The best (and craziest) ancient Sumerian mythology books

Who am I?

I have always been interested in ancient civilizations and have studied extensively from Egypt to Hebrew. One of the great mysteries is why all of our ancestors seem to be so concerned with powerful gods from other realms. Do such other realms exist? Did the ancients experience physical or spiritual phenomena? It remains a great mystery. However, as I read the ancient stories it became clear that perhaps our normal ways of interpreting their own experiences may not be entirely accurate. Perhaps they deserve another reading with a fresh set of eyes.


I wrote...

Enuma Elish: The Original Text with Brief Commentary

By Ken Goudsward,

Book cover of Enuma Elish: The Original Text with Brief Commentary

What is my book about?

The Enuma Elish is widely known as the classic Akkadian creation myth, passed down from the Sumerian, and replete with all the gods one has come to expect from ancient mythology. But is this an accurate reading? Were our ancestors superstitious rubes who relied on supernatural forces to explain their own existence? Or did they perhaps know another story that we have long forgotten, but whose truths continue to echo in our subconscious and in modern-day technological phenomena?

A fresh interpretation for a technological age, this analysis incorporates software engineering, navigational algorithms, and biotechnology into the Sumerian traditions in a wholly systematic and integrated way, avoiding wild interjection and the constraining assumptions of religious trappings.

The books I picked & why

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The Literature of Ancient Sumer

By Jeremy Black (editor), Graham Cunningham (editor), Eleanor Robson (editor), Gabor Zolyomi (editor)

Book cover of The Literature of Ancient Sumer

Why this book?

Black et. al. have compiled what is generally considered the definitive collection of Sumerian myths. The editors are the creme de la creme of the academic community of Sumerian literary experts, and the collection consists of works translated by them under the auspices of the University of Oxford. This book is the gold standard of mainstream literary study and understanding of Sumerian literature.

The Literature of Ancient Sumer

By Jeremy Black (editor), Graham Cunningham (editor), Eleanor Robson (editor), Gabor Zolyomi (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Literature of Ancient Sumer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This anthology of Sumerian literature constitutes the most comprehensive collection ever published, and includes examples of most of the different types of composition written in the language, from narrative myths and lyrical hymns to proverbs and love poetry. The translations have benefited both from the work of many scholars and from our ever-increasing understanding of Sumerian. In addition to reflecting the advances made by modern scholarship, the translations
are written in clear, accessible English. An extensive introduction discusses the literary qualities of the works, the people who created and copied them in ancient Iraq, and how the study of Sumerian…


Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others

By Stephanie Dalley,

Book cover of Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others

Why this book?

Stephanie Dalley is another one of those Oxford scholars upon whose shoulders the rest of us Assyriologists stand. Her translations are eminently readable and enjoyable, and her focus on certain selected works of the later Akkadian language period sets her apart from the Sumerian specialist mentioned above. This fascinating era provides us with some of the most compelling stories, including the Atrahasis Epic and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others

By Stephanie Dalley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myths from Mesopotamia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ancient civilization of Mesopotamia thrived between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates over 4,000 years ago. The myths collected here, originally written in cuneiform on clay tablets, include parallels with the biblical stories of the Creation and the Flood, and the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the tale of a man of great strength, whose heroic quest for immortality is dashed through one moment of weakness. Recent developments in Akkadian grammar and lexicography mean that this new translation, complete with notes, a glossary of deities, place-names, and key terms, and illustrations of the mythical monsters featured in the text, will replace…


History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History

By Samuel Noah Kramer,

Book cover of History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History

Why this book?

Although this book is not strictly about mythology, fans will doubtless be enthralled by this historical and technological tour de force. Kramer shows how Sumer is truly the cradle of civilization, by focusing on the remarkable advances, discoveries, inventions, and innovations attributed to the inhabitants of ancient Sumer. In my opinion this shift in perception is critically important if we are to begin to see our ancient ancestors as intelligent rational beings rather than superstitious cultic dolts.

History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History

By Samuel Noah Kramer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History Begins at Sumer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Which civilization had the first system of law? The first formal educational system? The first tax cut? The first love song? The answers were found in excavations of ancient Sumer, a society so developed, resourceful, and enterprising that it, in a sense, created history. The book presents a cross section of the Sumerian "firsts" in all the major fields of human endeavor, including government and politics, education and literature, philosophy and ethics, law and justice, agriculture and medicine, even love and family.
History Begins at Sumer is the classic account of the achievements of the Sumerians, who lived in what…


Sumer and the Sumerians

By Harriet Crawford,

Book cover of Sumer and the Sumerians

Why this book?

Crawford expands deeply on some of the ideas presented in Kramer, and really delves into more of the cultural aspects of agriculture, architecture, and writing to name a few. She clearly thinks of these ancient people as equals with whom we could easily empathize. Indeed, the book has a timeless quality of the human spirit which rings true even in a postmodern age.

Sumer and the Sumerians

By Harriet Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sumer and the Sumerians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mesopotamia produced one of the best-known ancient civilizations, with a literate, urban culture and highly-developed political institutions. In this fully revised and expanded edition of her classic text, Sumer and the Sumerians, Harriet Crawford reviews the extraordinary social and technological developments in the region from 3800 to 2000 BC. Drawing on the most up-to-date historical and archaeological sources, she provides a thematic exploration of this ancient civilization, examining its physical and historical background, changing settlement patterns, public and private architecture and cultural developments of the period. In this new edition, the chapter on Manufacturing Industries and Trade has been enlarged…


12th Planet: Book I of the Earth Chronicles

By Zecharia Sitchin,

Book cover of 12th Planet: Book I of the Earth Chronicles

Why this book?

Zecharia Sitchin makes a lot of crazy-sounding claims. He talks about faraway planets and NASA-style rocketry. He doesn't provide references, and he doesn't make convincing logical arguments. Nevertheless millions of people believe his claims. My own research shows that most of Sitchin's conclusions are pretty unfounded—but, there is a thread of evidence within the ancient literature that seems to indicate that at least some of Sitchin's core ideas might be at least partly correct.

12th Planet: Book I of the Earth Chronicles

By Zecharia Sitchin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 12th Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the years, startling evidence has been unearthed, challenging established notions of the origins of Earth and life on it, and suggesting the existence of a superior race of beings who once inhabited our world. The product of thirty years of intensive research, The 12th Planetis the first book in Zecharia Sitchin's prophetic Earth Chroniclesseries--a revolutionary body of work that offers indisputable documentary proof of humanity's extraterrestrial forefathers. Travelers from the stars, they arrived eons ago, and planted the genetic seed that would ultimately blossom into a remarkable species...called Man. The 12th Planetbrings to life the Sumerian civilization, presenting millennia-old…


2 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sumerian history, ancient civilizations, and myth?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sumerian history, ancient civilizations, and myth.

Sumerian History Explore 8 books about Sumerian history
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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