat they lay down,
They consulted on a plan with regard to the gods, their sons.
Apsu opened his mouth and spake,
And unto Tiamut, the glistening one, he addressed the word:
…their way…
By day I can not rest, by night I can not lie down in peace.
But I will destroy their way, I will…
Let there be lamentation, and let us lie down again in peace.”
When Tiamat heard these words,
She raged and cried aloud…
She… grievously…,
She uttered a curse, and unto Apsu she spake:
“What then shall we do?
Let their way be made difficult, and let us lie down again in peace.”
Mummu answered, and gave counsel unto Apsu,
…and hostile to the gods was the counsel Mummu gave:
Come, their way is strong, but thou shalt destroy it;
Then by day shalt thou have rest, by night shalt thou lie down in peace.”
Apsu harkened unto him and his countenance grew bright,
Since he (Mummu) planned evil against the gods his sons.
… he was afraid…,
His knees became weak; they gave way beneath him,
Because of the evil which their first-born had planned.
… their… they altered.
… they…,
Lamentation they sat in sorrow
………………
Then Ea, who knoweth all that is, went up and he beheld their muttering.

[about 30 illegible lines]

… he spake:
… thy… he hath conquered and
… he weepeth and sitteth in tribulation.
… of fear,
… we shall not lie down in peace.
… Apsu is laid waste,
… and Mummu, who were taken captive, in…
… thou didst…
… let us lie down in peace.
… they will smite….
… let us lie down in peace.
… thou shalt take vengeance for them,
… unto the tempest shalt thou…!”
And Tiamat harkened unto the word of the bright god, and said:
… shalt thou entrust! let us wage war!”
… the gods in the midst of…
… for the gods did she create.
They banded themselves together and at the side of Tiamat they advanced;
They were furious; they devised mischief without resting night and day.
They prepared for battle, fuming and raging;
They joined their forces and made war,
Ummu-Hubur [Tiamat] who formed all things,
Made in addition weapons invincible; she spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth, and merciless of fang;
With poison, instead of blood, she filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she clothed with terror,
With splendor she decked them, she made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beheld them, terror overcame him,
Their bodies reared up and none could withstand their attack.
She set up vipers and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bore cruel weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands were mighty, none could resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, she made eleven [kinds of] monsters.
Among the gods who were her sons, inasmuch as he had given her support,
She exalted Kingu; in their midst she raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him she entrusted; in costly raiment she made him sit, saying:
I have uttered thy spell, in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power.
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto him.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them the Anunnaki.”
She gave him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.”
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate among the gods his sons, saying:
“Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!”

THE SECOND TABLET

Tiamat made weighty her handiwork,
Evil she wrought against the gods her children.
To avenge Apsu, Tiamat planned evil,
But how she had collected her forces, the god unto Ea divulged.
Ea harkened to this thing, and
He was grievously afflicted and he sat in sorrow.
The days went by, and his anger was appeased,
And to the place of Ansar his father he took his way.
He went and, standing before Ansar, the father who begat him,
All that Tiamat had plotted he repeated unto him,
Saying, “Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, thev go at her side.
They are banded together and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth, and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them; she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beholdeth them is overcome by terror,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men and rams;
They bear cruel weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are mighty; none can resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack.
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costly raiment she hath made him sit, saving:.
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
‘Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.’
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saying:
‘Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!'”
When Ansar heard how Tiamat was mightily in revolt,
he bit his lips, his mind was not at peace,
…, he made a bitter lamentation:
… battle,
… thou…
Mummu and Apsu thou hast smitten
But Tiamat hath exalted Kingu, and where is one who can oppose her?
… deliberation
… the … of the gods, -Nudimmud.

[A gap of about a dozen lines occurs here.]

Ansar unto his son addressed the word:
“… my mighty hero,
Whose strength is great and whose onslaught can not be withstood,
Go and stand before Tiamat,
That her spirit may be appeased, that her heart may be merciful.
But if she will not harken unto thy word,
Our word shalt thou speak unto her, that she may be pacified.”
He heard the word of his father Ansar
And he directed his path to her, toward her he took the way.
Ann drew nigh, he beheld the muttering of Tiamat,
But he could not withstand her, and he turned back.
… Ansar
… he spake unto him:

[A gap of over twenty lines occurs here.]

an avenger…
… valiant
… in the place of his decision
… he spake unto him:
… thy father
” Thou art my son, who maketh merciful his heart.
… to the battle shalt thou draw nigh,
he that shall behold thee shall have peace.”
And the lord rejoiced at the word of his father,
And he drew nigh and stood before Ansar.
Ansar beheld him and his heart was filled with joy,
He kissed him on the lips and his fear departed from him.
“O my father, let not the word of thy lips be overcome,
Let me go, that I may accomplish all that is in thy heart.
O Ansar, let not the word of thy lips be overcome,
Let me go, that I may accomplish all that is in thy heart.”
What man is it, who hath brought thee forth to battle?
… Tiamat, who is a woman, is armed and attacketh thee.
… rejoice and be glad;
The neck of Tiamat shalt thou swiftly trample under foot.
… rejoice and be glad;
The neck of Tiamat shalt thou swiftly trample under foot.
0 my son, who knoweth all wisdom,
Pacify Tiamat with thy pure incantation.
Speedily set out upon thy way,
For thy blood shall not be poured out; thou shalt return again.”
The lord rejoiced at the word of his father,
His heart exulted, and unto his father he spake:
“O Lord of the gods, Destiny of the great gods,
If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourself joyfully together,
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be chanced nor made of no avail.”

