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alt.mythology Sumerian Mythology FAQ, ver. 2.0


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Archive-name: mythology/sumer-faq
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Last-modified: 2000/7/27
Version: 2.0
URL: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~cbsiren/sumer-faq.html

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Sumerian Mythology FAQ (Version 2.0)
by Christopher Siren, 1992,1994-2000
cbsiren@cisunix.unh.edu
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~cbsiren

This FAQ is posted after major updates to alt.mythology.
The latest edition of this FAQ is maintained at the URL listed above.
The latest text only version of this FAQ is availible via anonymous ftp at:

rtfm.mit.edu at /pub/usenet/news.answers/mythology/sumer-faq
                                                                    
last changes: July 27, 2000: complete revision including incorporating 
    Kramer's _Sumerian Mythology_ and Black & Green's _God's Demons and
    Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia_.  Added more complete citations of
    sources. 
  July 19, 1999: modified first sentance to include hints of
    civilization prior to and outside of Sumer 
  September 20, 1998: fleshed out the Gilgamesh entry 
  July 3, 1998: added a couple of Lilith references to Renee Rosen's and Alan
    Humm's sites. 
  August 13, 1997: added much more historical introductory
    material.
  March 20, 1996: cleaned up some misleading references to Kur.
  March 1, 1996: added the reference to Adapa's
    dictionary.
  Nov 2, 1995: added some short notes about the primary deities,
    Ninhursag, and the Dilmun/Eden parallel to clarify some issues.
  Oct 14, 1995: added brief reviews of the sources and related texts.

Adapa (Dan Sullivan) has constructed a more complete Sumerian-English
dictionary at: 

  http://home.earthlink.net/~duranki/index1.html#dict 

John Halloran has a Sumerian Language Page at: 

  http://www.sumerian.org/sumerian.htm

I have constructed a rudimentary Sumerian-English, English-Sumerian
glossary using Kramer's _The Sumerians_ and Jacobsen's _Treasures
of Darkness_.  Interested parties may locate it at:
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~cbsiren/sumer-dict or send me email for a
copy.

note: This FAQ is partly based on an anthropology paper which I wrote in 
1992, using some of the sources detailed below.

Contents: 

  I. History and Overview
  II. What do we know about Sumerian Cosmology?
  III. What Deities did they worship?
    A. The Four Primary Dieties
    B. The Seven who decreed fate
    C. The Annuna and others
    D. The Demigods, mortal Heroes and Monsters  
  IV. What about the Underworld?
  V. What are "me" anyway?
  VI. I've heard that there are a lot of Biblical parallels in Sumerian 
    literature.  What are they?
  VII. Source material
  VIII. Other books of interest.


I. History and Overview - 

     Sumer may very well be the first civilization in the world (although
long term settlements at Jericho and C,atal Hu:yu:k predate Sumer and
examples of writing from Egypt and the Harappa, Indus valley sites _may_
predate those from Sumer).  From its beginnings as a collection of farming
villages around 5000 BCE, through its conquest by Sargon of Agade around
2370 BCE and its final collapse under the Amorites around 2000 BCE, the
Sumerians developed a religion and a society which influenced both their
neighbors and their conquerors.  Sumerian cuneiform, the earliest written
language, was borrowed by the Babylonians, who also took many of their
religious beliefs.  In fact, traces and parallels of Sumerian myth can be
found in Genesis.
 
  History

     Sumer was a collection of city states around the Lower Tigris and
Euphrates rivers in what is now southern Iraq.  Each of these cities had
individual rulers, although as early as the mid-fourth millennium BCE the
leader of the dominant city could have been considered the king of the
region.  The history of Sumer tends to be divided into five periods.  They
are the Uruk period, which saw the dominance of the city of that same
name, the Jemdat Nasr period, the Early Dynastic periods, the Agade
period, and the Ur III period - the entire span lasting from 3800 BCE to
around 2000 BCE.  In addition, there is evidence of the Sumerians in the
area both prior to the Uruk period and after the Ur III Dynastic period, 
but relatively little is known about the former age and the latter time
period is most heavily dominated by the Babylonians.  
     The Uruk period, stretched from 3800 BCE to 3200 BCE.  It is to this
era that the Sumerian King Lists ascribe the reigns of Dumuzi the
shepherd, and the other antediluvian kings.  After his reign Dumuzi was
worshipped as the god of the spring grains.  This time saw an enormous
growth in urbanization such that Uruk probably had a population around
45,000 at the period's end.  It was easily the largest city in the area,
although the older cities of Eridu to the south and Kish to the north may
have rivaled it.  Irrigation improvements as well as a supply of raw
materials for craftsmen provided an impetus for this growth.  In fact, the
city of An and Inanna also seems to have been at the heart of a trade network
which stretched from what is now southern Turkey to what is now eastern
Iran.  In addition people were drawn to the city by the great temples 
there.
     The Eanna of Uruk, a collection of temples dedicated to Inanna, was
constructed at this time and bore many mosaics and frescoes.  These 
buildings served civic as well as religious purposes, which was fitting as
the en, or high priest, served as both the spiritual and temporal  
leader.  The temples were places where craftsmen would practice their
trades and where surplus food would be stored and distributed.  
     The Jemdat Nasr period lasted from 3200 BCE to 2900 BCE.  It was not
particularly remarkable and most adequately described as an extension and
slowing down of the Uruk period.  This is the period during which the
great flood is supposed to have taken place.  The Sumerians' account of
the flood may have been based on a flooding of the Tigris, Euphrates, or
both rivers onto their already marshy country.
     The Early Dynastic period ran from 2900 BCE to 2370 BCE and it is this
period for which we begin to have more reliable written accounts although
some of the great kings of this era later evolved mythic tales about them
and were deified.  Kingship moved about 100 miles upriver and about 50
miles south of modern Bahgdad to the city of Kish.  One of the earlier
kings in Kish was Etana who "stabilized all the lands" securing the First
Dynasty of Kish and establishing rule over Sumer and some of its 
neighbors.  Etana was later believed by the Babylonians to have rode to
heaven on the back of a giant Eagle so that he could receive the "plant of
birth" from Ishtar (their version of Inanna) and thereby produce an heir.
     Meanwhile, in the south, the Dynasty of Erech was founded by
Meskiaggasher, who, along with his successors, was termed the "son of
Utu", the sun-god.  Following three other kings, including another Dumuzi,
the famous Gilgamesh took the throne of Erech around 2600 BCE and became in
volved in a power struggle for the region with the Kish Dynasts and with
Mesannepadda, the founder of the Dynasty of Ur.  While Gilgamesh became a
demi-god, remembered in epic tales, it was Mesannepadda who was eventually
victorious in this three-way power struggle, taking the by then 
traditional title of "King of Kish".
     Although the dynasties of Kish and Erech fell by the wayside, Ur
could not retain a strong hold over all of Sumer.  The entire region was
weakened by the struggle and individual city-states continued more or less
independent rule.  The rulers of Lagash declared themselves "Kings of
Kish" around 2450 BCE, but failed to seriously control the region, facing
several military challenges by the nearby Umma.  Lugalzagesi, _ensi_ or
priest-king of Umma from around 2360-2335 BCE, razed Lagash, and conquered
Sumer, declaring himself "king of Erech and the Land".  Unfortunately for
him, all of this strife made Sumer ripe for conquest by an outsider and
Sargon of Agade seized that opportunity.
     Sargon united both Sumer and the northern region of Akkad - from
which Babylon would arise about four hundred years later - not very far
from Kish.  Evidence is sketchy, but he may have extended his realm from
the Medeterranian Sea to the Indus River.  This unity would survive its
founder by less than 40 years.  He built the city of Agade and established
an enormous court there and he had a new temple erected in Nippur.  Trade
from across his new empire and beyond swelled the city, making it the
center of world culture for a brief time.  
     After Sargon's death, however, the empire was fraught with rebellion.
Naram-Sin, Sargon's grandson and third successor, quelled the rebellions
through a series of military successes, extending his realm.  He declared
himself 'King of the Four corners of the World' and had himself deified.
His divine powers must have failed him as the Guti, a mountain people,
razed Agade and deposed Naram-Sin, ending that dynasty.
     After a few decades, the Guti presence became intolerable for the
Sumerian leaders.  Utuhegal of Uruk/Erech rallied a coalition army and
ousted them.  One of his lieutenants, Ur-Nammu, usurped his rule and
established the third Ur dynasty around 2112 BCE.  He consolidated his
control by defeating a rival dynast in Lagash and soon gained control of
all of the Sumerian city-states.  He established the earliest known
recorded law-codes and had constructed the great ziggurat of Ur, a kind of
step-pyramid which stood over 60' tall and more than 200' wide.  For the
next century the Sumerians were extremely prosperous, but their society
collapsed around 2000 BCE under the invading Amorites.  A couple of
city-states maintained their independence for a short while, but soon they
and the rest of the Sumerians were absorbed into the rising empire of the
Babylonians.  (Crawford pp. 1-28; Kramer 1963 pp. 40-72)

  Culture

     Seated along the Euphrates River, Sumer had a thriving agriculture
and trade industry.  Herds of sheep and goats and farms of grains and
vegetables were held both by the temples and private citizens.  Ships
plied up and down the river and throughout the Persian gulf, carrying
pottery and various processed goods and bringing back fruits and various
raw materials from across the region, including cedars from the Levant.
     Sumer was one of the first literate civilizations leaving many
records of business transactions, and lessons from schools.  They had
strong armies, which with their chariots and phalanxes held sway over
their less civilized neighbors (Kramer 1963, p. 74).  Perhaps the most 
lasting cultural remnants of the Sumerians though, can be found in their
religion.

