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Epics of Sumerian Kings: The Matter of Aratta


Epics of Sumerian Kings presents for the first time both the authoritative Sumerian text and an elegant English translation of four key epics from the Sumerian literary canon. These epics, the earliest known in any language, revolve around the conflict between the cities of Uruk (biblical Erech) in ancient Iraq and Aratta in neighboring Iran. Of special interest is “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta,” which contains the story of the confounding of human language, often cited as a source of the biblical tower of Babel narrative, as well as the Sumerians’ own account of the invention of cuneiform writing. In addition to providing English translations of the epics, Vanstiphout discusses their intellectual and cultural context, their poetics and meaning, and the significance of the epic cycle as a whole. The volume will interest scholars and students of Assyriology and the ancient Near East, biblical scholars, and general readers and will be a valuable text for courses on ancient Near Eastern literature or history.