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Weld-Blundell Prism, c. 1800 BCE

Sumerian King List

Weld-Blundell_Prism (1)

The Weld-Blundell Prism is a baked clay “prism” with four equal sides, each about 20cm high and 9cm wide. An unknown scribe recorded the names of the rulers of Akkad and Sumer (today’s central and southern Iraq) in cuneiform. It contains the most complete surviving list of the Sumerian kings from c. 3200-1800 BCE.

The king list begins with a list of kings who ruled “before the flood.” The flood itself is described in the prism-“The Flood swept over [the land]. After the Flood had swept over [the land] and kingship had descended from heaven [for a second time], Kish became the seat of Kingship…”

The genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 closely parallel this list. Additionally, the list parallels the Book of Genesis by ascribing extremely long life-spans to the rulers before the flood and more conventional life-spans to the rulers who lived after it. The prism was discovered in Larsa, Iraq, in 1922, in an expedition led by Herbert Weld Blundell, an English traveler and archaeologist. It currently resides in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (University of Oxford).

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