  Religion

    The religion of the ancient Sumerians has left its mark on the
entire middle east.  Not only are its temples and ziggurats scattered 
about the region, but the literature, cosmogony and rituals influenced 
their neighbors to such an extent that we can see echoes of Sumer in 
the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition today.  From these ancient 
temples, and to a greater extent, through cuneiform writings of 
hymns, myths, lamentations, and incantations, archaeologists and 
mythographers afford the modern reader a glimpse into the religious 
world of the Sumerians.
    Each city housed a temple that was the seat of a major god in the
Sumerian pantheon, as the gods controlled the powerful forces which often
dictated a human's fate.  The city leaders had a duty to please the
town's patron deity, not only for the good will of that god or goddess,
but also for the good will of the other deities in the council of
gods.  The priesthood initially held this role, and even after secular
kings ascended to power, the clergy still held great authority through
the interpretation of omens and dreams.  Many of the secular kings claimed
divine right; Sargon of Agade, for example claimed to have been chosen by
Ishtar/Inanna. (Crawford 1991: 21-24)
    The rectangular central shrine of the temple, known as a 'cella,' had
a brick altar or offering table in front of a statue of the temple's
deity.  The cella was lined on its long ends by many rooms for priests
and priestesses.  These mud-brick buildings were decorated with cone
geometrical mosaics, and the occasional fresco with human and animal
figures.  These temple complexes eventually evolved into towering
ziggurats. (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983: 119)
    The temple was staffed by priests, priestesses, musicians, singers,
castrates and hierodules.  Various public rituals, food sacrifices, and
libations took place there on a daily basis.  There were monthly feasts
and annual, New Year celebrations.  During the later, the king would be
married to Inanna as the resurrected fertility god Dumuzi, whose exploits
are dealt with below.
    When it came to more private matters, a Sumerian remained 
devout.  Although the gods preferred justice and mercy, they had also
created evil and misfortune.  A Sumerian had little that he could do
about it. Judging from Lamentation records, the best one could do in
times of duress would be to "plead, lament and wail, tearfully confessing
his sins and failings."  Their family god or city god might intervene on
their behalf, but that would not necessarily happen.  After all, man was
created as a broken, labor saving, tool for the use of the gods and at
the end of everyone's life, lay the underworld, a generally dreary
place. (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983: pp.123-124)

II. What do we know about Sumerian Cosmology?

    From verses scattered throughout hymns and myths, one can compile a
picture of the universe's (anki) creation according to the Sumerians.  The
primeval sea (abzu) existed before anything else and within that, the
heaven (an) and the earth (ki) were formed.  The boundary between heaven
and earth was a solid (perhaps tin) vault, and the earth was a flat
disk.  Within the vault lay the gas-like 'lil', or atmosphere, the
brighter portions therein formed the stars, planets, sun, and
moon.  (Kramer, The Sumerians 1963: pp. 112-113)  Each of the four major
Sumerian deities is associated with one of these regions.  An, god of
heaven, may have been the main god of the pantheon prior to 2500 BC.,
although his importance gradually waned.  (Kramer 1963 p. 118)  Ki is
likely to be the original name of the earth goddess, whose name more
often appears as Ninhursag (queen of the mountains), Ninmah (the exalted
lady), or Nintu (the lady who gave birth).  It seems likely that these two
were the progenitors of most of the gods.
     According to "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld", in the first days  
all needed things were created.  Heaven and earth were separated.  An took
Heaven, Enlil took the earth, Ereshkigal was carried off to the 
netherworld as a prize, and Enki sailed off after her.

III. What Deities did they worship?

Nammu
    Nammu is the Goddess of the watery abyss, the primeval sea.  She may
  be the earliest of deities within Sumerian cosmology as she gave birth to 
  heaven and earth.  (Kramer 1961 p. 39)  She is elsewhere described both 
  as the mother of all the gods and as the wife of An">An.  (Kramer 1961 
  p. 114)  She is Enki">Enki's mother. She prompts him to create servants 
  for the gods and is then directed by him on how, with the help of 
  Nimmah/Ninhursag to create man. (Kramer 1963 p. 150; Kramer 1961 p. 70)

  A. The Primary Deities - It is notable that the Sumerians themselves 
   may not have grouped these four as a set and that the grouping has been 
   made because of the observations of Sumerologists.  

An
    An, god of heaven, may have been the main god of the pantheon prior to 
  2500 BC., although his importance gradually waned. (Kramer 1963 p. 118) 
  In the early days he carried off heaven, while Enlil">Enlil carried away 
  the earth. (Kramer 1961 p. 37-39)  It seems likely that he and Ki/Ninhursag 
  were the progenitors of most of the gods.  although in one place Nammu is 
  listed as his wife. (Kramer 1961 p. 114)  Among his children and followers 
  were the Anunnaki.  (Kramer 1961 p. 53) His primary temple was in Erech.  
  He and Enlil give various gods, goddesses, and kings their earthly regions 
  of influence and their laws. (Kramer 1963 p. 124) Enki seats him at the 
  first seat of the table in Nippur at the feast celebrating his new house 
  in Eridu.  (Kramer 1961 p. 63)  He hears Inanna's complaint about Mount 
  Ebih (Kur?), but discourages her from attacking it because of its fearsome 
  power.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 82-83)  After the flood, he and Enlil make Ziusudra 
  immortal and make him live in Dilmun.  (Kramer 1961 p. 98) 
  (See also Anu, his Babylonian analog, in the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.)

Ninhursag (Ki, Ninmah, Nintu)
    Ki is likely to be the original name of the earth goddess, whose name
  more often appears as Ninhursag (queen of the mountains), Ninmah (the
  exalted lady), or Nintu (the lady who gave birth).  (Kramer 1963
  p. 122)  Most often she is considered Enlil's sister, but in some
  traditions she is his spouse instead.  (Jacobsen p.105)  She was born,
  possibly as a unified cosmic mountain with An, from Nammu and shortly
  thereafter, their union produced Enlil.  (Kramer 1961 p. 74)  In the
  early days, as Ki, she was separated from heaven (An) and carried off by
  Enlil.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 37-41)  It seems likely that she and An were
  the progenitors of most of the gods.  She later unites with Enlil and 
  with the assistance of Enki they produce the world's plant and animal life.  
  (Kramer 1961 p. 75)

  "Enki and Ninhursag" 
    In Dilmun, she (as Nintu) bears the goddess Ninsar from Enki, who in
  turn bears the goddess Ninkur, who in turn bears Uttu, goddess of
  plants.  Uttu bore eight new trees from Enki.  When he then ate Uttu's
  children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and dissapears.  After
  being persuaded by Enlil to undo her curse, she bore Enki eight new
  children which undid the wounds of the first ones.  (Kramer 1963
  pp. 147-149; Kramer 1961 pp. 54-59)

  Enki seats her (as Nintu) on the big side of the table in Nippur at the feast 
  celebrating his new house in Eridu. (Kramer 1961 p. 63) 

  "Enki and Ninmah" 
    She is the mother goddess and, as Ninmah, assists in the creation of
  man.  Enki, having been propted by Nammu to create servants for the
  gods, describes how Nammu and Ninmah will help fashion man from 
  clay.  Prior to getting to work, she and Enki drink overmuch at a 
  feast.  She then shapes six flawed versions of man from the heart of
  the clay over the Abzu, with Enki declaring their fates.  Enki, in turn
  also creates a flawed man which is unable to eat.  Ninmah appears to
  curse him for the failed effort.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 149-151; Kramer 1961
  pp. 69-72) 
  (See also Aruru, her Babylonian analog in the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ)

