Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The “ancient history” of Genesis 4-11: myth or history?

In this essay, I discuss the so-called “ancient history” in the beginning of the Book of Genesis – more specifically the post-garden stories. In general Biblical Criticism takes them as myth whereas traditional Biblical scholarship takes them as referring to real historical events. As before, I use the Sumerian hypothesis in my analysis of these stories. I show that the Biblical Adam, Enoch, the deluge, Nimrod and the confusion of languages correspond with similar stories in Sumer. What shall we make of this?

Our study of the Book of Genesis now brings us to the post-Garden of Eden stories. These are found in Genesis 4-11. Together with the garden story, these belong to the so-called "ancient history", that is, the prehistory to the Biblical patriarchal tradition. In this part of the Book of Genesis, we read how Cain murdered his brother Abel, how Enoch was taken to heaven as well as about the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages.

What should we think of these stories? Did they really happen? That depends on where they originated. Biblical Criticism assumes that the Book of Genesis was written relatively late in Israel's history – some even think that it was written during or after the Babylonian exile. In that case, the stories were merely taken from the Babylonian and other traditions. As such they were not part of Israel's own prehistory – they were taken from elsewhere and added before the patriarchal stories to give the (false) impression that Israel's history is as old as that of their enemies, the Babylonians. On the other hand, there is the traditional view that these stories are part of the authentic prehistory of Israel. The question is: Who is correct?

Both these approaches have its problems. Biblical Scholarship – which I discuss in some detail elsewhere [1] – is saddled with modernist presuppositions from its formative years which grounded the paradigmatic commitments of the discipline. Modernist scholarship wrongly assumed that they had some objective vantage point from which to “scientifically” evaluate the traditions of “primitive” peoples such as the Israelites. As such these Biblical traditions were taken – on grounds that had been thoroughly discredited in recent years – as having no value whatsoever as sources about ancient history.

Whereas traditional scholarship rejected this approach, some others venture to the opposite pole, understanding the stories in a way that stands apart from the historical context to which they belong. This led to interpretations which are in constant need of direct divine intervention to explain the seemingly unrealistic nature of the stories, for example, the story about the confusion of languages through which God is said to have created all the languages of the world. Although I accept that God’s interaction with his people included various miraculous events, it seems to me superfluous to call upon miracles to explain things for which perfectly natural explanations may be available – often unconvincing interpretations necessitates miraculous explanations.

In all the essays in this series, I work from the Sumerian hypothesis [2], which states that these stories were brought by the Abrahamic family from their homeland in Sumer to the land Canaan. I give various reasons to support this view. The reason why they show agreement with similar stories in Babylonia is that both traditions go back to a very early epoch in Sumer.

Since both the Hebrew and the Babylonian traditions belong to a shared Sumerian heritage, the correspondences and differences are easily explainable. I argue not only that the Hebrew tradition is authentic; I also argue that these early stories go back to real events in ancient Sumer. I show how some of the stories, such as that about the confusion of languages, makes sense only when we understand the original Sumerian context.

Where did the Biblical stories originate?

When we want to examine the origin of the stories in the ancient history of the Book of Genesis, we have to carefully consider the literary style in which they are presented. We should ask where this same or a similar style is found in ancient literature – which would help us to place the Hebrew text within the appropriate epoch. We should also consider the ancient context in which these stories are said to have taken place to see if they are of historical significance.

The ancient history of Genesis 4-11 has a very distinct style which differs from that of the patriarchal history as well as the other historical narratives given in the Bible. As such there cannot be any doubt that this style is unique to this piece of Biblical literature. What distinguishes the ancient history is 1) genealogical lists of the earliest remembered forefathers, 2) particularly long lifetimes accorded to these people, some of whom are said to have lived for nearly a millennium, 3) short accounts of events related to some of these persons – some in-between the genealogies and others within the genealogies, 4) a Sumerian background for some of the stories (taking place in the land “Shinar”) [3].

Readers who are acquainted with the Sumerian King List would immediately recognize a close agreement with that text – in line with the reference to that land in the text itself. The Sumerians were a people who lived in ancient Mesopotamia from the sixth (some would say fourth) to the late third millennium BC. They established a remarkable civilization and ruled for many years over the land. The Sumerian King List was probably compiled during the reign of king Utuhegal of Uruk during the end of the third millennium BC although the oldest copies found so far date from the time of the Isin dynasty early in the second millennium BC [4].

