Enuma Elish

(ca. 1500 BCE)

About the Author

The author of Enuma Elish is unknown but was undoubtedly male and a priest of Marduk in Babylon. Mesopotamian texts were inscribed on clay tablets. Although new fragments of Enuma Elish have been found frequently by archaeologists over the past 150 years, the chief witness to the text is a single group of tablets originally found in Babylon in 1849. These tablets are signed by the scribe who wrote them, Nabubalatsuiqbi, son of Naidmarduk. His name indicates that he was from a family of priests of Marduk. The colophon, or signature, also indicates that the text was checked for error by a supervisor, so the text was produced in a well-organized professional scriptorium.

When the Assyrian king Sennacherib (704–681 BCE) refurbished the Babylonian temple of the New Year’s Festival, he decorated the doors with detailed illustrations of the story of Enuma Elish, including scenes and details not present in the written text of the poem. This suggests that the story...

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The ruins of Babylon (Library of Congress)

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