Enlil
    An and Ki's union produced Enlil (Lord of 'lil').  Enlil was the
  air-god and leader of the pantheon from at least 2500 BC, when his
  temple Ekur in Nippur was the spiritual center of Sumer (Kramer 1961
  p. 47).  In the early days he separated and carried off the earth
  (Ki) while An carried off heaven.  (Kramer 1961 p. 37-41)   He assumed
  most of An's powers.  He is glorified as "'the father of the gods, 'the
  king of heaven and earth,' ' the king of all the lands'".  Kramer
  portrays him as a patriarchal figure, who is both creator and
  disciplinarian.  Enlil causes the dawn, the growth of plants, and bounty
  (Kramer 1961 p. 42).  He also invents agricultural tools such as the
  plow or pickaxe (Kramer 1961 pp 47-49).  Without his blessings, a city 
  would not rise (Kramer 1961 pp. 63, 80)  Most often he is considered Ninlil's 
  husband, with Ninhursag as his sister, but some traditions have Ninhursag as 
  his spouse.  (Jacobsen p.105)   

  "Enlil and Ninlil" 
    He is also banished to the nether world (kur) for his rape of Ninlil,
  his intended bride, but returns with the first product of their union,
  the moon god Sin (also known as Nanna). (Kramer, Sumerians
  1963: pp.145-147).  Ninlil follows him into exile as his wife.  He
  tells the various underworld guardians to not reveal his whereabouts and
  instead poses as those guardians himself three times, each time
  impregnating her again.  It appears that at least on one occasion Enlil
  reveals his true self before they unite.  The products of these unions
  are three underworld deities, including Meslamtaea (aka. Nergal) and
  Ninazu.  Later, when Nanna visits him in Nippur, he bestows Ur to him
  with a palace and plentiful plantlife.  (Kramer 1961 p. 43-49)  Enlil is
  also seen as the father of Ninurta (Kramer 1961 p. 80).

  "Enki and Eridu"
    When Enki journeys to Enlil's city Nippur in order for his own city,
  Eridu to be blessed.  He is given bread at Enki's feast and is seated
  next to An, after which Enlil proclaims that the Anunnaki should praise
  Enki. (Kramer 1961 pp. 62-63) 

  "The Dispute between Cattle and Grain"
    Enlil and Enki, at Enki's urging, create farms and fields for the
  grain goddess Ashnan and the cattle goddess Lahar.  This area has places
  for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops.  The
  two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to
  Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict - how they do so has not been
  recovered.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 53-54; Kramer 1963 pp. 220-223)

  "The Dispute between Emesh and Enten" 
    Enlil creates the herdsman deity Enten and the agricultural deity
  Emesh. He settles a dispute between Emesh and Enten over who should be
  recognized as 'farmer of the gods', declaring Enten's claim to be
  stronger.  (Kramer 1961 p. 49-51).

  "Enki and Ninhursag" 
    He helps Enki again when he was cursed by Ninhursag.  Enlil and a fox
  entreat her to return and undo her curse. (Kramer 1961 p. 57)

  "Enki and the World Order" 
    The "me" were assembled by Enlil in his temple Ekur, and given to Enki
  to guard and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, Enki's center of
  worship.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 171-183)

  "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" 
    Enlil refuses Ninshubur's appeal on behalf of his [grand-]daughter,
  Inanna to help rescue her from Ereshkigal in the underworld. (Kramer
  1961 pp. 86, 87, 89, 93)

  "Ziusudra" 
    After the flood, he and An gave Ziusudra eternal life and had him live
  in Dilmun. (Kramer 1961 p. 98)

  "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld" 
    When Gilgamesh looses his "pukku" and "mikku" in the nether world, and
  Enkidu is held fast there by demons, he appeals to Enlil for 
  help.  Enlil refuses to assist him.  (Kramer 1961 p. 35-36) 
  (See also his Babylonian analog Ellil in the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology
  FAQ)

Enki
    Enki is the son of Nammu, the primeval sea.  Contrary to the
  translation of his name, Enki is not the lord of the earth, but of the
  abzu (the watery abyss and also semen) and of wisdom.  This
  contradiction leads Kramer and Maier to postulate that he was once known
  as En-kur, lord of the underworld, which either contained or was
  contained in the Abzu.  He did struggle with Kur as mentioned in the
  prelude to "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld", and presumably was
  victorious and thereby able to claim the title "Lord of Kur" (the
  realm).  He is a god of water, creation, and fertility.  He also holds
  dominion over the land.  He is the keeper of the "me", the divine
  laws. (Kramer & Maier Myths of Enki 1989: pp. 2-3) 

  "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld" 
    Enki sails for the Kur, presumably to rescue Ereshkigal after she was
  given over to Kur.  He is assailed by creatures with stones.  These
  creatures may have been an extension of Kur itself. (Wolkstein and
  Kramer p. 4; Kramer 1961 p. 37-38, 78-79)  

  "Enki and Eridu"
    Enki raises his city Eridu from the sea, making it very lush.  He
  takes his boat to Nippur to have the city blessed by Enlil.  He throws a
  feast for the gods, giving Enlil, An, and Nintu special attention. After
  the feast, Enlil proclaims that the Anunnaki should praise Enki. (Kramer
  1961; pp. 62-63) 

  "Enki and the World Order" 
    The "me" were assembled by Enlil in Ekur and given to Enki to guard
  and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, his center of
  worship.  From there, he guards the "me" and imparts them on the
  people.  He directs the "me" towards Ur and Meluhha and Dilmun,
  organizing the world with his decrees. (Kramer 1963 pp. 171-183)
   
  "The Dispute between Cattle and Grain" 
    Enlil and Enki, at Enki's urging, create farms and fields for the
  grain goddess Ashnan and the cattle goddess Lahar.  This area has places
  for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops.  The
  two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to
  Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict - how they do so has not been
  recovered.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 53-54; Kramer 1963 pp. 220-223)

  "Enki and Ninhursag" 
    He blessed the paradisical land of Dilmun, to have plentiful water and
  palm trees.  He sires the goddess Ninsar upon Ninhursag, then sires
  Ninkur upon Ninsar, finally siring Uttu, goddess of plants, upon
  Ninkur.  Uttu bore eight new types of trees from Enki.  He then consumed
  these tree-children and was cursed by Ninhursag, with one wound for each
  plant consumed.  Enlil and a fox act on Enki's behalf to call back
  Ninhursag in order to undo the damage.  She joins with Enki again and 
  bears eight new children, one to cure each of the wounds.  (Kramer 1963
  pp. 147-149; Kramer 1961 pp. 54-59)  

  "Enki and Ninmah: The Creation of Man" 
    The gods complain that they need assistance.  At his mother Nammu's
  prompting, he directs her, along with some constructive criticism from
  Ninmah (Ninhursag), in the creation of man from the heart of the clay
  over the Abzu.  Several flawed versions were created before the final
  version was made.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 149-151; Kramer 1961 pp. 69-72)

  "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" 
    He is friendly to Inanna and rescued her from Kur by sending two
  sexless beings to negotiate with, and flatter Ereshkigal.  They gave her
  the Food of Life and the Water of Life, which restored her. (Wolkstein
  and Kramer pp. 62-64) 

  "Inanna and Enki" 
    Later, Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too
  little power from his decrees. In a different text, she gets Enki drunk
  and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes - a total of
  ninety-four "me".  Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the "me" to
  her cult center at Erech.  Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover
  the "me" from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them. (Kramer &
  Maier 1989: pp. 38-68) 
  (See also his Babylonian analog, Ea, in the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ)


III B. The Seven Who Decreed Fate
    In addition to the four primary deities, there were hundreds of
others.  A group of seven "decreed the fates" - these probably included
the first four, as well as Nanna, his son Utu, the sun god and a god of
justice, and Nanna's daughter Inanna, goddess of love and war.

