• Mythogeography and hydromythology in the initial sections of Sumerian and Egyptian king-lists

    Lloyd Graham (see profile)
    Ancient Near East, Assyriologists, Egyptology
    Egyptology, Egypt, History, Ancient, Middle East, Iraq, Civilization, Ancient, Mythology
    Item Type:
    Mythogeography, Great Flood, Deluge, pseudo-history, king-list, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia
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    Ancient pseudo-histories may contain kernels of geographic truth. In the Sumerian King List (SKL) the long and south-focused antediluvian era may reflect a combination of the Ubaid and Uruk periods, while the initial post-Flood period, which was short and ruled from the north, may reflect the Jemdet Nasr phase. The SKL’s subsequent return of kingship southward to Uruk and Ur ushers in the Early Dynastic period. For Egypt, the Heliopolitan mythological sequence in which Seth (patron deity of Upper Egypt) is succeeded by Horus (patron deity of Lower Egypt) may reflect the spread of Naqada culture from southern to northern Egypt in the 4th millennium BCE, with the Upper Egyptian origin of both deities reflecting the unification of the Two Lands under the control of Upper Egypt. The actual ages of the cities in the antediluvian portion of the SKL are reflected rather well by their positions in that list. The total time allocated by Berossos to the antediluvian period in Mesopotamia is an order of magnitude higher than the total assigned by Manetho to the mythological/predynastic period in Egypt, perhaps because the Babylonians reckoned time using a sexagesimal numeral system whereas the Egyptians used a decimal one. The Mesopotamian and Egyptian myths that signal the beginning of historical time involve references to a flood – an event whose nature reflects the actual geography and hydrology its source region. The Mesopotamian formula involves a cataclysmic deluge which is nevertheless survived by a man, while the Egyptian one involves a benign inundation which receives the body of a slain god. A late embellishment of the Egyptian myth shares with a late version of the Mesopotamian one the image of a wooden box, with someone important inside it, being tossed aimlessly on the waves. Once again, the outcomes are opposite: the Egyptian vessel is a death-chamber in which a god is murdered, whereas the Babylonian one is a life-boat by which humanity is saved.
    Additional tags: Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Sumerian King List, Palermo Stone, Old Kingdom Royal Annals, Royal Canon of Turin, Turin Canon, pseudo-histories, Berossos, Manetho, antediluvian, primordial time, 4200 BP drought, 4.2 kBP drought.
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    4 years ago
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