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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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The Primeval Flood Catastrophe Motif

The Primeval Flood Catastrophe Motif

(p.67) 2 The Primeval Flood Catastrophe Motif
The Primeval Flood Catastrophe

Y.S. Chen

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the emergence of the Flood motif within the broader development of representations of the primeval time of origins in Mesopotamian traditions (primarily Sumerian) from the Early Dynastic III period to the Old Babylonian period. It is argued that when the Flood motif first emerged explicitly in Sumerian literary traditions it manifested itself as an innovative stylistic and temporal device for introducing the primeval time of origins as well as for marking the (re‐)beginning of time. Coming to grips with these initial stages of development of the Flood motif sheds important light on some key conceptual and literary processes through which the Flood motif and its mythological and chronographic representations formed and evolved in Mesopotamian traditions. This chapter also suggests that the emergence of the Flood motif was, at least in part, connected with literary and ideological responses from the early Isin dynasty to the catastrophic demise of the Ur III dynasty.

Keywords:   Flood motif, primeval time of origins, mythological traditions, chronographic traditions, temporal settings, temporal and narrative sequence, stylistic and temporal devices, conventions, innovations, social functions

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