The origin of the Sumerians and the great flood
Copyright All rights reserved by Alfred Hamori, August 16, 2004
The story of the great flood as told in the Bible originated from the ancient Sumerians, who settled in early Mesopotamia and whose legends and mythologies greatly influenced the subsequent civilizations of that area. The later versions of the stories were retold by early Mesopotamian cultures right down to the time of the writing of the Bible after 1000BC. These versions all tell a very similar story. The stories of the flood, paradise or Eden, and the creation of man. These stories also tell pieces of the puzzle about the origin of the Sumerians, who were a forgotten people until the late 19th century when their writing was discovered and decyphered. These various myths and legends also include information about the location and time that the last great flood occurred which gave rise to these stories. There is no evidence however of a single huge flood, which covered all the mountains of the world, only many stories from throughout the world of great floods, which decimated humanity in the distant past and changed the map of the world in the process. The ideas about the cause and consequences of the flood which forced the migration of the Sumerians, who passed these story onto the later cultures of early Mesopotamia can be grouped into the following sections of this essay.
1) The pole shift and the resulting end of the ice age (10,000 BC)
2) The freezing of the old homelands, as told in Sumerian, FinnUgor and Iranic myths. (10,000BC)
3) Search for the last major flood at the Black Sea basin (5,500 BC)
4) The traditional length of the shortest and longest days .
5) The legend of Gilgamesh, who searches for the immortal flood hero, in the north. [2,500BC]
6)The Sumerian & Biblical Paradise myths and Eden.
7) Pre-Sumerian writing found in an Eastern European outpost, from 4,500BC.
8) The Dilmun controversy about the southern origin of the Sumerians.
9) Clues from the names the Sumerian's called themselves and their country.
10) Clues in Antropology are not conclusive.
11) A short introduction to the Sumerian Language and mythology.
12) The main Sumerian gods and goddesses and the explanation of their names
The pole shift and the resulting end of the ice age
Around 13,000 years ago the huge accumulation of ice in the north pole caused an instability of the earth because its great added weight. This caused the sudden shift in the axis of the earth. The earth's north pole shifted from the area of Hudson Bay, Canada in North America to its present location. This large 30 degree shift in latitude at some places, had tremendous consequences for several thousands of years thereafter, because the slowly melting ice at the location of the old pole started raising the levels of the oceans which thereafter caused recurring floods throughout the world. First along the low lying seashores then in low lying inland areas that became accessible to the rising water levels of the oceans. The British Isles became separated from the mainland Europe about 10,000 BC. because of the rising sea levels. Eventually the Mediterranean Sea also became connected to the Atlantic Ocean and its water levels rose and spread out, inundating many early cultures in its wake. Today roadways built in prehistoric times have been found below the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is believed by many that the legend of Atlantis, as told by the Egyptians, also originates from these times, due to the rising sea levels. After a while the Mediterranean also rose to such levels that the small Black Sea basin, which was a freshwater lake before this time, also became connected to it. This initial connection caused a huge torrent of water to fill this basin.
Around 12,000 years ago the huge accumulation of ice at the poles caused an instability of the earth because its great added weight. This caused the sudden shift in the axis of the earth. The earth's north pole shifted from the area of Hudson Bay, Canada in North America to its present location. This large 30 degree shift in latitude at some places, had tremendous consequences for several thousands of years thereafter, because the slowly melting ice at the location of the old pole started raising the levels of the oceans, which thereafter caused recurring floods throughout the world. First along the low lying seashores then in low lying inland areas that became accessible to the rising water levels of the oceans. The British Isles became separated from the mainland Europe about 10,000 BC. because of the rising sea levels. Eventually the Mediterranean Sea also became connected to the Atlantic Ocean and its water levels rose and spread out, inundating many early cultures in its wake. Today roadways built in prehistoric times have been found below the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is believed by many that the legend of Atlantis, as told by the Egyptians, also originates from these times, due to the rising sea levels. After a while the Mediterranean also rose to such levels that the small Black Sea basin, which was a freshwater lake before this time, also became connected to it. This initial connection caused a huge torrent of water, equal in size to 400 times that of Niagara Falls to fill the Black Sea basin raising the water level by 500 feet of the previous smaller freshwater lake which was there. This also changed the sea from a freshwater lake to a salt water sea, that killed various freshwater creatures which lived there before. Their remains are still found in the deep parts of the sea and were used to date the actual time this flood occurred. The following map is from Charles Hapgood, "Maps of the ancient Sea Kings", N.Y.,1966.
The pole shift and the freezing of the old homelands, as told in Sumerian, Finn-Ugor and Iranic myths
These are the precursors to the events which eventually lead to the great floods, that affected the whole planet.
The Sumerians left behind legends about the gods and their early settlement as told in the "Barton Tablets". These according to Christian O'brian "The Genius of the Few", tell of a land "of the gods" which at one time became frozen and cold, and eventually forced them south. I consider these myths about the Sumerian "gods" to be ancient recollections of very early events remembered for millenniums, that actually happened to the ancestors of the Sumerians, about their old homelands in the frozen land areas like Siberia. They called this place "Karsag". I believe that this freezing was caused by the shift in the North Pole 13,000 years ago, which plunged Central Siberia from a temperate climate to a polar climate, where the ground a few feet from the surface never thaws out. Scientists have found frozen mammoths in Siberia, whose stomachs were still filled with plants that are known to live only in temperate climates, and not in the arctic regions.
Some groups trapped in this new harsh climate after the pole shift were so decimated by the freezing Siberian weather that they probably reverted to a primitive subsistence, which they could never hope to recover from in their new harsh surroundings. The lucky ones further away were able to move and look for new lands in more favorable climate, such as the great southern lakes like the Black Sea, Caspean Sea, Lake Baikal areas.
Similar stories are also told by the Californian Indians of the Penuitan language group, who are believed by some linguists to be descendant of the Ob-Ugrians of North Western Siberia, who are a branch of the FinnoUgrian language group. The ancestors of these Penuitan Indians crossed the Berring Straights and traveled here from the north. These Indians also believe that their gods come from and live in the polar regions. Their language has many common words with Ugrian and FinnUgor languages to which Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian, Lappish, Samoyedic, and several other minority languages of Russia belong. The language group is scattered from the Pacific to central and northern Europe.
Historic linguists also claim that the ancestors of the early Iranians also lived in close proximity to the Ugrians (Hungarians, Vogul and Ostjak languages), based on some common early words. According to ancient Hungarian legends there was an intermarriage with the Iranic Alan people. It is no surprise then that Iranian myths also talk of the freezing north in ancient times. This is an excerp from the Avesta of the ancient Persians: "...At that time Airyana Vaejo had a pleasant climate, with 7 months of summer and only 5 months of winter. The forests were rich with game and the fields with grains. In the valleys many brooks flowed. This land however turned into a cursed land, where for 10 months it was winter and only 2 months was it summer, following the attacks of Ahra-Majnyu (the evil-devil)." This land could not have been Europe, since prior to the pole shift most of Europe was under ice or very cold, and only afterwards did it warm up.
The implications and consequences of a climate change of such magnitude must have had a tremendous effect, causing the decimation of populations in areas plunged into the arctic, due to the dying of plants and animals and the initial loss of food supply. It also caused the subsequent changes in a way of living and the great migrations away from a once hospitable original homeland for those that could still manage to escape. The initial places for this maximum climate change would have been in central Siberia, around 100 degree East longitude but it affected much of the north also. It is believed that the early FinnUgor nations during the Ice Age lived in what today is the Ukraine and as the ice receeded many of them moved north to scandinavia. A branch of them however then started moving east and crossed the northern part of the Ural mountains and spread all around it. Others mingling with the local indegenous people of the north east, such as the Samoyeds and others navigated much of the arctic and crossed into north America. Portions settled in the western states and California and are called the Penuitan language family. Special branches went further south into Yucatan and became the Maya indians. In the early phases these all had sizable ethnic elements which included the original north European caucasian types, not just the later mixed Siberian types.
