Before there was Noah, Atrahasis, which means, exceedingly wise, was warned by his God, Ea, of an impending flood designed to rid the world of all mankind. Like Noah, Atrahasis built an ark, filled it two examples of every living creature, abandoned his home and went into the ark with his family at the appointed time. Much longer and more detailed than the Genesis story of the Bible, the poems, the Atrahasis Epic, as it is generally known, as well as Tablet XI of the Epic of Gilgamesh deal with the flood story in depth. Interestingly, one need not read too far, to recognize many characteristics generally associated with the Bible’s Noah, from the ark, landing atop a mountain even the dove that returned to ark with an olive branch. What compels so many readers to explore these tablets is their age, which predates the Bible by nearly two thousand years.
Below, you will find four videos illustrating various poems that comprise what we know about the Mesopotamian hero, Atrahasis. The first is a fragment of the Old Babylonian version of the Atrahasis poem, generally called the Atrahasis Epic.
The second video illustrates a fragment in Old Babylonian that describes the ceremony or ritual in which the God Enlil granted both Ziusudra(Atrahasis-Utnapishtim) and his wife immortality. This tablet is generally known as, the “And he touched my brow,” tablet.
The third and fourth videos are from the most complete texts we have of the deluge survivor from the Epic of Gilgamesh. The text describes the details of the flood and its aftermath.