Hamlet's Mill
by Giorgio de Santillana & Hertha von Dechend

Editorial Comments By Robertino Solàrion

Appendix 39, Pages 430-451



There are many points from which to start new trips of exploration into the Gilgamesh Epic, once it is conceded that reasonable questions have to be asked. Among the many we single out two, without intending to "get at the bottom of the matter"; the first concerns the "ferryman", the second concerns "trees".

Face to face with the ferryman Urshanabi, a kind of personified ME who was dragged away from the "confluence of the rivers" to check the proper measure of Uruk, it can hardly be taken for a farfetched idea that we ask for comparative "individuals" or "places" in other Mesopotamian texts. There is, indeed, no need for a frantic search: the Enuma Elish offers us an equally decisive item from which depends the whole skeleton may, namely "Nibiru" (or "Neberu").

There are three passages of the so-called Babylonian Genesis that give -- recognizable at first glance -- details of the surveying of the new world as accomplished by Marduk/Jupiter. In Speiser's translation they read thus (ANET, pp. 67, 69):

He crossed the heavens and surveyed the regions. He squared Apsu's quarter, the abode of Nudimmud [Ea], As the lord measured the dimensions of Apsu. The Great Abode, its likeness, he fixed as Esharra The Great Abode, Esharra, which he made as the firmament. Anu, Enlil, and Ea he made occupy their places.

He constructed stations for the great gods, Fixing their astral likenesses as constellations. He determined the year by designating the zones: He set up three constellations for each of the twelve months. After defining the days of the year by means of heavenly figures, He founded the station of Nibiru to determine their heavenly bands, That none might transgress or fall short. Alongside he set up the stations of Enlil and Ea.

They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu, They sat in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil and Ea.

Leaving aside the specific charm of these passages -- i.e., the circumstance that the places of Anu, Enlil, Ea and their stations are not the same -- we concentrate on this: "He founded the station of Nibiru to determine their heavenly bands," or: "He founded the station of Nibiru to make know their duties," or: "Alongside he set up the stations of Enlil and Ea," or: "He established the stations of Enlil and Ea together with it," or: "Den Enlilpunkt und den Eapunkt setzte er bei ihm fest."

That means the position of the "Ways of Anu, Enlil, Ea" was a function of Nibiru; that only the setting up of the points, or stations, of Enlil and Ea is mentioned suggests that Marduk/Jupiter claims the "Anu-ship" for himself. The experts seem to be quite happy with the equation "Nibiru = Jupiter". But what is his "station", or point? Considering that upon this very station of Nibiru rests the whole tripartition of the universe during the age ruled by Marduk/Jupiter, it is surprising how little the professionals care.

[Footnote: This dignity must have got lost after the first (?) flood (or by means of it?); otherwise, Marduk could not ask reproachfully for the whereabouts of "Ninigi-nangargid, the great carpenter of my Anu-ship" (Era Epic, tabl. I.155; Gössman, Das Era-Epos [1956], p. 98).]

[COMMENT: I could interrupt this narrative with numerous comments, such as Baron Marduk did seize the MEs and rule for a time, and of course Nibiru is not the Planet Jupiter, but I shall refrain from doing so. Just be aware that this book was written a decade BEFORE any of the Sitchin material was published and two decades before Boulay's material. RS]

The plain meaning of "nibiru" is "ferry, ferryman, ford" -- "mikis nibiri" is the toll one has to pay for crossing the river -- from eberu, "to cross". Alfred Jeremias insisted that Nibiru "in all star-texts of later times" indicated Canopus, taking this star for the provider of the meridian of the city of Babylon. There have been other identifications (including even a comet!) -- the summer solstice, or the celestial North Pole; the opinions and verdicts collected by Gössmann (Planet., 311) show clearly that Nibiru remains an unknown factor for the time being.

[COMMENT: This book was published in 1969, as noted above. RS]

This deplorable situation is not improved by means of the next occasion, when the ominous word is hurled at us anew, where fifty names are given to the new ruler, Marduk/Jupiter, among which is Nibiru.

Speiser translation:

Nebiru shall hold the crossings of heaven and earth; Those who failed of crossing above and below, Ever of him shall inquire, Nebiru is the star which in the skies is brilliant. Verily, he governs their turnings, to him indeed they look Saying: "He who the midst of the Sea restlessly crosses, Let 'Crossing' be his name who controls its midst. May they uphold the course of the stars of heaven; May he shepherd all the gods like sheep."

Heidel translation:

Nibiru shall be in control of the passages in heaven and on earth, For everyone above and below who cannot find the passage inquires of him. Nibiru is his star which they caused to shine in the sky. He has taken position at the solstitial point, may they look upon him, Saying: "He who crosses the middle of the sea without resting, His name shall be Nibiru, who occupies the middle thereof; May he maintain the course of the stars of heaven; May he shepherd all the gods like sheep."

How secure and unshakable the ground is upon which we walk, according to the inscrutable decree of the experts, may be guessed from the translation by Albrecht Götze who starts from the conviction that "eberu" = "to bind, to enclose" which, combined with the "solution" that tam-tim means "struggle", apparently permits him to get rid of the "midst of Tiamat" [he]:

"Who enclosed (in his net) indeed amidst the struggle without loosening, May his name be 'encloser', who seized amidst it. Of the stars of heaven may he uphold their courses, May he shepherd the gods, all of them like sheep."

