The Preserver of Life

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The Preserver of Life was the ship built in the Epic of Gilgamesh by Utnapishtim and the craftsmen of his village at the request of Enki Ea to hold his wife and relatives, as well as the village craftspeople, the animals to be saved, and various grains and seeds. It was made of solid timber, so that the rays of Shamash (the sun) would not shine in, and of equal dimensions in length and width. The design of the ship was supposedly drawn on the ground by Enki, and the frame of the ark, which was made in five days, was 200 feet in length, width and height, with a floor-space of one acre.[1] The ark interior had seven floors, each floor divided into 9 sections, finishing the ark fully on the seventh day. The entrance to the ship was sealed once everyone had boarded the ship. Contrary to Noah's Ark, however, it was sealed by clay.

The Flood

The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and humans that were not on the ship, similar to that of the Noah's Ark story. After twelve days on the water, Utnapishtim opened the hatch of his ship to look around and saw the slopes of Mount Nisir, where he rested his ship for seven days. On the seventh day, he sent a dove out to see if the water had receded, and the dove could find nothing but water, so it returned. Then he sent out a swallow, and just as before, it returned, having found nothing. Finally, Utnapishtim sent out a raven, and the raven saw that the waters had receded, so it circled around, but did not return. Utnapishtim then set all the animals free, and made a sacrifice to the gods. The gods came, and because he had preserved the seed of man while remaining loyal and trusting of his gods, Utnapishtim and his wife were given immortality, as well as a place among the heavenly gods.


  1. ^ Rosenberg, Donna (1994). World Mythology: An Anthology of the Great Myths and Epics. Lincolnwood, Chicago: National Textbook Company. p. 196-200. ISBN 0-8442-5765-6.