Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

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by Charles N. Pope
Copyright ©1999-2004 by Charles Pope
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Chart 13:
Repetition in the Sumerian King-List

Kish A
Kish 1
Shem   Elulu Etana (Shem)   Shemer-khet
Ham Utu Mesanne-padda Enmebar-
Cush Enmerkar II Urnungal
  Enmenunna Zukakip
Mennumma Aha-Men
Mizraim Meskiag-gasher
Meskiag-nunna Meszamug   Djoser
Seba     Tizkar?   Snofru
Lugalannemundo Balulu Bilih Dadasig? Narmer
Sabtah Melamanna   Melam-Kish
Raamah     Arurim? Mamagal? Rahotep
Sab-tecah       Ibbi-Ea Menkaure
        Tuge? Shepses-kaf
Sheba Meshede   Mashda   Imhotep
Dedan Lugal-banda II
  Kalibum Kalbum

An on-line version of the Sumerian King-List is available at:

Note 1

In the Sumerian king-list, the Kish dynasty (A) is "followed" by the dynasties of Eanna, Ur and then Kish (1). However, Sumerian scholars now realize that these dynasties were not sequential but at least partly contemporary. (Ref: S.N. Kramer, The Sumerians, p 46.) It is proposed here that these dynasties were fully contemporary and also highly redundant. That is, the same kings were called by different names in different regions. For example, Meshede of the Eanna dynasty is the same as Mashda of the Kish "A" Dynasty. Kalibum of the Kish "A" Dynasty is the same as Kalbum of the Kish "1" Dynasty. 

There is an even more subtle form of repetition in the Sumerian king-list. This repetition occurs within each individual dynasty. Individual kings also had multiple names, titles and epithets even within a single city-state (geographic region). This was not only due to their god-like status, but also derived from the "confusion of tongues" in that time period. In Egypt, each pharaoh maintained his birth name (nomen), a throne name (praenomen), and up to three additional official names, often with appended epithets. It was the Biblical Ham that seized the initiative after the Flood. However, his two sons Mizraim and Cush became bitter rivals. In Mesopotamian history, the struggle between Mizraim and Cush is preserved in the Legend of Gilgamesh and Agga. The "world" was ultimately "united" under a son of Cush/Agga named Enmerkar, who the Bible calls Nimrod. 

In order to preserve as many royal and popular names as possible, repetition is used extensively. [A similar "recursive" technique was used in one of the most important Biblical "genealogies," that of Benjamin. See Chart 11.] For example, Gilgamesh was the first important king of Eanna (Uruk/Erech) after the Flood. He is named not once but three times in the Eanna king-list. The next important king of this city was Enmerkar, who is identified in Chapter 4 of this book as the true son of Cush (Agga). Enmerkar is every bit as renowned as Gilgamesh in Mesopotamian history. He is also given three names in the Eanna king-list. The father of Mizraim and Cush is named only once as Utu (Ham). 

In the Kish "A" dynasty, Cush and Nimrod are again listed multiple times. However, in one instance Nimrod (Bilih) is named as the son of Shem (Etana) rather than of Cush (Zukakip/"Scorpion"). In Chatper 4, it was also shown that although Nimrod was the natural son of Cush, he was the legal heir of Shem. In the Kish "A" dynasty some of the repetition may be discerned by observing the cycles of reign lengths. For example, the first king Gaur (Biblical Gomer son of Japheth son of Noah) reigns 1200 years. The reign lengths steadily decrease until the list reaches Etana (Biblical Shem son of Noah). Etana is said to have ruled for 1560 years! Although Etana is the 13th king of this so-called "dynasty," we know from Mesopotamian records that he ruled immediately "after the Flood [of Noah] swept over the lands." After Etana, reign lengths decrease again until the list reaches Barsalnunna (Biblical Ham son of Noah?), who also is attributed a 1200-year reign.

There is similar redundancy within the first four "dynasties" of Egypt. As in the Sumerian king-list, Nimrod is named both as a son of Cush and of Shem. In the 1st Dynasty king-list of Egypt, Nimrod is called Qa'a, "(his) arm (is) raised (to smite)". He follows Shem who is called Semerkhet, "thoughtful friend." In the 3rd Dynasty king-list, Nimrod is called Huni ("smiter"), and follows Djoser (Mizraim) as he often does in the Sumerian king-list. The tombs of the early pharaohs of Egypt at Abydos were unmarked and extensively rifled. It is not possible to say with certainty what tombs belonged to which pharaohs. Nevertheless, based on the few artifacts found in these tombs the general succession of pharaohs within the first four dynasties is considered established by Egyptologists and is said to fill up about 700 years of time. It is proposed here that the founding of the Old Kingdom was accomplished within about six generations and the so-called 4th Dynasty began less than 100 years after the Great Flood (See Chart 15).

Egyptian name definitions are from Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs.
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