The Atrahasis Deciphered

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

 

TABLET 1

Part 2of2

(The Second Part of the First Tablet)

 

The First Source Being and the First Humans are Created

Seeing this as a solution to their problems, all the gods in the great Anunnaki assembly agreed to the procedure.  And so, on the first, seventh and fifteenth days, Enki and Nintu participated in a purification washing of both themselves and their work area.  The young and intelligent rebel Anunnaki god known by the name of Geshtu (1), the inspiration behind the Igigi rebellion, was executed and his essence mixed with an Earth being’s, like clay.  The gods all waited in anticipation for the drumbeat of the newly created being’s heart and as suggested by Enki, the spirit of the slaughtered Anunnaki god entered it.  Upon this, Nintu then proclaimed that with both the heartbeat and the incorporation of the spirit into the new being, it was now alive. (2)  After this, the greater controlling Igigi gods were gathered and saliva was collected from each of them. (3)  Each of the high ranking Igigi gods’ genetic identities in the saliva was then combined with the essence of the newly created being’s, thus creating additional genetic variations for further living human hybrids. (4)

Nintu then faced and addressed the gods saying, “I have done the work that you have ordered me to do.  You have sacrificed an Anunnaki god and his intelligence and I have relieved you of your hard work.  I’ve now placed your workload onto this being and it is understood that it is to be a co-worker, not a slave!  The gift of life I may have given to this new being, but also something to complain about, as it now has to bear the burden of the lesser gods.  I have only freed the lesser Igigi gods back to the time before the greater Anunnaki gods forced the hard labour upon them.”

All the gods listened carefully to Nintu’s speech and the Igigi gods, now freed, fell down on their knees and kissed Nintu’s feet saying, “We used to call you Mami (5), but now you shall always be known to us as Belet-kala-ili, Mistress-of-all-the-gods”

  1. This is the first time we get to know the actual name of the executed rebel god. Many of the translated texts I’ve read seem to indicate that the slaughtered god’s name was Aw-ilu.  The word Aw-ilu translated actually relates to the class of the people, that being royalty and the higher ruling classes of the Anunnaki gods.  So, Aw-ilu was not the actual name of the young executed god, but the title of his Anunnaki status.  While this god’s social status was Aw-ilu, his actual name was Geshtu and he was known as “a young and intelligent god”.
  2. Nintu only proclaimed that the new being was alive when the spirit entered the being’s body. My understanding of this is that the incorporation of the spirit into the being was an important attribute for it to be considered “alive”. I assume that this template being was the first of the 46 chromosome beings which was created entirely to be a base source of DNA for a further species.  The DNA from this new being (complete with soul) was then combined with DNA gathered from the saliva donated by the higher Igigi gods, which then created even more DNA diversity.  If the Igigi were all male, this also indicates that the new being may have been either androgynous or female as both sexes were then separated in the actual final creation of the humans (as seen later).  The final Igigi and new-being hybrids were then carried to term by the womb goddesses further mentioned in the story.
  3. The high ranking Igigi gods where the saliva was collected from may have been Anunnaki gods, however, all texts seem to emphasize that they were Igigi not Anunnaki. This would then mean that no royal blood or DNA was added to the new being’s, other than that of the initially executed god Geshtu.  In the actual translated texts, it was stressed that the higher ranking Igigi gods each spat into the mix, with research I discovered that saliva is indeed an excellent source for preserving DNA and is teeming with it.
  4. Here I added “genetic variations” as this was my understanding of what occurred. The clay and mud stories just seemed a little far-fetched to me, and if I was to take the story seriously I had to improvise to make sense of it all.  The introductions of the higher Igigi’s DNA from their saliva, mixed with the first hybrid’s DNA would give an amount of DNA diversity for healthy reproduction of the new species of human.  If this is then considered, the human species has three-quarters of the gods DNA and only one quarter from the “beings of the Earth” which I assume were the 48 chromosome primates available at that time.  This would also suggest that despite the slight chromosome differential between the gods and Earth primates, there was probably an even more ancient genetic connection between the primates and Anunnaki that made the Anunnaki genetic tampering possible.
  5. Mami was one of Nintu’s many names that she was known by, depending on her position taken at that time and who was addressing her. Nintu was re-titled by the Igigi from Mami which meant “Lady of Birth” to Belet-kala-ili meaning “Mistress of ‘all’ the gods”.  From the Igigi’s point of view, Nintu had now incorporated more species of beings under her motherly title.  It’s easy to see from here that the word Mami is similar to the words Mammy or Mamma used by today’s infants in many cultures to address their mothers.  I’d assume that these designative words stem from Nintu’s Birth goddess title.

