The origins of human beings according to ancient Sumerian texts

The origins of human beings according to ancient Sumerian texts

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Sumer, or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and writing, architecture and arts, astronomy and mathematics. Their religious system was a complex one comprised of hundreds of gods, rites and cosmology. According to the ancient texts, each Sumerian city was guarded by its own god; and while humans and gods used to live together, the humans were servants to the gods.

The Sumerian creation myth can be found on a tablet in Nippur, an ancient Mesopotamian city founded in approximately 5000 BC.

The creation of Earth (Enuma Elish) according to the Sumerian tablets begins like this:

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being...

It is interesting here to note that no one god is responsible for creation, as even gods are themselves part of the creation.

Sumerian mythology claims that, in the beginning, human-like beings of extra-terrestrial origin ruled over Earth. Those beings, or gods, could travel through the sky in either round or rocket shaped vehicles. These beings toiled Earth’s soil, digging to make it habitable and mining its minerals.

The texts mention that at some point the gods mutinied against their labour.

When the gods like men
Bore the work and suffered the toll
The toil of the gods was great,
The work was heavy, the distress was much.

Anu, the god of gods, agreed that their labour was too great. His son Enki, or Ea, proposed to create man to bear the labour, and so, with the help of his half-sister Ninki, he did. A god was put to death, and his body and blood was mixed with clay. From that material the first human being was created, in likeness to the gods.

You have slaughtered a god together
With his personality
I have removed your heavy work
I have imposed your toil on man.

In the clay god and Man
Shall be bound,
To a unity brought together;
So that to the end of days
The Flesh and the Soul
Which in a god have ripened –
That soul in a blood-kinship be bound.

It is interesting here to note that the spirit is connected to the body, as is the case in many other religions and myths.

This first man was created in Eden, a Sumerian word which means ‘flat terrain’. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Eden is mentioned as the garden of the gods and is located somewhere in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Initially human beings were unable to reproduce on their own, but were later modified with the help of Enki and Ninki. Thus Adapa is created as a fully functional and independent human being. This ‘modification’ was done without the approval of Enki’s brother, Enlil, and a conflict between the gods begins. Enlil becomes the adversary of man, and the Sumerian tablet mentions that men served gods and went through much hardship and suffering.

Although not the exact creation story involving two trees in Eden, Adapa, with the help of Enki, ascends to Anu where he fails to answer a question about ‘the bread and water of life’. Opinions vary on the similarities between these two creation stories, but one thing remains clear: immortality is meant for gods, not for men.

Note: Ancient Sumerian translations were taken from William Bramley’s book, The Gods of Eden.

By John Black

Related Links

Adam and Adapa: Two Anthropological characters

Sumerian creation myth

Enuma Elish - The Epic of Creation

Sumerian Myths of Origins

Sumerian Deities

Related Books

     

Comments

Interesting that the plural is used in the Genesis account: "See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil". (3:22)

yes it is verrry interesting

Maybe this is one reason for the later creation of the idea that Jesus and the god of the Bible co-existed from the beginning of time--to find a way of explaining the plural reference in the old texts? Or maybe it's a reference to the angels that the Bible describes.

Surely confirmation of the divine trinity.

The only way to correctly understand the Bible is to not only read it but to understand that it doesn't stand alone. It is not a revelation. It is a compilation of earlier texts and enormous imagination.

The reason for the use of the plural in that part of the text has nothing to do with 'Jesus and God' existing together or any reference to angels (I'm answering the other people below). It has everything to do with the fact that Genesis is NOT AN ORIGINAL TEXT. It was purloined into Judaism centuries after the Babylonian culture existed. It perfectly fit into pre-Jewish culture which was POLYTHEISTIC.

Yep, I agree, though I don't completely rule out a more subtle reading (especially the heavenly court idea, echoes of which can be found in other parts of the Hebrew Bible). But it still makes me wonder why, despite the extensive revising and editing through the centuries to get to its current form, nearly always pushing a strongly monotheistic agenda, it says "us". I somehow doubt all the scribes and priests just didn't notice the glaring pantheonism reference.

