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𒀭𒍪𒀊 / 𒀭𒇉 | Abzunote / Engurnote
Abzu is the primordial god of fresh water and the lover of Tiamat, the primordial goddess of salt water. By mixing their waters, the two created the cosmos and gave birth to the first generation of deities. He intended to kill his children after assuming that they planned to kill him and usurp his throne. However, he was ultimately killed by his great-great-grandson Enki, who usurped his throne.
𒀭𒋾𒊩𒆳 / 𒀭𒌓𒌈 / 𒀭𒂼𒄷𒁓 | Tiamatnote / Ummu-Huburnote
Tiamat is the primordial goddess of salt water and the lover of Abzu, the god of fresh water. By mixing their waters, the two created the cosmos and gave birth to the first generation of deities. Following Abzu's death, she became enraged and gave birth to eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge his death. She was ultimately slain by Marduk, who then formed the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.
- Creation Myth: As described in Enûma Eli, Tiamat and Abzu created the cosmos by mixing their waters.
- The Dreaded: Except for Marduk, none of the other gods dared to oppose her.
- Eldritch Abomination: She and Abzu were traditionally depicted as dragons or sea monsters.
- Elemental Embodiment: Of salt water.
- Evil Matriarch: Not at first, but she became one following the death of Abzu.
- Giant Corpse World: Marduk split her body in two and used one half to create the sky and the other to create the earth. He made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates and her tail became the Milky Way.
- Mama Bear: She opposed Abzu's decision to kill their children and revealed his intentions to them, allowing them to kill him first.
- Monster Progenitor: She gave birth to 11 monster races to battle against her children.
- Mother Goddess: The Ur-Example. She gave birth to the first generation of gods and created the cosmos alongside Abzu.
- Mother of a Thousand Young: In order to avenge Abzu's death, she gave birth to 11 entire races of monsters, including "ferocious dragons," "virulent" and "horned serpents," mushussu-dragons, various demons, scorpion-men, and rabid dogs.
- Offing the Offspring: She tried to kill her children in order to avenge Abzu's death.
- Parental Incest: Her second lover and the leader of her host, Kingu, was also her son.
- Physical Goddess
- Primordial Chaos: The Ur-Example together with Abzu, although she tends to be associated with it more than him, as her death resulted in the creation of heaven and earth.
- Revenge Myopia: Tiamat did her best to avenge Apsu's death at the hands of the Annunaki, completely ignoring the two small facts that Apsu was actively planning to kill them and that she herself ratted him out to them, allowing a preventive strike.
- The Older Immortal: The oldest being in the Mesopotamian mythos alongside Abzu.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: In Greek, she was called Thaláttē.
- Vengeful Widow: Was very determined to avenge Abzu's death.
- Water Is Womanly: Tiamat is the primordial goddess of the salt sea and a mother goddess who birthed countless deities.
𒀭𒌓𒈬 / 𒀭𒁻𒈬 | Lahmu/Lakhmu/Lache/Lumasinote
The first-born son of Abzu and Tiamat. He and his sister Lahamu are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon.
𒀭𒆷𒄩𒈬 | Lahamu/Lakhamu/Lachos/Lumasinote
The first-born daughter of Tiamat and Abzu. With her brother Lahmu she is the mother of Anshar and Kishar, who were in turn parents of the first gods.
𒀭𒊹 | Ansharnote
The son of Lahamu and Lahmu and the grandson of Tiamat and Apsu. With his sister Kishar, he, in turn, became the father of Anu.
𒀭𒆠𒊹 | Kisharnote
The daughter of Lahamu and Lahmu and the granddaughter of Tiamat and Apsu. With her brother Anshar, she, in turn, became the mother of Anu.
𒀭𒆥𒄖 | Kingu / Qingunote
The son and second consort of Tiamat after the death of his father Abzu, Kingu was given the Tablet of Destiny by Tiamat, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power, and was placed as the general of her army. Tiamat wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all the gods, but, following her death, he was taken captive and executed by Marduk. Marduk subsequently mixed Kingu's blood with the earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Kingu himself went on to live in the underworld along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.
𒀭𒈬𒌝𒈬 | Mummunote
The vizier of Abzu and Tiamat, also sometimes referred to as their son. He was chained and locked away by Enki following Abzu's death.
𒀭𒇉 | Nammunote
Nammu was the primeval goddess of the sea who was revered as an important mother goddess who gave birth to the cosmos and to An and Ki, as well as the other first gods. Through her son Anu, she also became the mother of several other gods, including Enki and Ningikuga. Like Enki, she was also associated with magic. One myth credited her as the one who had the idea of creating mankind, and she went to wake up Enki, who was asleep in the Apsu, so that he could set the process going. A different version instead had it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki she could create humans in the image of the gods. She was worshipped in the city of Eridu and Lugal-kisalsi, king of Uruk of Ur, dedicated a temple to her during his reign. Nammu may have been of greater importance prehistorically, and was still relevant during the Early Dynastic IIIa period, as indicated by the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur. However, in later periods, particularly in Akkadian texts, Nammu lost importance and was only rarely mentioned.
- Adapted Out: In later periods, Nammu's role as the primordial ocean that created the universe and the first gods was taken over by Tiamat and Abzu, and her functions were mostly taken over by Enki. However, she was still occasionally referenced even as late as the Neo-Babylonian period, when king Nabonidus mentioned her shrine, the ki-ús-nammu ("foundation(?) of Nammu") as part of the Esagil, Marduk's temple at Babylon.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Nammu was the primordial sea goddess in Sumerian mythology in contrast to Tiamat and Abzu in Babylonian mythology. However, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi, Nammu was significantly reduced in importance in favor of her Babylonian counterparts, and was rarely mentioned from then on.
- Elemental Embodiment: Of water.
- Mother Goddess: Nammu is one of the oldest known examples. She bore the title "mother who gave birth to the heavens and the earth" and was also called the "original mother who gave birth to the gods of the universe", which further affirmed her primary status among all the gods and described her role in early Mesopotamian cosmogony. In Sex in History (1980), Nammu was singled out as the "only female prime mover" in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.
- Parental Incest: She was the mother of An and was also one of his consorts. They had several children together, including Enki and Ningikuga.
- The Power of Creation: She was credited with the creation of mankind alongside Enki.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Namma".
- Truly Single Parent: No husband or male god was attested in connection with Nammu, thus leading to the belief among scholars that "the first cosmic production is asexual".
- Water Is Womanly: Nammu was an important mother goddess who gave birth to the cosmos and the first gods and was associated with the Abzu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed laid beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a region with almost no rainfall.
Seven gods who decree
An / Anu
𒀭 / 𒀭𒀭 | Anunote
Anu was the divine personification of the sky, supreme god, and ancestor of all the deities. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one "who contains the entire universe". He is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki, constitutes the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky.
- Antagonistic Offspring: In Hittite mythology, he overthrew his father Alalu and proclaimed himself ruler of the universe.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of the sky.
- Big Good: He was the source of all legitimate power, being the one who bestowed the right to rule upon gods and kings alike.
- Blow You Away: As expected of the god of the sky.
- BrotherSister Incest: Anu and his consort Ki were brother and sister, both being the children of Anshar and Kishar.
- Color Motif: Anu's associated color was Luludanitu; an ensemble of red, white and black.
- Deity Identity Confusion: The Greeks conflated him with both Ouranos and Zeus, which is understandable given his role as king of the gods and the fact that the divine coup against him in the Hittite creation story became the basis for the castration of Ouranos. He was also conflated with the Semitic god El, who was similarly king of the gods.
- Elemental Embodiment: Of the sky.
- Groin Attack: In ancient Hittite religion, Anu was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father's genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub.
- Happy Rain: Rain was believed to be Anu's seed and, when it fell, it impregnated Ki, causing her to give birth to all the vegetation of the land.
- Star Power: He was identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco.
- Top God: Being king of the gods, it's expected. He ruled alongside his sons Enlil and Enki, with the three of them being known as the Triad of Heaven. In Hittite mythology, he was overthrown by his son Kumarbi.
Enlil / Elil
𒀭𒂗𒆤 | Enlilnote / Nunamnirnote
The god of wind, air, earth, and storms, Enlil was one of the chief deities of the Sumerian pantheon. He was the patron god of the Sumerian city-state of Nippur and his main center of worship was the Ekur temple located there. He was responsible for separating his parents Anu (heaven) and Ki (earth) from each other, thus making the world habitable for humans. He was also the cause of a great flood, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping
. Afterwards, he rewarded Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood.
- A Load of Bull: He was sometimes depicted with bull horns and hooves.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of the wind.
- Big Good: He was viewed as a benevolent, fatherly deity who watched over humanity and cared for their well-being. Without him, civilization could not exist.
- Blow You Away: As expected of the god of wind and air.
- Color Motif: Enlil's associated color was lapis lazuli-blue.
- Dishing Out Dirt: He was also a god of earth.
- Elemental Embodiment: Of the wind.
- The Good King: Kings regarded Enlil as a model ruler and sought to emulate his example. Enlil was said to be supremely just and intolerant towards evil. Rulers from all over Sumer would travel to Enlil's temple in Nippur to be legitimized.
- The Great Flood: Caused it to exterminate humanity for making too much noice.
- Green Thumb: He was the patron of agriculture and was regarded as the inventor of the mattock (a type of hand tool similar to a pickaxe).
- Jerkass God: Though usually benevolent, he also once tried to destroy humanity with a great flood.
- Numerological Motif: He was associated with the number 50, which was considered sacred to him.
- Our Founder: He was believed to have built and established the Ekur temple in Nippur himself.
- Phosphor-Essence: He was so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him.
- The Power of Creation: He was also viewed as a creator god.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Elil" or "Ellil".
- Star Power: He was identified with the stars of the northern sky.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: In Greek, his name was Illinos.
- Top God: Alongside his father Anu and brother Enki, with the three of them being known as the Triad of Heaven.
- Weather Manipulation: Part of his portfolio.
- Touched by Vorlons: He granted immortality to Utnapishtim for having survived the flood and his continued loyalty to the gods.
Enki / Ea
𒀭𒂗𒆠 | Enkinote / Eanote
The god of creation, intelligence, crafts, water, seawater, lakewater, fertility, semen, magic and mischief. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia. Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me
, the gifts of civilization.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Due to feeling lonely after his consort Ninhursag left him, he had sex with other women. Ninhursag was quite upset at the promiscuous wayward nature of her spouse.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: He once participated in a drinking competition with Inanna/Ishtar. After getting thoroughly inebriated, he gave away all of the mes (godly decrees foundational to civilization) to her. The next morning, Enki awoke with a hangover, and was informed of what he had done. After his attempt to recover them failed, he admitted defeat and accepted a peace treaty with Uruk.
- The Archmage: As expected of the god of all magic.
- Big Good: He was viewed as the protector of humanity and of the world in general. He was usually the one who fixed the wrongs caused by other gods. He was the only god who was against the plan to exterminate humanity, and rescued humanity multiple times. He was also said to protect anyone who sought his help.
- Bookworm: He's the god of wisdom and invented writing.
- But Liquor Is Quicker: After convincing Uttu to let him inside her web using a gift of fresh produce and the promise that he would marry her, he intoxicated her with beer and raped her. She was rescued by Ninhursag, who removed Enki's semen from her womb and planted it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants. A different, less squicky version of the myth features Enki simply leaving Uttu after realizing that she wasn't Ninhursag. Uttu subsequently buried Enki's seed on Ninhursag's advice instead.
- Color Motif: Enki's associated color was jasper-green.
- Exact Words: Enki warned Utnapistim of the coming flood even though the gods vowed not to tell any human. However, Enki didn't tell anyone. He just happened to be talking about it next to a fence that Utnapishtim happened to be standing behind.
- Guile Hero: When he learned of Abzu's plan to kill the younger gods, Enki crafted a spell which put him to sleep and then killed him, rather than fighting him directly.
- Lord of the Ocean: He was specifically associated with groundwater and rivers. He was also characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater ocean underneath the earth, which is where he resided.
- The Maker: He was considered the master shaper of the world and the creator of the first humans.
- Making a Splash: He took on all of the functions of Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen. He was depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris and the other the Euphrates.
- Mr. Seahorse: Enki became pregnant after eating the eight plants that had grown from his semen. However, his lack of a birth canal resulted in him instead becoming ill with swellings in his jaw, teeth, mouth, hip, throat, limbs, side and rib, which threatened to kill him. Fortunately, Ninhursag took the plants into her body and gave birth to eight gods of healing: Abu, Nintulla, Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe, Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag. Each of those deities then healed a part of his body, thus curing him.
- Nemean Skinning: He was typically depicted as a man covered with the skin of a fish.
- Nice Guy: In general. He even helped Inanna escape from the underworld, despite her earlier stealing his holy mes.
- Numerological Motif: He was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for 40, occasionally referred to as his sacred number.
- Parental Incest: After his consort Ninhursag left him, Enki seduced and had intercourse with their daughter Ninsar, although he admittedly didn't know she was his daughter.
- The Power of Creation: He created humanity out of clay and blood. He and Ninhursag also once engaged in a contest in which one would create an afflicted human and the other had to improve their fate, which Enki ended up winning. In Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld, he created an intersex being called Asushunamir and sent them to Ereshkigal in order to help Inanna/Ishtar escape from the underworld.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Kinda. The only reason he pursued Ninsar, Ninkurra and Uttu is because they each resembled his wife Ninhursag, to the point that he thought that they each were her reincarnations.
- The Smart Guy: He's also the god of wisdom.
- Star Power: He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, and also with the constellation Pegasus.
- Surprise Incest: He unknowingly had sex with his daughter Ninsar because she reminded him of his wife. After she left him as well, he went on to also unknowingly have sex with his granddaughter Ninkurra and tried to seduce his great-granddaughter Uttu.
- Top God: Alongside his father Anu and brother Enlil, with the three of them being known as the Triad of Heaven.
- The Trickster: Being the god of mischief, it's to be expected.
- Underwater Base: Enki resided in a palace in the depths of the Abzu, the underground waters of the aquifer that was made from the corpse of the primordial god Abzu. Attended by his minister Isimud, Enki also had assorted creatures at his service such as giants, demons (both protective and destructive), and other mystical beings. Mermen and mermaids were also thought to inhabit the watery depths of the Abzu beneath the city of Eridu.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒉺𒂅 | Ninhursagnote
The goddess of fertility, mountains, and rulers, Ninhursag was the consort of Enki and the patron goddess of Kish. She was regarded as the "true and great lady of heaven" and kings of Sumer were said to be "nourished by Ninhursag's milk".
- Big Damn Heroes: When Uttu was being raped by Enki, Ninhursag heard her screaming and came to her rescue.
- Carry a Big Stick: She was frequently depicted carrying either a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Because the terms "mother goddess" and "fertility goddess" were applied to many goddesses at different times, Ninhursag was often conflated with them. She both subsumed the characteristics of similar deities like Ki (earth) and others, and was later herself subsumed by the fertility goddess Inanna/Ishtar.
- Dishing Out Dirt: She was an earth goddess after all.
- Earth Mother: She was worshipped as the mother goddess and was associated with fertility, growth, transformation, creation, pregnancy, childbirth, and nurture.
- Express Delivery: She gave birth to her daughter Ninsar after being pregnant for only nine days, although it's explained that each day corresponded to a month in the human period of gestation. She also gave birth to eight gods of healing shortly after consuming plants that had grown from Enki's semen.
- Friend to All Children: She was a protector of children who presided over their conception, gestation, and birth, as well as feeding them after they had been born.
- Good Stepmother: She was on good terms with her stepdaughter Uttu (who was also her great-granddaughter) and came to her rescue when she was being raped by Enki.
- Green Thumb: She was associated with agricultural fertility. During spring, she returned to her duties of nurturing living things on earth and retired for the winter to rest.
- The High Queen: She was viewed as a benevolent queen who protected women and children.
- I Have Many Names: She had many names including Ninmah ("Great/Magnificent Queen"), Nintu(d) ("Lady of Birth" or "Queen of the (birthing) hut"), Mami/Mamma/Mammitum (mother), Aruru ("Sister of Enlil"), Dingirmah ("Great Goddess"), Belet-Ili ("Lady of the Gods"), Ninzinak ("Lady of the Embryo"); Nindim ("Lady Fashioner"), Nagarsagak ("Carpenter of Insides"), Ninbahar ("Lady Pottery"), Ninmag ("Lady Vulva"), Ninsigsig ("Lady of Silence"), Mudkesda ("Blood-Stauncher"), Amadugbad ("Mother Spreading the Knees"), Amaududa ("Mother Who Gives Birth"), Sagzudingirenak ("Midwife of the Gods"), Ninmenna ("Lady of the Diadem"), Damgalnuna ("Great Wife of the Prince") and Damkina ("True Wife"). She also had many epithets including shassuru ("womb goddess"), tabsut ili ("midwife of the gods"), "mother of all children" and "mother of the gods".
- The Maker: She completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki's hoe.
- Meaningful Rename: According to one legend, her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains.
- The Power of Creation: She was viewed as a creator goddess and participated in the creation of humanity. She and Enki once engaged in a contest in which one would create an afflicted human and the other had to improve their fate, which Enki ended up winning.
Inanna / Ishtar
𒀭𒈹 | Inannanote / Ishtar
Inanna was a goddess associated with sex, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the "Queen of Heaven" and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her husband was the shepherd god Dumuzid/Tammuz.
- Big Good: When not causing trouble, she was the enforcer of divine justice.
- Canon Immigrant: Many religious scholars believe that Inanna, due to the difficulty in deciphering the origin of her name, her constantly changing parentage, and the fact that she explicitly had no responsibilities at first, was originally a Proto-Euphratean goddess incorporated into the Sumerian pantheon.
- Clothes Make the Superman: She girded herself with clothes and artifacts before her descent, making her more powerful. She passed through seven infernal gates, and at each one, part of her clothing was taken from her. When she reached the throne room, she was naked and therefore powerless, and she was carried off to be tormented.
- Color Motif: Inanna/Ishtar's associated color was blue.
- Composite Character: Inanna and Ishtar were originally separate, unrelated deities, but they were equated with each other during the reign of Sargon of Akkad and came to be regarded as effectively the same goddess under two different names.
- Cosmic Motifs: She was associated with the planet Venus, the bright star of the morning and evening. Several hymns praised Inanna/Ishtar in her role as the goddess or personification of the planet Venus. Theology professor Jeffrey Cooley argued that, in many myths, Inanna/Ishtar's movements may have correspond with the movements of the planet Venus in the sky. The discontinuous movements of Venus related to both mythology as well as Inanna/Ishtar's dual nature. Inanna/Ishtar in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces.
- Crazy-Prepared: Inanna anticipated problems during her descent into the underworld, and instructed her priestess to contact her most powerful family members in case she would need rescuing.
- Dead Guy on Display: After her death, Inanna's body was hung from a hook on a wall in the dungeon. Fortunately, she was removed from the hook and brought back to life by the kurgarra and galaturra sent by Enki.
- Death by Sex: Her lovers all met ironic ends, which is the main reason why Gilgamesh didn't want to sleep with her.
- Decomposite Character: Some scholars believe that she and her sister Ereshkigal were at one point two aspects of the same goddess before becoming separate entities.
- Deity Identity Confusion: She was sometimes conflated with the Hindu goddess Durga.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even she was horrified by Enlil's great flood.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: She was an extemely popular goddess, even managing to keep her position and prestige during the reigns of the Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian empires, whereas the other goddesses lost status to male deities. Her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline between the first and sixth centuries CE in the wake of Christianity, though it survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century.
- Extra-ore-dinary: She was associated with copper.
- Faux Action Girl: She had to be rescued from the underworld by Ninshubur and Enki, though that may have been part of her plan all along.
- Femme Fatale: She promised Gilgamesh good fortune if he became her lover. As Gilgamesh pointed out, her previous lovers came to horrific ends.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She was the "beautiful sister" to Ereshkigal's "smart sister", her attempt to take over the underworld from her sister did not go over well.
- Guile Hero: She managed to successfully steal all the mes (godly decrees foundational to civilization) from Enki, the god of wisdom, by challenging him to a drinking contest and getting him to hand them over to her after he was thoroughly inebriated. Getting rescued from the underworld by sending out word of her demise ahead of time could also be considered an example.
- The High Queen: She was known as the Queen of Heaven, in contrast to Ereshkigal being the Queen of the Underworld.
- I Lied: She claimed to only be visiting the underworld for the purpose of Gugalana's funerary rites.
- Incest Subtext: She was extremely close to her twin brother Utu/Shamash, to the point that their relationship frequently bordered on incestuous.
- Jerkass Goddess: She unleashed the Bull of Heaven, knowing full well that it would destroy and disrupt life on Earth, solely because Gilgamesh bruised her ego.
- "Just So" Story: The reason winter and summer exist is because Inanna lets everything go dormant in the winter when her beloved husband is down in the underworld, and lets things grow in the summer when he's back and she's happy.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Inanna lost her husband for half the year because she tried to steal Ereshkigal's husband Gugalana in The Epic of Gilgamesh only for him to get killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu and tried to steal Ereshkigal's power.
- Little Bit Beastly: She was sometimes depicted with bird feet.
- Love Goddess: She was the goddess of sex and fertility, all biological reproduction on earth ceased entirely when she was briefly dead in the underworld.
- Mood-Swinger: She was a goddess of love by night, but goddess of war by day, which is partly why Gilgamesh didn't want to sleep with her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After Inanna's fury subsided and she realized the horrible consequences of sicking demons after her husband, she wept.
- Multiple-Choice Past: She was usually identified as the daughter of Nanna, god of the moon, and Ningal, goddess of reeds. However, she was also sometimes identified as a daughter of Anu, Enlil or Enki and an unnamed mother.
- Not Good with Rejection: She did not take Gilgamesh's rejection well and unleashed the Bull of Heaven on him and Enkidu as revenge.
- Not So Different: Her and Ereshkigal. This is further supported by the interesting thematic relation of the husbands of both women dying in the story as bookends, as well as the link-up between this story and the one where Gilgamesh killed Inanna's bull of heaven (the exact same bull that was the husband of Ereshkigal).
- Out-of-Clothes Experience: She was stripped of her clothing and jewelry (symbols of her power) to grovel before Ereshkigal.
- Pimped-Out Dress: She wore one during her descent into the underworld. She was stripped of it piece by piece as she passed through the seven gates, though, in order to strip her of her power.note
- Rape and Revenge: She killed the gardener Shukaletuda after he had raped her in her sleep.
- Really Gets Around: She had a Long List of lovers, all of whom died ironic deaths.
- Renaissance Man: She had a very large portfolio, partly through having subsumed aspects of other goddesses such as Ninhursag. Her takeover of the domains of other deities was explained as being due to her possession of the mes, which represented all positive and negative aspects of civilization.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Inanna woke up and realized that she had been violated, she became furious and determined to bring her attacker, the gardener Shukaletuda, to justice. In a fit of rage, she unleashed horrible plagues upon the Earth, turning water into blood, releasing a series of storms and closing all roads to the city of Uruk. When she finally located Shukaletuda, who vainly attempted to invent excuses for his crime against her, she rejected his excuses and killed him.
- Seasonal Baggage: She lets everything go dormant during winter when her beloved husband is down in the underworld for six months, and lets things grow in the summer when he's back and she's happy.
- Take Over the World: Inanna's reason for going to underworld was because she wanted dominion over the heavens, Earth, and the underworld, and everything there. She actually got it, too, though not in the exact way she wanted it and at some great cost.
- To Hell and Back: Her descent and escape from the underworld is one of the oldest stories of this type, possibly even the Ur-Example.
