STORIES FROM MESOPOTAMIA

THREE OX-DRIVERS FROM ADAB


“Three Ox-Drivers from Adab” goes: “There were three friends, citizens of Adab, who fell into a dispute with each other, and sought justice. They deliberated the matter with many words, and went before the king. "Our king! We are ox-drivers. The ox belongs to one man, the cow belongs to one man, and the waggon belongs to one man. We became thirsty and had no water. [Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“We said to the owner of the ox, "If you were to fetch some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if my ox is devoured by a lion? I will not leave my ox!". We said to the owner of the cow, "If you were to fetch some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if my cow went off into the desert? I will not leave my cow!". We said to the owner of the waggon, "If you were to fetch some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if the load were removed from my waggon? I will not leave my waggon!". "Come on, let's all go! Come on, and let's return together!" " "First the ox, although tied with a leash , mounted the cow, and then she dropped her young, and the calf started to chew up the waggon's load. Who does this calf belong to? Who can take the calf?"

” The king did not give them an answer, but went to visit a cloistered lady. The king sought advice from the cloistered lady: "Three young men came before me and said: 'Our king, we are ox-drivers. The ox belongs to one man, the cow belongs to one man, and the waggon belongs to one man. We became thirsty and had no water. We said to the owner of the ox, "If you were to draw some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if my ox is devoured by a lion? I will not leave my ox!". We said to the owner of the cow, "If you were to draw some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if my cow went off into the desert? I will not leave my cow!". We said to the owner of the waggon, "If you were to draw some water, then we could drink!". And he said, "What if the load were removed from my waggon? I will not leave my waggon!" he said. "Come on, let's all go! Come on, and let's return together!" ' "

" 'First the ox, although tied with a leash , mounted the cow, and then she dropped her young, and the calf started to chew up the waggon's load. Who does this calf belong to? Who can take the calf?" ' [35 lines missing, The cloistered lady continues her reply to the king:) "Well now, the owner of the ox, ...... his field ....... After his ox has been eaten by a lion ......, his field ......." "The hero....... Like a mountaineer ....... A dog ...... the ox ....... A strong man ...... in his field......."

"Well now, the owner of the cow ...... his wife. After his cow has gone off into the desert ......, his wife will walk the streets ....... After the cow has dropped its young ......, the hero, walking in the rain ....... His wife ...... herself. The ox's food ration which he has turned to his ......, ...... hunger. His wife dwells with him in his house, his desired one ...... "

"Well now, the owner of the waggon, after he has abandoned his ......, and the load has been removed from his waggon, and ...... from his waggon, and after he has brought his ...... into his house, ...... will be made to leave his house. His calf that began to chew up the waggon's load will be ...... in his house. When he has approached ...... the open-armed hero, the king, having learnt about his case, will make his ...... leave his dwelling ...... the ox, ...... has partaken of my wisdom, shall not oppose it. His load, ......, will not return ."

“When the king came out from the cloistered lady's presence, each man's heart was dissatisfied. The man who hated his wife left his wife. The man ...... his ...... abandoned his ....... With elaborate words, with elaborate words, the case of the citizens of Adab was settled. Pa-nijin-jara, their sage, the scholar, the god of Adab, was the scribe.”

See Abraham and the Ox Cart travel to Canaan

Websites and Resources on Mesopotamia: Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu.com/Mesopotamia ; Mesopotamia University of Chicago site mesopotamia.lib.uchicago.edu; British Museum mesopotamia.co.uk ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Louvre louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_periode.jsp ; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/toah ; University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology penn.museum/sites/iraq ; Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago uchicago.edu/museum/highlights/meso ; Iraq Museum Database oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IRAQ/dbfiles/Iraqdatabasehome ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; ABZU etana.org/abzubib; Oriental Institute Virtual Museum oi.uchicago.edu/virtualtour ; Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur oi.uchicago.edu/museum-exhibits ; Ancient Near Eastern Art Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org

Archaeology News and Resources: Anthropology.net anthropology.net : serves the online community interested in anthropology and archaeology; archaeologica.org archaeologica.org is good source for archaeological news and information. Archaeology in Europe archeurope.com features educational resources, original material on many archaeological subjects and has information on archaeological events, study tours, field trips and archaeological courses, links to web sites and articles; Archaeology magazine archaeology.org has archaeology news and articles and is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America; Archaeology News Network archaeologynewsnetwork is a non-profit, online open access, pro- community news website on archaeology; British Archaeology magazine british-archaeology-magazine is an excellent source published by the Council for British Archaeology; Current Archaeology magazine archaeology.co.uk is produced by the UK’s leading archaeology magazine; HeritageDaily heritagedaily.com is an online heritage and archaeology magazine, highlighting the latest news and new discoveries; Livescience livescience.com/ : general science website with plenty of archaeological content and news. Past Horizons : online magazine site covering archaeology and heritage news as well as news on other science fields; The Archaeology Channel archaeologychannel.org explores archaeology and cultural heritage through streaming media; Ancient History Encyclopedia ancient.eu : is put out by a non-profit organization and includes articles on pre-history; Best of History Websites besthistorysites.net is a good source for links to other sites; Essential Humanities essential-humanities.net: provides information on History and Art History, including sections Prehistory