The Sumerian King List was compiled from various king lists from earlier periods. Also included are the names of legendary kings mentioned in the epic tradition. As with Genesis 4-11, the list contains genealogies of early forefathers, some of whom also lived centuries-long lives as well as short comments about some of these figures. The difference between the texts is that the Hebrew text includes short stories between the different genealogical lists, whereas the Sumerian King List does not. This is, however, not too far removed from the Sumerian King List which also uses information from Sumerian stories (some of which correspond to the Biblical ones).

One may also compare the Hebrew tradition with the Amoritic king lists from the Old Babylonian Period (during the early second millennium BC). In this case, the king lists of the historical kings were also preceded by the names of their forefathers. The difference is, however, that these lists do not ascribe such long lifetimes to these forefathers as we find in the Sumerian King List and one also does not find the short commentaries typical of that list. So, although the ancient history in Genesis serves as the preamble to the patriarchal narratives (of Abraham etc,) in a similar way that the Amorites’ list their forefathers before the reigns of their kings, the correspondence with the Sumerian King List is much closer.

This clear correspondence between the ancient history in Genesis and the Sumerian King List forces us to consider two possibilities, namely that the Hebrew tradition which is recorded in the ancient history 1) was written during the epoch when that style was still in use, which would be some time during the early Old Babylonian Period (the time when Abraham is said to have lived), or 2) was written down many centuries after the Sumerian King List by an author who intentionally copied the style of that ancient document (which was not in use during the period of writing).

Let us first consider the first possibility. According to the Bible Abraham’s family originated from the city of Ur in Sumer. If we take this story serious as a true reflection of historical events [5], then this immediately explains why the Hebrew text has so much in common with the Sumerian King List, namely that it originated in the very milieu where that style was in use. All the stories in the ancient history (except the final one in Gen. 11) belong to the period before Abraham’s own lifetime – as such, they would be part of an older tradition which was delivered in the contemporary style within the context of Abraham’s family. The slight difference with the Sumerian King List, in that the genealogies are interrupted by short stories, would be a special feature of the Hebrew tradition.

What about the second option, namely that the author may have imitated the style of the Sumerian King List? In my view, this option has serious problems. Why would the author try to imitate a style that had been out of use for more than a thousand years? Why do we not find any information from a Sumerian or Babylonian origin in this ancient history, including the story of creation (which also includes many Sumerian features – see part 1 of this series; the link is at the bottom of this essay), which belong to the post-Old Babylonian period as such! All the data in the ancient history in the Book of Genesis belongs to the Old Babylonian and older strata of tradition in Sumer. (This does not include the reference to the “Chaldeans” [6], which I consider as a typical addition made by a later editor.)

This absence of elements from the post-Old Babylonian tradition is especially obvious in the creation accounts which differ substantially from each other. This strongly suggests that the author wrote before the later developments in Babylonian thought took place (which include the idea that the champion of the gods created the universe from the body of the monster that he killed). Although one might find comparisons between the ancient history in the Book of Genesis and other later traditions on an ad hoc basis, this is not good hermeneutical practice. Although one can obviously not exclude the possibility that the Biblical author used such an ad hoc approach, any serious scholar should prefer an interpretation in which all aspects of the story are understood within one systematic and coherent manner - and this should explain the absence of post-Old Babylonian material in the Book of Genesis. 

On the trustworthiness of the ancient history in Genesis 4-11

We may now engage in more detail with the information in the ancient history of Genesis 4-11. Of special interest in this regard, is that the genealogies in the Book of Genesis incorporate data which seems to come from the Sumerian King List! Also, most of the stories find a direct equivalent in ancient Sumerian tradition. In fact, about all the main figures and events mentioned in the Hebrew text go back to such persons and events in ancient Sumerian tradition. I do not suggest that the Hebrews merely copied the Sumerian tradition. Rather, in my view, this suggests that this information belonged to a Semitic tradition handed down by the Abrahamic family – who is said to have originated in that land.