- Villain Protagonist: Of Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld. Inanna broke through her own sister's house, casually threatened a Zombie Apocalypse, caused biological reproduction to cease altogether in her absence and ultimately wanted domination over all three realms.
- War Goddess: She was also a goddess of war, though she did have standards, such as not condoning mass genocide.
- Weather Manipulation: Inanna was also associated with rain and storms.
- Winged Humanoid: She was frequently depicted with wings.
- Woman Scorned: After Gilgamesh insulted her, she unleashed the Bull of Heaven, which devastated the land until Gilgamesh and Enkidu killed it.
- Yandere: Inanna had her husband, Dumuzid/Tammuz, dragged off to the underworld for failing to mourn for her while she was dead. Gilgamesh even listed this as one of her defining character traits when refusing her affections, even citing what she did to Tammuz as an example. note Which doesn't quite make sense if this myth is set after The Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Inanna used this threat against the gatekeeper if he did not let her in.
Nanna / Sin
𒀭𒋀𒆠 / 𒀭𒂗𒍪 | Nanna / Sīn / Suen
Nanna was the god of the moon and wisdom. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil, husband of Ningal, and father of Utu/Shamash (the sun god), Inanna/Ishtar (goddess of love and sexuality), Ereshkigal (Queen of the Dead) and Ishkur/Adad (god of storms). The crescent moon was regarded as his barge in which he sailed through the night sky. The two chief seats of his worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.
- A Load of Bull: His primary symbol was a bull, which was the result of the horizontal crescent of the waxing moon appearing similar to the horns of that animal. This symbolism led to a consideration of the moon god as a cowherd and he was frequently depicted on a winged bull.
- Bookworm: He was commonly referred to as the "lord of wisdom" and his knowledge was expressed through the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon's phases was an important factor.
- Color Motif: Nanna/Sin's associated color was green, a hue that was applied to silver.
- Cosmic Motifs: Unsurprisingly, he was associated with the moon.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with silver.
- Judgement of the Dead: During the Third Dynasty of Ur, Nanna was elevated to the role of judge of the dead, serving alongside the other Annunaki. Nanna acted as the bridge between the living and the dead through his judgment of their lives and intervention on the part of their families.
- Lunacy: As expected of the god of the moon.
- Numerological Motif: He was represented by the number 30, probably referring to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.
- Overprotective Dad: In The Epic of Gilgamesh, he let Inanna/Ishtar borrow the Bull of Heaven because Gilgamesh was rude to her, albeit reluctantly.
- Seers: He was associated with divination, which was connected to the moon god's ability to illuminate darkness.
- Weird Beard: He had a beard made of lapis lazuli.
Utu / Shamash
𒀭𒌓 | Utunote / Shamashnote
Utu was the god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth. He was the son of Nanna/Sin, god of the moon, and Ningal, goddess of reeds, as well as the twin brother of Inanna/Ishtar and brother of Ereshkigal (Queen of the Dead) and Ishkur/Adad (god of storms). He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. He was often invoked for the protection of travelers, merchants, soldiers and sailors. His main temples were in the cities of Sippar and Larsa.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: He would use his blade to cut through the mountains on the horizon so he could rise in the morning at dawn.
- Big Good: Alongside his sister Inanna/Ishtar, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice. He took an active role in human affairs and aided those in distress. He provided assistance against evil and curses, as well as protecting the heroic kings of the city of Uruk.
- Color Motif: Utu/Shamash's associated color was yellow.
- Cosmic Motifs: Unsurprisingly, he was associated with the sun.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: To the Mesopotamians, the future resided below the horizon in the underworld, which was unseeable and, therefore, unknown. Dreams in the night were similarly viewed as glimpses of the future which were created in and emanated from the underworld. Because the sun traveled through the underworld every night, Utu/Shamash had knowledge of the future and was also the source of dream apparitions. Through his children, the dream deities Mamud and Sisig/Zaqiqu, he sent dreams that foretold the future to people.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with gold.
- Grandpa God: He was usually depicted as an old man with a long beard.
- Incest Subtext: He was extremely close to his twin sister Inanna/Ishtar, to the point that their relationship frequently bordered on incestuous.
- Judgement of the Dead: At night, Utu passed through and illuminated the Underworld, where he served as a judge of the dead alongside the other Anunnaki.
- Light 'em Up: He was seen as the bringer of light and the light of the sun was thought to be able to penetrate and pierce every level of the earth, even to the underworld, and illuminate the human heart. As such, he possessed the power to see everything that transpired on earth.
- Light Is Good: His light was associated with illuminating the life of mankind, as well as giving beneficial warmth which allowed plants and crops to grow.
- Nice Guy: He was known for his kindness and generosity. While he typically aided those in distress, he was not above refusing a request which inconvenienced him.
- Phosphor-Essence: He was depicted with rays of light emanating from his shoulders.
- The Power of the Sun: As expected of the god of the sun.
- Psychopomp: Because the sun was believed to enter the underworld every sunset through a set of doors on the western horizon, Utu/Shamash was considered to perform the functions of a psychopomp, conducting the spirits of the dead down into the underworld.
- Seers: In combination with the storm god Ishkur/Adad, the two were regarded as the gods of oracles and of divination in general. Whether the will of the gods was determined through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal, through observing the action of oil bubbles in a basin of water or through the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, it was Shamash and Adad who, in the ritual connected with divination, were invariably invoked. Similarly in the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles were referred to, Shamash and Adad were always named as the gods addressed, and their ordinary designation in such instances was bele biri ("lords of divination").
- Serrated Blade of Pain: He wielded a pruning-saw, a double-edged arch-shaped saw with large, jagged teeth, representing his role as the god of justice.
- Shipper on Deck: He pursuaded Inanna that Dumuzid was the better choice for a husband, arguing that, for every gift the farmer Enkimdu could give to her, the shepherd could give her something even better.
Other major deities
𒀭𒀸𒋩 / 𒀭𒀀𒇳𒊬 | Aur
Ashur was the god of the Assyrians who was elevated from being the local patron deity of the city of Assur to the supreme god of the Assyrian pantheon. He was worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south-east Asia Minor which constituted old Assyria.
Bau / Gula / Nintinugga
𒀭𒁀𒌑 / 𒀭𒄖𒆷 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒁷𒂦𒂵 | Baunote / Gulanote / Nintinugganote
Bau/Gula was the goddess of healing, medicine, and dogs, as well as the divine patroness of doctors, medicine-workers, healing arts, and medical practices. She was also associated with the underworld and transformation. She was the daughter of Anu and Uras, wife of the warrior god Ninurta/Ningirsu/Pabilsag, and mother of the gods Damu, ulagana and Igalima, and seven goddesses, which included Hegir-Nuna and possibly Gunura. She was originally the patron goddess of the city of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple. Her worship later spread to the city-state of Isin, where she became known as Ninisinna ("Lady of Isin") and where her main cult center was located. Her worship would further spread across Sumer in the south upwards to Akkad and, eventually, throughout the entire region of Mesopotamia.
- Action Girl: During the Old Babylonian period, she acquired some warlike functions, perhaps due to her association with Inanna/Ishtar. Here, her scalpel became a weapon to tear flesh, and she was described as a storm "whose mouth drips blood... from whose mouth spittle spews constantly, pouring venom on the enemy".
- Animal Motifs: Dogs were her sacred animal. People noticed that when dogs licked their sores, they seemed to heal faster, and so dogs became associated with healing. Her iconography almost always depicted her with a dog, sometimes seated with a dog reclining at her feet.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Although generally benevolent, Bau/Gula was just as well known for her violent temper, and was almost as frequently invoked in curses as she was in healing. She was thought to be able to bring earthquakes and storms when she was angered, and among her epithets was "Queen of the Tempest" and "She Who Makes Heaven Tremble".
- Composite Character: It is likely that Bau of Lagash, Ninkarrak of Babylon, Ninisinna of Isin and Gula of Umma were all originally separate goddesses who were eventually so regularly identified with each other as to be hard to tell apart, ultimately becoming interchangeable. However, while it is commonly accepted that functional syncretism had already occured by the Third Dynasty of Ur, theological syncretism may not have occured until the later Old Babylonian period. Similarly, lesser regional goddesses such as Meme were also assimilated, becoming aspects of Bau/Gula.
- Deity Identity Confusion: She was sometimes conflated with Inanna/Ishtar, which resulted in her gaining some warlike functions as a result.
- Green Thumb: Her transformative powers associated her with agriculture (another of her epithets was "Herb Grower"), making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative powers. As such, she was also worshiped in hopes of a good harvest, as well as for childbearing and good health in general.
- Healer Goddess: Bau/Gula was recognized as Mesopotamia's primary healing goddess, with prominent epithets such as bēlet balāti ("Lady of Health") and the azugallatu (the "great healer"). She was often invoked in healing rituals, incantations, and prayer-letters, by which those who were ill begged her assistance. The city of Isin, particularly her main cult centre, the E-gal-mah temple, was a place of pilgrimage for the sick, maimed, and dying, and also provided midwives for pregnant women. The precinct of the E-gal-mah was an extremely busy and noisy place, with sufferers seeking treatment, priests performing rituals and incantations, and dogs barking.
- I Have Many Names: Due to her widespread influence and conflation with other goddesses, Bau/Gula acquired a large number of epithets and localized names. She was called Ninisinna ("Lady of Isin") in Isun and Ninnibru ("Lady of Nippur") in Nippur. Her epithets included Ninkarrak ("Lady of the Wall", referring to a protective barrier), "The Great One", "Great in Healing", "Great Physician of the Black Headed Ones" (referring to the Sumerians), "Lady of Health", "Great Healer", "Queen of the Tempest", "She Who Makes Heaven Tremble", "Healer of the Land", "She Who Makes the Broken Whole Again", "The Lady Who Restores Life", "Mistress who Revives The Dead", "Mother With the Soothing Hands", and "Faithful Hand of Heaven".
- Plague Master: Bau/Gula was also capable of inflicting diseases upon others as a punishment or wake-up call to them. She could also induce supernatural illnesses by sending demons, evil spirits, or the angry dead at the individual, usually for some kind of transgression or for failing to perform certain necessary rituals.
- The Power of Creation: After the Great Flood, she helped breathe life back into mankind and the other new creatures created by the gods to animate them.
- Spell My Name with an "S": As Bau, her name could also be read as "Baba" or "Bawu".
- Star Power: She was usually shown surrounded by stars.
Dumuzid / Tammuz
𒀭𒌉𒍣𒉺𒇻 | Dumuzidnote / Amaushumgalananote
The god of shepherds, fertility, growth and decay, Dumuzid was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna/Ishtar. He regulated the seasons and symbolized death and rebirth in nature. He was associated with the springtime, when the land was fertile and abundant, but, during the summer months, when the land was dry and barren, it was thought that Dumuzid had "died". During the month of Dumuzid, which fell in the middle of summer, people all across Sumer would mourn over his death. He was the patron god of the city of Bad-tibira, although worship of him was present in most of the major cities of Sumer.
- Back from the Dead: Each year, he would return from the underworld in spring to mate again with his wife, thus bringing the land back to life.
- Baleful Polymorph: He was once turned into an allalu bird with a broken wing and would spend all his time "in the woods crying 'My wing!'".
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: He competed against the farmer god Enkimdu for Inanna's hand in marriage.
- Cosmic Motifs: He was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
- Dragged Off to Hell: He was dragged down into the underworld by galla demons to serve as Inanna's replacement.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Inanna allowed him to be taken by the galla demons because she found him resting beneath a tree instead of mourning her death. Her reaction is a bit more justified in another version of the myth, where she instead found him sitting on her throne being entertained by slave-girls.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: He had dreamt about his death before it happened, but was unable to prevent it from happening as the galla demons arrived for him shortly after he had told his sister about it.
- Farm Boy: He was the god of shepherds after all. Almost all prayers adressed to him were simply requests for him to provide more milk, more grain, more cattle, etc.
- Friendly Rivalry: He declared that, after marrying Inanna, he and Enkimdu would still be friends.
- Gate Guardian: In the myth of Adapa, he and Ningishzida, god of vegetation and the underworld, were depicted as the two guardians and doorkeepers of Anu's celestial palace.
- Green Thumb: As an agricultural god, he was responsible for making the flowers bloom and providing plentiful harvests.
- Happily Married: He and Inanna/Ishtar were depicted as truly loving each other, and their reunion upon his return from the underworld was annually celebrated at the spring equinox, the Sumerian new year festival, as part of a "sacred marriage" ceremony.
- Nice Guy: He was generally depicted as a joyous and nice god.
- Trapped in Another World: He took Inanna's place in the underworld after she was trapped and killed there by Ereshkigal and his sister Geshtinanna then offered to take his place. From then on, he would remain in the underworld for half the year and Geshtinanna the other half, thus explaining the cycle of the seasons.
𒀭𒊩𒆠𒃲 | Ereshkigalnote / Irkallanote
The goddess of Kur, the underworld, which she ruled alongside her husband Nergal. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. She was the older sister of Inanna/Ishtar and Utu/Shamash. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.
- Balancing Death's Books: She allowed Inanna/Ishtar to come back to life, but on the condition that she had to find someone to take her place.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Her courtship with Nergal. Ironically, when they finally liberated their tension, it only complicated things even more.
- Chickification: In the Sumerian myths, she was the sole ruler of the underworld, but in later Assyro-Babylonian myths, she was subdued by Nergal and agreed to share her power with him in order to stop him from killing her. However, it is justified in-story in that she actually preferred it that way, because she always felt alone in her kingdom.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Although the goddess of the dead and occasionally a jerk, such as throwing dangerous tantrums at the brim of a hat, she ultimately meant well and fulfilled her cosmic task properly.
- Decomposite Character: Some scholars believe that she and her sister Inanna/Ishtar were at one point two aspects of the same goddess before becoming separate entities.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In later times, the Greeks and Romans appear to have syncretized Ereshkigal with Hecate. A spell written in the late 3rd or early 4th century was adressed to "Hecate Ereschkigal" and was intended to alleviate the caster's fear of punishment in the afterlife.
- Dragons Prefer Princesses: In one myth, a dragon named Kur kidnapped Ereshkigal and ook her to the Netherworld, forcing her to become the queen of the plane for eternity. In a twist, although the dragon was defeated by Enki and she later gained some sympathetic moments in her interactions with Nergal, she was technically never rescued from her prison (though given that she had since turned it into a full fledged kingdom, it's easy to guess she didn't want to go anymore).
- Fisher King: The underworld was a dark, gloomy place, where the dead were believed to drink from muddy puddles and eat dust. However, it's averted with Ereshkigal herself, as she wasn't evil.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She was the "smart sister" to Inanna/Ishtar's "beautiful sister", her sister's attempt to take over the underworld did not go over well with her.
- Happily Married: To Nergal.
- The High Queen: She ruled as queen of the underworld, with Nergal acting as her co-ruler for six months of the year.
- Hot as Hell: Ereshkigal was invariably described as very attractive, just as much if not more so than her sister.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Enki/Ea predicted that Ereshkigal would try to seduce Nergal, the only god who didn't bow to her emissary, so he would stay with her forever. He was right, as she was (or ended up) smitten with him, and it only became worse when he escaped from her amorous clutches.
- Incest Is Relative: Her husband Nergal was also her uncle.
- Judgement of the Dead: She passed judgement over the dead alongside the Annunaki, who served as her advisors.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Ereshkigal was abducted by the dragon Kur as a young girl and carried to the underworld a long time ago. Although she became its queen, she stated she never knew "the playing of other girls or the romping of children".
- Love Redeems: Ereshkigal was first portrayed as a quite callous goddess (possibly due to having been put in the Underworld against her will), but she notably warmed up after meeting Nergal and falling in love with him, to the point she broke down when he escaped from her kingdom after their six-day idyll. It went in the other direction as well, as Nergal was at first willing to dethrone her to prevent the troubles she threatened to cause if the gods didn't send Nergal to her again, but at the end, he accepted her love and married her.
- Noble Demon: She was genuinely preoccupied about the underworld's workings and laws.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She judged people fairly in accordance with their actions and was willing to allow Inanna/Ishtar to come back to life as long as she could find someone to take her place.
- Not So Different: Her and Inanna/Ishtar. This is further supported by the interesting thematic relation of the husbands of both women dying in the story as bookends, as well as the link-up between this story and the one where Gilgamesh killed Inanna's bull of heaven (the exact same bull that was the husband of Ereshkigal).
- Second Love: Nergal was her second husband. She was first married to Gugalana, the Bull of Heaven, who was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu after Inanna sent him after them.
- Unholy Matrimony: Thematically speaking, the matrimony of Ereshkigal and Nergal united the queen of the Netherworld with the god of plagues and war. Subverted otherwise, however, because none of the two was actually evil and their union put a Happy Ending to a cosmic conflict.
- The Vamp: Ereshkigal deliberately allowed Nergal to see her naked while she entered her bath, knowing he would fall for it. She is more sympathetic than many examples, however, because she acted on loneliness rather than egotism and they later had a classic idyll.
- Virgin Power: Ereshkigal claimed that making love to Nergal had left her impure and thus unfit to keep ruling the underworld, though it's also possible she was bluffing in order to give the gods more reasons to send Nergal back to her.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Ereshkigal threatened the gods with rising the dead so they would eat the living if Nergal didn't come back to her realm.
𒀭𒃾𒀭𒈾 / 𒀭𒁁𒉌𒀉𒂔 | Geshtinannanote / Belet-Serinote
Geshtinanna was the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called "heavenly grape-vine". She was the sister of Dumuzid and consort of either Ningishzida or Amarru/Martu. She sheltered her brother when he was being pursued by galla
demons and mourned his death after the demons dragged him to Kur. She eventually agreed to take his place in Kur for half the year, allowing him to return to Heaven to be with Inanna/Ishtar. She was mainly worshipped in southern Mesopotamia.
- Composite Character: Beginning in the Old Babylonian period, she was identified with the underworld goddess Belet-Seri.
- Earth Mother: She was viewed as a mother goddess.
- Farm Girl: Like her brother Dumuzid, she was also a rural deity, associated with the countryside and open fields.
- Green Thumb: She was in charge of the fertility of the earth from the spring to the fall equinox.
- Heroic Resolve: After her brother fled, Geshtinanna was brutally tortured by the galla demons in an attempt to force her to tell them where Dumuzid was hiding. However, she refused to tell them where her brother had gone.
- I Have Many Names: Her epithets included "Vine of the Heavens", "Scribe of the Earth" and, due to her marriage to Amarru/Martu, god of the nomadic Amorites, "Queen of the Desert".
- Jack-of-All-Trades: She was also associated with music and the scribal arts. Her brother called her a "scribe" and a "singer".
- Judgment Of The Dead: As Belet-Seri, she was the recorder of the dead entering the underworld, and was known as the "Scribe of the Earth". It is Belet-Seri who kept the records of human activities so she could advise the queen of the dead, Ereshkigal, on their final judgement.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Ngeshtin-ana".
- Take Me Instead: She agreed to take her brother's place in the underworld for half the year, allowing him to return to Heaven to be with Inanna/Ishtar.
Ishkur / Adad
𒀭𒅎 | Ikurnote / Adadnote / Rammanunote
The god of weather, hurricanes, storms, thunder and rain. He was associated with both the life-giving and destructive properties of storms, rain and floods. He was the patron god of Bit Khakhuru (perhaps to be identified with modern Al-Jidr) in the central steppe region, though worship of him became widespread in Mesopotamia after the First Babylonian dynasty.
- A Load of Bull: The bull was portrayed as his sacred animal and, in one litany, he was proclaimed again and again as "great radiant bull, your name is heaven".
- Above Good and Evil: He was an ambivalent figure whose intervention could either benefit or harm humankind and he was regarded as both a creator and destroyer. On the one hand, he was the god who, through bringing on the rain in due season, caused the land to become fertile, and, on the other hand, the storms that he sent out brought havoc and destruction.
- Deity Identity Confusion: He was equated with the West Semitic god Hadad, the Greek god Zeus, the Roman god Jupiter (as Jupiter Dolichenus), the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub and the Egyptian god Amun.
- Drop the Hammer: He was frequently shown wielding a hammer.
- Numerological Motif: 6 was his sacred number.
- Seers: In combination with the sun god Utu/Shamash, the two were regarded as the gods of oracles and of divination in general. Whether the will of the gods was determined through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal, through observing the action of oil bubbles in a basin of water or through the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, it was Adad and Shamash who, in the ritual connected with divination, were invariably invoked. Similarly in the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles were referred to, Adad and Shamash were always named as the gods addressed, and their ordinary designation in such instances was bele biri ("lords of divination").
- Shock and Awe: As the god of storms, he was depicted brandishing lightning bolts.
- Weather Manipulation: As expected of a storm god.
𒀭𒅗𒁲 | Itaran
Ishtaran was a god associated with justice and the chief deity of the Sumerian city-state of Der, which was located east of the Tigris river on the border between Mesopotamia and Elam. His wife was the goddess arrat-Dēri, and his sukkal
("vizier") was the snake-god Nirah. He was also assigned a vizier Qudmu, a counsellor Rasu, a son Zizanu, and two "standing gods" Turma and Itur-matiu. As early as the Early Dynastic period, Ishtaran was being called upon as a god who could abjudicate in an inter-city border dispute between Umma and Lagash, because the border between these two regions was said to be fixed "in accordance with the command of Ishtaran". Scholars have suggested that his supposed effectiveness in this case might well stem from the border location of his own city, Der. His worship certainly spread beyond his own borders: perhaps in gratitude, Gudea, ruler of Lagash, recorded his installation of a shrine to Ishtaran in the great temple of Ningirsu at Girsu. Ishtaran's temple in Der was called the é-dim-gal-kal-am-ma ("house, great bond of the land"). His cult flourished from the Early Dynastic III Period until the Middle Babylonian Period, after which his name was no longer attested in the personal names of individuals. However, his cult in Der was still attested in the Babylonian Chronicle's references to the time of Esarhaddon in the Neo-Assyrian Period, and the cult at Der may have continued into the Seleucid period.
- Animal Motifs: Ishtaran was frequently represented by snakes on kudurru stones and was generally believed to have a snake-like nature.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In a ritual associated with the Ekur temple in Nippur, Ishtaran was described as a "dying god" and was equated with Dumuzid/Tammuz.
- God of Order: Ishtaran was associated with justice. This role can be inferred from his assertion of the borders of Umma and Lagash, while Gudea, the ruler of Girsu, said of himself, "I justly decide the lawsuits of my city like Itaran". In the poems praising the Ur III king, Shulgi, his justice was "comparable to that of Itaran", and a song to Nergal praised the god thus: "Like Ishtaran... you reach correct judgments".
- Snake People: He was typically depicted with snake-like features.
- Snakes Are Sexy: Aside from his snake-like features, Ishtaran was also envisioned as having a beautiful face, which was emphasized by the epiteth "Ishtaran of the bright visage".
Ki / Uras / Antu
𒀭𒆠 / 𒀭𒅁 / 𒀭𒌈 | Kinote / Uranote / Antunote
The consort of Anu and mother of the gods, Ki was the goddess of the earth. She and Anu were once united until their son Enlil separated them in order to make the world habitable. While Anu carried away heaven, Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth. During the Akkadian Period, she was changed into Antu, a sky goddess who served as a female counterpart to Anu. As Uras, she was the patron goddess of Dilbat, a minor hill city located southeast from Babylon on the eastern bank of the Western Euphrates. As Antu, she was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit
festival until as recently as 200 BCE.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of the earth.
- Blow You Away: As Antu, she likely had this power.
- BrotherSister Incest: Ki and her husband An were brother and sister, both being the children of Anshar and Kishar.
- Deity Identity Confusion: There is some uncertainty as to whether Ki, Uras and Antu were considered separate goddesses or were just three different names for the same goddess. Many of her traits were eventually subsumed by Ninhursag, who became the primary motherhood and fertility goddess in the pantheon. The Greeks also variously conflated her with Hera, Dione, and Gaia.
