The Atrahasis Deciphered

An Atrahasis Retell as Understood, Retold and Questioned by Steven Q



Part 1of2

(The First Part of the First Tablet)


The Lower Igigi Gods Complain and Revolt

Long ago before humans roamed the Earth, the lesser gods (known as the Igigi) bore the brunt of the work, doing all the heavy laborious tasks that needed to be done.  They weren’t happy, were miserable and constantly complained to the higher gods (known as the Anunna gods or Anunnaki) that their work was heavy and troublesome.  The higher ruling Anunnaki gods that controlled the Igigi gods at that time were:  King Anu, the ruling Anunnaki god and father to the higher gods, his son the councillor warrior, Enlil, their chief officer Ninurta (a son of Enlil) and the god Ennugi who was the controller of the canals.

The gods decided to rearrange the management positions on Earth.  So, to properly divide up the lands and ruling positions between the king’s sons, the Anunnaki gods decided that lots should be drawn amongst themselves.  With the result of the lots cast, after King Anu, the father of the controlling gods had returned to his sky home in Heaven (1), Enlil the warrior was given charge of the land and the minor gods upon it.  Control of the sea and fresh waters was given to Enlil’s wise half-brother Enki, known by the other gods as the far sighted one.

Figure 6 – The cuneiform symbol used in the texts for the king and father god Anu.


Figure 7 – Enlil (on the left) and his wife Ninlil. The original mural is on display in the Louvre in Paris.


Figure 8 – The Adda Seal in the British Museum. Far left is Inanna depicted as a pilot with weapons, followed by her twin brother Utu digging in the mountain. Enki is shown with rivers of fish flowing over him with his chief minister Usimu behind.


When their father Anu had returned to his heavenly home and with the new management team in place, the Anunnaki gods returned to the lower areas of the Earth known as the Abzu (2) and proceeded to overwork the poor Igigi gods as they’d done before.  In the Abzu, the Igigi were forced to dig canals to run water to barren areas of land, they also dug out the Tigris and Euphrates water ways. (3)  In the depths of the Abzu they raised mountains of soil and worked under the ground. (4)  The Igigi counted 40 years (5) that they’d been worked hard day and night and they grumbled constantly amongst themselves about all the masses of soil that they’d excavated.

  1. Heaven seems to have been situated in the air, or “moving up in the air” was needed to reach it. However, it is possible that it may have been a mountain retreat or a high-up residence that looked down on the workers below.
  2. The Abzu is described as the lower lands or underworld, however, from my own and other people’s research I feel it may refer to the lands that fall below the equator in Africa. Keeping this in mind though, according to the Sumerian Lexicon (dictionary) by John Halloran, in this context Ab+Zu means “the sentient sea” or “the sea personified as a god”  (aba/ab = “sea” + zu = “to know”).  This is probably why Enki was referred to as “god of the sea” and this title is later echoed in Greek and Roman cultures where he was referred by them as the gods Poseidon and Neptune respectively.  However, “god of the sea” in the depths of the African “Abzu”?  This doesn’t really make sense to me as if this is the case, how could the Igigi dig mountains of earth in the sea?  As this would mean that they were working underwater!  A possible explanation of this is the evidence of an enormous inland fresh water sea that seems to have once existing in Africa, at what’s known today as the Okavango Delta (more on this later, see Figures 9, 10 & 11).  In addition to this, if we consider that deep down in Africa the ancient indigenous people of Southern Africa referred to themselves (and also when they initially introduced themselves to early Europeans) as the “Zulu” people.  Again, considering the context of the word and used as an adjective with a noun, the Sumerian Lexicon dictionary demonstrates that Zulu can be broken down to Zu = Wisdom, Knowledge and the word Lu = Man, Men, People or Sheep (somehow another, I don’t think in this case it means sheep).  Basically then, the word “Zulu” literally means “Intelligent people” or “Wise men”.
  3. The waterways of the Tigris and Euphrates river systems are still actively used today, with some of the canals reported to indeed be extremely ancient. Remnants of the canals that were channelled in the Abzu also remain, with the ancient contours gouged into the Earth still visible as evidence of an advanced civilization that once was.  These ancient canals can be viewed on Google Earth running from the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Southern Africa, which once must have been an enormous inland lake or sea (Google Earth, Latitude and Longitudes -19.824346 21.714989).  The canals all seem to end abruptly at where the boundary of the huge inland lake or sea must have once been and they would have been used to transport water to crops that were to feed possibly millions or even billions of Igigi and later human workers.There seems to be some discrepancy here with some scholars translating the 40 years that I’ve used in my version as 3600 years, or 40 years too much.  If it’s 40 years too much, I’m wondering “too much” of what?  Did the Igigi possibly have a contract with the Anunnaki and it was exceeded by 40 years?
  4. Logic dictates that the mountains of soil created were probably due to the earth being removed from digging under the ground. From this it can further be assumed that some sort of mining was being done in the area.
  5. There seems to be some discrepancy here with some scholars translating the 40 years that I’ve used in my version as 3600 years, or 40 years too much.  If it’s 40 years too much, I’m wondering “too much” of what?  Did the Igigi possibly have a contract with the Anunnaki and it was exceeded by 40 years?