I now give a short summary of the information in the Hebrew text and then show how it agrees with the ancient Sumerian tradition (which includes an ancient Semitic tradition within Sumer itself).

a) The garden story of Adam and Eve (Gen 2:4-3:24)
b) The story of Cain and Abel (not found in the Sumerian tradition [7]) (Gen. 4:1-16)
c) The story of Enoch, who was taken alive to heaven (Gen. 5:18-24)
d) The story of the Great Flood (Gen. 6-9)
e) The story of Nimrod who ruled in Uruk and Babel (Gen. 10:8-12)
f) The story of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages (Gen. 11:1-9)

In the Sumerian tradition we have the following stories:

a) The story of Adapa – the earliest remembered person who brought civilization to the land
b) The story of Etana, who was taken on the back of an eagle to the abode of the supreme god
c) The story of the Great Flood
d) The story of Enmerkar who ruled in Uruk and Eridu
e) The story of the confusion of languages.

Although the Biblical stories have clear correspondences with those from ancient Sumer, there is no systematic account of events in the Sumerian tradition similar to that found in the Biblical tradition. We may, however, reconstruct Sumerian history in such a way that it is consistent with the Biblical account of events. This is quite remarkable because the Biblical author did not have a Sumerian outline to work from when he compiled his version of ancient events.

So, how did the Biblical author know how to arrange his history – placing the personages in the correct historical context? An obvious answer is that we have an authentic tradition that really goes back to the relevant period. It is difficult to see how a late author would have been able to do that! This implies that the ancient history in Genesis 4-11 should be taken in exactly the way that it is presented, namely as the prehistoric tradition of the people of Israel that was handed down from generation to generation through the ages.

In this essay, I discuss the stories of Enoch, Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. I show the correspondence with their Sumerian equivalents; I also show how they fit into a viable reconstruction of the history of ancient Sumer. I do not discuss the story of Adam-Adapa – I did that in part 1 of the series. I also do not discuss the story of the Great Flood. I leave that for the next part.

Enoch-Etana

The first story to be discussed is that of the Biblical Enoch. According to the Bible Enoch was the seventh descendant of Adam. He is said to have been a holy man who was taken alive to the abode of God. Over time there developed an important tradition in Hebrew circles about Enoch which resulted in some books being written under his name somewhere between the third and first centuries BC. He is also mentioned in a few places in the New Testament.

The Biblical Enoch corresponds with the Sumerian Etana. According to tradition, Etana was the very first person to become king (called “lugal”, i.e. a warrior-king) in ancient Sumer. In the Sumerian King List, Etana is mentioned as the king of Kish, a city in the northern part of Sumer. Of special interest to our discussion, is the fact that the rulers of Kish seem to have been Semites. This would be consistent with the Hebrew tradition in which Enoch is remembered as an early forefather of the Hebrews, who were Semites.

The name Etana means "he who went up to heaven/An". According to the story of Etana, he was taken to the abode of the supreme god An [8] on the back of an eagle. At first Etana got frightened by the height, but eventually, he seems to have reached that heavenly destination (our available cuneiform text is broken at this point). This agrees with the story that Enoch went to the abode of God. The eagle in the Sumerian story may depict the divine Spirit.

There are also some differences between Enoch and Etana. According to the Hebrew tradition, Enoch lived three generations before the deluge; in the Sumerian King List, the dynasty founded by Etana is placed lower down after the deluge. How would one explain this? Various Sumerian scholars have mentioned the problems regarding the King List – especially the fact that the order of the various king lists in the King List should not be taken as a chronological order since the author, who lived many centuries after the events, merely added them together without knowing how they should follow each other and where they overlap.

Insofar as the date of Etana is concerned, we may probe a little deeper. It is interesting that the first dynasty after the deluge is said to be that founded by Meskiagkasher, the forefather of the House of Uruk. He is said to have been both king and priest. The problem is that Etana was supposedly the very first king who ruled in the land. How do we reconcile these differences? I would suggest that Etana ruled before the deluge and Meskiagkasher thereafter, in line with the Biblical tradition about Enoch [9].

Nimrod-Enmerkar

The next person to be discussed is Nimrod. According to the Biblical tale, Nimrod was the son of Cush, the son of Ham, one of the sons of Noah who survived the deluge. That places him a few generations after the deluge. He is said to have become a mighty king – he was also a “mighty hunter”. His kingdom stretched from Babel and Erech (Uruk) in the south of Sumer to Akkad and Calneh (Nippur) and even to Nineveh, Rehoboth (Mosul), Resen (?) and Calah (later called Nimrod) in the north. He is typically associated with the events surrounding the Towel of Babel, not only since this city is mentioned as part of his kingdom, but also because his name may be interpreted as originating from the Hebrew word mârâd, which means “he rebelled” in accordance with the Biblical depiction of those events.

