a reply to: Utnapisjtim
In order to understand why Enuma Eliš
served as propaganda you'll need a crash-course in Mesopotamian history. I know that you're already an
interested student, so, I'll do my best not to weigh this down with excessive details.
Our crash course will start with 2334 BCE, the advent of the first Agaside Dynasty. This dynasty, centered in the city-state of Agade, was founded by
a Semitic warlord named Šarru.kīnu, who you may known better by his Latinized name: Sargon the Great. Unlike the warring city-states of the Sumerian
kings, Sargon's reign introduced something new to Mesopotamia: empire building. Alongside this Sargon also lead a series of religious revisions,
mainly promoting the goddess Ištar ( = Inanna), whom he believed to have been his "personal goddess" (think guardian angel).
To aid in this effort, Sargon's daughter Enheduana, High Priestess of Ur and servant of the moon-god Sîn ( = Nanna) began writing poems, praises, and
temple hymns recounting the deeds and actions of the great gods, and their influence over Mesopotamia. Enheduana composed no less than 42 pieces, all
which served as early propaganda, meant to invoke the gods and goddesses of Mesopotamia through the eyes of the Akkadian people. This effort served to
stabilize the diverse Sumerian pantheon, as well as introduce a sense of cultural unity and identity among the ethnically diverse peoples over which
Sargon's dynasty reigned.
Now, today the idea of a cultural identity ( "American" or "Mexican" or "European" ) may seem like a commonplace thing. In the last quarter of the
second millennium BCE though, it was a revolutionary concept. Sargon's empire was so monumental because it was the first real empire, run by a real
"emperor," with real multi-cultural needs. For a while the Agaside Dynasty met and fulfilled those needs, creating an empire that wouldn't be matched
(or exceeded) again for nearly 2000 years.
We'll now move forward in time, to 2153 BCE, the end of the Agaside Dynasty. Grown too top heavy and corrupted by hubris, the descendants of Sargon
had abused their power, and were now being slain left and right by a group of mountain-dwelling raiders known as the Guti. These people, from the
eastern Zagros mountains, had no written language, history, or identifiable archaeological culture. They were, for all intents and purpose, primitive
barbarians. What they also were, was good at their job. By 2150 BCE the Guti had slain Šu.turul, the last King of Agade, and the Akkadian empire was
For the next 256 years the land of Mesopotamia was cast into chaos. A "dark age" descended, and all movement forward, as had been instigated by
Sargon, was dashed against the stubborn will of the Guti, who made no effort to repair the infrastructure they had destroyed in their raids. Even when
a series of former Sumerian city-states, like Isin, Lagaš, Larsa, and Ur rose up in the Neo-Sumerian Ur III Renaissance (c. 2112 BCE) it was not
enough to re-ignite the spark that had once burned bright under the Agaside Dynasty. Guti, Elamite, and other "lesser" cultures continued to hold sway
and prevent progress.
Then, in 1897 BCE, something completely unremarkable happened. Sumu.abu, the ensí
of a small village called Babylon, gained independence from
his overbearing masters in the city-state of Kazallu. While this appeared to be a minor victory for the people of Babylon, Sumu.abu had bigger plans
in store. For the next 100 years the ensí
of Babylon worked tirelessly to reinforce and strengthen their little villages foundation, until,
around 1792 BCE a very important ensí
came to power. His name was Hammu.rāpi, or, as you may known him: Hammurabi. Two important things
happened during the reign of Hammurabi:
1) Babylon claimed to be the successor to the ancient city of Eridu, home of Enki, god of the Abyss, magic, and basically anything anyone could ever
2) Hammurabi successfully founded the second true "empire" of Mesopotamia, nearly (but not quite) equaling that of Sargon the Great 600 years
These two simple facts resulted in a history that would shake the foundations of the ancient world and resound through time for thousands of years to
come. First, as the "living descendants" of ancient Eridu, it was necessary for Babylon's tutelary deity, a minor Amorite state-god named Amurrû ( =
Mar.tu), to undergo a ret-conning, so that he could become the son of Enki. This was done through syncretization, by merging Amurrû with Enki's
extant son, Asarluḫi, tutelary god of Eridu's Kuara district. Second, once again part of an empire, it became necessary for the people—diverse and
multi-ethnic—to be unified under a religious, political, and social banner: that of the Babylonians.
(see part 2 below for the rest)
edit on 2/12/14 by Wandering Scribe because: spelling