The Primeval Flood Catastrophe: Origins and Early Development in Mesopotamian Traditions

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OUP Oxford, 2013 - History - 314 pages
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Previous research on Mesopotamian Flood traditions tended to focus on a few textual sources. How the traditions originated and developed as a whole has not been seriously investigated. By systematically examining a large body of relevant cuneiform sources of diverse genres from the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2600-2350 B.C.) to the end of the first millennium B.C., this book observes that it is during the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600) and classical attestations of the Flood traditions are found. On linguistic, conceptual and literary-historical grounds, the book argues that the Flood traditions emerged relatively late in Sumerian traditions. It traces different evolutionary stages of the Flood traditions, from the emergence of the Flood motif within the socio-political and cultural contexts of the early Isin dynasty (ca. 2017-1896 B.C.), to the diverse mythological representations of the motif in literary traditions, to the historicisation of the motif in chronography, and finally to the interactions between various strands of the Flood traditions and other Mesopotamian literary traditions, such as Sumerian and Babylonian compositions about Gilgameš. By uncovering the processes through which the Flood traditions were constructed, the book offers a valuable case study on the complex and dynamic relationship between myth-making, the development of literature, the rise of historical consciousness and historiography, and socio-political circumstances in the ancient world. The origins and development of the Flood traditions examined in the book, furthermore, represent one of the best documented examples illustrating the continuities and changes in Mesopotamian intellectual, linguistic, literary, socio-political and religious history over the course of two and a half millennia.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Flood Terminology
21
The Primeval Flood Catastrophe Motif
67
Antediluvian Traditions
129
The Flood Epic
197
Conclusion
253
Bibliography
259
Index
271
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About the author (2013)


Y. S. Chen is Research Fellow (Ancient Near Eastern Studies) at Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

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