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The Lists of Antediluvian Kings: A Coded Document
by Dr. Patrice Guinard
-- translation Matyas Becvarov --
Note: This paper has been written in French for the Primeras Jornadas Internacionales de Historia de la Astrología en la Antiguedad, organized by the journal Beroso in Barcelona (March 24-25, 2001), and has been published in Spanish in the 4th edition of the journal (1st semestre 2001).
"One should not attribute any particular symbolic value to these numbers."
(Dominique Charpin, Le Déluge, Dossiers d'Archéologie, 204, 1995)
In The Legend of Adapa (attested before 1500 B.C.), Uanna, Hellenized as Oannes by Berossus and given the epithet Adapa ("The Wise"), appears in the reign of A-lulim, the first antediluvian king in the form of a man clothed to resemble a fish. He is the first of the apkallu (= AB.GAL in Sumerian), i.e. the seven sages sent by Ea to civilize human beings. Berossus relates the myth of Oannes (ca. 4500-4000 B.C.), a civilizing hero who ostensibly emerged from the waters of the Persian Gulf to give birth to Sumerian culture (writing, sciences, agriculture, city-dwelling).
Other mythic accounts of Sumerian origin are known, e.g. the famous Epic of Gilgamesh and the story Atrahasis (The Very Wise), which relate the event of the Flood and served as inspiration for the Bible. Between the appearance of Uanna-Oannes and the Flood episode there reigned some dozen kings according to the temple records of Nippur, the religious capital of Sumer, which was dedicated to the god Enlil. These kings are the so-called antediluvian rulers. After the Flood, the royal seat was moved to Kish.
The List of the Isin Dynasty (ca. 2000 B.C.)
The chronology of Mesopotamian kings, the earliest of them being mythical figures, extends from the earliest times up to the 18th century B.C. The record is found on some fifteen tablets, primarily from the archives of Nippur (cf. Thorkild Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1939, and Jean-Jacques Glassner, Chroniques mésopotamiennes, Paris, Belles Lettres, 1993). Several lists exist, with the Sumerian names transcribed into Akkadian and dating from the Amorite dynasty of Larsa (ca. 1800 B.C.) or composed at Isin (ca. 1900 B.C.); the most complete text of the list is found in the collection of Weld-Blundell, and has been translated by Thorkild Jacobsen (op. cit., pp. 70-77):
1 - Eridu A-lulim 28.800 years = 8 saroi 2 - Eridu Alalgar 36.000 years = 10 saroi 3 - Bad-tibira En-men-lu-Anna 43.200 years = 12 saroi 4 - Bad-tibira En-men-gal-Anna 28.800 years = 8 saroi 5 - Bad-tibira Dumu-zi 36.000 years = 10 saroi 6 - Larak En-sipa-zi-Anna 28.800 years = 8 saroi 7 - Sippar En-men-dur-Anna 21.000 years = 5,833 saroi 8 - Shuruppak Ubar-Tutu 18.600 years = 5,166 saroi
The ancient Sumerian system of numeration was sexagesimal (based on 60), which gave rise to our division of the hour into 60 minutes and of the circle into 360 degrees. The key names of the numbers were 1, GES or GESH; 60, also GES or GESH (the base unit); 3600, SAR or SHAR ... The disappearance of Sumerian numeration can be dated to the 15th century B.C. (cf. Georges Ifrah, Histoire universelle des chiffres, Paris, 1981; Paris, Laffont, 1994).
All the numbers are divisible by 3600, with the exception of the last two, which are divisible globally. Hence the last two antediluvian kings are said to have reigned for eleven periods. In total, five cities were governed by eight kings during 67 saroi, or periods of reign.
I suggest a double decoding principle, as follows: the total sum of the duration of the reigns in question, and the sum of the products of those durations (beginning at each end and calculating toward the center value), two by two, the first combined with the last, the second with the seventh, the third with the sixth, and the fourth with the fifth.
This approach yields 67 for the first sum, and 275.658 (= 41.328 + 58.33 + 96 + 80) for the second value. Subsequently I multiply the first value by 10 and divide the second by 10 (the reasons for this operation follow below). The results are 670 and 27.5658 respectively.
These numbers are those of the cycle of the eclipses and of the anomalistic cycle of the moon. In point of fact, solar and lunar eclipses recur at the same moment after each 54 years, or 669 synodic months (approximation 0.15%). By synodic rotation of the moon is understood the interval between two full moons or two new moons. The period of 54 years is attested in a tablet from Uruk (cf. F. Thureau-Dangin, "Tablettes d'Uruk," Textes Cunéiformes du Louvre, 6, Paris, 1922, and Bartel van der Waerden, Science Awakening II: the Birth of Astronomy, 1965; English rev. ed., Leyden, Noordhoff, 1974, p. 103).
