The Myth of Anzu

Anzu, the eagle with a lion's head who is the incarnation of chaos, is one of the most frequently occurring Mesopotamian monsters in both written and visual sources. He appears in many epics, written in both Sumerian and Akkadian.

The Myth of Anzu is the most widespread, and is also frequently referred to in other epics, such as Erra and Išum. It is written in Akkadian and belongs to a series of tales usually known by modern scholars as the "Ninurta Cycle", whose main protagonist is the warrior god, son of Ellil.

The first version of the Anzu myth probably dates from the early second millennium BC, but many copies, including the Huzirina manuscripts, date from the Neo-Assyrian period, i.e., the 8th and 7th centuries BC. This late version covers three Tablets and runs to approximately 550 lines.

There are five manuscripts of the Myth of Anzu in Huzirina but no other in the CAMS/GKAB 'libraries'. Some of these are duplicates (e.g., STT 1, 23 and 25 [/cams/gkab/P338340,P338342/]), implying that the myth probably was one of the classics of scribal education. There is unfortunately only one colophon, where neither the name of the scribe nor his rank or status is preserved.

Further reading

Marie-Françoise Besnier

Marie-Françoise Besnier, 'The Myth of Anzu', The Geography of Knowledge, The GKAB Project, 2019 []

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