Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2017
The Anunnaki Revealed: Finding the Nephilim in Mesopotamian and Near Eastern Mythology
by: Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer
The modern era has witnessed an incredible surge in the popularity of all forms of media concerning the mythology of the ancient Mesopotamians. Fueling this ever-growing trend are the writings of a number of researchers who propose connections between several Sumerian myth cycles and the theory that the human race was engineered or created by a group of extraterrestrial beings. Known as Ancient Astronaut Theory, this field is largely reliant upon the translations of cuneiform tablets supposedly made by Zecharia Sitchin, whose series of Earth Chronicles books form the foundation upon which the modern church of the alien gods has been built. Central to Sitchin’s narrative are a group of mythic beings known as the Anunnaki, whom he claimed crossed their own DNA with that of Homo erectus in order to create mankind—for the purpose of using humans as slaves to mine gold and other minerals. Today these Anunnaki are often portrayed as the equivalent of the Old Testament creator God. But what does the cuneiform corpus actually say about the Anunnaki and other mythic beings? How does the version of these beings and their activities presented in Ancient Astronaut media compare with how they were truly represented in the ancient world?
To begin with, Anunnaki translates to “princely blood” or “seed of Anu”, not “those who came down” or “those who came from heaven to earth”, as many modern sources have claimed. The Anunnaki are “the Sumerian deities of the old primordial time” (1, p.21), a pantheon of gods who were the children of the sky god Anu and his sister, Ki. Significantly, some scholars have come to realize that the Anunnaki should more appropriately be considered demi-gods or semi-divine beings. Apparently, Anu’s sister Ki was not originally considered a deity, and was only ascribed the status of a goddess much later in the history of the myth cycle. As explained by William Klauser:
“Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure. She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An).” (2, p.111)
Essentially, this would mean that the Anunnaki were born of a union between a sky god and a mortal female, who was later deified in mythic traditions. Furthermore, “Ki” is the Sumerian sign for “earth”, and Anu’s consort is sometimes considered the personification of the earth itself. This is similar to Biblical tradition, where mortals were created out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). The concept of a group of half-divine beings born of mortal women is very similar to the Biblical and extra-Biblical tradition of the Nephilim. One of the most heavily referenced ancient texts, which describe the Nephilim is the Extra-Biblical Book of 1 Enoch attributed to the patriarch Enoch, son of Jared and father of Methuselah. 1 Enoch is considered an apocryphal text today, and is rejected by most mainstream theological establishments, but this was not always the case. Many of the early Church Fathers, such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and Tertullian accepted the book as scripture, and fragments of 10 copies of 1 Enoch in Aramaic have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. 1 Enoch is also quoted in the Biblical Book of Jude (3), and it has been estimated that there are as many as several hundred more references throughout the New Testament itself.
The most famous portions of 1 Enoch feature an elaboration on certain events before the deluge recorded in the Bible (specifically Genesis chapter 6, verses 1-4). According to 1 Enoch, a group of 200 fallen angels known as the Watchers lead by an individual named Semyaza descended upon Mount Hermon, where they swore an oath to father lineages with human women. Each of these “took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them”, a union which resulted in the birth of “great giants”. These giants eventually “consumed all the acquisitions of men”, and, “when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind.” (1 Enoch, Ch. 6-7) These activities provoke the action of God, who curses the giants to war against one another “that they may destroy each other in battle”, and sends the archangels to bind the Watcher leadership “in the valleys of the earth”. (1 Enoch 10) As is well known today, the Hebrew texts refer to the powerful beings born to the Watchers as The Nephilim.
