This Ancient Sumerian Tablet is the Oldest Description of the Great Flood

It predates the Bible's Version of the Great Flood by thousands of years.

Did you know that the story of the Great Flood appeared thousands of years before it was written down in the bible?

Travel back in history with us as we reveal the exact origin of the Biblical Great Flood.

History tells us that Eridu, modern-day Anbu Shahrein in Iraq, is where the ‘Gods’ created the first city on Earth.

The city was supposedly ruled by Sumerian God Enki, around 5,400 BC.

To understand more about the story, we look to the  Sumerian King List, an ancient stone tablet originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer (ancient southern Iraq) from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of the kingship.

Kingship was seen as handed down by the gods and could be transferred from one city to another, reflecting perceived hegemony in the region.

Eridu was the home city of the first rulers or first kings. The Sumerian King List states that, “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridu.”

Tracing the story of the Great Flood

Image Credit: melodysheep / Youtube.
Image Credit: melodysheep / Youtube.

The very first mention of the great deluge can be traced back to the Eridu Genesis.

The Eridu Genesis or the Sumerian Creation Myth was found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in the ancient city of Nippur.

It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC.

Even though the beginning of the story is lost as the tablet is fragmented, it describes how the gods An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursanga created the Sumerians and comfortable conditions for the animals to live and procreate.

This followed by kingship descending from heaven and the foundation of the very first cities on Earth: Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larak, Sippar, and Shuruppak.

After a missing part in the tablet, we find that the gods have decided not to save humankind from an impending global flood.

Zi-ud-sura, the king and gudug priest, find out about the will of the gods.

In the later Akkadian version recorded in the Atra-Hasis Epic, Ea, or Enki in Sumerian, the god of the waters, warns the hero (Atrahasis in this case) and gives him instructions for building an ark.

This is missing in the Sumerian fragment, but a mention of Enki taking counsel with himself suggests that this is Enki’s role in the Sumerian version as well.

The tablet resumes by describing the massive flood: A terrible storm raged for seven days and nights.

“The huge boat had been tossed about on the great waters…”

Here’s the translated story of the flood, as found on the Nippur tablet:

After Anu, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag had fashioned the black-headed people, Vegetation sprang from the Earth, Animals, four-legged creatures of the plain, Were brought artfully into existence [37 lines are unreadable]

After the….of kingship had been lowered from heaven After the exalted crown and the throne of kingship Had been lowered from heaven, He perfected the rites and exalted the divine ordinances… He founded the five cities in pure places,… Then did Nintu weep like a…. The pure Inanna set up a lament for its people; Enki took council with himself, Anu, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag…. The gods of heaven and Earth uttered the name of Anu and Enlil Then did Ziusudra, the king, the priest of…, Build, a giant…; Humbly obedient, reverently he… Attending daily, constantly he…, Bringing forth all kinds of dreams, he…, Uttering the name of heaven and Earth, he…[…] the gods a wall…, Ziusudra, standing at its side, listened. “Stand by the wall at my left side…, By the wall I will say a word to you, Take my word, Give ear to my instructions: By our…a flood will sweep over the cult- enters; To destroy the seed of mankind…, Is the decision, the word of the assembly of the gods. By the word commanded by Anu and Enlil…, Its kingship, its rule will be put to an end.

[about 40 lines missing] All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, Attacked as one, At the same time, the flood sweeps over the cult-centers. After, for seven days, the flood sweeps over the cult centers. After, for seven days and seven nights, The flood had swept over the land, And the huge boat had been tossed About by the windstorms on the great waters, Utu came forth, who sheds light on heaven and Earth, Ziusudra opened a window of the huge boat, The hero Utu brought his rays into the giant boat. Ziusudra, the king, Prostrated himself before Utu.

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