The Biblical Nimrod corresponds with the Sumerian Enmerkar. Enmerkar was a great king from the House of Uruk of whom various epic tales were told. He was one of the greatest legendary kings in the history of Sumer. The consonants in the first part of the name Enmerkar spells “nmr”, which may be vocalized as Nimrod. The last part of his name, “kar”, may be read as “hunter” [10]. The name Enmerkar may, therefore, be interpreted as Nimrod, the hunter.

According to his stories, his family originated from the land of Aratta [the Biblical Ararat [11]) in the northern Zagros Mountains [12]. His father Meskiagkasher came from Aratta to establish himself in Sumer. This name may be shortened to Kash, which corresponds with that of Cush, the father of Enmerkar in the Biblical tradition. Enmerkar became a mighty king who conquered even the far-away land of Aratta to establish his rule over all of ancient Sumer and beyond. He is said to have built the city of Uruk in the area of the temple of An where his father originally settled. Various innovations are ascribed to him, among which is the first writing. He is also said to have brought the goddess Inana from Aratta to Sumer.

These things belong to the Uruk period in Sumerian history, which followed directly after the deluge, which left a 2.7-3.7 meter thick layer of mud which was found by Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur. This is consistent with the Sumerian King List which places the rule of this family directly after the deluge. The Uruk period is the time during which the city of Uruk was built and when the first writing was developed which eventually led to the discovery of phonetic writing towards the end of that period. This is also what evidence for the goddess Inana's first attestation in Sumer suggest. Furthermore, towards the end of this period, the House of Uruk ruled over a very large geographic area to the north and west – this is usually called the period of the “Uruk expansion”. This is consistent with the literary tradition about Enmerkar. It is also consistent with the comments about Nimrod in the Bible.

There cannot be any doubt that there is a remarkable consistency between the Biblical tradition of Nimrod and the Sumerian tradition of Enmerkar – which refers to historical events during the Uruk period in Sumer. What is also interesting, is that some of the other names of the members of this family correspond with those in the Sumerian tradition. The Bible mentions a certain Raamah, meaning “Thunder”, as a brother of Nimrod. This corresponds with the Sumerian Lugalbanda, who was Enmerkar’s successor in the King List and who was identified with the “Thunderbird” (as part of the family of that bird) in one of the stories told about him. The Biblical Raamah had Sheba (“Seven”) and Dedan as sons. Sheba corresponds with the seven young men who is associated with Lugalbanda in one of his stories. Dedan may refer to Daos, a variant form of the name Dumuzi, the successor of Lugalbanda in the Ling List [13]. 

The correspondence between the Biblical and Sumerian traditions regarding the historical Nimrod-Enmerkar suggests that the Biblical source material did not only include information from oral tradition (probably handed down in the family context) but also from the literary tradition of ancient Sumer, including from the Sumerian King List itself. We may now suggest that the correspondences between the ancient history of Genesis 4-11 and the King List imply not only that the original author of this source material was aware of that list and used a similar literary style, but also that he took it as guide for his own history writing which included data from the King List itself. The period during which this is most likely to have happened is the Old Babylonian period (i.e. in the early second millennium BC) during which the Sumerian King List would have served as the model for such history writing. The Biblical author obviously reworked this material to produce the ancient history that we find in the Book of Genesis.

The Tower of Babel

This brings us to one of the most interesting stories in the Biblical tradition, namely that of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages. The problem with the Biblical tradition is that the city of “Babel” was not on the map in the early period in which the Bible places this event, namely in the post-deluge period. So, how did the name Babel became associated with Nimrod and the story of the confusion of languages? The answer is actually quite simple: later authors such as the Babylonian priest Berossus (and the Biblical editor) referred to Eridu under the name Babel [14]. The reason is that both Eridu and Babylon was written as Nun.ki in cuneiform – resulting in this name being read as Babel in later times.

