Being of Armenic or Armenid extraction, the Sumerians created one of the very first centers of civilization in the lower regions of Mesopotamia. Many scholars accept that Sumerians initially inhabited the Armenian Highlands before gradually descending first to Northern Mesopotamia and then further south.
During their migration, Sumerians established cities of Ur (excavated by Sir Leonard Wooley in 1920s), Uruk, and Eridu (note the sacred variations of prefixes in the names — AR-UR-ER-OR).
A number of Sumerian inscriptions dating between 2750 and 2500 BC have been preserved, now giving us a fascinating glimpse into the Sumerian history, culture, and mythology. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Sumerians tell about the land of Arattans, their ancestors living in the Armenian Highlands. The majority of scholars agree that Aratta, which existed in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, was the first Indo-European state. This is evidenced by various archaeological excavations.
The historical record of the Armenian Highlands precedes the name “Urartu” by almost a millennium. Additionally, the 2260 BC Sumerian inscription of Naram Suen mentions the region’s people as Armani, which is a more or less recognizable form of “Armenians”. It is also reported to be the first reference to the region as “Armenia”.
Sumerians called Ararat “Aratta”. In their epic poems of Gilgamesh and Aratta, they mentioned the Armenian Highlands as the land of their ancestors, Arattans. They also described the Great Flood and rebirth of life after the horrifying deluge, which had fallen from the Armenian Highlands unto Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent.
The eleventh tablet of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh mentions Utnapishtim /Utnapashtum (the second variant could be translated as “The Worship of Eight” from Armenian: Armenian: ութ, eight; պաշտում, worship) “the Faraway”, the wise king of the Shuruppak Sumerian city state, who survived a flood cast by Enlil to drown every living thing on Eartհ.
Utnapishtim /Utnapashtum was secretly warned of Enlil’s plan by the god Haya (՞God of Wisdom” and the “God of Cosmic Waters”, from whom the endonym of Armenian people was derived). Utnapishtim /Utnapashtum then constructed a boat or ark to save himself, his family, and representatives of each animal species. When the flood waters subsided, the boat came to rest on a mountain.
After 7 days of tranquility, Utnapishtim /Utnapashtum released a dove, which found no resting place and flew back to the ark. He then released a swallow, which found no perch and returned as well. But the raven released afterwards did not come back.
Utnapishtim /Utnapashtum then poured out a libation to Haya on the top of the mountain. He and his wife were subsequently granted immortality. Then, he was taken by gods to live forever at “the mouth of the rivers” and to receive the epithet “faraway”.