- Dishing Out Dirt: As Ki/Uras, she likely had this power.
- Distaff Counterpart: Antu was basically just a female version of Anu, with even her name being the female equivalent of his.
- Elemental Embodiment: Of the earth.
- Green Thumb: She was responsible for the existence and growth of all plantlife.
- Happy Rain: As Ki/Uras, it was believed that she was impregnated by the rain, which the Sumerians believed was Anu's seed, causing her to give birth to all the vegetation of the land. As Antu, the clouds were believed to be her breasts and the rain was her breast milk.
- Mother Nature: She was the spirit of the earth itself.
- Spell My Name with an "S": As Antu, her name could also be read as "Antum".
𒀭𒀫𒌓 | Marduknote
Marduk was the patron god of Babylon, the Babylonian king of the gods, who presided over justice, compassion, healing, regeneration, magic, and fairness, although he was also sometimes referenced as a storm god and agricultural deity. He was the son of Enki/Ea and Ninhursag/Damkina, husband of Sarpanitu and father of Nabu, god of scribes, literacy, and wisdom. After defeating Tiamat, he gained full authority over all creation and conferred upon the other gods their various duties and responsibilities, as well as organizing both the world and the underworld.
- Above Good and Evil: In the poem I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (also known as The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer), Marduk is described as having a dual nature, both good and evil, being capable of both helping humanity and destroying people.
- The Ace: He was the only god capable of fighting and defeating Tiamat.
- Amplifier Artifact: After defeating Kingu, he wrested the Tablet of Destiny from him, further increasing his own power.
- Archer Archetype: He wielded a bow in his battle against Tiamat, and successfully split her in two with an arrow after restraining her with a net.
- Blow You Away: Marduk wielded the divine wind weapon Imhullu. He was also given the four winds by Anu for his fight against Tiamat, and created seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado to supplement them.
- Carry a Big Stick: He also wielded a mace in his battle against Tiamat.
- Color Motif: Marduk's associated color was white.
- Cosmic Motifs: By the Old Babylonian period, Marduk had become astrologically associated with the planet Jupiter.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with tin.
- Green Thumb: On the oldest monuments, Marduk was represented holding a triangular spade or hoe, interpreted as an emblem of fertility and vegetation from when he was a regional agricultural deity.
- I Have Many Names: He was bestowed with 50 names by the other gods following his victory over Tiamat and the creation of the world, which represented everything he symbolized.
- Inescapable Net: He had made a net with which he managed to entrap Tiamat.
- Let No Crisis Go to Waste: He made a deal with Anshar that, after defeating Tiamat, he would be given complete authority over the all creation and the other gods.
- The Maker: After killing Tiamat, he created heaven and earth from her body.
- Making a Splash: In his battle against Tiamat, he raised the rain-flood.
- Numerological Motif: The number 50, which had previously been associated with Enlil, became associated with Marduk after he became the head of the pantheon.
- Playing with Fire: He filled his body with flame for his battle against Tiamat.
- The Power of Creation: He created humanity out of clay and blood alongside Enki.
- The Power of the Sun: Marduk was associated with the rising sun, contrasting Sarpanitu's association with the rising moon. As the principle of light, Marduk also contrasted his adversary Tiamat, who was the principle of darkness.
- Shock and Awe: He was capable of wielding and throwing lightning, as well as making it precede him.
- Top God: He became the king of the gods after killing Tiamat as part of his deal with Anshar.
- Walking Armory: During his battle against Tiamat, he wielded a bow and arrow, grasped a club in his right hand, caused lightning to precede him, filled his body with flame, made a net to encircle Tiamat within it, which he carried with the four winds so that no part of her could escape, created seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, raised up the rain-flood and set out for battle mounted in his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. Additionally, he held a spell in his lips and in one hand he grasped a herb to counter poison.
- Weather Manipulation: He was sometimes described as a storm god, and was capable of controlling wind and lightning.
Medimsha / Shala
𒀭𒈨𒁶𒊷 / 𒀭𒊭𒆷 | Medimanote / alanote
Medimsha/Shala was a goddess of grain, crop fertility, and the emotion of compassion. She was primarily known as the wife of the storm god Ishkur/Adad, serving as the recipient of his nourishing thunderstorms and subsequently caused the crops to grow rich and golden in the fields. Shala was first attested in the Old Babylonian period, when Adad rose to prominence in Babylonia. An inscription of Sin-arru-ikun, the last king of Assyria, invoked her as "the powerful wife of Adad", who "safeguards the life of the people". Although never very important, Shala was still honoured during the late first millennium. In Seleucid Uruk, she and Adad were invoked in colophons to protect scholarly texts and her statue participated in the New Year festival. Her main seat of worship in Babylonia was the Edurku temple in Karkara, which was close to her husband's chief temple.
- Carry a Big Stick: In ancient depictions, she sometimes carried a double-headed mace.
- Composite Character: Medimsha and Shala were syncretized during the Old Babylonian Period, when their respective husbands were conflated. In god lists, Medimsha/Shala was also equated with four other Sumerian goddesses, Zabarshuku, Sukhmehush, Kinnusum, and Enmelulu.
- Deity Identity Confusion: During the second millennium BCE, Shala was syncretised with Shalash, wife of the fertility god Dagan. The conflation between them seems to have occurred due to their similar names and the goddesses having been worshipped in the same period and area. Additionally, Medimsha/Shala was also sometimes conflated with the Hurrian mother goddess Ḫepat.
- Green Thumb: She was responsible for causing crops to grow rich and golden in the fields after she was sated by her husband's nurturing rain. As a seasonal symbol, she represented the autumn seeding season when farmers used the seed plough to plant seed in the newly prepared fields. On Babylonian kudurru stones (boundary establishing monuments), Shala was represented by an iconographic image of an ear of grain.
- Nice Girl: She was viewed as a benevolent goddess, and abundant harvests were seen as an act of compassion from her and the other deities.
- Sinister Scimitar: She was also sometimed depicted wielding a scimitar embellished with lion heads.
- Western Zodiac: Shala was associated with the eastern portion of Virgo. Unlike the Greeks, the Babylonians conceived of Virgo as being two constellations: the "Furrow" in the eastern sector of Virgo and the "Frond of Erua" in the western sector, where the two goddesses stood across or above the ecliptic. Shala represented the Furrow, named after the trenches within which the Mesopotamians planted their seeds, in which the goddess was depicted holding an ear of barley in her hands.
𒀭𒈬𒌌𒆤𒌈 | Mullissu / Mulliltu
Mullissu was an Assyrian goddess who primarily served as the consort of Ashur, the patron god of the Assyrian Empire. Similar to how her husband was modeled on Enlil, Mullissu was derived from Ninlil, with her name originally having been the Akkadian variant of that of Ninlil. As such, she was associated with queens and motherhood, and was revered as the queen of the Assyrian pantheon. Mullissu and her husband were part of a week-long celebration in Assur, in which a quru
("love ritual") in their honor was performed as part of the major royal festivities, re-enacting their sacred marriage. Mullissu was worshipped from the Middle Assyrian Period onwards, and had cults in the cities of Assur, Nimrud, and Nineveh, with her temple in Nineveh being called the E-mama.
- Action Girl: Likely due to her association with Inanna/Ishtar, Mullissu eventually gained the traits of a warrior goddess, with a Middle Assyrian ceremony mentioning the "weapons of Mullissu".
- Deity Identity Confusion:
- Due to having been modelled on Ninlil, Mullissu and her were sometimes conflated. Shalmaneser III's "Black Obelisk", an inscription that was discovered at Nimrud, addressed Mullissu with the epiteth "Spouse-of-Enlil" and Ashur-nirari V's treaty with Mati'ilu of Arpad similarly paired Mullissu with Enlil, leaving Ashur without a consort.
- Mullissu was regularly associated with Inanna/Ishtar, and the were commonly either merged or at least depicted collaborating with each other. This confusion was made worse due to Mullissu being referred to as Ishtar in cult centers such as Nineveh, even in hymns where she was explicitly identified as a separate goddess from Ishtar. For example, in a hymn written for Ashurbanipal, Mullissu was referred to as "Ishtar-of-Nineveh", and worked alongside Ishtar herself, who was referred to distinctly as "Ishtar-of-Arbela". This confusion was started due to King Sennacherib moving the Assyrian capital to Nineveh, thus causing the Ninevite Ishtar, who served as the city's patron goddess, to be identified as Ashur's consort, eventually becoming practically synonymous with Mullissu by the 7th century BCE.
- The Greek historian Herodotus identified her with Aphrodite.
- Earth Mother: Mullissu was associated with motherhood by Assyrian kings, with kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal even honoring her as their divine birth mother, who, together with Inanna/Ishtar, pronounced them successful destinies as kings, helped them during their reigns, and assisted them in defeating their enemies in battle.
- The High Queen: Mullissu was revered as a divine queen, with both Assyrian kings and queens paying homage to her. Alongside Inanna/Ishtar, she was said to "have no equals among the gods" and was "most precious among the goddesses". Her enhanced role in the Neo-Assyrian Period was due to the greater prominence of female deities that occured during the reign of Sennacherib.
- Exotic Extended Marriage: From the reign of Sennacherib onwards, Mullissu and Sherua both served simultaneously as the wives as Ashur. The two goddesses appear to have been thought of as rivals, although Mullissu was generally considered to be superior to Sherua. Scholars have suggested that this new polygamous theology was an attempt on the part of Sennacherib to project his own matrimonial status onto the divine world, perhaps with the intention to add legitimacy to the arrangement he had with his two principal wives, Tashmetu-sharrat and Naqi'a.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The Babylonian variant of her name was spelled Mulliltu or Mullitta, where one cult was connected with the Ekur temple in Nippur and the other with Kish. She was spelled ml, here also as the consort of Ashur (r), in the As-Safira inscription (A8) from Syria inscribed in Old Aramaic. Her Late Babylonian cult was reflected in the spelling mwlyt (Mulit) as transmitted in the Mandaic magical corpus of Late Antiquity.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: In Greek, she was called Mylitta.
- Top Wife: From the reign of Sennacherib onwards, Mullissu was seemingly depicted as being in a polygamous marriage with Ashur and the goddess Sherua, with one cult text showing that there was apparently a competition between the two wives. The text mentioned that Mullissu's altar was to be placed next to Ashur's, while Sherua's was to stand next to Mullissu's, seemingly indicating that Mullissu had the upper hand over the other goddess.
𒀭𒀝 | Nabunote
Nabu was the god of literacy, the rational arts, scribes and wisdom. He was revered as the inventor of writing, a divine scribe, the patron god of the rational arts, and a god of vegetation. As the god of writing, Nabu inscribed the fates assigned to men and also served as an oracle. He was the son of Marduk and Sarpanitu, husband of Tashmetu/Nanaya, goddess of wisdom and sexual attractiveness, and father of Kanisura and Gazbaba. Nabu was worshipped in Babylon's sister city Borsippa, from where his statue was taken to Babylon during the Akitu Festival marking the beginning of the New Year so that he could pay his respects to his father. Nabu became increasingly popular during the Old Babylonian Period, and took over most of the functions of the earlier Sumerian scribe goddess Nisaba, as male deities during that period were generally elevated in Mesopotamia at the expense of older goddesses. Nabu's cult was widespread and long lived, developing through expatriate Aramaic communities beyond Mesopotamia into Egypt (where he was one of five non-Egyptian deities worshipped in Elephantine) and Anatolia. Nabu was continuously worshipped until the 2nd century, when cuneiform became a lost art.
- Bookworm: Probably as a consequence of his scribal role, Nabu became the god of writing, progressively taking over from the goddess Nisaba in that function. As god of writing, Nabu was also the patron of scribes, commonly invoked in the colophons of texts. Later Babylonian works frequently ended with the ritual phrase "Praise be to Nabu!" to honor him, similar to how earlier Sumerian texts honored Nisaba.
- Color Motif: Nabu's associated color was orange. Specifically, it was sandarákinos, a Greek term which defined "an orange pigment" made from realgar, thus rendered as "orange" (or "vermilion", an orange-red) by modern translators.
- Composite Character: Nabu was at some point syncretized with Muati, an obscure local god who was associated in some texts with Dilmun.
- Cosmic Motifs: By the Old Babylonian period, Nabu came to be astrologically associated with the planet Mercury.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In Hellenistic times, Nabu was sometimes identified with the Greek Apollo as a giver of prophesies. As the god of wisdom and a divine messenger associated with the planet Mercury, Nabu was linked with the Greek Hermes, the Roman Mercury, and the Egyptian Thoth.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with mercury.
- Green Thumb: Nabu was also revered as a god of vegetation, who caused the earth to produce abundant crops.
- The Smart Guy: He was the personification of knowledge, and was associated with education, writing and science.
- Top God: By the Neo-Babylonian period, Nabu had become so popular that he was considered to be on par with Marduk and acted as co-regent of the pantheon and co-ruler of the universe. This popularity was particularly evident in certain royal inscriptions, where Nabu was given precedence over Marduk.
Nanshe / Nazi
𒀭𒀏 / 𒀭𒈾𒍣 | Nane / Nazi
Nanshe was the goddess of social justice, prophecy, divination, fertility and fishing. She was one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Nanshe was tasked with healing Enki's throat and subsequently married Nindara, a god known as the "tax collector of the sea". She watched over orphans and widows, oversaw fairness, fresh water, birds and fish, fertility, and favored prophets, giving them the ability to interpret dreams accurately. She was also known as the Lady of the Storerooms and, in this capacity, made sure that weights and measures were correct. It was originally in this role, connected to commerce, that her popularity grew. Her main seat of power was the Sirara temple, located in the city of Lagash, but her popularity eventually transcended her original boundaries of southern Mesopotamia toward all points throughout the region in the 3rd millennium BCE.
- All-Loving Heroine: In all the inscriptions and hymns which mention her, Nanshe was portrayed as kind, compassionate, welcoming, and wise. Nanshe was invoked as protection in marketplaces so that no one was cheated and also in swearing oaths that one was trading fairly. She was consistently a defender of the disenfranchised, companion to the outcast, the poor, the sick, widows, orphans, and foreigners seeking refuge in a strange land. She was companion to the traveler and stranger and a friend to all in her community.
- Animal Motifs: Nanshe's major symbols were the fish and the pelican; the fish connected her with water but also symbolized life, while the pelican, who, in legend, was said to sacrifice itself to feed its young, symbolized her devotion to humanity. These symbols were later appropriated by the early Christians for their god.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Although Nanshe was a kind goddess, she would not hesitate to vent her wrath on those who displeased her through transgressions, such as breaking oaths.
- Healer Goddess: She healed Enki's throat.
- Making a Splash: Nanshe was heavily associated with water and held dominion over the waters of the Persian Gulf and all the creatures who dwelt therein. As a secondary function, she was to ensure that shipments of fish reached the mainland. When heading onto the mainland, she sailed by barge from the Gulf. She was honored each year with a flotilla of boats. In Lagash, the flotilla joined a sacred barge bearing the goddess' image, and the procession floated about as Nanshe's worshippers reveled.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: She had a strong connection with wildlife, especially birds and bats, and was capable of conversing with ravens and pelicans, among other species.
- Water Is Womanly: Nanshe started out as a water and fishing goddess before she gained her additional functions, and she continued to be requently referenced in connection to water.
Nergal / Erra
𒀭𒄊𒀕𒃲 / 𒀭𒀴𒊏 | Nergalnote / Erranote / Erragalnote
The god of war, plague, death, and disease, Nergal represented the destructive force in human nature and the natural world. Striding with his mace and scimitar, he destroyed without thought or apparent reason on a regular basis, explaining himself to the other gods simply by citing his very bad temper. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil, as well as the husband of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead and ruler of the underworld. His main seat of worship was at the Babylonian city of Cuthah, represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: His courtship with Ereshkigal. Ironically, when they finally liberated their tension, it only complicated things even more.
- Carry a Big Stick: He was typically depicted holding a mace topped by a double lion's head.
- Color Motif: Nergal's associated color was red. Specifically, it was phoiníkeos, a Greek term which may mean "purple-red", "crimson", "dark red" or simply "red". Modern translators appropriately use "scarlet".
- Composite Character: Nergal of Cuthah and Erra of Babylon were originally separate deities, but later became so closely identified as to lose their independent characters, with their names coming to be used interchangeably. Similarly, Erragal, a god of storms and destruction, was probably of a separate origin from Erra, but ultimately came to be thought of as simply a form of Erra and thus, by extension, of Nergal.
- Cosmic Motifs: In the late Babylonian astral-theological system, Nergal was related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars), hence the current name of the planet.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being regularly responsible for plague, pestilence, famine and war, Nergal was not actually malicious and ultimately meant well, instead causing destruction because it was simply part of his nature. He was sometimes even described as a benefactor of men, who heard prayers, restored the dead to life, and protected agriculture and flocks.
- Destroyer Deity: Being a god of destruction, he was known to rampage at will on a regular basis and explain himself to the other gods simply by citing his very bad temper.
- Everybody Hates Hades: His destructive nature and association with the underworld and death came to define him for the later religion of Christianity, where his iconography and character were associated with the devil.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with iron.
- The Great Flood: When Enlil decided to destroy humanity with a flood, Erragal was said to "tear up the mooring poles", causing the Great Flood.
- Happily Married: To Ereshkigal.
- I'm a Man; I Can't Help It:
- Before Nergal traveled to Irkalla, Enki/Ea warned him about not to eat, drink, bath or bang Ereshkigal while in the underworld, as he would be cursed. Rather predictably, he obeyed all of them except for the last, to Ereshkigal's delight, and they ended up sharing a bed for six days.
- The story also implied a romantic subtext aside from a merely sexual one, as he was described to give in "to his heart's desire". However, the fact that this was the first statement of his own love for her (nothing was mentioned about Nergal's feelings up to that point, anyway), it's possibly being implied that he fell in love with her upon seeing her naked, as per the classical tradition that men reached love through sex while women reach sex through love.
- Incest Is Relative: His wife Ereshkigal was also his niece.
- Plaguemaster: As expected of the god of plague. He was held responsible for the "plague years" during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I, when this disease spread from Egypt. In such cases, people prayed to Nergal in the hope that he could be called upon to stop his rampage, but it was considered unlikely that he would pay any heed until he was satisfied with the death toll.
- Playing with Fire: He was also associated with forrest fires and was described as a "destroying flame", as well as having the epithet sharrapu ("burner").
- The Power of the Sun: He was associated with the high summer sun which scorched the earth, and the afternoon sun of most intense heat, which hindered crop production. The destructive power of the sun was thought to be a manifestation of his intense fury.
- Sinister Scimitar: He was commonly depicted wielding a scimitar.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Nirgal", "Nirgali" or "Nerigal". Similarly, as Erra, his name could be read as "Irra" and, as Erragal, it could be read as "Errakal".
- War God: He was also a god of war, accompanying kings into battle and delivering death to the enemy.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀀𒍪 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀀𒍫 | Ninazunote
Ninazu was an underworld god associated with healing, agriculture, war, and snakes. He was revered as a dying and rising god, as well as the steward of the underworld. As such, he was of central focus in a major festival celebrated in the 6th month, during which the people mourned the chthonic gods and made offerings to deceased kings and priestesses. Ninazu was the son of Enlil and Ninlil, although alternative traditions identified him as the son of Ereshkigal and Gugalana instead, and brother of Nanna/Sin, Nergal, Enbilulu, and Ninmada. He was said to have been born in the underworld, on the mountain of Kurmussa ("snake mountain"). He was also the husband of the healing goddess Ningirida/Ninsutu and father of Ningishzida, the underworld god of healing. His companions included his sukkal
("vizier") Ippu and his steed, a muḫuu
dragon. Ninazu was the patron god of the Sumerian cities Eshnunna (in the north) and Enegi (in the south), although he was later supplanted in Eshnunna by the Akkadian warrior god Tishpak (the local equivalent of the Hurrian storm god Teshub). Ninazu's temples at Eshnunna and Enegi were, respectively, the E-sikil ("pure house") and E-gida ("storehouse"), which were regarded as underworld gateways and contained funerary shrines where people poured water for the dead through the waterway pipes. He was also particularly popular at Ur, and received offerings at Lagash, Umma, and Nippur. Following the fall of the Ur III dynasty, Ninazu's cult lost ground with the rise of the gods Tishpak and Nergal, and he was only attested in subsequent periods in southern Mesopotamia at Ur, where he continued to feature in personal names until the Persian period.
- Animal Motifs: Ninazu was associated with divine serpents, specifically the muḫuu and uumgallu serpent-dragons. In Ur III and Old Babylonian incantations, he was named "King of the Snakes" and was called upon for healing snake bites.
- Carry a Big Stick: Ninazu wielded a double-headed mace, which was also one of his symbols.
- Deity Identity Confusion: During the Old Akkadian period, Ninazu was partially identified, but not fully syncretized, with Tishpak, who eventually replaced him as the patron god of Eshnunna. In the first-millennium Anzu epic, he was equated with Ninurta.
- Green Thumb: Ninazu's agricultural aspect was predominantly worshipped in Enegi, and his symbol there was the plough. In How Grain Came to Sumer, he and his brother Ninmada were depicted bringing barley and flax to humans, who "used to eat grass with their mouths like sheep", while in Enlil and Ninlil he was called "the lord who stretches the measuring line over the fields".
- Healer God: Ninazu was associated with healing, although it wasn't his primary attribute. He only rarely appeared in the medical corpus, where he was invoked against snake bites.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Ninazu's parentage varied due to the dissimilar traditions surrounding his two temples in Eshnunna and Enegi. In Eshnunna, he was identified as the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and was portrayed as a warlike, martial deity. On the other hand, in Enegi, he was instead depicted as the son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna, which reinforced his chthonic attributes and association with vegetation and agriculture. However, his genealogy from Eshnunna appears to have been more common, as he was also referenced as Enlil and Ninlil's son in the Sumerian Temple Hymns and in Enlil and Ninlil, the latter specifically depicting Ninazu as their third son, conceived when Enlil seduced Ninlil in the guise of the "man of the Id-kura, the man-devouring river".
- War God: Ninazu's martial aspect was predominantly worshipped in Eshnunna, and his symbol there was the two-headed mace. He was revered as a warrior with the title "King of the Sword", who was able to "fill men with venom" and was called upon to protect some of them against the Uumgallu. His temple hymn from Eshnunna strongly emphasized his strength in battle:
When he strides forth, no evil-doer can escape. When he establishes his triumph, the cities of the rebel lands are destroyed. When he frowns, their people are cast into the dust. House, your prince is a great lion from whose claws the enemy hangs.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒃲 | Ningalnote
Ningal was the goddess of reeds. She was the daughter of Enki and Ningikuga, wife of Nanna/Suen, god of the moon, and mother of Inanna/Ishtar, goddess of love and war, Utu/Shamash, god of the sun, Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld, and Ishkur/Adad, god of storms. She was chiefly worshipped at the cities of Ur and Harran, and was probably first worshipped by cow-herders in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia.
- Green Thumb: She was associated with the reeds in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia.
- Judgement of the Dead: Ningal may have had a part in the judgment of the dead, or at least as a prompt to good behavior, as a number of artifacts have been found which are known as "eyes of Ningal". It is unclear what the significance of these eyes was for the ancient Mesopotamians, but it is possible that the eyes could have been protective talismans or reminders that the eyes of the Great Lady and her divine husband were always upon the living.
- Power Trio: In Harran, she was worshipped alongside her husband Nanna and the light and fire god Nuska as part of a triad.
- Spell My Name with an "S": In later times, her name was corrupted into "Nikkal".