One can immediately see that Eridu is meant. The Bible mentions the cities under Nimrod’s control in Sumer as “Babel and Erech [Uruk]”, which would refer to Eridu and Uruk as two of the most important cities in southern Sumer during that period – not mentioning Eridu would be very strange indeed (when we take "Babel" as Eridu then the Biblical list of cities also proceed more naturally from the most southern ones to those in the north). In accordance with the Biblical story, Eridu was a very important religious center at that time where people from all over Sumer gathered to celebrate their festivals. It was known as the oldest sanctuary in Sumer and was rebuilt in the time of Enmerkar into a huge temple terrace (the typical ziggurat did not exist at that time) according to the literary tradition [15]. The building of the city of Uruk and the Eridu platform during the reign of Enmerkar is consistent with the Biblical story that the people built a city and a “tower” in Sumer in the time of the confusion of languages.

What about the confusion of languages. This is also part of the Sumerian tradition where it was called “Nudimmud’s [Enki’s] spell”. It is mentioned in one of the stories about Enmerkar which date from the late third millennium BC. The appearance of this "spell" in a story about Enmerkar is consistent with the association between Nimrod and the confusion of languages in Biblical tradition. We read: “(In) the (whole) compass of heaven and earth the people entrusted (to him) could address Enlil [son of An], verily, in but a single tongue… (The) lord of Eridu [Enki] enstrangled the tongues in their mouths as many as were put there. The tongues of men which was one” [16].

Where did this story originate? A simple explanation – which is maybe a too simplistic one – would be that the story was meant to describe how the various languages of the world came into being through one miraculous divine event. In the Biblical genealogy that precedes the story of the Tower of Babel, we read that languages came into being as humans became dispersed over the earth (Gen. 10:5, 31). This is indeed how different languages evolve. Since this stands in direct contrast with the explanation for the origin of languages given in the story of the Tower of Babel, we should ask ourselves if the typical interpretation of our story is correct? Maybe the original story was about something other than the origin of languages.
Image result for tower of babel picture
"Tower of Babel" by Lucas Van Valckenborch (1568)
In line with such an alternative reading we find that the Biblical author uses different words when he refers 1) to the tongues/languages (lâshôwn) that formed when humans became dispersed and 2) when he speaks about the confusion of language/speech (sâphâh). This may imply that two different things are referred to. Whereas the meaning of lâshôwn is obvious, sâphâh is not. The Hebrew word sâphâh literally means “lip” and refers to “speech” as the way in which we pronounce words. This way of pronunciation may refer to any particular way or convention in which words are pronounced.

In my view, the confusion of speech at the Tower of Babel – which I take as referring to the huge temple platform at Eridu – was not about the origin of different languages at all. It was about something different! There is an event at the end of the Uruk period that shows a remarkable agreement with the story of the confusion of speech. At that time it so happened that the Sumerians started reading their script in phonetic fashion. As such the convention of pronunciation changed.

Before the arrival of phonetic writing, the pictographic symbols of the Sumerians merely identified items in the context of accounting; now they were arranged in accordance with phonetic pronunciation. Before that time there was one unified convention for the pronunciation of the same symbols, namely that they had one meaning which referred to generally understood items of which the particular pronunciation was not important (they were pronounced differently by the various language speakers); the new convention of pronunciation involved combining such symbols in phonetic fashion in accordance with the way that we speak. Suddenly different language speakers – Semites and Sumerians respectively – read the combination of symbols in a totally different fashion which the others could not understand if they did not know that language. One can imagine that this would have led to enormous confusion.

We now find that the change to phonetic reading at the end of the Uruk period can explain the upheaval at that time. This is the time when the long continuous rule of the House of Uruk came to an end. The new rulers of Sumer were from the House of Kish in the north. At that time there was a “considerable displacement of peoples” with many people abandoning the land [17]. At Eridu, the large limestone terrace was left deserted overnight [18]. This is also the picture given in the Bible according to which the confusion led to the dispersion of the people of Sumer all over the world.

Conclusion

In this short essay, I discuss the "ancient history" of the Book of Genesis. I argue that this preamble to the patriarchal traditions was part of a very old Hebrew tradition that was handed down in the midst of the Abrahamic family since the time when they left Ur in Sumer to migrate to Canaan. This would explain the remarkable correspondence between this Biblical tradition and the Sumerian King List insofar as both were written in a very similar style and refer to the same historical persons and events. The Biblical tradition is consistent with the Sumerian tradition regarding events from the pre-Old Babylonian Period (all the relevant persons and events belong to an ancient Sumerian tradition from the time before the end of the third millennium BC). 

