It is highly significant that in its record of Sumer and the early Sumerian civilization, the Bible chose to highlight the space connection incident—the one known as the tale of the “Tower of Babel“:
And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east
that they found a plain in the land of Shin’ar
and they settled there.
And they said to one another:
“Come, let us make bricks and burn them by fire.”
And the brick served them as stone,
and the bitumen served them as mortar.
And they said: “Come, let us build us a city
and a tower whose head shall reach the heavens.”
—Genesis 11: 2–4
This is how the Bible recorded the most audacious attempt— by Marduk!—to assert his supremacy by establishing his own city in the heart of Enlilite domains and, moreover, to build there his own space facility with its own launch tower. The place is named in the Bible Babel, “Babylon” in English.
This biblical tale is remarkable in many ways. It records, first of all, the settlement of the Tigris-Euphrates plain after the Deluge, after the soil had dried up enough to permit resettlement. It correctly names the new land Shin’ar, the Hebrew name for Sumer. It provides the important clue from where—from the mountainous region to the east—the settlers had come. It recognizes that it was there that Man’s first urban civilization began—the building of cities. It correctly notes (and explains) that in that land, where the soil consisted of layers of dried mud and there is no native rock, the people used mud bricks for building and by hardening the bricks in kilns could use them instead of stone. It also refers to the use of bitumen as mortar in construction—an astounding bit of information, since bitumen, a natural petroleum product, seeped up from the ground in southern Mesopotamia but was totally absent in the Land of Israel.
The authors of this chapter in Genesis were thus well informed regarding the origins and key innovations of the Sumerian civilization; they also recognized the significance of the “Tower of Babel” incident. As in the tales of the creation of Adam and of the Deluge, they melded the various Sumerian deities into the plural Elohim or into an all-encompassing and supreme Yahweh, but they left in the tale the fact that it took a group of deities to say, “let us come down” and put an end to this rogue effort. (Genesis 11:7).
Sumerian and later Babylonian records attest to the veracity of the biblical tale and contain many more details, linking the incident to the overall strained relationships between the gods that caused the outbreak of two “Pyramid Wars” after the Deluge. The “Peace on Earth” arrangements, circa 8650 B.C.E., left the erstwhile Edin in Enlilite hands. That conformed to the decisions of Anu, Enlil, and even Enki—but was never acquiesced to by Marduk/Ra. And so it was that when Cities of Men began to be allocated in the former Edin to the gods, Marduk raised the issue, “What about me?”
Although Sumer was the heartland of the Enlilite territories and its cities were Enlilite “cult centers,” there was one exception: in the south of Sumer, at the edge of the marshlands, there was Eridu; it was rebuilt after the Deluge at the exact same site where Ea/Enki’s first settlement on Earth had been. It was Anu’s insistence, when the Earth was divided among the rival Anunnaki clans, that Enki forever retain Eridu as his own. Circa 3460 B.C.E. Marduk decided that he could extend his father’s privilege to also having his own foothold in the Enlilite heartland.
The available texts do not provide the reason why Marduk chose that specific site on the banks of the Euphrates river for his new headquarters, but its location provides a clue: it was situated between the rebuilt Nippur (the pre-Diluvial Mission Control Center) and the rebuilt Sippar (the pre-Diluvial spaceport of the Anunnaki), so what Marduk had in mind could have been a facility that served both functions. A later map of Babylon, drawn on a clay tablet (Fig. 10) represents it as a “Navel of the Earth”—akin to Nippur’s original function-title. The name Marduk gave the place, Bab-Ili in Akkadian, meant “Gateway of the gods”—a place from which the gods could ascend and descend, where the appropriate main facility was to be a “tower whose head shall reach the heavens”—a launch tower!
As in the biblical tale, so it is told in parallel (and earlier) Mesopotamian versions that this attempt to establish a rogue space facility came to naught. Though fragmented, the Mesopotamian texts (first translated by George Smith in 1876) make it clear that
Marduk’s act infuriated Enlil, who “in his anger a command poured out” for a nighttime attack to destroy the tower.
Egyptian records report that a chaotic period that lasted 350 years preceded the start of Pharaonic kingship in Egypt, circa 3l10 B.C.E. It is this time frame that leads us to date the Tower of Babel incident to circa 3460 B.C.E., for the end of that chaotic period marked the return of Marduk/Ra to Egypt, the expulsion of Thoth, and the start of the worship of Ra.
Frustrated this time, Marduk never gave up his attempts to dominate the official space facilities that served as the “Bond Heaven-Earth,” the link between Nibiru and Earth—or to set up his own facility. Since, in the end, Marduk did attain his aims in Babylon, the interesting question is: Why did he fail in 3460 B.C.E.? The equally interesting answer is: It was a matter of timing.
