Dr. Christos Karagiannis
The idea of the tree of Life in the Ancient Near East
All ancient Near Eastern cultures have some account of a tree of life and of a man’ s quest to obtain its fruit. First of all the Mesopotamian god Enki plants a tree at the bottom of the sea before the beginning of the formation of the world. This fruitful tree covers the sky and the earth and stands beside the altar of the god as a shield, under which the human beings refresh. In the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, the hero undertakes a ritual journey in order to find the plant that gives life. Characteristic is the story with Gilgamesh and the goddess Siduru-Sabatu. She is seated under a vine in the paradise garden, which is described as of "dazzling beauty". Siduru-Sabatu is addressed as Goddess of Wisdom, Genius of Life, and referred to as "Keeper of the Fruit of Life". Gilgamesh asks her for the gift of the eternal life but she refuses. Beside this on an Akkadian tablet it is written the story of a tree of life in the creation of the universe. In this story the goddess Ishtar gives to Gilgamesh a magical drum and drumstick, made by the tree of life that she planted in her garden. The myth of Etana tells about a hero who manages with the aid of an eagle to fly to heaven and obtain the plant of birth. In the Babylonian traditions god Eridu’ s earthly dwelling is in a tree. Marduk occurs as «a dispenser of the plant of life».
 Ward, A.: Σουμεριακοί Μύθοι, Ερμής 2006, σσ. 137-138.
 Pritchard, B. J.: (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press 1992, pp. 89-90, 93-97.
 Albright W. F.: Goddess of Life and Wisdom, Hebraica 36 (1920), pp. 258-259.
 Pritchard, B. J.: (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 97.
 Pritchard, B. J.: (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pp. 114-118.
 Perrot, N.: "Les Repra sensations de Farbre Sacra sur les monuments de Mesopotamie et d’ Elam", Babyloniaca XVII (1937) p. 11.