The time after the ice age was fairly warm even in the northern areas from 7300 to 5300BC it was hot and dry. Around 5,500BC another kind of catastrophy occurred. The flooding of the Black Sea . This was the "great flood", as told by Sumerian legend, which was borrowed by later civilizations of early Mesopotamia and was eventually written down in the Bible. Those who were able to escape this flood fled from this once fertile lowlands, into Eastern Europe but the majority headed toward the warm climate of the south, to Mesopotamia. They founded the first recorded civilization of mankind, whose literature actually survived. Then from 5300 to 3000BC, following the Black Sea flood, it was wet and warm and is known as the Würm period. After this it started to get continuously cold again in the north. Some groups trapped in this new harsh climate were so decimated by the freezing Siberian weather that they probably reverted to a primitive life style, which they could never hope to recover from in their new harsh surroundings.
The flooding of the Black Sea and the Caspean Sea occured around 5,500BC and affected mainly the north shore of the sea. The rising water levels in the Mediterranean and the connected Sea of Marmara next to modern Turkey, caused growing pressure on the earth's crust in a highly earthquake active region. This may have triggered major earth quakes and perhaps even some volcanic eruptions. This could have weakened or even lowered the earthen barrier between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Once this wall was breached, a huge waterfall, bigger than 40 Niagara Falls, started filling the much lower Black Sea basin, causing the destruction of the ancient civilization located there.
This was the "great flood", as told by Sumerian legend, which was borrowed by later civilizations of early Mesopotamia and was eventually written down in the Bible. Those who were able to escape this flood fled from this once fertile lowlands, into Eastern Europe but the majority headed toward the warm climate of the southern Mesopotamia. They founded the first civilization of mankind whose literature actually survived and is understood today. The Babylonian version of the flood goes into some detail about the fiery nature of the flood, which shook the ground and blackened the skies, along with the great flooding of the lowlands.
The Black Sea, also called the Euxine Lake, before its flooding, in 5,500BC.
Recently there have been many theories which have claimed that the flood
story told in the Sumerian legend of Gilgamesh is to be found in the flooding
of the Black Sea Basin. This idea from Dr. Walter Pitman and Dr Bill Ryan of
Columbia University, is based on the clues told in the story of Gilgames, the
great Sumerian king, who traveled back to the area near the old Sumerian
homelands, to find the old king of Surupak, known as Ziusudra in Sumerian.
Various researches have been done to figure out the most likely location of
this place to determine the most likely time when this flood occurred. The best
solution found was that the last great flood was the flooding of the northern
Black Sea, which occurred around 5,500 BC. This was based on all the evidence
known today from geological history, linguistics and mythology. It also
occurred just prior to the earliest appearance of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia
and after their appearance in Eastern Europe.
Since the story of the flood in the Bible originates from the Sumerians, their legends and story is of outmost importance in locating the flood told by the Bible. Because this is a new theory, which hasn't been completely checked out yet, there have been also a lot of criticism, most notably from those who would like a verbatim identity with the Bible version. Some of this criticism however is contrary to the scientific results found so far. In other words I haven't seen a strong reason against this new theory, only quibbling over details.
Today National Geographic researchers have been searching the Black Sea next to
Eastern Europe, for submerged remnants of early civilization before this flood.
Underwater archeologist Bob Balard, has already located the old coastline of
the preflooded Black Sea and now is looking for any human habitation there. The
materials found in the Black Sea also appears to pinpoint the date of the
flood, based upon the remnants of freshwater shells of marine animals, which
ceased to exist there after the lake became connected to the ocean.
The agricultural revolution started in this general area and adjacent lands, like Anatolia (modern Turkey) long before the flood occurred. From here it first spread into eastern Europe, then toward Asia and lastly around the time of the Black Sea flood, into Mesopotamia. This agricultural revolution, transformed human life on this planet and brought about the early towns and cities which today are so universal, that everything else now is the very rare exception. When the Subarians and Sumerians first appeared in Mesopotamia they came as full blown agriculturalists, who transported their old culture to a new site, with farms, animal husbandry, towns and writing. The earliest known urban civilization. Yet a large concentration of that writing hasn't been found anywhere else, as though it was swallowed up by the sea. Obviously it had to have had a source of origin, and a place where it developed from primitive forms. While no concentration of written material has been found anywhere, there have been some surprising but meager finds in eastern Europe which we will discuss later.
The early Sumerians found a sparsely inhabited Mesopotamia and they descended down its great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, from their previous homelands in the north to eventually colonize southern Mesopotamia over a period of hundreds of years. This colonization required the successive adaptations of new seeds for the warmer climate and new farming methods, such as irrigation. Many early northern Sumerian cities attest to their origin and early presence in the north, and are recorded in early Sumerian legends, such as the legend of "En-Merkar and the lord of Aratta".
The earliest culture of Mesopotamia is called the Ubaid culture, which occurred around the same time as the flooding of the Black Sea basin, around 5,500 to 5,000 BC. There are some uncertainties about whether the Ubaid culture was Sumerian, but in general there is a peaceful evolution from the Ubaid culture to the Sumerian one, so its probably the same. Some have suggested that the Ubaid people were to be identified with the Subarians, which remained for a long time in Northern Mesopotamia. The Subarians were also not Semitic nor IndoEuropean and were probably similar in language to the Sumerians, even if not identical. We really don't know if that difference was only an archaic dialectical variation or a related language type. They also came from the north, from the same direction as the Sumerians and are mentioned by the Assyrians as "supri" , the aboriginals of Mesopotamia, since they were there before the coming of the Semites from Arabia. They were also called the SU by Sumerians.
With early Ubaidian society many technological innovations appeared from beaten
copper tools, ceramics of more advanced design and advanced irrigation
techniques. A more advanced kiln technology capable of smelting copper from
ores. Several trade names in Sumerian appear to derive from this archaic
Subarian (Suwar) dialect as well as several of the early Sumerian city names,
indicating their early presence in Mesopotamia. The earlier Subarian presence
and influence may explain certain key terms found in the northern Akkadian,
which appear to be also related to Finn-Ugor but aren't present or quite
distorted in the later Sumerian.
( kat=hand , pil=ear, paharu=potter = bog_ , álu=city,town =aul in Turkic; palGe in FU etc)
The traditional length of the shortest and longest day in Sumerian.
Sumerian tradition claimed that the recorded longest and shortest days to be such a large variation, that it doesn't agree with the locality of southern Mesopotamia, but is instead near to the Black Sea in latitude. [ trying to find my misplaced references here ]
The northern shores of the Black Sea are the areas that most likely were originally suitable for agriculture in contrast to the southern steep rocky shores. Thus it seems only natural that the various Finn-Ugor language groups were close neighbors to the southern Sumerians, but as forest dwellers they didn't practice intensive farming. Most hunters and herder societies avoid it unless forced into it by harsh circumstances. While the precise location of the old Sumerian homeland isn't known, they may have been from a combination of various people that lived along the shores of the old lake who were able to escape the rising water levels, by boats or rafts. The flooding of the lake wasn't instantaneous, although it was accompanied by changing weather patterns due to all the moisture pumped into the air from the huge waterfall. This period was accompanied by unusually wet weather. The techtonic pressures created by the huge water pressure which quickly filled the basin, and which lowered the global ocean levels by about one foot, no doubt also caused volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in a seismically active region of the world.