Worm and the Toothache


18th century Ottoman depiction of tooth worms

“The Worm and the Toothache” reads:
After Anu had created heaven,
Heaven had created the earth,
The earth had created the rivers,
The rivers had created the marsh,
And the marsh had created the worm---

The worm went, weeping, before Shamash,
His tears flowing before Ea:
"What will you give me for food?
What will you give me to suck on?"
"I will give you the ripe fig and the apricot."
"What good is the ripe fig and the apricot?

Lift me up, and assign me to the teeth and the gums!
I will suck the blood of the tooth,
and I will gnaw its roots at the gum!"
Because you have said this, O worm,
May Ea strike you with the might of his hand!
[Source: Translated by E. A. Speiser, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament, edited by J. B. Pritchard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 100-101, piney.com]

Creation of the Pickax

The Myth of the Creation of the Pickax or Hoe adds some details to the creation of mankind: Enlil removed heaven from earth in order to make room for seeds to come up. After he created the hoe he used it to break the hard crust of earth in Uzumua (the flesh-grower), a place in the Temple of Inanna in Nippur. Here, out of the hole made by Enlil's hoe, man grew forth. [Source: Kenneth Sublett, piney.com]


early stone age ax

The Creation of the Pickax by Enlil (the Babylonian Holy Spirit) goes: The lord did verily produce the normal order,
The lord whose decisions cannot be altered,
Enlil quickly removed heaven from earth
So that the seed, from which the nation grew, could sprout up from the field;
He quickly brought the earth out from under the heaven as a separate entity
And bound up for the earth the gash in the "bond of heaven and earth"
So that the earth could grow humankind.;

He created the pickax when daylight was shining forth,
He organized the tasks, the pickman's way of life;
Stretching out his arm straight toward the pickax and the basket,
Enlil sang the praises of his pickax.
He drove his pickax into the earth.
In the hole which he had made was humankind.
While the people of the land were breaking through the ground,
He eyed his black-headed ones in steadfast fashion.
The pickax and the basket build cities,
The steadfast house of the pickax builds, the steadfast house of the pickax establishes,
The steadfast house it causes to prosper.
The house which rebels against the king,
The house which is not submissive to its king,
The pickax makes it submissive to the kingÉ
The pickax, its fate is decreed by father Enlil,
The pickax is exalted.

Hullupu Tree: Version One

In days of yore, in the distant days of yore,
In nights of yore, in the far-off nights of yore,
In days of yore, in the distant days of yore,
After in days of yore all things needful had been brought into being,
After in days of yore all things needful had been ordered,
After bread had been tasted in the shrines of the Land,
After bread had been baked in the ovens of the Land,
After heaven had been moved away from earth,
After earth had been separated from heaven,
After the name of man had been fixed,
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into the nether world as its prize --
[Source: “The Sumerians,” Samuel Noah Kramer, p. 199, piney.com]


Inanna and the Hullupu Tree

After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father had set sail for the nether world,
Against the king, the small were hurled,
Against Enki, the large were hurled,
Its small stones of the hand,
Its large stones of the dancing reeds,
The keel of Enki's boat,
Overwhelm in battle like an attacking storm,
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Devours like a wolf,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Strikes down like a lion.
[Enki is the patron god of music and arts. Inanna stole the power of music.]

Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree --
It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates,
It was watered by the Euphrates --
The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots,
Tore away its crown,
The Euphrates carried it off on its waters.
The woman, roving about in fear at the word of An,
Roving about in fear at the word of Enlil,
Took the tree in her hand, brought it to Erech:
"I shall bring it to pure Inanna's fruitful garden."

The woman tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
Inanna tended the tree with her hand, placed it by her foot,
"When will it be a fruitful throne for me to sit on," she said,
"When will it be a fruitful bed for me to lie on," she said.
The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage,
In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young,
In its midst the maid Lilith built her house --
The always laughing, always rejoicing maid,
The maid Inanna -- how she weeps!

As light broke, as the horizon brightened,
As Utu came forth from the "princely field,"
His sister, the holy Inanna,
Says to her brother Utu:
"My brother, after in days of yore the fates had been decreed,
After abundance had sated the land,
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into the nether world as its prize --

After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father had set sail for the nether world,
Against the king, the small were hurled,
Against Enki, the large were hurled,
Its small stones of the hand,
Its large stones of the dancing reeds,
The keel of Enki's boat,
Overwhelm in battle like an attacking storm,
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Devours like a wolf,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Strikes down like a lion.