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄑𒍣𒁕 | Ningizidanote
Ningishzida was an underworld god associated with vegetation, trees, growth, decay, snakes and demons. He also represented subconscious and hidden knowledge, and was sometimes connected with beer and wine, as certain Ur III texts associated him with the E-ĝetin ("wine house") and called him the "lord of the innkeepers". He served as the throne-bearer and counsellor of the netherworld, carrying out Ereshkigal's orders and enforcing her laws both in the underworld and on earth. He was also the guardian of the demons in the underworld, and had the power to keep them under control if he so desired, and sometimes stood alongside the chief gatekeeper Neti at the entrance of the underworld. He also served alongside Dumuzid/Tammuz as a guardian and doorkeeper at Anu's celestial palace. Ningishzida was believed to travel to the underworld at the time of the death of vegetation (from mid-summer to mid-winter), and arose again later to bring the growth of vegetation back to the land. He was the son of Ninazu and Ningirida/Ninsutu and husband of Azimua. His sukkal
("vizier") was the god Alla. Ningishzida's cult center was in the town Gishbanda, which was located upstream from Ur, near to Ki'abrig. Ningishzida's temple in this town was called the kur-a-e-er-ra-ka ("mountain of lament"). He also had a temple in Ur called the E-niggina ("house of justice"), and was honored in numerous cities such as Lagash, Eshnunna, Nippur, Uruk, and Umma, among others. Ningishzida was attested in the Fara god list from the Early Dynastic Period, and later on served as the personal god of Gudea, the seventh ruler of Lagash, and Ur-Ningirsu, Gudea's son and successor. However, at the end of the Ur III period, Ningishzida's cult center in Gishbanda was deserted, and he was rarely attested in subsequent periods.
- Animal Motifs: Like his father, Ningishzida was closely associated with divine snakes, specifically with the muḫuu and bamu snakes. In some Old Babylonian Period hymns, he was addressed with epiteths such as mu-hu ("Terrifying Serpent") and was commonly depicted with snakes growing out of his shoulders and standing on a dragon. His symbol was a staff entwined with two serpents, an earlier form of the caduceus that was later adopted by the Greeks as the staff of Hermes.
- Carry a Big Stick: He was sometimes depicted with a mace.
- Cosmic Motifs: He was associated with the Hydra constellation in the astrological compendium MUL-APIN.
- Curse: In Neo-Assyrian incantations, Ningishzida was invoked to punish desecrators of royal, cursed graves with zaqiqu-spirits.
- Decomposite Character: Some scholars have suggested that Ningishzida was originally a form of Ninurta/Ningirsu, and Ningishzida was associated with the family of Ninurta in many theological lists of gods. However, the two eventually came to be seen as seperate deities over time.
- Gate Guardian: Ningishzida served as guardian and doorkeeper at Anu's celestial palace alongside Dumuzid/Tammuz. As part of his duties as Ereshkigal's counsellor in the underworld, he sometimes stood with Neti, the chief gate-keeper, at the entrance of the underworld.
- Gender Bender: In some texts, Ningishzida was referred to as female.
- Green Thumb: Ningishzida was connected with vegetation and agricultural fertility, and was called "lord of pastures and fields". In mid-summer, he would journey into the underworld, causing all the vegetation on earth to die, and would emerge again in mid-winter to bring growth and plenty back to the land, as well as bringing food and water to cattle and sheep. Ningishzida was also a god of trees, particularly of the roots from which the trees grew up.
- Healer God: Although Ningishzida was not specifically a god of healing, he was sometimes invoked for healing purposes and exorcisms. He was symbolized as the crowned serpent, the wise one who brought fertility of the mind and body. Gudea, the ruler of Lagash, credited Ningishzida with having prolonged his life.
- Plague Master: In Neo-Assyrian times, Ningishzida was associated with punishment, pestilence and disease. He was able to ravage the land with plague and fever.
- Renaissance Man: Aside from his chthonic nature, Ningishzida was ascribed numerous and varied powers over the course of his long history. He was associated with vegetation, agriculture, the natural cycles of growth and decay, beer and wine, healing and cursing, conflict, war, and snakes.
- The Smart Guy: Ningishzida was associated with subconscious and hidden wisdom. He was invoked by those seeking introspection and an understanding of their opportunities and issues.
- War God: Ningishzida was sometimes invoked as a warrior-god, being depicted as a death-dealing warrior who was active in both war and attaining victory. He was referred to by epiteths such as gud-me-lam ("warrior of splendor") and sul ur-sag ("young hero"), was considered the military governor of Ur, and his symbol was the pātu ("sickle sword"). For the king on the battlefield, Ningishzida was known by the epiteth digir-sul-a-zi-da ("hero on the right side").
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒆤 | Ninlilnote
Ninlil was a mother goddess associated with air, fertility, grain and sailors. She was the queen of the gods, primarily known as the wife of Enlil. She was the daughter of Nisaba/Nunbarsegunu, goddess of writing and grain, and Haya, god of scribes, and the mother of, among others, Nanna/Sin, Nergal, Ninazu, Enbilulu and Ninurta. Her most prominent myth told of her serial seduction by Enlil, during which they conceived their first four children, which concluded with the two getting married. Originally called Sud, she was the patron deity of the city of Shuruppak, one of the antediluvian cities mentioned in the Sumerian King List. After marrying Enlil, her main temple, called the Eki'ur, was located in the city of Nippur.
- Blow You Away: She was an air goddess with powers on par with her husband.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Ninlil was occasionally syncretised with various minor healing and mother goddesses. When Enlil was syncretised with Ashur, the highest god of the Assyrian pantheon, Ninlil was consequently conflated with Ashur's wife, Mulliltu. During the reigns of the Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian empires, Ninlil was largely assimilated by Inanna/Ishtar, like many other goddesses, especially in the cities of of Kish and Arbela.
- Divine Right of Kings: Ninlil assisted Enlil in bestowing kingship on earthly monarchs.
- Good Bad Girl: In one interpretation of the myth of her marriage to Enlil, she deliberately disobeyed her mother and seduced Enlil by bathing in the river so that he would see her.
- Green Thumb: She was a fertility goddess associated with grain and the myth of her and Enlil is believed to represent the life cycle of grain: the process of wind pollination, ripening, and the eventual withering of the crops and their subsequent return to the earth (corresponding to Ninlil's sojourn in the underworld).
- The High Queen: She was considered the queen of the gods and one of the heads of the pantheon, being equal to Enlil and possessing the same authority. In one poem, Ninlil declared, "As Enlil is your master, so am I also your mistress!". Her epithets included "Queen of the Heavens and the Earth", "Queen of the Lands", "Lady of the Gods" and "Foremost Lady of the Anunna Gods".
- Meaningful Rename: She was originally called Sud, but her name was changed to Ninlil after she married Enlil.
- The Power of Creation: Like her husband, she was viewed as a creatrix and a giver of life.
- Water Is Womanly: Ninlil was associated with sailors and her conceiving her son Nanna/Sin with Enlil while the two were either bathing in a river or on a boat is believed to be connected with an early Sumerian belief in the impregnating powers of water.
Ninurta / Pabilsag / Zababa
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅁 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄈𒋢 / 𒀭𒉺𒉈𒊕 / 𒀭𒍝𒂷𒂷 | Ninurtanote / Ningirsunote / Pabilsaĝ / Zababa
The god of agriculture, farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war, Ninurta was the son of Enlil and Ninlil and was married to the healing goddess Bau/Gula, goddess of healing. He was originally the local deity of the town of Girsu and the city of Larak, but eventually became the patron god of the city of Kalakh. A major festival of his, the Gudsisu Festival, marked in Nippur the beginning of the plowing season.
- The Ace: Ninurta was highly regarded as a great warrior-god, champion of the gods, and protector of humanity.
- Archer Archetype: He was typically depicted holding a bow and arrow.
- Carry a Big Stick: He wielded an enchanted talking mace called Sharur, which means "smasher of thousands".
- Color Motif: Ninurta's associated color was black.
- Composite Character: Ninurta was syncretised early on with Pabilsag, the god of the city of Larak.
- Cosmic Motifs: Astronomers of the eighth and seventh centuries BC identified Ninurta with the constellation Sagittarius. Alternatively, others identified him with the star Sirius, which was known in Akkadian as ukūdu, meaning "arrow". The constellation of Canis Major, of which Sirius is the most visible star, was known as qatu, meaning "bow", after the bow and arrow Ninurta was believed to carry. In Babylonian times, Ninurta was also associated with the planet Saturn.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with lead.
- Farm Boy: Even after becoming a war deity, he continued to be associated with agriculture and was regarded as the god of the plow and of plowing. In fact, "The Instruction of Ninurta" is the title of what is regarded as the world's first farmer's almanac, containing practical instructions on how to get the most from the land. The piece goes into details on how to prepare the earth, how to plant the seed, even how to drive away birds, and the proper way to harvest the crop.
- Flying Weapon: His mace had the power to fly across vast distances without impediment, allowing it to provide crucial intelligence to Ninurta and act as an emissary between him and Enlil.
- Green Thumb: In the earliest records, he was a god of irrigation and agriculture, and he retained those attributes after becoming a war deity. He continued to be associated with agriculture, growth, and the harvest.
- Healer God: Although he was chiefly defined by his aggressive nature, he was also associated with healing and protection (hence his association with Gula) and was frequently invoked in magical spells to ward off danger, demons, and disease.
- Humble Pie: Ninurta learning humility is the point of Ninurta and the Turtle, in which his pride overtakes his reason. In the story, which seems to be set after Ninurta had defeated the Anzu and Asag and was being honored by Enki, Ninurta brought a chick from the Anzu bird to the Absu (the primeval watery depths) of Enki's home at Eridu. Enki praised Ninurta for his victories, for bringing the offspring of his enemy to Eridu, for returning the Tablets of Destiny; but Ninurta was angered by the accolades. He wanted to achieve even greater victories and "set his sights on the whole world". Enki read his thoughts and fashioned a giant turtle which he released behind the hero. The turtle bit and held Ninurta's ankle, and as they struggled, the turtle dug an enormous pit with its claws which the two fell into. Enki then looked down into the pit, where the turtle was chewing on Ninurta's feet, and mocked him saying, "You who made great claims - how will you get out now?". The conclusion is lost, but the turtle and the pit were intended to humble the hero and force him to recognize his limitations and also accept with gratitude the praise for his achievements instead of desiring greater glory, and it is assumed that Enki's scheme succeeded.
- Hunter of Monsters: In his most famous myths, Ninurta slayed the demon Asag using his talking mace Sharur and was the champion of the gods against the Anzû bird after it stole the Tablet of Destinies from his father Enlil.
- I Have Many Names: His earliest known name was Imdugud (now also read as Anzu). By the early 3rd millennium BCE, he was known as Ningirsu in the town of Girsu and Pabilsag in the city of Larak. By c. 2600 BCE, he had come to be known as Ninurta, which would be the name most Mesopotamians came to know and use for him.
- Making a Splash: He was also regarded as the power of the rainstorms and floods of the spring.
- Talking Weapon: His mace could talk.
- War God: He was regarded as a young and vigorous god of war and was frequently invoked by numerous kingdoms and principalities in ancient Mesopotamia for protection or aid in military matters.
Nisaba / Nunbarsegunu
𒀭𒊺𒉀 / 𒀭𒉣𒁇𒊺𒄖𒉡 | Nisabanote / Nunbaregununote
Nisaba was the goddess of grain, accounting, and writing. Originally solely a grain goddess, Nisaba became associated with writing as records were made regarding grain transactions. As the great lady who made the grain grow, she also oversaw the accounts of where it was distributed and how. Writing developed as trade grew until Nisaba was synonymous with the concept of writing. As such, she developed in power and prestige along with the written word in Mesopotamia until she was known as the scribe of the gods and keeper of both divine and mortal accounts. As the goddess of literacy, she was also considered the patroness of scribes and the craft of writing. She was the daughter of Anu and Uras, sister of Bau/Gula and Ninsun (the mother of Gilgamesh), wife of Haya, the god of scribes, and the mother of Ninlil. She was the chief scribe of Nanshe, the goddess of social justice. On the first day of the new year, she and Nanshe worked together to settle disputes between mortals and give aid to those in need. Nisaba kept a record of the visitors seeking aid and then arranged them into a line to stand before Nanshe, who would then judge them. Nisaba was also seen as a caretaker for Ninhursag's temple at Kesh, where she gave commands and kept temple records. She was originally worshiped at the city of Umma in the Early Dynastic Period, but later became associated primarily with the city of Eresh, which was located somewhere in southern Mesopotamia. In the Babylonian period, her worship was mainly redirected towards the god Nabu, who took over most of her functions.
- Bookworm: Nisaba was considered synonymous with the concept of literacy. Her worship seems to have consisted primarily of the act of writing; in composing a written work, an author was honoring the goddess with the gifts she had given. She became synonymous with wisdom and learning and was invoked regularly by scribes, scholars, priests, astronomers, and mathematicians for inspiration and guidance in their work. Many clay-tablets ended with the phrase "Nisaba be praised" to honor her.
- Chickification: Nisaba's worship and prominence declined during the Old Babylonian Period and the reign of Hammurabi, during which time goddesses were de-emphasized in favor of gods. Nabu, Marduk's son, took Nisaba's place as the patron of writing and scribes, and she was relegated to a secondary role as his wife and consort. In this capacity, she kept the records and library of the gods but was no longer invoked for inspiration in creativity; this became Nabu's role. Still, she continued to be venerated at alongside Nabu in his temples for thousands of years. However, while the cult of Nabu spread as far as the Mediterranean during the first few centuries CE, worship of Nisaba remained confined within Mesopotamia for the most part, where it seems to have died out following the fall of the Seleucid Empire in 63 BCE, the last period during which she was attested in historical records.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In a debate between Nisaba and Grain, Nisaba was syncretised with Ereshkigal as "Mistress of the Underworld". Nisaba was also often identified with the grain goddesses Ashnan/Ezina and Shala. Her literary association also resulted in her being conflated with the Egyptian writing goddess Seshat.
- Earth Mother: Nisaba embodied grain, specifically barley, and was worshiped as a minor mother goddess.
- Green Thumb: Nisaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain, and was represented in cuneiform as a single grain stalk, which indicated that she was considered to be the grain itself. After Nabu took her place as the patron of writing and scribes, she came to be more commonly invoked in agricultural contexts.
- I Have Many Names: She was also known by the names Nanibgal and Nunbaregunu. The former appeared mainly as a praising epithet, whilst the latter was used essentially in agricultural contexts.
- The Smart Girl: She was referred to as a "faithful woman exceeding in wisdom". She had a close relationship to scribes and scholarly activities, and mathematics and astronomy were in her repertoire. She was said to be "a lady with cunning intelligence", as well as was the goddess of creative inspiration and creative mind.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Nidaba" or "Nissaba".
Sarpanitu / Erua
𒀭𒊬𒉺𒉌𒌅 / 𒀭𒆰𒁀𒉌𒌈 | Sarpanitunote / Eruanote
Sarpanitu was a mother goddess associated with water, wisdom, pregnancy, childbirth, and the rising moon. She was the consort of Marduk and the mother of Nabu. She was revered as the queen of the gods and protector of the unborn progeny in the womb, which resulted in her also being attributed the possession of knowledge concealed from men. She resided with her husband in the Esagila temple in Babylon, and was worshipped nightly as the moon rose. Sarpanitu and Marduk were lavishly praised during the great annual New Year festival, in which a ritual was carried out that re-enacted their sacred marriage.
- Chickification: When Marduk gained prominence in Babylon, Sarpanitu fell from her previously high estate, becoming merely the female shadow and companion of Marduk, sharing in his glory without materially contributing to it.
- Composite Character: Around the time of Hammurabi, Sarpanitu was syncretized with Erua, a minor water goddess of pregnancy and childbirth whose worship centered in one of the islands in or near the Persian Gulf. When Marduk rose to prominence in Babylon, Erua, regarded as a daughter of Enki, came to be associated with Sarpanitu, and the two were merged into one personality. Additionally, Gamsu, a Chaldean sea goddess, was also eventually assimilated with Sarpanitu.
- Cosmic Motifs: Like Inanna/Ishtar, Sarpanitu was associated with the planet Venus. She was called the shining star and was associated with mountains due to Venus rising and setting over them.
- Deity Identity Confusion:
- Sarpanitu appears to have at some point been the same goddess as Shala, a grain goddess and consort of Ishkur/Adad. Both of them were identified with the epiteth "the lady of the mountain" and at least one tablet specifically identified Shala as Marduk's wife. This appears to have been caused by Shala's husband, Ishkur/Adad, acquiring traits of a sun god in Syria and parts of Babylonia, which resulted in him sometimes becoming conflated with Marduk. As a result, their respective spouses eventually came to be seen as separate goddesses.
- Sarpanitu was associated with the goddess Aruru (Ninhursag), due to her similar role as a mother goddess who protected unborn progeny.
- Sarpanitu was regularly conflated with Inanna/Ishtar, as they were both associated with the planet Venus and referred to by the epiteth Belit, with Inanna/Ishtar sometimes even having been identified as Marduk's consort. However, the Babylonians were anxious to explicitly regard Marduk's consort as being identical to Inanna/Ishtar, and Sarpanitu remained generally distinguished, albeit not sharply, from her.
- Sarpanitu has sometimes been identified by scholars with Succoth-benoth, a Babylonian deity mentioned in the Bible as one of the deities brought to the former kingdom of Samaria by the men of Israel after the exile of Canaan by Assyria. However, it has also been noted that Bànitu ("(female) creator") was an epithet of Ishtar in Nineveh, and it is possible that the name "Succoth-benoth" was merely a Hebrew rendition of a Neo-Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian divine name meaning "the image of Bànitu".
- Earth Mother: Sarpanitu was a mother goddess who protected the progeny while still in the mother's womb. She was usually depicted pregnant as an indication of her divine function of giving birth.
- I Have Many Names: By a play on words, the priests of Babylon gave her the title Zēr-bānītu ("producer of seed"), to affirm her connection to her husband Marduk, the god responsible for the renewal of spring. Since Marduk was often called Bel ("lord"), Sarpanitu acquired the feminine equivalent title Belit ("lady"). She was also on some occasions more specifically called Bēlet-Bābili ("Lady of Babylon"). In Dilmun, she was known as Lakhamun.
- Lunacy: Sarpanitu was associated with the rising moon, contrasting Marduk's association with the rising sun, and one translation of her name, "the silvery bright one", may allude to her original role as a moon goddess. The occurence of the couple's first "nubattu" ("vigil") on the third of the month of Ulūlu, marking the beginning of the wedding week, also seems to point to this, as it occured near the time of the monthly conjunction of the sun and moon.
- Making a Splash: As Erua, she was originally worshipped as a minor water goddess, revered as the voice of the deep revealing the secrets of heaven to the diviner and priest, and continued to be associated with water after the goddesses were syncretized. As a result, Sarpanitu also gained Erua's water-related epiteths, such as "lady of the deep", "mistress of the place where the fish dwell", and "voice of the deep".
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Sarpanit", "Sarpanitum", "Zarpanit", "Zarpandit", "Zerpanitum", "Zerbanitu", or "Zirbanit". As Belit, her name could also be read as "Beltiya", "Belti", "Beltu", "Beltis", or "Belat".
- Water Is Womanly: Sarpanitu was associated with water due to her functions as a protector of unborn progeny and possessor of knowledge concealed from men, as the Babylonians associated wisdom and and the life-giving principle with water.
- Western Zodiac: Sarpanitu was associated with the western portion of Virgo and the constellation Coma Berenices. Unlike the Greeks, the Babylonians conceived of Virgo as being two constellations: the "Furrow" in the eastern sector of Virgo and the "Frond of Erua" in the western sector, where the two goddesses stood across or above the ecliptic. Sarpanitu/Erua represented the Frond of Erua, in which the goddess was depicted holding a date palm-frond.
Sherida / Aya
𒀭𒂠𒉪𒁕 / 𒀭𒀀𒀀 | eridanote / Ayanote
Sherida/Aya was a mother goddess associated with light, dawn, fertility, maternity, sexuality, and youth. She was the consort of the sun god Utu/Shamash and mother of Kittu, goddess of justice, and Misharu, god of law. Her role as Utu/Shamash's wife was exemplified through epiteths such as "the great bride". She was mostly worshipped as an intercessor, since her husband was also the god of justice, and also shared his role in overseeing justice. Having been attested in inscriptions from the Early Dynastic Period, Sherida/Aya was among the oldest Semitic deities known in Mesopotamia. She was worshipped alongside her husband at their temples in Sippar and Larsa, both of which were called E-babbar ("white house").
- Action Girl: In one of the hymns to Utu/Shamash, she was described as a "youthful leader of battle".
- Chickification: Sherida/Aya was once a primary deity, but ultimately assumed a subordinate role as Utu/Shamash's consort when he was formalized as the patheon's primary sun god.
- Composite Character:
- Sherida and Aya were originally separate goddesses. When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized with that of the Sumerians, causing the minor sun goddess Aya to become syncretized with Sherida.
- In Ugarit, Aya was equated with a deity who shared the same name as her. Additionally, a late recension of the An = Anum god list from Achaemenid Uruk syncretised several other minor goddesses with her (Ninkar, Sudag, Sudgan, Ninmulguna, and Munusulutag).
- Earth Mother: Sherida/Aya was revered as a mother goddess associated with sexuality, maternity and fertility, perhaps because of the inherent beauty of light, or because of the role the light of the sun plays in making the earth fertile.
- Green Thumb: The Chaldeans believed that Sherida/Aya's mystical union, or sacred marriage, with the sun god caused all vegetation to grow and flourish.
- Hot Goddess: She was envisioned as an attractive young girl and one of her epiteths was "mistress adorned with voluptuousness".
- Light 'em Up: Sherida/Aya was the goddess of light, and was particularly associated with the sunlight at dawn.
- Light Is Good: Sherida/Aya was viewed as a giver and sustainer of light and life. Her light was associated with making the earth fertile, shining on the sea, and giving hope to everyone. She was invoked at all beginnings, when a potent surge of energy was needed to bring the renewing light of dawn. Like her husband, Sherida/Aya's light allowed her to witness transactions on earth, such as field or house rentals and temple loans, and she was thus viewed as a guardian of justice, being present at trials and commercial agreements to assure their proper development.
- Love Goddess: Sherida/Aya was also a goddess of sexual love and sexual activity, likely because her light was associated with the sun's life-giving energy.
- The Power of the Sun: Sherida/Aya was the goddess of dawn, and was thus associated with the light at sunrise. Like other goddesses of dawn, Sherida/Aya was associated wit eastern mountains, which were seen as symbolically giving birth to the solar orb each day as it crested the peaks and rose into the sky. Eastern mountains were also imagined as pushing the sun upwards into the sky in a birthing process.
- Protectorate: She was sometimes invoked for protection. In the third tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh planned to venture into the Cedar forest and kill Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Gilgamesh's mother Ninsun blamed Utu/Shamash for her son's desire to go adventuring. She climbed onto the temple roof and asked Sherida/Aya to implore Utu/Shamash to protect Gilgamesh on his mission, especially at night when the sun god could not watch over him.
