Question: Did Eridu have its beginnings when Adam and Eve went to live there or was it already up and running?
Answer: Steve Watson from Bond University says about Eridu,
“We find that mud brick construction and sophisticated pottery styles are present from its inception, and that its first findings are set upon virgin soil. These features indicate that the origins of the Eridu culture lie elsewhere.”
The pottery artefacts go back to about 5000 BC and what Steve says is true, there are some sophisticated patterns on the plates and jars etc.
Genesis chapter 2 tells us that the location was arid.
"No shrub nor grains were growing on the earth. For the LORD God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil" (Gen 2:5). The word "cultivate" immediately points us to the Neolithic time-frame.
The name Eridu seems to relate to the modern word 'arid'. The Latin word "aridus" means dry, arid or parched. If we lose the "s" we have "aridu."
Although the area was originally arid God provided a generous supply of fresh water delivered by four primary rivers to the dry barren landscape. Once fresh water was in reach men soon took up residence there, digging irrigation channels from the rivers and growing crops. God planted a garden there, and placed a man in the garden through whom he would begin a chain of generations leading to the Saviour of the world being born.
Genesis tells us that “there were no people to cultivate the ground,” but as soon as the Lord God brought water to the area people who had lived elsewhere went to live in the area and Eridu (and some other settlements) had their beginnings, we call this the Ubaid period or culture. The supply of water meant the land could be worked and used to produce crops.
Once fresh water started to arrive in copious amounts, word spread and more people were not slow to follow and soon started to settle in the same area of southern Mesopotamia.
The possibility of crops being planted presented itself to enterprising people, and the very first settlement for newly arrived human beings in southern Mesopotamia is called Oueili (Awayli). Around 6000 BC the first settlers started to occupy Oueili, according to the British Museum. The settlement at Oueili was the first community in the Ubaid period in southern Mesopotamia—technically called “Ubaid 0.” The people of Oueili would be ready to work and utilize the groundwater for barley by digging irrigation channels connected to nearby rivers, streams, and freshwater lakes and marshes.
The second Ubaid settlement to spring up is known as Eridu. Professor Fuad Safar, the celebrated Iraqi archaeologist, found the remains of a canal running through Eridu. Genesis chapter 2 relates that the four rivers converged in that area. Eridu, and what would later become the city of Ur, were close to the converging rivers.
So if Eridu is where Adam and Eve went to live after their employment in the garden of Eden had been terminated, (and it looks probable that it was), Eridu would already have been up and running as a viable city.
The local Sumerian people have their own records of what happened in those days. (See "Evidence for the garden of Eden")
The city of Eridu was in the correct time-frame for Adam and Eve to live there, Oueili, that was founded centuries earlier, was northeast of Eridu. Genesis tells us that the Lord God banished Adam from the garden and set cherubim on the east side of the garden to guard the tree of life. So it appears that Adam and Eve travelled to the east and Eridu is in the east of the area.
We know the garden of Eden was near the rivers described in Genesis chapter 2. The ancient cities in southern Mesopotamia, Eridu and Ur were located near the junction of the rivers we read about.
The Sumerian King List describes Eridu as the first city in the southern Mesopotamian area that had a king.
God breathed into Adam in 5148 BC (according to Septuagint numbers; see Patriarchs' Timeline). Eridu was already a small community by the time Adam took his place within it, and as a result of his long years was soon recognized as a leader of men, as were his offspring.