Her brother, the hero Gilgamesh,
Stood by her in this matter,
He donned armor weighing fifty minas about his waist --
Fifty minas were handled by him like thirty shekels --
His "ax of the road" --
Seven talents and seven minas -- he took in his hand,
At its roots he struck down the snake who knows no charm,
In its crown the Imdugud-bird took its young, climbed to the mountains,
In its midst the maid Lilith tore down her house, fled to the wastes.
The tree -- he plucked at its roots, tore at its crown,
The sons of the city who accompanied him cut off its branches,
He gives it to holy Inanna for her throne,
Gives it to her for her bed,
She fashions its roots into a pukku for him,
Fashions its crown into a mikku for him.

The summoning pukku -- in street and lane he made the pukku resound,
The loud drumming -- in street and lane he made the drumming resound,
The young men of the city, summoned by the pukku --
Bitterness and woe -- he is the affliction of their widows,
"O my mate, O my spouse," they lament,
Who had a mother -- she brings bread to her son,
Who had a sister -- she brings water to her brother.
After the evening star had disappeared,
And he had marked the places where his pukku had been,
He carried the pukku before him, brought it to his house,
At dawn in the places he had marked -- bitterness and woe!
Captives! Dead! Widows!
Because of the cry of the young maidens,
His pukku and mikku fell into the "great dwelling,"
He put in his hand, could not reach them,
Put in his foot, could not reach them,
He sat down at the great gate ganzir, the "eye" of the nether world,
Gilgamesh wept, his face turns pale . . . .

Hullupu Tree: Version Two

In the first days, in the very first days,
In the first nights, in the very first nights,
In the first years, in the very first years,
In the first days when everything needed was brought into being,
In the first days when everything needed was properly nourished,
When bread was baked in the shrines of the land,
And bread was tasted in the homes of the land,
When heaven had moved away from earth,
And the earth had seperated from heaven,
And the name of man was fixed;
[Source: Wolkstein, Diane & Samuel Noah Kramer. (1983). Inanna queen of
heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper & Row.

When the Sky God, An, had carried off the heavens,
And the Air God, Enlil, had carried off the earth,
When the Queen of the Great Below, Ereshkigal, was given
the underworld for her domain,
He set sail; the Father set sail,
Enki, the God of Wisdom, set sail for the underworld.
Small windstones were tossed up against him;
Large hailstones were hurled up against him;
Like onrushing turtles,
They charged the keel of Enki's boat.
The waters of the sea devoured the bow of his boat like wolves;
The waters of the sea struck the stern of his boat like lions.

At that time, a tree, a single tree, a huluppu-tree (Willow)
Was planted by the banks of the Euphrates.
The tree was nurtured by the waters of the Euphrates.
The whirling South Wind arose, pulling at its roots
And ripping at its branches
Until the waters of the Euphrates carried it away.
A woman who walked in fear of the word of the Sky God, An,
Who walked in fear of the Air God, Enlil,
Plucked the tree from the river and spoke:
"I shall bring this tree to Uruk.
I shall plant this tree in my holy garden."
Inanna cared for the tree with her hand
She settled the earth around the tree with her foot
She wondered:
"How long will it be until I have a shining throne to sit upon?
How Long will it be until I have a shining bed to lie upon?"

The years passed; five years, and then ten years.
The tree grew thick,
But its bark did not split.
Then the serpent who could not be charmed
Made it's nest in the roots of the huluppu-tree.
The Anzu-bird set its you in the branches of the tree.
And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.
The young woman who loved to laugh wept.
How Inanna wept!
(Yet they would not leave her tree.)
As the birds began to sing at the coming of the dawn,
The sun God, Utu, left his royal bedchamber.
Inanna called to her brother Utu, saying:
"O Utu, in the days when the fates were decreed,
When abudance overflowed in the land,
When the Sky God took the heavens and the Air God the earth,
When Ereshkigal was given the Great Below for her domain,
The God of Wisdom, Father Enki, set sail for the underworld,
And the underworld rose up and attacked him....

At that time, a tree, a single tree, the huluppa-tree
Was planted by the banks of the Euphrates.
The South Wind pulled at its roots and ripped its branches
Until the water of the Euphrates carried it away.
I plucked the tree from the river;
I brought it to my holy garden.
I tended the tree, waiting for my shining throne and bed.
Then a serpent who could not be charmed
Made its nest in the roots of the tree,
The Anzu-bird set his young in the branches of the tree,
And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.
I wept.
How I wept!
(Yet they would not leave my tree."