F.M. Th. Bohl was at least perplexed enough to admit:

"Der Passus gehört zu den sachlich schwierigsten der Tafel, ohne dass der siemlich vollständig erhaltene Kommentar hierbei wesentliche Hilfe leistet."

But he did not further the case by upholding opinions incompatible among themselves since based upon doubtful identifications. On the one hand, he claimed Nibiru to be the name given to "the planet and his hypsoma"; on the other hand, he took Nibiru for a star or constellation marking the point where Jupiter entered the "Way of Anu", to which he adds: "The time of observation is the night of the Vernal Equinox, when the Sun stands at the crosspoint of Equator and Ecliptic in the constellation Aries." He does not reveal from where he has this surprising knowledge; he seems to rely on the identification of "l-Iku" with Aries/Cetus, which is not the case: the Pegasus-square it is, but the constellation is not mentioned, so what?

Apart from this, we do not know whether, in the time of the Enuma Elish, Aries was taken for Jupiter's hypsoma; there seem to be reason for recognizing -- already at this time -- Cancer (more precisely : Procyon) = Nangar = the Carpenter, as Jupiter's exaltation. In the third place, if Böhl takes l-Iku for Aries ruling the vernal equinox, how could Jupiter enter there the "Way of Anu"? The "Way of Anu" represents a band, accompanying the equator, reaching from 15-17 degrees north of the equator to 15-17 degrees south of it; the "Way of Enlil" runs parallel to that of Anu in the North, the "Way of Ea" in the South. That, due to the precessional shifting of the crossroads of ecliptic and equator, the stars standing in these three "Ways" are not the same all the time, goes without saying.

[Footnote Excerpt: A passage from the Taittiriya Brahmana (5.1.1) also has to be considered: "When Jupiter was first born, he defeated the naksharra Pushya by his brilliance." P. Sengupra, who quoted the line in his introduction to Burgess' translation of the Surya Siddhanta (1935, p. xxxiv), misinterpreted it thoroughly by claiming it described "the discovery of Jupiter", and by adding, "the star group of Pushya (delta eta gamma Cancri) has no bright stars in it and the planet Jupiter was detected when it came near to this star group." To the fully initiated expert who sternly points with outstretched finger to the circumstance that the naksharra Pushya was formerly called Tishya (see, e.g., Scherer, Gestirnnamen, p. 150), and that means Sirius, we can, for the time being, only answer that we are aware of this particular circumstance. Premature "solutions" are of no avail.]

[Footnote: To be sure, Böhl does not say so explicitly, his wording being as unprecise as possible. He claims that at the time of New Year (vernal equinox) "the orbit of Jupiter was observed particularly carefully". "Man beobachtete -- so dürfen wir annehmen -- wie er (wohl von der äusseren Ea-Sphäre her [sic!]) in den Anu-Bereich eintrat, diesen Bereich durchquerte (eberu, itburu) und ihn dadurch gleichsam feierlich in Besitz nahm."]

[COMMENT: Before Sitchin reached his conclusions about the actual existence of the Planet Nibiru, the Planet X of the Establishment, researchers including Dr. Velikovsky, sought to explain this "Nibiru" as a reference to one of the already existing Planets in this Solar System. As noted here, some felt that it was Jupiter; Dr. Velikovsky proposed his "Saturn Theory". If Nibiru originated in the Sirius System, that would explain a connection to Sirius. And Sitchin has postulated from the ancient records that Nibiru travels through the Constellation of Cancer during the time of its "crossing"; here "Pushya" is a group of Stars in Cancer. RS]

But, as a matter of fact, "l-Iku," darkly hinted at by Böhl, does come into play, namely as quoted above: "They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu." And concerning this Esagila (or Esagil), we hear in the ritual text of the New Year Festival in Babylon that the Urigallu-priest "shall go out to the Exalted Courtyard, turn to the north and bless the temple Esagil three times with the blessing: 'Iku-star, Esagil, image of heaven and earth.'" "l-Iku", the Pegasus-square (= alpha beta gamma Pegasi, alpha Andromedae) is, indeed, of the utmost importance, l-Iku representing the fundamental field measure, and Ungnad (Das wiedergefundene Paradies [1923], p. 11) understood the constellation, enclosed by Pisces, for the "Paradise", the primordial field, so to speak.

More important, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh about his ark, which was, like the apsu, an exact cube: "One iku was its floor space." Remembering what we heard above: "Since the ark disappeared there was a stone in its place ... which was called foundation stone," i.e., Eben Shetiyyah, that covered the abyss, this cubic ark, the floor space of which was one iku, cannot be without interest for us, the less so, when the gods "raised high the head of Esagila (= l-Iku) equaling Apsu".

To be sure, this does not teach us where Marduk was supposed to be when he received the title Nibiru -- it might have been decisive for the planet to rise heliacally together with l-Iku, the celestial model of Esagil (representing the "foundation-stone-covering-the-apsu", maybe?), but when?

[Footnote: One clue, at least (probably many more), to the situation is contained in Cuneiform Tablet K3476 dealing with the Babylonian New Year Festival, translated and commented on by Heinrich Zimmern ("Sum babylonischen Neujahrsfest"), which says that "Marduk lies with his feet within Ea". In a note, Zimmern proposes to understand this line as an "allusion to a constellation connected with Marduk (Auriga?) that reaches into a constellation connected with Ea (Aries?)". S. A. Pallis, not tending to astronomical notions, made it that "Marduk lies before Ea"; the unmistakable presence of the planet Venus in the second part of the sentence forced him to the concession: "perhaps it refers to certain astronomical conditions." In 1926, sufficient literature about the "Three Ways" was available.]

