Ruins of the Bahrain Fort and what may be the location of the old capital of the Dilmun civilization.

The Dilmun Civilization: An Important Location for Ancient Mythology and Trade

(Read the article on one page)

Dilmun (Telmun) was a civilization located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Although this was quite an old civilization, it is much less famous than the four cradles of civilization of the Old World, i.e. Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization, and the Yellow River Civilization.

Location of the Dilmun Civilization

Unlike these four ancient civilizations, which developed around river valleys, the Dilmun civilization was located on the island which is today the country of Bahrain. Due to its strategic position in the Gulf, the Dilmun civilization was able to develop as a trade center, and was in contact with two of the four cradles of civilization, namely Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization.

Location of Dilmun burial mounds in Bahrain.

Location of Dilmun burial mounds in Bahrain. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Dilmun’s Mythological Role as the Home of Ut-napishtim

Dilmun occupies an important place in the mythology of Mesopotamia. In the second half of the Epic of Gilgamesh (commonly regarded as the first great work of literature), the eponymous hero, Gilgamesh, sets out in search of the secret of immortality following the death of his good friend, Enkidu.

In order to do so, Gilgamesh has to seek out Ut-napishtim, the only man who attained eternal life. Gilgamesh is told that he has to cross the sea to reach this immortal, as Ut-napishtim was sent to “dwell far off, at the mouth of the rivers.”

Artists rendition of Gilgamesh and Ut-napishtim.

Artists rendition of Gilgamesh and Ut-napishtim. ( Filipe Ferreira/Flickr )

Gilgamesh is also informed that no one, with the exception of Shamash (the Sun), has accomplished this feat before:

There has never been a ferry of any kind, Gilgamesh,
And nobody from time immemorial has crossed the sea.
Shamash the warrior is the only one who has
crossed the sea: apart from Shamash, nobody
has crossed the sea.
The crossing is difficult, the way of it very
difficult,
And in between are lethal waters which bar the
way ahead.

Although the name of Ut-napishtim’s residence is not mentioned specifically, it is popularly speculated to be Dilmun.

Dilmun in the Myth of Enki and Ninhursag

Apart from the Epic of Gilgamesh , Dilmun is also mentioned in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag / Ninhursaja. In this story, Dilmun is presented as a sort of earthly paradise:

Image of the Sumerian god Enki.

Image of the Sumerian god Enki. ( Public Domain )

Pure are the cities -- and you are the ones to whom they are allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Sumer -- and you are the ones to whom it is allotted. Pure is Dilmun land. Pure is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Virginal is Dilmun land. Pristine is Dilmun land….
In Dilmun the raven was not yet cawing, the partridge not cackling. The lion did not slay, the wolf was not carrying off lambs, the dog had not been taught to make kids curl up, the pig had not learned that grain was to be eaten.
When a widow has spread malt on the roof, the birds did not yet eat that malt up there. The pigeon then did not tuck the head under its wing.
No eye-diseases said there: "I am the eye disease." No headache said there: "I am the headache." No old woman belonging to it said there: "I am an old woman." No old man belonging to it said there: "I am an old man." No maiden in her unwashed state ...... in the city. No man dredging a river said there: "It is getting dark." No herald made the rounds in his border district.
No singer sang an elulam there. No wailings were wailed in the city's outskirts there.”

More than a Mythological Place: Dilmun as a Site for Trade

Yet, Dilmun was not merely a mythological place. The existence of Dilmun can be found in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform records.

One of the earliest known inscriptions mentioning Dilmun speaks of the tribute that they brought to Ur-Nanshe, the first king of the first dynasty of Lagash: “The ships of Dilmun from foreign lands, brought him (Ur-Nanshe) wood as a tribute (?).”

Another inscription from the reign of Sargon the Great boasts of Dilmun’s ships being anchored at Agade, “… the ships from Dilmun, he made tie up alongside the quay of Agade.” It was the ships of Dilmun, perhaps, that made long-distance trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley possible.

It has been noted that a number of Indus Valley seals have been discovered in several Mesopotamian sites, whilst ‘Persian Gulf’ circular seals (known from Dilmun) have been found in both the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. This has been taken as evidence that trade occurred between the three civilizations.

Comments

I think 'dilmun' and 'tilmun' are variations of 'damilam' or 'tamilam'- the dravidian word for dravidan. Meluha, the Indus Valley Civilization was a dravidan civilization. (So was Elam). Whatever be its location the Dilmun civilization was either a parallel existing one with the Indus Valley civilization or a forerunner of it. Both seem to be dravidan.

Dolmen is named after the Bulgarian word Dolmen / Dal Man. Dalman means To Men Given. Dolmen are considered a Godly gift to men as they are transferring geomagnetic energy to human beings. They are especially appreciated and used in steppes and deserts.Ancient Bulgarians after spreading around the globe took with themselves their secret knowledge and wisdom. They built pyramids, mounds called dolmen and menaheers to replace the Balkan meaning mountains of today Bulgaria, which used to be such a source of geomagnetism. Utnapishtim is a Bulgarian name as well and means Out of Calamity as Utnapishtim survived the flood Calamity.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

A Malakulan spider web mask.
Spider webs are sticky, somewhat creepy, and generally not something you like to see in your house. But they are also intricate and beautiful when the right light hits them. Even more intriguing than the process and formation of a spider web is when the silk from said web is used for alternative purposes.

Myths & Legends

King Haraldr hárfagri receives the kingdom out of his father's hands. From the 14th century Icelandic manuscript Flateyjarbók.
Myths and legends – purely the creation of creative and imaginative minds, right? Not necessarily. Numerous stories, sagas, and texts from the ancient past have been proven to hold facts. For example, a 2013 study validates an intriguing idea presented in the Icelander Sagas - Vikings were probably less brutal than many people assume.

Opinion

The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article