Quote:" Sumerian mythology claims that, in the beginning, human-like beings of extra-terrestrial origin ruled over Earth. Those beings, or gods, could travel through the sky in either round or rocket shaped vehicles. These beings toiled Earth’s soil, digging to make it habitable and mining its minerals".

AD: "This "digging and toiling the Earth´s soil" rather than "dealing with the Earth", means "making the first firm soil" out from the basical elements, since the Earth wasn´t the first to be created in the Stories of Creations.

I don´t know about "could travel through the sky in either round or rocket shaped vehicles" as such, but I do know that "deities" "travels" around in the Sky which the below description and explanation clearly says:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibiru_%28Babylonian_astronomy%29
“Nibiru, which is said to have occupied the passageways of heaven and earth, because everyone above and below asks Nibiru if they cannot find the passage.

Nibiru is Marduk's star, which the gods in heaven caused to be visible. Nibiru stands as a post at the turning point. The others say of Nibiru the post: "The one who crosses the middle of the sea (Tiamat) without calm, may his name be Nibiru, for he takes up the center of it". The path of the stars of the sky should be kept unchanged”, unquote.

Explanation:
Nibiru represents the celestial pole and the observable and circumpolar stars and constellations = “Nibiru stands as a post at the turning point” = the celestial pole, for “he takes up the center of it”. This cosmogonical/cosmological fact cannot be told much clearer.

(Unfortunately, the Wikipedia author unreflected copy older misunderstandings of the mythical concept of the middle “Primordial Waters in the heavens-sea” with the mythical Sea/underworld Goddess, Tiamat that is a very common misunderstanding because authors and scholars haven´t the slightest clue of the Milky Way Mythology).

Having explained Nibiru as Marduk´s celestial pole star on the northern hemisphere, the description above in # 6 logically fits into the overall picture: Because of the Earth rotation, the Milky Way Great God figure, Marduk in this case, seemingly revolves around the celestial pole star, Nibiru” and thus “guarding the celestial post” as mentioned here:

“As the highest point in the paths of the planets, Nibiru was considered the seat of the summus deus (The supreme or highest good,) who pastures the stars like sheep, in Babylon identified with Marduk”.

Conclusion: On the Earth hemispheres, the Milky Way contours represent the prime "god" and goddess" travels around the celestial poles on both their hemispheres, the Great God on the northern and the Great Goddess on the southern hemisphere  and both are directly connected to the Stories of Creation from all over the world.

Could you explain some more about the primordial waters/Tiamat in relation to this, and are there any books/sites about it that you would recommend?

My reading of the Wikipedia translation was that it was describing the pole star (Nibiru)'s use in navigation, even, or maybe especially during rough seas (when you'd be more likely to lose your way)...

try reading or wathing a video of loyd pye his video is everything you know is wrong its quite lenghty some ware around in the middle of it he explains pretty well i think you might be pleased

 

Please don't put your complete trust in Wikipedia! Read Zecharia Sitchin's, Earth Chronicles, beginning with Book 1 - The 12th Planet. Mr Sitchin's ground-breaking academic work which began prior to 1974 will explain everything for you.

I do trust wikipedia more than Zecharia Sitchin who obviously has no ideas of how to interpret the myths of creation and that´s because he doesn´t include the Milky Way Mythology and the general ancient knowledge of astronomy and cosmology.

Obviously, we are not reading the same books!

Well, I certainly don´t vast my money on authors who don´t understand the myths they are handling in their books.
Do you then also believe in the “Ancient Aliens” series, which takes myths literary instead of cosmological symbols and astronomical descriptions?

Sitchin definitely understands the truth behind the so-called 'myths' as well as all the ancient cosmology. Your local library should have a copy for you to read for free. If not, then ask them to order in. There are six books in The Earth Chronicles, plus several other titles that he has written. The book, Genesis Revisited, is an excellent 'summary' of the Chronicles and looks at how modern science is just catching up with ancient knowledge.

Sitchin´s perception is a mix up of Immanuel Veikovski´s "Worlds in Collision" and "Ancient Aliens" and it cannot be much otherwise since he also excludes the primeval deities and their connections to the Milky Way Mythology.

