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Sumerian Cosmology 8,000 BCE. From verses scattered throughout hymns and myths, one can compile a picture of the universe's (Anki) creation according to the Sumerians. The primeval sea (Apsu) existed before anything else and within that, the heaven (An) and the earth (Ki) were formed. Top left Lahmu, and next Madruk.
The boundary between heaven and earth was a solid (perhaps tin) vault, and the earth was a flat disk. Within the vault lay the gas-like 'lil', or atmosphere, the brighter portions therein formed the stars, planets, sun, and moon. (Kramer, The Sumerians 1963: pp. 112-113) Each of the four major Sumerian deities is associated with one of these regions.
When on high the Heavens had not been named, Firm ground below had not been called by name, Nothing but ‘Primordial Apsu’ the Begetter, [Fresh Water] and ‘Mummu Tiamat’, She Who Bore them All, [Salt Water] their waters commingling as a single body No reed hut had been matted, no marsh land had appeared, Uncalled by name, their destinies undetermined.
Then it was that the Gods were formed within Them. Lahmu [‘mud’] and Lahamu ‘Mrs. Mud’ were brought forth, by name they were called Before they had grown in age and stature. Anshar ‘Upper Firmament’ and Kishar [‘Lower Firmament’] were formed, surpassing the others. They prolonged the days, added on the years.
Anu was their heir, the rival of his fathers; Yes, Anu, Anshar’s first-born, was his equal. He begot in his image Nudimmud [Ea]. This Nudimmud was the master of his fathers; Of broad wisdom, understanding, mighty in strength, Mightier by far than his grandfather Anshar. He had no rival among the gods, his brothers. The divine brothers banded together, They disturbed Tiamat as the surged back and forth, Yes, they troubled the mood of Tiamat By their hilarity in the Abode of Heaven.
Apsu could not lessen their clamor And Tiamat was speechless at their ways. Their doings were loathsome too. Unsavory were their ways; they were overbearing.
Apsu was not diminished in might... And Tiamat roared... She smote, and their deeds... Their way was evil... Then Apsu, the begetter of the great gods, Cried unto Mummu, his minister, and said unto him:
"O Mummu, thou minister that rejoicest my spirit, Come, unto Tiamut let us go! So they went and before Tiamat they lay down, They consulted on a plan with regard to the gods, their sons.
Apsu opened his mouth and spake, And unto Tiamut, the glistening one, he addressed the word: ...their way... By day I can not rest, by night I can not lie down in peace.
But I will destroy their way, I will... Let there be lamentation, and let us lie down again in peace." When Tiamat heard these words, She raged and cried aloud... She... grievously..., She uttered a curse, and unto Apsu she spake: "What then shall we do? Let their way be made difficult, and let us lie down again in peace." Mummu answered, and gave counsel unto Apsu, ...and hostile to the gods was the counsel Mummu gave: Come, their way is strong, but thou shalt destroy it;
Then by day shalt thou have rest, by night shalt thou lie down in peace." Apsu harkened unto him and his countenance grew bright, Since he (Mummu) planned evil against the gods his sons. ... he was afraid..., His knees became weak; they gave way beneath him, Because of the evil which their first-born had planned. ... their... they altered. ... they..., Lamentation they sat in sorrow .................. Then Ea, who knoweth all that is, went up and he beheld their muttering. [about 30 illegible lines] ... he spake: ... thy... he hath conquered and ... he weepeth and sitteth in tribulation. ... of fear, ... we shall not lie down in peace.
... Apsu is laid waste, ... and Mummu, who were taken captive, in... ... thou didst... ... let us lie down in peace. ... they will smite.... ... let us lie down in peace. ... thou shalt take vengeance for them, ... unto the tempest shalt thou...!" And Tiamat harkened unto the word of the bright god, and said:
... shalt thou entrust! let us wage war!" ... the gods in the midst of... ... for the gods did she create. They banded themselves together and at the side of Tiamat they advanced; They were furious; they devised mischief without resting night and day.
They prepared for battle, fuming and raging; They joined their forces and made war, Ummu-Hubur [Tiamat] who formed all things, Made in addition weapons invincible; she spawned monster-serpents, Sharp of tooth, and merciless of fang; With poison, instead of blood, she filled their bodies. Fierce monster-vipers she clothed with terror,
With splendor she decked them, she made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beheld them, terror overcame him,
Their bodies reared up and none could withstand their attack.
She set up vipers and dragons, and the monster
Lahamu, And hurricanes, and raging hounds, and scorpion-men, And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bore cruel weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands were mighty, none could resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, she made eleven [kinds of] monsters.
Among the gods who were her sons, inasmuch as he had given her support,
She exalted Kingu; in their midst she raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
To direct the battle, to control the fight, Unto him she entrusted;
in costly raiment she made him sit, saying:
I have uttered thy spell, in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power.
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto him.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them the Anunnaki."
She gave him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established."
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate among the gods his sons, saying:
"Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!"