Weird History 101: Berossus, a Babylonian Priest, Wrote About a “Real Mermaid” Teaching the Sumerians about Civilized Learning

Berossus was a Babylonian priest who wrote a three-volume book about the history of Babylonia. In one of his books, he wrote about a “real mermaid” from the Persian Gulf. According to the priest, this strange amphibian-like creature taught the Sumerians about civilized living. If you want to know more about this amazing amphibian, here is the story of the supposed real mermaid named Oannes.

The First Book of Berossus

The first book written by Berossus recounts the origins of human civilization. Here, the Babylonian priest tells the story of the real mermaid named Oannes. According to his story, this creature was half man and half fish (and also quite frog-like in nature). After emerging from the Red Sea, Oannes taught men, who (at the time) were living like monsters or beasts, about civilized life. Some of the subjects taught by the real mermaid were mathematics, literature, and art. Aside from that, he also taught them about construction, agriculture, legal institutions, and the practice of geometry.

Afterwards, Berossus narrates the way world order was created. According to him, the world was inhabited by monstrous beings with characteristics of animals and men. The world was ruled by a woman known as “Sea.” In this chaotic world, the god Bel presented order after overcoming Sea. When Bel defeated Sea, he cleaved her body into two, forming the earth and heaven. Then, he made the first men, creating them from the blood of the gods and earth.


Who is Oannes?

As presented, Oannes was introduced in the first book of Berossus. According to the story of the real mermaid written by Berossus, Oannes was half man and half fish. However, he doesn’t look like a merman. To be specific, some artworks and carvings show that he had a human body with feet and legs surrounded by a tail.

Many scholars believed that Oannes was a Babylonian god who appeared out of the Red Sea to share his knowledge and wisdom with the Sumerians. During the day, he would teach mean about arts, sciences, and written language. Then, he would head back to the sea at night.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, only fragments of Berossus’ writings survived. As such, the tales of Oannes had been passed down through the summaries made by Greek historians. For this reason, many people are wondering if the story of the real mermaid was actually real. Because, clearly, the truth points to it being just another piece of mythology. Nevertheless, Berossus’s book recounts the idea of a merman helping humans. Thus, we can assume that its connection to the other mermaid tales is not a coincidence.

Maria Dolores Garcia

Maria is a contributor who is passionate about health, fitness, and beauty. During her free time, she tries to discover the beauty hidden in the chaos of today's fast-paced way of life. With a background in health and medicine, she hopes to inspire you to start living a fun, active, and healthy lifestyle through her writing.

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