The Sumerian Legend of Gilgamesh and the Flood
The story of the great flood as told in the Bible and in the legend of Gilgamesh, has just too many almost identical passages to be coincidental. It was saved from Sumerian in the context of the legend of Gilgamesh rather than a separate and independent story. The story was passed from one Mesopotamian culture to the others, and it became part of the traditional sacred literature of the region, recorded in the writings found in their libraries and retold in the stories told by their religions. Yet all the variations go back to the earliest literature of the world, the literature of the Sumerians, who brought it with them from their old home in the north. Naturally over time the memories about the flood became a simplified legend, with a moral story behind it, which was explained not as an act of nature but as an act of an angry god, who wished to punish mankind for its sins. It became a story of a hero, who managed to save all of mankind and the seed of all living things in face of the greatest natural disaster and the will of the gods. In the Sumerian version of the story the chief gods decided to destroy mankind and Ziusudra (Noah ) was only saved because he was warned by the chief benefactor god, Enki, even though many other gods and goddesses were also saddened by the decision.
"That day Nintur wept over her creatures
and holy Inana was full of grief over their people;
but Enki took counsel with his own heart.
An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag
had the gods of heaven and earth swear
by the names of An and Enlil."
At that time, Ziusudra was king
and lustration priest.
Enki came to listen to the prayers of Ziusudra and talked to him indirectly,
through his mind as Ziusudra preyed. He heard Enki talking to the wall, so as
not to break his vows of secrecy.
The god warned Ziusudra of the coming flood and instructed him to build an ark to save his family and his people.
"And as Ziusudra stood there beside it, he went on hearing:
Step up to the wall to my left and listen!
Let me speak a word to you at the wall
and may you grasp what I say,
may you heed my advice!
By our hand a flood will sweep over
the cities of the half-bushel baskets, and the country.
the decision, that mankind is to be destroyed
has been made.
A verdict, a command of the assembly cannot be revoked,
an order of An and Enlil is not known
ever to have been contermanded,
their kingship, their term, has been uprooted
they must bethink themselves of that.
What I have to say to you...
[Lost section about the details of building the boat and its requirements..]
Later it continues..
"Tear down the house, build a ship!
Give up possessions, seek though life!
Forswear belongings, keep soul alive!
Aboard ship take thou the seed of all living things.
That ship thou shalt build.
Her dimensions shall be to measure."
Ziusudra followed Enki's instructions and after the flood had abated, Enki was able to persuade the other chief gods not only to spare Ziusudra but to give him eternal life as a reward for having saved all living things from destruction.
Gilgamesh, was a great and powerful Sumerian monarch of the city state of Uruk, whose many brave and daring deeds were immortalized in the epic poetry of the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia. One of his most unusual adventures was his search for the immortal flood hero, Ziusudra, the Sumerian "Noah", for the purpose of finding his secret, the elixir of eternal life. Gilgamesh traveled through many northern lands to return to the area where Ziusudra lived. He eventually reached a mountainous land, guarded by "scorpion men" ( gir-tab-lulu). When he crosses this land it was dark for many days, before reaching his destination. We are told that the "north wind calls Gilgamesh" and he is chilled. He reaches a great sea, "the waters of death" which he must cross and on the other side he finds Ziusudra, the immortal king. Could this "sea of death" be some northern polar sea or inlet? This description could only be in the far north where in the winter it stays dark for several days and in summer where it is light for several days. After Gilgamesh finds Ziusudra, he is told about the flood and was able to convince Ziusudra to give him the plant of eternal youth. However he never ate the plant, since it was stolen from him by a serpent, during his long trip home.
The following passage is from the Legend of Gilgamesh as told to him by Ziusudra, about the story of the great flood, which forced the ancestors of the Sumerians to escape and move.
I looked for land in vain, but fourteen leagues distant there appeared a mountain, and there the boat grounded; on the mountain of Nisir she held fast, she held fast and didn’t budge. One day she held, and the second day on the mountain of Nisir and didnt budge; A third day and a fourth day she held fast and did not budge; a fifth day and sixth day she held fast on the mountain. When the seventh day dawned I loosened a dove and let her go. She flew away, but finding no resting place she returned. Then I loosened a swallow, and she flew away but finding no resting place she returned. I loosened a raven, she saw that the waters retreated, she ate, she flew around, she cawed, but she did not come back. Then I threw everything open to the four winds, I made a sacrifice and poured a libation on the mountain top."
After Ziusudra, makes sacrifices to the gods, following the opening of the ark, the gods descended to partake of the offerings and as the following story describes, how Ziusudra is honored by the chief Sumerian god An and enLIL, who was placated by the "protector and caretaker" of man, the god en-Ki-ag known later as En-Ki. These names will all be explained later.
Ziusudra, being king,
stepped up before An and Enlil
kissing the ground.
And An and Enlil after honoring him
were granting him life like a god's,
were making lasting breath of life, like a god's,
descend into him.
An interesting parallel to the Sumerian flood story is the north Siberian Ugrian
flood legends, which also last 7 days like the Sumerian legend and which also
has a combination of a flood as well as fire, which is unique enough to warrant
us to say it is an original legend and not borrowed from the Bible or any other
later source. The Ob-Ugrians (Vogul and Ostyak) live in north western Siberia
today. It must be stated however that the number 7 in Sumerian and Ugrian has a
double meaning and can also mean many and not just 7. Originally this numeral
wasn't part of their number systems, because their original number system was
base 6 and not base 10, meaning that the concept of ten, hundred and thousand
were all based on multiples of 6 rather than multiples of 10.
Just like in Sumerian the FinnUgor number system created numbers greater than 6 (7 through 9) by addition and combinations, indicating that this wasn't really part of the old counting system, because it didn't have unique names like the other digits.
Therefore the idea of 7 days of flooding may have really meant many days of flooding. The religion of both the Sumerians and FinnoUgrians however favors the number 7, which is woven into all kinds of different myths and religious concepts, such as 7 levels of heaven and 7 levels of hell. The 7 main gods and so on and so on.
In the Ugrian version of the flood story, the god of the sky Numi-Tarem, decided that he must destroy the devil Kulya-ter with a "holy fiery-flood" . For his own people, the gods, he builds an iron ship. For the humans he builds a covered raft... Numir Tarem then flies up into heaven with his iron ship, while the people go through the great fiery flood, where most of their ship is burned except the last of the 7 layers of their covering. The fiery flood also included "jur" insects and "sossel" insects who also devoured all living things they touched. .... The devil Kulya-ter however managed to survive, because while Numi Tarem was building his iron ship, he talked to his wife and asked what her husband was doing. She didn't know, so he told her to make a special drink, beer, to give him as he returns daily. He drank the drink and got drunk and told her what was going to happen. Kulyater was then placed in a sewing box by the wife of Numi Tarem and carried aboard the iron ship and saved from destruction.
In most other variations of the same story its "Noah" and not god who is duped by his wife to drink beer to loosen his tongue and tell what is going to happen. Variations of the Vogul –Ugrian story are found in Votjak and Hungarian also in certain small regions, which have remembered to pass it on. All have differences also but all tell of the wife who induces Noah to tell the secret, that saves the devil. By the time the Bible retells the story, Noah gets drunk after the flood and not before. It's interesting to note that the Sumerians are the first recorded people to be known to have brewed beer.
Of interest to me is the preflood city name Shurupak, which was ruled by Ziusudra and devastated by the flood, but which was also found later in Mesopotamia, as a new city established by the incoming Sumerians. Other references say that Shurupak is the name of the father of Ziusudra. The name "Shurupak" may be related to Proto-Ugrian "*sure" which is the archaic form of the word for flood, which becomes "tur" in Ob Ugrian, "_ár: in Hungarian and "_ur" in Sumerian. The term "pakk" can also mean the origin or source of life in FinnUgor languages, which is again a confirmation of a likely link to Ziusudra myth.
