''Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta'' is a legendary Sumerian
account, preserved in early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian
period (ca. 21st century BC
It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar
, king of Unug-Kulaba
, and the unnamed king of Aratta
Because it gives a Sumerian account of the " confusion of tongues
", and also involves Enmerkar
constructing temples at Eridu
Uruk, also known as Warka or Warkah, was an ancient city of Sumer
Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, ear ...
, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer
, been compared with the Tower of Babel
narrative in the
Book of Genesis
The Book of Genesis (from Greek ; Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית ''Bəreʾšīt'', "In hebeginning") is the first book of the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
Near the beginning of the account, the following background is provided: "In those days of yore, when the destinies were determined, the great princes allowed Unug Kulaba's ''E-ana'' to lift its head high. Plenty, and carp
floods and the rain which brings forth dappled
Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 10,000 years ago. Globally 70% of barley ...
were then increased in Unug Kulaba. Before the land of Dilmun
yet existed, the ''E-ana'' of Unug Kulaba was well founded."
'' was a temple in Uruk built in honour of the goddess
Inanna, also sux, 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀭𒈾, nin-an-na, label=none is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility. She is also associated with beauty, sex, divine justice, and political power. She was originally worshiped in Su ...
, the "lady of all the lands"–('' E
- an a
'' is 'house of An', or 'Temple of An'). Similarly, the lord of Aratta has himself crowned in Inanna's name, but she does not find this as pleasing as her brick temple in Uruk.
Enmerkar, thus "chosen by Inanna in her holy heart from the bright mountain", then asks Inanna to let him subject Aratta and make the people of Aratta deliver a
A tribute (; from Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
of precious metals and gemstones, for constructing the lofty '' Abzu
'' temple of Enki
, as well as for embellishing her own ''E-ana'' sanctuary at Uruk. Inanna accordingly advises Enmerkar to dispatch a herald across the mountains of Susin
to the lord of Aratta, to demand his submission and his tribute.
Enmerkar agrees and sends the envoy, along with his specific threats to destroy Aratta and disperse its people, if they do not send him the tribute - "lest like the devastation which swept destructively, and in whose wake Inanna arose, shrieked and yelled aloud, I too wreak a sweeping devastation there." He is furthermore to recite the "Incantation of Nudimmud
", a hymn imploring Enki to restore (or in some translations, to disrupt) the linguistic unity of the inhabited regions, named as Shubur
, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad
), and the Martu
"On that day when there is no snake, when there is no scorpion, when there is no hyena, when there is no lion, when there is neither dog nor wolf, when there is thus neither fear nor trembling, man has no rival! At such a time, may the lands of Shubur and Hamazi, the many-tongued, and Sumer, the great mountain of the me of magnificence, and Akkad, the land possessing all that is befitting, and the Martu land, resting in security — the whole universe, the well-guarded people — may they all address Enlil together in a single language! For at that time, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings — Enki, the lord of abundance and of steadfast decisions, the wise and knowing lord of the Land, the expert of the gods, chosen for wisdom, the lord of Eridug, shall change the speech in their mouths, as many as he had placed there, and so the speech of mankind is truly one."The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature