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‘Outstanding’ Babylonian Noah book shortlisted for award

The book opens up new perspectives on Babylonian and Assyrian literature

A book by a Fellow of St John’s that revealed a 3,000-year-old example of ‘fake news’ was nominated for a scholarly publisher’s award.

Ea’s Duplicity in the Gilgamesh Flood Story by Dr Martin Worthington was one of three titles shortlisted in the Outstanding Monograph – Humanities and Media Arts category in the Taylor & Francis 2019 Book and Digital Product Awards.

Published by Routledge in November, the book opens up new perspectives on Babylonian and Assyrian literature, through the lens of a pivotal passage in the Gilgamesh Flood story that is widely believed to have inspired the Biblical tale of Noah and the Ark. New research by Dr Worthington, who is an Assyriologist, uncovered the duplicitous language of a ‘trickster’ Babylonian god called Ea in a nine-line message etched into ancient clay tablets that tell the flood story. 

Martin Worthington with Above: The Flood Tablet. Top: The Adda Seal featuring the god Ea second from the right. Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum.
Dr Martin Worthington and the Flood Tablet. Top: The Adda Seal featuring the god Ea second from the right. Credit for tablet and seal images: The Trustees of the British Museum.

Dr Worthington, who is Director of Studies in Archaeology at St John’s, said: “Ea tricks humanity by spreading fake news. He tells the Babylonian Noah, known as Uta-napishti, to promise his people that food will rain from the sky if they help him build the ark. What the people don’t realise is that Ea’s nine-line message is a trick: it is a sequence of sounds that can be understood in radically different ways, like English ‘ice cream’ and ‘I scream’."

In a statement about the awards, which are now in their second year, the Taylor & Francis Group said: “Through these awards, Taylor & Francis wants to recognise the well-written, high-quality content that our authors, editors and all team members worked so hard to produce in 2019.” 

The group publishes scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works, partnering with researchers, societies, universities and libraries worldwide. The winner of the 2019 Outstanding Monograph – Humanities and Media Arts category was announced on Thursday (25 June 2020) as A Fragmented Feminism: The Life and Letters of Anandibai Joshee by Meera Kosambi, Ram Ramaswamy, Madhavi Kolhatkar and Aban Mukherji.

The Flood Tablet that bears part of the Gilgamesh Flood story analysed in Ea’s Duplicity in the Gilgamesh Flood Story is in the British Museum.

Martin Worthington Babylon book

Published: 26/06/2020

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