The heliacal rising of "l-Iku" -- precisely, beta Pegasi -- coincided with the winter solstice of 4000 BC; around 1000 BC it took place on January 25. "l-Iku", the Pegasus-square, is called "the habitation of the deity Ea, the leader of the stars of Anu" in the Series APIN, called by Weidner "a Babylonian compendium of astronomy". According to van der Waerden (The Thirty-Six Stars, p. 17) this series is a compilation "made about 700 BC or somewhat earlier -- in which material from different periods between -1400 and -700 was used" : thus, l-Iku as "leader" of the stars standing in the "Way of Anu" would rise in the end of January, quite a time away from the vernal equinox when the New Year's festival was held.

[COMMENT: Because all of these authors were unaware of the possibility of Planet X, out of sheer confusion they resort to discussing things like the precise heliacal rising of Pegasus at a certain date. That is completely irrelevant. It is interesting to note that researcher van der Waerden used data from 1400-700 BCE for his hypothesis, because Nibiru was docked at its mooring post beyond the North for that entire period of time. RS]

This is all very nice so far, and certainly not without highest interest, but do we know meanwhile what Nibiru, "ferry, ferryman, ford", was supposed to be? Even without worrying about Jupiter and his whereabouts? We know it not, an we feel tempted to say: "quod erat demonstrandum", namely, that the many verbose translations, eloquent articles, and books have not cleared up the decisive points of the cosmological system ruling the Enuma Elish, the Gilgamesh Epic, the Era Epic and the other alleged "poems".

Nibiru is only one case among many, but it is a rather significant model case for proving that no concrete problem is going to be solved as long as the experts of astronomy are too supercilious to touch "mythical" ideas -- which are firmly believed to be plain nonsense, of course -- as long as historians of religion swear to it that stars and planets were smuggled into originally "healthy" fertility cults and naive fairy tales only "very late" -- when these unhealthy subjects should be neglected by principle -- and as long as the philologists imagine that familiarity with grammar replaces that scientific knowledge which they lack, and dislike.


But even when the different specialists would condescend to renounce their common haughtiness, we do not think that there is much chance to arrive at a satisfying solution of concrete details, and the adequate understanding of the system as a whole, without taking into account comparable systems of other parts of the earth: Mesopotamia is by no means the only province of high culture where the astronomers work with a tripartition of the sphere -- even apart from the notion allegedly most familiar to us, in reality most unknown -- that of the "Ways" of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades as given by Homer.

[COMMENT: Most interesting! Read that also as "the Ways of Enlil, Enki and Nergal"! RS]

The Indians have a very similar scheme of dividing the sky into Ways (they even call them "ways"). And so have the Polynesians, who tell us many details about the stars belonging to the three zones (and by which planet they were "begotten"); but nobody has thought it worth listening to the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen; nor has any ethnologist of our progressive times thought it worth mentioning that the Polynesian megalithic "sanctuaries" (maraes) gained their imposing state of "holiness" (taboo) when the "unu-boards" were present, these carved Unu-boards representing "the Pillars of Rumia", Rumia being comparable to the "Way of Anu", where Antares served as "pillar of entrance" (among the other "pillars": Aldebaran, Spica, Arcturus, Phaëthon in Columba).

But now, is Nibiru as important as all that? We think so. Or, to say it the other way around : once this astronomical term, and two or three more, are reliably settled, one can begin in earnest to get wise to, and to translate, Mesopotamian "poetry".


The epics of Gilgamesh and Era offer too many trees for our modest demands. The several wooden individuals have, however, the one advantage that the expert's delight in uttering deep words about "the world-tree" wilts away.

There is, first, the mesh-tree, contained in the hero's name, about the location of which Marduk asks stern questions of Era, followed by the cedar of Huwawa/Humbaba which was -- as we have been taught by the specialists -- felled by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Yet, according to the "latest news" available to us, Huwawa is "the guardian monster of the 'land of the cut cedar'". Admittedly, also at an earlier occasion, Kramer stressed his opinion that "the far distant 'Land of the Living' was also the 'Land of the Felled Cedar'", but we have not yet found evidence of any thought, any consequence which should follow such alarming statements.

[Footnote Excerpt: The identity of the tree is not settled. R. Labat ... proposes "cèdre (?micocoulier?) {Celtis australis, "geneiner Zürgelbaum" -- Celtis occidentalis is the American nettle tree} gisMEZ-MA-GAN-(NA) musskanu-murier (?micocoulier de Magan?)" ... "GIS, bois arbre. Déterminatif précédant les noms d'arbre et d'objets en bois." ...

[Even this mes-wood from Magan cannot be dismissed as "not applicable" for the Gilgamesh Epic, because in the Sumerian myth Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living..., when the hero is allegedly admonishing Enkidu not to shrink away from Humbaba, Gilgamesh utters the most enigmatical words: "Do thou help me [and] I will help thee, what can happen to us? After it had sunk, after it had sunk, after the Megan-boat had sunk, after the boat 'the might of Magilum' had sunk." ...

[According to Meisnerr, quoted by Weidner ..., gisMES = mesu is the rowan. As concerns the astrological system of connecting trees (and stones, and animals, etc.) with the zodiac, the tablets translated by Weidner put the mes-tree two times with Aquarius (pp. 18, 35), once with Aries (p. 31). Wood of the mesu-tree and of the huluppu-tree occurs as building material for the chariot (narkabtu) of Ningirsu. ...