A well-known text recorded a conversation between Marduk and his father, Enki, in which a disheartened Marduk asked his father what he had failed to learn. What he failed to do was to take into account the fact that the time then—the Celestial Time—was the Age of the Bull, the Age of Enlil.
Among the thousands of inscribed tablets unearthed in the ancient Near East, quite a number provided information regarding the month associated with a particular deity. In a complex calendar begun in Nippur in 3760 B.C.E., the first month, Nissanu, was the EZEN (festival time) for Anu and Enlil (in a leap year with a thirteenth lunar month, the honor was split between the two). The list of “honorees” changed as time went by, as did the composition of the membership of the supreme Pantheon of Twelve. The month associations also changed locally, not only in various lands but sometimes to recognize the city god. We know, for example, that the planet we call Venus was initially associated with Ninmah and later on with Inanna/Ishtar.
Though such changes make difficult the identifications of who was linked celestially to what, some zodiacal associations can be clearly inferred from texts or drawings.
- Enki (called at first E.A, “He whose home is water”) was clearly associated with the Water Bearer “Aquarius” (Fig. 11), and initially if not permanently also with the Fishes, “Pisces.”
- The constellation that was named The Twins, “Gemini,” without doubt was so named in honor of the only known divine twins born on Earth—Nannar/Sin’s children Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar.
- The feminine constellation of “Virgo” (the “Maiden” rather than the inaccurate “Virgin”) that, like the planet Venus, was probably named at first in honor of Ninmah, was renamed AB.SIN, “Whose father is Sin,” which could be correct only for Inanna/Ishtar.
- The Archer or Defender, “Sagittarius,” matched the numerous texts and hymns extolling Ninurta as the Divine Archer, his father’s warrior and defender.
- Sippar, the city of Utu/Shamash, no longer the site of a spaceport after the Deluge, was considered in Sumerian times to be the center of Law and Justice, and the god was deemed (even by the later Babylonians) as the Chief Justice of the land; it is certain that the Scales of Justice, “Libra,” represented his constellation.
And then there were the nicknames comparing the prowess, strength, or characteristics of a god with an animal held in awe; Enlil’s, as text after text reiterated, was the Bull.
It was depicted on cylinder seals, on tablets dealing with astronomy, and in art. Some of the most beautiful art objects discovered in the Royal Tombs of Ur were bull heads sculpted in bronze, silver, and gold, adorned with semiprecious stones. Without doubt, the constellation of the Bull—Taurus— honored and symbolized Enlil. Its name, GUD.ANNA, meant “The Bull of Heaven,” and texts dealing with an actual “Bull of Heaven” linked Enlil and his constellation to one of the most unique places on Earth.
It was a place that was called The Landing Place—and it is there that one of the most amazing structures on Earth, including a stone tower that reaches to the heavens, still stands.
Many texts from antiquity, including the Hebrew Bible, describe or refer to the unique forest of tall and great cedar trees in Lebanon. In ancient times it extended for miles, surrounding the unique place—a vast stone platform built by the gods as their first space-related site on Earth, before their centers and real spaceport were established. It was, Sumerian texts attested, the only structure that had survived the Deluge, and could thus serve right after the Deluge as a base of operations for the Anunnaki; from it they revived the ravished lands with crops and domesticated animals. The place, called the “Landing Place” in the Epic of Gilgamesh, was that king’s destination in his search for immortality; we learn from the epic tale that it was there, in the sacred cedar forest, that Enlil kept the GUD.ANNA—the “Bull of Heaven,” the symbol of Enlil’s Age of the Bull.
And what happened then in the sacred forest had a bearing on the course of the affairs of gods and men.
The journey to the Cedar Forest and its Landing Place, we learn from the epic tale, began in Uruk, the city that Anu granted as a present to his great-granddaughter Inanna (a name that meant “Beloved of Anu”). Its king, early in the third millennium B.C.E., was Gilgamesh (Fig. 12). He was no ordinary man, for his mother was the goddess Ninsun, a member of Enlil’s family. That made Gilgamesh not a mere demi-god, but one who was “two-thirds divine.”
As he got older and began to contemplate matters of life and death, it occurred to him that being two-thirds divine ought to make a difference; why should he “peer over the wall” like an ordinary mortal? he asked his mother. She agreed with him, but explained to him that the apparent immortality of the gods was in reality longevity due to the long orbital period of their planet. To attain such longevity he had to join the gods on Nibiru; and to do that, he had to go to the place where the rocket ships ascend and descend.