One-third of this period of 54 years, called saros by the Greeks, i.e. 18 years and 11.3 days, is the classic cycle of solar and lunar eclipses, and includes 29 lunar eclipses and 41 solar eclipses. The Saros cycle is the period of return of the Sun and Moon to their initial positions relative to the Earth: this return is possible because of synchronization between the synodic and anomalistic revolutions of the Moon. In effect, the period includes exactly 223 synodic lunar cycles and 239 anomalistic revolutions. The anomalistic revolution is the interval of time that separates two passages of the Moon at its perigee across the point where it is closest to the Earth. This relation between synodic months and anomalistic months of the Moon was known to Babylonian astronomers, who used it to predict the return of lunar and solar eclipses. Van der Waerden points out that "The duration of an eclipse is highly influenced by the anomalistic movement of the Moon, but that influence is neutralized if one takes these 223 months as a block" (op. cit., p. 103).
The second number (27.5658) is that of the anomalistic lunar cycle (in reality 27.555, or an approximation of 0.04%). Hence these two numbers relate to extremely precise data concerning knowledge of lunar motion, and take on even more significant shape if one keeps in mind that it was Ishbi-Erra (2017-1985 B.C.), the founder of the Isin Dynasty, who imposed on the greater part of southern Mesopotamia the lunar calendar of Nippur, to the detriment of numerous local competing calendars (cf. Mark Cohen, The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East, Bethesda (Md.), CDL Press, 1993).
Hence the list of antediluvian kings of the Isin Dynasty is an encoding of astronomical data concerning the various lunar periods. The number 10, which serves as multiplier and divisor in this coding, was not chosen arbitrarily, since it was probably at this point, perhaps even under the Isin Dynasty, that the decimal system replaced the Sumerian hexagesimal system.
The List of Berossus (ca. 747 B.C.)
Berossus, the Hellenized Chaldean philosopher/astrologer, proposes in his Babyloniaca (in the first section of Book II) a second list of antediluvian kings who reigned after the appearance of Oannes, this time including ten sovereigns, four cities and 120 periods of reign (the two following sections of his Book II are devoted to a description of the Flood and to the post-diluvian kings).
Berossus borrowed his narrative from the archives of Babylonia-Borsippa, and these archives themselves, with regard to the Creation and the first ages of the world, copied revelations ostensibly inscribed on tablets by Oannes, the first fish-man and "the inventor of letters, sciences and arts, the founder of laws, cities and all civilization. " (Joseph Bidez, "Les écoles chaldéennes sous Alexandre et les Séleucides," in Mélanges Capart, Brussels, 1935, p. 50).
1 - Babylone Alôros (Aloros) = 1 A-lulim 36.000 years = 10 saroi 2 - Babylone Alaparos = 2 Alalgar 10.800 years = 3 saroi 3 - Pautibiblon Amêlôn (Amelon) = 3 En-men-lu-Anna 46.800 years = 13 saroi 4 - Pautibiblon Ammenôn (Ammenon) = 4 En-men-gal-Anna 43.200 years = 12 saroi 5 - Pautibiblon Megalaros (Amegalaros) 64.800 years = 18 saroi 6 - Pautibiblon Daônos ou Daôs (Daonos) = 5 Dumu-zi 36.000 years = 10 saroi 7 - Pautibiblon Euedôrachos (Euedorachos) = 7 En-men-dur-Anna 64.800 years = 18 saroi 8 - Larak Amempsinos = 6 En-sipa-zi-Anna 36.000 years = 10 saroi 9 - Larak Opartes (Otiartes) = 8 Ubar-Tutu 28.800 years = 8 saroi 10 - Shuruppak Xisouthros 64.800 years = 18 saroi
I use transcriptions of the Hellenized names given by Berossus, from G. Contenau (Le déluge babylonien, Paris, 1941; rev. ed. Paris, Payot, 1952, p. 56), and, where a difference occurs, those of Stanley Burstein in parentheses (cf. The Babyloniaca of Berossus, Malibu (Ca.), Sources and Monographs of the Ancient Near East, Undena Publications, 1978, pp. 18-19). Any correspondences with the sovereigns of the first list are also indicated.
Xisouthros is the Ziusuddu (or Ziusudra) of the Sumerian flood story, and En-men-dur-Anna (or Enmenduranki) is the celebrated inventor of divination: he "is held to have invented mantic methods, the various ways of divining the future. What is his name? En-me-dur-an-an, or rather En-me-dur-an-ki, which means: 'the lord of the decrees of heaven and earth.' (...) [He is] the inventor of divination, the principles of which the gods revealed to him, and of whom diviners in ages afterward can be called sons." (G. Contenau, Le déluge babylonien, Paris, Payot, 1952, pp. 49 and 59). One notices that the order of succession for the rulers is not identical in the two chronologies, and that En-men-dur-Anna figures as the seventh sovereign in both lists.