 

The First Humans are Created

With the creation of the new being, Enki and Nintu then went into the “Room of Fate” where the womb goddesses had assembled to be the surrogates for the new species.  Enki continued to mix the essence of the new being with that of the high ranking Igigi’s while Nintu watched and recited an incantation. (1) After she’d finished, she separated the completed mixture into fourteen parts and placed seven parts on the right and the other seven on the left.  Nintu then separated the two sets of seven with a mud brick into male and female groups. (2)  With a sharp implement made from a reed, Nintu split open the umbilical cord and removed the embryos from each of them. (3)  With the seven male and seven female embryos Nintu then called to the surrogate mothers which she’d named “seven and seven” and inserted each of them into their wombs. (4) Enki on Nintu’s request led the seven surrogate mothers carrying the females to one room and the other seven surrogate mothers carrying the males to another. (5)

  1. I have no idea what Nintu’s incantation was. Maybe she was humming a song while she worked, or maybe it was a significant part of the procedure like a magical blessing or vibratory noise that needed to be made.  However, it seems to be significant as it was mentioned in all translations I’ve come across.
  2. The significance of the “mud brick” as a separator is not clear and I presumed this meant separating the male and female test tube babies into either different rooms separated by a brick wall, or maybe separating the two different sexes into different buildings.
  3. This was unclear in all the translations I came across, while the sharp implement was clear, the rest wasn’t. Also, much of the tablet’s text is fragmented or missing lines here, so some of the sources of the translations I’d found had added the missing parts of the story from other translated texts like “The Epic of Gilgamesh” to fill in the gaps.  The actual procedure is also mentioned further in the story, however, sadly this is also mostly damaged. 
  4. This is pretty clear in other cuneiform text stories, but again most of the procedure is unfortunately missing from the original Atrahasis tablets due to damage. Other tellings of the story on Assyrian or Babylonian tablets definitely seem to indicate that the womb goddesses were used to gestate the new human babies.  The Embryos must have somehow been grown from the final DNA mixes.  These embryos would then have been moved into the surrogate mother’s uteruses in a similar way to how IVF treatment is performed today.
  5. This could even have been different buildings as Nintu makes it clear later that males and females were to be kept separate from each other, until deemed mature enough to breed and take care of themselves.

 

Nintu Presents Her Conditions for Male and Female Pairing

Nintu then addressed the gods with her rules, “In the house where a surrogate womb goddess is about to give birth, she shall be looked after in the building for seven days after.  I Nintu, the birth goddess, shall be honoured to be in the house at the time that a surrogate mother gives birth to her baby.  The duty of cutting the umbilical cord will be that of the mothers”. 

Nintu continued, saying, “With time, we will observe the humans as they mature and as a male becomes of age it will be noticed by the beard appearing on his cheek and he should then find and join with a woman of his own choice.  When a female grows into a woman, it will be noticed by the growth of her bosoms, with this she should also then seek out and join with a male of her choosing. (1)  There in the gardens and streets they will choose each other as mates and as husband and wife they will be happy and joyful together as a couple”. (2)

  1. Nintu makes it clear that when a woman and man reach puberty they would be encouraged to take a life mate. From this we can deduce that in doing so they could then self-procreate without the need of a birth goddess, and the human species’ numbers would continue to grow exponentially without Anunnaki intervention.
  2. Nintu again makes it quite clear that both the male and female should choose each other and not be forced into wedlock. She emphasised that if they had both chosen each other they would then be happy together.  Whether this means that there’d be a larger amount of off-spring from the couple due to it being a more loving union, or there was a reason for the pair’s choice in each other that may involve better breeding compatibility, maybe due to pheromonal influence or a “survival of the fittest” type scenario.