Nanna (Sin, (Suen), Ashgirbabbar)
    Nanna is another name for the moon god Sin.  He is the product of
  Enlil's rape of Ninlil.  (Kramer, 1963, pp. 146-7.) He travels across
  the sky in his gufa, (a small, canoe-like boat made of woven twigs and
  tar), with the stars and planets about him. (Kramer 1961 p. 41)  Nanna
  was the tutelary deity of Ur (Kramer 1963 p. 66), appointed as king of
  that city by An and Enlil.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 83-84)  He journeyed to
  Nippur by boat, stopping at five cities along the way.  When he arrived
  at Nippur, he proffered gifts to Enlil and pleaded with him to ensure
  that his city of Ur would be blessed, prosperous, and thus, not be
  flooded.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 145-146, Kramer 1961 pp. 47-49)  Nanna was
  married to Ningal and they produced Inanna and Utu.  (Wolkstein and
  Kramer pp. 30-34; Kramer 1961 p. 41)  He rests in the Underworld every
  month, and there decrees the fate of the dead.  (Kramer 1963 p. 132,
  135, 210)  He refuses to send aid to Inanna when she is trapped in the
  underworld.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 153-154)  He established Ur-Nammu as his
  mortal representative, establishing the third Ur dynasty.  (Kramer 1963
  p. 84)

Utu
    Utu is the son of Nanna and Ningal and the god of the Sun and of
  Justice.  He goes to the underworld at the end of every day setting in
  the "mountain of the west" and rising in the "mountain of the
  east".  While there decrees the fate of the dead, although he also may
  lie down to sleep at night.  (Kramer 1963 p. 132, 135; Kramer 1961
  pp. 41-42)  He is usually depicted with fiery rays coming out of his
  shoulders and upper arms, and carrying a saw knife.  (Kramer 1961
  p. 40)  When Inanna">Inanna's _huluppu_ tree is infested with unwelcome
  guests, he ignores her appeal for aid.  (Wolkstein and Kramer
  pp. 6-7) He tries to set her up with Dumuzi, the shepherd, but she
  initially rebuffs him, preferring the farmer. (Wolkstein and Kramer
  pp. 30-33)  He aided Dumuzi in his flight from the galla demons by
  helping him to transform into different creatures.  (Wolkstein and
  Kramer pp. 72-73, 81)  Through Enki's orders, he also brings water up
  from the earth in order to irrigate Dilmun, the garden paradise, the 
  place where the sun rises.  (Kramer 1963 p. 148)  He is in charge of the
  "Land of the Living" and, in sympathy for Gilgamesh, calls off the seven
  weather heroes who defend that land.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 190-193)  He
  opened the "ablal" of the Underworld for the shade of Enkidu, to allow
  him to escape, at the behest of Enki.  (Kramer 1963 p. 133; Kramer 1961
  p. 36) 
  (See also his Babylonian analog, Shamash, in the Assyro-Babylonian
  Mythology FAQ)

Inanna
    Nanna and Ningal's daughter Inanna, goddess of love and war.  

  "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld" 
    A woman planted the huluppu tree in Inanna's garden, but the
  Imdugud-bird (Anzu bird?) made a nest for its young there, Lilith (or
  her predecessor, a lilitu-demon) made a house in its trunk, and a
  serpent made a home in its roots.  Inanna appeals to Utu about her
  unwelcome guests, but he is unsympathetic.  She appeals to Gilgamesh,
  here her brother, and he is receptive.  He tears down the tree and makes
  it into a throne and bed for her.  In return for the favor, Inanna 
  manufactures a "pukku" and "mikku" for him.  (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 5-9)

  "Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven" 
    Later, Inanna seeks out Gilgamesh as her lover.  When he spurns her
  she sends the Bull of Heaven to terrorize his city of Erech.  (Kramer
  1963 p. 262)

  "The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi" 
    Her older brother Utu tries to set her up with Dumuzi, the shepherd,
  but she initially rebuffs him, preferring the farmer. He assures her
  that his parents are as good as hers and she begins to desire him.  Her
  mother, Ningal, further assures her.  The two consummate their
  relationship and with their exercise in fertility, the plants and grains
  grow as well.  After they spend time in the marriage bed, Inanna
  declares herself as his battle leader and sets his duties as including
  sitting on the throne and guiding the path of weapons.  At Ninshubur's
  request, she gives him power over the fertility of plants and 
  animals.  (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 30-50)

  "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" 
    Inanna also visits Kur, which results in a myth reminiscent of the
  Greek seasonal story of Persephone.  She sets out to witness the funeral
  rites of her sister-in-law Ereshkigal's husband Gugalanna, the Bull of
  Heaven.  She takes precaution before setting out, by telling her servant
  Ninshubur to seek assistance from Enlil, Nanna, or Enki at their
  shrines, should she not return.  Inanna knocks on the outer gates of Kur
  and the gatekeeper, Neti, questions her.  He consults with queen
  Ereshkigal and then allows Inanna to pass through the seven gates of the 
  underworld.  After each gate, she is required to remove adornments and
  articles of clothing, until after the seventh gate, she is naked.  The
  Annuna pass judgment against her and Ereshkigal killed her and hung her
  on the wall.  (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983 pp. 52-60)

    Inanna is rescued by the intervention of Enki.  He creates two sexless
  creatures that empathize with Ereshkigal's suffering, and thereby gain
  a gift - Inanna's corpse.  They restore her to life with the Bread of
  Life and the Water of Life, but the Sumerian underworld has a
  conservation of death law.  No one can leave without providing someone
  to stay in their stead.  Inanna is escorted by galla/demons past
  Ninshubur and members of her family.  She doesn't allow them to claim
  anyone until she sees Dumuzi on his throne in Uruk.  They then seize 
  Dumuzi, but he escapes them twice by transforming himself, with the aid
  of Utu.  Eventually he is caught and slain.  Inanna spies his sister,
  Geshtinanna, in mourning and they go to Dumuzi.  She allows Dumuzi, the
  shepherd, to stay in the underworld only six months of the year, while
  Geshtinanna will stay the other six. (Wolkstein & Kramer pp. 60-89)  As
  with the Greek story of the kidnapping of Persephone, this linked the
  changing seasons, the emergence of the plants from the ground, with the
  return of a harvest deity from the nether world.  Geshtinanna is also
  associated with growth, but where her brother rules over the spring
  harvested grain, she rules over the autumn harvested vines (Wolkstein &
  Kramer p. 168).

  "Inanna and Mount Ebih" 
    Inanna complains to An about Mount Ebih (Kur?) demanding that it
  glorify her and submit lest she attack it.  An discourages her from
  doing so because of its fearsome power.  She does so anyway, bringing a
  storehouse worth of weapons to bear on it.  She destroys it.  Because
  she is known as the Destroyer of Kur in certain hymns, Kramer identifys
  Mt. Ebih with Kur.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 82-83)  

  "Inanna and Enki" 
    The "me" (see section V.) were universal decrees of divine authority -
  the invocations that spread arts, crafts, and civilization.  Enki became 
  the keeper of the "me". Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been 
  given too little power from his decrees.  In a different text, she gets Enki 
  drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes - a total 
  of ninety-four "me".  Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the "me" to 
  her cult center at Erech.  Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover the 
  "me" from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them.   (Kramer & 
  Maier 1989: pp. 38-68) 
  (See also her Babylonian analog, Ishtar, in the Assyro-Babylonian
  Mythology FAQ)

III. C. The Annuna (Anunnaki) and others
    At the next level were fifty "great gods", possibly the same as the 
Annuna, although several gods confined to the underworld are specifically
designated Annuna, An's children. The Annuna are also said to live in
Dulkug or Du-ku, the "holy mound" (Kramer 1963: pp. 122-123, Black and
Green p. 72, Kramer 1961, p. 73).  In the "Descent of Inanna to the
Nether World" the Anunnaki are identified as the seven judges of the
nether world.  (Kramer 1963 p. 154; Kramer 1961 p. 119)

Ereshkigal
    Ereshkigal is the queen of the underworld, who is either given to Kur 
  in the underworld or given dominion over the underworld in the prelude 
  to "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld".  (Wolkstein and Kramer p. 
  157-158; Kramer 1961 p. 37-38)  She has a palace there with seven gates 
  and is due a visit by those entering Kur.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 131, 134)  
  She was married to Gugalanna">Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, and is 
  Inanna's older sister.  When Inanna trespassed on her domain, Ereshkigal 
  first directs her gatekeeper to open the seven gates a crack and remove 
  her garments.  (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 55-57)  Then when Inanna arrives 
  she: 
  
	...fastened on Inanna the eye of death. 
	She spoke against her the word of wrath. 
	She uttered against her the cry of guilt
	She struck her.
	Inanna was turned into a corpse, 
	...And was hung from a hook on the wall.
        (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983 p. 60)

