Mythos 12 – Anunna Amphibians

 

Regardless of where the Sumerians came from, they had a complex religion, and a more complex mytho-history, reaching back deep into prehistory 454,300 years ago,(1)Eusebius of Caesarea (circa 325 AD) Chronicon, Book 2 and recorded the creation of humanity by strange creatures from the sky around 263,500 years ago. Since the discovery of the Sumerian civilization a century ago, there has been an ongoing attempt to reconstruct their history and culture. Their language was relatively easy to reconstruct as we have translations of it from later periods, during the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek rule of Mesopotamia. The gods were also familiar as many of the later Mesopotamian gods were the same Sumerian gods, although generally known later on under their Akkadian names. Reconstructing Sumerian history has proved more interesting, and had resulted in Assyriologists drawing a line through the middle of Sumerian history, between the later stories that can be independently referenced, and the earlier mythical history.(2)Marc Van De Mieroop (2004) A History of the Ancient Near East, Page 41

Ubaid Era Statue at the Natural History Museum in New York

Ubaid Era Statue at the Natural History Museum in New York

This line was drawn for very obvious reasons, a few decades ago the idea that humans could live for tens of thousands of years was fantasy, however, now that aging has been reversed in laboratories,(3)Tomás-Loba A et al. (2008) “Telomerase reverse transcriptase delays aging in cancer-resistant mice” Cell, Volume 135, Number 4, Pages 609–622 perhaps it is time to reappraise the Sumerian histories. The other obvious objection to the Sumerian stories, both the “mythic” and “historic,” was their ongoing mention of strange creatures from the sky that visited and taught humanity. These creatures were not the gods, but simply known as Anunna, which meant “people from Anu” the sky,(4)Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992) Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, Page 34 also called Abgal which was used in Sumerian to mean “sage” or “teacher”, but was literally constructed from the Sumerian root words for “Water”, “Powerful”, and “Person”.

According to the Sumerian mythos human beings were initially unaware of the benefits of culture and civilization. Enki which translates as “Lord of the Earth,” sent the Abgal from Dilmun, to live with the early human beings and teach them the arts and other aspects of civilization such as writing, law, temple and city building and agriculture.(5)Edizione universitarie (1999) Annali, Volume 59, Page 103 These Abgal are described as amphibious half-fish, half-human creatures, who slept in water. They remained with human beings after teaching them the ways of civilization, and served as advisers to the kings.(6)Lindsay Jones, editor in chief (2005) Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 9, Page 5964

Sumerian Seal with Uanna (Oannes) in the Center

Sumerian Seal with Uanna (Oannes) in the Center

These Abgal were also known as Apkallu in Akkadian, and later as the Adapa in Babylonian. The Hellenic era Babylonian writer Berossus translated the name Uanna the first of the Adapa, into Oannes in Greek (Ὡάννης) around 2,300 years ago.(7)Edgar W. Conrad and Edward G. Newing, editors (1987) Perspectives on language and text : essays and poems in honor of Francis I. Andersen’s sixtieth birthday, July 28, 1985, Page 39 Berossus described Oannes as having the body of a fish but in the shape of a human, and as a being who taught mankind wisdom. Oannes was described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and educating humanity in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Whatever Berossus was describing, sculptures depicting strange amphibian looking humanoids date back to the Ubaid period circa 7000 years ago.

As odd as this story is, the noted Astronomers Iosif Shklovsky and Carl Sagan cited stories of Oannes as deserving closer scrutiny, as they could be as instance of paleocontact. Paleocontact was a term they used to describe the possibility of intelligent extra-terrestrials visiting the Earth in prehistoric times. As they put it:

…stories like the Oannes legend, and representations especially of the earliest civilizations on Earth, deserve much more critical studies than have been performed heretofore, with the possibility of direct contact with an extraterrestrial civilization…- Iosif S. Shklovsky and Carl Sagan(8)Iosif S. Shklovsky and Carl Sagan (1966) Intelligent life in the universe

References   [ + ]

1. Eusebius of Caesarea (circa 325 AD) Chronicon, Book 2
2. Marc Van De Mieroop (2004) A History of the Ancient Near East, Page 41
3. Tomás-Loba A et al. (2008) “Telomerase reverse transcriptase delays aging in cancer-resistant mice” Cell, Volume 135, Number 4, Pages 609–622
4. Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992) Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, Page 34
5. Edizione universitarie (1999) Annali, Volume 59, Page 103
6. Lindsay Jones, editor in chief (2005) Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 9, Page 5964
7. Edgar W. Conrad and Edward G. Newing, editors (1987) Perspectives on language and text : essays and poems in honor of Francis I. Andersen’s sixtieth birthday, July 28, 1985, Page 39
8. Iosif S. Shklovsky and Carl Sagan (1966) Intelligent life in the universe