Utu, the valiant warrior, Utu,
Would not help his sister, Inanna.
As the birds befan to sing at the coming of the second dawn,
Inanna called to her brother Gilgamesh, saying:
"O Gilgamesh, in the days when the fates were decreed,
When abundance overflowed in Sumer,
When the Sky God had taken the heavens and the Air God
the earth,
When Ereshkigal was given the Great Below for her domain,
The God of Wisdom, Father Enki, set sail for the
underworld,

And the underworld rose up and attacked him.
At that time, a tree, a single tree, a huluppu-tree
Was planted by the banks of the Euphrates.
The South Wind pulled at its roots adn ripped at its
branches
Until the waters of the Euphrates carried it away.
I plucked the tree from the river;
I brought it to my holy garden.
I tended the tree, waiting for my shining throne and bed.
Then a serpent who could not be charmed
Made its nest in the roots of the tree,
The Anzu-bird set his young in the branches of the tree,
And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.
I wept.
How I wept!
(Yet they would not leave my tree.)"

Gilgamesh, the valiant warrior Gilgamesh,
The hero of Uruk, stood by Inanna.
Gilgamesh fastened his armor of fifty minas around his chest.
The fifty minas weighed as little to him as fifty feathers.
He lifted his bronze ax, the ax of the road,
Weighing seven talents and seven minas, to his shoulder.
He entered Inanna's holy garden.
Gilgamesh struck the serpent who could not be charmed.
The Anzu-bird flew with his young to the mountains;
And Lilith smashed her home and fled to the wild, uninhabited
places.
Gilgamesh then loosened the roots of the huluppa-tree;
And the sons of the city, who accompanied him, cut off the
branches.
From the trunk of the tree he carved a throne for his holy
sister.
From the trunk of the tree Gilgamesh carved a bed for Inanna.
From the roots of the tree she fashioned a pukku for her brother.
From the crown of the tree Inanna fashioned a mikku for Gilgamesh
the hero of Uruk.

Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird


Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird begins: Lugalbanda lies idle in the mountains, in the faraway places; he has ventured into the Zabu mountains. No mother is with him to offer advice, no father is with him to talk to him. No one is with him whom he knows, whom he values, no confidant is there to talk to him. In his heart he speaks to himself: "I shall treat the bird as befits him, I shall treat Anzud as befits him. I shall greet his wife affectionately. I shall seat Anzud's wife and Anzud's child at a banquet.[Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“An will fetch Ninguenaka for me from her mountain home -- the expert woman, who redounds to her mother's credit, Ninkasi the expert, who redounds to her mother's credit: her fermenting-vat is of green lapis lazuli, her beer cask is of refined silver and of gold; if she stands by the beer, there is joy, if she sits by the beer, there is gladness; as cupbearer she mixes the beer, never wearying as she walks back and forth, Ninkasi, the keg at her side, on her hips; may she make my beer-serving perfect. When the bird has drunk the beer and is happy, when Anzud has drunk the beer and is happy, he can help me find the place to which the troops of Unug are going, Anzud can put me on the track of my brothers."

“Now the splendid 'eagle'-tree of Enki on the summit of Inana's mountain of multi-coloured cornelian stood fast on the earth like a tower, all shaggy like an aru. With its shade it covered the highest eminences of the mountains like a cloak, was spread out over them like a tunic. It roots rested like sajkal snakes in Utu's river of the seven mouths. Nearby, in the mountains where no cypresses grow, where no snake slithers, where no scorpion scurries, in the midst of the mountains the buru-az bird had put its nest and laid therein its eggs; nearby the bird Anzud had set its nest and settled therein its young. It was made with wood from the juniper and the box trees. The bird had made the bright twigs into a bower. When at daybreak the bird stretches himself, when at sunrise Anzud cries out, at his cry the ground quakes in the Lulubi mountains. He has a shark's teeth and an eagle's claws. In terror of him wild bulls run away into the foothills, stags run away into their mountains.

Lugalbanda in the Nest of the Anzu Bird

Lugalbanda is wise and he achieves mighty exploits. In preparation of the sweet celestial cakes he added carefulness to carefulness. He kneaded the dough with honey, he added more honey to it. He set them before the young nestling, before the Anzud chick, gave the baby salt meat to eat. He fed it sheep's fat. He popped the cakes into its beak. He settled the Anzud chick in its nest, painted its eyes with kohl, dabbed white cedar scent onto its head, put up a twisted roll of salt meat. He withdrew from the Anzud's nest, awaited him in the mountains where no cypresses grow. At that time the bird was herding together wild bulls of the mountains, Anzud was herding together wild bulls of the mountains. He held a live bull in his talons, he carried a dead bull across his shoulders. He poured forth his bile like ten gur of water. The bird flew around once, Anzud flew around once. [Source: J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Robson, and G. Zlyomi 1998, 1999, 2000, Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, piney.com]

“When the bird called back to his nest, when Anzud called back to his nest, his fledgling did not answer him from its nest. When the bird called a second time to his nest, his fledgling did not answer from its nest. Before, if the bird called back to his nest, his fledgling would answer from its nest; but now when the bird called back to his nest, his fledgling did not answer him from its nest. The bird uttered a cry of grief that reached up to heaven, his wife cried out "Woe!" Her cry reached the abzu. The bird with this cry of "Woe!" and his wife with this cry of grief made the Anuna, gods of the mountains, actually crawl into crevices like ants. The bird says to his wife, Anzud says to his wife, "Foreboding weighs upon my nest, as over the great cattle-pen of Nanna. Terror lies upon it, as when wild bulls start butting each other. Who has taken my child from its nest? Who has taken the Anzud from its nest?"