THE THIRD TABLET

Ansar opened his mouth, and
Unto Gaga, his minister, spake the word.
“O Gaga, thou minister that rejoicest my spirit,
Unto Lahmu and Lahamu will I send thee.
… thou canst attain,
… thou shalt cause to be brought before thee.
… let the gods, all of them,
Make ready for a feast, at a banquet let them sit,
Let them eat bread, let them mix wine,
That for Marduk, their avenger they may decree the fate.
Go, Gaga, stand before them,
And all that I tell thee, repeat unto them, and say:
‘Ansar, vour son, hath sent me,
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
He saith that Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, they go at her side.
They are banded together, and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them; she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beboldeth them, terror overcometh him,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging bounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bear merciless weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are miahty; none can. resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costly raiment she hath made him sit, saying:
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods
I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them … the Anunnaki.”
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.”
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saving:
Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!”
I sent Anu, but he could not withstand her;
Nudimmud was afraid and turned back.
But Marduk hath set out, the director of the gods, your son;
To set out against Tiamat his heart hath prompted him.
He opened his mouth and spake unto me, saying: “If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourself joyfully together;
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be changed nor made of no avail.”‘
Hasten, therefore, and swiftly decree for him the fate which you bestow,
That he may go and fight your strong enemy.
Gaga went, he took his way and
Humbly before Lahmu and Lahamu, the gods, his fathers,
He made obeisance, and he kissed the ground at their feet.
He humbled himself; then he stood up and spake unto them saying:
“Ansar, your son, hath sent me,
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
He saith that Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, they go at her side.
They are banded together and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them, she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beboldeth them, terror overcometh him,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bear merciless weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are mighty; none can resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack, To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costlv raiment she hath made him sit, saving:
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them…the Anunnaki.
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny on his breast she laid them, saving:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.’
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saying:
‘Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!’
I sent Anu, but he could not withstand her;
Nudimmud was afraid and turned back.
But Marduk hath set out, the director of the gods, your son;
To set out against Tiamat his heart hath prompted him.
He opened his mouth and spake unto me, saying:
‘If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourselves joyfully together;
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May, whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be changed nor made of no avail.’
Hasten, therefore, and swiftly decree for him the fate which you bestow,
That he may go and fight your strong enemy!
Lahmu and Lahamu heard and cried aloud
All of the Igigi [The elder gods] wailed bitterly, saying:
What has been altered so that they should
We do not understand the deed of Tiamat!
Then did they collect and go,
The great gods, all of them, who decree fate.
They entered in before Ansar, they filled…
They kissed one another, in the assembly…;
They made ready for the feast, at the banquet they sat;
They ate bread, they mixed sesame-wine.
The sweet drink, the mead, confused their…
They were drunk with drinking, their bodies were filled.
They were wholly at ease, their spirit was exalted;
Then for Marduk, their avenger, did they decree the fate.

THE FOURTH TABLET

They prepared for him a lordly chamber,
Before his fathers as prince he took his place.
“Thou art chiefest among the great gods,
Thy fate is unequaled, thy word is Anu!
O Marduk, thou art chiefest among the great gods,
Thy fate is unequaled, thy word is Anu!
Henceforth not without avail shall be thy command,
In thy power shall it be to exalt and to abase.
Established shall be the word of thy mouth, irresistible shall be thy command,
None among the gods shall transgress thy boundary.
Abundance, the desire of the shrines of the gods,
Shall be established in thy sanctuary, even though they lack offerings.
O Marduk, thou art our avenger!
We give thee sovereignty over the whole world.
Sit thou down in might; be exalted in thy command.
Thy weapon shall never lose its power; it shall crush thy foe.
O Lord, spare the life of him that putteth his trust in thee,
But as for the god who began the rebellion, pour out his life.”
Then set they in their midst a garment,
And unto Marduk,- their first-born they spake:
“May thy fate, O lord, be supreme among the gods,
To destroy and to create; speak thou the word, and thy command shall be fulfilled.
Command now and let the garment vanish;
And speak the word again and let the garment reappear!
Then he spake with his mouth, and the garment vanished;
Again he commanded it, and. the garment reappeared.
When the gods, his fathers, beheld the fulfillment of his word,
They rejoiced, and they did homage unto him, saying, ” Marduk is king!”
They bestowed upon him the scepter, and the throne, and the ring,
They give him an invincible weapony which overwhelmeth the foe.
Go, and cut off the life of Tiamat,
And let the wind carry her blood into secret places.”
After the gods his fathers had decreed for the lord his fate,
They caused him to set out on a path of prosperity and success.
He made ready the bow, he chose his weapon,
He slung a spear upon him and fastened it…
He raised the club, in his right hand he grasped it,
The bow and the quiver he hung at his side.
He set the lightning in front of him,
With burning flame he filled his body.
He made a net to enclose the inward parts of Tiamat,
The four winds he stationed so that nothing of her might escape;
The South wind and the North wind and the East wind and the West wind
He brought near to the net, the gift of his father Anu.
He created the evil wind, and the tempest, and the hurricane,
And the fourfold wind, and the sevenfold wind, and the whirlwind, and the wind which had no equal;
He sent forth the winds which he had created, the seven of them;
To disturb the inward parts of Tiamat, they followed after him.
Then the lord raised the thunderbolt, his mighty weapon,
He mounted the chariot, the storm unequaled for terror,
He harnessed and yoked unto it four horses,
Destructive, ferocious, overwhelming, and swift of pace;
… were their teeth, they were flecked with foam;
They were skilled in… , they had been trained to trample underfoot.
… . mighty in battle,
Left and right….
His garment was… , he was clothed with terror,
With overpowering brightness his head was crowned.
Then he set out, he took his way,
And toward the raging Tiamat he set his face.
On his lips he held …,
… he grasped in his hand.
Then they beheld him, the gods beheld him,
The gods his fathers beheld him, the gods beheld him.
And the lord drew nigh, he gazed upon the inward parts of Tiamat,
He perceived the muttering of Kingu, her spouse.
As Marduk gazed, Kingu was troubled in his gait,
His will was destroyed and his motions ceased.
And the gods, his helpers, who marched by his side,
Beheld their leader’s…, and their sight was troubled.
But Tiamat… , she turned not her neck,
With lips that failed not she uttered rebellious words:
“… thy coming as lord of the gods,
From their places have they gathered, in thy place are they! ”
Then the lord raised the thunderbolt, his mighty weapon,
And against Tiamat, who was raging, thus he sent the word:
Thou art become great, thou hast exalted thyself on high,
And thy heart hath prompted thee to call to battle.
… their fathers…,
… their… thou hatest…
Thou hast exalted Kingu to be thy spouse,
Thou hast… him, that, even as Anu, he should issue deerees.
thou hast followed after evil,
And against the gods my fathers thou hast contrived thy wicked plan.
Let then thy host be equipped, let thy weapons be girded on!
Stand! I and thou, let us join battle!
When Tiamat heard these words,
She was like one posessed, .she lost her reason.
Tiamat uttered wild, piercing cries,
She trembled and shook to her very foundations.
She recited an incantation, she pronounced her spell,
And the gods of the battle cried out for their weapons.
Then advanced Tiamat and Marduk, the counselor of the gods;
To the fight they came on, to the battle they drew nigh.
The lord spread out his net and caught her,
And the evil wind that was behind him he let loose in her face.
As Tiamat opened her mouth to its full extent,
He drove in the evil wind, while as yet she had not shut her lips.
The terrible winds filled her belly,
And her courage was taken from her, and her mouth she opened wide.
He seized the spear and burst her belly,
He severed her inward parts, he pierced her heart.
He overcame her and cut off her life;
He cast down her body and stood upon it.
When he had slain Tiamat, the leader,
Her might was broken, her host was scattered.
And the gods her helpers, who marched by her side,
Trembled, and were afraid, and turned back.
They took to flight to save their lives;
But they were surrounded, so that they could not escape.
He took them captive, he broke their weapons;
In the net they were caught and in the snare they sat down.
The … of the world they filled with cries of grief.
They received punishment from him, they were held in bondage.
And on the eleven creatures which she had filled with the power of striking terror,
Upon the troop of devils, who marched at her…,
He brought affliction, their strength he…;
Them and their opposition he trampled under his feet.
Moreover, Kingu, who had been exalted over them,
He conquered, and with the god Dug-ga he counted him.
He took from him the Tablets of Destiny that were not rightly his,
He sealed them with a seal and in his own breast he laid them.
Now after the hero Marduk had conquered and cast down his enemies,
And had made the arrogant foe even like
And had fully established Ansar’s triumph over the enemy
And had attained the purpose of Nudimmud,
Over the captive gods he strengthened his durance,
And unto Tiamat, whom he had conquered, he returned.
And the lord stood upon Tiamat’s hinder parts,
And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.
He cut through the channels of her blood,
And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.
His fathers beheld, and they rejoiced and were glad;
Presents and gifts they brought unto him.
Then the lord rested, gazing upon her dead body,
While he divided the flesh of the … , and devised a cunning plan.
He split her up like a flat fish into two halves;
One half of her he stablished as a covering for heaven.
He fixed a bolt, he stationed a watchman,
And bade them not to let her waters come forth.
He passed through the heavens, he surveyed the regions thereof,
And over against the Deep he set the dwelling of Nudimmud.
And the lord measured the structure of the Deep,
And he founded E-sara, a mansion like unto it.
The mansion E-sara which he created as heaven,
He caused Anu, Bel, and Ea in their districts to inhabit.