The location of the Sumerian & Biblical Paradise myths of Eden
In the Bible the location of the mythical garden of Eden is toward the east from the source of the Tigris and Euphrates. These source of these rivers were thought to be near each other, as some of its major tributaries are in fact close to each other. This closeness in the headwaters could have made travel between the Black Sea, Caspean Sea and Mesopotamia possible with small boats. That's where the mistaken idea comes from that they flowed out of a common source. Eden however wasn't a mountainous land like this area is, but the Sumerian term "edin" means a plain, steppes and back. It existed toward the north east from this area. This was probably an area nearest to northern Mesopotamia, even if not inside of it, as some believe. It also was near a large mountains called Dilmun by Sumerians. Another clue about the old homeland of the Sumerians is their term "kur", which can mean mountain, country, along with enmity, indicating that their idea of nationalities and countries were somehow tied to various mountain valley regions. Their pyramid like temples also mimicked mountains, that probably originated from their ancient customs of having sacred places on top of mountains. A custom that is very common among various central Asian peoples. Remnants of pyramids are found all the way to China and Japan also. Since in Mesopotamia there were no mountains nearby, they simply built temples, which were pyramidal replicas of mountains, which had names derived from the word for mountain. Their temple mounds were called Zi-gur-at temples, where GUR or KUR = mountain. ZI=spirit, soul. The term then could mean "spirit mountain" in Sumerian as well as several Finn-Ugor languages.
Another Sumerian legend about a mythical place, similar to Eden, is mentioned in
the "Paradise Myth" of the gods, which has it’s closest parallels with the
Biblical Adam and Eve story. The Sumerian god Enki, was the protector of man,
the magician of the gods, the guardian spirit of springs and underground
waters, and hence the headwater of rivers. He was often illustrated in Sumerian
art with two streams flowing out of his shoulders, with fishes swimming in
them. This represents the source of the two great rivers of Mesopotamia, the
Tigris and Euphrates. According to this legend of paradise, Dilmun the old home
of EnKi originally didn't have water, so Enki the water god created a great
spring which feed the rivers, and thereby converted the land into a great
garden. This "Garden of Eden" as we know it from the Bible was called the
Mountain Dilmun (or Tilmun). It was also known as the home of the "seed of
mankind". It was the place where the god en-Ki and his consort created many of
the plants and animals for this world, including a newer form of mankind.
Perhaps that is why TIL=life, to keep alive + MU=to grow, seed + N=locative
suffix, may explain the name as the "to grow & keep life". That is why
Tilmun is a holy mountain, because it was the origin of the seed of life. This
is why the Bible also translated TILMUN as a "garden" of Eden. Since Sumerian
writing is full of homonyms, and their symbols often mean dozens of things the
meanings of DILMUN can also mean distinguished and respected. One can see that
as a holy place it was quite holy, distinguished and respected as the
birthplace some of the gods, man and many plants.
It is in the north, near the headwaters of several great rivers, that the Sumerian god of wisdom, magic and waters, the god En-KI instituted "a sinless age of complete happiness", where animals lived in peace and harmony, where man had no rival and where the god Enlil, the chief god, was praised "in one tongue". Dilmun is also described as a place "pure, clean and 'bright', 'abode of the immortals', where death, disease and sorrow are unknown and rare mortals like Ziusudra have been given 'life like a god'. This original idyllic land described by the "Paradise Myth" was known as Dilmun, "where the sun rises from a great mountain". It is also mentioned in the flood myth, to be toward the east, over the mountains (the Zagros) in mount Dilmun. The Sumerian flood story tells the location of Dilmun as follows;
It is true that the old Dilmun in the north and adjacent lands to the north east of Mesopotamia in North Western Iran and Kurdistan are no longer the lush and verdant lands they once were, according to the story of Gilgamesh, due to the change in weather patterns between 3000BC and 2000BC. It is after this time that the great monsoons stopped and the once huge cedar forests became near deserts. This forest was claimed to be 10,000 leagues in every direction by the legend of Gilgamesh in the story of "Gilgamesh and the Cedar Forrest". God truly destroyed this idyllic paradise and chased the seed of mankind from it simply by changing the weather. The same sort of thing happened in North Africa following the Ice Ages, causing the Sahara Desert.
Some have also tried to explain Tilmun to be near Egypt, based on records from much later time, about an island in the Persian Gulf, called Dilmun. This is hardly convincing though and only includes a shared name, where everything else is wrong. Years of research on the island of Bahrain, have not uncovered any sign of an early settlement that would explain the Sumerian's origin.
Northern and Eastern Sumerian cities
In this area in the north, associated with the source of the Sumerians, there were many early links with the local Sumerian city state of Arata, called Urartu much later, which was between the Caucasus mountains, Lake Urmia and the Caspean Sea, pointing to many other early Sumerian settlements in the north east of Mesopotamia. The Sumerian legend of "En-Merkar and the lord of Arata", deals with the attempted subjugation of the kindom of Arata by en-Merkar, the ruler of Sumerian city of Erech. In this plot the Sumerian goddess Inana, who was also the main goddess of Arata, is also supposed to favor en-Merkar in this quest to bring the people of Arata under his rule. The main purpose was to obtain the riches in metals from the great mountains in the region. Samuel Kramer in his book "The Sumerians: Their History, Culture and Character", states.. "To judge from a cycle of epic tales revolving about En-Merkar and Lugalbanda, the early Sumerian rulers seem to have had an unusually close and intimate relationship with a city-state known as Arata, probably situated somewhere in the region of the Caspean Sea." Later he also mentions that "The Sumerian language is agglutinative tongue, reminiscent to some extent of the Ural-Altaic languages, and this fact may point to the same general area as Arata." In another place he comment: "Oppert even went on to say in this lecture that an analysis of the structure of the Sumerian language had led him to conclude that it had close affinities with Turkish, Finnish and Hungarian - a brilliant insight into the structure of a language, which only twenty years earlier had been non-existent as far as world scholarship was concerned." This language was totally alien to the Semitic languages of Mesopotamia.
Early Sumerian writing found in the north
It would not be surprising that before their southern migrations and even in the early phases of their colonization of southern Mesopotamia, that the Sumerians were in closer contact with their northern relatives. Even after they settled into their new homeland they probably had some trading outposts with the north, which was much richer in many natural resources than the arid Southern Mesopotamia, which was devoid of forests or even many valuable stones and minerals. They must have maintained trading outposts in areas rich in resources they lacked. One of the interesting finds in Central Europe, in Transylvania, which historically was Hungary for a thousand years until WW I, when it was given to Rumania by the Allies, were the clay tablets found in Tartaria in 1961, by Nicolae Vlassa.
What is really interesting about this find, was that it shows early forms of Sumerian writing on it, that even the archeologist who discovered this find recognized as such. Subsequently it has been compared to all kinds of early writing, but the similarity to old Sumerian was really pronounced. The American proffesor Hud, dated this find using Carbon 14 dating, from the associated organic material and found it to be at least 1,000 years earlier than any Sumerian writing found in southern Mesopotamia! What is the strangest fact is that the symbols are already well developed and match precisely the early Mesopotamian form of early pictorial Sumerian writing. Several translations have been made, with some different results, since most Sumerian symbols have more than one meaning. One of the key translations was done by the Russians, using the Sumerian language as the key. The project to study a "Sumerian settlement in Transylvania", was under the direction of T. S. Pasek, doctor of history, who entrusted the archeologist V. Titov to study the find. A Sumerologist also studied the writing on the clay tablets, from the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He came to the following conclusions after he thoroughly analyzed and listed its contents.
Tartaria Tablet from Transylvania, in central Europe originating from 4,500 BC.
1. The tablets found in Tataria are made of local materials, and reflect a widespread form of writing. (?widespread where isn't stated) This contradicts the idea proposed by others, that it was brought here from Mesopotamia, especially since no such writing is found yet at this time in Mesopotamia.
2. One of the tablets contains 6 totemic animals, which agree with a list found on a similar tablet found in a Sumerian city near Djemdet Nasr, Messopotamia as well as a similar local European Körös Culture seals. He also lists the pictures as a goat "aires", scorpion "scorpio", demon or man, fish "pisces", a grave or structure "the gemini's old designation", and a bird.