Scholars have found profound similarities between the mythologies of the Anunnaki and the Nephilim. In 1971, Edward Pipinski published a scholarly analysis of several ancient texts, including the Old Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which feature important details that reveal the true location of the sanctuary of the Anunnaki in ancient Eastern thought and cosmology (4). Pipinski found that “In fact, the Old Babylonian version of the [Gilgamesh Epic] identifies Hermon and Lebanon with the dwelling of the Anunnaki” (4, p.18). He emphasizes lines 12-21 of the Old Babylonian Gilgamesh, which tell of the destruction of Humbaba, the guardian of the abode of the gods at the hands of Gilgamesh’s companion Enkidu, after which the text states that the two “penetrated into the forest, opened the secret dwelling of the Anunnaki.” (4, p.19) While later mythologies suggest alternate locations for the home of the Anunnaki, Pipinski explains that the oldest Mesopotamian and Near Eastern Canaanite texts point to the Cedar forest of Mount Hermon:
“…traces of the older tradition can be found in the mention of the mountain which was the abode of the gods, and whose accesses were hidden by the Cedar Forest whose guardian was Humbaba. This mountain was, we believe, the Anti-lebanon-Hermon…The southern range of the Anti-Lebanon is therefore likely to be the mountain in whose recesses the Anunnaki dwelled according to the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgames epos. In the Old Babylonian period the Anunnaki were still the gods in general….Mount Hermon should thus be identified with the dwelling of the gods.” (4, pp.23-25)
Pipinski also points out the fact that Mount Hermon was considered the guardian of international treaties in the ancient world, and connects this tradition with the oath sworn by the Watchers in 1 Enoch (4, pp.28-29). Incorporating apocryphal texts such as The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs and 1 Enoch into his study, Pipinski concludes:
“Mount Hermon is the cosmic mountain which joins the earth with the lowest heaven. The same conception lies behind the episode of the sons of God in the Book of Enoch. The celestial beings gather on the summit of Mount Hermon because this is the mountain of the gods, the Canaanite Olympus.” (4, Pp.34-35)
Mount Hermon is located at the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range, straddling the borders of Syria and Lebanon. Hermon’s highest peak reaches 9,232 feet. The area abounds with ancient altars going back millennia, and was still the host of shrines and rituals as recently as the time of Constantine the Great. Of further significance is the fact that Gilgamesh was renowned in the ancient world for obtaining knowledge from the pre-flood (or “antediluvian”) world, as stated by the Ugarit Epic of Gilgamesh (lines 5-9):
“He explored everywhere the seats of power, he knew the totality of wisdom about all things. He who travelled the distant road to Utter-napisti, who crossed the ocean, the wide sea, as far as the sunrise: he brought back tidings from the antediluvian age.”
These passages bring us full circle with Pipinski’s interpretation of the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh epic, where the ancient king journeyed to Mount Hermon—abode of the Anunnaki. The concept of ancient knowledge from the pre-flood world is actually inherent in many Eastern traditions. For example, there is a similar story in the apocryphal Book of Jubilees about Kainam, a son of the Biblical Arphaxad:
“And the son grew, and his father taught him writing, and he went to seek for himself a place where he might seize for himself a city. And he found a writing which former generations had carved on the rock, and he read what was thereon, and he transcribed it and sinned owing to it; for it contained the teaching of the Watchers in accordance with which they used to observe the omens of the sun and moon and stars in al the signs of heaven. And he wrote it down and said nothing regarding it; for he was afraid to speak to Noah about it lest he should be angry with him on account of it.” (Jubilees 8:1-5)
Interestingly, there are several ancient sources, which suggest that Gilgamesh himself was a half god or semi-divine being of gigantic stature. According to the Sumerian Kings List, Gilgamesh was the 5th king of Uruk, who reigned sometime between 2800 and 2600 B.C. While there are traditions considering the father of Gilgamesh to be king Lugalbanda, the Sumerian Kings List states that his true father was a “lillu-spirit, a high priest of Kulaba”, and he is described in the Epic as “two-thirds god”. Gilgamesh is believed to have attained victory over the kings of Kish, centralizing Uruk’s power, and tradition has him expanding the city of Uruk, including its temple precinct and walls. (5) In several fragments of a twelfth century B.C. copy of the Gilgamesh Epic discovered at ancient Ugarit (6), Gilgamesh is described as “Surpassing all (other) kings (!), renowned for bodily stature” (line 16) and again as “Gilgames, renowned for bodily stature, hero born in Uruk, butting wild bull!”(lines 18-19). Lines 34-36 of the Ugarit Gilgamesh offer specific details on Gilgamesh’s size: “Eleven cubits was his height, four cubits the width of his chest. A triple cubit was his foot and a reed-length his legs”. According to these measurements, Gilgamesh would have stood between 16 and 18 feet tall. In connection to Gilgamesh being a giant, the fragmentary Book of Giants from the Dead Sea Scrolls names several Nephilim giants as Ohya, Mahway, Hahya, and Gilgamesh.