THE FIFTH TABLET

He (Marduk) made the stations for the great gods;
The stars, their images, as the stars of the Zodiac, he fixed.
He ordained the year and into sections he divided it;
For the twelve months he fixed three stars.
After he had … the days of the year … images,
He founded the station of Nibir [the planet Jupiter] to determine their bounds;
That none might err or go astray,
He set the station of Bel and Ea along with him.
He opened great gates on both sides,
He made strong the bolt on the left and on the right.
In the midst thereof he fixed the zenith;
The Moon-god he caused to shine forth, the night he entrusted to him.
He appointed him, a being of the night, to determine the days;
Every month without ceasing with the crown he covered him, saying:
“At the beginning of the month, when thou shinest upon the land,
Thou commandest the horns to determine six days,
And on the seventh day to divide the crown.
On the fourteenth day thou shalt stand opposite, the half….
When the Sun-god on the foundation of heaven…thee,
The … thou shalt cause to …, and thou shalt make his…
… unto the path of the Sun-god shalt thou cause to draw nigh,
And on the … day thou shalt stand opposite, and the Sun-god shall…
… to traverse her way.
… thou shalt cause to draw nigh, and thou shalt judge the right.
… to destroy…”

[Nearly fifty lines are here lost.]

The gods, his fathers, beheld the net which he had made,
They beheld the bow and how its work was accomplished.
They praised the work which he had done…
Then Anu raised the … in the assembly of the gods. He kissed the bow, saving, ” It is…!”
And thus he named the names of the bow, saving,
“‘Long-wood’ shall be one name, and the second name shall be …,
And its third name shall be the Bow-star, in heaven shall it…!”
Then he fixed a station for it…
Now after the fate of…
He set a throne…
…in heaven…
[The remainder of this tablet is missing.]

THE SIXTH TABLET

When Marduk heard the word of the gods,
His heart prompted him and he devised a cunning plan.
He opened his mouth and unto Ea he spake
That which he had conceived in his heart he imparted unto him:
“My blood will I take and bone will I fashion
I will make man, that man may
I will create man who shall inhabit the earth,
That the service of the gods may be established, and that their shrines may be built.
But I will alter the ways of the gods, and I will change their paths;
Together shall they be oppressed and unto evil shall they….
And Ea answered him and spake the word:
“… the … of the gods I have changed
… and one…
… shall be destroyed and men will I…
… and the gods .
… and they…”

[The rest of the text is wanting with the exception of
the last few lines of the tablet, which read as follows.]

They rejoiced…
In Upsukkinnaku they set their dwelling.
Of the heroic son, their avenger, they cried:
” We, whom he succored…. !”

They seated themselves and in the assembly they named him…,
They all cried aloud, they exalted him…

THE SEVENTH TABLET

O Asari, [Marduk] “Bestower of planting,” “Founder of sowing”
“Creator of grain and plants,” “who caused the green herb to spring up!”
O Asaru-alim, [Mardk] “who is revered in the house of counsel,” “who aboundeth in counsel,”
The gods paid homage, fear took hold upon them!