3.The signs on the tablet should be read in a counterclockwise order.
4.The interpretation of the contents of the tablet (if read in Sumerian) is further proven by the cut up and burned man buried with it. This shows that the ancient Transylvanians practiced a form of ritual killing of their ruler. [ A practice which seemed to have survived among the Turkic people to the east up to the Middle Ages. ]
5.The local god Saue's name agrees with the Sumerian god Usmu. The message reads
"We killed our chieftain in his 40th year of rule, for the mouth of Saue. He
was the eleventh. " [ Hmm that's a long time to rule in those times.]
In Sumerian this is read as follows: "NUN. KASA. UGULA. PI. IDIM. KARAI. " Which was also interpreted as follows:
"The 4 leaders (Ugula) burned for SAUE one of their own."
One would think this is a unique find, but in fact there have been many other cylinder seal type finds that were found in Transylvania and first published by the Transylvanian-Hungarian researcher Zsofia Torma in the late 19th century, mostly in German. Yet for the most part, much of these links were forgotten or ignored because there wasn't an accepted explanation for them. There has also been attempts at covering up their Sumerian links, which is unfortunate and reflects the desire to keep Sumerian in an isolated language classification and to also elevate the importance of early eastern Europe, as a special independent early culture. Of course early Eastern Europe did have an important early local civilization, even before the coming of the Indo-Europeans, who are mistakenly claimed to bring agriculture to the natives. However nothing could be further from the truth, since most grain names or the name of bread in various major branches of Indo-European languages (Germanic, Latin, Slavic, Iranic ) cannot be derived from a common origin indicating that they weren't agriculturalist prior to their separation. Agriculture appeared here long before them, around 6,000 BC in Eastern Europe and in a thousand years it spread to most of Europe. The earliest appearance of Indo Europeans, from the east in Europe was around 3,500 BC with the first appearance of the ancestors of the early Greeks whose language showed a marked similarity to the Sanskrit language of India. The later multitude of IndoEuropean Languages were the results of the hybridization from the incomers and local European languages, causing the large divergence in vocabulary and phonology of the resulting combinations.
There are probably a lot more archeological finds of this early Sumerian type
yet to be found in the area around the Black Sea and Caspean Sea associated
with their ancient trade routes. Transylvania was important to the Sumerians
and other early cultures, because it was an important trading outpost. An area
rich in gold and metals. In their new homeland they discovered other areas
of trade also that were closer.
The Dilmun controversy, the Garden of Eden and the origin of the Sumerians
It is in the north at the headwaters, that the Sumerian god of wisdom, magic and waters, the god En-KI institutes "a sinless age of complete happiness", where animals lived in peace and harmony, where man had no rival and where the god Enlil was praised "in one tongue". Dilmun is also described as a place "pure, clean and 'bright', 'abode of the immortals', where death, disease and sorrow are unknown and some mortals have been given 'life like a god'. This is the origin of the idea of the "Garden of Eden" in the Bible.
This was definitely not in Mesopotamia, which had a multitude of totally alien languages like Semitic, Sumerian, Elamite, Hurrian just to name a few of them. A place with a very long history of strife and discord, from the beginning of Akkadian rule of Sargon onwards, but even during the competing rule of various Sumerian city states with each other. A competition probably for limited resources and water rights. Based on the Sumerian description of Dilmun, it was the same land, which the Bible calls Eden and describes as near the headwaters of the great rivers, surrounded by the lands of Cush, and not the land between the two rivers, which many claim as Eden today! Genesis 2:8 where god planted a garden "eastward in Eden". The Caspean Sea name is also a reminder of the land of Cush, the people of Nimrod, who was later identified by the Bible as the builder of the great cities of Mesopotamia, who were actually the Sumerians. The name Cush may have come from the Sumerian word for male, man, hero or its homonym meaning tree "ngeš", where the ancestors of the Sumerians lived long ago. Nimrod however was a name derived from the name of a Sumerian god "Nimurta" which became "Ninurta" who was the god of the southern wind. Eden was a place thickly forested and a higland, that the Bible calls a "garden", where Adam and Eve could have lived eternally, had they not broken the commandment against eating the fruit from the tree of life.
Many details in the Adam and Eve story have good explanations in the Sumerian version, which was their ultimate origin. What does the name Adam mean? Is it "red earth" as in Hebrew or was his name from Sumerian, meaning "father+mother" as AD+AMA, which is also reflected in the Turkish name Adam meaning "ancestor". After all, according to the Bible, Eve is removed from Adam’s rib, indicating that Adam originally was both mother and father, male and female in one bisexual body. Other strange things in the Bible include the tempting of Eve by the apple from the tree of knowledge by the serpent. Who was the serpent, that supposedly tempted Eve? The title "sir" meaning a serpent in Sumerian was also the title of the mother goddess "nin-TI", who was the co-creator and benefactor of mankind.
The term "sir" in Sumerian also relates to "šer" meaning to decide, from knowing. It may come from FinnUgor and Altaic, where "*sári" means to understand, or ripen and become mature, old and wise. FinnUgor "säre- " to mature, ripen, become old & wise.
Why was Eve created from Adam's rib in the Bible? Because the term TI(L) in Sumerian had a double meaning. It can mean "life" or it can mean "rib". So that the Biblical version became misunderstood by later scribes who were not familiar enough with Sumerian. The "tree of life" or "world tree" is also a very common motif in Sumerian and in many other traditions, but especially in the northern Mesopotamian Hurrian religion. It is also common in many early Shamanistic religions of the far north, as the connection between heaven and earth and the axle of the world. It is beautifully illustrated in a most Sumerian like form on a wall fresco, from the royal hall of the old Hungarian king's castle in the city of Esztergom, Hungary. I had the fortune of photographing the remnants of this myself years ago. It shows 7 pairs of Mesopotamian lions, with four sets of triple mounds, that look just like cuneiform, that serve as his ribbs. The lion was the symbol of the goddess Inana. The lion's body is covered with astronomical and astrological symbolism, in front of a world tree with two major branches. The lions flank is decorated by the flower of the date palm. Similar "world trees", without lions or date flowers, are found painted on the sacred drums of shamans in Asia. In Hungarian folktales the tree is climbed by some hero to enter the other realms of heaven or the underworld, in a quest for some important knowledge. Shamans also used the birch tree and the mushrooms that grew near it to enhance their ecstatic experience. While the Sumerian notion outgrew these primitive methods and concepts, it still kept key elements of it like the connection to sacred knowledge.
The Hungarian "World Tree" behind the Mesopotamian Lion, found in the royal chambers of the early kings, in the royal city of Esztergom, Hungary.
The lion was the sacred animal of the goddess Inana, known as Ishtar to the later Mesopotamian peoples.
The religious meeting places of the northern people called "keremet" often had a carved tree representing the "world tree", which was meant to be the place where the holy spirit descended during ceremonies to partake of the sacrifices offered to him. These were normally placed in mountain glens, beside a spring. The carved effigies of the god was often fed with blood from the sacrifice during these ceremonies. The area around this sacred place was called "tir" in Ugrian. All these terms have almost identical equivalent words in Sumerian
When people colonize a new land, they often carry the names of their old place names with them, just as the York of England became New York in America and so it must have been with the Sumerians also. Over thousands of years they probably forgot the true origin of some of these names. This only became more so after the legends had been taken over by other foreign nationalities, who weren't fully aware of the original meaning of the stories. Rather than being legendary memories of the past they became myths. The Sumerians themselves never wrote real history and like the Finno-Ugrians of the north even had taboos about talking too much about the ancestors and history. A fear of the returning spirits of the dead. This changed somewhat over time, but most of the early history was lost in the process and only myths remained that emphasized the gods, not the people. All of the accomplishments of Sumerian civilization were explained in terms of the gifts of the gods, not the creation of the people of the past. The new people who adopted these myths created new explanations for the flood stories, which tried to explain their new found diversity or new reasons for the flood, that the Sumerians never intended originally. Such changes as the Biblical sons of Noah, Ham, Shem and Japhet, who become the ancestor of 3 major language and racial groups. These representing the major subdivisions found in Mesopotamia at a much later time. No such thing is ever stated in the earlier Sumerian versions of the flood story, where originally everyone spoke a common language, in their old homelands toward the north east. This language diversity was later explained by the story of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. Yet this has no such explanation in Sumerian legends and was a later explanation, especially since the great towers were places of worship of god, rather than what the Bible explains as an attempt to elevate an earthly ruler to heaven. If we are to take the Bible literally the building of the Sumerian cities were the work of the Cushites, the sons of Ham, which would place the forgotten Sumerians also in this same category.
