Sumerian and Biblical Flood Stories

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The Holocene Impact Working Group is a collection of scientists from Australia, France, Ireland, Russia and the US who hypothesize that meteorite impacts on Earth are more common than previously supposed. The group has suggested that the Earth experiences one large global impact every 1,000 years. They claim that the geological formation known as a chevron or a wedge-shaped sediment deposit observed on coastlines, are created by megatsunamis and asteroid impacts. They have gathered some significant results and located major impact zones on Earth. The most important being the Burckle Crater, which is an undersea crater located to the east of Madagascar and west of Western Australia in the southern Indian ocean.

The impact zone is very large and estimated to be about 30 km (18 mi) in diameter. The Burckle Crater has yet to be dated by radiometric analysis, but it is strongly believed that the object impacted Earth between the years 2800-3000 BC, which is only 5,000 years ago. Near the crater, unusual metals have been reported, including carbonate crystals, translucent carbon spherules and fragments of mineral glass.

Numerous cultures make references to an ancient flood during this time in history and a wide range of events point to a disaster on Earth, including the end of the Early Harappan Ravi Phase, the end of the pre-dynastic “antediluvian” rulers of the Sumerian civilization and the start of the First Dynasty of Kish.


Bruce Masse, is an environmental archaeologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He has been studying the archeological and anthropological record of celestial phenomona and earthly catastrophes. He thinks he can say precisely when the comet fell: on the morning of May 10, 2807 B.C. Dr. Masse analyzed 175 flood myths from around the world, and tried to relate them to known and accurately dated natural events like solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions. Among other evidence, he said, 14 flood myths specifically mention a full solar eclipse, which could have been the one that occurred in May 2807 B.C. Half the myths talk of a torrential downpour, Dr. Masse said. A third talk of a tsunami. Worldwide they describe hurricane force winds and darkness during the storm. All of these could come from a mega-tsunami.

There is a high correlation between Sumerian and Hebrew stories before and after the flood as described in Gilgamesh, Sumarian flood stories and Genesis. Far from living at first in a primitive stage, the earliest men, according to Genesis 4-5, were sophisticated and skilled in many of the basic elements of civilization. We have names, ages, towns, agriculture, mining and metallurgy, and music. These imply the ability to write, count, build, farm, smelt, and compose by the immediate descendants of Adam. The Ubaid (early Sumer) culture had a long duration beginning before 5300 BC and lasting until the beginning of the Uruk period, c. 4000-2900 BC. The adoption of the wheel and the beginning of the Chalcolithic (copper smelting) period fall into the Ubaid period.

The Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. The cities of Sumer could not maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force.

It is a curious fact, that Sumerian tradition preserved two lists of “kings” who reigned before the Flood, one of them with eight names as does the family tree of Cain, and the other ten names, as does the family tree of Adam to Noah. Regarding the ten generations from Adam to Noah, it is also curious how the number ten prevails independently of the Bible concerning the first generations of men. In addition to the Bible and the Sumerian record, the Iranians wrote of the ten kings of ancient times who preserved the purity of the Laws. The Hindus spoke of ten fathers, the children of Brahma. In the sagas of the Germans and Scandinavians ten ancestors of Odin are mentioned. Among the Chinese there were ten emperors before the dawn of history. The Arabs spoke of ten fabled kings who lived between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Berossus, the Babylonian historian, who lived about 300 B.C., copied old inscriptions which told of ten kings who lived before the Flood and who reigned 432,000 years.

This huge number deserves some comment. The total has often been used to demonstrate the mythical nature of the story and to emphasize the fact that such accounts have no connection with true history. The original reads 120 saros. The sari was a Babylonian measure which could mean 3600 of anything. It is a natural conclusion that in this context one thinks in terms of years, and indeed 120 x 3600 equals 432,000 years. It is seldom noted, however, that the sari also has a meaning of 18 1/2 years, which results in an entirely different conclusion. Suidas, a Greek lexicographer of the 12th century A.D. is quoted as saying that the sari among the Chaldeans is 222 lunar months, that is, 18 years and six months, and that the Chaldean year on which the sari is based consisted of twelve months of thirty days each, or 360 days. If we take the more logical figure of 18 1/2 years, we secure a total length of time for the ten kings of 2220 years. This figure compares astonishingly well with the Vatican Septuagint total of 2242 years for the ten Pre-Flood patriarchs, and the archeologic evidence of the early Sumerian people, the Ubaid. Now I really don’t believe that individual kings lived an average of 220 years but I am inclined the believe that there may have been 10 dynasties before the flood.