Figure 9 – Okavango Delta. Here we can see the remnants of an enormous inland lake with the remains of the ancient canals visible on the left. The size of this once huge lake can be determined by the obvious abrupt ending of the canals which originally was the lake’s or inland sea’s perimeter.


Figure 10 – A close-up of the ancient canals reveals that they are perfectly straight with little deviation, which rules out the possibility of them being a natural occurrence. The canals all run from East to West with an off-set of around 10 degrees. This off-set may indicate a slight shift of the Earth on its axis many, many years ago and the canals may have originally been built to run from East to West before this axis shift occurred.


Figure 11 – From a further close-up, the uniformity of the canals can clearly be seen. The canals are equally spaced apart at around 1.5kms with the width of each canal being around 250 metres. The combined length of these canals equates to thousands of kilometres of irrigation which would have taken many years to dig.


The Uprising of the Igigi Gods

In the end, the Igigi couldn’t take it anymore and amongst them decided to go pay their leader Enlil a visit and have a serious chat with him to see if he could make life a little easier for them.  The orchestrator of the uprising (1) had the Igigi all excited and worked up by shouting “let’s take Enlil from his home and start war cries to initiate a battle with the higher controlling gods!”  The unhappy Igigi listened attentively to his speech, agreed and in protest, set fire to their tools, picks, spades and work baskets.  The mob gathered and off they all went to the gate of Enlil’s home chanting around the Ekur, which was the name of Enlil’s mountain retreat.  It was night, half-way through the Igigi’s night-shift and Enlil’s property was totally surrounded.  Enlil was unaware of what was going on as he was fast asleep.  Luckily for him, his gatekeeper Kalkal was awake, and quickly closed and locked the main gate (2) then guarded it before the Igigi mob could get onto the property.  Seeing that the gate was now safely locked, Kalkal woke up Enlil’s chief officer Nusku and the two of them listened to the noise and chanting of the Igigi rebels on the other side of the gate.  “I reckon I’d better go wake Enlil up”, said Nusku and off he hurried and did just that.  “My Lord Enlil, wake up!” said Nusku, “Your house is surrounded by Igigi rabble and they’re not happy, it looks like they’re getting ready to battle with you”.

Enlil acted quickly and organised weapons to be brought to his home.  Raising his voice, he spoke to Nusku saying “Nusku, bar your door and take up your weapons in front of me”.  Nusku did as he was told and stood with weapon in hand in front of Enlil barring the gate.  Turning back to Enlil, he noticed his master’s fear and said, “Enlil, my Lord, your face is as white as a tamarisk bush, why do you fear your own off-spring? (3) Why don’t you call your father Anu to give you a hand in dealing with this situation and maybe also send message to your brother Enki to back you up?” (4) So Enlil did just that, he contacted his father Anu and his brother Enki to help sort out the confronting situation and fortunately for him, they both came.  Anu, king of the sky and Enki, king of the waters and the Lower Abzu lands both arrived.  With the support of his father and brother, Enlil stood up to make his case.  He approached both of them asking, “Is it me that they’ve risen against?  With my own eyes I witness this Igigi rabble surrounding my home in such a way that I’m actually wondering if maybe I should indeed battle them.”

