Author’s Blog


June 17, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized .

…A pity we can’t get to it anymore—well, easily, that is: located twenty-two kilometers south of Nasiriya in Iraq, it’s not exactly in the world’s safest neighbourhood right now. However, around 5000 BC, the Sumerians built a city here dedicated to their first god, Enki. His temple was a ziggurat, surrounded by the Euphratean marshlands, close by the ancient Persian Gulf coastline. Enki was the elder god, the progenitor of all other gods, the master shaper of the world and creator of all wisdom and magic. He was the Water Lord and his emblem was the Caduceus, or double-helix snake. Eridu was his “city of the deep.”

Now called Tell Abu Shahrain, Eridu was first discovered in modern times in 1854 and then excavated in the 1940s by Fuad Safar and his British colleague, Seton Lloyd. Not much in the way of organized archaeology has happened to it since, so who knows what mysteries still remain buried there. If you ever find yourself with spare time on your hands, you should pick up a copy of Lloyd’s Ruined Cities in Iraq (1942)—it makes for compelling reading.

Known also as the city of the first kings, the Sumerian King List states: “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridu.” It was a holy place and as time went by, it would be looked upon by the subsequent city-states of Mesopotamia as the origins of a lost, golden age, much in the way the mythical Garden of Eden was seen as the paradise from which humanity subsequently fell from grace. The great Ziggurat of Amar-Sin that used to grace the center of the city is believed to be the origin of the famous Tower of Babel, from the Book of Genesis, in the Old Testament.

Indeed, Eridu forms a prominent part of Sumerian mythology, especially when connected with one of the earliest descriptions of a “great flood”, harkening back to when the Euphrates rose above its banks and flooded the region: many believe that this is the origin of the Noah’s Ark story also found in the Book of Genesis. The Sumerian myths even have fruit from a forbidden tree that gives knowledge of life without death—the lure of immortality, calling like a siren’s song throughout all of humanity’s fascination with the mysterious past. If you’d like to learn more, might I suggest that you read the first book of the Winner trilogy, The Awakening. As for Eridu, today its ruins are forgotten wind-swept dunes and little remains of the glories of old. One day, perhaps, there will be further excavations and we shall learn more about this intriguing gem from the pre-dawn of history…