The earliest record of the Sumerian creation and flood myth is found on a single tablet found in Nippur, sometimes called the Eridu Genesis (seen above). It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to 2150 BC. There is a huge scholarly debate concerning whether the account in Genesis in the Bible or the in Sumarian Flood myth was first. It seems likely that they both are written acounts of an oral tradition that were actually written down a long time later and probably recount the same facts from a different perspective.

In 1905, Leonard Woolley led a joint excavation by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania in the desert area between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. Woolley’s excavations are described by the German archaeologist Werner Keller as follows: (I got this quote and the picture from ““)

“The graves of the kings of Ur” – so Woolley, in the exuberance of his delight at discovering them, had dubbed the tombs of Sumerian nobles whose truly regal splendour had been exposed when the spades of the archaeologists attacked a fifty-foot mound south of the temple and found a long row of superimposed graves. The stone vaults were veritable treasure chests, for they were filled with all the costly goblets, wonderfully shaped jugs and vases, bronze tableware, mother of pearl mosaics, lapis lazuli, and silver surrounded these bodies which had mouldered into dust. Harps and lyres rested against the walls…

When after several days some of Woolley’s workmen called out to him, “We are on ground level”, he let himself down onto the floor of the shaft to satisfy himself. Woolley’s first thought was “This is it at last”. It was sand, pure sand of a kind that could only have been deposited by water.

They decided to dig on and make the shaft deeper. Deeper and deeper went the spades into the ground: three feet, six feet – still pure mud. Suddenly, at ten feet, the layer of mud stopped as abruptly as it had started. Under this clay deposit of almost ten feet thick, they had struck fresh evidence of human habitation…

The Flood – that was the only possible explanation of this great clay deposit beneath the hill at Ur, which quite clearly separated two epochs of settlement

After the flood, everybody fanned out to new places while some remained in Mesopotaniamia. In the post-Flood genealogical records of Genesis 10 we note that the sons of Ham were: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan. Mizraim went to Egypt. No one is sure where Put went to live, some say north Africa. And it is obvious who the Cannanites were. Cush lived in the “land of Shinar” which most scholars consider to be Kish in Sumer. The Sumarians note that Kish was the new center of Sumar. From Genesis, “There developed the first civilization after the Flood. The sons of Shem-the Semites-were also mixed, to some extent, with the Sumerians”. In my mind this is just an allegorical way of saying where waves of Sumarian migrations went.

After the flood, the northern part of Mesopotamia, Akkadia became much more important. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate).

The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests of its founder Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC) seen in the picture to the left (looks like somebody had a beef with him and punched his left eye out!). He also boasted of having subjugated the “four quarters” — the lands surrounding Akkad to the north (Assyria), the south (Sumer), the east (Elam) and the west (Martu). Trade extended from the silver mines of Anatolia to the lapis lazuli mines in Afghanistan, the cedars of Lebanon and the copper of Magan. This consolidation of the city-states of Sumer and Akkad reflected the growing economic and political power of Mesopotamia. The empire’s breadbasket was the rain-fed agricultural system of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria) and a chain of fortresses was built to control the imperial wheat production. Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history.

The dates between 3000 BC and Sargon are very difficult as you might imagine after a major natural disaster. Sometime around 2700 BC, Gilgamesh is supposed to have ruled as a king.

In the epic poem Gilgamesh, the hero sets out to kill the one who sent the Flood, so he will not trouble them anymore. He takes with him a friend who is a monstrous half-man, half-animal-Enkidu. Together they go on a long journey to the Cedar Mountain to find and destroy the monster who sent the Flood. Gilgamesh finds him and finally succeeds in cutting off the head of this creature whose name is “Huwawa” (“Humbaba” in the Assyrian version). Because of the parallels between Gilgamesh and Nimrod (from the Bible), many scholars agree that Gilgamesh might be the Nimrod mentioned in the Bible. The Bible does not mention any meeting between Nimrod and Abraham, although a confrontation between the two is said to have taken place, according to several Jewish and Islamic traditions. Some stories bring the both together in a cataclysmic collision, seen as a symbol of the confrontation between Good and Evil, and/or as a symbol of monotheism against polytheism. On the other hand, some Jewish traditions say only that the two men met and had a discussion. Nimrod is the reason Abraham leaves Sumer.


This has been a long post, but I hope it has sparked your interest, we are going back to the Louvre tomorrow and I think I have a much better grasp of Mesopotanian history.