O Asaru-alim-nuna, [Marduk] “the mighty one,” “the Light of the father who begat him,”
“Who directeth the decrees of Anu Bel, and Ea!”
He was their patron, be ordained their…;
He, whose provision is abundance, goeth forth…
Tutu [Marduk] is “He who created them anew”;
Should their wants be pure, then are they satisfied;
Should he make an incantation, then are the gods appeased;
Should they attack him in anger, he withstandeth their onslaught!
Let him therefore be exalted, and in the assembly of the gods let him… ;
None among the gods can rival him!
15 Tutu [Marduk] is Zi-ukkina, “the Life of the host of the gods,”
Who established for the gods the bright heavens.
He set them on their way, and ordained their path;
Never shall his … deeds be forgotten among men.
Tutu as Zi-azag thirdly they named, “the Bringer of Purification,”
“The God of the Favoring Breeze,” “the Lord of Hearing and Mercy,”
“The Creator of Fulness and Abundance,” ” the Founder of Plenteousness,”
“Who increaseth all that is small.”
In sore distress we felt his favoring breeze,”
Let them say, let them pay reverence, let them bow in humility before him!
Tutu as Aga-azag may mankind fourthly magnify!
“The Lord of the Pure Incantation,” ” the Quickener of the Dead,”
“Who had mercy upon the captive gods,”
“Who removed the yoke from upon the gods his enemies,”
“For their forgiveness did he create mankind,”
“The Merciful One, with whom it is to bestow life!”
May his deeds endure, may they never be forgotten ,
In the mouth of mankind whom his hands have made!
Tutu as Mu-azag, fifthly, his “Pure incantation” may their mouth proclaim,
Who through his Pure Incantation hath destroyed all the evil ones!”
Sag-zu, [Marduk] “who knoweth the heart of the gods,” ” who seeth through the innermost part!”
“The evil-doer he hath not caused to go forth with him!”
“Founder of the assembly of the gods,” who … their heart!”
“Subduer of the disobedient,” “…!”
“Director of Righteousness,” “…,”
” Who rebellion and…!”
Tutu as Zi-si, “the …,”
“Who put an end to anger,” “who…!”
Tutu as Suh-kur, thirdly, “the Destroyer of the foe,”
“Who put their plans to confusion,”
“Who destroyed all the wicked,” “…,”
… let them… !

[There is a gap here of sixty lines. But somewhere among the lost lines belong the following fragments.]

who…
He named the four quarters of the world, mankind hecreated,
And upon him understanding…
“The mighty one…!”
Agil…
“The Creator of the earth…!”
Zulummu… .
“The Giver of counsel and of whatsoever…!”
Mummu, ” the Creator of…!”
Mulil, the heavens…,
“Who for…!”
Giskul, let…,
“Who brought the gods to naught….!”
……………
… ” the Chief of all lords,”
… supreme is his might!
Lugal-durmah, “the King of the band of the gods,” ” the Lord of rulers.”
“Who is exalted in a royal habitation,”
“Who among the gods is gloriously supreme!
Adu-nuna, ” the Counselor of Ea,” who created the gods his fathers,
Unto the path of whose majesty
No god can ever attain!
… in Dul-azag be made it known,
… pure is his dwelling!
… the… of those without understanding is Lugaldul-azaga!
… supreme is his might!
… their… in the midst of Tiamat,
… of the battle!

[Here follows the better-preserved ending.]

… the star, which shineth in the heavens.
May he hold the Beginning and the Future, may they pay homage unto him,
Saying, “He who forced his way through the midst of Tiamat without resting,
Let his name be Nibiru, ‘the Seizer of the Midst’!
For the stars of heaven he upheld the paths,
He shepherded all the gods like sheep!
He conquered Tiamat, he troubled and ended her life,”
In the future of mankind, when the days grow old,
May this be heard without ceasing; may it hold sway forever!
Since he created the realm of heaven and fashioned the firm earth,
The Lord of the World,” the father Bel hath called his name.
This title, which all the Spirits of Heaven proclaimed,
Did Ea hear, and his spirit was rejoiced, and he said:
“He whose name his fathers have made glorious,
Shall be even as I, his name shall be Ea!
The binding of all my decrees shall he control,
All my commands shall he make known! ”
By the name of “Fifty ” did the great gods
Proclaim his fifty names, they, made his path preeminent.

EPILOGUE

Let them [i.e. the names of Marduk] be held in remembrances and let the first man proclaim them;
Let the wise and the understanding consider them together!
Let the father repeat them and teach them to his son;
Let them be in the ears of the pastor and the shepherd!
Let a man rejoice in Marduk, the Lord of the gods,
That be may cause his land to be fruitful, and that he himself may have prosperity!
His word standeth fast, his command is unaltered;
The utterance of his mouth hath no god ever annulled.
He gazed in his anger, he turned not his neck;
When he is wroth, no god can withstand his indignation.
Wide is his heart, broad is his compassion;
The sinner and evil-doer in his presence…
They received instruction, they spake before him,
… unto…
… of Marduk may the gods…;
… May they … his name… !
… they took and…
……………………………..!

END OF THE CREATION EPIC
THE FIGHT WITH TIAMAT

(ANOTHER VERSION)
[Note: Strictly speaking, the text is not a creation-legend, though it gives a variant form of the principal incident in the history of the creation according to the Enuma Elish. Here the fight with the dragon did not precede the creation of the world, but took place after men had been created and cities had been built.]

The cities sighed, men …
Men uttered lamentation, they …
For their lamentation there was none to help,
For their grief there was none to take them by the hand.
· Who was the dragon… ?
Tiamat was the dragon…..
Bel in heaven hath formed…..
Fifty kaspu [A kaspu is the space that can be covered in two hours travel, i.e. six or seven miles] in his length, one kaspu in his height,
Six cubits is his mouth, twelve cubits his…,
Twelve cubits is the circuit of his ears…;
For the space of sixty cubits he … a bird;
In water nine cubits deep he draggeth….”
He raiseth his tail on high…;
All the gods of heaven…
In heaven the gods bowed themselves down before the Moon-god…;
The border of the Moon-god’s robe they hastily grasped:
“Who will go and slay the dragon,”
And deliver the broad land from…
And become king over… ?
” Go, Tishu, slav the dragon,
And deliver the broad land from…,
And become king over…!”
Thou hast sent me, O Lord, to… the raging creatures of the river,
But I know not the… of the Dragon!

