Michael Siemon Sep2893 06:23PM Mediocre Flood (Warren Vonroeschlaub) writes: Were there an

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Michael Siemon Sep-28-93 06:23PM Mediocre Flood (Warren Vonroeschlaub) writes: > Were there any mediocre floods in the appropriate area some time > between,say, the founding of civilization and the first known > writing of the oral tradition? Definitely. The Euphrates/Tigris plain has been subject to disastrous flooding since the earliest settlements there (quite late, in the pre- history of the Near East, incidentally.) There were several major incidents in the cultures immediately preceding the emergence of history in the Early Dynastic II period, not only of cities destroyed, but of major shifts of power becuase of shifting water courses. There are some comments about all this in Hans Nissen's excellent book _The Early History of the Near East_ (or something quite close to that; I think it's a University of Chicago book, and is fairly recent.) However, there is *not* anything which came even close to a major wipe-out of all or many cities at once, despite some extreme claims by Wooley about Ur. I quoted some comments by Seton Lloyd and Georges Roux (_Ancient Iraq_) on this, not long ago on talk.religion.misc. The substance of that article follows: ------ As it turns out, the discussion I was thinking of in Roux is supplemented in Seton Lloyd's _The Archaeology of Mesopotamia_, revised edition 1984, Thames & Hudson. Let me quote from that first; from p. 93ff: "One intial problem concerned the date and significance of 'the Flood', which figures so prominently in Sumerian tradition and whose memory has indeed been bequeathed to ourselves through the medium of Hebrew scriptures. The archaeological evidence in this connection was unfortunately extremely equivocal. Great floods were a commonplace of Mesopotamian history until quite recent times; and it was therefore less than surprising to find that, in deep soundings at relevant Sumerian sites, clean strata of water-borne sand or clay appeared in stratigraphical contexts which varied in time from the 'Ubaid period at Ur to the end of the Early Dynastic phase at Kish. At Farah (Shuruppak), however, a stratum of this sort occurs at the end of Early Dynastic I, and in this single case it could, as we shall now see, be cited ------ [emphasis added] (without much conviction) as supporting evidence for an inference from the Sumerian textual evidence. "Where the king-list is concerned, there can no longer be any doubt that the semi-historical epoch, represented by a succession of 'rulers before the Flood', must be equated with the archaeo- logical series defined as 'Early Dynastic I'. The individual names of these 'rulers' are of little interest, since only the last to be listed has any historical significance. And here there is a connection of some importance with an episode in the Epic of Gilgamesh, when its hero made a journey to consult Utnapishtim, the Babylonian Noah, about the secret of eternal life. It had always been a matter of some surprise that this individual should receive no mention in the king-list, where the last name before 'the Flood' appeared as Ubartutu, a ruler of Shuruppak. In another version of the Deluge story, however, its hero is given the alter- native name Ziusudra, and a surviving fragment of the text makes it clear that he was the son of Ubartutu. The implication here that Ziusudra and Gilgamesh were contemporaries is unfortunately refuted by the fact that the former was deified after the Flood, and was accordingly already a god when Gilgamesh met him. Lloyd goes on to discuss further synchronisms of Gilgamesh, Agga of Kish, and Mesannipadda of Ur and concludes "we are safe in dating all three kings to the third phase of the Early Dynastic period, perhaps between 2650 and 2550 B.C. Between the Flood and Gilgamesh, we are now left with a period of time (computed by Mallowan at about 100 years), correpsonding archaeo- logically with Early Dynastic II. Many of the kings' names alloted to this period are either Semitic intrusions or recognizable divin- ities; but two of them have proved historical. The first of these is Enmebaragisi, father to Agga of Kish, whose name has been signi- ficantly found in an Early Dynastic II setting at one of the Diyala sites. The other is Enmerkar of Erech, subject of a very early Sumerian epic, who appeas in the Greek version of the king-list as grandfather of Gilgamesh. With these two figures now authenticated, our line of enquiry is rapidly approaching its _terminus post quem_ in the person of Ziusudra, the Babylonian Noah." Roux, _Ancient Iraq_, 2nd edition 1980, Pelican Books, is rather less author- itative. His discussion (pp. 110ff) quotes a lot of the flood tradition as it was unearthed in the late 19th century, and then goes on to say: "Quite naturally, the question arose: are there traces of such a cataclysm in Mesopotamia? "The first and, so far, the only archaeologist to answer positively was the late Sir Leonard Woolley. Between 1929 and 1934, in the course of his brilliant excavations at Ur, Woolley sank several deep 'test pits' near the wall of the inner city, within the area of the famous 'Royal Cemetery' (Early Dynastic period). Having crossed several occupation levels, he came upon 'eleven feet of clean, water-laid silt' practically free from remains of any kind. Immediately above and below this sterile level were potsherds and various objects pertaining to the Ubaid culture and, at the bottom of the pits, the virgin soil. 'Eleven feet of silt,' reasoned the archaeologist, 'would probably mean a flood no less than 25 feet deep; in the flat, low-lying land of Mesopotamia a flood of that depth would cover an area about 300 miles long and 100 miles across.' There was therefore evidence of 'an inundation unparalleled in any later period of Mesopotamian history', and the flood which at Ur had submerged the settlement of the Ubaid period was boldly equated with the Flood with a captial F, the biblical Deluge. ... "This was almost too good to be true, and no one but Woolley in scientific circles took the 'discovery' very seriously, for neither the extent nor indeed the reality of a flood can be deduced from the depth of mud deposited in a limited area. According to Woolley's theory, the surface covered by the Flood would have encompassed practically the whole of southern Iraq. Yet Eridu, only fifteen miles from Ur and lying somewhat lower, has yielded no trace what- soever of a flood. Layers of silt, it is true, were found on various sites, but they vary widely in thickness as well as in chronological --------------------------------------------------------- position. The 'flood level' of Kish, for instance, belongs to the Early Dynastic and not to the Ubaid period, and the same applies to the thin alluvial deposits found at Uruk, Lagash and Ut-napishtim's own city, Shuruppak. All these 'sterile' levels have been interpre- ted as local inundations rather than traces of a _general_ flood. We may therefore conclude that archaeological excavations in Iraq have afforded no evidence of a cataclysmic Deluge." ----------------------------------- -- Michael L. Siemon "Will you serve God with words of fraud? mls@panix.com For His sake speak deceit? - or - Him do a favor? Play advocate to God! mls@ulysses.att.com What if He searches you through?" Job 13:7-9


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