  1. At this point it isn’t revealed that the ring-leader of the revolt was not an Igigi worker but a younger Anunnaki god by the name of Geshtu. Geshtu was probably a supervisor or manager of the worker gods.
  2. The main gate at Enlil’s residence seems to have just been the entrance to his property (known as the Ekur, which I’d assume was walled or separated from the outside somehow). It would seem that Kalkal only locked the property gate and not the actual gate for Enlil’s home as there was movement from house to house in the enclosure while the Igigi rebels were outside (weapons collected, Nusku told to bar his door, etc).
  3. This is an interesting bit, nearly all of the Atrahasis translations I’ve read seem to indicate that the Igigi were the children of Enlil. As the story unfolded, I came to the conclusion that the Anunna gods or Anunnaki could not reproduce in the traditional way and cloning may have been their chosen or only way of reproducing (more explanation on this later as the story unfolds).
  4. I’d assume that the property was walled and there may have been another entrance to it, or maybe access was possible from the air. Otherwise, how would Enlil be able to contact and receive his father and brother while the Igigi were gathering at his gate and surrounding his property?  Not only this, what form of communication would have been used to contact his family members while he was trapped inside the Ekur enclosure?


The Anunnaki Gods Send a Negotiator

Anu then turned to his son and said, “Enlil, why don’t you send Nusku your chief officer to speak with them and find out the reason why they’re so upset and have surrounded your home?”  Liking the idea, Enlil turned and spoke to Nusku saying, “Nusku, open the door, take your weapon and go out and represent me.  However, show some respect and bow before you address them.  Say to the Igigi that their king, King Anu, their warrior leader, Enlil, their chief officer, Ninurta and their bailiff, Ennugi have sent you to ask who is in charge of this Igigi mob and the declaration of war against me by surrounding my home?” (1)

So the concerned Nusku opened the door and with his weapon in hand nervously went into the assembly of the lower Igigi gods.  He bowed before them and delivered Enlil’s message.  The leader of the Igigi revolt sprung up and answered the question saying, “Every one of us gods has declared war!  We’ve got to put a stop to the digging, it’s killing us!  The work is too heavy, too hard and too much, so every one of us gods has agreed to stop work and complain together in unison to Enlil.”  After the Igigi revolt leader had finished stating their reasons, Nusku nodded, took his weapon and reported the Igigi’s sad story in full detail back to Enlil.  Enlil listened to all that Nusku had to say and tears were flowing down his face. (2) Upset with the Igigi’s rejection, Enlil then spoke to Anu, his father the warrior king, saying, “Mighty Anu, let me return with you to heaven in the sky and you take control of the situation and demonstrate your strength while the rest of us Anunnaki sit with you.  Call up one of the rebellious gods and kill him as an example to the others”.

Annoyed, Anu jumped up and abruptly answered, “Can you really blame them?  Their work was extremely difficult and every day we could hear their cries of pain as they laboured and we chose to ignore them!  In all fairness, they have every right to complain to their ruler Enlil and approach his house”.

  1. I found it strange that in all the translations of the Atrahasis I’ve read that Enki wasn’t mentioned here. It’s already been established that Enki being of similar royal status to Enlil and was definitely there, however, Enlil mentions the other gods to Nusku, but failed to include Enki.  Could it be due to Enki not having a military position, or perhaps Enki choosing not to let the Igigi know he was there, or was this possibly the onset to the sibling rivalry?
  2. All translations I’ve read seem to indicate that Enlil had a good cry. To be honest with you, I don’t swallow this.  Enlil, the great warrior crying?  Regardless of whether he’s scared or feels rejected, I still can’t see how this great warrior goes crying to daddy that he wants to come home, or that he’s upset that the Igigi are having a hard time.