Though warned of the journey’s hazards, Gilgamesh was determined to go. If I fail, he said, at least I will be remembered as one who had tried. At his mother’s insistence an artificial double, Enkidu (ENKI.DU meant “By Enki Made”), was to be his companion and guardian. Their adventures, told and retold in the Epic’s twelve tablets and its many ancient renderings, can be followed in our book The Stairway to Heaven. There were, in fact, not one but two journeys (Fig. 13):
- one was to the Landing Place in the Cedar Forest
- the other to the spaceport in the Sinai peninsula where—according to Egyptian depictions (Fig. 14)—rocket ships were emplaced in underground silos.
In the first journey circa 2860 B.C.E.—to the Cedar Forest in Lebanon—the duo were assisted by the god Shamash, the godfather of Gilgamesh, and the going was relatively quick and easy. After they reached the forest they witnessed during the night the launching of a rocket ship. This is how Gilgamesh described it:
The vision that I saw was wholly awesome!
The heavens shrieked, the earth boomed.
Though daylight was dawning, darkness came.
Lightning flashed, a flame shot up.
The clouds swelled, it rained death!
Then the glow vanished, the fire went out,
And all that had fallen was turned to ashes.
Awed but undeterred, the next day Gilgamesh and Enkidu discovered the secret entrance that had been used by the Anunnaki, but as soon as they entered it, they were attacked by a robot-like guardian who was armed with death beams and a revolving fire. They managed to destroy the monster, and relaxed by a brook thinking that their way in was clear. But when they ventured deeper into the Cedar Forest, a new challenger appeared: the Bull of Heaven.
Unfortunately, the sixth tablet of the epic is too damaged for the lines describing the creature and the battle with it to be completely legible. The legible portions do make it clear that the two comrades ran for their lives, pursued by the Bull of Heaven all the way back to Uruk; it was there that Enkidu managed to slay it. The text becomes legible where the boastful Gilgamesh, who cut off the bull’s thigh, “called the craftsmen, the armorers, the artisans” of Uruk to admire the bull’s horns. The text suggest that they were artificially made—”each is cast from thirty minas of lapis, the coating on each is two fingers thick.”
Until another tablet with the illegible lines is discovered, we shall not know for sure whether Enlil’s celestial symbol in the cedar forest was a specially selected living bull decorated and embellished with gold and precious stones or a robotic creature, an artificial monster. What we do know for certain is that upon its slaying, “Ishtar, in her abode, set up a wail” all the way to Anu in the heavens. The matter was so serious that Anu, Enlil, Enki, and Shamash formed a divine council to judge the comrades (only Enkidu ended up being punished) and to consider the slaying’s consequences.
The ambitious Inanna/Ishtar had indeed reason to raise a wail: the invincibility of Enlil’s Age had been pierced, and the Age itself was symbolically shortened by the cutting off of the bull’s thigh. We know from Egyptian sources, including pictorial depictions in astronomical papyri (Fig. 15), that the slaying’s symbolism was not lost on Marduk: it was taken to mean that in the heavens, too, the Age of Enlil had been cut short.
Marduk’s attempt to establish an alternative space facility was not taken lightly by the Enlilites; the evidence suggests that Enlil and Ninurta were preoccupied with establishing their own alternative space facility on the other side of the Earth, in the Americas, near the post-Diluvial sources of gold.
This absence, together with the Bull of Heaven incident, ushered in a period of instability and confusion in their Mesopotamian heartland, subjecting it to incursions from neighboring lands. People called Gutians, then the Elamites came from the East; Semitic-speaking peoples came from the West. But while the Easterners worshipped the same Enlilite gods as the Sumerians, the Amurru (“Westerners”) were different. Along the shores of the “Upper Sea” (the Mediterranean), in the lands of the Canaanites, the people were beholden to the Enki’ite gods of Egypt.
Therein lay the seeds—perhaps to this day—of Holy Wars undertaken “In the Name of God,” except that different peoples had different national gods…
It was Inanna who came up with a brilliant idea; it can be described as “if you can’t fight them, invite them in.” One day, as she was roaming the skies in her Sky Chamber—it happened circa 2360
B.C.E.—she landed in a garden next to a sleeping man who had caught her fancy. She liked the sex, she liked the man. He was a Westerner, speaking a Semitic language. As he wrote later in his memoirs, he knew not who his father was, but knew that his mother was an Entu, a god’s priestess, who put him in a reed basket that was carried by the river’s flowing waters to a garden tended by Akki the Irrigator, who raised him as a son.
The possibility that the strong and handsome man could have been a god’s castoff son was enough for Inanna to recommend to the other gods that the next king of the land should be this Amurru. When they agreed, she granted him the epithet-name Sharru-kin, the old cherished title of Sumerian kings. Not stemming from the previous recognized royal Sumerian lineages, he could not ascend the throne in any one of the olden capitals, and a brand-new city was established to serve as his capital. It was called Aggade— “Union City.” Our textbooks call this king Sargon of Akkad and his Semitic language Akkadian. His kingdom, which added northern and northwestern provinces to ancient Sumer, was called Sumer & Akkad.
