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Enuma Elish (‘When on High’) is the name given to the Babylonian Epic of Creation, which was composed circa 1000 BC.

To orthodox scholars, Enuma Elish is almost totally beyond comprehension. But, as I will now demonstrate, the Epic makes complete logical sense when viewed as an exploded planet myth.

Before I set out the exploded planet interpretation of Enuma Elish, it is worth outlining one particular theory, advocated by the American author Zecharia Sitchin, which has gained some popularity in recent years (it was borrowed without credit, for example, by the writers D.S. Allan and J.B. Delair in their book ‘Cataclysm’, alias ‘When the Earth Nearly Died').

Sitchin’s interpretation of Enuma Elish focuses on the battle between Marduk and Tiamat. In his view, Marduk originates from the abyss of space as an intruder planet, and proceeds to undergo various encounters with the outer planets of our solar system, followed by a climactic and catastrophic encounter with a planet named Tiamat. According to Sitchin’s interpretation, the scarred planet Tiamat was then shifted by the impact of Marduk’s satellites into a new orbit to become the Earth, acquiring in the process a Moon (named Kingu) which was previously the satellite of Tiamat. Marduk, meanwhile, sailed off into space to begin a vast elliptical orbit which would bring it back to the site of the celestial battle every 3,600 years.

As I have pointed out in my book ‘The Phoenix Solution’, Sitchin’s scenario is totally contrary to the laws of celestial dynamics, and cannot possibly represent a scientific record of the history of the solar system. But beyond that, his reading of Enuma Elish is based on a highly subjective interpretation. This will become clear as I now set forth an entirely different interpretation.

The following section summarises my understanding of the Babylonian Epic.

Enuma Elish – the Exploded Planet Interpretation

The opening lines of Enuma Elish refer to a time ‘when Heaven and Earth had not been named’. It is important to understand that this does not mean that Heaven and Earth did not exist. Rather, it means that the Heaven and Earth of the current Universe had not yet been created by the interaction of the Heaven and Earth of the old Universe.

In the lines that follow, the Heaven of the old Universe is named Apsu-Tiamat. The text describes how the waters of Apsu and Tiamat are mingled together (line 4), and how the gods are formed inside their joint body (line 8). These gods are named Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, Kishar, Anu and Ea (they are known collectively as the Anunnaki).

The Epic describes the gods causing a tremendous noise in the heavenly abode and upsetting the belly of Tiamat as they surge back and forth within her (lines 21-28). Apsu then decides to destroy the gods in order to put an end to their noise, but Ea, catching wind of the plan, makes a pre-emptive strike; he puts Apsu to sleep and then slays him, whereupon he establishes his dwelling place upon Apsu (lines 65-77). The meaning of this – we know from other texts – is that Apsu fell from Heaven and became an ocean of the Underworld, i.e. a subterranean sea. Hence the fact that Ea (alias Enki) was the ruler of this subterranean sea (cf the ‘drawing of lots’ passage in the Epic of Atra-Hasis).

The Epic now alludes to a sacred marriage between Ea and Damkina, the latter almost certainly a personification of Mother Earth (their union is thus a sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth, resulting from the fall of the sky). The result of this union is the birth inside Damkina (the Earth) of the young god Marduk, who is described in supernatural terms: ‘flashing the look of his eyes... when his lips moved, fire blazed forth... his members were gigantic, he was surpassing in height’ (lines 78-100).

The Epic now switches its focus to Tiamat and her brood of gods in Heaven. These gods accuse Tiamat of having stood idly by when Apsu was vanquished. The gods of Tiamat plot a war of vengeance, announcing that they will descend from Heaven into the Underworld and prevail over Ea and the Anunnaki. Tiamat agrees with this action and produces from within herself a brood of evil gods and appoints Marduk their chief. The text refers to her, rather aptly, as Mother Hubur, literally ‘Mother of Noise’.

In the Underworld, the Anunnaki-gods hear of the impending attack, and seek a hero who will ascend into Heaven to make a precipitative strike against Tiamat and her demons. The stage is set for Marduk to step forward as the hero of the Epic, demanding that he be made king of the gods if he can vanquish the enemy. The remainder of the Epic is dominated by the war between Marduk and Tiamat and her army, with Tablets II and III building up the suspense towards the dramatic climax.

In Tablet IV, lines 19-32, the Anunnaki put Marduk’s powers to the test by having him destroy a constellation and then bring it back into existence (this act encapsulates the essential physical-metaphysical duality of the exploded planet religion). Marduk passes the test, collects his arms, and ascends into Heaven to do battle. To cut a long story short, he vanquishes Tiamat with an arrow into her interior, and casts her lifeless body down into the Underworld, interring it beneath a mountain. In addition, he rounds up Kingu and the other demons, binds them in fetters, and confines them in the Underworld for eternity.

