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Epics of Sumerian Kings: The Matter of Aratta
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Epics of Sumerian Kings: The Matter of Aratta

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Society of Biblical Literature 2003

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Overview

Epics of Sumerian Kings presents for the first time both the authoritative Sumerian text and an elegant English translation of four key epics from the Sumerian literary canon. These epics, the earliest known in any language, revolve around the conflict between the cities of Uruk (biblical Erech) in ancient Iraq and Aratta in neighboring Iran and involve two early Sumerian rulers and predecessors of Gilgamesh: Enmerkar and Lugalbanda. Of special interest is “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta,” which contains the story of the confounding of human language, often cited as a source of the biblical tower of Babel narrative, as well as the Sumerians’ own account of the invention of cuneiform writing.

In addition to providing English translations of the epics, Vanstiphout discusses their intellectual and cultural context, their poetics and meaning, and the significance of the epic cycle as a whole. The volume will interest scholars and students of Assyriology and the ancient Near East, biblical scholars, and general readers and will be a valuable text for courses on ancient Near Eastern literature or history.

Product Details

  • Title: Epics of Sumerian Kings: The Matter of Aratta
  • Author: Herman Vanstiphout
  • Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 208

About Herman Vanstiphout

Herman Vanstiphout is Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Middle East at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is the author of Genre in Mesopotamian Literature and co-authored Aspects of Genre and Type in Pre-Modern Literary Cultures.