    Later, when Enki's messengers arrive, she is moaning in pain.  When 
  they empathize with her, she grants them a boon.  They request Inanna's 
  corpse and she accedes.  (Wolkstein & Kramer pp. 64-67)

Nergal (Meslamtaea) 
    Nergal is the second son of Enlil and Ninlil.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 44-45)  
  He is perhaps the co-ruler of Kur with Ereshkigal where he has a palace 
  and is due reverence by those who visit. He is more prominent in 
  Babylonian literature.  He holds Enkidu fast in the underworld after
  Enkidu broke several taboos while trying to recover Gilgamesh's 
  "pukku" and "mikku". 
  (See also the Babylonian version of Nergal in the Assyro-Babylonian 
  Mythology FAQ)

Ninlil
    Ninlil was the intended bride of Enlil and the daughter of Nunbarshegunu, 
  the old woman of Nippur.  Enlil raped her and was then banished to the 
  nether world (kur).  She follows him to the nether world, where she gives 
  birth to the moon god Sin (also known as Nanna).  They have three more 
  children in the nether world including Meslamtaea/(Nergal) and Ninazu 
  who remain there so that Sin may be allowed to leave.  (Kramer, Sumerians 
  1963: pp.146-7; Kramer 1961 pp. 43-46).  In some texts she is Enlil's 
  sister while Ninhursag is his bride.  (Jacobsen p.105)  Her chief shrine 
  was in the Tummal district of Nippur. 
  (See also the Babylonian version of Ninlil in the Assyro-Babylonian 
  Mythology FAQ)

Ningal
    She is Nanna's wife and the mother of Inanna and Utu.  She begs and 
  weeps before An and Enlil for them not to flood her city, Ur.  
  (see also the Babylonian version of Ningal and Nikkal of the Canaanites 
  in their respective FAQ's)

Nanshe
    Nanshe is a goddess of the city of Lagash who takes care of orphans 
  and widows.  She also seeks out justice for the poor and casts judgement 
  on New Year's Day. She is supported by Nidaba and her husband, Haia. 
  (Kramer 1963 pp. 124-125)

Nidaba
    The goddess of writing and the patron deity of the "edubba" (palace 
  archives). She is an assistant to Nanshe.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 124-125)

Ninisinna (Nininsinna)
    The patron goddess of the city Isin.  She is the "hierodule of An"

Ninkasi ("The Lady who fills the mouth")
    She is the goddess of brewing or alcohol, born of "sparkling-fresh 
  water".  (Kramer 1963 pp. 111, 206)  She is one of the eight healing 
  children born by Ninhursag for Enki  She is born in response to Enki's 
  mouth pain and Ninhursag declares that she should be the goddess who 
  "sates the heart". (Kramer 1961 p. 58)
  (see http://beer.tcm.hut.fi/Misc/SumerianBeer.html )

Ninurta
    Ninurta is Enlil's son and a warrior deity, the god of the south wind. 
  (Kramer 1963 p. 145; Kramer 1961 p. 80)  In "The Feats and Exploits of 
  Ninurta", that deity sets out to destroy the Kur.  Kur initially 
  intimidates Ninurta into retreating, but when Ninurta returns with greater 
  resolve, Kur is destroyed.  This looses the waters of the Abzu, causing 
  the fields to be flooded with unclean waters.  Ninurta dams up the Abzu 
  by piling stones over Kur's corpse.  He then drains these waters into 
  the Tigris. (Kramer 1961 pp. 80-82).  The identification of Ninurta's 
  antagonist in this passage as Kur appears to be miscast.  Black and 
  Green identify his foe as the demon Asag, who was the spawn of An and 
  Ki, and who produced monstrous offspring with Kur.  The remainder of the 
  details of this story are the same as in Kramer's account, but with Asag 
  replacing Kur. In other versions, Ninurta is replaced by Adad/Ishkur.  
  (Black & Green pp. 35-36) 
  (See also the Babylonian version of Ninurta in the Assyro-Babylonian
  Mythology FAQ)

Ashnan
    The kindly maid. Ashnan is a grain goddess, initially living in Dulkug 
  (Du-ku). (Kramer 1961 p. 50) Enlil and Enki, at Enki's urging, create farms 
  and fields for her and for the cattle god Lahar.  This area has places
  for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops.  The
  two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to
  Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict - how they do so has not been
  recovered.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 53-54)

Lahar
    Lahar is the cattle-goddess, initially living in Duku (Dulkug).  
  Enlil and Enki, at Enki's urging, create farms and fields for him 
  and the grain goddess Ashnan.  This area has places for Lahar to take
  care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops.  The two agricultural
  deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to Enlil and Enki to
  resolve their conflict - how they do so has not been recovered.  (Kramer
  1961 pp. 53-54; Kramer 1963 pp. 220-223)

Emesh
    Created by Enlil this god is responsible for agriculture. He quarrels 
  with his brother Enten, and makes a claim to be the 'farmer of the gods', 
  bringing his claim to Enlil after Enten. When Enlil judges Enten's claim 
  to be stronger, Emesh relents, brings him gifts, and reconciles. (Kramer 
  1961 pp. 49-51)

Enten
    He is a farmer god, and is Enlil's field worker and herdsman. He 
  quarrels with his brother Emesh and makes an appeal to Enlil that he 
  deserves to be 'farmer of the gods'.  Enlil judges Enten's claim to be 
  the stronger and the two reconcile with Emesh bringing Enten gifts. 
  (Kramer 1961 pp. 42, 49-51)

Uttu
    She is the goddess of weaving and clothing (Kramer 1963 p. 174; 
  Black and Green p. 182) and was previously thought to be the goddess 
  of plants.  She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears 
  eight new child/trees from Enki.  When he then ate Uttu's children, 
  Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears.  (Kramer 1961 
  pp. 57-59)  

Enbilulu
    The "knower" of rivers. He is the god appointed in charge of the 
  Tigris and Euphrates by Enki.  (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Ishkur
    God appointed to be in charge of the winds by Enki.  He is in 
  charge of "the silver lock of the 'heart' of heaven".  (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Enkimdu
    God placed in charge of canals and ditches by Enki.  (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Kabta
    God placed in charge of the pickax and brickmold by Enki.  (Kramer
  1961 p. 61)

Mushdamma
    God placed in charge of foundations and houses by Enki. (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Sumugan
    The god of the plain or "king of the mountain", he is the god placed
  in charge of the plant and animal life on the plain of Sumer by Enki.  
  (Kramer 1961 pp. 61-62; Kramer 1963 p. 220)


III. D. Demigods, mortal Heroes, and Monsters

Dumuzi (demigod) (Tammuz)
    A shepherd, he is the son of Enki and Sirtur.  (Wolkstein & Kramer 
  p. 34)  He is given charge of stables and sheepfolds, filled with milk
  and fat by Enki.  (Kramer 1961 p. 62)  He has a palace in Kur, and is
  due a visit by those entering Kur.  He is Inanna's husband.  In life, he
  was the shepherd king of Uruk.  

  "The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi" 
    Utu tries to set Inanna up with him but she initially rebuffs him, 
  preferring the farmer. He assures her that his parents are as good as 
  hers and she begins to desire him.  The two consummate their relationship 
  and with their exercise in fertility, the plants and grains grow as well.  
  After they spend time in the marriage bed, Inanna declares herself as his 
  battle leader and sets his duties as including sitting on the throne and 
  guiding the path of weapons.  At Ninshubur's request, she gives him power 
  over the fertility of plants and animals.  (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 30-50)

  "Descent of Inanna to the Nether World" 
    Upon her rescue from the dead, he was pursued by galla demons, which 
  he eluded for a time with the aid of Utu.  Eventually he was caught and 
  slain; however, he was partially freed from his stay in the underworld 
  by the actions of his sister Geshtinanna.  Now he resides there only
  half of the year, while she lives there the other half year; this
  represents seasonal change (see Inanna and Geshtinanna).  (Wolkstein and
  Kramer pp. 71-89) 
  (See also his Babylonian analog, Tammuz, in the Assyro-Babylonian 
  Mythology FAQ.)

