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  • Author or Editor: Annette Zgoll x
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In: He Has Opened Nisaba's House of Learning
In: Von Göttern und Menschen


No myth about the origin of writing is known so far for Mesopotamia (only a legend). By applying the new Hylistic methodology for research into mythology, the first known myth of the creation of writing can be reconstructed. The myth we call Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil narrates the creation of writing, which serves to immortalise the divine song at the very moment when the supreme god is creating it orally.

Results of this investigation bear important implications for two phenomena, concerning sacred texts and the origin of writing. (1) From an emic perspective, texts created by the gods turn out to be sacred, even numinous, in their conception. Further analysis of the subscript “Nissaba praise!” or of the subscript ka enim-ma, the latter properly understood as “wording of the divine words,” demonstrates that many Sumerian and Akkadian texts were indeed regarded as sacred texts. Ancient Mesopotamia thus proves to be a culture based on sacred texts. (2) The myth Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil sheds new light on the origins of writing as perceived from the culture of the inventors of writing: the decisive function of the creation of writing was seen not in overcoming economic challenges, but in coping with ritual needs. Re-examining the historical evidence from this perspective opens up new possibilities for a cultural history of the origins of writing.

Open Access
In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
In: The Shape of Stories