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seems to me more probable that the words are uttered by Anu and Enlil
themselves.[1] For thereby they would be represented as giving their
own sanction to the formula, and as guaranteeing its magical efficacy.
That the incantation, as addressed to Anu and Enlil, would be
appropriate is obvious, since each would be magically approached
through his own sphere of control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second great blow to the system followed the Mongol conquest, when
the Nahrwn Canal, to the east of the Tigris, had its head swept away
by flood and the area it had irrigated became desert. Then, in about
the fifteenth century, the Tigris returned to its old course; the
Shatt el-Hai shrank, and much of the Great Swamp dried up into the
desert it is to-day.[1] Things became worse during the centuries of
Turkish misrule. But the silting up of the Hillah, or main, branch of
the Euphrates about 1865, and the transference of a great part of its
stream into the Hindyah Canal, caused even the Turks to take action.
They constructed the old Hindyah Barrage in 1890, but it gave way in
1903 and the state of things was even worse than before; for the
Hillah branch then dried entirely.[2]

[1] This illustrates the damage the Tigris itself is capable of
inflicting on the country. It may be added that Sir William
Willcocks proposes to control the Tigris floods by an escape into
the Tharthr depression, a great salt pan at the tail of Wadi
Tharthr, which lies 14 ft. below sea level and is 200 ft. lower
than the flood-level of the Tigris some thirty-two miles away. The
escape would leave the Tigris to the S. of Smarra, the proposed
Beled Barrage being built below it and up-stream of "Nimrod's
Dam". The Tharthr escape would drain into the Euphrates, and the
latter's Habbnyah escape would receive any surplus water from
the Tigris, a second barrage being thrown across the Euphrates up-
stream of Falljah, where there is an outcrop of limestone near
the head of the Sakhlawyah Canal. The Tharthr depression,
besides disposing of the Tigris flood-water, would thus probably
feed the Euphrates; and a second barrage on the Tigris, to be
built at Kt, would supply water to the Shatt el-Hai. When the
country is freed from danger of flood, the Baghdad Railway could
be run through the cultivated land instead of through the eastern
desert; see Willcocks, /The Near East/, Oct. 6, 1916 (Vol. XI, No.
283), p. 545 f.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] This argument is taken from an article I published in Professor
Headlam's /Church Quarterly Review/, Jan., 1916, pp. 280 ff.,
containing an account of Dr. Poebel's discovery.

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

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

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

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



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

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

[1] Herodotus, II, 171.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] This detail is not clearly preserved at Deir el-Bahari; but it is
quite clear in the scene on the west wall of the "Birth-room" in
the Temple at Luxor, which Amenophis III evidently copied from
that of Hatshepsut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] Cf. Poebel, op. cit., p. 33. It is possible that, under one of her
later synonyms, we should identify her, as Dr. Poebel suggests,
with the Mylitta of Herodotus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct proof of the manner in which the later redactors have been
obliged to modify the original Sumerian Creation myth, in consequence
of their incorporation of other elements, may be seen in the Sixth
Tablet of the poem, where Marduk states the reason for man's creation.
In the second lecture we noted how the very words of the principal
Sumerian Creator were put into Marduk's mouth; but the rest of the
Semitic god's speech finds no equivalent in the Sumerian Version and
was evidently inserted in order to reconcile the narrative with its
later ingredients. This will best be seen by printing the two passages
in parallel columns:[1]

[1] The extract from the Sumerian Version, which occurs in the lower
part of the First Column, is here compared with the Semitic-
Babylonian Creation Series, Tablet VI, ll. 6-10 (see /Seven
Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. 86 ff.). The comparison is justified whether
we regard the Sumerian speech as a direct preliminary to man's
creation, or as a reassertion of his duty after his rescue from
destruction by the Flood.


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

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

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

[1] Tabl. III, l. 53, &c. In the story of Bel and the Dragon, the
third of the apocryphal additions to Daniel, we have direct
evidence of the late survival of the Dragon /motif/ apart from any
trace of the Creation myth; in this connexion see Charles,
/Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha/, Vol. I (1913), p. 653 f.

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

[3] The /bru/ was the space that could be covered in two hours'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[5] Lit. "the black-headed".

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

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

[1] See E. de Sarzec, /Dcouvertes en Chalde/, pl. xliv, Fig. 2, and
Heuzey, /Catalogue des antiquits chaldennes/, p. 281.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] i.e. the gods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In another Sumerian myth, which has been recovered on one of the early
tablets from Nippur, we have a rather different picture of beginnings.
For there, though water is the source of life, the existence of the
land is presupposed. But it is bare and desolate, as in the
Mesopotamian season of "low water". The underlying idea is suggestive
of a period when some progress in systematic irrigation had already
been made, and the filling of the dry canals and subsequent irrigation
of the parched ground by the rising flood of Enki was not dreaded but
eagerly desired. The myth is only one of several that have been
combined to form the introductory sections of an incantation; but in
all of them Enki, the god of the deep water, plays the leading part,
though associated with different consorts.[1] The incantation is
directed against various diseases, and the recitation of the closing
mythical section was evidently intended to enlist the aid of special
gods in combating them. The creation of these deities is recited under
set formulae in a sort of refrain, and the divine name assigned to
each bears a magical connexion with the sickness he or she is intended
to dispel.[2]

[1] See Langdon, Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sect., Vol. X, No. 1
(1915), pl. i f., pp. 69 ff.; /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI
(1916), pp. 140 ff.; cf. Prince, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol.
XXXVI, pp. 90 ff.; Jastrow, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI,
pp. 122 ff., and in particular his detailed study of the text in
/Amer. Journ. Semit. Lang./, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 91 ff. Dr. Langdon's
first description of the text, in /Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol.
XXXVI (1914), pp. 188 ff., was based on a comparatively small
fragment only; and on his completion of the text from other
fragments in Pennsylvania. Professor Sayce at once realized that
the preliminary diagnosis of a Deluge myth could not be sustained
(cf. /Expos. Times/, Nov., 1915, pp. 88 ff.). He, Professor
Prince, and Professor Jastrow independently showed that the action
of Enki in the myth in sending water on the land was not punitive
but beneficent; and the preceding section, in which animals are
described as not performing their usual activities, was shown
independently by Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow to have
reference, not to their different nature in an ideal existence in
Paradise, but, on familiar lines, to their non-existence in a
desolate land. It may be added that Professor Barton and Dr. Peters
agree generally with Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow in
their interpretation of the text, which excludes the suggested
biblical parallels; and I understand from Dr. Langdon that he very
rightly recognizes that the text is not a Deluge myth. It is a
subject for congratulation that the discussion has materially
increased our knowledge of this difficult composition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] Gen. i. 6-8.

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

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

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