𒀭𒂔 / 𒀭𒊺𒊒𒌑𒀀 | eruanote
Sherua was an Assyrian goddess of deserted lands and dawn. Sherua was also associated with cattle sheds, and collectors were sent to collect field rent from the tennant farmers of the goddess. She was originally regarded as either the wife or daughter of Ashur, until she was eventually replaced as his consort by Mullissu. However, probably during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III, and perhaps under Babylonian influence, Assyrian theologians once again assigned her as Ashur's wife. During the reign of Sennacherib, Sherua and Mullissu were simultaneously aknowledged as the legitimate wives of Ashur, although Mullissu was apparently considered the primary wife. Sherua was twice invoked alongside other goddesses in abaṭu, the 11th month of the Babylonian calendar, in a ritual that reaffirmed the king's legitimacy. Sherua, Kippat-mati, and Tashmetu seemingly acted as mediators who interceded with the ancestors on behalf of the king, and the king later accompanied them to the temple of Anu, where apparently a negotiation took place regarding the king's legitimate status in the presence of the Anu's divine assembly, with the goddesses interceding on the king's behalf. Sherua's cult center was located in Assur, but she also had cults in Arbela and possibly Uruk.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In northern Mesopotamia, Sherua was identified with Geshtinanna, seemingly because they both shared the title Belet-Seri ("lady of the desert"). An Old Babylonian series of letters found at Tell Rimah appears to indicate that Geshtinanna-Sherua was considered to be the wife of the storm-god Ishkur/Adad.
- Dishing Out Dirt: She was associated with deserted lands.
- Exotic Extended Marriage: From the reign of Sennacherib onwards, Sherua and Mullissu both served simultaneously as the wives as Ashur. The two goddesses appear to have been thought of as rivals, although Sherua was generally considered to be secondary to Mullissu. Scholars have suggested that this new polygamous theology was an attempt on the part of Sennacherib to project his own matrimonial status onto the divine world, perhaps with the intention to add legitimacy to the arrangement he had with his two principal wives, Tashmetu-sharrat and Naqi'a.
Tashmetu / Nanaya
𒀭𒌨𒈨𒌈 / 𒀭𒈾𒈾𒀀 | Tametunote / Nanayanote
Tashmetu/Nanaya was the goddess of supplication, wisdom, sexual attractiveness, lust, voluptuousness, sexuality, and warfare. Tashmetu was the daughter of Anu and Uras, consort of Nabu, god of literacy and wisdom, and mother of Kanisura and Gazbaba. She was called upon to listen to prayers of all natures and to grant requests. She was also the mediator between mortals and the gods, as well as husbands and wives. In one ritual, which celebrated her and Nabu's sacred marriage, their statues would be brought together for a "marriage ceremony". After their wedding, Tashmetu and Nabu stayed in the bedchamber for six days and seven nights, during which time they were served an elaborate feast. Tashmetu shared her cult centre with her husband in Borsippa, the sister city of Babylon, and the two also had twin temples in Nimrud in the Kalhu temple complex named Ezida. As Nanaya, her main cult centres were in the cities of Ur, Uruk and Kish, but her cult ultimately spread as far as Egypt, Syria, and Iran.
- Archer Archetype: In post-Babylonian times, one of her iconographic symbols was a bow and arrow, possibly due to her association with Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt.
- Composite Character: Tashmetu and Nanaya were originally separate goddesses. However, when Nanaya's consort, Muati, was syncretized with Nabu, she came to be viewed as Nabu's consort, which resulted in her becoming conflated with Tashmetu. Similarly, Ninzizli, a goddess known as "the mistress of loving care" who was associated with Borsippa, was eventually fully syncretized with Tashmetu/Nanaya.
- Cosmic Motifs: She was associated with the star Balrea, the Mesopotamian name of the star Alpha Coronae Borealis in the constellation Corona Borealis.
- Deity Identity Confusion:
- Tashmetum/Nanaya was closely associated with Inanna/Ishtar, who was also associated with wisdom and sexuality. In later times, Nanaya was completely assimilated into Inanna/Ishtar, and her name became merely one of Inanna/Ishtar's many cultic epithets.
- The Persians identified her with Anahita, the Zoroastrian yazata (divinity) of fertility, healing, wisdom and water, whose cult was promoted by Artaxerxes II. The Eastern Iranians identified her with Spenta Armaiti, one of the Zoroastrian Amesha Spentas ("holy immortals"), associated with earth, mother nature, and the female virtue of devotion (to family, husband, and child).
- The Greeks identified her with Artemis, and a Greek hymn also stated that the Egyptians associated her with the Egyptian goddess Isis and Canaanite goddess Astarte.
- I Have Many Names: While the Assyrians called her Tashmetu, the Babylonians instead identified her as Nanaya. She was also known by the epithets "Lady of Hearing" and "Lady of Favor".
- Love Goddess: Tashmetu/Nanaya was a goddess of sex appeal and sexuality, and was described as the "mistress of the lovers in the inhabited world" and a symbol of sexual attraction. Tashmetu ruled love within the bonds of marriage, and could lead women to their true mate, as well as serving as a mediator for spouses. She was revered as the height of womanly virtue, the seductress and the loyal wife. She and Nabu were often invoked together for matters of love.
- Lunacy: As a daughter of Anu, she was endowed with the characteristics of a moon deity, but was never worshipped as a pure moon goddess.
- Power Trio: During the Old Babylonian Period, Nanaya, her daughter Kanisura, and Inanna/Ishtar were worshipped as a trinity of goddesses in Uruk and later in Kish.
- The Smart Girl: Like her husband, Tashmetu was associated with wisdom. A fragmentary prayer described her as a wise goddess. It has also been suggested that the Akkadian variant of her name should be interpreted as meaning "intelligence".
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Tashmet" or "Tashmetum". As Nanaya, variants of her name include "Nana", "Nanay", and "Nanaja".
- War Goddess: Among the Assyrians, she also held the status of a goddess of war, possibly due to her association with Inanna/Ishtar. In contrast, the Babylonians called her the "lady of love and peace". A hymn to Nanaya concluding with a prayer on behalf of Sargon II, king of Assyria, described her while in this role:
[...she grasps in her hand] the naked sword, [the emblem of Nergal], and the pointed axe, appropriate to the [Pleiades]. Right and left, battle is set in lines. She is the foremost of the gods, whose play is combat, she who leads the coalition of the seven demons.
𒀭𒀊𒌑 | Abunote
Abu was the god of plants and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Abu was tasked with healing the top of Enki's head and was subsequently made "king of the plants".
- Deity Identity Confusion: It has been proposed that Abu may have been an early name of Dumuzid/Tammuz, on the basis that Abu was identified as the consort of Inanna/Ishtar, and that the name Abu did not appear in texts later than the Third Dynasty of Ur.
- Green Thumb: As "king of the plants", he presumably had control over plantlife.
- Healer God: Abu healed the top of Enki's head.
𒀭𒀜𒃻𒆠𒄭 | Adg̃ar-kidug
Adgar-kidug was a goddess who, alongside her husband Martu/Amurru, served as the patron deity of Ninab, a satellite of the larger city of Kazallu. She was the daughter of Numushda and Namrat, the patron deities of Kazallu. In The Marriage of Martu
, she accepted Martu's proposal to marry her, despite her friend's disapproval due to Martu's uncivilized, nomadic lifestyle. Their marriage bridged the cultural gap between the sedentary Sumerians of the alluvial basin, and the semi-nomadic Amorites of the western steppe. In this position, Adgar-kidug served as a civilizing force, bringing the Amorite god Martu away from the primitive nomad's life, and into the refined city life.
- Opposites Attract: The refined and city-dwelling Adgar-kidug ended up falling in love and marrying the nomadic and wild Martu.
- What Does She See in Him?: Adgar-kidug's companions were perplexed by her decision to marry the wild, nomadic Martu and strongly tried to dissuade her from doing so. They expressed the urbanite Sumerian disgust at the uncivilized, nomadic Amorite lifestyle. However, Adgar-kidug willfully ignored their criticism, instead simply restating her desire to marry Martu.
𒀭𒀀𒁯𒂷𒆪 | אַדְרַמֶּלֶךְ | Adrammelechnote
Adrammelech was a sun god who was worshipped alongside the moon goddess Anammelech in Sepharvaim, a name that referred to the twin cities of Sippar-Yahrurum (more commonly known simply as Sippar) and Sippar-Amnanum located on opposite sides of the banks of the Euphrates, north of Babylon. Scholars have suggested that Adrammelech signified the magnificent king, and Anammelech the gentle king, and that the two might also have been worshipped as protectors of cattle. According to the Books of Kings
, the Sepharvites burned their children in fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech. After Sepharvaim was conquered by an Assyrian king (probably Sargon II), at least some of the Sepharvites were deported to Samaria, where they continued worshipping their gods.
- Animal Motifs: According to the Talmud, Adrammelech's idol had the shape of a mule. Alternatively, it's also been suggested that the god was instead envisioned as having the form of a peacock. As a result, he was generally depicted in Judeo-Christian traditions with a human torso, a mule's head, a peacock tail, and the limbs of a mule or peacock.
- Deity Identity Confusion: It has been theorized that Adrammelech might have simply been a secondary title of the sun god Utu/Shamash, who was the tutelary deity of Sippar. Alternatively, the German orientalist Peter Jensen proposed in the late nineteenth century that אדרמלך (ʾAḏrammeleḵ, "Adrammelech") was a manuscript error for *אדדמלך (*ʾĂḏaḏmeleḵ, "*Adadmelech"), due to the typographical similarity of ר (r) and ד (d), which Jensen thought was a variant of unrecorded *חֲדַדמֶּלֶךְ (*Ḥăḏaḏmeleḵ, "King Hadad" or "Hadad is king"), thus identifying Adrammelech with the Canaanite god Hadad.
- Demonization: Like many pagan gods mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Adrammelech is considered a demon in some Judeo-Christian traditions.
- Human Sacrifice: His worshippers reportedly burned their children in fire as sacrifices to him.
- The Power of the Sun: Adrammelech was associated with the sun.
𒀭𒀝𒂵𒊓𒅀 | Agasaya
Agasaya was a Semitic war goddess. Her name is thought to translate to "the shrieker" though there is no solid proof of this.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Her weapons may have been a bow and arrows and a scimitar.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Agasaya later got merged into Ishtar along with many other goddesses, this is likely due to conquering. Agasaya became the warrior aspect of Ishtar and lived on in history that way.
- Screaming Warrior: Assuming the translation of her name is accurate, she was known for being this.
- War Goddess: Another war goddess like Inanna/Ishtar.
𒀭𒂼 𒊕𒉡𒌌 | Amasagnul
Amasagnul was an Akkadian fertility goddess. She was mentioned in documents from the Hellenistic period at Uruk, and is thought to have been the consort of the messenger god Papsukkal.
- Flat Character: Little is know about her aside from her function and relation to Papsukkal.
- Love Goddess: She was a fertility goddess.
𒀭𒂷𒆪 | עֲנַמֶּלֶךְ | Anammelechnote
Anammelech was a moon goddess who was worshipped alongside the sun god Adrammelech in Sepharvaim, a name that referred to the twin cities of Sippar-Yahrurum (more commonly known simply as Sippar) and Sippar-Amnanum located on opposite sides of the banks of the Euphrates, north of Babylon. Scholars have suggested that Anammelech signified the gentle king, and Adrammelech the magnificent king, and that the two might also have been worshipped as protectors of cattle. According to the Books of Kings
, the Sepharvites burned their children in fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech. After Sepharvaim was conquered by an Assyrian king (probably Sargon II), at least some of the Sepharvites were deported to Samaria, where they continued worshipping their gods.
- Deity Identity Confusion: It has been theorized that Anammelech might have simply been a secondary title of Anu, who was one of the chief gods worshipped in Babylonia, which is where Sippar was located. However, this identification is considered unlikely due to there being no sources that indicate Anu ever receiving sacrificed children as offerings.
- Human Sacrifice: Her worshippers reportedly burned their children in fire as sacrifices to her.
- Lunacy: Anammelech was associated with the moon.
𒀭𒀀𒊏𒍪 | Arazunote
Arazu was the god of completed construction, revered as the heavenly architect behind all things construction. He was a son of Enki/Ea and was involved in completing the construction of the divine temples of the gods. He was also one of several construction gods that were invoked in ritual acts by craftsmen following the completion of their work and was more specifically honored at the conclusion of building projects.
- Person of Mass Construction: Arazu was revered as the heavenly architect who was responsible for all forms of construction. He was honored following the completion of building projects.
Asaruludu / Asalluhi
𒀭𒍂𒇽𒄭 | Asaruludu / Asarluhi / Asalluhi / Namshub
Asaruludu was the god of exorcism, divination, incantations and magic, and the son of Enki/Ea and Ninhursag. Asaruludu was originally a local god of the village of Kuara, which was located near the city of Eridu, but he was eventually regarded as a god of magical knowledge. He also served as an exorcist in Sumerian religious rituals.
- The Archmage: He was the god of exorcism, divination, incantations and magic, and was regarded as an expert in them. Incantations commonly ended with the speaker attributing it to Asaruludu and Enki/Ea as a pair. However, Asaruludu sometimes played an intermediary role, introducing the patient to Enki/Ea. In keeping with his mastery over incantations, which seek to cleanse the afflicted patient from impurity, Asaruludu is also ascribed the special status as "supervisor of the purification priests of E-abzu".
- Deity Identity Confusion: He was eventually syncretized with Marduk, and the Enuma Elish lists Asalluhi as one of Marduk's fifty names.
- Flaming Sword: He was described as wielding a flaming sword.
- Light Is Good: He was considered a protective deity and had several light-related epithets, such as "the shining god that illuminates our path" and "the light of the gods".
- The Smart Guy: Asaruludu shared Enki/Ea's qualities of intelligence, counsel and "wide reason".
𒀭𒋓𒄄 | Agi
Ashgi was a warrior god who, along with his sister Lisin/Negun, was worshipped in the Sumerian city-states of Adab and Kesh. He was the son of Nintud (another name for Ninlil or Ninhursag).
𒀭𒊺𒊺𒉪 | Ashnannote / Ezina / Ezina-Kusu
Ashnan was the goddess of grain. She and her brother Lahar, both children of Enlil, were created by the gods to provide the Annunaki with food and clothing. The Annunaki, in turn, created a house, plough and yoke for Ashnan, thus introducing agriculture.
- Big Good: The benefits of grain and cattle to both the gods and humankind resulted in Ashnan and Lahar being universally beloved by everyone, as described in the Debate between sheep and grain:
"They brought wealth to the assembly. They brought sustenance to the Land. They fulfilled the ordinances of the gods. They filled the store-rooms of the Land with stock. The barns of the Land were heavy with them. When they entered the homes of the poor who crouch in the dust they brought wealth. Both of them, wherever they directed their steps, added to the riches of the household with their weight. Where they stood, they were satisfying; where they settled, they were seemly. They gladdened the heart of An and the heart of Enlil."
- Farm Girl: She was the goddess of grain and the inventor of agriculture.
- Sibling Rivalry: In the Debate between sheep and grain, Ashnan and Lahar started quarreling with each other after becoming drunk with wine about whose gifts were better, which was eventually resolved with Enki and Enlil intervening to declare Ashnan the victor. It has been suggested that the victory of grain perhaps implies that man can live without domestic animals, but cannot survive without bread.
𒀭𒀉𒍣𒊬𒀀 | Azimuanote
Azimua was a goddess of healing and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Azimua was tasked with healing Enki's arm and subsequently married Ningishzida, the god of vegetation and the underworld.
𒀭𒁉𒅕𒌅 | Birtumnote / Birdu / Bubu'tu
Birtum was a god of the underworld, worshipped by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Akkadians. He was a son of Enlil and the consort of Manungal/Nungal. He and his wife resided at her Great House in Ekur, where she carried out judgement on the wicked. He was described as "the very strong", taking a seat on the house's great and lofty dais and giving "mighty orders".
- Deity Identity Confusion: He was eventually syncretised with Nergal in the Babylonian period.
- Flat Character: Not much information exists on Birtum because most texts concerning him are found either damaged or incomplete.
𒀭𒁍𒉈𒉈 | Bunene
Bunene was a subordinate, sukkul
("vizier"), charioteer and possibly son of the sun-god Utu/Shamash, whom he drove from the eastern horizon at dawn to the doorway of the interior of heaven in the west at dusk in a daily ritual. He was worshipped at Sippar and Uruk during the Old Babylonian Period and was later also worshipped at Assur. Like his overlord, Bunene had a sanctuary, the é.kur.ra ("House of the Mountain"), at Sippar, modern Abu Habbah, which was rebuilt by Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He also featured in the pantheons at Uruk and Larsa, where his patron was also venerated.
- The Power of the Sun: He was a minor solar deity before he was absorbed as an attendant into the Utu/Shamash cult.
- Power Trio: During the Neo-Assyrian era, Bunene had seemingly formed a holy trinity with Utu/Shamash and his consort Aya, as his cultic statue featured in the donations of garments and food given to Utu/Shamash in the Sun God Tablet of Nabu-apla-iddina.
𒀭𒁕𒈬 | Damunote
Damu was a god of healing, medicine and vegetation, especially of the vernal flowing of the sap of trees and plants. He was the son of the healing goddess Ninisina/Bau/Gula (his father being variously identified as either Ninurta/Pabilsag, Enki or Ningishzida) and the brother of the gods ulagana and Igalima and seven goddesses, which included Hegir-Nuna and possibly Gunura. He also served as sukkal
("vizier") to the elusive dGI.HUR.x.x. Damu was a city god of Girsu, east of Ur in the southern orchards region, and also had cults in Isin, Larsa, Laga and Ur. However, the official cult of Damu became extinct sometime after the Old Babylonian Period.
- Deity Identity Confusion: The cult of Damu influenced and later blended with the similar cult of Dumuzid/Tammuz, the Shepherd. The two appear to have eventually been syncretised, with Damu becoming an aspect of Dumuzi/Tammuz due to his regenerative qualities. Damu was also sometimes considered to be identical to the vegetation god Ningishzida.
- Healer God: Damu was a healing deity credited both as asû ("healer") and āipu ("exorcist"), which says as much about the close link between the two professions as about the deity's capabilities. Accordingly, Damu accompanied his mother Bau/Gula in incantations but was also credited as healer in his own right: "Damu binds the torn ligaments".
- Massive Numbered Siblings: He had at least two brothers, ulagana and Igalima, and seven sisters, which included Hegir-Nuna and possibly Gunura.
- Missing Child: His cult, apparently celebrated primarily by women, centred on the lamentation and search for Damu, who had lain under the bark of his nurse, the cedar tree, and had disappeared. The search finally ended when the god reappeared out of the river.
- Name's the Same: Another god named "Damu" was also worshipped in Ebla and Emar, but this may have been a local hero, not the same as the god of healing.
𒀭𒌉𒍣𒍪𒀊 | Dumu-zi-abzunote
Dumu-zi-abzu, sometimes abbreviated to Dumu-zi, was a local goddess who was worshipped in the village of Kinunir, near the city-state of Lagash in the southeastern marshland region. She represented the power of fertility and new life in the marshes.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Dumu-zi-abzu was sometimes conflated with Dumuzi/Tammuz in the central steppe area.
- Gender Bender: Her association with Dumuzid/Tammuz resulted in her being viewed around Eridu as male and as a son of Enki/Ea.
- Green Thumb: She had control over the fertility and life in the marshes.
- Making a Splash: She had power over the waters underground (the Abzu) to bring new life to vegetation on the surface.
𒀭𒂍𒈨𒌍 | Emeshnote
Emesh was the god of vegetation and summer. In order to "establish abundance and prosperity", Enlil conceived Emesh and his brother Enten by copulating with a "hursag" (hill). Emesh served as a guardian of farmers and was specifically tasked to take responsibility on earth for woods, fields, sheep folds, and stables. The two brothers eventually decided to take their gifts to Enlil's sanctuary, the Enamtila ("house of life"), where they began a debate about their relative merits. Enlil ultimately intervened and ruled in favor of Enten. The two gods subsequently rejoiced and reconciled.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of summer.
- Farm Boy: Emesh was a farmer and served as a protector of farmers in general. However, Enten criticised him for being "a bragging field-administrator who does not know the extent of the field", pointing out that he was the one who provided the water that was so essential to agriculture in the hot climate. In the Debate between Winter and Summer, Emesh is described performing the duties assigned to him by Enlil:
For Summer founding towns and villages, bringing in harvests of plenitude for the Great Mountain Enlil, sending labourers out to the large arable tracts, and working the fields with oxen
- Green Thumb: Emesh was reponsible for the fertility and abundance of the earth, allowing for plentiful harvests.
- Sibling Rivalry: In the Debate between Winter and Summer, the brothers started a quarrel over who was more important. Enlil ultimately ruled in favor of Enten, and the brothers reconciled.
Enbilulu / Ennugi
𒀭𒂗𒁉𒇻𒇻 / 𒀭𒂗𒉡𒄄𒊏 | Enbilulunote / Ennuginote
Enbilulu was an underworld god of rivers and canals. He was also the deity of irrigation and farming. He was the "inspector of canals" and was placed in charge of the sacred rivers Tigris and Euphrates by the god Enki. He was also the attendant and throne-bearer of Enlil. He was sometimes identified as the husband of Nisaba/Nanibgal, but the scribe god Haya is more commonly identified as her husband instead.
- Deity Identity Confusion: He was closely associated with Enkimdu, who was also a god of farming and canals. As Ennugi, it is believed that he may have been Gugalanna, the first husband of Ereshkigal, under a different name.
- Farm Boy: Enbilulu was a god of farming, specifically presiding over irrigation.
- Green Thumb: He was called "the Lord who makes all things flourish", who regulated for the land the grazing and watering places, who opened the wells and thereby apportioned the waters of abundance.
- I Have Many Names: He was attributed three names that referenced three separate aspects of his divinity: Epadun ("the lord who sprinkles the field", who knows the most subtle geometries of the earth), Enbilulugugal ("lord of abundance, opulence and ample crops", the power that presides over all growth and all things that grow), and Hegal ("who provides rich rains over the wide earth and provides vegetation for the people's consumption", often called the master of the arts of farming and agriculture as well as one who knows the secrets of metals).
- Making a Splash: Enbilulu was said to "know the secrets of water" and "of the running of rivers below the earth". He was in charge of bringing water to barren regions.
- Multiple-Choice Past: He was most commonly identified as a son of Enlil and Ninlil, specifically being their fourth son, conceived when Enlil seduced Ninlil in the guise of the "man of the boat". However, he was also at least once referred to as instead being a son of Enmesarra and, in Babylonian times, he was instead identified as the son of Enki/Ea and was connected with Ishkur/Adad.
𒀭𒂗𒆠𒅎𒁺 | Enkimdu
Enkimdu was the god of farming, in charge of canals and ditches, a task assigned to him by the water god Enki during his organization of the world. He once competed against the god Dumuzid/Tammuz in an attempt to win the hand of the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, though he ultimately lost.
- Compete for the Maiden's Hand: He competed against the shepherd god Dumuzid for Inanna's hand in marriage.
- Farm Boy: As expected of the god of farming.
- Nice Guy: He was described as a down-to-earth farmer, more docile and peaceful compared to the more aggressive Dumuzid and attempting to resolve the situation diplomatically. Inanna initially even preferred him due to his kindness.
𒀭𒂗𒈨𒊹𒊏 | Enmearra
Enmesarra was an underworld god of the law, who dealt with the Me
book of cosmic law, defining the power and laws underlying society and civilization and tinkering with the Tablet of Destinies. His wife and female counterpart was Ninmesarra and seven or eight other minor deities were said to be his offspring. His symbol was the suuru
(a kind of pigeon). In one incantation, Enmesarra and Ninmesarra were invoked as ancestors of Enlil and Enki and as primeval deities.
- Deity Identity Confusion: When described as a sun god, he was equated with Nergal.
- God is Dead: One source claimed that he was possibly killed by Enlil.
- God of Order: He was in charge of maintaining the rules and regulations of reality itself with the book of cosmic law.
- The Older Immortal: At least one incantation claimed that he was a primeval god who was an ancestor of Enlil and Enki.
- The Power of the Sun: He was sometimes described as a sun god, who served as protector of flocks and vegetation.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Enmesharra".