Another example of change, is the legendary origin of the people from Dilmun, which is often believed by many today to be the island of Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, because it also became named by this name in the distant past. Yet this really cannot be the original Dilmun in the legend,because the Sumerian legends of origin talks about Dilmun as a mountain beyond the mountains of the east and not an island far south from the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Persian Gulf. There is no archeological evidence that Dilmun had any special significance or sign of origin of the Sumerians or any ancient civilization. The Bible also expands on this story and has the source of the four great rivers coming out of Eden, rather than just two. These added river names, like the Gihon and Pison however aren't known from ancient history today, but this change seems to have influenced some to look at the location of Eden in totally opposite direction, from the basic Sumerian or Biblical explanation given. The Biblical version also mentions the land of Cush, which surrounds Eden, that probably also refers to the north, near the Sea of Cush, the Caspean Sea, and the various early city names associated with the Cushites, like the Assyrian cities of Nimrud and Niniveh. Niniveh is named after a son of Nimrud known as Ninus. Even further north there is still a mountain called Nimrud. Armenian traditions also talk of Nimrod, the son of Cush and his people being in northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia, and fighting with the ancestor of the Armenians. The Armenians even talk about a province in old Armenia where the descendants of these Cushites lived even in the Middle Ages, mentioned in the Modern Encyclopedia of Islam.
This Armenian legend, like the Biblical references about the conflicts between Nimrod and Abraham, appear to be mythical, since according to the Bible if he was actually human, he lived too long ago following the flood to be able to interact with Abraham or the Armenian patriarch Hajk. Perhaps by then he just represented some sort of title of an Assyrian king, linked to an ancient god’s name? The Bible also talks about Nimrod as the founder of Sumerian cities and Babylon, who later moved north. This also occurred thousands of years before Abraham. By the time the Bible was written these events were very ancient history and there was very little knowledge about the Sumerians, who built these ancient cities. The discovery of the Sumerian people and language was totally by luck and not because there were clear references to them. While some people lived in cities founded by the Sumerians, hardly anyone knew of their founders. Some of the priests could speak a holy tongue, the source of their sacred traditions, but in an imperfect way. This was Sumerian, which like Latin survived in the church as a religious relic and used imperfectly by the priests in various ceremonies.
More about the Sumerians:
Terms which the Sumerians called themselves
For some it might be a surprise to learn, that the Sumerians never used this term for themselves and that the term "Sumerian" we use today, was a foreign one to them and was invented by their Semitic neighbors. They called their language Emegir, however they used other terms to refer to their people. One of the favorite collective terms used by the Sumerians, when referring to themselves is the term "saŋ-gig" which in it's simplistic interpretation means "black heads". This has caused quite a lot of head scratching among Sumerologists, but little enlightenment. The term definitely wasn't used because Sumerians were dark skinned, and if they were black haired they certainly didn't stand out in Mesopotamia at that time, since everyone else living there was also dark haired. The term definitely wasn't derogatory in any sense in relation to the gods of heaven and light in opposition to the men born of dark mother earth. So perhaps this term is not what it seems at all, but referred to their ancestral origin, outside of Mesopotamia, which wasn't their original home. So here is the way I see it.
The term sang "saŋ" means head, peak and men in Sumerian as it does in Finn-Ugor *sänke (head, peak, point, spirit, men). There is no ambiguity with this at all. These homonyms were differentiated with modifying formative suffixes and weren't confused. Short homonym roots are very common in both Sumerian and Finn-Ugor languages which I believe indicate that these languages were already very ancient.
The second part of the name is the term "gi" duplicated as "gig" which requires some digging and knowing the phonetic correspondences between proto FinnUgor and Sumerian. Sumerian had no symbol for such glides as j (y sound) and w, yet it obviously had these phonemes because certain similar phonemes replaced it in a regular way. What is seen in countless examples is that the palatal *j found in proto-FinnUgor sound often become a velar nasal "ng" in Sumerian or in some cases it becomes un-velarized into a g or was dropped altogether initially from the original j, depending on its location at the head of the word and type of vowel following it, or if used internally. Thus the Sumerian term "gi", meaning night, dark and black, may derive from something like *iji becoming ji and was also reduplicated for making a plural or a generality as "gi-g".
The derived protoFinnoUgrian term for night and north is *üje, which can naturally evolve into "gi" or "ge" in Sumerian, since Sumerian often dropped leading vowels in the root word, when we compare it to FinnUgor. In some Finn Ugor languages the terms north and night also use the same word, because in the northern latitudes a winter night can last days, just as a summer day can last days, so the terms became interchangeable for night and north. Thus I believe that the interpretation of "black heads" may be misleading, or at best a secondary play on words, and one should be using the original archaic meaning found in proto-Finn Ugor meaning of "north men" instead of "black/dark head". This makes more sense since it emphasizes their difference and uniqueness amongst the early people of Mesopotamia, rather than something that best fitted the people of southern origin, like the Semites.
Through most of recorded history much of western and central Mesopotamia became
Semitic, while the area in the north and east of it were populated in the early
days by people speaking agglutinative languages like Sumerian, before they were
overrun and displaced and absorbed by the Iranians. Probably about this same
time Indo-European also started displacing and replacing
the early languages of Europe. Basically the original genetic makeup of the people of Europe remained but the new ruling languages became more and more predominant.
The land of the Sumerians
The main name for the land of Sumeria is also a rather enigmatic term
"Ki-Engi-ra" or sometimes "Kiengi". It is also not very well understood. While
KI=land, place as in FinnUgor *kila, the following Engira or Engur, however
doesn't seem to make much sense in this context, since it means fresh-
underground waters. Interestingly there was in ancient times another great
city-state, which lasted until the coming of the Mongols, next to the Aral Sea.
It also was a land of extensive canals and irrigation and known by a very
similar name locally as Kanga. The Persians and most historians knew it as the
kingdom of Choresmia. According to Russian archeologists and historians it was
probably founded by the Hurrian-Subarians. Its also interesting to know that
the Subarians were also known
even by the northern Ob-Ugrians, as Sapir and were admired for their superhuman knowledge and abilities, probably as the carriers of a very ancient and high civilization.
The map of early Mesopotamia from an article by Noah Kramer, showing original coastlines and river beds.
Because the Sumerians lived close to rivers, underground water wasn't too deep. They also believed that the world is like a pile of soil floating on top of a huge heavenly sea (the cosmos), symbolized by the goddess Namu. This too agrees perfectly with an early Hungarian and Finnish creation myths and the early god & goddess of the highest heavens called "Numi" Tarem. Yet this "heavenly sea" isn't the whole explanation of the name either. The land of Sumer was thought of as the "freshwater sea land" or "watered land" and its occupants were "farmers & irrigators" and used the same term for both farmer and irrigator. Just try growing anything in this region without irrigating and you will understand why the two terms are so inseparable. We know the Sumerian tongue was called "eme-gir" meaning the "master tongue" (gir=master), so that "en-gar"=irrigator, may be the master irrigator? This term is supposedly from pre-Sumerian Ubaid culture, however it may be explained as follows. "en or eng" may be related to the term for irrigation or drinking which is also found as "na-g" in Sumerian. Strangely enough a similar term is found also in Hungarian "ön-t" =to pour, to irrigate.
