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Stories of Creation: Mesopotamia Point of View

In historical Mesopotamia (c. 9000-500 B.C.E.),
there have been a number of common myths of creation. Within every civilization that occupied the area, a myeariad of myths and at instances conflicting traditions had been used to clarify the thriller of existence.

Little is thought in regards to the first Sumerian myths, written through the third millennium B.C.E. The surviving materials is fragmentary, and the paperwork to date found are difficult to interpret. Nevertheless, so far as may be decided, Mesopotamian texts from the earliest instances to the decline of the cuneiform custom within the first centuries B.C.E.don't seem to handle the query of creation. The primal existence of the gods is assumed moderately than defined, with heaven and Earth created by the god Enlil, the pinnacle of the Sumerian pantheon.

There is one exception, nevertheless, a fable during which heaven and Earth had been separated earlier than the existence of the gods Enlil and his partner, Ninlil. A text written within the metropolis of Ur (in what's now Iraq) explains that in its beginnings Earth was darkish. There was no gentle or vegetation, and no water emerged from the deep. Another Sumerian composition, preserved in a duplicate from the early half of the second millennium B.C.E., entitled Gilgamesh and the Netherworld, incorporates a prologue that describes the formation of the world by the gods An and Enlil, who separated out the components of the universe from an preliminary mass.

Sumerian Creation Myths

The origins of humankind are handled in a Sumerian poem from the second millennium, “The Song of the Hoe.” This composition compares the creation of humankind to the expansion of crops. After the god Enlil separated heaven from Earth and Earth from heaven, he made the human seed spout forth like a plant from the soil at a sacred place known as Where Flesh Came Forth. Humans had been then assigned the duty of worshipping the gods, a standard Mesopotamian mythological theme.

Another Sumerian poem, “The Disputation Between Ewe and Wheat,” describes primeval Earth as initially being barren. People went about bare, consuming grass as in the event that they had been sheep, for wheat and bread didn't but exist. Without ewes and goats, there was additionally no weaving, material, or clothes.

An rationalization of how Earth got here to be ordered is given within the Sumerian fable Enki and the World Order. Enki, one of the primary deities within the Sumerian pantheon, was assigned accountability for the group of the world, together with the fates of the land of Sumer, the international lands, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. To handle his work, he entrusted numerous gods with specific tasks. Selected deities had been charged with administration of the dual rivers and surrounding marshes, the ocean, rains, irrigation and crops, building and structure, wildlife on the excessive plain, herding of home animals, oversight of the entire of heaven and Earth, and girl’s work.

Enki and Ninmah

The Sumerian fable Enki and Ninmah offers a proof for the creation of humankind. In the time after heaven and Earth had been separated, there was a scarcity of food. An answer was discovered by assigning minor gods the duty of producing food by farming. To accomplish that, they'd to undertake the burdensome job ofdigging canals and dredging clay. The work was so difficult that the junior gods complained, and finally, fed up with all of the work, they determined to insurgent.

The senior god Enki, quick asleep on the time, was roused from his slumber. Realizing the necessity for a inventive answer, Enki determined to create humankind. Humans would then bear the burden of working the soil and creating produce. The goddess Namma was requested to knead clay from the recent waters that had been underneath the earth and place it in her womb. She then gave delivery to the first people.

In the second half of this fable, Enki and the goddess Ninmah grew to become inebriated at a banquet and challenged one another to a contest. The goddess started by creating people who had been disabled and challenged Enki to resolve their Challenges and supply for his or her welfare. Enki responded by assigning them professions in order that they may very well be unbiased and earn their very own livings. Enki in flip challenged Ninmah. He molded clay and placed itin the womb of a lady, making a being unable to operate. Ninmah was confounded. She couldn't find an acceptable occupation for the being to earn its day by day bread. The fable concludes with the exclamation that Ninmah was not the equal of the good Enki.

Babylonian Traditions

Babylonian theologians and poets additionally included tales in regards to the creation of people and the world in texts to justify and glorify kingship. The best-known fable of this sort was Enuma Elish, or When on High. Created on the finish of the second millennium B.C.E., it incorporates a narrative of a battle among the many gods that was used as a constitution fable for the emergence of a brand new political order. The story facilities on the exploits of Marduk, a god who was elevated to supremacy within the metropolis of Babylon on the finish of the second millennium B.C.E.

The fable tells of Marduk acquiring his place because the chief god of Babylon and reflects on the unchallenged energy of the Babylonian ruler. The story begins with the existence of an immense expanse of candy (apsu) and salt (tiamat) waters that existed earlier than the universe and first gods got here into being. Out of the mingling of these primeval waters, the gods emerged in pairs. Like younger youngsters, the gods had been rambunctious, they usually so upset the god Apsu that he determined to destroy the younger deities. The intelligent god Ea got here to their rescue and killed Apsu.


Described as excellent and unequaled, the god Marduk was born to Ea and his spouse, Damkina. Marduk, as a frontrunner of the youthful era, was chosen by the gods to be their commander. He grew to become their supreme chief and champion, charged with defending the lesser deities towards the fury of the goddess Tiamat. The goddess was upset in any respect the noise and commotion, and she or he was decided to avenge the slaying of her husband, Apsu. Marduk, armed with an array of winds, heroically battled Tiamat, an emblem of the outdated order.

Victorious in battle, Marduk wanted to dispose of Tiamat’s physique. He cut up it in two like a dried fish and original the higher half as heaven and the decrease half as Earth. Afterward, he created the constellations and the netherworld. He additionally introduced forth the Sun and Moon, organized the calendar, and was given the authority to care and supply for the sanctuaries.

Finally Marduk, grateful for the benefits granted by the gods and their submissiveness to his rule, determined to ease their burden by creating people from the blood of a slain rebellious god. The fable employs this episode to clarify that people had been created to maintain the gods and release them from their menial labors. This offered a rationale for humanity’s rebellious nature. Marduk additionally gave the gods new roles by assigning them to numerous positions in heaven and on Earth.

The City of Babylon

In the following episode of Marduk’s story, he demanded that the gods construct him a capital metropolis, Babylon. He additionally requested a temple, Esagila, during which he would dwell and administer the affairs of the gods.

In gratitude to Marduk, the gods complied. They prostrated themselves earlier than him, pledged obedience to their unquestioned chief and commander, and confirmed his kingship. The fable continued with the gods saying the fifty names of Marduk, every a facet of his energy and character. The story concludes with Marduk because the victor and absolute ruler.