Atra-Hasis (2021)

Beach soundscapes and choral works sung from portions of the ancient flood myth poem Atra-Hasis.

Written nearly 4000 years ago, the Babylonian Atra-hasis is an iconic poem with an eternal message for mankind. It tells the story of how a thoughtless mankind weighs heavily upon the earth, such that the gods are forced to act. They first send forth a great sickness, then a great famine. But when neither of these can quiet the noise and chaos of humans, they are forced to send forth a great flood to wash away mankind.

These soundscapes and choral works were developed as part of the ‘Over Lunan’ performance project.

With special thanks to Dr. Martin Worthington, Prof. Nathan Wasserman, Charlotte Steeb M.A. for generous guidance and support in working through the Bablyonian pronunciation and for filling in gaps in the text with their extensive knowledge of the latest scholarship and discoveries.

Musicians & Team

Composition and Sound Design – Andrew Knight-Hill

Choir – Chamber Choir from the University of St Andrews Music Centre
Rebecca Black
Sarah Greer
James McNinch
Nathanael Fagerson
Ross McArthur
Guy Minch
Elizabeth Unsworth Wilson
Jane Pettegree

Choir Director – Claire Innes-Hopkins

Voice – Prof. Nathan Wasserman

Additional Sound Recording – Steve Urquhart

Babylonian Language Consultants – Dr. Martin Worthington, Prof. Nathan Wasserman, Charlotte Steeb M.A.

Atra-Hasīs Text

Adapted from – W. G. Lambert; A. R. Millard (1969) Atra-ḫasīs: The Babylonian Story of the Flood. London: OUP. [with additions in bold]

Tablet I – vii.

English TranslationTransliteration
20.  The inhabited land had expanded, the people multiplied.20.  ma-tum    ir-ta-pi-iš    ni-šu    im-ti-da
21.  The land was bellowing like a bull.21.  ma-tum    ki-ma    li-i    i-ša-ab-bu
22.  The god had been disturbed by their clamour,22.  i-na   ḫu-bu-ri-ši-na   i-lu    it-ta-a’-da-ar
23.  Enlil had heard their din.23.  En-líl    iš-te-me    ri-gi-im-ši-in
24.  He said to the great gods,24.  iz-za-kàr    a-na    i-li    ra-bu-tim
25.  “Grievous has grown the din of mankind.25.  ik-ta-ab-ta    ri-gi-im    a-wi-lu-ti
26.  Through their clamour I lose sleep.26.  i-na    ḫu-bu-ri-ši-na    ú-za-am-ma    ši-it-ta
27.  Give the command… let their be sickness,27.  [qí-ba-a-ma]  X   šu-ru-ub-bu-ú li-ib-ši

Tablet II – ii

English TranslationTransliteration
2.  The inhabited land had expanded, the people multiplied.2.  ma-tum    ir-ta-pi-iš    ni-šu    im-ti-da
3.  The land was bellowing like a bull.3.  [m]a-tum   ki-ma   li-i   i-ša-ab-bu
4.  The god had been disturbed by their clamour,4.  [i-na]   ḫu-bu-ri-ši-na   i-lu   it-ta-a^-da-ar
5.  Enlil had heard their din.5. [En-l]íl    iš-te-me    ri-g[i-i]m-ši-in
6.  He said to the great gods,6. [iz]-za-qàr    a-na    i-li    ra-bu-tim
7.  “Grievous has grown the din of mankind.7.  ik-ta-ab-ta    ri-gi-im    a-wi-lu-ti
8.  Through their clamour I lose sleep.8.  i-na    ḫu-bu-ri-ši-na    ú-za-am-ma    ši-it-ta
9. Cut off sustenance from the people,9. [pu]-ur-sa    a-na    ni-ši    te-i-ta
10. Let the plants be few in ? their…….10. [ana-bu] -bu-ti-ši-na   li-še-ṣu    ša-am-mu 
11. Let Adad withold his rain,11. zu-un-ni-šu    adad    li-ša-aq-qí-il 
12. From below let there not rise12. ša-ap-li-iš    a-ia    il-li-ka
13. The water from the spring!13. mi-lu    i-na    na-aq-bi
14. Let the wind come,14. li-il-li-ik    ša-ru
15. Let it sweep the earth bare!15. ka-aq-qá-ra    li-e-er-ri
16. Let the clouds pile up,16. er-pí-e-tum    li~ih-ta-an-ni-ba
17. Let no drop of rain fall!17. ti-ku a-ia    it-tu-uk
18. Let the field withdraw its yield, 18* li-iš-šu-ur  a.šà    iš-pi-ki-šu    x  x  x  x

Tablet III – iii

English TranslationTransliteration
5. For one day the tempest, 5. u-ma  iš-te-en   me-ḫu-ú
6. And the storm-wind they were joined together. 6. ù   a-ša-as-ša-tu?   iṣṣa-am-du
7. …Zu……… with his claws.7. x  [Zu-ú]  x  i-na   ṣu-up-ri-šu
8. He rent (?) the heavens. 8. x [ú-šar-riṭ] x  ša-ma-i
9. ……………… the land (?) 9. x  x  x  x  ma ? -tam-am
10. Like a pot (?) her cry smashed.10. ki-ma   ka-ar-pa-ti   ri-gi-im-ša  iḫ-pí
11. ……………  came/blew the flood.11. x  x  x  x  x  x     a-bu-bu
12. Like battle over the people came the destroyer.12. ki-ma   qá-ab-li  e-li  ni-ši  i-ba-a’  / ka-šu-šu
13. Not a man saw his fellow,13. ú-ul   i-mu-ur   a-ḫu   a-ḫa-šu
14. They could not be distinguished in the disaster.14. ú-ul   ú-te-ed-du-ú   i-na   ka-ra-ši
15. The flood (?) bellows like a bull15. a-bu-bu   ki-ma  li-i   i-ša-ab-bu
16. Like an Eagle’s scream 16. [ki-ma] e-ri-i na-e-ri
17. cries the wind 17. [i-šaas-sú-nim] ša-ru