In fact, the Biblical tradition is consistent with a viable reconstruction of Sumerian history from the time before the deluge until after the Uruk Period (ca. sixth to early third millennia BC) – something that is not even found in Sumerian tradition where the ancient history of the land must be reconstructed from the textual sources and archaeological data. The obvious question is: How did the Biblical author know to order those stories about the persons and events? It does not make sense that the author wrote it down many centuries after these things happened. Rather, he merely recorded an ancient tradition handed down to him. I argue that we have good reason to think that we have a true tradition before us which refers to real historical events.

[2] The Sumerian hypothesis stands primarily in opposition to the Babylonian hypothesis. For more details on the Sumerian hypothesis, read: The Book of Genesis - the Sumerian hypothesis
I also criticize the Documentary hypothesis as a prime example of bad hermeneutics. See
A critique of Biblical Criticism as a scholarly discipline 
Can we still believe the Bible? A hermeneutical perspective
I present a viable alternative to the Documentary hypothesis:
Who is Elohim?
[3] There are also other unique characteristics of the ancient history that I discussed elsewhere such as the use of the divine “us” (see part 7 of this series; at the bottom of this essay).
[4] Jacobsen, Thorkild. 1939. The Sumerian King List. Chicago: University of Chicago. p141.
Michalowski, Piotr. 1983. History as Charter. Some Observations on the Sumerian King List. Journal of the American Oriental Society 103(1):237-248.
[5] I previously showed that the important events included in the story of Abraham are consistent with the wider ancient Middle Eastern chronology when the Mesopotamian “high” chronology is used together with K. A. Kitchen’s “low” chronology for the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt.
[6] The name Chaldeans refers to the Neo-Babylonians from the time of the Babylonian exile.
[7] Some Sumerologists have proposed that the Biblical story of Cain and Abel may be related to the Sumerian disputation between Enkimdu and Dumuzi. In both cases, the dispute is between an antediluvian farmer and shepherd. In my view the correspondence is not detailed enough to justify a shared tradition in the way that I am proposing.
[8] I previously argued that the Hebrew God was worshiped already in ancient Sumer, where he was called An by the Sumerians. The name An means “most high”, similar to the Hebrew El-Elyon (Most High God). In my view the names El and An are like God (in English) and Dieu (in French). In both cases this God was worshiped as the father of the gods. See part 7 of this series.
[9] The kings listed under the first dynasty of Kish actually includes three such lists, which mean that the last kings on the list were far removed in time from the first ones. The expression “XX became king”, which usually introduces a new dynasty in the Sumerian King List, is used tree times in this dynasty of Kish. This implies that three different lists are combined within the framework of the list that mentions Etana. The first of these consists of a list of Akkadian names (the language of the eastern Semites), which may refer to the ancestors of the kings of Kish. The second list commences with Etana, and would refer to the first dynasty of these kings. The third list commences with Enmebarragesi, who ruled towards the end of the Uruk period. In my reconstruction of events, the House of Uruk ruled during the Uruk period, which commences directly after the deluge. The only place where the first dynasty of Kish would fit in, would therefore be before the deluge.
[10] Rohl, David. 1998. Legend The Genesis of Civilization. London: Century. p215.
[11] The reasons for taking the Sumerian Aratta as the Biblical Ararat would be discussed in the next part of the series.
[12] Vanstiphout, Herman. 2003. Epics of Sumerian Kings. The Matter of Aratta. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. p67
[13] Jacobsen 1939:73
[14] Jacobsen 1939:60
[15] Vanstiphout 2003:59, 85
[16] Jacobsen, Thorkild. 1987. The Harps that once… Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven: Yale University. p290.
[17] Crawford, Harriet. 1991. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge: Cambridge University. p182.
Algaze, Guillermo. 1986. The Uruk World System. The Dynamics of Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago. p16.
[18] Leick, Gwendolyn. 2001. Mesoptamia. The invention of the City. New York: Penguin. p17, 18.

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref. wmcloud.blogspot.com)
The author has written a book on the Sumerian roots of the Bible (Abraham en sy God (Griffel, 2012)) and is a scientist (PhD in Physics; MA in Philosophy). He writes on issues of religion, philosophy, science and eschatology.

Read also the other parts of the series on the Book of Genesis:
Intro: The Book of Genesis - the Sumerian hypothesis
Part 7: Who is Elohim?

If readers find the article interesting, they are welcome to share it or forward it to others, including their pastors or other scholars.