Returning to the subject of Mount Hermon, Gilgamesh is not the only ancient giant directly associated with this prominent locale. Several Old Testament books (The Book of Numbers, Deuteronomy, and The Book of Joshua) record the battle of Moses and the Israelites against Og, an Amorite king of Bashan. In Deuteronomy 3:11 (KJV), Og is described as “of the remnant of giants”, and his bed (or sarcophagus) is measured as nine cubits long and four cubits wide, meaning that Og himself may have been 12 or 13 feet in height. In Joshua 4:5 (KJV), it is revealed that Og “reigned in mount Hermon, and in Seclah, and in all Bashan”, a region which would include the slopes of Mount Hermon and the Golan heights.
Still another factor connecting the Anunnaki with the story of the Watchers and their offspring is their status as underworld beings. In Mesopotamian cycles, the Anunnaki are frequently depicted as “fates” or judges of the dead who occupy the subterranean realm or function as “spirits of the earth”. In tablets discovered at Nipur from around 2000 B.C., the Anunnaki are “the seven judges”, underworld entities who accompany Ereshkigal, queen of the subterranean realm. When Ishtar descends and is brought before the assembly, they fasten their “eyes of death” upon her, causing her to perish. (7) The mountain abode of the Canaanite god El is also frequently associated with secret or hidden natural springs and underground rivers. Pipinski associates these connotations with the sources of the Jordan River, one of which is the spring of Banais, originating at the foot of Mount Hermon. He furthermore elaborates that the mountain was considered in ancient times to cover “one of the outlets of the Deep or Ocean from which came the waters of the Flood…an eruption of the subterranean ocean on which the earth was believed to rest.” (4, p.40)
In 1 Enoch, God commands the archangel Michael to “Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women…bind them fast for seventy generations in valleys of the earth…”(1 Enoch 10:11-12), while Raphael is commanded, “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein.”(1 Enoch 10:4) There are also references to the fate of the Watchers in New Testament books, including Second Peter, which states, “…God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness…”(2nd Peter, 2:4, KJV). The word translated as “hell” in this verse is actually the Greek Tartarus, referencing the deepest underworld of Greek mythology, the prison of the Titans. Not only were the Titans giants, but like the Anunnaki, they were the offspring of an earth goddess (Gaia) and a sky deity (Uranus). Some scholars consider it likely that the Greek mythos, were largely based upon the older Eastern Mythologies (7). The same concept is repeated again in the Book of Jude, verse 6, which mentions, “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness”.
It is widely known that the archetypal myth cycles of the Mesopotamian and Near Eastern traditions share a common origin, and that the subjects of these cycles also appear in the Biblical, extra-Biblical, and even Quranic texts. The purpose of this article is to identify the specific mythic concept behind the Anunnaki in the ancient world. Contrary to much of the popular literature and other media of today, the evidence recorded by the academic research of scholars and a comparative study of the actual cuneiform and other ancient texts indicates that the true identity of the Anunnaki is to be found in the Eastern tradition of a group of half-gods, spawned by cross breeding between divine beings and mortal females at Mount Hermon in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. These beings are often associated with knowledge from the world before a great deluge and were later assigned roles in the underworld. This would suggest that rather than making the Anunnaki the equivalent of the “Elohim” who created man in the Book of Genesis; they should more properly be compared to the Nephilim and the fallen angels described in Genesis Chapter 6, 1 Enoch, and other extra-biblical texts.
1. David Leeming, The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, N.Y., 2005.
2. William Klauser, The Esoteric Codex: Deities of the Underworld, lulu.com, 2015.
3. Compare Jude 1: 14-15 (KJV) with 1 Enoch 1:9.
4. Edward Pipinski, “El’s Abobe: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia”, in Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica 2, Leuvan, 1971, pp. 13-69.
5. Maureen Gallery Kovacs “Introduction”, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Stanford University Press, California, 1989.
6. Andrew R. George, “The Gilgames epic at Ugarit”, Aula Orientalis 25, 2007, pp. 237-254.
7. Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1946