Legends of Babylon and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition

LEGENDS OF BABYLON AND EGYPT IN RELATION TO HEBREW TRADITION By Leonard W. King, M.A., Litt.D., F.S.A. First Published 1918 by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press. Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz and Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com THE BRITISH ACADEMY LEGENDS OF BABYLON AND EGYPT IN RELATION TO HEBREW TRADITION BY LEONARD W. KING, M.A., LITT.D., F.S.A.
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First Published 1918 by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

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





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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the early historic periods we have definite evidence that the eastern coast of the Levant exercised a strong fascination upon the rulers of both Egypt and Babylonia. It may be admitted that Syria had little to give in comparison to what she could borrow, but her local trade in wine and oil must have benefited by an increase in the through traffic which followed the working of copper in Cyprus and Sinai and of silver in the Taurus. Moreover, in the cedar forests of Lebanon and the north she possessed a product which was highly valued both in Egypt and the treeless plains of Babylonia. The cedars procured by Sneferu from Lebanon at the close of the IIIrd Dynasty were doubtless floated as rafts down the coast, and we may see in them evidence of a regular traffic in timber. It has long been known that the early Babylonian king Sharru-kin, or Sargon of Akkad, had pressed up the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, and we now have information that he too was fired by a desire for precious wood and metal. One of the recently published Nippur inscriptions contains copies of a number of his texts, collected by an ancient scribe from his statues at Nippur, and from these we gather additional details of his campaigns. We learn that after his complete subjugation of Southern Babylonia he turned his attention to the west, and that Enlil gave him the lands “from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea”, i.e. from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Fortunately this rather vague phrase, which survived in later tradition, is restated in greater detail in one of the contemporary versions, which records that Enlil “gave him the upper land, Mari, Iarmuti, and Ibla, as far as the Cedar Forest and the Silver Mountains”.[1]

[1] See Poebel, /Historical Texts/ (Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sect., Vol. IV, No. 1, 1914), pp. 177 f., 222 ff.

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

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

It is significant that Sargon does not allude to any battle when describing this expedition, nor does he claim to have devastated the western countries.[1] Indeed, most of these early expeditions to the west appear to have been inspired by motives of commercial enterprise rather than of conquest. But increase of wealth was naturally followed by political expansion, and Egypt’s dream of an Asiatic empire was realized by Pharaohs of the XVIIIth Dynasty. The fact that Babylonian should then have been adopted as the medium of official intercourse in Syria points to the closeness of the commercial ties which had already united the Euphrates Valley with the west. Egyptian control had passed from Canaan at the time of the Hebrew settlement, which was indeed a comparatively late episode in the early history of Syria. Whether or not we identify the Khabiri with the Hebrews, the character of the latter’s incursion is strikingly illustrated by some of the Tell el-Amarna letters. We see a nomad folk pressing in upon settled peoples and gaining a foothold here and there.[2]

[1] In some versions of his new records Sargon states that “5,400 men daily eat bread before him” (see Poebel, op. cit., p. 178); though the figure may be intended to convey an idea of the size of Sargon’s court, we may perhaps see in it a not inaccurate estimate of the total strength of his armed forces.

[2] See especially Professor Burney’s forthcoming commentary on Judges (passim), and his forthcoming Schweich Lectures (now delivered, in 1917).

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

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

[1] “New Archaeological Lights on the Origins of Civilization in Europe,” British Association, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1916.

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

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

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

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

The representation of Semitic deities under Egyptian forms and with Egyptian attributes was encouraged by the introduction of their cults into Egypt itself. In addition to Astarte of Byblos, Ba`al, Anath, and Reshef were all borrowed from Syria in comparatively early times and given Egyptian characters. The conical Syrian helmet of Reshef, a god of war and thunder, gradually gave place to the white Egyptian crown, so that as Reshpu he was represented as a royal warrior; and Qadesh, another form of Astarte, becoming popular with Egyptian women as a patroness of love and fecundity, was also sometimes modelled on Hathor.[1]

[1] See W. Max Müller, /Egyptological Researches/, I, p. 32 f., pl. 41, and S. A. Cook, /Religion of Ancient Palestine/, pp. 83 ff.