[The rest of the Obverse and the upper part of the Reverse of the tablet are wanting.]

REVERSE
…………….
And opened his mouth and spake unto the god…
” Stir up cloud, and storm and tempest!
The seal of thy life shalt thou set before thy face,
Thou shalt grasp it, and thou shalt slay the dragon.”
He stirred up cloud, and storm and tempest,
He set the seal of his life before his face,
He grasped it, and he slew the dragon.
For three years and three months, one day and one night
The blood of the dragon flowed. …

The oldest love poem in history

No Comments

The oldest poem in history
Museum of Archaeology, Istanbul

‘Bridegroom, dear to my heart; goodly is your beauty, honeysweet; lion, dear to my heart’. These are the passionate words of a lover to a king, from more than 4,000 years ago, in the oldest known love poem ever found.

The loving words were passed down over generations, eventually inscribed on an 8 th century BC Sumerian cuneiform tablet small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand. It was uncovered in the 1880s in Nippur, a region in what is now Iraq, and has been held by The Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient ever since.

Historians say the words were recited by a bride of Sumerian King Shu-Sin, fourth ruler of the Third Dynasty of Ur, who reigned between 2037 and 2029 BC, and used as a script for a ceremonial recreation of the sacred marriage. It would have been sung at the New Year festival, and at banquets and festivals accompanied by music and dance.

The full translation of the poem is as follows:

 

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,

Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

Bridegroom, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey,
In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
Lion, let me caress you.

My precious caress is more savory than honey.
Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
My father, he will give you gifts.

You, because you love me,
Give me pray of your caresses, 

My lord god, my lord protector,
My SHU-SIN, who gladdens ENLIL’s heart,
Give my pray of your caresses

Uruk Vase, with procession of naked priests carrying gifts to Inanna’s shrine. Inanna greeting them at its door marked by her gateposts. Alabaster. 3′. Uruk, Mesopotamia. Fourth millennium BCE.

According to the Sumerian belief, it was a sacred duty for the king to marry a priestess every year in order to make the soil and women fertile. The ritual of sacred marriage involved the re-enactment of the union of two deities, usually Inanna/Ishtar and Dumuzi/Tammuz. Thus, the priestess represented Inanna, the goddess of fertility and sexual love, while the king represented Dumuzi, on the eve of their union.

J. Stuckey (2005) describes the ritual of the sacred marriage:

From extant hymns, we can piece together what happened in the ritual. First, Inanna was bathed, perfumed, and adorned, while Dumuzi and his retinue processed towards her shrine.

The famous Uruk vase may represent this procession. All the while, temple personnel sang love songs, many of which are extant. Resplendent Inanna greeted Dumuzi at the door, which, on the Uruk vase, is flanked by her signature standards (gateposts), and there he presented her with sumptuous gifts. Subsequently, the pair seated themselves on thrones, although sometimes the enthronement took place only after sexual consummation. The deities entered a chamber fragrant with spices and decorated with costly draperies. Lying down on a ceremonial bed constructed for the occasion, they united in sexual intercourse. Afterwards, pleased by and with her lover, Inanna decreed long life and sovereignty for him and fertility and prosperity for the land.

Muazzez Hilmiye Cig, a retired historian at the Museum, who worked with Professor Samuel Noah Kramer in 1951 to identify and translate the text, explained that the Sumerians “believed that only love and passion could bring them fertility, and therefore praised pleasures”.

In the agriculture-based Sumerian community, she said, lovemaking between the king and the priestess would have been seen as a way to ensure the fertility of their crops, and therefore the community’s welfare, for another year.

The inscriptions on the winged lions

No Comments

Long time ago, Sennacherib, the mighty ruthless king, posted this text on the wall (actually on a pair of winged lions – apsasāt – that guarded the entrance) of the palace he
built for his queen Tašmetum-šarrat in Nineveh.

Here is the translation from Assyrian:

“And for Tašmetum-šarrat, the queen, the wife, my love, whose features Belet-ili (the goddess of creation) has made more beautiful than all other women, I had a palace of love, joy and pleasure built.

By the order of Aššur, father of the gods, and heavenly queen Ištar, may we both live long in health and happiness in this palace and enjoy well- being to the full!”

Résultat de recherche d'images pour

Sumerian Lexicon

No Comments

The following lexicon contains 1,255 Sumerian logogram words and 2,511 Sumerian compound words. A logogram is a reading of a cuneiform sign which represents a word in the spoken language. Sumerian scribes invented the practice of writing in cuneiform on clay tablets sometime around 3400 B.C. in the Uruk/Warka region in the south of ancient Iraq. [The etymology of ‘Iraq’ may come from this region, biblical Erech. Medieval Arabic sources used the name ‘Iraq’ as a geographical term for the area in the south and center of the modern republic.] The Sumerian language spoken by the inventors of writing is known to us through a large body of texts and through bilingual cuneiform dictionaries of Sumerian and Akkadian, the language of their Semitic successors, to which Sumerian is not related. These bilingual dictionaries date from the Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 B.C.), by which time Sumerian had ceased to be spoken, except by the scribes. The earliest and most important words in Sumerian had their own cuneiform signs, whose origins were pictographic, making an initial repertoire of about a thousand signs or logograms. Beyond these words, two-thirds of this lexicon now consists of words that are transparent compounds of separate logogram words. I have greatly expanded the section containing compounds in this version, but I know that many more compound words could be added.