“But it seemed to the bird, when it approached its nest, it seemed to Anzud, when it approached its nest, that it had been made like a god's dwelling-place. It was brilliantly festooned. His chick was settled in its nest, its eyes were painted with kohl, sprigs of white cedar were fixed on its head. A twisted piece of salt meat was hung up high. The bird is exultant, Anzud is exultant: "I am the prince who decides the destiny of rolling rivers. I keep on the straight and narrow path the righteous who follow Enlil's counsel. My father Enlil brought me here. He let me bar the entrance to the mountains as if with a great door. If I fix a fate, who shall alter it? If I but say the word, who shall change it? Whoever has done this to my nest, if you are a god, I will speak with you, indeed I will befriend you. If you are a man, I will fix your fate. I shall not let you have any opponents in the mountains. You shall be 'Hero-fortified-by-Anzud'."

Lugalbanda Convinces the Anzu Bird to Give Him Special Powers


Anzu

“Lugalbanda, partly from fright, partly from delight, partly from fright, partly from deep delight, flatters the bird, flatters Anzud: "Bird with sparkling eyes, born in this district, Anzud with sparkling eyes, born in this district, you frolic as you bathe in a pool. Your grandfather, the prince of all patrimonies, placed heaven in your hand, set earth at your feet. Your wingspan extended is like a birdnet stretched out across the sky! ...... on the ground your talons are like a trap laid for the wild bulls and wild cows of the mountains! Your spine is as straight as a scribe's! Your breast as you fly is like Nirah parting the waters! As for your back, you are a verdant palm garden, breathtaking to look upon. Yesterday I escaped safely to you, since then I have entrusted myself to your protection. Your wife shall be my mother" (he said), "You shall be my father" (he said), "I shall treat your little ones as my brothers. Since yesterday I have been waiting for you in the mountains where no cypresses grow. Let your wife stand beside you to greet me. I offer my greeting and leave you to decide my destiny."

“The bird presents himself before him, rejoices over him, Anzud presents himself before him, rejoices over him. Anzud says to Lugalbanda the pure, "Come now, my Lugalbanda. Go like a boat full of precious metals, like a grain barge, like a boat going to deliver apples, like a boat piled up high with a cargo of cucumbers, casting a shade, like a boat loaded lavishly at the place of harvest, go back to brick-built Kulaba with head held high!" -- Lugalbanda who loves the seed will not accept this.

“"Like Cara, Inana's beloved son, shoot forth with your barbed arrows like a sunbeam, shoot forth with reed-arrows like moonlight! May the barbed arrows be a horned viper to those they hit! Like a fish killed with the cleaver, may they be magic-cut! May you bundle them up like logs hewn with the axe!" -- Lugalbanda who loves the seed will not accept this.

“"May Ninurta, Enlil's son, set the helmet Lion of Battle on your head, may the breastplate that in the great mountains does not permit retreat be laid on your breast! May you ...... the battle-net against the enemy! When you go to the city, ......!" -- Lugalbanda who loves the seed will not accept this.

“"The plenty of Dumuzi's holy butter churn, whose fat is the fat of all the world, shall be granted to you. Its milk is the milk of all the world. It shall be granted to you." -- Lugalbanda who loves the seed will not accept this. As a kib bird, a fresh-water kib, as it flies along a lagoon, he answered him in words.

“The bird listened to him. Anzud said to Lugalbanda the pure, "Now look, my Lugalbanda, just think again. It's like this: a wilful plough-ox should be put back in the track, a balking ass should be made to take the straight path. Still, I shall grant you what you put to me. I shall assign you a destiny according to your wishes."

“Lugalbanda the pure answers him: "Let the power of running be in my thighs, let me never grow tired! Let there be strength in my arms, let me stretch my arms wide, let my arms never become weak! Moving like the sunlight, like Inana, like the seven storms, those of Ickur, let me leap like a flame, blaze like lightning! Let me go wherever I look to, set foot wherever I cast my glance, reach wherever my heart desires and let me loosen my shoes in whatever place my heart has named to me! When Utu lets me reach Kulaba my city, let him who curses me have no joy thereof; let him who wishes to strive with me never say "Just let him come!" I shall have the woodcarvers fashion statues of you, and you will be breathtaking to look upon. Your name will be made famous thereby in Sumer and will redound to the credit of the temples of the great gods."