[This tree is also part of the name of MES.LAM.TA.E.A, taken for the oldest name known of the god Nergal ... and the name of the one of the Gemini, MES.LAM.TA.E.A., means "who comes forth from MES.LAM". MES.LAM was the name given to Nergal's sanctuary in Kutha, and means "the luxuriantly growing MES-tree", according to Gössmann (Das Era-Epos, p. 67), who continues with respect to the name MES.LAM.TA.E.A.: "Später diente der Name in erster Linie als Bezeichnung eines der beiden Zwillinge (Planetarium Babylonicum, 271), bezw. als Tummelplatz philogischer Spielereien. Auf Grund solcher Philologeme wurde der Name auf Marduk und Gilgamesh übertragen (Tallqvist, 374)." It is not in the best scientific style to dispose of difficult formulae by declaring them philological pastimes. Since MES.LAM appears to be a "fixed" topos, we can hardly expect that "to come forth from MES.LAM" has been a monopoly of Nergal-Mars. But see below, p. 449.]

But one cannot expect earnest thoughts to be wasted on Sumerian conceptions from a scholar who wrote about the fathers of hydraulic engineering (irrigation) that "to the Sumerian poets and priests the real sources of the Tigris and Euphrates in the mountains of Armenia were of little significance. They did not understand, as we do, that the volume of the waters of the two rivers depended upon 'feeding' from their tributaries, or that it was the melting winter snows which produced the annual overflow, or that the Tigris and Euphrates 'emptied' their swollen waters into the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, their view was just the opposite; it was the Persian Gulf which was responsible for the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates and for their all-important overflow. Mythologically expressed, it was Enki who filled the Tigris and Euphrates with sparkling water, and who, by riding the sea, makes its waters and those of the Tigris and Euphrates, turbulent and violent.

In short, as the Sumerians saw it, it was not the rivers that 'fed' the sea, but rather the sea that 'fed' the rivers.

Apart from the mes-tree and the unexplained cedar of Huwawa/Humbaba -- whether it was felled by our heroes or not -- the Gilgamesh Epic confronts us with the "huluppu" tree, taken for a willow by Labat, for an oak by the Assyrian Dictionary, for a kind of Persea by Salonen -- all the identifications decently equipped with a question mark. This specimen crosses our way in the Gilgamesh Epic, part of which was incorporated as Tablet XII in the Akkadian Epic; the Sumerian text has been translated by C.J. Gadd, and by S.N. Kramer.

We quote the summary given by Kramer in his first translation for the simple reason that it is shorter than the one offered in JAOS64. In the meantime, this text had been given a different name, i.e., "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the ether World". The first half of the first sentence is, of course, no quotation, and it is not likely to be subscribed to by the author.

[Footnote: As concerns the beginning of this text, one shock after the other receives the reader who studies eagerly the various "translations"; it is hard to believe that they are meant to render the same Sumerian original. Out of the first lines Kramer ... built up the Sumerian creation story which he took (and takes?) for unknown; in JAOOS64 he stressed again: "The first thirteen lines of this passage contain some of our basic data for the analysis of the Sumerian concept of the creation of the universe."

[Of the following lines 14-25 he constructed a dragon-fight. By means of hitherto unpublished pieces, Kramer claimed, in 1958 (Gilgamesh et sa légende, p. 66), that "the first seven lines of the poem can now be completely restored". He added, however: "Unfortunately, the meaning of the passage is by no means certain and the mythological implications are rather obscure, as is obvious from the following tentative translation :

["The days of creation, the distant days of creation, The nights of creation, the far-off nights of creation, The years of creation, the distant years of creation -- After in (?) days of yore everything needful had been brought into existence, After in (?) days of yore everything needful had been commanded, After in the shrines(?) of the land bread(?) had been tasted(?) After in the ovens of the land, bread(?) had been baked(?)."

[Nobody is likely to contradict the stated uncertainty of the meaning: it would be advisable to mind the utterance of Margarete Riemschneider: "So lange sie sinnlos sind, stimmen unsere Übersetzungen nicht." The objections raised by stern expert reviewers ... remain throughout within the usual frame of specialists on grammar and "religion", and it is hard to decide who carries off the laurels in this race of arbitrary interpretations.

[The remarkable point of the new "distribution" seems to be that Ereshkigal belongs henceforward to the "nether world". (In 1938 Kramer translated line 12: "After Ereshkigal had been presented (?) as a gift (?) to (?) the netherworld"; in his "Sumerian Mythology," after having "discovered" the dragon-fight, he made it: "After Ereshkigal had been carried off into Kur as its prize." Witzel rendered the line: "Als (der) Ereshkigal mit der Unterrwelt Geschenk 'aufgewartet' worden war.")

[Since we do not know yet which star or constellation Ereshkigal was meant to represent, this does not tell us more than that the (unknown) asterism had "entered" the Way of Ea, i.e., that it had sunk below the 15th (or 17th) degree of southern latitude. (End of long footnote. RS)]

[COMMENT: It is most fascinating to me to find this passage again about Duke Nergal and Duchess Ereshkigal! Ereshkigal was what one might call the "first vice-president of the gold-mining consortium", located first in southern Africa and later in Peru, both of which fall into the "Way of Enki". Duchess Ereshkigal is definitely one of the "movers-and-shakers" on Planet X Nibiru! RS]

On occasion of a new distribution of the "Three Ways", "on that day", it happened that a huluppu tree (very likely a willow) which had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates and nourished by its waters was uprooted by the South Wind and carried off by the Euphrates. A goddess wandering along the bank seized the floating tree, and at the word of Anu and Enlil she brought it to Inanna's garden in Uruk. Inanna tended the tree carefully and lovingly, hoping to have made of its wood a throne and bed for herself. After ten years had passed and the tree had matured, Inanna, to her chagrin, found herself unable to realize her hopes.