The Creation of Man and the Introduction of Nintu

Enlil wasn’t very happy with his father’s comments.  Deep in thought, Enki then spoke up, addressing his father, brother and other gods he said, “I agree, why are we blaming them?  They are indeed over-worked and it’s true we did ignore their constant cries whilst they laboured.”(1) Turning to his father he said, “I believe there is an answer to this problem noble King Anu.  Call our wise sister the birth goddess Nintu and ask her to join us, she can organize the birth of a mortal humanoid slave that can do the heavy labour of the lower Igigi gods”. (2) 

Later, when the birth goddess, Nintu, who was in charge of the surrogate womb goddesses and midwives had joined them, Enki asked her, “Are you willing to also be the birth goddess of mankind? (3) We need you and your surrogate womb goddesses to help create a humanoid slave to bear the labour of the lower Igigi worker gods”.

  1. If anything, your brother sucking up and agreeing with daddy when you’ve just been told off by him would make anyone angry. Frankly, I don’t think this was a good move by Enki to agree with his father against Enlil in this condescending way.  Enki should have maybe rather introduced his solution in agreement to his father without adding to Enlil’s reprimanding, especially considering that his brother is a great warrior and next in charge after Anu.
  2. I’m guessing that Enki had been preparing for the right occasion of making a team of slaves for a while and he just seized this opportunity of convenience to make his “helpful” suggestion.
  3. Nintu seems to have many names and is the half-sister to both Enki and Enlil. I chose to remain with the name Nintu all the way through the story to avoid confusion.  Some of the translated versions of the texts were confusing, as her name not only changed depending on her position held at that time, but sometimes it changed without explanation.  Nintu was also known as the “Birth Goddess”, not to be mixed up with one of the “Womb Goddesses” which she is called sometimes in the original translations when she chose to also take up the birthing responsibility.  Regarding the “Womb Goddesses”, you’ll also notice I’ve added the word surrogate in some places to elaborate on their position and function as baby-incubators, which is quite obviously what they were.  In addition to this, the “also” part of Enki saying to Nintu “Are you willing to ‘also’ be the birth goddess of mankind?” gets me thinking.  Also to what?  Does this mean that she was birth goddess to the Igigi as well?  Were the Igigi perhaps just clones created from Enlil’s DNA brought into the world through the womb goddesses?  This is indeed a possibility, as why did Nusku question Enlil about fearing his own off-spring?


Figure 12 – Ancient statuette of Nintu on display in the University of Chicago.


Figure 13 – Ancient statuette of a birth goddess in the Iraq Museum. The 14cm goddess seems to possess certain reptilian features and is estimated to be from around 4,000 BCE.


Nintu Responds to Enki’s Proposition

Nintu listened attentively to Enki’s question and facing the gods answered, “It’s not proper, nor my place to create a humanoid man, as it’s outside my jurisdiction.  That area is Enki’s.  I don’t mind assisting Enki making a co-worker, but I’m definitely not helping him make a slave!” (1) Forcefully, Nintu then added, “This has to be Enki’s work and he will be totally responsible for it.  If Enki needs me to assist, he will need to provide a pure and clean area to work in.  If he brings me a being of the Earth and the essence of the slaughtered Igigi rebel leader I will assist with the manufacturing of this new humanoid being. (2) With Enki’s help, I’ll combine like clay the essence of both the executed Anunnaki leader of the Igigi rebels and that of the creature of the Earth to form a new co-worker being.” (3)

Enki then answered, “Wise Nintu, mother of all the gods (4), your wisdom is noted and shall always be remembered.  On the first, seventh and fifteenth of the month I shall establish a purified area (5), the essence of the executed rebel Annunaki god (6) who led the Igigi rebellion and a being of the Earth shall be provided”.  Facing the gods Enki then added, “Let the Anunnaki gods who assist and their equipment be cleansed and washed to ensure that there is no contamination.  Nintu can then combine the essence of both the Earth being and the executed Anunnaki god by making it into one, mixed as like clay.  The Anunnaki god and the being of the Earth will then be mixed together permanently and from then on we will hear the drumming of its heartbeat forever after in this new created being.  Let the spirit (7) of the perished god also enter into this new being, so not to be forgotten”.

