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PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use.

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The Oxford Companion to World Mythology

David Leeming


Apsu (Sumerian Abzu) referred to the extensive underground sweet waters that produced the southern marshlands of Mesopotamia (southern Iraq). The Sumerians saw Abzu as the home of the wise god Enki (Akkadian Ea). Some Sumerians held that Nammu, the goddess who may be said to be a personification of Abzu, created the first humans from the sweet waters. The Babylonians made Apsu into a personal deity who, with the female salt- water primeval being Tiamat, generated the Babylonian pantheon. In this myth cycle, contained in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enuma elish, Ea (Enki) eventually kills Apsu in the struggle between the old, primitive deities and the new order led by Marduk.

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