𒀭𒂗𒋼𒂗 | Entennote
Enten was the god of fertility and winter. In order to "establish abundance and prosperity", Enlil conceived Enten and his brother Emesh by copulating with a "hursag" (hill). Enten served as a guardian of shepherds and was specifically tasked to take responsibility on earth for the fertility of ewes, goats, cows, donkeys, birds, and other animals. The two brothers eventually decided to take their gifts to Enlil's sanctuary, the Enamtila ("house of life"), where they began a debate about their relative merits. Enlil ultimately intervened and ruled in favor of Enten. The two gods subsequently rejoiced and reconciled.
- An Ice Person: As the god of winter, it's expected. During their dispute, Emesh critisized him for the discomfort he brought to humans with the cold weather:
"Your straw bundles are for the oven-side, hearth and kiln. Like a herdsman or shepherd encumbered by sheep and lambs, helpless people run like sheep from oven-side to kiln, and from kiln to oven-side, in the face of you. In sunshine...... you reach decisions, but now in the city people's teeth chatter because of you."
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Of winter.
- Farm Boy: Enten was a shepherd and served as a protector of shepherds in general. In the Debate between Winter and Summer, Enten is described performing the duties assigned to him by Enlil:
For Winter plenitude, the spring floods, the abundance and life of the Land, placing grain in the fields and fruitful acres, and gathering in everything
- Green Thumb: Enten provided for the fertility and abundance of the land through the spring floods, ensuring plentiful harvests.
"In all the orchards he made honey and wine drip to the ground. He made the trees, wherever planted, bear fruit. He established gardens and provided plants. He made grain abundant in the furrows. He made Ezina appear radiant as a beautiful maiden. The harvest, the great festival of Enlil, rose heavenward."
- Making a Splash: Enten was described as the "controller of the life-giving waters of all the lands" and was responsible for the spring floods that were essential to agriculture in the hot climate.
"By hand Enten guided the spring floods, the abundance and life of the Land, down from the edge of the hills. He set his foot upon the Tigris and Euphrates like a big bull and released them into the fields and fruitful acres of Enlil. He shaped lagoons in the water of the sea."
- Sibling Rivalry: In the Debate between Winter and Summer, the brothers started a quarrel over who was more important. Enlil ultimately ruled in favor of Enten, and the brothers reconciled.
𒀭𒂗𒊷𒀝 | Enshagnote
Enshag was a god of fertility and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Enshag was tasked with healing Enki's sides and was subsequently made lord of Dilmun, a polity located in the Persian Gulf.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In one text, he was referred to as the "Nabu of Dilmun", suggesting that they might have been considered to be same deity.
- Healer God: Enshag healed Enki's sides.
- The Smart Guy: His association with Nabu suggests that he was considered quite intelligent.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Enshagag" or "Enzag".
Gareus was a god introduced to Uruk during late antiquity by the Parthians, who built a small temple dedicated to him there in around 110 CE. He was a syncretic deity, combining elements of Greco-Roman and Babylonian cults.
- Flat Character: Nothing is known so far of this deity outside of what has been found from the scattered remnants around his temple.
Gibil / Girra
𒀭𒉋 / 𒀭𒉈𒄀 / 𒀭𒄑𒁇 / 𒀭𒄊𒊏 | Gibilnote / Girranote
Gibil/Girra was the god of fire and light and was involved in many activities of daily life. He played an important role in purification rituals, where he was commonly invoked together with gods such as Enki/Ea, Marduk, and Utu/Shamash. He was also praised in the context of construction due to his significance in the process of brick making. He originated as a Sumerian god, but his cult transcended time. He was worshipped throughout Mesopotamian history until the Seleucid period.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Gibil is said to have maintained the sharp point of weapons.
- The Blacksmith: As lord of the fire and the forge, he also possessed wisdom of metallurgy.
- Composite Character: Gibil and Girra were originally two separate deities, but were merged to form just one god either during the Old Babylonian period or shortly after, and their names came to be used interchangeably.
- Cosmic Motifs: Girra and his father Nuska represented together the two aspects of the planet Mercury as morning and evening star, before Mercury was eventually identified with Nabu alone.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In the Babylonian and Assyrian periods, Girru was syncretised with Nuska, another deity of fire and light, who was also sometimes identified as his father. Additionally, Gibil is listed in Enûma Eli as one of the fifty aspects of Marduk.
- Fire Purifies: Girra was well-known for his cleansing and purifying fire, which resulted in him being commonly invoked in an important role in purification rituals.
- Kill It with Fire: Girra was equally feared for his potential as destructive fire and was responsible for the burning of fields.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Gibil/Girra was variously identified as either the son of An and Ki/Antu, An and Shala, Ishkur and Shala, or of Nuska.
- Playing with Fire: He was a god of fire who represented fire in all of its destructive and creative aspects. He represented fire in all its aspects: as a destructive force and as the burning heat of the Mesopotamian summer; and as a creative force, the fire in the blacksmith's furnace and the fire in the kiln where bricks were baked, and so as a "founder of cities". His symbol was a torch.
- The Smart Guy: Gibil was said to have broad wisdom, and that his mind was "so vast that all the gods, all of them, cannot fathom it".
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Gira", "Giru", "Gerra", or "Garra".
𒀭𒄞𒃲𒀭𒈾 / 𒀭𒄘𒃲𒀭𒈾 | Gugalannanote
The first husband of Ereshkigal. His name probably originally meant "canal inspector of An" and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi. General consensus remains conflicted if Gugalanna is the same figure as the Bull of Heaven, slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh
𒀭𒄘𒌦𒉡𒊏 | Gunura
Gunura was a deity of uncertain status. The deity was described in some sources as the husband of the goddess Ninisinna and the father of Damu, but in other sources as the sister of Damu.
- Ambiguous Gender: The deity was identified as either male or female depending on the source.
- Deity Identity Confusion: The god Ninurta/Pabilsag was usually identified as Damu's father instead.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Gunura was identified either as the husband of Ninisinna and the father of Damu, or as the sister of Damu.
Gushkinbanda / Kusibanda
𒀭𒆬𒄀𒑏𒁕 | Gukinbandanote
Gushkinbanda was the patron god of goldsmiths. He was credited with the making of images, as illustrated by his epiteth "Creator of the (images of) god and man". He was a son of Enki/Ea, one of the dependants of Enlil, and the husband of Ninimma, the goddess of female sex organs. Gushkinbanda was involved in the manufacture of the metal work for the decoration of the divine temples of the gods. He was also one of several construction gods that were invoked in ritual acts by craftsmen following the completion of their work.
- The Blacksmith: Gushkinbanda was more specifically the god of goldsmiths, and was involved in making the metal that was used to decorate the divine temples of the gods.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Gushkinbanda appeared in the An = Anu á amēli god list as one of the names of Enki/Ea, but in the An = Anum god list, he was instead listed separately among the dependants of Enlil as the spouse of Ninimma.
- Extra-ore-dinary: As the god of goldsmiths, Gushkinbanda was associated with gold.
𒀭𒄩𒄩𒉡 | Hahanu
Hahanu is a god of uncertain function, he is known from passing references in texts and from inscriptions.
𒀭𒄩𒀭𒁉 | Hanbi
Hanbi was the god of evil, god of all evil forces and the father of the demon Pazuzu and the giant Humbaba.
𒀭𒄩𒉌 | Hani
Hani was a minor East Semitic god who served as the sukkal
("vizier") of the storm-god Ishkur/Adad.
- Flat Character: Aside from his function, nothing else is known about him.
𒀭𒄩𒉌 | Hayanote
Haya was the husband of Nisaba, goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. Haya was primarily a god of scribes, stores, and storehouses, but he may have also been associated with grain and agriculture. He also served as a doorkeeper and as an "agrig"-official of the god Enlil. He was the father of the goddess Ninlil. He was worshipped mostly during the Third Dynasty of Ur, when he had temples in the cities of Umma, Ur, and Kuara. In later times, he had a temple in the city of Assur and may have had one in Nineveh.
- Green Thumb: He may have had an association with grain, but the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect.
- The Smart Guy: He was associated with the scribal arts and a Sumerian hymn was composed in his honour, celebrating him in those capacities.
- Spear Counterpart: Haya seems to have originally been little more than a masculine "reflection" of Nisaba. In one of the Mesopotamian god lists, Haya was called "the Nissaba of Wealth", counterpart to the female "Nissaba of Wisdom".
𒀭𒄩𒅀𒋧 | Hayasum
Hayasum was a minor god who was referenced in some inscriptions, but whose function is unknown.
𒀭𒃶𒄈𒉡𒈾 | Hegir-Nuna
Hegir-Nuna was a goddess and one of the seven daughters of the goddess Bau/Gula (her father was possibly Ninurta/Pabilsag), known chiefly at Lagash.
Hendursag / Ishum
𒀭𒉺𒊕 / 𒀭𒄿𒋧 | Hendursagnote / Ishumnote
Hendursag/Ishum was a generally benevolent god associated with fire, specifically street-lighting, who served as a night watchman and protector. He acted as a herald to Nanshe, the goddess of social justice, as well as an accountant for her husband Nindara, who was also his older brother. He was also sometimes associated with the underworld and served as an attendant to Nergal/Erra, whom he exerted a calming influence on. He was a popular, but not very important god, who was worshipped from the Early Dynastic Period onwards. He was described as the son of Utu/Shamash and Ninlil and the husband of the goddess Ninmug.
- Beleaguered Assistant: In his role as Nergal/Erra's attendant, he primarily acted as a buffer, debating with the god of destruction to stave off his onslaught and give a pause between assaults. Unfortunately, Nergal/Erra would often ignore Ishum's objections and continue his rampages until he was satisfied with the death toll.
- Doorstop Baby: After his birth, Hendursag/Ishum was left on the street by his mother Ninlil and subsequently picked up by his aunt Inanna/Ishtar. She subsequently brought him to Enlil's temple at Nippur and became his nurse and caretaker.
- Lunacy: An Old Babylonian incantation describes Hendursag/Ishum making the moon cast enough moonlight on the ground for safe passage along the streets, thus lighting the way by enlisting a celestial proxy.
- Playing with Fire: His divine power was instantiated in the fiery glow of a burning torch or firebrand, which kept people safe at night and led them home. The opening of a Babylonian poem dedicated to him, referring to him as "En-gi-dudu" ("Lord who Goes about at Night"), emphasizes this aspect of him:
"O lord En-gi-dudu, who patrols at night, guiding the nobleman, who guides man and woman in safety, shining a light bright as day."
- Protectorate: Hendursag/Ishum was envisioned as a benign night watchman who patrolled the streets, providing light to people at night and guiding them to safety, as well as protecting the homes and its occupants as he went about his rounds. Babylonian night watchmen invoked his name and customarily uttered a few words to him when setting out on their patrols.
- Psychopomp: Hendursag/Ishum also served as a Galla-gal ("chief constable") of the dead people who were brought to the underworld, escorting them to their destination. This role was likely derived from his liminality as a herald, since he worked at all hours, and function as a night watchman, presumably being part of his night activity.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Ḫendursanga", "Hendursaga", or "Endursaga".
- War God: He was a rather unusual example, as he served as a herald whose fire led the gods into battle. Many Mesopotamian cultures had long poetically associated torches and the sight of many campfires with warfare, as well as fire representing the intensity of battle. Despite being a harbinger of oncoming destruction, Hendursag/Ishum was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent, perhaps symbolizing the silent waiting before a battle, before mayhem ensued.
Idigna / Idiglat
𒀭𒄘𒃼 | Idignanote
Idigna/Idiglat was the goddess of the Tigris river. She was revered as a branch of the primeval river, and thus one of the life-giving forces that made it possible to inhabit the alluvial plain, as well as spreading fertility. Although she was attested as a deity in a Sumerian god list during the Old Babylonian period, there is no evidence that she had any cults and she eventually fell into obscurity, with the only remaining indicator of the Tigris river's deification being anthroponyms such as Ummi-Idiglat ("The-Tigris-is-my-mother").
- Heal It with Water: The water of the Tigris river was believed to have cleansing and healing potential, as well as serving as a means through which the major gods could act in exorcisms and purification rituals. As such, Idigna was invoked during the performance of incantation rituals.
- Making a Splash: Idigna was a river goddess specifically associated with the Tigris river. Since the river played a role in the water ordeal, she served as a means through which the sun god Utu/Shamash could manifest his divine will and enforce justice.
𒀭𒅅𒄋𒈠 | Ig-alima
Ig-alima was the son of Ninurta/Ningirsu and Bau/Gula. His duty was to serve as the great door in Girnun (probably one of the shrines or chapels attached to E-ninnu, his father's temple in Lagash), where he admitted only the evil people he restrained. He and his brother ulagana were worshipped alongside their parents in the city of Lagash.
- Gate Guardian: He served as the chief bailiff in his father's temple at Girsu. He was also called "the Great Door" and "the Pole of Girnun" in reference to his duty as the doorkeeper in Girnun.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: He had at least two brothers, ulagana and Damu, and seven sisters, which included Hegir-Nuna and possibly Gunura.
Ig-galla / Papsukkal
𒀭𒅅𒃲𒆷 / 𒀭𒉽𒈛 | Ig-gallanote / Papsukkalnote
Ig-galla/Papsukkal was the chief minister and divine messenger of the gods, who served as a mediator between the gods and human supplicants. He was associated with doors and doorleaves, serving as the gatekeeper to the doors leading to shrines, thus controling access to the higher deities. During the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, terracotta figurines representing Papsukkal were often found in temples of other deities, placed beneath cult statues, in keeping with his role as an attendant deity. Papsukkal was the husband of Amasagnul and father of the goddess Pappap. Although he was most commonly depicted as a member of Anu's court, he was sometimes associated with the courts of Nergal and Enki. Papsukkal lost much of his importance during the first millennium BCE, but saw a sudden cultic revival in Uruk in the Seleucid period.
- Gate Guardian: Papsukkal served as gatekeeper at the entrances of shrines, guarding access to the higher gods.
𒀭𒅋𒀀𒁀 | Ilaba
Ilaba was a warrior god. He was closely associated with the kings of the Akkadian Empire and served as the personal god of Sargon of Akkad in particular. He was worshipped in the city of Akkad and was briefly a major deity during the Akkadian Period, but seems to have been completely obscure during all other periods of Mesopotamian history, as his name occurred only in the earliest inscriptions of Sargon's reign.
- Carry a Big Stick: Ilaba wielded a "divine mace" with a curved handle. After conquering the city of Kish, Sargon was depicted carrying the mace during his victory procession.
- Deity Identity Confusion: After conquering the city of Kish, Ilaba was equated with Zababa, the city's patron deity, by Sargon.
- War God: Ilaba was a warrior god who was invoked by Sargon of Akkad during his conquests.
𒀭𒅋𒀊𒊏𒀜 | Ilabrat
Ilabrat was the sukkal
, or personal attendant, of the god Anu and part of his entourage. He appeared in the myth of Adapa, in which he told Anu that the reason why the south wind did not blow was because Adapa, the priest of Enki in Eridu, had broken its wing.
- Flat Character: Aside from being Anu's vizier, nothing else is known about him.
Isimud / Usmu
𒀭𒉽𒅊 | Isimudnote / Usmû
Isimud was the sukkal
, or personal attendant, to the god Enki. He acted as Enki's messenger and emissary. Isimud appeared in the myth of Inanna and Enki
, in which he was the one who greeted Inanna/Ishtar upon her arrival to the E-Abzu temple in Eridu. He was also the one who informed Enki that the mes
had been stolen and was sent to tell Inanna/Ishtar to return the mes
to Enki or face the consequences, which she refused. Isimud also appeared in Enki and Ninhursag
, where he and Enki came across eight plants that Enki could not recognize. Despite Isimud's warnings, Enki consumed the plants and became ill with swellings, requiring Ninhursag to arrive and cure him.
- Flat Character: Aside from being Enki's vizier and messenger, little else is known about him.
- Two-Faced: Isimud was always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions.
𒀭𒅗𒅗 | Kakka
Kakka was the sukkal
, or personal attendant, and messenger of both Anu and Anshar. During the gods' conflict against Tiamat, Kakka was sent by Anshar to deliver a message to his parents Lahmu and Lahamu informing them about Marduk coming forward to confront Tiamat. Kakka also appeared in the myth of Nergal and Ereshkigal
, in which Anu sent him with a message to Nergal in the underworld.
- Flat Character: Aside from being Anu and Anshar's vizier and messenger, nothing else is known about him.
𒀭𒆤𒌈 | Kittunote
Kittu was the goddess of justice. She was the daughter of Utu/Shamash and Sherida/Aya as well as the sister of Misharu, the god of law.
- Flat Character: Aside from her function and relations, nothing else is known about her.
𒀭𒋞 | Kullanote
Kulla was the god of bricks, revered as the lord of foundations and brickwork. He was considered the primeval craftsman and master builder, and was considered to be one of the first beings to inhabit the world after it was created. Kulla was the first deity created from clay by Enki/Ea and Ninhursag/Damgalnunna in the Abzu. When his father Enki assigned roles to several gods during the organization of the world, Kulla was tasked with creating cult images and lay foundation for the temples when civilized life began, as well as being put in charge of the pickaxe and brick-mold. Every house of premier quality in Mesopotamia was regarded as having been constructed by both Kulla and Mudamma, the divine architect, as they were commonly invoked together at the outset when laying a foundation for a building. However, Kulla's further presence around the house was considered dangerous after the consummation of the work, and he was sent away with his provisions floating downriver in a boat, back to his parents Enki/Ea and Ninhursag/Damgalnunna in the Abzu, in order to give space to the next generation and a new cycle. Kulla was honoured in spring after the flood of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as the spring and beginning of the New Year were symbolically connected with the creation of the world in ancient Mesopotamia.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Kulla was associated with bricks and brick making in general.
- Person of Mass Construction: As the god of bricks, Kulla was revered as a master builder and considered responsible for every high-quality building in Mesopotamia. The third month of the year, Simanu, was dedicated to Kulla, as it was associated with making bricks and building houses due to there being no danger of rain until the seventh month, Taritu.
- Powerful Pick: Kulla wielded a pickaxe and was associated with them in general.
𒀭𒋢 | Kunote
Kus was a god of herdsmen. He was referenced in the Dynasty of Dunnum
- Farm Boy: He was the god of herdmen.
- Flat Character: Aside from his function, nothing else is known about him.
𒀭𒆬𒋤 | Kusunote
Kusu was a goddess of grain and purification, specifically the cleansing and purification of hands, who was revered as the "princess of the holy abzu". She was also a goddess of reeds and grasses, and was commonly invoked in purification rituals alongside Ningirima and Nisaba as a "restorer of divine images". She was a daughter of Enlil, the wife of Gibil/Girra, god of fire and light, the mother of Nundumkuga, and a steward of Enki. On some occasions, Enki would delegate his functions as purifier to Kusu, who would then act as his go-between. She and her husband lived in a house inside the E-abzu, Enki's temple in Eridu, and they were in charge of performing the sacred lustration rituals. While Gibil/Girra would purify their "great oven" with his torch, Kusu would prufiy the oil in their house and subsequently put numerous bulls, sheep and loaves into the oven, thus purifying the earth and the cattle.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Kusu was regularly conflated with the male god Kusug, the high priest of the gods, who was also commonly invoked in purification rituals and whose name was often even written the same as hers. Modern scholars have not reached a fully accepted consensus, but it has become a relatively common practice to distinguish the two as separate, coexistent deities.
- Green Thumb: Kusu was associated with grain, and one purification ritual involved her sprinkling grain in order to create a magic circle.
- Power Trio: Kusu was invoked alongside her husband Gibil/Girra and the magic god Asalluhi in an incense cleansing ritual.
Kusug / Urbadda
𒀭𒆪𒆹 / 𒀭𒌨𒁁𒁕 | Kusug / Urbadda
Kusug was a god associated with purification rituals. He served as the high priest of the gods, known as the "exalted lord". When his father Enki/Ea assigned roles to several gods during the organization of the world, Kusug was charged with performing the priestly rites and ceremonies. During the inauguration ceremonies of newly completed buildings, Kusug headed the ceremony alongside the seven craftsmen deities. Kusug also served as Enlil's chief exorcist, using his expertise in ritually pure waters to purify objects with a holy-water-basin, censer, and torch using his pure hands.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Kusug was regularly conflated with the female grain and purification goddess Kusu, with his name often even being written the same as hers. Modern scholars have not reached a fully accepted consensus, but it has become a relatively common practice to distinguish the two as separate, coexistent deities.
- High Priest: Kusug served as the high priest of the gods and was one of the deities credited with ensuring that heaven was pure and the earth bright.
- Power Trio: Kusug was invoked alongside Ningirima and Marduk in temple purification rituals, in which they drove out any evil that happened to reside there.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Kusig".
𒀭𒇇 | Laharnote
Lahar was the god of cattle. He and his sister Ashnan, both children of Enlil, were created by the gods to provide the Annunaki with food and clothing. The Annunaki, in turn, set up a sheepfold for Lahar and generously provided him with grass, plants and herbs, thus introducing animal husbandry.
- Big Good: The benefits of grain and cattle to both the gods and humankind resulted in Lahar and Ashnan being universally beloved by everyone, as described in the Debate between sheep and grain:
"They brought wealth to the assembly. They brought sustenance to the Land. They fulfilled the ordinances of the gods. They filled the store-rooms of the Land with stock. The barns of the Land were heavy with them. When they entered the homes of the poor who crouch in the dust they brought wealth. Both of them, wherever they directed their steps, added to the riches of the household with their weight. Where they stood, they were satisfying; where they settled, they were seemly. They gladdened the heart of An and the heart of Enlil."
- Farm Boy: He was the god of cattle and the inventor of animal husbandry.
- Sibling Rivalry: In the Debate between sheep and grain, Ashnan and Lahar started quarreling with each other after becoming drunk with wine about whose gifts were better, which was eventually resolved with Enki and Enlil intervening to declare Ashnan the victor. It has been suggested that the victory of grain perhaps implies that man can live without domestic animals, but cannot survive without bread.
𒀭𒉈𒋜𒈾 | Lisin
Lisin was a mother goddess who, along with her brother Ashgi, was worshipped in the Sumerian city-states of Adab and Kesh. She was a daughter of Nintud (another name for Ninlil or Ninhursag) and the wife of Nintul/Ninsikila.
- Cosmic Motifs: She was identified with the star α Scorpionis.
- Earth Mother: In Sumerian times, she was viewed as a mother goddess.
- Gender Bender: In later times, Ninsikila was accidentally mistranslated as the name of a goddess and Lisin accordingly came to be regarded as a god.
- I Have Many Names: She was also known as Negun.
Lugalirra and Meslamtaea
𒀭𒈗𒅕𒊏 𒅇 𒀭𒈩𒇴𒋫𒌓𒁺𒀀 | Lugalirranote and Meslamtaeanote
Lugalirra and Meslamtaea were a set of twin gods who were associated with death and the underworld. They were regarded as guardians of doorways were envisioned as a set of twins guarding the gates of the underworld, who chopped the dead into pieces as they passed through the gates. During the Neo-Assyrian period, small depictions of them would be buried at entrances, with Lugalirra always on the left and Meslamtaea always on the right. They were identical and were shown wearing horned caps and each holding an axe and a mace. They were originally the patron deities of the city of Kisiga, located in northern Babylonia, and later, during the Old Babylonian period, they were associated with the city of Durum (near Uruk). Both deities continued to be of minor importance throughout the Old Babylonian period. They are attested well into the Seleucid period, where they appeared in magical and scholarly works.
- Always Identical Twins: They were depicted as being identical.
- Bash Brothers: The two were known for their brutality towards those who passed through the gates of the underworld, being described as "guard-gods who tear out the heart and compress the kidneys".