“So Anzud says to Lugalbanda the pure: "The power of running be in your thighs! Never grow tired! Strength be in your arms! Stretch your arms wide, may your arms never become weak! Moving like the sun, like Inana, like the seven storms of Ickur, leap like a flame, blaze like lightning! Go wherever you look to, set foot wherever you cast your glance, reach wherever your heart desires, loosen your shoes in whatever place your heart has named to you! When Utu lets you reach Kulaba your city, he who curses you shall have no joy thereof; he who wishes to strive with you shall never say "Just let him come!" When you have had the woodcarvers fashion statues of me, I shall be breathtaking to look upon. My name will be made famous thereby in Sumer and will redound to the credit of the temples of the great gods. May ...... shake for you ...... like a sandal. ...... Euphrates ...... you feet ......."

Anzu Bird Helps Lugalbanda Locate His Comrades

“He took in his hand such of his provisions as he had not eaten, and his weapons one by one. Anzud flew on high, Lugalbanda walked on the ground. The bird, looking from above, spies the troops. Lugalbanda, looking from below, spies the dust that the troops have stirred up. The bird says to Lugalbanda, "Come now, my Lugalbanda. I shall give you some advice: may my advice be heeded. I shall say words to you: bear them in mind. What I have told you, the fate I have fixed for you, do not tell it to your comrades, do not explain it to your brothers. Fair fortune may conceal foul: it is indeed so. Leave me to my nest: you keep to your troops." The bird hurried to its nest. Lugalbanda set out for the place where his brothers were.

“Like a pelican emerging from the sacred reed-bed, like lahama deities going up from the abzu , like one who is stepping from heaven to earth, Lugalbanda stepped into the midst of his brothers' picked troops. His brothers chattered away, the troops chattered away. His brothers, his friends weary him with questions: "Come now, my Lugalbanda, here you are again! The troops had abandoned you as one killed in battle. Certainly, you were not eating the good fat of the herd! Certainly, you were not eating the sheepfold's fresh cheese. How is it that you have come back from the great mountains, where no one goes alone, whence no one returns to mankind?" Again his brothers, his friends weary him with questions: "The banks of the mountain rivers, mothers of plenty, are widely separated. How did you cross their waters? -- as if you were drinking them?"

“Lugalbanda the pure replies to them, "The banks of the mountain rivers, mothers of plenty, are widely separated. With my legs I stepped over them, I drank them like water from a waterskin; and then I snarled like a wolf, I grazed the water-meadows, I pecked at the ground like a wild pigeon, I ate the mountain acorns." Lugalbanda's brothers and friends consider the words that he has said to them. Exactly as if they were small birds flocking together all day long they embrace him and kiss him. As if he were a gamgam chick sitting in its nest, they feed him and give him drink. They drive away sickness from Lugalbanda the pure.


Anzu and Shamash, the Sun God


Lugalbanda and the Troops of Unug Attack Aratta

“Then the men of Unug followed them as one man; they wound their way through the hills like a snake over a grain-pile. When the city was only a double-hour distant, the armies of Unug and Kulaba encamped by the posts and ditches that surrounded Aratta. From the city it rained down javelins as if from the clouds, slingstones numerous as the raindrops falling in a whole year whizzed down loudly from Aratta's walls. The days passed, the months became long, the year turned full circle. A yellow harvest grew beneath the sky. They looked askance at the fields. Unease came over them. Slingstones numerous as the raindrops falling in a whole year landed on the road. They were hemmed in by the barrier of mountain thornbushes thronged with dragons.

“No one knew how to go back to the city, no was rushing to go back to Kulaba. In their midst Enmerkar son of Utu was afraid, was troubled, was disturbed by this upset. He sought someone whom he could send back to the city, he sought someome whom he could send back to Kulaba. No one said to him "I will go to the city". No one said to him "I will go to Kulaba". He went out to the foreign host. No one said to him "I will go to the city". No one said to him "I will go to Kulaba". He stood before the élite troops. No one said to him "I will go to the city". No one said to him "I will go to Kulaba". A second time he went out to the foreign host. No one said to him "I will go to the city". No one said to him "I will go to Kulaba". He stepped out before the élite troops.

Lugalbanda Goes to Kulaba

“Lugalbanda alone arose from the people and said to him, "My king, I will go to the city, but no one shall go with me. I will go alone to Kulaba. No one shall go with me." -- "If you go to the city, no one shall go with you. You shall go alone to Kulaba, no one shall go with you." He swore by heaven and by earth: "Swear that you will not let go from your hands the great emblems of Kulaba."