The idea that Sumeria was special, because it was an "irrigated land" may have given the name for it, since all around was desert. Even the term "engur" with it's mythical ideas about the heavenly freshwater sea, also had a more immediate and tangible meaning, since in early Sumerian times the Tigris and Euphrates rivers emptied into a small freshwater sea "engur" and that was followed by a large delta and marshes that finally emptied into the Persian Gulf. See the map above. Today all of that is silted over and the great Sumerian city of Eridu, which was once on the shores of this ancient freshwater sea, is found far inland in a sea of sand, hundreds of miles from the Persian Gulf.
The term Sumerian
So why do we call them Sumerians? It seems that the neighbors of the Sumerians, the Semites used this name for them in the form of "Shumeru". However the etymology of the word is unknown and isn't believed to be Semitic in origin. I wonder if the term couldn't be ultimately also Sumerian or Subarian in origin, even though it didn't refer to the more common term used by the Sumerians themselves in a collective sense. Like many such designations in different languages for another people, it may have referred to a term for man or person, in their language so that in Sumerian it didn't have any specific meaning for their people, which over time were seen as various city-states, like various tribes rather than a unity. There seems to be many very early loan words, which seem to be Sumerian in origin, found in the early Semitic Akkadian language, which later evolved and changed or was lost in Sumerian itself. Could this be one of these words? If we can assume that my idea about Sumerian origin from the north is correct, like all these examples have show, then we can look for a language in the north, which is like SHUM-er can mean something like a man/person or even an generic ethnic designation. A term which the Sumerians discarded in their new surroundings, since it wasn’t specific enough to any of their branches. Such is the case with Finn-Ugor languages, which have several examples of just such a term in various daughter languages. For example: a Lapp person is called a SAAMI, a Finn person is called SUOMI, a Samoyedic group is called SAMOY .. Even in Hungarian, a person is called SZEM-ély. So perhaps this term isn't a foreign one in origin after all.
All of these topics have shown agreement with the possible northern origin of the Sumerians. Perhaps the most diversity is with the anthropological analyses of their racial elements, which reflect their assimilation of very different local ethnic elements along with some northern Mesopotamian elements. Generally the Sumerians are called by a vague "Asianic" term implying their central Asian origin, however they also included "Armenoid" elements, which should properly be called based on history to be SUBARIAN- HURRIAN, northern types, from Anatolia. However there were also some distinctly southern racial types amongst them which can be tied to the aboriginals of the Indian Ocean area they absorbed.
In various articles on the Sumerians, they are called a "broadheaded" people, of unknown origin. Scientifically this head shape is called "branchycephalic" and indicates the width of the skull as seen from the top down, not the face. This type of head shape makes the most efficient use of the space, since its more spherical, but it doesn't imply a large head at all. It has been spreading in Europe in recent times, however it wasn't that common in the western parts of Europe until lately, except in central Europe where its major center is in the Carpathian Basin and other FinnUgor territories. It has been the most common type there for a considerable amount of time and was believed to come from Anatolia in prehistoric times, with the spread of agriculture. It is called the "dinaric" type at times, or a later variation is called "caucasian-mongoloid", with no intended link to the orient. A variation among the Ob-Ugrians is called Americanoid, since it resembles the mixed Euro-Asiatic types found in many North American Indian types, which basically came from the same original area in north central Asia as these people.
The Sumerians also seem to have elements that were probably found there earlier and associated with types like the Dravidian types of India, which were probably seafaring people of the Indian Ocean, similar to a degree to the Poleniseans, who were also originally from the Indian Ocean area. Recently this linguistic group has been using the term Austric and shows some degree of similarity also with the other agglutinative languages inland to Asia. In reviewing these comparisons with Austric Languages, they seemed to be limited by very basic pronouns and suffixes that are also quite common elsewhere. We also know that the Sumerians also traded with the Dravidians in Pakistan, in an area known as Meluah, as well as Bahrain, known as Dilmun. This is also a very interesting fact that is made even more tantalizing by the fact that Dravidian languages of India also share considerable amount of basic vocabulary with Finno-Ugrians and Sumerians and perhaps is best explained by the Dravidians originally also being in south western Asia and before being pushed into Southern India. The current theory is that the Elamites, the eastern neighbors and enemies of the Sumerians were linguistically related to the Dravidians in India. This would explain why the common terms and religious motifs are found between Dravidian and early Elamite.
As might be expected the end of the Sumerian nation resulted in their blending into their neighboring nation's and their mixed gene pool. Some may have escaped and moved away but most probably couldn't. Some have made up wild eyed speculations about them moving back to their old homelands in the north east, but that at best could only be for an insignificant few, who had the means to do so under the most difficult circumstances. These old lands were no longer available for colonization. It is believed that the ancestors of the Indo-Europeans occupied the Black Sea areas, probably about 2,000 years after the Sumerians left it (?3,500BC or earlier). I personally see no way that the Sumerians could have influenced the languages of the north during their Mesopotamian tenure nor after their demise due to the large separation and isolation.
A bust of Gudea, one of the late Sumerian kings. The oversized eyes were common in Sumerian sculpture and were often decorated with colored semi precious stone.
A short introduction to the Sumerian Language
Sumerian is generally believed today to be an isolate language without known close relatives, even though most will say it is the closest to the FinnUgor and Altaic language families in many ways. Even the well known Sumerologist, Samuel Noah Kramer has hinted at the probability at times about the FinnUgor and Altaic links, even though he would rather not mention it. Many others mention it also but try to play it down and often minimize the true links. Quite a few of the early pioneers of the study of Sumerian however didn't ignore or play this link down, but supported the idea that the language was related to Finn-Ugor and Altaic language groups. Such early pioneers as Jules Oppert (France), Archibald.H Sayce (England), A.H. Layard (England), Francis Lenormant (France), Delitzs (Germany) and many others who are less known today. Unfortunately the detailed work and correspondences needed by "historic linguist", were only started by them, but never continued and refined by anyone before it became a "semi taboo" topic to compare Sumerian to other language families. This seemed to occur following the very long drawn out and bitter attacks on these early associations by a very long lived Jewish scholar, Halevy, from Eastern Europe, who basically tried to force Sumerian into the category of an "invented secret language of the Semitic priesthood". Even though this was in time totally disproved, it totally disrupted the early initiatives for a long time to prove a link and must have resulted in a consensus to keep the language isolated, so that these attacks can cease and research can get on with the important basic work at hand. Further mention of this has for the most part has been discouraged by academics ever since, and linguistics is by far, one of the most conservative of all the sciences, which at times can be very discouraging to innovative individuals who work in it.
The main Sumerian gods and goddesses in the story and the explanation of their names
In my work I have tried to use the comparative method at several different
levels. Comparing not just today's languages but to emphasize the derived
proto-languages, which is much closer in time to Sumerian. I have found the
1) Linguistic commonality with the ancient Finno-Ugrian proto-language and Sumerian. I have searched and found many consistent sound changes for over 500 basic root words between these language groups, indicating much more than random similarity of a small set of words found in most languages. To eliminate late borrowings from affecting my results, I started out with the derived proto Finn-Ugor or its earlier Uralic forms as the basis of words that can be trusted. I have found also a similar grammatical structure of agglutination of both noun and verbal stems, including many commonly shared suffixes and case endings. Sumerian like Finn-Ugor and Altaic doesn't use prepositions but case suffixes added to the root of a noun or verbal stem, along with gender-less pronoun suffixes and various other conditions and directional suffixes. There are quite a few Sumerian phrases which are identically constructed to Finn-Ugor, while others have evolved away from it. Several Sumerian numbers and mathematical terms also derive from Finn-Ugor root words, as well as a number system derived from an originally unique Finn-Ugor base six number system, rather than the usual 10 based system. This implies single hand counting with 5 fingers plus the palm. Sumerian basic numbers are only unique from 1 through 6 and then resort to combinations, just as the FinnUgor does.
