The Sumerians are one of the earliest cultures known to history and also one of the first sources of writing discovered to date. Their texts survive on clay tablets written with cuneiform script. Thousands of these have been found, with contents ranging from accounting records and inventories to epic poems, myths, and sacred texts.1
Much of their meaning can seem obscure. Scholars consider Sumerian to be a “language isolate” unrelated to any language that survives today. There are various minority theories proposing links to other surviving language families such as Kartvelian, Uralic, Basque, Sino-Tibetan or Dravidian, but none of these theories has been firmly established or gained widespread acceptance because the available evidence is so limited.2 The unknown origins and obscure nature of this language make translation painstaking and highly interpretive. This unfortunately adds extra difficulty to the challenge of understanding spiritual texts and stories that are in many cases already symbolic and mysterious.34
Nonetheless, reading the translated fragments available reveals flashes of an ancient wisdom that stems from the Religion of the Sun. One researcher even makes a plausible case that a Sumerian tablet shows images of a site similar in appearance to Gobekli Tepe, suggesting how very ancient the knowledge of the Sumerians may have been.5
Another striking element of Sumerian legend that suggests great antiquity is how closely it parallels nearby accounts from Egypt and India, as discussed below. Could it be a coincidence that the three of the most significant ancient cultures that we know of (all emerging in relatively close proximity to each other) all speak of a time of divine kings, a great flood, and wisdom-bringers helping to renew civilization?
Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
[…] Sumerian legend speaks of an ancient antediluvian past where divine kings ruled for long lengths of time, similar to the “first time” of Egyptian myth.6 Sumerian writings also describe a prehistoric flood7—paralleling accounts found in Egypt8 and India9—in which a wisdom-bringer named Ziusudra is guided to survive the flood in a boat and begin civilization anew. He does this in some accounts by burying the secrets of knowledge in Sippar, an ancient “city of the sun” associated with the sun god Utu.10 Sumerian accounts also speak of seven divine sages (known as the “Apkallu”)11 guiding humanity, just as Hindu scripture describes legends of seven sages.12
[…] Like many other places where the Religion of the Sun was practiced, Mesopotamian monumental architecture demonstrated a reverence for the sun and advanced knowledge of geometry and astronomy, such as in Gobekli Teppe13 and Harran in Turkey and the ancient Sumerian city of Ur,14 whose Great Ziggurat aligns with the summer solstice sunrise.15
Although not as well known as the great sites in Egypt, Sumerians also constructed monumental architecture on a massive scale. Many of their great cities included a stepped temple known as a ziggurat, which the Greek historian Herodotus stated functioned as a shrine.16
Relatively little information is available about any possible alignments these massive mud-brick structures have (especially as many have not survived well), but evidence indicates that alignments do exist, such as at the Great Ziggurat of Ur, which aligns precisely with the summer solstice sunrise.
For an example of the variation that can exist in translating even a single line among specialized scholars, see Bendt Alster, “Like a Clod thrown into water: On the translation of a Sumerian Proverbial phrase,” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 86 (1996): 17-20. Another researcher, Dr. K. Loganathan, has suggested that the Sumerian language is related to ancient Tamil, a Dravidian language spoken in parts of India and Sri Lanka that is distinct from Indo-European languages such as Sanskrit. See this post highlighting Dr. Loganathan’s work.
This idea was put forth by researcher Madeleine Daines and cited in Graham Hancock, “Gobekli Tepe image on Sumerian tablet?” The Official Graham Hancock website, accessed August 30, 2017, https://grahamhancock.com/gobekli-tepe-image-on-sumerian-tablet/.
The Sumerian King List (translation found here) describes eight antediluvian kings who ruled for almost 400,000 years in five sacred cities before “the flood swept over.” Chronologies of ancient Egypt also refer to a prehistorical “first time” when various divine and semi-divine kings ruled for long lengths of time. Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods (Three Rivers Press, 1995), 367-374.
Several Sumerian tablets speak of the great flood with an example here. Note that the example describes Ziusudra sacrificing animals after surviving the flood, which is a practice that is in direct opposition to the Religion of the Sun. As is the case with many ancient accounts, the clay tablet that is the source for this story is describing events that most likely happened thousands of years prior to the writing, leaving significant opportunity for interpolation and modification. The description of animal sacrifice appears to be an example of a much later and devolved cultural practice inserted into a text describing events that were already very ancient even in Sumerian times.
The destruction of the antediluvian Egyptian sacred land is described in the Edfu Temple descriptions and elaborated in Graham Hancock, Magicians of the gods: the forgotten wisdom of Earths lost civilization (London: Coronet, 2016), 170-171.
Hindu texts describe a wisdom-bringer named Manu, who is saved from a great flood along with the Saptarishi (seven sages) to refound civilization. The story appears in section 185 of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata and other scriptures.
Gerald P. Verbrugghe and John M. Wickersham, Berossos and Manetho, introduced and translated: native traditions in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2003), 49. Cited in Hancock, Magicians, 163.