  1. Good for you Nintu! That’s what we like to hear.  Nintu made it quite clear that the position of making a being was not hers, but Enki’s, and if he was making slaves she wasn’t interested in helping.  I’ve also assumed from here that Enki was the geneticist and Nintu didn’t mind assisting him, but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) create a new being on her own.  Enki obviously needed Nintu for access to her womb goddesses or surrogates, so the two of them had to work together.
  2. I’ve used the word “essence” throughout my adaptation of the story to describe what appears to be the DNA of both the Anunnaki god and the hominid “Being of the Earth” (not a “being” created of earth).  I feel that an upright walking hominid primate was wandering around on Earth at the time and its DNA was merged with that of the Anunnaki’s to create the new being.  Without going into too much detail here, primates have 48 chromosomes (humans are not primates!) humans have 46 chromosomes which separates them from the primate family line.  When primate and human chromosomes are scrutinised comparatively, there’s an “obvious” fusion of a primate’s 2+3 chromosome on both strands which somehow another became the human chromosome 2 (bringing humans down to 46 chromosomes from a primate’s 48).  If a primate’s 2+3 chromosomes from both parents were indeed fused together this would create a 46 chromosome structure (or 23 base pairs).  This may have been what was done at a genetic level to convert our primate ancestor’s DNA into a DNA that was compatible with another 46 chromosome species, which I’d assume was the Anunnaki or Igigi race.  If you’re interested in reading more about this, or looking for a better, more detailed explanation, get hold of Lloyd Pye’s book “Intervention Theory Essentials” or hunt down his video “Everything you know is wrong” on YouTube.
  3. While the translated texts all seem to indicate that the essence of the executed Igigi rebel and the creature of the Earth were mixed into a clay, I think that this wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Mixing “like” a clay seemed more appropriate to me and more probable than making humans from clay.  I believe that mixing the essence of both species like clay was used to indicate that once mixed there was no separation of the DNAs as it would then be an independent being from both contributing sources.
  4. Nintu is addressed by Enki in all translated versions I’ve read as “Mother of ‘all’ the gods” which I think is another point leaning towards her being the head of the womb goddesses. This then insinuates that either “all” the gods were being cloned from source DNA, or that they were being born from surrogate mothers and weren’t born by what we consider natural births.
  5. I’m not sure of what the significance of the 1st, 7th and 15th of the month is, however, there’s much in the scripts that seems to indicate that the Lunar month was used extensively, which is 28 days. This may be the reason we use seven days as our week lengths (with a further question of why 15 was used for the last day and not 14).  Enki’s purified area I’m guessing was either his laboratory or a work area at his home.
  6. Here it seems that Enlil got his way and the rebel Igigi leader was to be executed and his DNA used. Also, we’re told that the Igigi rebel leader was from the ruling Anunnaki family.  This would mean that he would have been a higher god and not a lowly Igigi worker as we were led to initially assume.  Does that mean that we humans originate from an Anunnaki trouble maker?  At this stage of the story there’s still no mention of the slaughtered god’s name and this seems to be the case in all versions of the translated texts I’ve examined.
  7. It’s interesting here that the “spirit” of the executed Anunnaki leader of the Igigi rebel was mentioned.  Some translations of the cuneiform texts seem to indicate the inclusion of the spirit into the new creation, while others seem to call it the dead god’s ghost.  Whichever way you choose to see it, the indication of a spiritual presence living inside both the gods and new human template, meant that the original ancient author believed that the spirit was essentially the identity of the living person.  This would strongly indicate the belief in an immortal soul and a further belief in reincarnation.  It can be assumed from this, that the original manufacturers of the first human had a choice.  Instead of making their new worker a genetically manufactured humanoid machine (which many assume the grey aliens to be) this new being had the inclusion of an immortal soul.


***  END of the First Part of TABLET 1  ***


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