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  • The Babylonian Creation Myth
  • When there was no heaven,
  • No earth, no height, no depth, no name
  • When Apsu was alone,
  • The sweet water, the first begetter; and Tiamat
  • The bitter water, and that
  • Return to the womb, her Mummu,
  • When there were no gods —
  • When sweet and bitter
  • Mingled together, no reed was plaited, no rushes
  • Muddied the water,
  • The gods were nameless, natureless, futureless, then
  • From Apsu and Tiamat
  • In the waters gods were created, in the waters
  • Silt precipitated,
  • Lahmu and Lahamu,
  • Were named; they were not yet old,
  • Not yet grown tall
  • When Anshar and Kishar overtook them both,
  • The lines of the sky and earth
  • Stretched where horizons meet to
  • separate
  • Cloud from silt.
  • Days on days, years
  • On years passed till Anu, the empty heaven,
  • Heir and supplanter,
  • First-born of his father, in his own nature
  • Begot Nudimmud-Ea,
  • Intellect, wisdom, wider than heaven’s horizon,
  • The strongest of all the kindred.

— from The Babylonian Creation Myth

The Babylonian Creation Myth, also known as the “Enûma Eliš, is the Babylonian creation mythos (named after its opening words, “When on high…”). Recovered in fragments by English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard (1817–1894) in 1849, the poem was found in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq) and published in 1876. With about a thousand lines, the poem is recorded in Old Babylonian on seven clay tablets, each holding between 115 and 170 lines of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script. Only the fifth tablet has never been recovered. As one of the most important sources for the Babylonian worldview, the epic centers on Marduk and the creation of humankind for the service of the gods.

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