Many cuneiform signs can be pronounced in more than one way and often two or more signs share the same pronunciation, in which case it is necessary to indicate in the transliteration which cuneiform sign is meant; Assyriologists have developed a system whereby the second homophone is marked by an acute accent (´), the third homophone by a grave accent (`), and the remainder by subscript numerals. The homophone numeration here follows the ‘BCE-System’ developed by Borger, Civil, and Ellermeier. The ‘accents’ and subscript numerals do not affect the pronunciation. The numeration system is a convention to inform Assyriologists which, for example, of the many cuneiform signs that have the reading du actually occurs on the tablet. A particular sign can often be transcribed in a long way, such as dug4, or in a short way, such as du11, because Sumerian was like French in omitting certain amissable final consonants except before a following vowel. Due to this lexicon’s etymological orientation, you will usually find a word listed under its fullest phonetic form. Transcriptions of texts often contain the short forms, however, because Sumerologists try to accurately represent the spoken language. Short forms are listed, but you are told where to confer.

The vowels may be pronounced as follows: a as in father, u as in pull, e as in peg, and i as in hip. Of the special consonants, gtilde is pronounced like ng in rang, h is pronounced like ch in German Buch or Scottish loch, and š is pronounced like sh in dash.

Following the definitions, the lexicon may indicate in a smaller font the constituent elements of words that in origin were compound words, if those elements were clear to me. Etymologies are a normal part of dictionary-making, but etymologies are also the most subject to speculation. It is possible that, in some cases, I have provided a Sumerian etymology for what is actually a loanword from another language. I encourage scholars to contact me with evidence from productive roots in other proto-languages when they have reason to believe that a Sumerian word is a loan from another language family. In light of the Sumerian propensity for forming new words through compounding in the period after they invented cuneiform signs, it should not be surprising to find this same propensity in words dating from before their invention of written signs. The structure and thinking behind the Sumerian vocabulary is to me a thing of beauty. We are fortunate to be able to look back into the minds of our prehistoric ancestors and see how they thought and lived via the words that they created.

The lexicon’s etymological orientation explains why the vocabulary is organized according to the phonetic structure of the words, with words sharing the same structure being listed together and alphabetically according to their final consonants and vowels, as this method best groups together related words. This principle has been abandoned after words of the structure CVC(V) in this version, as words that are phonetically more complex than this do not group together by meaning. The phonetically more complex words and the compound words are listed alphabetically simply by their initial letters.

Click here for the lexicon in pdf

Categories: Books Tags: Tags: ,

The Standard of Ur

No Comments

The Standard of Ur is a wonderful example of Mesopotamian artistic achievement that reveals a wealth of information about one of the world’s great ancient civilisations. This object was discovered by the archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley during excavations at ancient Ur (modern Tell al-Muqayyar), in southern Mesopotamia (south Iraq). The most spectacular discoveries at Ur were made within a cemetery of the Early Dynastic III period (c. 2600–2300 BC), that Woolley named ‘The Royal Cemetery’. Here, among hundreds of more modest burials, were sixteen graves that he distinguished as ‘Royal Tombs’ because of their construction, abundance of grave goods and evidence of elaborate burial rituals and human sacrifice. The Standard was discovered in the corner of one of the tomb chambers of a Royal Tomb (PG 779) that had been thoroughly robbed in antiquity.

  
It was named at the time of its discovery by Leonard Woolley who initially proposed that it may have been carried on a pole like a battle standard, but its original function is unknown. The two rectangular panels of engraved shell figures and mosaic tesserae of lapis lazuli, red limestone, and shell were originally attached to wood that did not survive being buried in a tomb for thousands of years. These two panels which are sometimes referred to as ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ were discovered lying back-to-back and crushed, with some of the pieces displaced. The shape of the wooden mount that these panels are fixed on today is based on Woolley’s suggestion that there were also two truncated triangular shaped end panels. However, the arrangement of the inlays on the end panels is speculative.
The Standard is an excellent example of Mesopotamian narrative art; the scenes illustrate a story or a sequence of events. It is almost certain that what is shown on the two main panels of the Standard are consecutive episodes of the same story – the end of a victorious battle of a king of Ur and the banquet or ritual celebrations after the battle.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary

No Comments

The CAD (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary) project was initiated in the early 1920s, not long after James Henry Breasted founded the Oriental Institute in 1919, and barely one hundred years after the decipherment of the cuneiform script. This initial decipherment, and the soon-to-follow achievements in understanding the languages in which the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets were inscribed, opened an unsuspected treasure-house for the study and appreciation of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary was conceived to provide more than lexical information alone, more than a one-to-one equivalent between Akkadian and English words. By presenting each word in a meaningful context, usually with a full and idiomatic translation, it recreates the cultural milieu and thus in many ways assumes the function of an encyclopedia. Its source material ranges in time from the third millennium B.C. to the first century A.D., and in geographic area from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Zagros Mountains in the east.

Completed in 2010, the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary has become an invaluable source for the study of the civilizations of the ancient Near East, their political and cultural history, their achievements in the sciences of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, linguistics, and the timeless beauty of their poetry.

You can donlowd or visit the website of the dictionary HERE

The looting of the Iraqi museum 2003

No Comments

The Iraqi Museum, one of the most important Archaeological museums in the world, suffered a major catastrophe with the attack of looters equipped with glass cutting instruments, cranes, and trucks for a period of 48 hours undeterred, on the 10th of April 2003.
This short video includes reporting and interviews with Iraqi citizens, Museum officials, and US officials.

Video

The looting campaign did not only stop at this one museum, but museums across Iraq were emptied by looters. Archaeological sites across the country were reduced to bare grounds. It is estimated that the total area of excavated archaeological sites in Iraq looted equals the area of 3000 football fields.

Categories: Videos

The complete archive of Akleel Al-ward magazine by the Dominican fathers in Mosul

No Comments

Akleel Al-ward is the first Iraqi non-governmental magazine, published in Mosul between 1902 and 1908. It was published in 3 languages (Arabic, Syriac and French), each language had different subjects, but the main line of the magazine was religious and cultural.

The complete archive of Akleel Al-ward 1902-1908

History of the magazine

By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Allaf

It is not rare or strange that the people of Mosul established a newspaper, a magazine, a modern school or a modern press regarding the Arabic renaissance movement between the late 19th and early 20th century.

