Archive for March 13, 2014

The last of the Mesopotamian flood myths we have is that of Zuisudra. We actually know very little about it since it has only been found on fragments of a single tablet, which dates from the 17th century BCE.
Ziusudra, we are told was the King and priest of the Sumerian city of Kish c3000 BCE. Much of the epic is missing but the fragment tells of the gods deciding to send down a flood order to destroy humankind. However, the god Enki warn Ziusudra and tell him to build a large boat. The story then describes a flood which lasted for seven days and once the flood is over Ziusudra emerges from his boat to prostrate himself before the gods in thanksgiving for his salvation.

Enki and Ziusudra?
It has been suggested that this may be a picture of Ziusudra and Enki. Although the figure on the right looks very similar to pictures thought to be of Gilgamesh.
photo by Simone (http://www.flickr.com/photos/solvo/)

Analysing these 3 stories it is impossible not to question whether these are three independent accounts or whether, in fact, they are inter-related or are recording the same mythological flood There is clear evidence that this argument may indeed be true. In the first instance, the father of Attrahasis and of Ut-napishtum (in the Gilgamesh epic) is named as the same person. Secondly, the god who issues the warning is named as the same god Ea or Enki in all the epics. Thus we can ask whether or not Attrahasis and Ut-napishtum are, in fact, the same person. Have the writers of the epic of Gilgamesh taken an earlier story (the Epic of Attrahasis) and included it into their own writings? The story of Ut-napishtum is very similar, and in no way contradicts, that of Attrahasis. Interestingly this idea is supported by the fact that an early copy of the Gilgamesh epic that has been found does not include the flood story. This would suggest that the epic of Attrahasis may pre-date that of Gilgamesh. And also how does Zuisudra fit in? It may also be related to the Attrahasis epic as there is certainly little in its known content which contradicts the story found in Attrahasis or Gilgamesh.