Geshtinanna (demigoddess)
    She is Dumuzi's sister.  After his death, she visited him in the
  underworld with Inanna, and was allowed to take his place there for six
  months out of the year.  Her time in the underworld and her periodic
  emergence from it are linked with her new divine authority over the
  autumn vines and wine. (see also Inanna and Dumuzi)

Ziusudra (Ziusura)
    In the Sumerian version of the flood story, the pious Ziusudra of 
  Shuruppak (Kramer 1963 p. 26), the son of Ubartutu (or of Shuruppak?) 
  (Kramer 1963 p. 224) is informed of the gods decision to destroy mankind 
  by listening to a wall.  He weathers the deluge and wind-storms aboard 
  a huge boat.  The only surviving detail of the boat is that it had a 
  window.  The flood lasts for seven days before Utu appears dispersing 
  the flood waters.  After that, Ziusudra makes appropriate sacrifices 
  and protrations to Utu, An and Enlil.  He is given eternal life in
  Dilmun by An and Enlil.  (Kramer 1963 pp. 163-164; Kramer 1961 
  pp. 97-98)

    Jacobsen reports a more complete version of "The Eridu Genesis" than 
  Kramer or Black and Green which is close to the Babylonian story of 
  Atrahasis.  In this account, man had been directed to live in cities by 
  Nintur but as they thrived, the noise irritated Enlil, who thus started 
  the flood.  In this account, Enki warns Ziusudra, instructing him to 
  build the boat for his family and for representatives of the animals.  
  The remainder is consistent with the accounts of Kramer and Black and 
  Green.  (Jacobsen p. 114)   

Gilgamesh (demigod)
    The son, either of a nomad or of the hero-king Lugalbanda and of the
  goddess Ninsun, Gilgamesh, may have been a historical King of Erech,
  during the time of the first Ur dynasty.  His kingship is mentioned in 
  various places, including the Sumerian King list and he was also an 
  "en", a spiritual head of a temple.  He was also the lord of Kulab and 
  by one account, the brother of Inanna.  He was "the prince beloved of
  An", (Kramer p. 260, 188) and "who performs heroic deeds for 
  Inanna" (Kramer 1963 p. 187) 

  "Gilgamesh and Agga" - (Pritchard pp.44-47; Kramer 1963 pp. 187-190) 
    King Agga of Kish sent an ultimatum to Erech.  Gilgamesh tried to convince
  the elders that Erech should sack Kish in response, but the elders wanted 
  to submit.  He responded by taking the matter to the men of the city, who 
  agreed to take up arms.  Agga laid seige to Erech and Gilgamesh resisted 
  with the help of his servant, Enkidu.  He sent a soldier through the gate 
  to Agga.  The soldier is captured and tortured with a brief respite while 
  another of Gilgamesh's soldiers climbs over the wall.  Gilgamesh himself 
  then climbs the wall and Agga's forces are so taken aback by the sight of 
  them that Agga capitulates.  Gilgamesh graciously accepts Agga's surrender, 
  prasing him for returning his city.

    After this episode, he apparently took Nippur from the son of the founder
  of the Ur I dynasty.
    
  "Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living" (Pritchard pp. 47-50, Kramer
    1963 pp. 190-197) 
    Gilgamesh, saddened by the dying he sees in his city, decides to go to the 
  "Land of the Living" says so to Enkidu.  At Enkidu's urging, Gilgamesh makes 
  a sacrifice and first speaks to Utu, who is in charge of that 
  land.  After he informs Utu of his motives, the god calls off his seven
  guardian weather heroes.  Gilgamesh recruits fifty single men to
  accompany them and commissions swords and axes.  They travel over seven
  mountains, felling trees along the way eventually finding the "cedar of
  his heart".  After some broken text Gilgamesh is in a deep sleep,
  presumably after an encounter with Huwawa.  Enkidu or one of the others
  wakes him.  They come upon Huwawa and Gilgamesh distracts him with
  flatery, then puts a nose ring on him and binds his arms.  Huwawa
  grovels to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh almost releases 
  him.  Enkidu argues against it and when Huwawa protests, he decapitates
  Huwawa.  Gilgamesh is angered by Enkidu's rash action.

  "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld" (Kramer 1963 p.197-205) 
    Inanna appeals to Gilgamesh, here her brother, when her huluppu tree has 
  been occupied and he is receptive.  He tears down the tree and makes it
  into a throne and bed for her.  In return for the favor, Inanna
  manufactures a "pukku" and "mikku" for him.  
    He leaves them out, goes to sleep and can't find them where he left them 
  when he awakens.  They had fallen into the underworld.  Enkidu asks him 
  what is wrong and Gilgamesh asks him to retrieve them, giving him 
  instructions on how to behave in the underworld.  Enkidu enters the 
  "Great Dwelling" through a gate, but he broke several of the underworld 
  taboos of which Gilgamesh warned, including the wearing of clean clothes 
  and sandals, 'good' oil, carrying a weapon or staff, making a noise, or 
  behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer 1963: pp. 132-133).  For 
  these violations he was "held fast by 'the outcry of the nether world'".  
  Gilgamesh appeals to Enlil, who refuses to help.  
    Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero - or at least raised his shade 
  for Gilgamesh to speak with.

  "Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven" 
    He rejects Inanna's advances, so she sends the "Bull of Heaven" to 
  ravage Erech in retribution. (Kramer 1963 p. 262)

  "Death of Gilgamesh" (Pritchard pp. 50-52, Kramer 1963 pp. 130-131) 
    Gilgamesh is fated by Enlil to die but also to be unmatched as a 
  warrior.  When he dies, his wife and household servants make offerings 
  (of themselves?) for Gilgamesh to the deities of the underworld.
  
    He is given a palace in the nether world and venerated as lesser god 
  of the dead.  It is respectful to pay him a visit upon arrival.  If he 
  knew you in life or is of your kin he may explain the rules of Kur to 
  you - which he helps to regulate.

    His son and successor was either Ur-lugal or Urnungal. 
  (see the Babylonian version of Gilgamesh in the Assyro-Babylonian 
  Mythology FAQ)

Enkidu
    Gilgamesh's servant and friend.  He assists Gilgamesh in putting 
  back Agga's seige of Erech.

    He accompanies Gilgamesh and his soldiers on the trip to the 
  "Land of the Living".  Probably after an initial encounter with Huwawa, 
  Gilgamesh falls asleep and Enkidu awakens him.  They come upon Huwawa 
  and Gilgamesh distracts him with flatery, then puts a nose ring on him 
  and binds his arms.  Huwawa grovels to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh 
  almost releases him.  Enkidu argues against it and when Huwawa protests, 
  he decapitates Huwawa.  Gilgamesh is angered by Enkidu's rash action.

    The main body of the Gilgamesh tale includes a trip to the nether-world.  
  Enkidu enters the "Great Dwelling" through a gate, in order to recover 
  Gilgamesh's "pukku" and "mikku", objects of an uncertain nature.  He broke 
  several taboos of the underworld, including the wearing of clean clothes 
  and sandals, 'good' oil, carrying a weapon or staff, making a noise, or 
  behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer 1963: pp. 132-133).  For 
  these violations he was "held fast by 'the outcry of the nether world'".  
  Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero or at least raised his shade for 
  Gilgamesh to speak with.

Kur
    Kur literally means "mountain", "foreign land", or "land" and came to be 
  identified both with the underworld and, more specifically, the area which 
  either was contained by or contained the Abzu.  (Kramer 1961 p. 76)  In the 
  prelude to "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld, Ereshkigal was carried 
  off into the Kur as it's prize at about the same time as An and Enlil 
  carried off the heaven and the earth.  Later in that same passage, Enki 
  also struggled with Kur as and presumably was victorious, thereby able to 
  claim the title "Lord of Kur" (the realm).  Kramer suggests that Kur was 
  a dragon-like creature, calling to mind Tiamat and Leviathan.  The texts  
  suggests that Enki's struggle may have been with instruments of the land 
  of kur - its stones or its creatures hurling stones. (Kramer 1961 p. 37-38, 
  78-79)  (See also the Babylonian Apsu and Tiamat in the Assyro-Babylonian
  Mythology FAQ)

    In "The Feats and Exploits of Ninurta", that deity sets out to destroy 
  the Kur.  Kur initially intimidates Ninurta into retreating, but when Ninurta 
  returns with greater resolve, Kur is destroyed.  This looses the waters of 
  the Abzu, causing the fields to be flooded with unclean waters.  Ninurta dams 
  up the Abzu by piling stones over Kur's corpse.  He then drains these waters 
  into the Tigris. (Kramer 1961 pp. 80-82).  The identification of Ninurta's 
  antagonist in this passage as Kur appears to be miscast.  Black and Green 
  identify his foe as the demon Asag, who was the spawn of An and Ki, and who 
  produced monstrous offspring with Kur.  The remainder of the details of this 
  story are the same as in Kramer's account, but with Asag replacing Kur. In 
  other versions, Ninurta is replaced by Adad/Ishkur.  (Black & Green pp. 35-36)

  "Inanna and Mt. Ebih":   
    Inanna is also described in Hymns as a destroyer of Kur.  If one, as Kramer
  does, identifies Kur with Mt. Ebih, then we learn that it has directed fear 
  against the gods, the Anunnaki and the land, sending forth rays of fire 
  against the land.  Inanna declares to An that she will attack Mt. Ebih unless 
  it submits.  An warns against such an attack, but Inanna procedes anyway 
  and destroys it. (Kramer 1961 pp. 82-83).