- Cosmic Motifs: They were identified with the constellation Gemini, which was named after them.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Meslamtaea was syncretised with Nergal by the time of the Ur III period, but the two had become more distinct by the Old Babylonian period. Meslamtaea's cult attested for the city of Kutha was probably a result of his conflation with Nergal.
- Dual Wielding: They each wielded an axe and a mace.
- Gate Guardian: They served as guardians to the entrance of the underworld. Lugalirra was associated with the right side, whereas Meslamtaea was associated with the left. Little figurines of these deities were buried at doors to function as guardians.
- I Have Many Names: Meslamtaea was also known by the name Lugalmeslama ("King of Meslam").
- Remember the New Guy?: While Meslamtaea was already attested in the Early Dynastic IIIa period, Lugalirra has thus far not been attested before the Old Babylonian period. Thus, the connection between these two deities can only be traced back to the Old Babylonian period, not earlier.
Lulal / Latarak
𒀭𒇽𒋭 / 𒀭𒆷𒋫𒊏𒀝 | Lulal / Lātarāk
Lulal was a minor lion-headed warrior god associated with protection and domesticated animals. The younger son of Inanna/Ishtar, he was the patron deity of Bad-tibira while his older brother, Shara, was located at neighboring Umma. He also had a monstrous demonic form, called Latarak, whose influence could be utilised to exorcise any type of evil or malignant force. The E.mu-kalamma, main temple of Bad-tibira, originally dedicated to Dumuzid/Tammuz when it was built, was later re-dedicated to Lulal when Inanna appointed him god of the city. The 1st Dynasty of Isin king Ur-du-kuga built a temple to him in Dul-edena, which was probably his cultic city.
- Ascended Demon: Although a ferocious demon, Latarak was still considered a protector deity and was invoked in rituals to exorcise evil and malignant forces.
- Cosmic Motifs: Lulal and Latarak were associated with the constellation named after them (which consisted of Cetus and part of Eridanus), which was part of the spring constellations, straddling the old and the new year. It was believed that at that time of year, the earth was opening up to offer its benefits, at the same time as new dangers appeared such as the exit of the dead from the underworld. The constellation carried protective forces that banished the influences of the past year and purified the coming calendrical cycle.
- Farm Boy: Lulal was associated with domesticated animals and the é.e.numun ("House of Barleycorn") temple was dedicated to him as "divine cowherd" in Apak, according to a Neo-Babylonian temple list from Sippar.
- Non-Human Head: Both Lulal and Latarak were depicted with lion heads.
- Split Personality: Lulal had a monstrous alter-ego called Latarak.
- Split-Personality Team: Lulal and Latarak were often invoked together as protective deities and were depicted on protective amulets, figurines and exorcists' paraphernalia used in apotropaic rituals, such as urpu and Maqlu.
𒀭𒈠𒈪𒌅 / 𒀭𒈠𒈨𒌈 | Mamitu / Mametu
Mamitu was an underworld goddess of fate and destiny, known as "the maker of fate". She resided in Irkalla and was also worshipped as goddess of the oath and a judge in the underworld, where she "fixed the destinies" of mankind along with the Anunnaki. She plotted the lives and decreed the fates of newborn children based on arbitrary whims, and the decrees she issued were irrevocable. Although she established a person's death and life, the days of their death were unknown. She was also invoked in curses, and invoking her was considered to be the most terrible curse that could be used by priestly exorcists. She was originally worshipped by the Assyrians and Babylonians, but also eventually came to be revered by the Akkadians.
- Curse: Mamitu was invoked in curses by priestly exorcists, and was considered to be their most terrible weapon. She was also invoked within oaths, threatening to curse the person taking the oath if they broke it.
- Jerkass Goddess: Mamitu was considered an evil goddess, who simply made up the fates of humans on a whim. She was known by epiteths such as "Dread Mammitu", "the hostile doom", and "the goddess of fierce hate".
- Judgement of the Dead: Mamitu served as a judge in the underworld alongside the Anunnaki, specifically being in charge of establishing the term of a person's life and death.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Mamit", "Mammitu", "Mammetu", and "Mammetum".
- You Can't Fight Fate: The fates she decreed for all humans were considered irrevocable and always came to pass.
𒀭𒈠𒊬 | Mamudnote
Mamud was the goddess of dreams. She was a daughter of the sun god Utu/Shamash and a member of his court. When Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria refounded the town of Imgur-Enlil (modern Balawat), he built a temple there to the goddess.
𒀭𒈠𒀭𒁕𒉡 | Mandanu
Mandanu was a god of divine judgement who was worshipped during the Neo-Babylonian Period.
- Flat Character: Aside from his function, nothing else is known about him.
Manungal / Nungal
𒀭𒈠𒉣𒃲 / 𒀭𒉣𒃲 | Manungalnote / Nungalnote
Manungal, or simply Nungal, was the underworld goddess of prisons, imprisonment, detention, and ropes. She was especially associated with the Ekur temple in Nippur, where she served as the warden of the prison complex, described as holding the "tablet of life" and carrying out judgement on the wicked. Nungal served as a benevolent overseer and judge, seeking to rehabilitate the inmates, who had either abandoned their personal gods or received disapproval from their gods. Those deemed to be just were ultimately set free and sent to whichever god they worshipped, while wicked evildoers stayed imprisoned. Nungal also assisted Ninhursag in helping women during childbirth, cutting the umbilical cords and determining favorable fates for the newborn children. Nungal was the daughter of Ereshkigal and Anu, as well as the wife of Birtum. Aside from Nippur, she also had cults in Sippar and Lagash.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In the Old Babylonian period, Nungal was identified with Gula/Nintinugga. Her name was also sometimes used as an epiteth of Inanna/Ishtar.
- Inescapable Net: Nungal wielded a battle-net of fine mesh that was cast over the land for her; the evildoer who did not follow her path would thus not be able escape her arm.
- The Jailer: Nungal served as the warden at the Ekur temple, where she oversaw the rehabilitation of the inmates. She had domain over those who failed water ordeals designed to determine guilt on the final day of judgment. If, after having been thrown in water, the accused floated, they were released as innocent; if they sank, they were pulled into shore and handed to Nungal, who put them in her prison until their heart was clear and pure, whereupon they were released to the gods.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Nungal was a benevolent goddess who desired to rehabilitate all of her prisoners and opposed overly harsh punishments. The hymn Nungal in the Ekur emphasized this:
Mercy and compassion are mine. I frighten no one. I keep an eye upon the black-headed people: they are under my surveillance. I hold the tablet of life in my hand and I register the just ones on it. The evildoers cannot escape my arm; I learn their deeds. All countries look to me as to their divine mother. I temper severe punishments; I am a compassionate mother. I cool down even the angriest heart, sprinkling it with cool water. I calm down the wounded heart; I snatch men from the jaws of destruction. My house is built on compassion; I am a life-giving lady. Its shadow is like that of a cypress tree growing in a pure place.
Martu / Amurru
𒀭𒈥𒌅 | Martunote
Martu/Amurru was the god of the nomadic Amorite people, who began to appear on the edges of the Mesopotamian world in the middle of the third millennium BC, initially from the west, but later from the east as well. He was described as a shepherd and a storm god, and Old Babylonian and Kassite art depicted him dressed in long robes and carrying a scimitar or a shepherd's crook. He was also a son of Anu. In The Marriage of Martu
, he got married to the goddess Adg̃ar-kidug, despite her father's disapproval due to Martu's uncivilized, nomadic lifestyle. Their marriage bridged the cultural gap between the semi-nomadic Amorites of the western steppe, and the sedentary Sumerians of the alluvial basin. In this position, Adg̃ar-kidug served as a civilizing force, bringing the Amorite god Martu away from the primitive nomad's life, and into the refined city life. Martu and Adg̃ar-kidug both served as patron deities at the village of Ninab, a satellite of the larger city of Kazallu.
- Animal Motifs: Martu was primarily associated with caprids (goats and sheep), and he was often depicted either stepping on a caprid or holding one in his outstretched arms.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Martu may sometimes have been conflated with the Semitic god El, as some traditions identify his wife as the goddess Aratum (Asherah), who was more commonly identified as the wife of El. If Martu/Amurru was conflated with Ēl, it would explain why so few Amorite names were compounded with the name Amurru, but so many were compounded with Il; that is, with El.
- Destroyer Deity: Martu was sometimes described as a god who destroyed cities and "raged over the land like a storm".
- Engagement Challenge: When Martu asked the god Numushda for permission to marry his daughter Adg̃ar-kidug, Numushda gave a series of tasks to complete before he would grant his permission for the marriage.
- Farm Boy: Martu was associated with shepherds and a shepherd's crook was his primary symbol.
- I Have Many Names: He was sometimes called bêlu adī or bêl adê ("lord of the mountain"); dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke ("he who dwells on the pure mountain"); and kur-za-gan ti-[la] ("who inhabits the shining mountain"). In Cappadocian Zinčirli inscriptions, he was called ì-li a-bi-a ("the god of my father").
- Nature Hero: As the personification of nomads, Martu lived mostly in isolation in the mountains and the steppe, away from the dwelling places of both humans and the other gods. His lack of social skills, such as not showing reverence to the other gods, did not do him any favors with the city-dwelling gods. He was described as living in a tent, digging up truffles in the foothills and and eating raw flesh.
- Opposites Attract: The nomadic and wild Martu ended up falling in love and marrying the refined and city-dwelling Adg̃ar-kidug.
- Shock and Awe: Martu had features of a storm-god and was repeatedly depicted with the lightning bolt, the symbol of Ishkur/Adad, with whom he seems to have shared a special bond in written sources. Like Ishkur/Adad, Martu bore the epithet ramān ("thunderer"), and he was even called bāriqu ("hurler of the thunderbolt") and Adad a a-bu-be ("Adad of the deluge"). Yet his iconography was distinct from that of Ishkur/Adad, and he sometimes appeared alongside Adad with a baton of power or throwstick, while Adad bore a conventional thunderbolt.
- Weather Manipulation: As a god of the steppe, Martu was associated with the storms in that region.
𒀭𒈪𒊭𒊒 | Misharunote
Misharu was the god of law. She was the son of Utu/Shamash and Sherida/Aya as well as the brother of Kittu, the goddess of justice.
- Flat Character: Aside from his function and relations, nothing else is known about him.
𒀭𒁶 | Mudamanote
Mushdama was the god of architecture and building, revered as a divine architect and titled "the great builder of Enlil". When Enki assigned roles to several gods during the organization of the world, Mushdama was appointed as patron god of house construction and served as a building constructor in conjunction with the brick god Kulla, who served as a mason.
- Person of Mass Construction: Mushdama was associated with architecture and building constructions. His assigned role consisted of making plans of how to build houses, laying down the foundations, and performing the purification rituals. His expertise in construction was strongly emphasized in Enki and the World Order:
He tied down the strings and coordinated them with the foundations, and with the power of the assembly he planned a house and performed the purification rituals. The great prince put down the foundations, and laid the bricks. Enki placed in charge of all this him whose foundations once laid do not sag, whose good houses once built do not collapse, whose vaults reach up into the hart of the heavens like a rainbow Mudama, Enlils master builder.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read "Mudamma".
𒀭𒉆𒊏𒀜 / 𒀭𒉆𒋥 | Namratnote
Namrat was a goddess worshipped in the city-state of Kazallu. She was the wife of the warrior god Numushda and mother of Adgar-kidug. In The Marriage of Martu
, she and her family attended a festival in Ninab, during which the nomad god Martu/Amurru asked for the hand of her daughter. Despite Namrat and Numushda's disapproval of Martu due to his uncivilized, nomadic lifestyle, Adgar-kidug nonetheless insisted on marrying him.
- Flat Character: Aside from her family relations, little else is known about her.
𒀭𒈾𒉘𒋻 | Namtarnote
Namtar was the underworld god of fate, disease, and death. He was the sukkal
("vizier") and messenger of Ereshkigal. Namtar was regarded as the beloved son of Enlil and Ereshkigal, thus making him a powerful and destructive god who was known as the "First-Born of Death". He was also the husband of Hushbishag and father of the goddess Hemdikug. Namtar held specific power over 60 different types of diseases and demons, which corresponded to the human body, and he sent forth this power depending on the desires of Ereshkigal and Nergal. When Inanna/Ishtar descended into the underworld, Namtar was ordered to strike her with diseases. However, he restored her to health upon her release.
- Grim Reaper: Namtar was the personification of death, similar to the modern conception of the Grim Reaper. He held the function of driving the souls into the underworld and bringing them before Ereshkigal for judgment.
- Plague Master: Namtar had 60 plagues under his control, five for the head, feet, side, eyes, and heart respectively. Illnesses were sometimes referred to in personified forms as the "sons of Namtar". When ordered to, he would bring plagues to mortals and carry out the destructive plans of Nergal. However, offerings could also be made to Namtar to prevent those diseases, and even strengthen people against overwhelming sickness and physical death.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Namtar was associated with doom and destiny, an unstoppable force who would inevitably kill those he was ordered to.
𒀭𒀀𒇉 | Narunote
Naru was a primeval river god. Because rivers were the life-giving forces that made it possible to inhabit the alluvial plain, Naru was said to be the creator of everything and to have spread fertility. He was invoked in exorcistic and purifying rituals, as the water of the rivers was viewed as a means through which the major gods could act during the performance of the rituals. He was elsewhere invoked in namburbi
incantations to counteract evil portents because the river carried off the bad magic which had been tossed away. Naru also appeared in hemerologies, schedules of lucky and unlucky days in the month; if asked a question on a certain day of the year, he would answer with "news". However, Naru was mostly associated with the River Ordeal, in which people were thrown into the river and either survived or drowned depending on whether they were innocent or guilty. He had a ship called "the ship of the Malku (or royal) canal", which also served as an indication of the place where Naru's cult was carried on.
- Heal It with Water: Naru's water was associated with cleansing and healing.
- Making a Splash: Naru was a god of rivers in general, and was invoked in incantation rituals such as exorcisms and purification rituals. Naru was asked to decide, for example, whether a man upon whom a spell had been cast had suffered unjustly, and whether a wife who had fallen under the suspicion of unchastity was innocent.
𒀭𒉈𒀉𒋾 | Neti
Neti was a minor underworld god who served as the chief gatekeeper of the underworld and servant of the goddess Ereshkigal. In the story of Inanna's Descent into the Underworld
, he opened the seven gates of the realm and led Inanna/Ishtar through them, removing one of her garments at the threshold of each gate so that when she came before Ereshkigal, she was ultimately left naked and symbolically powerless.
- Gate Guardian: His main function was to guard the seven gates of the underworld. When Inanna/Ishtar approached him at the entrance of the underworld and requested entry into the underworld supposedly because she only wanted to observe the funeral rites of her sister's deceased husband Gugalanna, Neti reported her request to Ereshkigal. Afterwards, he followed Ereshkigal's instructions to bring Inanna/Ishtar through the gates and into Ganzir, Ereshkigal's palace, while removing one of her garments at each gate to render her naked and symbolically powerless.
Ninagal / Ninsimug / Puzuramurri
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀉𒃲 | Ninagalnote / Ninsimugnote
Ninagal was the patron god of smiths and a member of Enki/Ea's court. He was a son of Enki and served as a boatman for both Ziusudra and Utnapishtim during the Great Flood, instructing them on how to gather the animals and the seeds of plants, as well as navigating their respective boats to safety. Ninagal was also credited with teaching mankind how to work on lapis-lazuli, and was one of several construction gods that were invoked in ritual acts by craftsmen following the completion of their work.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒁯𒀀 | Nindaranote
Nindara was a god who served as the consort of Nanshe, the goddess of social justice. He was a son of the sun god Utu/Shamash and an older brother of Hendursag/Ishum, who served as his accountant. Nindara was described as a "royal warrior" and as the "tax collector of the sea", though the meaning of the epithet is unclear. He was primarily worshipped alongside his wife in the city of Lagash, where he was revered as their divine king and lord, but also had temples in Girsu and Ur.
- Divine Right of Kings: Nindara was credited with empowering the rulers of Lagash, and they, in turn, aknowledged him as their king.
- Making a Splash: Possibly. His epiteth and marriage to the water goddess Nanshe suggest that he may have been associated with the sea in some form, but it's unclear.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄀𒆬𒂵 | Ningikuganote
Ningikuga was a goddess of reeds and marshes. She was a daughter of An and Nammu, as well as one of the consorts of Enki, by whom she became the mother of Ningal. She was credited with teaching humankind how to bind and weave reeds, allowing them to build the first huts to live and worship in.
Ningirida / Ningiriudu / Ninsutu
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄌𒁕 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅗𒅇𒌅 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒋢𒌅 | Ningiriudunote / Ninsutunote
Ninsutu was a goddess of healing and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Ninsutu was tasked with healing either Enki's tooth or nose. She subsequently married Ninazu, an underworld god of healing, and became the mother of Ningishzida, a god of the underworld and vegetation.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅆𒉄𒁍 | Ninildunote
Ninildu was the god of forests and the patron god of carpentry. He was a son of Enki/Ea and an attendant of Marduk. His epiteths included "the Great Carpenter of Heaven" and "Bearer of the Axe", and he was the one who constructed the perfect stable throne for Marduk. He was one of several construction gods that were invoked in ritual acts by craftsmen following the completion of their work.
- An Axe to Grind: Ninildu wielded a "glittering hatchet" or "flashing axe", which he used to construct various tools and items.
- Green Thumb: As the god of carpentry, Ninildu was associated with trees. During the reign of King Naram-Sin of Akkad, Ninildu was credited with having cursed the king's trees as punishment for his impiety.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Ninildum" or "Ninildumak".
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅊 | Ninimmanote
Ninimma was the goddess of female sex organs, the daughter of Enki and Ninkurra, who was herself both Enki's daughter and granddaughter, sister of Uttu, the goddess of weaving, and wife of Gushkinbanda, the god of goldsmiths. Ninimma was one of the deities who assisted Ninhursag with creating humans, nipping off the clay while Ninhursag brought their forms into existence. Ninimma served Enlil at Ekur as the great scribe of heaven, as well as being the seal-holder of the treasury and caretaker of the gods. She also served Inanna/Ishtar at the E-sara temple in Uruk.
- Adapted Out: In some versions of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninimma was depicted as Ninkurra's only daughter, and was seduced and impregnated by Enki like her mother and grandmother were, subsequently giving birth to Uttu. However, other versions ommitted Ninimma, instead depicting Ninkurra as the one who gave birth to Uttu.
- Light Is Good: Her exalted status resulted in her being described as being "resplendent like the sunlight" and "the shining light which fills the exalted sanctuary".
- The Smart Girl: She was described as having profound wisdom and being exceptionally intelligent, which was further emphasized by her epiteth "one who knows everything".
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅗𒋛 | Ninkasinote
Ninkasi was the goddess of beer, and alcohol in general, and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Ninkasi healed Enki's mouth and he subsequently declared that she would be the goddess who would "satisfy the desire" and "sate the heart" by brewing fresh beer daily from the best ingredients. Ninkasi was both the brewer of beer and the beer itself, and her spirit and essence infused the beer produced under her guidance. The priestesses of Ninkasi were the first brewers and this was hardly surprising since women, generally, had brewed beer in the home until commercial production of the beverage began. A poem known as the Hymn to Ninkasi
served as a recipe for brewing beer. The poem, with its steady cadence and repetitive nature, provided an easy way to remember the recipe for brewing beer.
- Healer Goddess: Ninkasi healed Enki's mouth and, as a result, beer in general was thought to have healing and elevating qualities which could only improve one's life.
- Job Song: The Hymn of Ninkasi was most likely sung while the ancient Sumerians brewed their beer and was passed down by master brewers to their apprentices.
- Married to the Job: Ninkasi loved beer and was strongly dedicated to her craft, brewing fresh beer from the best ingredients on a daily basis and serving it to gods and mortals alike. In Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird, king Lugalbanda praised Ninkasi's hard work when he vowed to entertain the Anzu bird and his family at a banquet:
"Ninkasi the expert who redounds to her mother's credit. Her fermenting-vat is of green lapis lazuli, her beer cask is of refined silver and of gold. If she stands by the beer, there is joy, if she sits by the beer, there is gladness; as cupbearer she mixes the beer, never wearying as she walks back and forth, Ninkasi, the keg at her side, on her hips; may she make my beer-serving perfect."
Ninkilim / Ningirima
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒉾 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒀀𒄩𒋻𒁺 | Ninkilimnote / Ningirima
Ninkilim was a deity who was associated with mongooses, which were common throughout southern Mesopotamia, and rodents in general. As Ningirima, they were revered as a deity of magic invoked for protection against snakes. The deity also had a prominent role in the incantation texts from the Early Dynastic period, the earliest written incantations in the world. According to a Babylonian popular saying, when a mouse fled from a mongoose into a serpent's hole, it announced, "I bring you greetings from the snake-charmer!"
. They were one of the patron deities, along with the goddess Bēlit-ilī (Ninhursag), of the city of Diniktum.
- Ambiguous Gender: Ninkilim was identified as feminine in the great god-list and the Sumerian Farmer's Almanac, but the field-pest incantations and other texts from later periods identified them as masculine instead.
- Animal Motifs: They were closely associated with mongooses, and the Akkadian word for "mongoose" was later written using the Sumerian symbol for their name.
- The Archmage: They seem to have been the early patron of magic, as many incantations from the Early Dynastic period ended with the phrase "it is the incantation of Ningirim" in honor of the deity.
- Composite Character: Ninkilim and Ningirima were originally separate deities, but were conflated at an early date.
- Healer God: They were invoked for curing insect and snake bites.
- I Have Many Names: Their epiteths included azalulu ("lord of teeming creatures") and Bēl-nammati ("lord of wild animals").
- Pest Controller: Ninkilim/Ningirima was capable of controlling wildlife in general and vermin in particular, and field pests were collectively referred to as the "dogs of Ninkilim". Farmers would pray to them asking to keep their sharp-toothed little subjects (such as field mice) away from the growing grain.
- Power Trio: They were invoked Kusug and Marduk in temple purification rituals, in which they drove out any evil that happened to reside there.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Their name could also be read "Ningilin" or "Ninkil", perhaps even "Ninki" or "Ningi".
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒆳𒊏 / 𒀭𒉏𒌣 | Ninkurranote / Nimsimugnote
Ninkurra was a minor mother goddess associated with mountain pastures. She was also the patron goddess of stonecutters, and brought precious stones down from the mountains. She was the daughter of Enki and Ninsar, who was herself also Enki's daughter, and was born following a nine day gestation period just like her mother had been. Having lived a sheltered life at the mountain heights, Ninkurra was quickly seduced by Enki's charm and became pregnant, subsequently giving birth to Uttu, the goddess of weaving, and Ninimma, the goddess of female sex organs.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Upon reaching adulthood, Ninkurra demonstrated her resourcefulness and enormous energy by climbing the highest heights, up to the mountain tops, but also keeping her essence tied to the ground.
- Dishing Out Dirt: She was associated with precious mountain stones.
- Earth Mother: She was revered as a minor mother goddess.
- Express Delivery: Like her mother and grandmother, Ninkurra gave birth to her daughters after a nine day pregnancy.
- Green Thumb: Ninkurra held dominion over mountain pastures and was capable of making the greens and wild flower beds grow at the mountain tops.
- Parental Incest: Having lived a sheltered life, Ninkurra was quickly seduced by her father/grandfather Enki's easy charm. Like her mother, Ninkurra became pregnant, and gave birth to two daughters, Uttu and Ninimma.
- Rapid Aging: Like her mother, Ninkurra aged into an adult only nine days after her birth.