Velikovski also is confusing the Stories of Creation and it´s prime deities as being planets. The deification of planets was the result of the Roman adopting Christianity as the Empire Religion in 313 AD, just accepting one invisble god.

Here all the names of the original prime Milky Way deities of creation became surpressed to be planetary deities, where the 5 known planets otherwise just was mentioned as "wandering stars".

I just have skimmed Sitchins "Genesis Revisited" here:

http://www.worldpublicunion.org/ebooks/sitchin%20-%20genesis%20revisited...

Just like Immanuel Velikovski, he´s just talking of planets as with many other authors in this speculative genre. And just like the folks in "Ancient Aliens", he also have no factual clues of what the ancient tellings of genesis is all about.

The Annunaki was the "ones who came from the Sky", it is interpreted. This is a misinterpretation of the still observable prime Milky Way deities, who still is hanging on the night Sky. Link: http://www.native-science.net/Forefather.Worship.htm

Talking just of planets only in a creation story which deals with at telling when nothing was created and where the solar System is not the first to be created and when still taking the tellings of the planets to be more supreme than the creation which came before, is really non sencical.

The cuneiform specialist, Michael S. Heiser, discuss the whole matter here:
http://www.michaelsheiser.com/nibiru.pdf

You will note that he also are having troubles in differ between Jupiter as a prime Milky Way deity instead of the Roman deification of planets. His Babylonian Marduk does not equal the planet Jupiter, but the prime Milky Way god Jupiter i.e. the mythical Marduk and Jupiter represent the same Milky Way figure on the northern hemisphere where they revolves around the north pole area, "Nibiru" in the Babylonian mythology/astronomy. Link: http://www.native-science.net/MilkyWay.GreatestGod.htm

Thankfully, we are all entitled to our own opinions. I 'skimmed' your scholar's phd thesis just as you say you 'skimmed' Sitchin's book and I was left with the same old dry translations of the VERY limited clay tablets left to us. Mainstream archaeology (and related disciplines) mainly deals in fact and face-value. Consequently, it is left for others to interpret what the ancients might have wanted to tell us from using the very meagre and broken sources (so many clay tablets were destroyed before their value was realised). Some museums and repositories will not even allow individuals to study them fully - as if they OWNED our past. Mainstream scholars are prone to jealously guard their work as being the only one's with any relevance, so the fact that Sheiser even acknowledged Sitchin's work was surprising to me. Sitchin (b.1920) was no doubt one of the few reading cuneiform before even Sheiser was born! The theorist whose interpretations we subscribe to (and resonate with) is up to the individual and it is no use arguing on these pages who is right or who is wrong - as is the case with all beliefs and religions - but I do appreciate your suggested links for further reading. (over and out.)

johnblack's picture

Excellent comment Marley. Whenever someone ignores information for whatever reason, they are not true researchers. Ignorance, fanaticism and arrogance are the plagues of our society.

Marley, you wrote:

" . . . so the fact that Sheiser even acknowledged Sitchin's work was surprising to me".

What???

How can you twist Michael S. Heiser´s comments to be a support for Sitchins ideas???

Heiser´s conclusion in the PDF file - http://www.michaelsheiser.com/nibiru.pdf - othwerwise states that:

"Hopefully the reader is getting a hint of two things: (1) That Sitchin’s teachings are
false; (2) that there seems to be warrant for the single scholarly article I referenced in the introduction that postulated Nibiru might be the pole star which has changed position in the sky. Unfortunately, I do not know much about astronomy so I cannot evaluate this".

You further wrote:
"The theorist whose interpretations we subscribe to (and resonate with) is up to the individual and it is no use arguing on these pages who is right or who is wrong - as is the case with all beliefs and religions"

This is excatly what is wrong. Individual interpretations of collective mytho-cosmlogical facts shall of course come up with explanations which is obvious for all and which can be scentifically supported.

"Sitchins 12.th planet Nibiru" cannot and of course not be scientifically supported - but it can be mytho-cosmologically supported as having connections to the celestial pole and pole star - if knowing how to interpret the mythical symbols and meanings correctly.

