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Sumerian Artifact with the Tree of Life. (swisshippo  / Adobe Stock)

Eden Revisited: The Sumerian Version

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Sumer, in Mesopotamia, was called ‘the land of civilized kings’. It reached its peak around 6,500 years ago when it had the distinction of being a very advanced civilization with a sophisticated written language, magnificent architecture for the time, complex mathematics, and amazing astronomy. Hundreds of gods comprised its religious system. Sumerians believed that although humans and the gods once shared the earth together, they didn't share a co-equal existence. Humans, they believed, were designed for the express purpose of serving the gods. Their chief god, Anu, commissioned his son, Enki (Ea), and his daughter Ninki (Enki's half-sister) to create humans by sacrificing a god, mixing his body and blood with clay, and forming the first human being made in the likeness of the gods.  

Enlil and Ninlil (Public Domain)

Enlil and Ninlil (Public Domain)

The Creation of Man: Adapa

According to Sumerian mythology, human-like gods called Anunna had initially come to mine resources that were needed on their home planet. Now, with the creation of a human labor force, their duties were changed. They ruled over what was, for all practical purposes, a human slave race. Their base of operations was Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates river. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's first epic poem, it was called Eden.

At first, according to the texts, humans were unable to reproduce on their own. This proved inconvenient. So, Enki and Ninki found a way to modify the new species. The result was a man called Adapa, a fully functional and independent human being. Enki had given Adapa great wisdom and the ability to understand the concept of eternal life. But Adapa's curse was that he could never attain that which he was able to conceive.

Detail of The Adda Seal. Goddess Inanna, god Utu, god Enki and chief minister Usimu. (Public Domain)

Detail of The Adda Seal. Goddess Inanna, god Utu, god Enki and chief minister Usimu. (Public Domain)

Were it not for the Amarna texts, discovered all the way over in Egypt in the archives of the Egyptian king Amenophis, we might never know about Adapa. But in 1912 his story was verified and confirmed by a unique discovery in the Library of Ashurbanipal. Five partial fragments, since translated, were revealed that told part of the story, called Adapa and the South Wind.

According to the story, Adapa had risen to the position of priest or sage. One day, while fishing in the Persian Gulf, the sea became rough and his boat capsized.


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This article is an edited excerpt from the Jim Willis’ new book, Lost Civilizations: The Secret Histories and Suppressed Technologies of the Ancients, published by Visible Ink Press available from October 2019.

Jim Willis is author of several books on religion and spirituality, he has been an ordained minister for over forty years while working part-time as a carpenter, the host of his own drive-time radio show, an arts council director and adjunct college professor in the fields of World Religions and Instrumental Music. He is author of Supernatural Gods: Spiritual Mysteries, Psychic Experiences, and Scientific Truths and Ancient Gods: Lost Histories, Hidden Truths, and the Conspiracy of Silence

Top Image: Sumerian Artifact with the Tree of Life. (swisshippo  / Adobe Stock)

By  Jim Willis



Walter Mattfeld's picture

KevinEdin opined that the Biblical Eden account might still be true in spite of the similarities shared with Sumerian myths. My research is posted at the following url and explains why the Bible is not the word of God. The url is and has been in existence for 20 years on the internet. Regards, Walter R. Mattfeld

Walter R. Mattfeld

If Edin was the place of the gods garden cities maybe the garden of Eden wasn't a myth at all, you have said the sumerian stories all have the biblical ideas proto types,? I know there are differences but as you point out a lot of similarities so in essence the themes of Eden are true? OK the sumerian gives more realistic detail but the original story still comes through Adam, eve the serpent, the leaving,??

.K n scholes

Walter Mattfeld's picture

Kevinedin asked where does the notion come from about the gods creating man to mine for gold? The source of this notion is an now deceased author Zechariah Sitchin, who wrote a number of books about the Sumerian gods being aliens from another world, who created man to mine gold for them. Sitchin was self-educated in reading the ancient Sumerian language and claimed the ancient texts mentioned the mining of gold. His claims are disputed by PHD scholars who are trained in reading Sumerian. They say Sitchin is misinterpreting the Sumerian texts, there was no mining for gold. Man was created to care for the Sumerian gods’ fruit-tree gardens in the Edin. The trees provide for the gods to eat. Man harvests the fruit and feeds the gods in temples, thereby assuring the gods do not die of starvation, for they have bodies of flesh and blood in the early myths. In the Bible, Eden’s god is fed twice a day, like a Sumerian God, at the Temple of Jerusalem. Regards, Walter R. Mattfeld

Walter R. Mattfeld

Hi , There  Summerian ancient texts as described by Walter show that the Igigi gods were replaced with man to do their work , Many say that this work was to mine for natural resources like Gold but i can only find that the work was to dig canals ! where does this  idea of mining even for gold come from is it in some texts somewhere or is it speculation ??? Thanks kevin 

.K n scholes

Walter Mattfeld's picture

I understand that Genesis is an anti-thesis, a response to and refutation of, an earlier Mesopotamian thesis explaining how man came to be created, why, where, and why he was almost annihilated in a worldwide flood. I have written two books on this subject, in 2010, The Garden of Eden Myth, Its Pre-biblical Origin in Mesopotamian Myths and Eden’s Serpent, Its Mesopotamian Origin. A number of scholars have suggested that EDIN was recast as EDEN and EDIN’S GODS were recast as EDEN’S GOD. Sumerian ADABA (Babylonian ADAPA) was recast as Adam. Enkidu was recast as Adam too, Shamhat being recast as Eve (see the Epic of Gilgamesh). The gods of EDIN created fruit-tree gardens to provide food to eat for themselves, for they could die of starvation with their fleshly bodies. Tiring of the labor in caring for their city-gardens in the midst of the EDIN, they create man to care for their gardens. Man’s purpose in life is to care for EDIN’s City-gardens, and present the harvest to the gods in temples so that the gods don’t die of starvation. The gods are fed meals twice a day, morning and evening. In the Bible EDEN’S God is fed twice a day, morning and evening at the Temple of Solomon just like EDIN’S Gods.

Walter R. Mattfeld

jim willis's picture


After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, Jim Willis became a high school band and orchestra teacher during the week, a symphony trombonist on the weekends, a jazz musician at night and a choral conductor on Sunday mornings. ... Read More

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