“After he had stood before the summoned assembly, within the palace that rests on earth like a great mountain Enmerkar the son of Utu berated Inana: "Once upon a time my princely sister Inana the pure summoned me in her holy heart from the bright mountains, had me enter brick-built Kulaba. Where there was a marsh then in Unug, it was full of water. Where there was any dry land, Euphrates poplars grew there. Where there were reed-thickets, old reeds and young reeds grew there. Divine Enki who is king in Eridu tore up for me the old reeds, drained off the water completely. For fifty years I built, for fifty years I gave judgments. Then the Martu peoples, who know no agriculture, arose in all Sumer and Akkad. But the wall of Unug extended out across the desert like a bird net. Yet now, here in this place, my attractiveness to her has dwindled. My troops are bound to me as a cow is bound to its calf; but like a son who, hating his mother, leaves his city, my princely sister Inana the pure has run away from me back to brick-built Kulaba. If she loves her city and hates me, why does she bind the city to me? If she hates the city and yet loves me, why does she bind me to the city? If the mistress removes herself from me to her holy chamber, and abandons me like an Anzud chick, then may she at least bring me home to brick-built Kulaba: on that day my spear shall be laid aside. On that day she may shatter my shield. Speak thus to my princely sister, Inana the pure."

“Thereupon Lugalbanda the pure came forth from the palace. Although his brothers and his comrades barked at him as at a foreign dog trying to join a pack of dogs, he stepped proudly forward like a foreign wild ass trying to join a herd of wild asses. "Send someone else to Unug for the lord." -- "For Enmerkar son of Utu I shall go alone to Kulaba. No one shall go with me" -- how he spoke to them! "Why will you go alone and keep company with no one on the journey? If our beneficent spirit does not stand by you there, if our good protective deity does not go with you there, you will never again stand with us where we stand, you will never again dwell with us where we dwell, you will never again set your feet on the ground where our feet are. You will not come back from the great mountains, where no one goes alone, whence no one returns to mankind!" -- "Time is passing, I know. None of you is going with me over the great earth." While the hearts of his brothers beat loudly, while the hearts of his comrades sank, Lugalbanda took in his hand such of his provisions as he had not eaten, and each of his weapons one by one. From the foot of the mountains, through the high mountains, into the flat land, from the edge of Ancan to the top of Ancan, he crossed five, six, seven mountains.

Lugalbanda Meets Inana in Kulaba

“By midnight, but before they had brought the offering-table to Inana the pure, he set foot joyfully in brick-built Kulaba. His lady, Inana the pure, sat there on her cushion. He bowed and prostrated himself on the ground. With joyful eyes Inana looked at Lugalbanda the pure as she would look at the shepherd Ama-ucumgal-ana. In a joyful voice, Inana spoke to Lugalbanda the pure as she would speak to her son Lord Cara: "Come now, my Lugalbanda, why do you bring news from the city? How have you come here alone from Aratta?"

“Lugalbanda the pure answered her: "What Enmerkar son of Utu quoth and what he says, what your brother quoth and what he says, is: "Once upon a time my princely sister Inana the pure summoned me in her holy heart from the mountains, had me enter brick-built Kulaba. Where there was a marsh then in Unug, it was full of water. Where there was any dry land, Euphrates poplars grew there. Where there were reed-thickets, old reeds and young reeds grew there. Divine Enki who is king in Eridu tore up for me the old reeds, drained off the water completely. For fifty years I built, for fifty years I gave judgments. Then the Martu peoples, who know no agriculture, arose in all Sumer and Akkad. But the wall of Unug extended out across the desert like a bird net. Yet now, here in this place, my attractiveness to her has dwindled. My troops are bound to me as a cow is bound to its calf; but like a son who, hating his mother, leaves his city, my princely sister Inana the pure has run away from me back to brick-built Kulaba. If she loves her city and hates me, why does she bind the city to me? If she hates the city and yet loves me, why does she bind me to the city? If the mistress removes herself from me to her holy chamber and abandons me like an Anzud chick, then may she at least bring me home to brick-built Kulaba: on that day my spear shall be laid aside. On that day she may shatter my shield. Speak thus to my princely sister, Inana the pure."" "

Inana Helps Lugalbanda Claim Aratta

“Inana the pure uttered this response: "Now, at the end, on the banks, in the water-meadows, of a clear river, of a river of clear water, of the river which is Inana's gleaming waterskin, the suhurmac fish eats the honey-herb; the kijtur fish eats the mountain acorns; and the ...... fish, which is a god of the suhurmac fish, plays happily there and darts about. With his scaly tail he touches the old reeds in that holy place. The tamarisks of the place, as many as there are, drink water from that pool. "

“"It stands alone, it stands alone! One tamarisk stands alone at the side! When Enmerkar son of Utu has cut that tamarisk and has fashioned it into a bucket, he must tear up the old reeds in that holy place roots and all, and collect them in his hands. When he has chased out from it the ...... fish, which is a god of the suhurmac fish, caught that fish, cooked it, garnished it and brought it as a sacrifice to the a-an-kara weapon, Inana's battle-strength, then his troops will have success for him; then he will have brought to an end that which in the subterranean waters provides the life-strength of Aratta. "

“"If he carries off from the city its worked metal and smiths, if he carries off its worked stones and its stonemasons, if he renews the city and settles it, all the moulds of Aratta will be his." Now Aratta's battlements are of green lapis lazuli, its walls and its towering brickwork are bright red, their brick clay is made of tinstone dug out in the mountains where the cypress grows. Praise be to Lugalbanda the pure.”