 

The First Surrogate Child is Born

After a time, the surrogate womb goddess mothers were brought together with Nintu.  The months were counted and the expecting tenth month (1) was called “the term of fates”.  On this tenth month, Nintu approached the first of the surrogate mothers and preformed a medical procedure to open her womb.  With her face covered, Nintu then took her midwife belt and carefully girdled the expecting mother and started to perform her midwifery duty. (2)  As Nintu carefully begun removing the baby from the first womb goddess she was happy and excited, her face was beaming and joyful.  After the mother had cut the umbilical cord, Nintu blessed the child and wrote down the details of the child in the building’s registry. (3)

Figure 15 – This cylinder seal image is known as the Shu-ilishus cylinder seal, dated from around 2,000 BCE and it’s on display in the Louvre museum in Paris. The image clearly shows Nintu (recognised by her dress) holding up a child before two other gods.

 

Holding up the child, Nintu proudly addressed the gods saying, “I am the one who has created this child, my hands have made it.  From now on, let the midwives rejoice and celebrate in the birthing house like a priestess when the pregnant woman gives birth.  Whenever a midwife delivers a baby, both her and the birthing woman should rest for nine days and both should be honoured together.  After time, when the male and female infants have matured to adulthood and have chosen each other, I the birth goddess, Nintu shall then lay down a linen cloth and in their house, Inanna will celebrate the husband and wife relationship. (4)  In the new wife’s father’s home there will be a wedding celebration that shall last for nine days.  On the fifteenth day after the wedding, Inanna, who should then be called by the couple, Ishtar, shall visit with myself, as the birth goddess.  Both Inanna and I will deliver our blessing to the couple which shall from that point in time be known as the “fixed time of their fate”. (5)

  1. It’s stressed in all translations I’ve read that the woman stays pregnant for 10 months not nine. When you consider that a lunar month is again used here of 28 days and not the months we use today of 31 days, the time of a woman’s pregnancy does indeed add up to “exactly” 10 lunar months.
  2. It’s clear here a complex medical procedure was used to remove the baby from the surrogate host. A caesarean-section would have been performed and the reason why Nintu wore a mask, presumably a medical mask.  I’m not quite sure the significance of girdling the surrogate mother or womb goddess with a midwife belt was though.
  3. In the original texts, after the baby was born, Nintu wrote a symbol in some sort of meal powder. I can only guess that she wrote the baby’s name and the time of its birth in a type of register and indicated this in my interpretation.
  4. Here we move forward to when the new human male and female have chosen each other. Nintu indicates that she will set up their bed for them to consummate their husband and wife marriage union.
  5. It seems that the tradition of the father of the bride holding the marriage celebration may have stemmed from here. The introduction of Inanna onto the scene and her then being known as Ishtar (goddess of love) by the couple after 15 days, indicates that both Inanna and Nintu expected the new bride to be pregnant.  The arrival of the two goddesses would indicate that some sort of inspection of the new bride was to be done, possibly to verify her pregnancy and to assist if she wasn’t.  The “fixed time of their fate” was probably the time of conception noted for the couple and when the goddesses would deliver their blessings.

 

The Humans Reproduce and Enlil Introduces a Plague

Enlil was happy with Enki and Nintu’s work as the new humans grew quickly and when they reached adulthood they happily took up tools, making new picks, spades and work tools for themselves.  Without complaint, they dug new canals and irrigational systems to grow crops to feed both the gods and themselves.  The added bonus was that they could also now happily reproduce without any assistance from the gods or birth goddesses.

After around 1,200 (1) years had passed, the number of humans in the area had increased dramatically and there were many of them in the small area of land.  Enlil was getting a little annoyed with the noise that these humans were making and commented that the land bellowed like a bull which was upsetting him.  In addition to the racket, some of the Igigi were taking the genetically compatible female humans as their wives and having children with them. (2)  Enlil formed a council and addressed the other gods, saying “This is getting extremely annoying.  The constant racket that these people make is preventing me from sleeping!  Give the order to my son Namtar to introduce a deadly flu-type disease that will sicken, weaken and kill them off, in doing so, we can dramatically reduce their numbers”. (3)

