Observations placeholder

Eridu

Identifier

022235

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

 

Eridu (modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq). It is an old Sumerian city state and was long considered one of the earliest cities in southern Mesopotamia.  Eridu, also transliterates as Eridug.

Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another. In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was originally the home of Enki, and the site of the Abzu temple of the god Enki (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).  Enki is linked with the Intelligence Mercury – a communicator and messenger god.  Mercury is thus a personification of spirit input and in all diagrammatic and symbolic representations, spirit input is shown as blue, cool energy flowing to us as a stream of energy – water.  Enki is thus not the god of the element Water, but the god of Spirit input, the god of rivers and streams of help and healing, inspiration and wisdom, prophecy and vision.

The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki's temple, called House of the Aquifer – in other words a source of spirit input [water].

 

Adapa was a sage of Eridu.  Also known as Uan, or the name by which he may be best known - Oannes [a name used by Berossus], he was a priest of the E'Apsu temple, at Eridu.  He is depicted as a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu, from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, who were sent by Enki – Mercury the god of learning – to bring the arts of civilisation to humankind, the first of these, being Adapa/Oannes. These arts of civilisation were real – writing is one obvious skill, but the ability to diagnose illness and use plants to heal was another.  In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, used this information several thousand years after it was given, diagnosing sickness ‘from signs and portents on the patient's body’ [plus ca change], and offered the appropriate ‘incantations and herbal remedies as cures’[plus ca change].

 

Eridu was founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of the accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq, but at its founding it was more than likely a major port. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation. It was built using the principles of sacred geography, egg shaped on an island, with a mountain [ziggurat] at its centre.  It would not have needed to be that high, as Mercury comes after the Moon as a symbolic planet. The city thrived on a system that was based on intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture, characterised by the building of canals;  fishing and hunting; and the shepherding of herds of sheep and goats.  Depending on their role the people lived in either mud-brick buildings, reed huts or tents in semi-desert areas. All three cultures contributed to the growth and prosperity of the city.

But Eridu suffered the fate of all the other Sumerian city states.  It  may have been yet another of the spiritual city states destroyed by the flood.  The flood is estimated to have taken place around about 3000 BC and there is a lament for Eridu just as there is for Ur, Uruk, Shuruppak, Nippur, Nineveh, and so on.  "By c.2900 BC , the earliest village settlement (c.5000 BC) had grown into a substantial city of mudbrick and reed houses, covering 8-10 ha (20-25 acres)”. By the Ubaid period, it was as an "unusually large city" of an area of approx. 20¬25 acres, with a population of "not less than 4000 souls".  So people came back and rebuilt their town, but it ceased to have a spiritual centre, instead it became just another town with a political ‘king.  By c.2050 BC the city had declined; there is little evidence of occupation after that date. Eridu was abandoned for long periods, before it was finally deserted and allowed to fall into ruin in the 6th century BC.  A city based on politics, without its spiritual core, dies.

The site at Tel abu Shahrain, near Basra, was initially excavated in 1855, then in 1918 and in 1919. Excavation there resumed from 1946 to 1949.  These archaeological investigations showed that  "eventually the entire south lapsed into stagnation, abandoning the political initiative to the rulers of the northern cities”.

 Hypothetical map of the coverage of the flood

A description of the experience

From The Temple Hymns

1-7. O E-unir (House which is a ziqqurat), grown together with heaven and earth, foundation of heaven and earth, great banqueting hall of Eridug! Abzu, shrine erected for its prince, E-du-kug (House which is the holy mound) where pure food is eaten, watered by the prince's pure canal, mountain, pure place cleansed with the potash plant, Abzu, your tigi drums belong to the divine powers.

8-15. Your great …… wall is in good repair. Light does not enter your meeting-place where the god dwells, the great ……, the beautiful place. Your tightly constructed house is sacred and has no equal. Your prince, the great prince, has fixed firmly a holy crown for you in your precinct -- O Eridug with a crown placed on your head, bringing forth thriving thornbushes, pure thornbushes for the susbu priests (?), O shrine Abzu, your place, your great place!

16-23. At your place of calling upon Utu, at your oven bringing bread to eat, on your ziqqurat, a magnificent shrine stretching toward heaven, at your great oven rivalling the great banqueting hall, your prince, the prince of heaven and earth …… can never be changed, the ……, the creator, the ……, the wise one, the ……, Lord Nudimmud, has erected a house in your precinct, O E-engura (House of the subterranean waters), and taken his seat upon your dais.

24. 23 lines: the house of Enki in Eridug.

 

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Egg

Symbols

Flood
MERCURY

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Creating a sacred geography

Commonsteps

References

ETCSLtranslation : t.4.80.1