In the second chronology all the durations of reign are divisible by 3600, and the overlap with the first list is obvious: in the latter, four cities ruled by ten kings; in the former, five cities ruled by eight kings. Moreover, the sum of the first four reigns equals 38 [= 19 X 2] in both chronologies, and to the two supplemental rulers there is attributed a period of 18 saroi, the period in question being the cycle of the eclipses observable in the first chronology. In addition, the difference between the total durations of the two chronologies equals 53, or even 54 if one counts only periods of complete reign, and 54 is the number of the great cycle of the eclipses.
Proceeding in the same fashion for the later list (total sum, and sum of the products taken two by two, from the beginning and end to the center), and using two as the code number (since it is here a question of a second list, so the number two symbolizes the redoubling of coding from the first chronology), I obtain the numbers 240 and 365 [= (180 + 24 + 130 + 216 + 180) / 2].
The number 240 is an approximation (0.42%) of the number of anomalistic revolutions of the Moon within the cycle of the saros, and of the average of the numbers of anomalistic (239) and draconitic (242) revolutions of the Moon (approximation 0.20%). Thus it harks back to the first chronology. The number 365 is that of the days in the year (approximation 0.07%), and also the number of double hours in a solar month, since the day was divided into twelve beru of two hours each. The chronology may encode the introduction to the Zodiac vis-à-vis the underlying solar calendar.
It is known that under Nabonassar a new calendar was instituted that introduced seven supplementary months over a period of nineteen years (i.e., 235 lunar cycles). Berossus writes: "Nabonasaros [Nabu-Nasir] gathered and destroyed the archives concerning the kings who preceded him, so that the Chaldean king list would commence with him." (Babyloniaka, 2.5.1, Burstein edition, p. 22.) This reorganization of the archives corresponds to the dawning of a new era following a major scientific discovery: the synchronization of the lunar and solar calendars.
Taking up again the numbers of Berossus' list, and working out the sum of the products of the reigns by city (Babylon, Shuruppak and Pautibiblon, Larak) the results are: [(10 + 3) X 18] + [(13 + 12 + 18 + 10 + 18) X (10 + 8)], which equals 1512.
Berossus also indicates that Alaparos was the son of Aloros, and Xisouthros the son of Otiartes. Calculating the sum of the products of the reigns two by two, and merging the duration of the reigns relative to Alaparos-Aloros and Xisouthros-Otiartes, the results are: [(10 +3) X (8 + 18)] + (13 X 10) + (12 X 18) + (18 X 10), which equals 864.
These numbers, 1512 and 864, are both multiples of 216.
1512 is equal to 216 X 7 (7 being the number of days in the week), and 864 is equal to 216 X 4 (4 being the number of seasons in the year, or the number of weeks in the lunar month). Hence, the introduction of the week of seven days, attested later, may have been conceptualized in this earlier epoch.
What is more, the number 216, equal to 18 (= cycle of saros) times 12 (= months in the solar year), but also 8 X 27 (= days in the solar month), or even 235 (= lunar cycles) - 19 (= solar years), could be the key to understanding the important astronomical discovery of the coincidence of lunar and solar cycles.
We know that the Chinese established in the 6th century B.C. a new calendar based on the cycle of 19 years, or 235 lunar cycles, which is to say, 12 years of 12 lunar months and 7 years of 13 lunar months, and that this cycle of 19 years was reformulated by the Greek Meton of Athens in 430 B.C.
Astronomy, Myth and Celestial Mathematics
No satisfactory explanation has ever been given before for the duration of the reigns in question. Some interpreters have suggested a basis in the great eras defined in Indian thought and have therefore assumed a relationship with the yugas. Others have believed it possible to find in the durations evidence of the precession of the equinoxes. Setting ourselves here to a more modest scale, we have made explicit knowledge attested by the Mesopotamians themselves, but in an earlier epoch, which seems the more likely explanation. It seems plausible to me that such scientific knowledge could have embedded itself in myth (e.g., the legendary sovereigns before the Flood) and crystallized in the form of numbers. It is only thus that the three levels of the Triad (cf. my "Du Sémiotique à l'Astral," 04semas.html ) or the three "worlds" can find a point of commonality and harmony. So astronomical fact, encoded by means of simple arithmetic (but apparently complex enough to have escaped notice in the repeated analyses of rationalistic thought), reveals itself through myth. The Ancients reasoned differently with regard to the pertinence and extension of knowledge. "Empirical fact" needed Myth in order to magnify it, and Number in order to reveal it. All of society benefitted from that approach, and knowledge in those societies was never something hidden, but rather was accessible to the intelligence and perspicacity of those who possess such gifts. The myths and monuments that crystallized such knowledge were available to all people. It is rather modern society, with its incapacity really to understand otherness -- as well as its bondage to its own ego -- that masks this lack of availability through a panoply of experts who remain useless and deaf to dialogue, through a body of knowledge reserved for specialists and shut away in inaccessible places, and through an absurd complexity of data and results. Descartes lived his philosophy like a series of battles. This particular battle, that I have waged now for several years, has led me to conclusions that I find satisfying in part.
All rights reserved © 2001 Patrice Guinard