ON SOME FRAGMENTS OF THE CHALDEAN ACCOUNT OF THE CREATION

By George Smith.

Read 2nd November, 1875.

[Extracted from Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, vol. 4, 1876, pp. 363-4.]



The Fragmentary Inscriptions here brought before the Society are the principal portions now remaining of the Chaldean account of the Creation.

The circumstances of their discovery I have narrated m a letter to the Daily Telegraph, March 4th, 1875, and I have since continued to find fragments of these and similar legends down to the end of September, when my search ceased, as I began to prepare for my next journey to the East. I have prepared for publication in a popular form an account of these Inscriptions and translations of the fragments, but as I am about to return to Assyria to endeavour to obtain more fragments of the texts, and as in my absence there might be some delay in the publication of the Inscriptions, I have given copies of the principal fragments to the Society, that they may be available for the study of Assyrian scholars.

I intend at a future time to bring under the notice of the Society the whole of the Genesis Legends, and I only desire to first make them as complete as possible before doing so. In the meantime, my brother Assyriologists will receive the present instalment, which will show the style and matter of one of the principal works.

The present copies of the Chaldean account of the Creation were written during the reign of Assurbanipal, B.C. 673-626, but they appear to be copies of a much older Chaldean work, the date of the composition of which was [p.363] probably near B.C. 2,000. The legends existed, however, earlier than this, and were in the form of oral traditions, handed down from time to time, until during the great literary age in Babylonia they were committed to writing. I have given these fragments on six sheets as follows:

1st. Upper part of first tablet of Creation series.
2nd. Upper part of fifth tablet of Creation series.
3rd and 4th. Obverse and reverse of tablet describing the Fall.
5th and 6th. Obverse and reverse of tablet, with war between the Gods and Chaos

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PLATES

Plate 1

Plate 2

 

Plate 3

 

Plate 4

 

Plate 5

 

Plate 6