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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 ilni/, 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. /iptu/, "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 Blit-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 /rle/
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] i-i lu (isu)ma-gur-gur-ma um-a lu
na-si-rat na-pi-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 "Dr".

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 Bismya, 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 Bismya, 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, /Beitrge 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 Fra, in the
neighbourhood of the Shatt el-Kr, 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 Blit-ili lamented with a loud
account of her people. voice.

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

The expression Blit-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 /rle/ 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 Blit-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 Blit-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 Blit-
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 Blit-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. Brnnow,
/Classified List/, p. 327. An alternative rendering "is created"
is also possible, and would give equally good sense; cf. /nu-e-de/
= Sem. /la u-pu-u/, /W.A.I./, IV, pl. 2, l. 5 (a), and Brnnow,
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 /mu/,

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 /abbu/ (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 /abbu/ 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 /abbu/
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 /abbu/ 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 Eninn 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

[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 Nin,
"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 Nin'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
Eninn. 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 Eninn; 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 Nin'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 /rles/ 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 Nin 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, Nab 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 mta/
(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. /a-ba-tu a 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. Sr., 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

[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 Blit-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

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