The Sumerian Flood Story (also known as the Eridu Genesis, Sumerian Creation Myth, Sumerian Deluge Myth) is the oldest Mesopotamian text relating the tale of the Great Flood which would appear in later works such as the Atrahasis (17th century BCE) and The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2150-1400 BCE).
The tale is also – most famously – told as the story of Noah and his ark from the biblical Book of Genesis (earliest possible date c. 1450 BCE, latest, c. 800-600 BCE). The story is dated to c. 2300 BCE in its written form but is thought to be much older, preserved by oral tradition until committed to writing.
The extant work is badly damaged, with a number of significant lines missing, but can still be read and easily understood as an early Great Flood story. Scholars who have studied the text generally rely on the later Akkadian/Babylonian Atrahasis – which tells the same tale – to fill in the blanks of missing text from the broken tablet. The story most likely influenced the Egyptian “flood story” known as The Book of the Heavenly Cow (dated, in part, to the First Intermediate Period of Egypt, 2181-2040 BCE) but certainly was the inspiration for the later Mesopotamian works as well as the biblical narrative of Noah.
The story was first discovered in 1893, during the period of widespread expeditions and excavations throughout Mesopotamia funded by western institutions. The good man in this version of the tale, chosen to survive the flood and preserve life on earth, is the Priest-King Ziudsura of the city of Suruppak (whose name means “life of long days”). This same figure appears as Atrahasis (“exceedingly wise”) in the later work that bears his name, as Utnapishtim (“he found life”) in The Epic of Gilgamesh, and as Noah (“rest” or “peace”) in the Book of Genesis.
Link to original article titled "Eridu Genesis."
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