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Enuma Elish

Babylonian Creation Epic


Definition: "Enuma Elish" refers to a Babylonian creation epic of close to 1000 lines that has often been compared with the Old Testament creation story in Genesis I. The Enuma Elish features a battle between gods Marduk and Tiamat, which storm god Marduk wins, enabling him to rule over the other gods. Tiamat, the horned and tailed salt-water god, is the origin of the Mesopotamian rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris coming from her eyes. Marduk uses Tiamat's body to form the earth, and forms mankind from the blood of Tiamat's son and spouse, Kingu.

The Enuma Elish was written on 7 cuneiform tablets that were copied by ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. The Enuma Elish is considered the oldest written creation story, perhaps from the second millennium B.C. The epic was recited or re-enacted in the annual New Year's events, as is recorded in Seleucid era documents.

George Smith of the British Museum published the first English translation in 1876.


Also Known As: The Chaldean Account of Genesis (name given by George Smith to his translation of the Enuma Elish, in 1876), The Babylonian Genesis, The Poem of Creation, and The Epic of Creation

Alternate Spellings: Enūma eliš


  • "The Battle between Marduk and Tiamat," by Thorkild Jacobsen. Journal of the American Oriental Society (1968).
  • "Enuma Elish" A Dictionary of the Bible. by W. R. F. Browning. Oxford University Press Inc.
  • "The Fifty Names of Marduk in 'Enūma eliš'," by Andrea Seri. Journal of the American Oriental Society (2006).
  • "Otiose Deities and the Ancient Egyptian Pantheon," by Susan Tower Hollis. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt (1998).
  • The Seven Tablets of Creation, by Leonard William King (1902)
  • "Textual Fluctuations and Cosmic Streams: Ocean and Acheloios," by G. B. D'Alessio. The Journal of Hellenic Studies (2004).


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