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The Primeval Flood CatastropheOrigins and Early Development in Mesopotamian Traditions$
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Y. S. Chen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199676200

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199676200.001.0001

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Flood Terminology

Flood Terminology

(p.20) (p.21) 1 Flood Terminology
The Primeval Flood Catastrophe

Y.S. Chen

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the orthographic and semantic development of flood terminology in Sumerian and Akkadian. It is shown that the use of a‐ma‐ru and abūbu to convey the specialized meaning ‘the primeval flood catastrophe’ only started in the Old Babylonian period. The chapter further demonstrates that the usage of abūbu and the literary depictions of the primeval flood catastrophe in the Old Babylonian version of the Atra‐hasīs Epic grew out of the prevalent and persistent figurative and mythical usages of flood terminology in earlier Sumerian literary traditions, and in certain respects still retained some of the characteristics of the early traditions. But at the same time, the usage of abūbu in the Atra‐hasīs Epic also shows indications of divergence from the earlier traditions. In examining flood imagery, this chapter also offers an in‐depth and wider study of Mesopotamian figurative language, especially in Sumerian traditions.

Keywords:   flood terminology, orthography, figurative language, metaphor, simile, flood and other meteorological imagery, mythical and literal usages

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