Sargon lost little time in carrying out the mission for which he was selected—to bring the “rebel lands” under control.
Hymns to Inanna—henceforth known by the Akkadian name Ishtar —had her tell Sargon that he would be remembered “by the destruction of the rebel land, massacring its people, making its rivers run with blood.” Sargon’s military expeditions were recorded and glorified in his own royal annals; his achievements were summarized in the Sargon Chronicle thus:
Sharru-kin, king of Aggade,
Rose to power in the era of Ishtar.
He left neither rival nor opponent.
He spread his terror-inspiring awe in all the lands.
He crossed the sea in the east,
He conquered the country of the west
in its full extent.
The boast implies that the sacred space-related site, the Landing Place deep in the “country of the west,” was captured and held in behalf of Inanna/Ishtar—but not without opposition. Even texts written in glorification of Sargon state that “in his old age all the provinces revolted against him.” Counterannals, recording the events as viewed from Marduk’s side, reveal that Marduk led a punishing counteroffensive:
On account of the sacrilege Sargon committed,
the great god Marduk became enraged . . .
From east to west he alienated the people from Sargon,
and punished him with an affliction of being
Sargon’s territorial reach, it needs to be noted, included only one of the four post-Diluvial space-related sites—only the Landing Place in the Cedar Forest (see Fig. 3). Sargon was briefly succeeded on the throne of Sumer & Akkad by two sons, but his true successor in spirit and deed was a grandson named Naram-Sin. The name meant “Sin’s favorite,” but the annals and inscriptions concerning his reign and military campaigns show that he was in fact Ishtar’s favorite. Texts and depictions record that Ishtar encouraged the king to seek grandeur and greatness by ceaseless conquest and destruction of her enemies, actively assisting him on the battlefields. Depictions of her, which used to show her as an enticing goddess of love, now showed her as a goddess of war, bristling with weapons (Fig. 16).
It was warfare not without a plan—a plan to counter Marduk’s ambitions by capturing all the space-related sites in behalf of Inanna/Ishtar. The lists of cities captured or subdued by Naram-Sin indicate that he not only reached the Mediterranean Sea—assuring control of the Landing Place—but also turned southward to invade Egypt. Such an incursion into the Enki’ite domains was unprecedented, and it could take place, a careful reading of the records reveals, because Inanna/Ishtar had formed an unholy alliance with Nergal, Marduk’s brother who espoused Inanna’s sister. The thrust into Egypt also required entering and crossing the neutral Sacred Region in the Sinai Peninsula, where the spaceport was located—another breach of the olden Peace Treaty. Boastful, Naram-Sin gave himself the title “King of the four regions”…
We can hear the protests of Enki. We can read texts that record Marduk’s warnings. It was all more than even the Enlilite leadership could condone. A long text known as The Curse of Aggade, which tells the story of the Akkadian dynasty, clearly states that its end came about “after the frowning of the forehead of Enlil.” And so the “word of Ekur”—the decision of Enlil from his temple in Nippur—was to put an end to it:
“The word of the Ekur was upon Aggade” to be destroyed and wiped off the face of the Earth.
Naram-Sin’s end came circa 2260 B.C.E.; texts from that time report that troops from the territory in the east, called Gutium, loyal to Ninurta, were the instrument of divine wrath; Aggade was never rebuilt, never resettled; that royal city, indeed, has never been found.
The saga of Gilgamesh at the start of the third millennium B.C.E., and the military forays of the Akkadian kings near the end of that millennium, provide a clear background for that millennium’s events: the targets were the space-related sites—by Gilgamesh to attain the gods’ longevity, by the kings beholden to Ishtar to attain supremacy.
Without doubt, it was Marduk’s “Tower of Babel” attempt that placed the control of the space-related sites at the center of the affairs of gods and men; and as we shall see, that centrality dominated much (if not most) of what took later place.
The Akkadian phase of the War and Peace on Earth was not without celestial or “messianic” aspects.
In his chronicles, Sargon’s titles followed the customary honorific “Overseer of Ishtar, king of Kish, great Ensi of Enlil,” but he also called himself “anointed priest of Anu.” It was the first time that being divinely anointed—which is what “Messiah” literally means—appears in ancient inscriptions. Marduk, in his pronouncements, warned of coming upheavals and cosmic phenomena:
The day shall be turned into darkness,
the flow of river waters shall be disarrayed,
the lands shall be laid to waste,
the people will be made to perish.
Looking back, recalling similar biblical prophecies, it is clear that on the eve of the twenty-first century B.C.E., gods and men expected a coming Apocalyptic Time.