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Collections | Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets

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Tablet Inscribed in Akkadian with a Fragment of the Babylonian Flood Story of Epic of Athrasis
Mesopotamia, First Dynasty of Babylon, reign of King Ammi-saduqa (ca. 1646–1626 B.C.); clay
MLC 1889
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

The precious fragment is the earliest known Akkadian version of the familiar Noaj motif. The epic begins witht the creation of man when "great indeed was the drudgery of God." So the godscreated man but soon tired of him and decided to destroy all of mankind. The god Enki(Ea) tells Atrahasis of the impending flood and instructs him to build an ark. With over 1,200 lines, the story filled three tablets. The Morgan fragment, from the second tablet, or chapter, preserves a unique colophon, stating the work's title—"When Gods Were Men"—as well as the name of the scribe and the place and date upon which he copied it.

Translation:
(The god) Enki made his voice heard...
Dismantle the house, build a boat
Reject possessions, and save living things.
The boat that you build...
Make upper and lower decks.
The tackle must be very strong,
The bitumen strong, to give it strength
I will make rain fall on you here.
The Flood roared like a bull,
Like a wild ass screaming the winds
The darkness was total, there was no sun...
For seven days and seven nights
The torrent, storm and flood came on...


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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.