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Utnapishtim

by Micha F. Lindemans
In the Sumerian poems he is a wise king and priest of Shurrupak; in the Akkadian sources he is a wise citizen of Shurrupak. He is the son of Ubara-Tutu, and his name is usually translated as "He Who Saw Life". He is the protégé of the god Ea, by whose connivance he survives the flood, with his family and with 'the seed of all living creatures'. Afterwards he is taken by the gods to live for ever at 'the mouth of the rivers' and given the epithet 'Faraway'. His name means "he found life" (i.e. immortality). According to the Sumerians he lives in Dilmun where the sun rises. He is the main character of the Flood story in the eleventh table of the Gilgamesh epic. In an different version of this epic (such as the Atrachasis myth for instance) he is named Atrachasis, "the exceptional wise one". Old Babylonian Utanapishtim, Sumerian Ziusudra. He shows many similarities with the much more recent biblical Noah.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Ut-napishtim
    Uta-Napishtim
  • Etymology:
    He Who Saw Life

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