Something that Sitchin and the Ancient Astronaut-society obviosly cannot.

Seeing it is the oldest known written language to be discovered by human kind we can only speculate what the tablets and scrolls say. So it would be very ignorant for any human no matter how smart they are to assume that any one answer is correct. Just remember the game that you played in elementary school when where a child . Sitting a circle, a child would whisper a saying or word in a classmates ear like " a bee makes honey from flowers" by the time it gets around the circle of twelve kids it is completely something different . So remember we are still very young children on a very large sphere.

Do not read Sitchin at all. His translations are incorrect. He was not a scholar of the ancient languages and it appears in some cases he made things up. I don't know why anyone would read Sitchin these days. He has been debunked by many. When he was first writing people didn't have the access to information readily like they do now. The Sumerians wrote dictionaries that are now translated first into German and now into English. You can find them on the net. Go read Michael Heiser. He has the scholarship. Wikipedia is as accurate as they can get. Don't chalk them off whether the theories are older or not.

Michael Heiser received an MA in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA and PhD in the Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (with a minor in Classical studies). Heiser received his undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University and also attended Bible college for three years.

Heiser has studied Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Phoenician, the Aramaic, the Syriac, Moabite, the Ugaritic cuneiform, the Ancient Hebrew, Alexandrian Greek, the Aramaic, Akkadian and Sumerian and Second Temple Jewish monotheism. Heiser has taught college since 1992 and is the Academic Editor for Logos Bible Software.

Heiser cites where his ideas are from and usually gives you a link or tells you where to look. Sitchin is not known for that and would not debate with Heiser before he died.

@Veronica Daze,
I´ll second your reply very much!
Heiser himself admit his astronomical knowledge isn´t that good, and still he interpret and translate specific astronomical facts from the written ancient and mythical texts.
Except from the fact that ancient people also sensed via their spiritual and intuitive skills, much of the ancient myths speaks of very natural phenomenae on and above the Earth which still is observable for us today.
Most of the ancient knowledge is just a simple question of observing the celestial Sky on clear nights and compare the motions with the ancient Myths of Creation. The celestial pole (Nibiru) is obvious; star constellations is named as both humans and animals which is intertwined in the myths and especially the crescent contours of the MIlky Way plays a great part in the numerous cultural creations stories all over the world.
Scholars who just have their noses in books and never observe this concrete scenario, cannot interpret and connect the ancient myths and cosmology correctly. Sitchin and the followers of Immanuel Velikovski´s catastrophic ideas of "World in Collision". obviously never have observed and studied the natural skies.
They all confuse the primeval Milky Way deities as "planetary deities" and the Ancient Astronaut society all interpret the allegorical prime creational deities as real beings "coming down from the Sky" instead of readig these stories correctly as telling of "how everything came to be" i.e. cosmologically how the creation took place in our Milky Way from which center our Solar System is formed.

Read more here:

The Mythical Milky Way Contours - https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B_ze4R9xrRgzcVpmdkRBUzZrU0k

The Mythical Creation - https://drive.google.com/#folders/0B_ze4R9xrRgzT3dPeHRjRHZOVUk

My personal Mytho-Cosmological site: http://www.native-science.net/index.html

The ancient Egyptians also drew a parallel between the Milky Way and the Nile, didn't they?

Yes, they did; the ~100 pyramids dotting the landscape along the Nile are a perfect representation of the Milky Way Galaxy (the Nile), and various stars/constellations.
The layout is concise, and cannot be attributed to mere coincidence.

Check out the pyramid star maps shown here --> [ http://thehiddenrecords.com/egypt ], by Wayne Herschel.
His work reveals the significance of the Pleaides constellation to the ancients, and how it bears more profound meaning than even the Orion constellation depicted so often by ancient man.

Yes, they did; the ~100 pyramids dotting the landscape along the Nile are a perfect representation of the Milky Way Galaxy (the Nile), and various stars/constellations.
The layout is concise, and cannot be attributed to mere coincidence.

Check out the pyramid star maps shown here --> [ http://thehiddenrecords.com/egypt ], by Wayne Herschel.
His work reveals the significance of the Pleaides constellation to the ancients, and how it bears more profound meaning than even the Orion constellation depicted so often by ancient man.

