The earliest record of the Sumerian creation myth and flood myth – the “Eridu Genesis” – (1600 B.C.-1500 B.C.  – corrected 2150 B.C. – Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 1995):

The earliest record of the Sumerian “creation myth” and “flood myth” is found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in Nippur, sometimes called the Eridu GenesisIt is written in the Sumerian language and datable by its script to the 17th century B.C.  (1700-1600 B.C.) during the first Babylonian dynasty, where the language of writing and administration was still Sumerian.

the Sumerian gods:

An (sky god), Utu (sun god),

Enlil(chief of the gods who gives eternal life),

Enki or Ea (god of the waters),  and Ninhursanga

and the first cities founded:

Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppa

Ziudsura (Sumerian Noah) – Hero Atrahasis who built an ark:

When Ziudsura (Sumerian Noah) was the king, Ea, or Enki, the god of the waters warns the hero Atrahasis and gives him (Atrahasis) instructions for the building of an ark

Seven days and seven nights

Utu the Sun god

after the flood is over  Ziudsura (Sumerian Noah) sacrifices oxen and sheep and prostrates himself before An (sky-god) and Enlil (chief of the gods) who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun

Ziusuda and Xisuthros – Berossus

Xisuthros is included in Berossus’ king list:  this text diverges from all other extant king lists by listing the city of Shurruppak and as a king,  including Ziusudra as (as king of the city ofShurruppak),  Ashuruppak’s successor.


H. V. F. Winstone in “Uncovering the Ancient World” (Facts On File Publications:  New York, Oxford, England), 1985, 1986, indicated:

“In 275 BC. Berossus, a priest of the temple of Marduk, or Baal, in Babylon, wrote a history of his country in the Greek language.  In it he told the story of the Babylonian Flood.  He had drawn his detail and characterization from the much earlier texts of Sumer and Akkad, which would certainly have been at his disposal in the great libraries of Babylon.  His book “Babylonians” (or “Chaldeans”), related the history of Babylonia from “the creation of the world to Alexander’s ‘liberation.’ “  The three volumes of Berossus’ history were lost, along with most of the tracts of the ancient world (emphasis added), and it became known to the West only at second hand through Polyhistor, Eusebius, Josephus and others (emphasis added).  A little more than two millennia after it was written, George Smith, while working on the Ninevite tablets from the library of Ashurbanipal, found himself reading a narrative of the Deluge (Flood) in the Assyrian cuneiform.  He promptly set down on the table the fragmentary inscription he had been reading with the aid of a magnifying glass, jumped up, rushed around the room, and began to undress himself.  (Note:  possibly throwing his hat or jacket in the air?).  His colleagues, unaccustomed to such behavior, were astonished, though it was generally agreed that Smith was an odd fellow.  He read a paper on his findings to the Society of Biblical Archeology in December 1872.  He told of catching sight of a reference to a ship, resting on the mountain of Nisir, followed by the sending forth of a dove.  It was a partial story contained in half of a ‘curious’ tablet portion of a Chaldean account of the Deluge re-copied by an Assyrian scribe.  His audience, which included leading lights of biblical and lay scholarship, was aghast.  Such meetings were invariably reported in the national press and Smith’s recital of a story which clearly reflected, if it did not anticipate, the legend of Noah and the Ark, created a sensation.  The proprietor of the Daily Telegraph, Sir Edwin Arnold, stepped in and offered one thousand guineas to the Trustees of the British Museum to allow Smith to go to Nineveh to seek the rest of the story.  In January 1873, Smith set out to trace the missing part of the Babylonian legend.  By May of the same year he had found it among the debris of Ashurbanipal’s library, which was much as Rassam had left it twenty year before.  At the same time, he found other fragmentary tablets which recorded some of the most important of the Babylonian dynasties and their duration.   He returned to England to complete the translation of what proved to be part of the primary literary masterpiece, the Sumero[Akkadian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” making up the chief part of the XIth tablet of the epic.  Gilgamesh hears the story frm the mouth of its hero, Ut[napishtim, ‘I have found life’ and the ‘Exceedingly Wise.  The Hellenistic version of the same tradition, derived from Berossus’ history, is called “Xisuthros.”   The hero of the flood in the oldest Sumerian version, which remained to be found, turned out to be Zi-u-sudra, ‘Life of long days.”  Xisuthros was simply a graecized form of the Sumerian.  Smith went back to Nineveh in 1874.  The Daily Telegraph had done the story to death and saw no purpose in prolonging the exercise, but the Museum this time provided the funds for further searches.  By now, Smith ha begun to put together an even more prodigal saga from the tablets of Assyria and Babylonia, “The Creation, or The Chaldaean Account of Genesis.”  His work at Kuyunjik was described in his “Assyrian Discoveries,” published in 1875.  In the following year the British Museum sent him out to complete the recovery of Ashurbanipal’s library.  He contracted fever at the village of Iksit during his last excavation of Nineveh, and died in Aleppo on 19 August 1876, at the age of 36.  His fame was assured by “the legends of Gilgamesh” and the Creation, “ and the nation raised a fund for his widow and children. … The epic the Babylonians called ‘He Who Saw Everything’ contained a stanza of the seventh day which Smith might have thought a more suitable epitaph than the one erected to his memory at his grave in Aleppo by the Trustees of the British Museum, ‘in recognition of his merit and great services’:  Ut[napishtim waited to let the birds out of the ark, to reconnoiter the ground around the mountain Nisir (Pir-i-Mukurun of the present day), whose summit looked down on the Tigris from 8,600 feet.”

Babylonian and Akkadian Flood Stories:  The Epic of Atrahasis and the Sumerian:  Epic of Gilgamesh:

The 17th century B.C. (1700 B.C. – 1600 B.C.):

The Akkadian Epic of Atrahasis – The Babylonian Flood story is copied from the Akkadian Epic of Atrahasis:

The Akkadian and Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis is related to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.

The 17th century B.C. Akkadian Epic of Atrhasis Flood Story:

In a comparison between the Babylonian hero Atrahasis and the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, the editor of the Babylonian Atrahasis utilized the flood story from the Akkadian Epic of Atrahasis [Atrahasis is the nameof the Akkadian “hero”] –

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh Utnapishtim, the Sumerian hero – the Sumerian “Noah”) tells his story to Gilgamesh ]

The Akkadian  Epic of Atrahasis is related to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.

The archaeological discovery of the Epic of Atrahasis in 1961-1964:

Alan Millard while working at the British Museum 1961-1964 rediscovered the Epic of Atrahasis which had lain unrecognized in a drawer for some time


About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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