The Babylonian Flood Story tablet was not excavated; it was found by a shepherd of Kibbutz Megiddo after the Oriental Institute excavators had closed shop. In a dump of excavated soil, the shepherd found a broken tablet, inscribed in cuneiform, bearing (on both sides) 37 lines of writing that included a portion of the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. The full version of this epic, which deals with the unsuccessful quest of the hero for immortality, includes an episode strikingly similar to the flood story in the Bible. We can date this copy to the Late Bronze Age by means of paleography, that is, the similarity to the sign forms of the Amarna tablets. It probably comes from a scribal school at Megiddo.

Adapted from Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin, “A New Expedition Will Explore the Jewel in the Crown of Canaan/Israel,” BAR 20-01, Jan-Feb 1994.

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