Great Discoveries in Bible Archeology -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 17:1 (Winter 2004)
Article: Great Discoveries in Bible Archeology
Author: Anonymous

Great Discoveries in Bible Archeology

The Atra-Hasis Epic

The Bible is not the only ancient record of Creation and the Flood. Well-known in antiquity is the Atra-Hasis Epic. Atra-Hasis, meaning “exceeding wise,” is the name of the story’s principal character. Dating from the 17th century BC, fragmentary copies of the Epic have been excavated from numerous Mesopotamian sites. Originally about 1,245 cuneiform lines on three clay tablets, we have only pieces today. The Epic offers many details similar to the Bible’s Creation and Flood accounts. It speaks of the gods ruling the heavens and earth, making man from the clay (mixed with blood) to tend the land, and men multiplying on the earth. When they became too noisy, a flood was sent to destroy mankind. Atra-Hasis, given advanced warning, built a boat and loaded it with food, animals and birds. They were saved while the rest of the world perished.

Similarities with the Biblical account of Creation and the Flood are oblivious. The Bible and the Atra-Hasis Epic are recorded from different cultures of the same even. But the Biblical account is not just the Hebrews’ account of events—it is also God’s! (For additional information on the Atra-Hasis Epic, see The Atrahasis Epic, the Genesis Flood and Capital Punishment, Bible and Spade 8 [old series, 1979]: 17-28; Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: An Introduction, Parts 3 and 4, Bible and Spade 9 [1996]: 68-76, 103–10.) GAB

The Gilgamesh Epic

The Gilgamesh Epic is a 4,000-year-old Babylonian tale of the hero Gilgamesh. Today we have many copies in different language from Mesopotamia. It was written on 12 tablets, the longest of which, tablet 11, has over 300 lines. Our best copy was found in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC) at Nineveh, Henry Layard excavated 11 of the tablets in 1850. But the most important tablet was missing—number 11, containing the story of a great Flood. George Smith, an Assyriologist at the British Museum, was the first to translate Layard’s Gilgamesh tablets. In 1872 he announced at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archeology in London that the missing tablet contained a Flood account. The London Daily Telegraph funded an expedition for Smith to go to Nineveh to search for tablet 11. Incredibly, in only five days, his workmen found the missing tablet, now on display in the British Museum.

The Epic describes a wise man, warrior and great builder—Gilgamesh king of Uruk—who was also part-god and part-man. He visited the Babylonian Noah, Utnapi...

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