Gugalanna (Gugal-ana)
    He is Ereshkigal's husband, and according to Kramer, the Bull of Heaven.  
  (Wolkstein and Kramer p. 55)  Black and Green tentatively identify him with 
  Ennugi, god of canals and dikes, rather than the Bull of Heaven.  (Black 
  and Green p. 77)  After Gilgamesh spurned Inanna, she sends the Bull of 
  Heaven to terrorize Erech.  (Kramer 1963 p. 262)

Huwawa
    Guardian of the cedar of the heart in the the "Land of the living", 
  Huwawa has dragon's teeth, a lion's face, a roar like rushing flood water, 
  huge clawed feet and a thick mane.  He lived there in a cedar house.  He 
  appears to have attacked Gilgamesh, Enkidu and company when they felled 
  that cedar.  They then come upon Huwawa and Gilgamesh distracts him with 
  flatery, then puts a nose ring on him and binds his arms.  Huwawa grovels 
  to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh almost releases him.  Enkidu argues 
  against it and when Huwawa protests, he decapitates Huwawa.  
  (See also the his Babylonian analog, Humbaba, in the Assyro-Babylonian
  Mythology FAQ)


Gods in Kur with palaces who are due reverence:   
  Namtar - "Fate", the demon responsible for death.  Namtar has no hands
    or feet and does not eat or drink. (Pritchard p. 51) 
  Hubishag 
  Ningishzida - the god of dawn

  Dimpemekug - due gifts, no palace 
  Neti - the chief gatekeeper 
  the scribe of Kur - due gifts, no palace

The Sumerians had many other deities as well, most of which appear to
have been minor.

IV. What about the Underworld?
  The underworld of the Sumerians is revealed, to some extent, 
by a composition about the death and afterlife of the king and 
warlord Ur-Nammu.  After having died on the battlefield, Ur-
Nammu arrives below, where he offers sundry gifts and sacrifices 
to the "seven gods" of the nether world:

	...Nergal, [the deified] Gilgamesh, Ereshkigal [the queen of 
	the underworld, who is either given to Kur in the underworld
	 or given dominion over the underworld in the prelude to 
	Gilgamesh (Kramer & Maier 1989: p. 83) (Wolkstein & Kramer
	 1983: p. 4)] , Dumuzi [the shepherd, Inanna's husband], Namtar,
 	Hubishag, and Ningishzida - each in his own palace; he also 
	presented gifts to Dimpimekug and to the "scribe of the nether-
	world."...  [After arriving at his assigned spot] ...certain of 
	the dead were turned over to him, perhaps to be his attendants, 
	and Gilgamesh, his beloved brother, explained to him the rules
	and regulations of the nether world. (Kramer 1963: p. 131)

Another tablet indicates that the sun, moon, and their respective gods, 
spent time in the underworld as well.  The sun journeyed there after 
setting, and the moon rested there at the end of the month.  Both Utu 
and Nanna '''decreed the fate' of the dead" while there. (Kramer 1963: 
p. 132)  Dead heroes ate bread, drank, and quenched the dead's thirst 
with water.  The gods of the nether world, the deceased, and his city, 
were prayed to for the benefit of the dead and his family.  

  The Sumerian version of Gilgamesh includes a trip to the nether 
world as well.  In the prologue, Enki sails for the Kur, presumably to
rescue Ereshkigal after she was given over to Kur.  He is assailed by
creatures with stones.  The main body of the tale includes a trip to the
nether world as well.  Enkidu enters the "Great Dwelling" through a gate,
in order to recover Gilgamesh's pukku and mikku, objects of an uncertain
nature.  He broke several taboos of the underworld, including the wearing
of clean clothes and sandals, 'good' oil, carrying a weapon or staff,
making a noise, or behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer
1963: pp. 132-133).  For these violations he was "held fast by 'the
outcry of the nether world'".  Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero.

  When Enlil visits the nether world, he must pass by a gatekeeper, 
followed by a "man of the river" and a "man of the boat" - all of whom 
act as guardians.  (Kramer 1961 pp. 45-47)
	
  Inanna also visits Kur, which results in a myth reminiscent of the 
Greek seasonal story of Persephone.  She sets out to witness the funeral 
rites of her sister-in-law Ereshkigal's husband Gugalanna, the Bull of 
Heaven.  She takes precaution before setting out, by telling her servant 
Ninshubur to seek assistance from Enlil, Nanna, or Enki at their shrines, 
should she not return.  Inanna knocks on the outer gates of Kur and the 
gatekeeper, Neti, questions her.  He consults with queen Ereshkigal and 
then allows Inanna to pass through the seven gates of the underworld.  
After each gate, she is required to remove adornments and articles of 
clothing, until after the seventh gate, she is naked.  The Annuna pass 
judgment against her and Ereshkigal slays her and hangs her on the wall
(Wolkstein & Kramer 1983 p. 60)
  
  Inanna is rescued by the intervention of Enki.  He creates two sexless 
creatures that empathize with Ereshkigal's suffering, and thereby gain a 
gift - Inanna's corpse.  They restore her to life with the Bread of Life 
and the Water of Life, but the Sumerian underworld has a conservation of 
death law.  No one can leave without providing someone to stay in their 
stead.  Inanna is escorted by galla/demons past Ninshubur and members of 
her family.  She doesn't allow them to claim anyone until she sees Dumuzi 
on his throne in Uruk.  They then seize Dumuzi, but he escapes them twice 
by transforming himself, with the aid of Utu.  Eventually he is caught 
and slain.  Inanna spies his sister, Geshtinanna, in mourning and they go 
to Dumuzi.  She allows Dumuzi, the shepherd, to stay in the underworld 
only six months of the year, while Geshtinanna will stay the other six. 
(Wolkstein & Kramer pp. 60-89)  As with the Greek story of the kidnapping 
of Persephone, this linked the changing seasons, the emergence of the 
plants from the ground, with the return of a harvest deity from the 
nether world.  Although he had always been a shepherd (and possibly a 
mortal king) he was blessed with the powers of fertility following the 
consummation of his marriage to Inanna in "The Courtship of Inanna and
Dumuzi". 

	As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile, 
	As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,  
	Under his reign let there be vegetation, 
	Under his reign let there be rich grain (Wolkstein & Kramer p. 45)

  Geshtinanna is also associated with growth, but where her brother rules 
over the spring harvested grain, she rules over the autumn harvested 
vines (Wolkstein & Kramer p. 168)

V. What are "me" anyway?

    Another important concept in Sumerian theology, was that of "me".  
The "me" were universal decrees of divine authority.  They are the 
invocations that spread arts, crafts, and civilization.  The "me" were 
assembled by Enlil in Ekur and given to Enki to guard and impart to the 
world, beginning with Eridu, his center of worship.  From there, he 
guards the "me" and imparts them on the people.  He directs the "me" 
towards Ur and Meluhha and Dilmun, organizing the world with his decrees.  
Later, Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too 
little power from his decrees.  In a different text, she gets Enki 
drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes - a 
total of ninety-four "me".  Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver 
the "me" to her cult center at Erech.  Enki recovers his wits and tries 
to recover the "me" from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them. 
(Kramer & Maier 1989: pp. 38-68)

VI. I've heard that there are a lot of Biblical parallels in Sumerian 
  literature.  What are they?

    Traces of Sumerian religion survive today and are reflected in 
writings of the Bible.  As late as Ezekiel, there is mention of a Sumerian
deity.  In Ezekiel 8:14, the prophet sees women of Israel weeping for 
Tammuz (Dumuzi) during a drought.