[COMMENT: Presumably this indicates ten Earth Years, which would in Nibiruan terminology, be only a single "orbit-day". And in the following paragraph, the "demoness Lilith" was evil deposed Empress Lilitu, consort of the deposed Emperor Alalu. RS]

For in the meantime a dragon had set up its nest at the base of the tree, the Zu-bird had placed his young in its crown, and in the midst the demoness Lilith had built her house. But Gilgamesh, informed of Inanna's distress, rushed to her aid. Making light of his weighty armor, the giant slew the dragon with his huge bronze ax, seven talents and seven minas in weight. Thereupon the Zu-bird fled with his young to the mountain, while Lilith, terror-stricken, tore down her house and escaped to the desert. After Gilgamesh had uprooted the liberated tree, his followers, the men of Uruk, cut down its trunk and gave part of it to Inanna for her throne and bed. Of the remainder -- i.e., root and crown -- "Gilgamesh makes for himself the pukku and mikku, two wooden objects of magic significance."

(It goes without saying that there is no whiff of "magic significance" to be found in the text.) Here, the summary of 1938 comes to its end, and we continue with JAOS64:

"Follows a passage of twelve lines which describes Gilgamesh's activity in Erech with this pukku and mikku, with this 'drum' and 'drumstick.' Despite the fact that the text is in perfect condition, it is still impossible to penetrate its meaning. It is not improbable, however, that it describes in some detail the overbearing and tyrannical acts which, according to the first tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, brought woe to the inhabitants of Erech, and which, again, according to the Babylonian epic only, led to the creation of Enkidu."

According to this verdict, Kramer does not even try to translate literally the lines 24-35 which are allegedly in "perfect condition." Gadd ... renders the passage as follows:

22. He makes its root into his pukku [gisRIM (ellag)] 23. Its top he makes into his mikku [gis E.AG] 24. He says "ellag," except (?) "ellag" let him not speak 25. Saying ... except (?) ... let him not speak 26. The men of the city say "ellag" 27. He viewed his little company which did not ... 28. ? ? his lament they make 29. He that had a mother, (she) brought bread for her son 30. He that had a wife, (she) poured out water for her "brother" 31. The Wine (?) was taken away 32. (In) his place where the pukku was set he draws a circle 33. The pukku he raised before him and went into the house 34. In the morning his place where the circle was drawn he viewed 35. The adults (?) do not ... 36. (But) at the crying of a little girl ...

Kramer continues: "When the story becomes intelligible once again, it continues with the statement that 'because of the outcry of the young maidens', the pukku and mikku fell into the nether world. Gilgamesh put in his hand as well as his foot to retrieve them, but was unable to reach them. And so he seats himself at the gate of the nether world and laments:

"O my pukku, O my mikku.
My pukku whose lustiness was irresistible,
My mikku whose pulsations could not be drowned out.
In those days when verily my pukku was with me in the house of the carpenter,
(When) verily the wife of the carpenter was with me like the mother who gave birth to me,
(When) verily the daughter of the carpenter was with me like my younger sister,
My pukku, who will bring it up from the nether world,
My mikku, who will bring it up from the 'face' of the netherworld?

[Footnote: A. Heidel (p. 95) translates lines 1-3: "O that today I had left the pukku in the house of the carpenter! O that I had left it with the wife of the carpenter, who was to me like the mother who bore me! O that I left it with the daughter of the carpenter, who was to me like my younger sister." In a footnote he explains : "Had Gilgamesh left his pukku and his mikku in the house of the carpenter, they would have been safe and would not have fallen into the underworld." He adds: "The translation of the first three lines is somewhat tentative." Of only the first three lines?]

"His servant Enkidu, his constant follower and companion, thereupon volunteers to descend to the nether world and bring them up for him. ... Hearing his servant's generous offer, Gilgamesh warns him of a number of the nether world tabus which he is to guard against. ... But Enkidu heeds not the instructions of his master and commits all those very acts against which Gilgamesh has warned him. And so he is seized by Kur and is unable to reascend to the earth."

We can do, here, without the following description of the goings-on in the "underworld", a description which is common to the Sumerian myth of the huluppu-tree, and to Tablet XII of the Akkadian Epic. Kramer ... closes his inquiry on the Sumerian sources of the Gilgamesh Epic: "In conclusion, a comparison of the text of the 'twelfth' tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh with that of on our Sumerian poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World, proves beyond all doubt what has long been suspected, that is, that the 'twelfth' tablet is an inorganic appendage attached to the Babylonian epic whose first eleven tablets constitute a reasonably well-integrated poetic unit."

We do wish neither to consent nor to disagree; we do not like those "beyond all doubts's", and similar verdicts, considering how frightfully little we know of the Epic. (If there is something that is, really, "beyond all doubt", it is only this, that the eleven tablets of the Epic do not "constitute a reasonably well-integrated poetic unit", not the translated Epic.)

