The Babylonian Legends of the Creation by British Museum


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Project Gutenberg's The Babylonian Legends of the Creation, by British Museum

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Title: The Babylonian Legends of the Creation

Author: British Museum

Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9914]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on October 31, 2003]
[Date last updated: July 21, 2005]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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The baked clay tablets and portions of tablets which describe the
views and beliefs of the Babylonians and Assyrians about the Creation
were discovered by Mr. (later Sir) A.H. Layard, Mormuzd Rassam and
George Smith, Assistant in the Department of Oriental Antiquities in
the British Museum. They were found among the ruins of the Palace and

between the years 1848 and 1876. Between 1866 and 1870, the great
"find" of tablets and fragments, some 20,000 in number, which Rassam
made in 1852, was worked through by George Smith, who identified many
of the historical inscriptions of Shalmaneser II, Tiglath-Pileser III,
Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and other kings mentioned in the
Bible, and several literary compositions of a legendary character,
fables, etc. In the course of this work he discovered fragments of
various versions of the Babylonian Legend of the Deluge, and portions
of several texts belonging to a work which treated of the beginning of
things, and of the Creation. In 1870, Rawlinson and Smith noted
allusions to the Creation in the important tablet K.63, but the texts
of portions of tablets of the Creation Series at that time available
for study were so fragmentary that it was impossible for these
scholars to find their correct sequence. During the excavations which

the _Daily Telegraph_ and the Trustees of the British Museum, he
was, he tells us, fortunate enough to discover "several fragments of
the Genesis Legends." In January, 1875, he made an exhaustive search
among the tablets in the British Museum, and in the following March he
published, in the _Daily Telegraph_ (March 4th), a summary of the
contents of about twenty fragments of the series of tablets describing
the creation of the heavens and the earth. In November of the same
year he communicated to the Society of Biblical Archaeology [1]
copies of:--(1) the texts on fragments of the First and Fifth Tablets
of Creation; (2) a text describing the fight between the "Gods and
Chaos"; and (3) a fragmentary text which, he believed, described the
Fall of Man. In the following year he published translations of all
the known fragments of the Babylonian Creation Legends in his
"Chaldean Account of Genesis" (London, 1876, 8vo, with photographs).
In this volume were included translations of the Exploits of Gizdubar
(Gilgamish), and some early Babylonian fables and legends of the gods.

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