2) Comparison of mythological concepts along with their religious terminology with Finn-Ugor and Sumerian. The common names of the main gods and goddesses along with many basic religious terms, based on Finn-Ugor root words seem to fit very well.
Sumerian ANKI is the name of the early combined heaven and earth, before it was
separated by the birth of the air god En-Lil.
In FinnUgor ANKI is thought of as a mother goddess, who is the source of heaven and earth, and in Ob-Ugrian languages it also means mother.
Sumerian _AN =god of the sky, heaven, father of the gods. (called YN in the
Finn-Ugor -Zürjen language)
FinnUgor *sANe=heaven, high, old chief god as found in several FU languages almost identical to Sumerian.
Sumerian LIL =air, en-LIL lord/god of the air, who later becomes the chief god.
In some Sumerian legends he is also by some accounts the creator of man.
FinnUgor *lewle =air, spirit (LIL in FinnUgor -Ob-Ugrian, Lél-ek in Hungarian).
In FU legends the god of air creates man, and thus the name of man also means "son of air" . (elmpi, empi, ember).
Sumerian KIG > KI, better known as EnKI and EA=god of waters, wisdom,
magic, caretaker of man.
He seems to be a combination of several earlier gods, because of his wide range of functions and many titles.
Hungarian KEGY =mercy (Sumerian Kiag =love, care) The FU myths about the "world care taker or world ranger"
fits with enKI in that he teaches and looks out for the benefit of mankind.
Enki's other name is DARAMAH which can mean great stag, but may be related to the FU chief god TAREM
in Ugrian or the god of weather /atmospheric TIER-MES in Lappish. Hungarian teremtö=creator.
As the magician-shaman of the gods several FU names related to prophecies and magic also relate to Sumerian,
along with the meaning of water and river, which is also his chief element. IA in Finn-Ugor is *YO-(ki) , or YO
in some languages means river, but yos is also a prophet. The Y was replaced by a leading I in Sumerian.
There is evidence that the Finnish water god HIISI, who took on the form of a stag but was later demonized,
was once also similar to EA.
Sumerian NA-NA =moon god (the god of light, who is the father of the Sun, Venus
and luminous planets)
Sumerian NU 11 = light, fire.
Ugrian *NAY =fire, light, sun which becomes NAP in Hungarian. (also found in Dravidian languages)
In most FU mythologies the moon is a goddess, rather than a god, but in Sumerian there is both a moon god as
well as a goddess and in their new Mesopotamian surroundings the male aspect became more dominant.
Sumerian ID=month, ID=time (from the moons original name), HUD =light
Akkadian KU =month from the same root
FinnUgor *kuŋe > Hungarian HOD =moon; HO, HAV =month. Finnish KUU =moon,month.
Sumerian UTU =sun god < ID =time?
Hungarian idö =time, however TUT & TAB can mean fire;
some Turkic languages also have ÖD=time & sun.
Sumerian DINGIR & DIMIR =generic term for god or godly.
Most common in Altaic languages as TENGRI,
However Hungarian isTEN =god, TÜNDÉR =nymph, godlike being.
Hungarian TÜNDÉR means a fairy today but originally meant a god or goddess, as indicated by terms referring
to the spirit –god of the sun, moon and earth with this designation.
Sumerian NIN-TI or NIN-TUD is the goddess of life/birth, who has many names in FU languages,.
FinnUgor ńiNe =lady,woman just as in Sumerian nin=lady,queen.
TIL & TI means life, rib and origin in Sumerian and in FU *tinke =root,source, while TUK means to lay an egg, give birth.
Sumerian DUMUZIG > TAMUZ the shepherd god/king & resurrection, spring
time is also known in early
Transylvanian-Hungarian Chronicles as the god DAMACHEK, as well as the name of spring TAVASZ
which is ultimately of FU in origin. The name survived a long time in Hungarian curses about DAMA.
Many old Hungarian curses have ancient pre Christian god names in them, however most are just evil spirits
which were often old deseases or sickness names, or old demonized gods persecuted by the Christian Church.
The old Sumerian goddess BAU, the partron god of the Sumerian city of Lagash, is also known as BABA.
She is known also as GULA and is the provider, giver of life and food, and healing. She is also common
in Hungarian as Bodog Asszony. The caretaker of children, childbirth. Her name in Hungarian also means happiness
or an indication of pregnancy, just as Sumerian DUG can mean both. (Sumerian Bau+Dug becomes Hungarian Bodog).
BABA or BÁB is also used in Hungarian for her as well as other "goddesses", besides having the meaning
of midwife. In Hungarian she is the main mother goddess and source of life, while Nimrod who was the consort of
BAU is thought of as the ancestor of many nations, but especially of Hungarians, according to the most ancient traditions.
The consort of the Sumerian goddess BAU is the old Sumerian strom god Nin-Urta,
a word which derives from
Nim-Urta (en-imi- ur-ta) who became well known in Mesopotamia as NIMRUD and is also claimed to be the
"ancestor" in Hungarian legends. This is somewhat similar to the Ugrian MENG ancestor god.
Transylvanian Hungarians also have a sort of personafied wind spirit called "Nemere", which is much the same
as the original Nim-urta of the Sumerians. In late Hungarian legends Nemere or Nimrod was no longer considered
a god but as the giant ancestor, who in most other nations legends remained a god. Similarly in Finnish they
also have a wind-smith giant god called ilmar-inen. This also has an equivalent in Sumerian as IMRA,
which is also the Hungarian version of the name Emerich. This relationship is illustrated best by the fact that the name for "man"
originates from the word for "son of air".
Finnish Elmpi, Hungarian Emb-er comes from "ilme"=air + poy-/pi =son and male.
The Sumerian word "imi" comes from
FinnUgor "ilme" and meant "wind", but strangely it also meant "clay" in Sumerian, so that man in that way came to
be made of "clay", rather than the son of the wind god. Originally the creator is not the wind but the air god, which is nearly
the same thing. Some Sumerian myths claimed that the god of Air en-Lil created man. Other myths claimed that enKi
created man, but in fact the FinnUgor myths claim that the equivalent of Enki known as "world caretaker" man, was
originally the ancestor of mankind. In a sense he is the father of mankind, but not its creator.
This however may be but a variation in Sumerian of the Finn-Ugor idea of the dual origin of man, where one branch of
humanity is known known as MOS, coming from heaven and another branch known as POR being the sons of earth
has Sumerian links that are a little bit changed, where "Meš" = princely, man also while most people are derived from
clay. The term POR in Sumerian has the equivalent word PAR-im, which is dry-arid land. Thus one group is believed to
be the son of the air god, while the other group is believed to be the son of the earth. Perhaps this also gave the idea
to the Sumerians that certain of their kings were partly divine in origin, by having a god or goddess as one of their parents,
while the other parent was human. This idea is echoed in the Bible as the Elohim, the sons of god who intermarried
with the daughters of (earth) men. The story is greatly changed, but the underlying facts are still the same.
The Nimrod myth is also told in an Armenian chronicle, which claims that the
people of a certain province of old
Armenia, known as Udi, are the sons of Nimrod, which are then associated to the origin of the Hungarians by other
references. See the Modern Arab Encyclopedia, concerning the SIEVORTIK. A name which matches the name given to
the Greek emperor Purporigenitos by a visiting Hungarian prince, as the old name of the Hungarians. "SUVARTU ASFALU".
A place in northern Mesopotamia, near lake Van. Kramer also mentions in one of his translations that the king of Arata,
had the name "En Subur sir anna", which means, "the Subarian ruler, the son of heaven."
There are hundreds of common terms, and these are just the major ones, that I
want to show as a short introduction.
Many basic religious terms are shared, along with terms for rites, places of worship, taboo and so on.