In the night sky especially over the Egyptian desert, looking at the thickest band of stars, the disk of the Milky way, is often described in ancient texts as the Celestial Nile, and a number of the oldest pyramids appear to be laid out on the ground in the same pattern as those in the sky, additionally with other more complicated sidereal alignments.

Hello,

Someone should check out the comment box formation which is really annoying and messy.

ancient-origins's picture

Hi Native. What do you mean? Can you send us a screenshot?

Xenophon.

You asked/wrote:

1) Could you explain some more about the primordial waters/Tiamat in relation to this, and are there any books/sites about it that you would recommend?

2) My reading of the Wikipedia translation was that it was describing the pole star (Nibiru)'s use in navigation, even, or maybe especially during rough seas (when you'd be more likely to lose your way)...

AD 1: From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiamat: "Tiamat, the saltwater sea, "she who bore them all"; they were "mixing their waters" - "She who bore them all" refers in my opinion not to the "saltwater sea" or the "primeval waters" but to the term of the Milky Way River Goddess from where everything in our glaxy is created and in this connection I can´t find any books, but I can recommend you to read here: http://www.native-science.net/MilkyWay.MotherGoddess.htm

AD 2: If carefully reading my text above you´ll see that we agree, just with the difference that I´m talking of the cosmological/cosmogonical meaning of the myth and as such a "creational chart" -  (And of course the starry night also later on is used to navigate the oceans on the Earth. So, this telling is both a part of the story of creation and (later) a navigational system.

Thanks! Reading your site now: not entirely convinced that all ancient cultures knew there were two hemispheres, and associated them with the Great God and Goddess respectively (my intuition tells me that seeing a single theory underlying all ancient cosmologies may be like building a house of cards; there's something there, but in my view it's often more fragmented, and the connections between them are often very difficult to discern), but I'm finding the inspiration theory (especially without mention of ancient astronauts!) particularly refreshing (the assumption that inspiration is impossible by academics who aren't interested in mysticism, leads them to construct circular theories that inevitably point away from the phenomenon, which makes them, and educated society as a whole, conclude that the evidence goes against it).

About knowing of the 2 hemispheres, all people can come to this suggestion/imagination/conclusion just by watching the Sun and stars rise and set, going up in "The Upper-world" and down in "The Under-world".
Since we all live on the same Earth, the same Solar System, the same galaxy in the same part of the Universe which all gives us the same informations, I don´t think this is "a card of house" but a very logical origin for the very similar Stories of Creations from all over the world.
Unfortunately these mutual mytho-cosmological informations are taken very literary and technological interpreted by the "Ancient Aliens Society" but one can get a lots "reversed" informations from the series and use the informations in ones own perspective.

ancient-origins's picture

Very interesting Xenophon!
Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford World's Classics) by Stephanie Dalley is a good book to read.

Cheers for the recommendation, and thanks for the site in general!

The text formation in the comment box squeezes all text together regardingless of new paragraphs.

 

ancient-origins's picture

Thank you Native. Apparently it is a bug only for registered users. We are working to fix it!

I found this read very interesting. I also found very interesting is their creating of man myth.

A god was put to death, and his body and blood was mixed with clay. From that material the first human being was created, in likeness to the gods. - See more at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/origins-human-bein...

"A god was put to death, and his body and blood were mixed with clay. From that material the first human beings were created in likeness to the gods...."

the similarity to the creation story in the bible is quite noticeable....a handful of clay for Adam(......Adapa) and created in likeness to the gods, the same way Adam (man) was created in the image of god...

I find that Eden being  part of the Sumerian mythology of Gilgamesh another interesting point, since Eden was only in the bible and part of the Catholic/Christian mythos

It makes you wonder where Catholic/Christian mythos formed their ideals for their system of beliefs

Hespar

 

I’m sorry. I cannot figure out a connection over here. Theoretically this seems possible. However, there are so many limitations while we consider practically. I do appreciate your efforts. It was interesting to know about the different approaches. http://www.microsoftproblems.com Thank you.

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