    The bulk of Sumerian parallels can, however be found much earlier, in
the book of Genesis.  As in Genesis, the Sumerians' world is formed out of
the watery abyss and the heavens and earth are divinely separated from one
another by a solid dome.  The second chapter of Genesis introduces the
paradise Eden, a place which is similar to the Sumerian Dilmun, described
in the myth of "Enki and Ninhursag".  Dilmun is a pure, bright, and holy
land - now often identified with Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.  It is
blessed by Enki to have overflowing, sweet water.  Enki fills it with
lagoons and palm trees.  He impregnates Ninhursag and causes eight new
plants to grow from the earth.  Eden, "in the East" (Gen. 2:8) has a 
river which also "rises" or overflows, to form four rivers including the 
Tigris and Euphrates.  It too is lush and has fruit bearing trees. (Gen. 
2:9-10) In the second version of the creation of man "The Lord God formed
man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of
life, and so man became a living being."  Enki and Ninmah (Ninhursag) use
a similar method in creating man.  Nammu, queen of the abyss and Enki's
mother, bids Enki to "Kneed the 'heart' of the clay that is over the Abzu
" and "give it form" (Kramer & Maier p. 33)  From there the similarities
cease as the two create several malformed humans and then the two deities
get into an argument.

    Returning to Enki and Ninhursag, we find a possible parallel to the
creation of Eve.  Enki consumed the plants that were Ninhursag's children
and so was cursed by Ninhursag, receiving one wound for each plant
consumed.  Enlil and a fox act on Enki's behalf to call back Ninhursag in
order to undo the damage.  She joins with him again and bears eight new
children, each of whom are the cure to one of his wounds.  The one who
cures his rib is named Ninti, whose name means the Queen of months,
(Kramer & Maier 1989: pp. 28-30) the lady of the rib, or she who makes
live.  This association carries over to Eve. (Kramer, History Begins at
Sumer 1981: pp. 143-144)  In Genesis, Eve is fashioned from Adam's rib and
her name hawwa is related to the Hebrew word hay or living. (New American
Bible p. 7.)  The prologue of "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld" may
contain the predecessor to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  This
tree not only contains a crafty serpent, but also Lilith, the legendary
first wife of Adam.  The huluppu tree is transplanted by Inanna from the
banks of the Euphrates to her garden in Uruk, where she finds that:

	...a serpent who could not be charmed 
	made its nest in the roots of the tree, 
	The Anzu bird set his young in the branches of the tree, 
	And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk. 
(Wolkstein and Kramer 1983: p. 8)

It should be noted that Kramer's interpretation that this creature is
Lilith has come into quiestion of late.  See 
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Topics/Lilith/relief_question.html#KRAEMERCRIT

  Another possible Sumerian carry-over related to the Fall of man is the 
lack of "pangs of childbearing" for those in Dilmun.  In particular, 
Ninhursag gives birth in nine days, not nine months, and the pass "like 
good princely cream" (Kramer 1981: p. 142,145) or "fine oil" (Kramer & 
Maier 1989: p. 25)

  The quarrels between herder god and farmer deity pairs such as Lahar 
and Ashnan or Enten and Emesh are similar in some respects to the quarrels 
of Cain and Abel.  In the Sumerian versions death appears to be avoided, 
although we do not have the complete Lahar and Ashnan story.  (Kramer 1961 
pp. 49-51, 53-54)

  The ten patriarchs in Genesis born prior to the flood lived very long 
lives, most in excess of 900 years.  The seventh patriarch, Enoch, lived 
_only_ 365 years before he "walked with God". (Genesis 5)  The eight 
antediluvian kings of in the Sumerian King List also lived for hundreds 
of years. (Kramer 1963 p. 328)

  The clearest Biblical parallel comes from the story of the Flood.  In 
the Sumerian version, the pious Ziusudra is informed of the gods decision 
to destroy mankind by listening to a wall.  He too weathers the deluge 
aboard a huge boat.  Noah's flood lasts a long time, but Ziusudra comes 
to rest within seven days and not the near year of the Bible.  He does not
receive a covenant, but is given eternal life.  (Kramer 1963 
pp. 163-164; Kramer 1961 pp. 97-98)

  As far as the New Testament goes, many also draw a parallel between 
Dumuzi and Jesus because Dumuzi is a shepherd and he is resurrected from 
the dead.  This is perhaps appealing to some as Dumuzi's Akkadian analog, 
Tammuz, appears in the Bible, however Dumuzi's periodic return from the 
underworld is not unique even in Sumerian literature.  His sister, 
Geshtinanna, also rises from the dead, and if one counts those born as 
deities, Inanna does as well.  Periodic death and rebirth is a common theme 
in agricultural myths where the return of the deities from the earth mirrors 
a return to life of plants.    

VII. Sources

Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony, _Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient 
  Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary_, University of Texas Press, 
  Austin, 1992.  This up-to-date and thorough resource on Mesopotamian 
  mythology has great photos and illustrations by Tessa Rickards and 
  very useful entries which often indicate the times and places when 
  variant tales were current. My only complaint is that it is not always 
  clear whether information in an entry is applicable to the Sumerian, 
  Akkadian, or both versions of a particular deity or hero. 
Crawford, Harriet, _Sumer and the Sumerians_, Cambridge University Press,
  Cambridge, 1991.  (This is a briefer but more up to date archaeological
  look at the Sumerians than you'll find with Kramer.  There isn't much 
  mythic content in this one, but there are many wonderful figures 
  detailing city plans, and the structure of temples and other 
  buildings.) 
Kramer, Samuel Noah, and Maier, John, _Myths of Enki, the Crafty God_,
  Oxford University Press, New York,1989.  The most recent work that 
  I've been able to find by Kramer.  They translate and analyze all
  of the availible myths which include Enki.  I've only seen it availible
  in hardcover and I haven't seen it in a bookstore yet. 
Kramer, Samuel Noah, _Sumerian Mythology_, Harper & Brothers, New York,
  1961.  This slim volume contains much of the mythological material that
  wound up in _The Sumerians_ but concentrated in one spot and without
  much cultural or historical detail.  Many of the myths are more developed 
  here, some of which are only glossed over in _The Sumerians_, however in 
  some cases _The Sumerians_ holds the more complete or updated myth. 
Kramer, Samuel Noah _The Sumerians_ The University of Chicago Press, 
  Chicago,1963.  This is a more thorough work than Kramer's
  Section at the end of _Inanna_, but the intervening 20 or so years  
  of additional research and translation allow  _Inanna_'s section   
  to be perhaps more complete, regarding mythology.
Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah, _Inanna: Queen of Heaven and 
  Earth_, Harper & Row, NY, 1983.  Ms. Wolkstein's verse      
  translations of the Inanna/Dummuzi cycle of myths are excellent,    
  and Kramer gives a 30 or so page description of Sumerian cosmology    
  and society at the end. 
_The New American Bible_, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 
  1970. 

VIII. Other books of interest

Algaze, Guillermo, "The Uruk Expansion", Current Anthropology, Dec.
  1989.  This article helped with the introduction material. 
Hooke, S. H. _Middle Eastern Mythology_, Penguin Books, New York, 
  1963.
  This work covers Sumerian, Babylonian, Canaanite/Ugaritic, Hittite, 
  and Hebrew mythologic material in brief and with comparisons. 
Fagan, B. M., _People of the Earth_, Glenview Il, Scott Forsman, 
  1989.  This archaeology text book helped provide some of the
  introductory material. 
Jacobsen, Thorkild, _The Treasures of Darkness_, Yale University Press,
  New Haven, 1976.  A good alternative to Kramer, Jacobsen explores
  Mesopotamian religious development from early Sumerian times through
  the Babylonian Enuma Elish.  Most of the book winds up being on
  the Sumerians. 
Kramer, Samuel Noah, _History Begins at Sumer_, University of 
  Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1981.  This text runs through a bunch
  of "firsts" that Kramer attributes to the Sumerians.  I only looked at 
  it briefly, but it seemed to contain about the same information as    
  was in _The Sumerians_ only in a "Wow neat!" format instead of    
  something more coherent. 
Pritchard J. B., _Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament_,
  Princeton, 1955.  I understand that there is a later edition of this
  work.  It seems to be the authoritative source for all complete texts
  of the Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Hittites, and perhaps 
  other groups as well.  It's pricy but many libraries have a copy. 
Stephenson, Neal, _Snowcrash_, Bantam Books, New York, 1992.  Cyberpunk 
  meets "Inanna, Enki, and the "me"". 
Wooley, C. Leonard, _Excavations at Ur_, 1954.  This is one of the 
  earlier works on the subject, and as such is not as complete as 
  the others although it is of historical interest. 

See also the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.

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