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

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

The Elephantine papyri have shown that the early Jews of the Diaspora, though untrammeled by the orthodoxy of Jerusalem, maintained the purity of their local cult in the face of considerable difficulties. Hence the gravestones of their Aramaean contemporaries, which have been found in Egypt, can only be cited to illustrate the temptations to which they were exposed.[1] Such was the memorial erected by Abseli to the memory of his parents, Abbâ and Ahatbû, in the fourth year of Xerxes, 481 B.C.[2] They had evidently adopted the religion of Osiris, and were buried at Saqqârah in accordance with the Egyptian rites. The upper scene engraved upon the stele represents Abbâ and his wife in the presence of Osiris, who is attended by Isis and Nephthys; and in the lower panel is the funeral scene, in which all the mourners with one exception are Asiatics. Certain details of the rites that are represented, and mistakes in the hieroglyphic version of the text, prove that the work is Aramaean throughout.[3]

[1] It may be admitted that the Greek platonized cult of Isis and Osiris had its origin in the fusion of Greeks and Egyptians which took place in Ptolemaic times (cf. Scott-Moncrieff, /Paganism and Christianity in Egypt/, p. 33 f.). But we may assume that already in the Persian period the Osiris cult had begun to acquire a tinge of mysticism, which, though it did not affect the mechanical reproduction of the native texts, appealed to the Oriental mind as well as to certain elements in Greek religion. Persian influence probably prepared the way for the Platonic exegesis of the Osiris and Isis legends which we find in Plutarch; and the latter may have been in great measure a development, and not, as is often assumed, a complete misunderstanding of the later Egyptian cult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] /Sendschirli/, IV (1911), pl. lxvii. Attitude and treatment of robes are both Assyrian, and so is the arrangement of divine symbols in the upper field, though some of the latter are given under unfamiliar forms. The king’s close-fitting peaked cap was evidently the royal headdress of Sam’al; see the royal figure on a smaller stele of inferior design, op. cit., pl. lxvi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] See Hilprecht, /Explorations in Bible Lands/, pp. 289 ff., 540 ff.; and Fisher, /Excavations at Nippur/, Pt. I (1905), Pt. II (1906).

[2] Ezek. iii. 15.

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

[4] See J. A. Montgomery, /Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur/, 1913

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] Foucart, loc. cit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[2] No. 4.

[3] No. 2.

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

Further proof of this correspondence may be seen in the fact that the new Sumerian Version of the Deluge Story, which I propose to discuss in the second lecture, gives us a connected account of the world’s history down to that point. The Deluge hero is there a Sumerian king named Ziusudu, ruling in one of the newly created cities of Babylonia and ministering at the shrine of his city-god. He is continually given the royal title, and the foundation of the Babylonian “kingdom” is treated as an essential part of Creation. We may therefore assume that an Antediluvian period existed in Sumerian tradition as in Berossus.[1] And I think Dr. Poebel is right in assuming that the Nippur copies of the Dynastic List begin with the Post-diluvian period.[2]

[1] Of course it does not necessarily follow that the figure assigned to the duration of the Antediluvian or mythical period by the Sumerians would show so close a resemblance to that of Berossus as we have already noted in their estimates of the dynastic or historical period. But there is no need to assume that Berossus’ huge total of a hundred and twenty “sars” (432,000 years) is entirely a product of Neo-Babylonian speculation; the total 432,000 is explained as representing ten months of a cosmic year, each month consisting of twelve “sars”, i.e. 12 x 3600 = 43,200 years. The Sumerians themselves had no difficulty in picturing two of their dynastic rulers as each reigning for two “ners” (1,200 years), and it would not be unlikely that “sars” were distributed among still earlier rulers; the numbers were easily written. For the unequal distribution of his hundred and twenty “sars” by Berossus among his ten Antediluvian kings, see Appendix II.

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

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

{Daonos poimon} = Etana, a shepherd.

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

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

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

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

{‘Ammenon} = Enmenunna.

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

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

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

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

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

[3] See further Appendix II.

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

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

[1] Possibly 625 years.

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

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

[1] The verb may also imply descent into.

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

[3] i.e. Tammuz.

[4] i.e. Gilgamesh.

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

[6] Possibly 186 years.

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

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

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

[2] Gen. xiv. 18.

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

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

[1] Poebel, /Hist. Inscr./, p. 128.

[2] See further, Appendix II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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