The Akkadian Creation Myth Essay

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The Akkadian Creation Myth: Classic Myth and Enduring Legacy The Akkadian creation myth not only embodies the classic elements of creation myths, it also represents a major influence on the religious narratives of subsequent cultures in the Near East and Western worlds. Just as we are trying to understand the world we live in today, we can appreciate that people living in ancient times had the same need to make sense of the forces of nature and the role of mankind. Most of these societies developed stories about the origin of the universe that have similar themes. These creation myths relate how the Creator made the universe, often multiplying into many gods and goddesses that established themselves. This is followed by the creation of the physical world. With the creation of man and the definition of his place in the world, we then see the emergence of divine order and religious tradition. The Akkadian story of creation contains the basic components listed above while reflecting specific cultural aspects of its time. However, some of the key themes seem to have gone beyond time and place, surviving for thousands of years through the traditions of other later civilizations. Mesopotamian myths cover a time period from 5,000 BC to 500 BC that includes several successive independent city states, i.e. Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian, that resided on fertile land located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq. The Mesopotamian creation story is told in the Enuma elish, named on the basis on the first words of the text, “When on high.”1 Although this epic was written down in cuneiform on clay tablets around the 7th century BC, the story is probably much older. ____________________ 1. The Epic of Creation, (Myths from Mesopotamia, trans. And ed. Stephanie Dalley, 2nd ed. [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000],

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