History of Mosul records that the first press in Iraq was the stone press of the Dominican Fathers that was established in Mosul in 1858. Soon they started to enlarge their press by adding Arabic, Syriac and French letters to it bought at the people’s press in Paris. They also added a forging technique for new letters and a department for book gilding and binding.

Many other presses followed, in 1863 Rafael Mazgi started the Chaldean press and  in 1910 Isa Mahfouz and Fathullah Sarsam established together the press of Nineveh. And so we find many presses in Mosul in early 20th century that participated in flourishing journalism that empowered the Arab renaissance.

“The Mosul Newspaper”, that started in June 1885, was the first newspaper in the city, followed by “Nineveh Newspaper” in July 1909 and “Al-Najah Newspaper” in November 1910. There was also a comic newspaper in Mosul called “Jeke-Baz” that started in June 1911. In this atmosphere the Dominican fathers started their “Akleel Al-ward” magazine in 1902, to be the first Iraqi magazine. The first edition had 20 pages that soon raised to 24-28 pages in (18 x 11.5 cm).

I was able to see the complete archive of the magazine at the monastery of Mar Bahnam in Mosul as I was writing my Master’s degree. The magazine was published in three languages, Arabic (650 editions), French (400 editions) and Syriac (350 editions). The Arabic, Syriac and French additions were not merely a translation of each other but each addition had different topics and articles.

Many editors contributed to the magazine, including Father Abdulahad Gourgi, Father Basil Bshouri and the writer Farajullah Kesbu. The articles varied between health, politics, social and cultural topics. They were interested in educating and counseling their readers, including the deployment of humanitarian character stories or publish words and wisdom aphorisms, e.g. (Do not delay the work of today to tomorrow) or (Do not use third parties to accomplish work that you can do by yourself) and (Don’t buy what you don’t need even if it was cheap) or (Don’t spend your share before it could be collected) and (count from 1 to 100 before you speak, if you were angry).

The magazine also published book reviews, like the review of (Answers to Grammatical questions) by Salim Hasson in February 1907and the review of the French novel (the death of Theseus) in March 1903.

The magazine was also concerned of presenting scientific topics to the readers, in November 1907, it wrote about the Daniel Comet, and a long article in October 1909 about the newest inventions says: (our time is the time of renaissance and innovations like the Telegraph, the Automobile, the Baloon or the new bicycles). The magazine wrote also about Oil and it`s importance and about journalism in France in which it said (in France there are 6866 newspapers in 1900, but many of them are not good from the ethical point of view).

The magazine had standard pages, like health, current news, and others for economic and political topics. The magazine appeared regularly for six years, the last edition was in December 1909.

Even if the magazine had some Christian standards and religious topics but it was a real mirror reflected news and events from the Iraqi society in a period were journalism was still crawling in Iraq.

Many thanks to all the people who established and published Akleel Al-ward for all their contribution to Iraqi culture and the city of Mosul.

Categories: Books Tags: Tags: ,

The Ishtar Gate

No Comments

The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was excavated in the early 20th century and a reconstruction using original bricks is now shown in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

History

Dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the gate was constructed using glazed brick with alternating rows of bas-relief mušḫuššu (dragons) and aurochs (bulls), symbolizing the gods Marduk and Adad respectively.

The roof and doors of the gate were of cedar, according to the dedication plaque.

The gate was covered in lapis lazuli, a deep-blue semi-precious stone that was revered in antiquity due to its vibrancy. These blue glazed bricks would have given the façade a jewel-like shine. Through the gate ran the Processional Way, which was lined with walls showing about 120 lions, bulls, dragons and flowers on enameled yellow and black glazed bricks, symbolizing the goddess Ishtar. The gate itself depicted only gods and goddesses. These included Ishtar, Adad and Marduk. During celebrations of the New Year, statues of the deities were paraded through the gate and down the Processional Way.

The gate, being part of the Walls of Babylon, was considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. It was replaced on that list by the Lighthouse of Alexandria from the third century BC.

Excavation and display

A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way was built at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin out of material excavated by Robert Koldewey and finished in the 1930s. It includes the inscription plaque. It stands 14 m (46 ft) high and 30 m (100 ft) wide. The excavation ran from 1902 to 1914, and, during that time, 14 m (45 ft) of the foundation of the gate was uncovered.

An aurochs above a flower ribbon

Claudius James Rich, British resident of Baghdad and a self-taught historian, did personal research on Babylon because it intrigued him. Acting as a scholar and collecting field data, he was determined to discover the wonders to the ancient world. C.J. Rich’s topographical records of the ruins in Babylon were the first ever published, in 1815. It was reprinted in England no fewer than three times. C.J. Rich and most other 19th century visitors thought a mound in Babylon was a royal palace, and that was eventually confirmed by Robert Koldewey’s excavations, who found two palaces of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Ishtar Gate. Robert Koldewey, a successful German excavator, had done previous work for the Royal Museum of Berlin, with his excavations at Surghul (Ancient Nina) and Al-hiba (ancient Lagash) in 1887. Koldewey’s part in Babylon’s excavation began in 1899.

The method that the British were comfortable with was excavating tunnels and deep trenches, which was damaging the mud brick architecture of the foundation. Instead, it was suggested that the excavation team focus on tablets and other artefacts rather than pick at the crumbling buildings. Despite the destructive nature of the archaeology used, the recording of data was immensely more thorough than in previous Mesopotamian excavations. Walter Andre, one of Koldewey’s many assistants, was an architect and a draftsman, the first at Babylon. His contribution was documentation and reconstruction of Babylon. A small museum was built at the site and Andre was the museums first director.

One of most complex and impressive architectural reconstructions in the history of archaeology, was the rebuilding of Babylon’s Ishtar gate and processional way in Berlin. Hundreds of crates of glaze brick fragments were carefully desalinated and then pieced together. Fragments were combined with new bricks baked in a specially designed kiln to re-create the correct color and finish. It was a double gate; the part that is shown in the Pergamon Museum today is the smaller, frontal part. 

Parts of the gate and lions from the Processional Way are in various other museums around the world.