Of course, it would be to our great advantage were we to know more about the objects "pukku" and "mikku", that have withstood the honest efforts of several scholars, first among whom is Sidney Smith. ... Nets have been proposed, wind instruments (pipes and horns), and Margarete Riemschneider ... voted for a particular trap, the very same rather uncanny trap which is known to us from the Pyramid Texts (representing the "palace" of Upper Egypt). Most interpreters have accepted Landsberger's first proposition "drum" and "drumstick"; there is nothing to say against this solution per se, as long as the significance of celestial drums is recognized, and under the condition that comparable celestial drums are properly investigated -- e.g., those of the Chinese sphere.

For the time being there is no cogent reason to stick to "drum" and "drumstick", the less so as Landsberger dropped his earlier notion -- about which he states explicitly that he never substantiated it -- for the sake of "hoop" and "driving stick". In the present situation, however, we know nothing of the function of pukku and mikku, and this fact should prevent idle speculations.

No less lamentable than the loss of these objects is the circumstance that we do not know more about Inanna's unwelcome subtenants in her huluppu-tree, about Lilith, and about the dragon at the root; that he corresponds to Nidhoggr of the "Edda" does not enlighten us concerning his identity. The Zu-bird, at least, is known to us: the Planet Mars it is, but we do not yet risk drawing specific conclusions from this identification to the "nest" or "house" of the planet that was taken away from him.

[COMMENT: Not having researched this point linguistically as yet, I am speculating when I say that if the Zu-Bird is the Planet Mars and if its "nest" or "house" -- or ORBIT! -- was "taken away", then this fog-enshrouded distant legend can only refer to the fact that when Planet X Nibiru's moonlet "Kingu" collided with Planet Tiamat, causing havoc in this Solar System, then Mars, as has been discussed elsewhere, did indeed get knocked out of its current "nest" and into another orbit farther away from the Sun. This is one more indication that little bits and pieces of information fall into place from sometimes the most unlikely of sources. To be honest, however, I think that probably this is just another gross misinterpretation of information based upon an ignorance of Planet X Nibiru. RS]

The deadlock is hardly to be overcome by Mesopotamian texts alone, and this goes for the huluppu-tree, the mes-tree, Huwawa's cedar, and that tree in the Era Epic of which Era announces ... :

"Irkalla will I shake and the heavens shall tremble. The brilliancy of Jupiter will I cause to fall and the stars will I suppress. The root of the tree will I tear up and its sprout will not thrive."

In case we wished to go on this errand in the future we should start from two Indian "nakshatras" (lunar mansions) and the legends connected with them: "mula" (or "mura), "the root", also called "the tearer out of the root" ... , and even "Yama's two unfasteners", i.e., the Sting of Scorpius, (lambda upsilon Scorpii) -- in Babylonian astronomy mulSAR.UR and mulSAR.GAZ, the weapons of Marduk in the "battle" against Tiamat; and the "nakshatra" containing Antares (alpha Scorpii) which bears the names "the oldest", or "who slays the oldest" -- in Tahiti : "parent pillar of the world".

[COMMENT: Although parts of Polynesia are located above the Earth's Equator, including the Hawaiian Islands, and could conceivably have legends about "pillars of the world", Tahiti is located about 17° south of the Equator. A Tahitian legend must have therefore been imported from northern Polynesia. RS]

[Footnote: The Indians claim that exactly opposite to "mula" was Betelgeuse, ruled by "Rudra-the-destroying-archer", whereas the Coptic list of lunar mansions ... calls the Sting of Scorpius (al-Sha'ula) "Sleka statio translationis caniculae in coelum ... unde et Siôt vocatur, statio venationis", which is of the utmost importance since it elucidates the role of a "sea-star" common to Sirius and the Scorpion-goddess.]

Then from India we should turn to the hero Tahaki of Tuamotuan texts, already mentioned, because he represents the almost "professional" avenger of his father. Right from the beginning of events, Tahaki's mother laments that the hero is destined to die in a faraway country; and again and again throughout the unfolding of the legend, Tahaki sings: "I go to the night-realm of Kiho, the last bourne of repose." When still a child, his cousin, with whom he plays diving for pearls, kills and dismembers him; but his foster brother saves the vital parts (unlike the case of Osiris), from which his mother revives him again.

He sets out with this brother to free his father from the "goblin myriads". ... When reaching the home of his grandparents, he wins the love of Hapai, daughter of Tane, the Deus Faber. When Hapai tells her father about the young man, he answers: "If he is really Tahaki go and say to him: 'Tane-of-ancient-waters told me that if you can pass before his face you must be Tahaki; if you can sit upon his four-legged stool, you must be Tahaki; if you can pull up his sacred tree by the roots then you are surely Tahaki.'"

Then Tahaki went to Tane-of-ancient-waters and stood beside him; and immediately he passed before his face; he sat upon his high four-legged stool -- and it broke to pieces under him; then Tahaki pulled up his sacred tree by the roots -- and Tahaki looked down and saw the entrance to Havaiki beneath. Then Tahaki and Tane-of-ancient-waters chanted a song about the death of Tahaki.

Nonetheless, with Tane's consent, the pair lived together "many months until a certain day when trouble arose between them. ... So Tahaki went far far away to a distant land hoping that he might be killed there. And the land where Tahaki was slain at last was known as Harbor-of-refreshing-rain."

After an extended excursion into Mexico and the "broken tree", the symbol of Tamoanchan, "the house of descending", where the gods were hurled down for having plucked the forbidden flowers, the broken tree being claimed to be the Milky Way ... , we should return once more to the storehouse of magnificent survivals, Finland, particularly to the many variants of the "cutting of the large oak". ...