Marduk then creates the new Universe. First, he splits Tiamat’s fallen body into two parts. With one half of her body, he creates the visible heavens; the other half he secures in the Underworld with a bolt, so that her waters cannot escape. Having done this, Marduk measures the fallen body of Apsu and creates an invisible Heaven, Esharra, in its image. He then organises the constellations (this part of the text is not altogether clear) and appoints the orbit of the Moon. Finally, in Tablet VI, Marduk creates mankind from the blood of Kingu, and sets the Anunnaki free from the Underworld by splitting off their spiritual doubles, the Igigi, whom he raises to Heaven to live in Esharra for ever.

The Epic ends with the celebration of Marduk’s act of creation and the listing of his fifty victorious titles.

Further Comment on Alternative Interpretations

Several points now need to be made to clarify our understanding of the Epic.

Firstly, there is no basis whatsoever for supposing that Apsu was the Sun, as Zecharia Sitchin has suggested. In fact, the text describes how Apsu was vanquished by Ea and cast down from Heaven to Earth. Anyone who is familiar with the ancient Mesopotamian texts should know that Apsu was the name for the subterranean sea.

Secondly, there is no basis whatsoever for supposing that the gods produced by Apsu were planets of the solar system, as Sitchin suggested. Yes, these gods were produced from within Apsu himself (Tablet I, lines 3 and 9; the Epic describes the gods running around in Apsu-Tiamat’s insides). But Apsu was not the Sun, but a celestial body which fell from Heaven into the Underworld, i.e. an exploded planet (hence the cataclysmic imagery in the text). There is no basis, therefore, for supposing that Lahmu and Lahamu were Mars and Venus, or that Anshar and Kishar were Saturn and Jupiter, or that Anu and Ea were Uranus and Neptune, as Sitchin suggests. These are all completely false premises.

Thirdly, Marduk did not appear from the cosmic abyss, as Sitchin suggested, but was born from the interior of the Earth – a mode of birth that is well-attested in the myths of the Greek gods. This is evident from lines 73-84 of the Epic, which describe Marduk’s mother and father as Damkina and Ea (incidentally, the Assyrian version of the Epic suggests that Marduk’s mother and father were Lahmu and Lahamu). But Ea, we are told, resided in a ‘sacred chamber’, otherwise known as ‘the chamber of fates’ (lines 75 and 79). Where was this chamber and dwelling place of Ea? We know from line 71 that it was ‘established upon the Apsu’. Where was the Apsu? It was the Underworld of the Earth, for it had earlier been cast down from Heaven (lines 60-70). In summary, then, Marduk was created in the heart of the holy Apsu (line 82), which was the Underworld of the Earth, and from there he soared up into the heavens to do battle against the planet of Tiamat. (This type of cosmic battle myth is well-attested in the myths of ancient Egypt and Greece.)

Fourthly, there is no basis whatsoever for suggesting (as Sitchin did) that Marduk encountered the other planets of the solar system en route to his battle with Tiamat. These other ‘planets’ (Ea and Anu) were in fact the gods which had emanated from the interior of the exploded planet Apsu.

Fifthly, the battle between Marduk and Tiamat was not a collision between two planetary systems. Yes, Tiamat was envisioned as a physical planet, but Marduk was envisioned as a metaphysical avenger-god who rose up from the Earth to Heaven. The result of the battle was the death of Tiamat, which is to be understood as a second planetary explosion (following the explosion of Apsu recorded earlier in the Epic).

Sixthly, it is incorrect to imagine (as Sitchin did) a break in the battle, pending a future orbital return of Marduk. What the Epic actually says is that ‘Valiant Marduk... turned back to Tiamat’ (Tablet IV, line 128). This could be read in many different ways, but in any event Marduk did not take the form of a physical planet with a conventional orbit.

Seventhly, where ancient texts referred to Marduk as travelling between the locations AN.UR and E.NUN, it must be understood that these were not the perigee and apogee of an orbiting planet . On the contrary, AN.UR was simply the Earth, whilst E.NUN was simply the Deep, i.e. Heaven. By the same token, when Marduk saw ‘all the quarters of the universe’, this meant that his realm spanned the twin planets of Heaven and Earth, for the Sumerian term for ‘Universe’ was simply AN.KI, meaning ‘Heaven and Earth’. (Virtually all of the activities of the gods in Sumerian myths occurred between these two planets, which were at the heart of the exploded planet mythos.)


In summary, Enuma Elish describes two linked planetary explosions and their role in the creation of the Universe. It does not describe a planetary collision. It does not describe Marduk as an intruder planet. And it does not describe a race of ancient astronauts descending from Marduk to Earth (nowhere does any text state that the gods came down to Earth ‘from Marduk’; on the contrary the gods came down to Earth from the destroyed celestial body Apsu-Tiamat).

For further information on Enuma Elish and the exploded planet hypothesis, see my books ‘When the Gods Came Down’ and ‘The Atlantis Secret’, available from the Eridu on-line bookshop.

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'These pages are the copyright of Eridu Books 2004. The images and diagrams are the copyright of Alan Alford or of other photographers, where indicated. Eridu Books welcomes the reproduction and dissemination of these pages, in original, unaltered form, for non-commercial purposes, but permission must be sought for any other usage, other than 'fair dealing' quotations.'

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