Ishtar gate, Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Only four museums acquired dragons, while lions went to several museums. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum has lions, dragons, and bulls. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark, has one lion, one dragon and one bull. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses a dragon. The Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden, has one dragon and one lion; the Louvre, the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Oriental Institute in Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, each have lions. One of the processional lions was recently loaned by Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum to the British Museum.

An Introduction To Sumerian History

No Comments

During the 5th millennium BC a people known as the Ubaidians established settlements in the region known later as Sumer; these settlements gradually developed into the chief Sumerian cities, namely Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur. Several centuries later, as the Ubaidian settlers prospered, Semites from Syrian and Arabian deserts began to infiltrate, both as peaceful immigrants and as raiders in quest of booty. After about 3250 BC, another people migrated from its homeland, located probably northeast of Mesopotamia, and began to intermarry with the native population. The newcomers, who became known as Sumerians, spoke an agglutinative language unrelated apparently to any other known language.

In the centuries that followed the immigration of the Sumerians, the country grew rich and powerful. Art and architecture, crafts, and religious and ethical thought flourished. The Sumerian language became the prevailing speech of the land, and the people here developed the cuneiform script, a system of writing on clay. This script was to become the basic means of written communication throughout the Middle East for about 2000 years.

The first Sumerian ruler of historical record, Etana, king of Kish (flourished about 2800 BC), was described in a document written centuries later as the “man who stabilized all the lands.” Shortly after his reign ended, a king named Meskiaggasher founded a rival dynasty at Erech (Uruk), far to the south of Kish. Meskiaggasher, who won control of the region extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Zagros Mountains, was succeeded by his son Enmerkar (flourished about 2750 BC). The latter’s reign was notable for an expedition against Aratta, a city-state far to the northeast of Mesopotamia. Enmerkar was succeeded by Lugalbanda, one of his military leaders. The exploits and conquests of Enmerkar and Lugalbanda form the subject of a cycle of epic tales constituting the most important source of information on early Sumerian history.

At the end of Lugalbanda’s reign, Enmebaragesi (flourished about 2700 BC), a king of the Etana dynasty at Kish, became the leading ruler of Sumer. His outstanding achievements included a victory over the country of Elam and the construction at Nippur of the Temple of Enlil, the leading deity of the Sumerian pantheon. Nippur gradually became the spiritual and cultural center of Sumer.

Enmebaragesi’s son Agga (probably died before 2650 BC), the last ruler of the Etana dynasty, was defeated by Mesanepada, king of Ur (fl. about 2670 BC), who founded the so-called 1st Dynasty of Ur and made Ur the capital of Sumer. Soon after the death of Mesanepada, the city of Erech achieved a position of political prominence under the leadership of Gilgamesh (flourished about 2700-2650 BC), whose deeds are celebrated in stories and legends.

Painting of Sumerian people bringing a gilded statue to their temple.

Sometime before the 25th century bc the Sumerian Empire, under the leadership of Lugalanemundu of Adab (flourished about 2525-2500 BC), was extended from the Zagros to the Taurus mountains and from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently the empire was ruled by Mesilim (fl. about 2500 BC), king of Kish. By the end of his reign, Sumer had begun to decline. The Sumerian city-states engaged in constant internecine struggle, exhausting their military resources. Eannatum (fl. about 2425 BC), one of the rulers of Lagash, succeeded in extending his rule throughout Sumer and some of the neighboring lands. His success, however, was short-lived. The last of his successors, Uruinimgina (fl. about 2365 BC), who was noteworthy for instituting many social reforms, was defeated by Lugalzagesi (reigned about 2370-2347 BC), the governor of the neighboring city-state of Umma. Thereafter, for about 20 years, Lugalzagesi was the most powerful ruler in the Middle East.

By the 23rd century bc the power of the Sumerians had declined to such an extent that they could no longer defend themselves against foreign invasion. The Semitic ruler Sargon I (reigned about 2335-2279 BC), called The Great, succeeded in conquering the entire country. Sargon founded a new capital, called Agade, in the far north of Sumer and made it the richest and most powerful city in the world. The people of northern Sumer and the conquering invaders, fusing gradually, became known ethnically and linguistically as Akkadians. The land of Sumer acquired the composite name Sumer and Akkad.

The Akkadian dynasty lasted about a century. During the reign of Sargon’s grandson, Naram-Sin (r. about 2255-2218 BC), the Gutians, a belligerent people from the Zagros Mountains, sacked and destroyed the city of Agade. They then subjugated and laid waste the whole of Sumer. After several generations the Sumerians threw off the Gutian yoke. The city of Lagash again achieved prominence, particularly during the reign of Gudea (circa 2144-2124 BC), an extraordinarily pious and capable governor. Because numerous statues of Gudea have been recovered, he has become the Sumerian best known to the modern world. The Sumerians achieved complete independence from the Gutians when Utuhegal, king of Erech (reigned about 2120-2112 BC), won a decisive victory later celebrated in Sumerian literature.

One of Utuhegal’s generals, Ur-Nammu (r. 2113-2095 BC), founded the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. In addition to being a successful military leader, he was also a social reformer and the originator of a law code that antedates that of the Babylonian king Hammurabi by about three centuries (see Hammurabi, Code of). Ur-Nammu’s son Shulgi (r. 2095-2047 BC) was a successful soldier, a skillful diplomat, and a patron of literature. During his reign the schools and academies of the kingdom flourished.

Before the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC the Amorites, Semitic nomads from the desert to the west of Sumer and Akkad, invaded the kingdom. They gradually became masters of such important cities as Isin and Larsa. The resultant widespread political disorder and confusion encouraged the Elamites to attack (circa 2004 BC) Ur and to take into captivity its last ruler, Ibbi-Sin (r. 2029-2004 BC).

During the centuries following the fall of Ur bitter intercity struggle for the control of Sumer and Akkad occurred, first between Isin and Larsa and later between Larsa and Babylon. Hammurabi of Babylon defeated Rim-Sin of Larsa (r. about 1823-1763 BC) and became the sole ruler of Sumer and Akkad. This date probably marks the end of the Sumerian state. Sumerian civilization, however, was adopted almost in its entirety by Babylonia.