This was by no means an easy task to accomplish, but the oak had made trouble right from the start. When (in the second rune of the Kalevala) Sampsa Pellervoinen had sowed trees, it was the oak alone that would not grow until four or five lovely maidens from the water, and a hero from the ocean, had cleared the ground with fire and planted an acorn in the ashes; and once it had started, the growth of the tree could not be stopped:

And the summit rose to heaven And its leaves in air expanded, In their course the clouds it hindered, And the driving clouds impeded, And it hid the shining sunlight, And the gleaming of the moonlight.

Then the aged Vainamoinen, Pondered deeply and reflected "Is there none to fell the oak-tree, And o'erthrow the tree majestic? Sad is now the life of mortals, And for fish to swim is dismal Since the air is void of sunlight, And the gleaming of the moonlight."

"One sought above in the sky, below in the lap of the earth", as we are informed by variants but then Vainamoinen asked his divine mother for help.

Then a man arose from ocean From the waves a hero started, Not the hugest of the hugest, Not the smallest of the smallest. As a man's thumb was his stature; Lofty as the span of woman.

The "puny man from the ocean", whose "hair reached down to his heels, the beard to his knees", announces "I have come to fell the oak tree / And to splinter it to fragments." And so he does. In several variants the oak is said to have fallen over the Northland River, so as to form the bridge into the abode of the dead. Holmberg (quoted by Lauri Honko, Finnen, "Wb. Myth.", p.369) took the oak for the Milky Way.

Considering that the same puny character was alone able to kill the huge ox -- we might call it "bull" quietly -- whose mere sight chased all heroes to the highest trees, we can hardly overlook the possibility that we are up to some kind of "grandson" of hairy Enkidu, and the oak would be a faint reflection of the cedar. Whereas an Estonian variant sounds -- although suffering from atrophy -- more like the story of the huluppu-tree. A damsel plants the acorn -- it is typical that Krohn (p. 187) calls the versions of Russian Karelia "disfigured," where this acorn is called "taivon tähti", ie., sky-star -- the growing tree endangers the sky, trying to "tear the celestial luminaries, or to darken them". The maiden, therefore, asks her brother to cut off the tree. Out of its wood presents are made for the relatives of the bridegroom, and for the virgin herself a chest is fabricated.

Since we do not mean to undertake the expedition into comparative tree-lore here and now, we have to leave it at that. That mythical "trees" are not of terrestrial provenance, and that we cannot cope with the different specific tree individuals under the heading "the world tree" -- not although, but because they are "cosmic" trees -- could have been expected by everybody who has spent time and thought on the tree of the Cross; on Yggdrasil (and Ashvatta); on the "Saltwatertree" of the Cuna Indians; on Zeus's oak, part of which was built into Argo; on the fig tree at the vortex which saved Odysseus; on the laurel which did not yet mark the omphalos of Delphi, when Apollo slew Python ("nondum laurus erat", Ovid) -- it had to be brought from Tempe after Apollo's indenture of eight great years; on Uller's yew-tree (belonging to Sirius) by means of whose juice Hamlet's father was murdered; on -- apart from the mentioned Mesopotamian tree individuals -- the "dark kishkanna-tree" growing in Erida, where no mortal is ever admitted; on the tamarisk at Be'ersheba in Genesis XXI; on the heather tree that "enfolded and embraced the chest with its growth and concealed it within its trunk", the "chest" being the coffin of Osiris (Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, ch. 14-15, 356E-357A); and on the king of the country who "cut off the portion that enfolded the chest, and used it as pillar to support the roof of his house", until Isis carried off this "pillar". Those who prefer to overlook these items (and very many more) might recall the many times that we hear of much sighing and crying over trees cut down, sawed in two, and the like -- after all, our very Tima Jamshid was sawed in two, by Azhi Dahak -- as Tammuz "the lord of the great tree, overcome by the rage of his enemies", and the numerous comparisons of Mesopotamian temples with trees (cf. M. Witze., Texte zum Studium Sumerischer Tempel und Kultzentren [1932], pp. 37f.; Witzel, Tammus-Liturgien und Verwandtes [1935], pp. 108f.).

[Footnote Excerpt: Compare also the "epitheton" of Ugaritic Saal, 'aliyn, and its possible derivation from Hebrew 'allon ('elon), Oak, Therebynth, holy tree, and allanati as name of the fourth month, i.e., the month of Tammuz.]

It would be an imposition to expect the reader to listen to such endless rambling on without telling him the aim that we hope to attain, sooner or later, by digging into these trees and posts : we do want to know which "New Way" it was that has been "opened" by Gilgamesh who was "wood" from the mes-tree, and we wish to find out the chronological sequence of the celestial events as told in the Enuma Elish, the Gilgamesh Epic and the Era Epic. The irrelevancy of the scholarly quest for "poets" (and who cribbed from whom) has been understood, meanwhile : it is the celestial phenomena that move and change, and not the "mythopoetic fantasy" or the "doctrines" of poets and pontiffs.

We have to find out, therefore, who came first as ruler of "the underworld", Nergal or Gilgamesh, or whether these two should really be the same, which we doubt for the time being. Yet, we have already heard (pp. 437f., n. 22) that Nergal's name MES.LAM.TA.E.A. was given to Gilgamesh. As Lambert states (La Légende de Gilgamesh, pp. 39f.):

"After his life on earth Gilgamesh became king of the underworld, a Babylonian Osiris. A formal statement of this is given in a late religious text: 'Meslamtaea is Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is Nergal, who resides in the underworld.' This comes from one of the texts which explain the functions of deities by equating them with other gods or goddesses, a very significant type of exposition."