Story of Ahikar, Grand Vizier of Assyria

The First Chapter of the “Story of Ahikar, Grand Vizier of Assyria” — “ The story of Haiqar the Wise, Vizier of Sennacherib the King, and of Nadan, sister's son to Haiqar the Sage” --- goes: 2 There was a Vizier in the days of King Sennacherib, son of Sarhadum, King of Assyria and Nineveh, a wise man named Haiqar, and he was Vizier of the king Sennacherib.
3 He had a fine fortune and much goods, and he was skilful, wise, a philosopher, in knowledge, in opinion and in government, and he had married sixty women, and had built a castle for each of them.
4 But with it all he had no child by any of these women, who might be his heir.
5 And he was very sad on account of this, and one day he assembled the astrologers and the learned men and the wizards and explained to them his condition and the matter of his barrenness.
6 And they said to him, 'Go, sacrifice to the gods and beseech them that perchance they may provide thee with a boy.' [Source: Ahikar Aramaic papyrus of 500 B. C. in the ruins of Elephantine - the Jewish temple in Egypt, “The Lost Books of The Bible and The Forgotten Books of Eden,” Crane, Second Section, pgs 198-219, Alpha House]

7 And he did as they told him and offered sacrifices to the idols, and besought them and implored them with request and entreaty.
8 And they answered him not one word. And he went away sorrowful and dejected, departing with a pain at his heart.
9 And he returned, and implored the Most High God, and believed, beseeching Him with a burning in his heart, saying, '0 Most High God, 0 Creator of the Heavens and of the earth, o Creator of all created things!
10 I beseech Thee to give me a boy, that I may be consoled by him, that he may be present at my death, that he may close my eyes, and that he may bury me.'
11 Then there came to him a voice saying, 'Inasmuch as thou hast relied first of all on graven images, and hast offered sacrifices to them, for this reason thou Shalt remain childless thy life long.
12 But take Nadan thy sister's son, and make him thy child and teach him thy learning and thy good breeding, and at thy death he shall bury thee.'

13 Thereupon he took Nadan his sister's son, who was a little suckling. And he handed him over to eight wet-nurses, that they might suckle him and bring him up.
14 And they brought him up with good food and gentle training and silken clothing, and purple and crimson. And he was seated upon couches of silk.
15 And when Nadan grew big and walked, shooting up like a tall cedar, he taught him good manners and writing and science and philosophy.
16 And after many days King Sennacherib looked at Haiqar and saw that he had grown very old, and moreover he said to him.
17 '0 my honoured friend, the skilful, the trusty, the wise, the governor, my secretary, my vizier, my Chancellor and director; verily thou art grown very old and weighted with years; and thy departure from this world must be near.
18 Tell me who shall have a place in my service after thee.' And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord, may thy head live for ever! There is Nadan my sister's son, I have made him my child.

19 And I have brought him up and taught him my wisdom and my knowledge.'
20 And the king said to him, '0 Haiqar ! bring him to my presence, that I may see him, and if I find him suitable, put him in thy place; and thou shalt go thy way, to take a rest and to live the remainder of thy life in sweet repose.'
21 Then Haiqar went and presented Nadan his sister's son. And he did homage and wished him power and honour.
22 And he looked at him and admired him and rejoiced in him and said to Haiqar: 'Is this thy son, 0 Haiqar? I pray that God may preserve him. And as thou hast served me and my father Sarhadum so may this boy of thine serve me and fulfil my undertakings, my needs, and my business, so that I may honour him and make him powerful for thy sake.'
23 And Haiqar did obeisance to the king and said to him 'May thy head live, 0 my lord the king, for ever! I seek from thee that thou mayst be patient with my boy Nadan and forgive his mistakes that he may serve thee as it is fitting.'
24 Then the king swore to him that he would make him the greatest of his favourites, and the most powerful of his friends, and that he should be with him in all honour and respect. And he kissed his hands and bade him farewell.
25 And he took Nadan his sister's son with him and seated him in a parlour and set about teaching him night and day till he had crammed him with wisdom and knowledge more than with bread and water.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu , National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, especially Merle Severy, National Geographic, May 1991 and Marion Steinmann, Smithsonian, December 1988, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018


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