  1. While 1,200 years seems to be what was reported in many of the translated texts, other translations I’ve read seem to indicate that it may have been 60×1200 or 36,000 years. While I have mixed thoughts about the 1,200 years I used, I chose to go with this amount as it was used by most of the translations I’d read.
  2. This was a definite No-No in Enlil’s eyes, as Enlil seemed to have seen the humans as animals or cattle, regardless of whether they had souls or not. Enlil probably saw the Igigi taking human wives as disgusting behaviour and a poisoning of the Igigi gene pool.  Also, once the Igigi had worked out that they were genetically compatible with the new human creation, they didn’t have to resort to a birth goddess to reproduce anymore and probably felt more independent and less reliant on the Anunnaki control system.  With the human chromosomes and DNA being compatible with theirs, they happily took human wives and interbred with them, probably creating yet more unique human-god hybrid beings.  I’d be guessing that due to the increasing Igigi DNA being introduced into the human gene pool, the new humans were becoming more similar to the Anunnaki as the “being of the Earth” DNA was slowly being bred out.  This may have been seen by some of the higher Anunnaki gods as a future pending threat to their control.  One other thing I noticed was there is nowhere in any of the translated texts that mentioned female Igigi, they all seemed to be male labour workers.  There may have indeed been female Igigi, however, they were possibly sterile or needed assistance from the birth goddesses to reproduce.  This may be extremely significant, as without fertile women the Igigi didn’t have any way of naturally and independently reproducing and would have always been under Anunnaki control.  Enlil’s excuses for wiping out the humans because they were too noisy may have just been a smoke-screen to hide his real fear of losing control.  As the Igigi interbred with the humans this made them more independent of their Anunnaki controllers.  The Igigi’s genetic compatibility with the humans may have been Enlil’s and the other Anunnaki gods’ real concern.
  3. I went for a flu-type disease here as the symptoms mentioned in the texts I read seemed to indicate a Black Plague or an Ebola outbreak and a deadly flu seemed to cover this.

 

The Introduction of Atrahasis and the End of the Plague

Amongst the humans there was one called Atrahasis who was king of the city of Shuruppak (1), Atrahasis was not only extremely intelligent and wise, but also had a friendship relationship with his god Enki.  Atrahasis would spend time walking and talking with Enki and Enki enjoyed having various conversations with him.

Figure 16 – Image of Atrahasis, king of the city of Shuruppak situated on the bank of the Euphrates River.

During the plague introduced by Enlil, Atrahasis approached Enki and enquired, “How long will the gods make us suffer with this disease?  Will we have to endure it forever?”(2)  Enki pondered over the question and answered his servant and friend saying, “What you need to do is instruct the elders and senior men to meet at your home and have an official meeting about the problem.  As a group, you need to stand strong and forcefully make a noise about the situation all over the land.”  Enki continued, ”Stop worshipping the gods and respecting them, don’t pray to your goddesses, however, search for the home of Enlil’s son Namtar the creator of the disease and bring him gifts of baked loafs and tasty food offerings.  The offering of the gifts and presents will probably make him feel ashamed with what he’s done and hopefully he’ll stop sickening and killing the people”.

Atrahasis did what Enki had suggested and gathered the elders and senior men to his home and told them of Enki’s plan.  The elders listened to the strategy and did exactly what Enki had suggested.  In addition to this, they also built a temple in the city dedicated to Namtar.  As discussed in their meeting, they then spread the word of dissatisfaction and distrust of the gods amongst the people.  According to the plan, all of the gods, except Namtar, were ignored with no respect expressed.  The people stopped visiting the goddesses’ temples with food offerings and also stopped praying or requesting anything from them.  They did however, proceed to leave offerings for Namtar at his home and he was the only god that was respected and treated well.  Namtar was ashamed and embarrassed by the offerings, as he was the only god being noticed by the people.  It didn’t take long before Namtar decided that enough is enough and stopped the spreading of the disease.  With that, the people recovered and the gods were again respected and treated well with the people’s offerings.

  1. Atrahasis is actually mentioned in the “Sumerian King List” under the name of Ubaru-Tutu as the 8th king, it’s also documented that he reigned in Shuruppak for 18,600 years before the flood. This would mean that the people of those days probably lived extended lives compared to the humans of today and possibly why they continued to multiply and over-populate the area.  The added wisdom and learnings acquired with the extremely long lives of these humans may have added to the reasons why the higher Anunnaki gods (and especially Enlil) saw them as a threat and this threat contributed towards the decisions made to eliminate them before they became educated and a serious problem to them.
  2. Enki and Atrahasis were obviously aware of what Enlil was doing through his son Namtar. The fact that Enki or Atrahasis hadn’t done anything until that time indicates that Enlil had full control.  It can also be assumed that the human deaths hadn’t hit a biblical proportion at that stage.  Also, Enki was either scared of going against his brother or he wasn’t concerned or planning to do anything about it until Atrahasis asked for help.

Figure 17 – The Sumerian King List on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England.

 

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