This "significant type of exposition" is, in fact, the technique of the Old Norse skalds, and we have some perfect kennigar from Mesopotamia, such as "Ninurta is the Marduk of strength". "Nergal is the Marduk of battle", "Nabu is the Marduk of business", "Enzak is the Nabu of Tilmun". Now, the passage quoted by Lambert says: "gilgames nergal (u.gur) asib (dur) ersetim". In the text (quoted above) that addresses Gilgamesh as "supreme king, judge of the Anunnaki ... you stand in the underworld and give the final verdict", it is again ersetu, and according to the Gilgamesh Epic 12.56 it is ersetu that has seized Enkidu. Thus, that line might try to tell us "Gilgamesh is the Nergal of Ersetu", whereas Nergal's own "underworld" is Arallu (Aralu).

Says Albright: "Eridu is employed as a name of the apsu, just as Kutu (Kutha), the city of Nergal, is a common name of Aralu." Thus, it would be the very confidence in the custom of giving many names to the same topos -- and in "synonyms" in general -- which enforces, so to speak, distorted translations. It is a matter of course that the final decision will rest with those who know Sumerian and Akkadian, in the future : spontaneous angry refusals should not be accepted.

Taught by bad experience with the Egyptian dictionary (Aegyptisches Wörterbuch) that renders thirty-seven Egyptian special termini with the one word "Himmel", we suspect the Assyriologists to handle their "underworld" accordingly -- and their "heaven", of course. The authors of the Assyrian Dictionary do try to be as specific as possible, admittedly, so they deliver several particular significations of ersetu (vol. 4, pp. 308-13): "(1) the earth (in cosmic sense); (2) the nether world; (3) land, territory, district, quarter of a city, are; (4) earth (in concrete sense), soil, ground, dry land"; but translations being a function of the expectations of the translator, the categories are bound to look fundamentally different, once several of them are expected to represent sections of the sphere.

But where does the proportion, Gilgamesh belongs to Ersetu, Nergal to Arallu, lead us to? This is not yet to be made out properly; too many riddles lurk behind every word. About the mes-tree, Marduk knew to tell (in the Era Epic) that it "had its roots in the wide sea, in the depth of Arallu, and its top attained High Heaven", asking Era reproachfully "Because of this work which thou, o hero, didst command to be done, where is the mes-tree, flesh of the gods, adornment of kings?" (S. Langdon, Semitic Mythology [1931], p. 140).

Concerning the Mashu mountain (Mash = twin) watched by the Scorpion-men, the Gilgamesh Epic says: "Whose peaks reach to the vault of heaven (and) whose breast reach to the nether world below", this "nether world" being Arallu. We knew all the time, certainly, that we were up to Scorpius (probably with a part of Sagittarius), but the huge constellation offers sufficient space for more than one way of descending. It is for this reason particularly that we hope for a better understanding from the Indian lunar mansions (1) lambda upsilon Scorpii, alias "the root", alias "the tearer out of the root", alias "Yama's two unfasteners", and (2) Antares, "the eldest", alias "who slays the eldest": in the sense of Precession, the sting of the Scorpion antecedes Antares.

If we knew the precise "extension" of the Scorpion-goddess (Ishara tamtim, Egyptian Selket) we should be better off. And this is the reason: Gilgamesh Epic Table 7, col. 4, 10f., dealing with Enkidu's alleged sick-bed hallucinations, makes Enkidu prophesy to that "harlot" -- in the texts of Boghazköi it is she who has the name Siduri -- who had lured him into the city: "[On account of thee(?)] the wife, the mother of seven, shall be forsaken." (Speiser: "[On thy account] shall be forsaken the wife (though) a mother of seven." Ebeling AOTAT, p. 105: "[Um deinetwillen soll] verlassen werden die Mutter der sieben, die Hauptgattin.")

This "mother of seven" should be Ishara tamtim, the Scorpion-goddess whose seven sons are notorious with her -- it is preposterous, anyhow, to associate one or the other righteous housewife in Uruk or elsewhere; but whenever well-bred scholars meet a "harlot" they accept it as their duty to discover moral lectures in the text surrounding her, very touchy they are! The first part of the line, however, is not in existence, and it is, again, their expectation that urges the philologists to supply. "[On account of thee(?)]." Here, for a change, Freud would come in handy, but for the sake of the translators, not for the text. The readable part of the line states nothing else but that "the wife, the mother of seven shall be forsaken".

But since we do not know yet the whole extension of the Lady Ishara tamtim who was going to be forsaken, we still do not know the position of Gilgamesh's "new way" -- to ersetu, as we assume, or by way of ersetu. Ersetu might have replaced Ishara tamtim, because we learn right in the beginning of the Era Epic (Tablet 1.28-29, Gössmann, p. 8) that Anu begets "the Seven gods" (ilSIBIti) on Ersetu, translated "the Earth", as companions for Era.

The one who doubts that "begetting" is done up there might begin to ponder over the Hurrian texts, where MAR.GID.DA, the Big Dipper (alias the Seven Rishis), begets twins on "the Earth". It is evident that we are still far away from the first among the proposed goals, but we prefer to confess to this state of things rather than fall into the bottomless pit of speculation -- the very many inviting pits, respectively.

[Footnote: The Big Dipper does it on the order of Ea. Se H. Otten, Mythen von Gotte Kumarbi. Neue Fragmente (1950), pp. 7f.]