Early civilizations each chose their own way to interpret their world and convey the morals and expectations they valued. Though the differences between them are many and vast, there are several common themes found as the oldest societies this world knows began to define their existence and purpose in the universe. No matter where they found themselves, they possessed a universal question and curiosity of their origins.
Two of the most ancient pieces of writing scholars have access to are the Cannibal Spell for King Unis, and The Great Hymn to the Aten. The Spell was found in the temple of a buried king, never meant to be gazed upon by human eyes. It describes a vivid, violent tale of the power of Unis, often accompanied by the sacrifice of a bull or ox. However, the Hymn sustains a close relationship between humans and gods. So much so that King Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten and began to devote his power to a type of monotheistic lifestyle devoted to Aten. For a decade he pressed this upon his people, only for it to be rejected soon after his death.
Stark similarities between the Spell and the Hymn are the fact that these gods reign down on them from the sky, and are not human-like in the slightest. They are undoubtedly deities far above the likes of a mere human (Norton Anthology, 26-29). Something they share with the tale of Innana: Queen of Heaven and Earth is the presence of serpents, a strong symbol of deceit and betrayal in creation stories.
Genesis1&2 and the Enuma Elish share many themes and motivations in their versions of the Earth’s origin. The stories of Genesis come from the Hebrew version of the Bible, a book that was rewritten in the fifth century B.C.E., a time when the people of this faith were exiled in Babylon. This gives the narrative a tone that is important to comprehend, as the reader begins to see creation through the words of a...