- Replacement Goldfish: Ninkurra strongly resembled both her mother Ninsar and grandmother Ninhursag, which caused Enki to become attracted to her. However, after the two had made love for nine days and nights, Enki concluded that, as lovely as Ninkurra was, she could not be compared to Ninhursag, and ultimately left her after she had given birth to their daughters.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name could also be read as "Ninkur" and "Ninkurru".
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒈮 | Ninmugnote
Ninmug was the goddess of woodworking and metalworking, envisioned as wielding gold and silver tools. She was also associated with childbirth, and was one of the deities who assisted Ninhursag with creating humans, nipping off the clay while Ninhursag brought their forms into existence. She was a daughter of Anu and the wife of Hendursag/Ishum. When her brother Enki assigned roles to several gods during the organization of the world, she was officially made "the metalworker of the land", and was put in charge of creating the crowns and headdresses of kings.
- The Blacksmith: Ninmug was specifically associated with woodworking and metalworking. She was described as having a gold chisel, a silver drill/hammer, and a large flint knife, which she used to create various alloys, such as the diadems and crowns of rulers.
Ninsar / Ninnisig / Ninmu
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒊬 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒈬 | Ninsarnote / Ninnisignote / Ninmunote
Ninsar was the goddess of plants. She was the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag, and was born following a gestation period of only nine days, with each day corresponding to a month in the human period of gestation. After her mother left to attend to her duties, Ninsar was seduced and impregnated by her father, who was unaware that she was his daughter, and subsequently gave birth to the goddess Ninkurra. As Ninnisig, she was identified as the wife of Erragal. However, Erragal was eventually syncretized with Nergal/Erra, and his wife would instead be more commonly identified as Ereshkigal.
- Express Delivery: Like her mother, Ninsar gave birth to her daughter Ninkurra after a nine day pregnancy.
- Green Thumb: She was the goddess of plants and was referred to as the Mistress of Velvet Meadows and Green Fields. Her dominion consisted of the green carpet of grass, leaves and flower beds that covered the surface of the earth.
- Parental Incest: She had intercourse with her father Enki, which resulted in the conception of their daughter Ninkurra.
- Rapid Aging: Similar to her birth, Ninsar grew to adulthood in only nine days.
- Replacement Goldfish: She was this to Enki due to her resemblance to Ninhursag. The morning after they had sex, Enki came to think of her as a "loving, but pale portrait" of his wife, and, after Ninsar had given birth to their daughter, ultimately left her. Ninsar similarly realized that Enki didn't truly love her for herself, and decided to let him go:
"Bonded to him I for a time was", thought Ninsar, "but he does not want me for myself, this I can tell. Mine is not the mind, body, soul and heart that holds his for a minute that means eternity, so I'll let him go, now and forever..."
- Strong Family Resemblance: Ninsar strongly resembled her mother Ninhursag, which is why her father Enki became attracted to her.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒋚 | Ninuburnote
Ninshubur was the goddess of the east and the sukkal
("vizier") of Inanna/Ishtar, serving as her friend, confidant, defender, advisor and traveling companion. Aside from being Inanna/Ishtar's faithful handmaiden, Ninshubur was also a dispenser of wisdom, a warrior, and was capable of teaching and possessing the power to soothe hearts. Although primarily associated with Inanna/Ishtar, Ninshubur also served as a messenger for the other gods, as well as occasionally acting as the guardian of Anu, being described as walking in front of him wherever he went, a traditionally defensive position. Ninshubur accompanied Inanna/Ishtar as a vassal and friend throughout her many exploits. She helped Inanna/Ishtar fight Enki's demons after Inanna's theft of the sacred me
. Later, when Inanna/Ishtar became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress's release. Ninshubur also assisted in Inanna/Ishtar's marriage by leading Dumuzid/Tammuz, the bridegroom, to his beloved. Ninshubur was revered as the patron goddess of Akkil, with her temple there being called the E-akkil ("House of Lamentation"). She also served as Inanna/Ishtar's minister at the E-ana ("House of Heaven") temple in Uruk. Ninshubur was attested in an Early Dynastic Period votive offering, and served as the personal goddess of the kings Urukagina (the last ruler of the 1st Dynasty of Lagash) and Nam-mahani (the last ruler of the 2nd Dynasty of Lagash). However, she was syncretized with the male messenger god Papsukkal in the Kassite Period, and the two were treated as being synonymous in subsequent periods.
The minor goddess of wild cows, she is most famous for being the mother of Gilgamesh.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒋾 | Nintinote
Ninti was the goddess of life and one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Ninti was tasked with healing Enki's rib and was subsequently made "queen of the month". Some scholars suggested that this served as the basis for the story of Eve being created from Adam's rib in the Book of Genesis
- Healer Goddess: Ninti healed Enki's rib.
- The Maker: Ninti was involved in the creation of humans, and the Nippur tablets, which described the Sumerian version of the destruction of mankind, characterized humans as "Ninti's creations".
Nintul / Ninsikila
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒇥 / 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒋠𒇲 | Nintulnote / Ninsikilanote
Nintul/Ninsikila was a god associated with copper and precious metals. He was one of the eight deities of healing birthed by Ninhursag after she ate the eight plants grown from Enki's semen in order to relieve him from his illness. Nintul was tasked with healing either Enki's hip or hair and was subsequently made lord of Magan, a region which existed as a source of copper and diorite for Mesopotamia. Nintul/Ninsikila was also the husband of the goddess Lisin.
- Deity Identity Confusion: The name "Ninsikila" was also sometimes used as an epiteth of Ninhursag.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He was associated with copper and precious metals.
- Gender Bender: In later times, his name was mistranslated as the name of a goddess and he became regarded as female.
- Healer God: He was responsible for healing either Enki's hip or hair, depending on the version.
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒈯𒃲 | Ninzadimnote
Ninzadim was the god of lapidary, known as the "Great Jeweler of Heaven". He was a son of Enki/Ea and one of several construction gods that were invoked in ritual acts by craftsmen following the completion of their work.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Ninzadim was associated with the shaping of precious stones into decorative items, which he was said to do tenderly with his "pure hands".
Nirah / Irhan
𒀭𒈲 | Niraḫnote / Irḫannote
Nirah/Irhan was the god of snakes and the Euphrates river, as well as the sukkal
("vizier") and messenger of Ishtaran, the patron god of the Sumerian city-state of Der. He appeared in the form of a snake on the edge of kudurru boundary stones, "enclosing" the stone documents. As the deification of the Euphrates, he was considered a branch of the primeval river and had an important place in the cosmology of the ancients, being the frontier between the earth and the netherworld. Nirah's cult was prevalent from the Early Dynastic period in northern and central Mesopotamia and in southern cities after the arrival of the Amorites. As Irhan, he had cults in Ur and Nippur, both of which lay on the earlier course of the Euphrates river, but the cults do not seem to have extended outside those cities beyond the Ur III period. Nonetheless, Irhan was particularly popular at Ur, where he was connected with the Akitu festival.
𒀭𒉡𒈲𒁕 | Numuda
Numushda was the patron god of Kazallu, a city-state which is believed to have been located about 15 km from the city of Babylon, just west of the Euphrates. He was a warrior god, but also had aspects related to nature and fertility. Numushda was a son of Nanna/Sin and Ningal, the husband of Namrat, and father of Adgar-Kidug. In The Marriage of Martu
, Numushda and his family attended a festival in Ninab. During the feast, the god Martu/Amurru performed a heroic deed that brought joy to Numushda's heart. When Numushda offered him silver and lapis-lazuli as a reward, Martu instead asked for the hand of Adgar-kidug. In response, Numushda gave Martu a series of tasks to complete before he would grant his permission for the marriage. His main cult places were the cities of Kazallu and Kiritab, with his main temple in Kazallu being called the Kun-satu ("threshold of the mountain"). The apex of Numushda's worship appears to have been the Early Dynastic period, and he remained popular during the Ur III period, as Kazallu seems to have enjoyed good relations with the Ur III rulers, as attested in some royal inscriptions of Ur III rulers dedicated to Numushda. However, this changed during the Old Babylonian Period, during which King Sin-iqiam of Larsa destroyed Kazallu in the fifth and final year of his reign. Afterwards, Numushda only survived into the first millennium within scholarly circles.
- Cosmic Motifs: Astronomically, Numushda was part of the constellation Centaurus, and was invoked as an astral deity during the first millenium within scholarly circles.
- Green Thumb: Numushda had functions related to nature and fertility.
- War God: Numushda was associated with warfare, and was referred to as a great warrior who was "powerful in strength, who perfectly controls the complex divine powers!".
𒀭𒉺𒌆 | Nuskanote
Nuska was the god of fire, light, earth, the arts, and civilization. He served as sukkal
("vizier") and minister to Enlil, as well as being his messenger and a scribe who recorded events. Nuska was also viewed as the patron of the arts and the god of civilization in general, because of the natural association of all human progress with the discovery and use of fire. As among other nations, the fire-god was in the third instance looked upon as the protector of the family. He became the mediator between humanity and the gods, since it was through the fire on the altar that the offering was brought into the presence of the gods. He was a son of Anu and Antu, the husband of Sadarnuna and was sometimes described as the father of Gibil/Girru, who was also a god of fire and light. Nuska's cult centre was located in Harran, where he was worhipped as part of a group of deities during the Neo-Assyrian Period by the predominately Old Aramaic-speaking population there. However, he also had a shrine in the Ekur temple in Nippur.
- Continuity Snarl: In Harran, because of the predominance of the moon cult, he was viewed as the son of the moon god Nanna/Sin and his wife Ningal. However, this contradicted the events of Enlil and Ninlil, in which Nuska was depicted as already being Enlil's sukkal before he and Ninlil had met and gotten married, and thus had not yet conceived Nanna/Sin. In fact, the story explicitly described Nuska as being "slightly older" than Enlil.
- Cosmic Motifs: Nuska and his son Gibil/Girra represented together the two aspects of the planet Mercury as morning and evening star, before Mercury was eventually identified with Nabu alone.
- Deity Identity Confusion: In the later Babylonian and Assyrian periods, Nuska was syncretized with Gibil/Girra, another light and fire god.
- Dishing Out Dirt: He was also associated with the earth.
- Fire Purifies: Nuska was invoked alongside Enki as a great purifier, being called upon to cleanse the sick and suffering from disease, which, induced by demons, was looked upon as a species of impurity affecting the body.
- The Good Chancellor: Nuska was described as being a great minister and commander to Enlil, serving not only as his attendant, but also as his closest helper in the temple, best friend, adviser and counselor.
- Light Is Good: Nuska served as a benevolent light god who guarded the bedroom during the night, when evil was prone to attack. His symbol was a lit oil lamp.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Although usually identified as a son of Anu and Antu, he was also sometimes identified as Enlil's son (specifically, he was regarded as a first-born son from an unknown mother prior to his marriage to Ninlil), or as the son of the moon god Nanna/Sin and his wife Ningal.
- Playing with Fire: Nuska was associated with both the heavenly and terrestrial fire, representing the fire used by humans in their daily lives as well as the fire used in purification rituals and sacrificial offerings to the gods.
- Power Trio: In Harran, he was worshipped alongside Nanna/Sin, god of the moon, and Ningal, and goddess of reeds, as part of a triad.
- Protectorate: Nuska was invoked as a protective guardian during the night, where he served as a guard at the gate and protected sleeping people, bringing them good dreams and preventing nightmares. Nuska was also called upon to act as a night-light and a protector through a series of rituals and incantations known as Maqlû ("burning"), which were concerned with preventing and removing evil sorcery.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His name could also be read as "Nusku".
- Staff of Authority: Nuska was described as the "bearer of the just staff". A Sumerian praise poem of King Ime-Dagan of Isin described Nuska handing the king a royal sceptre, symbolically giving Enlil's divine sanction to Ime-Dagan's kingship.
Shakkan / Shumugan
𒀭𒌋𒃶 / 𒀭𒋢𒈬𒃷 | akkan / umugan
Shakkan was the god of wild animals, river plains, and nomadic herding. When Enki/Ea assigned roles to several gods during the organization of the world, Shakkan was given charge over the flat alluvial lands of southern Mesopotamia. He was a son of Utu/Shamash, served as a herdsman for the cattle god Lahar, and was also a member of Ereshkigal's court in the underworld. He was also associated with cattle and goats, two animals naturally found in the wilderness, but later domesticated by humans. These two made up the heart of the Sumerian farmer's livelihood, and because of this, Shakkan came to be seen as a god of plenty, responsible for providing sustenance in the form of beef and chevon. Shakkan's influence further extended to the things associated with cattle and goats, namely the plant and vegetable matter they consumed, as well as the pelts and furs collected from them.
- Animal Motifs: Shakkan was associated with wild animals in general, and with donkeys in particular. This was emphasized in the narrative poem Enmerkar and Ensuhgirana:
Like a perfect donkey of Shakkan, he runs over the mountains, he dashes like a large, powerful donkey. A slim donkey, eager to run, he rushes forth.
- The Beastmaster: Shakkan was known as the lord of the animals and had dominion over wild animals. As a result, wild animals were commonly known as the "beasts of Shakkan".
- Dishing Out Dirt: He was associated with mountains and hills, likely due to the wild animals that lived there.
- Green Thumb: Shakkan was responsible for making grasses and herbs grow in abundance in previously barren lands.
- Nature Hero: Shakkan presided over natural areas such as river plains, hills, mountains, and the steppe, and was responsible for bringing life to those areas by making the plants grow and the animals reproduce.
He raised a holy crown over the upland plain. He fastened a lapis-lazuli beard to the high plain, and made it wear a lapis-lazuli headdress. He made this good place perfect with grasses and herbs in abundance. He multiplied the animals of the high plain to an appropriate degree, he multiplied the ibex and wild goats of the pastures, and made them copulate. Enki placed in charge of them the hero who is the crown of the high plain, who is the king of the countryside, the great lion of the high plain, the muscular, the hefty, the burly strength of Enlil — Shakkan, the king of the hills.
- Pelts of the Barbarian: Shakkan was envisioned as wearing only a hairy fur coat that nature had given him, similar to the wild animals he commanded. As a result, those who dressed like that were said to be "clad in a garment like Shakkan's".
𒀭𒁈 | ara
Shara was a minor god of war. The older son of Inanna/Ishtar, as well as a son of Anu, he was the patron deity of Umma, while his younger brother Lulal was located at neighboring Bad-tibira. A fragment of a stone bowl inscribed with his name discovered in the rubbish dump at Tell Agrab, northeast of Babylon, indicates that he may have also been worshipped there. In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld
, Shara was one of the three deities who came to greet her upon her return. Shara's temple in Umma was called the E-bur-sigsig ("house with beautiful bowls"), and sometimes also simply the E-mah ("great house").
- Refusal of the Call: In the myth of Anzû, Shara was one of the warrior gods who was asked by Anu to retrieve the Tablet of Destinies, but he refused.
- War God: Shara was a warrior god and was referred to as a "hero of An".
𒀭𒅆𒅎𒋾 | imtinote
Shimti was the goddess of fate. She was primarily worshipped by the Akkadians, but was also widely known in Syria and Lebanon.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Although Shimti was a goddess in her own right, her name was also used as a title by other goddesses such as Damkina (Ninhursag) and Ishtar. Damkina, for example, was titled banat shimti ("creator of fate") and Ishtar was referred to as Shimti in Assyria and Babylonia when worshipped as a goddess of fate. She was also sometimes equated with the Semitic fate goddess Ashima and Roman goddess Juno.
- Multiple-Choice Past: She was called the daughter of Ishkur/Adad in Syria, but was alternatively identified, with the name Juno-Sima, in Lebanon as the daughter of Marduk (known in the region as "Balmarcod") in a bilingual Greek and Latin inscription from Deir-el-Qal'a near Beirut.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Her name was sometimes spelled as "Simi", "Sima", and "Shimati".
Shulmanu / Salmanu
𒀭𒋗𒌌𒈠𒉡 / 𒀭𒁲𒈠𒉡 | ulmānunote / Salmānunote
Shulmanu was an Assyrian god of the underworld, fertility and war. He appears to have been closely associated with the royal family of Assyria, and his name was incorporated as a theophoric element into the name Shalmaneser, which was assumed as a regnal name by five Assyrian kings from Shalmaneser I to Shalmaneser V. Shulmanu served as the patron god of Dur-Katlimmu, a key city in western Assyria. His temple in the city is believed to have been originally built by Shalmaneser I, and was later restored by Adad-nirari III. His wife was a goddess called Shulmanitu, whose temple was once repaired by Tukulti-Ninurta I, who appeared on the occasion of the repair and made vows for the good future of the temple and curses for those who would try to destroy it. Shulmanu was originally worshipped exclusively by the Assyrians, in contrast to many other deities who were more universal. However, he became popular in the Middle Assyrian period, and his worship eventually spread not only to the Akkadians and Babylonians, but also to Western Semitic peoples such as the Arameans, Canaanites and Phoenicians. Shulmanu was attested in Assyria as early as the Ur III period, and was referenced in Bronze Age inscriptions in Sidón. His cult is believed to still have existed in northern Syria during the Seleucid period.
- Deity Identity Confusion: Scholars have theorized that Shalmanu might have been an aspect of Ashur, representing him as a "friendly god" who aided the Assyrians in battle and watched over their kings.
- Nice Guy: He was envisioned as a "friendly god", who watched over and protected the Assyrian kings.
- War God: Shulmanu was worshipped as a war god.
𒀭𒂄𒊮𒂵𒈾 | ulagana
Shulshagana was the son of Ninurta/Ningirsu and Bau/Gula. His duty was to serve as a butler and housekeeper at E-ninnu, his father's temple in Lagash, where he served his father by providing him drinks and food. He and his brother Igalima were worshipped alongside their parents in the city of Lagash.
- The Jeeves: He was described as a very dedicated and loyal servant to his father Ninurta/Ningirsu, ensuring that his temple was clean and that food and drinks were available to him day and night:
"That he (ulaga) might keep the House clean, let hands always be washed, have clean hands serve water to the lord, that he might pour beer into bowls, wine into jars, that in (E-ninnu's) brewery, the "house (with) the clean arms", emmer beer like the waters (of) Papsir might bubble, that unblemished oxen and goats and grain-fed sheep, fresh bread, and milk of hinds be available day and night, that the noble one, Enlil's beloved son, the warrior Ningirsu, might rise from sleep... the lord of the most careful hand-washing, the first-born son of E-ninnu, ulaga, to Ningirsu"
- Massive Numbered Siblings: He had at least two brothers, Igalima and Damu, and seven sisters, which included Hegir-Nuna and possibly Gunura.
Sisig / Zaqiqu / Zakar
𒀭𒉺𒉺 / 𒀭𒍝𒃼 | Sisignote
Sisig/Zaqiqu was the underworld god of dreams, and was envisioned as a wind-like, incorporeal deity. He was a son of Utu/Shamash, and acted as his father's intermediary by imparting information to people through dreams as well as collecting certain information about a person and sending it back Utu/Shamash. Sisig also served in the underworld by providing light in the darkness, allowing the ghosts to see and travel to their destinations. He also sometimes served as an emissary for the moon god Nanna/Sin, carrying blessings for those who prayed for them in the middle of the night. He additionally held power over the zaqiqu-wind demons, a type of ghost-like demons who would come out of the Netherworld for funerary offerings and libation of water. Sisig was invoked in the Ikar Zaqīqu
, an eleven tablet compendium of oneiromancy, a form of divination based upon dreams.
- Blow You Away: Sisig was to some extent associated with wind, and could control the wind to carry dreams to sleeping people.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Sisig channeled visions of future events from his father Utu/Shamash into people's dreams. If the dream was not immediately clear, it had to be interpreted by the barum (seer), as well as by male and female questioners, who clarified the relationship between the dream content and future happenings, not least to allow counter measures to be taken in time.
Urshanabi / Humut-tabal / Hamar-tabal
𒀭𒌨𒑛 / 𒀭𒌨𒊭𒈾𒁉 / 𒀭𒄷𒄷𒄭𒋫𒁄 / 𒋛𒇻𒅆 | Uranabinote / Ḫumuṭ-tabalnote
Urshanabi was the ferryman of the river Hubur, a river that flowed in front of the gates of the underworld. His primary function was to ferry newly arrived souls in his boat into the underworld, although he also gave passage to visiting deities. He was described as having the head of an Anzu-bird as well as four hands and feet. Urshanabi's boat was crewed by the "Stone Ones", sailors whose role it was to power the boat with disposable punting poles, devices that enabled them to move through the waters untouched. In Enlil and Ninlil
, in which he was called "SI.LU.IGI", he was approached by Enlil and asked to not tell Ninlil, who was following Enlil, where he had gone. Enlil subsequently disguised himself as SI.LU.IGI and seduced Ninlil, thus conceiving Enbilulu, their fourth son. In the Epic of Gilgamesh
, Urshanabi was depicted serving as the ferryman of the immortal Utnapishtim, whose residence was located on the other side of the ocean, a body of water that was regularly passed over only by the sun and included within it the Waters of Death. He met Gilgamesh while being involved in the curious occupation of collecting an unintelligible type of "urnu-snakes" in the forest. Urshanabi agreed to assist Gilgamesh only if the king himself went to the forest and made three hundred punting poles, which could then be used and discarded one after the other in the course of the journey. After Urshanabi and Gilgamesh set out, the first part of the trip was carried out in record time. But as they moved through the Waters of Death, they ran out of punting poles. Gilgamesh improvised by making a sail from his and Urshanabi's clothing. However, upon reaching Utnapishtim's home, Urshanabi was dismissed from Utnapishtim's service and banished from his home, possibly for conveying Gilgamesh across the Hubur. Afterwards, Urshanabi and Utnapishtim both ferried back to Uruk, where they beheld its splendour.
- The Ferryman: He ferried souls across the River Hubur into the underworld, which was envisioned as an island surrounded by waters that only his boat could safely cross. Model boats were placed in the graves of kings to ease their passage into death. Boat models were also used in several Akkadian incantation rituals meant to chase demons to the netherworld, where they were held back by the River Hubur.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: He had four arms and feet.
- Psychopomp: Urshanabi transported newly arrived souls across the River Hubur into the underworld.
𒀭𒋸 | Uttunote
Uttu was the goddess of weaving, who was envisioned as a spider. She was the daughter of Enki and Ninkurra, who was herself both Enki's daughter and granddaughter, and sister of Ninimma, the goddess of female sex organs. Uttu was warned by Enki's wife Ninhursag that Enki would try to seduce her, as he had done with all his other daughters, and to avoid the riverbanks, where he was known to dwell. Uttu fortified herself inside her web and, when Enki came to seduce her, she forced him to promise that he would marry her before she would have sex with him. As marriage gifts, Uttu demanded that Enki give her fruits and vegetables. Enki brought the produce to Uttu, who happily admitted him into her web, but Enki then gave Uttu beer to make her drunk and raped her. Uttu screamed and Ninhursag came to rescue her. Ninhursag removed Enki's semen from Uttu's vagina and planted it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants, which Enki would later eat. Afterwards, Uttu resolved to never again be romantically bonded to Enki, and was blessed by Ninhursag with the wisdom of experience so that she could avoid such pain with any future lovers.
- Date Rape: Uttu became the victim of this when Enki intoxicated her with beer and raped her. Fortunately, Ninhursag heard her screams and came to her rescue.
- Determinator: After having her heart broken by Enki, Uttu resolved to learn from the experience and to never be bonded to him ever again.
- Hot Goddess: She was described as "shapely and decorous" and was regularly referred to as being beautiful.
- Parental Incest: Uttu was raped by her father Enki, who was also her grandfather and great-grandfather.
- Spider People: She was known as Uttu the Spider and was likely envisioned as a spider spinning a web, but was also explicitly described as having human features.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Uttu was known as the Weaver of Patterns and Life Desires and was credited with the creation of clothing. She was also put in charge by Enki with creating the clothes of both the common people and royalty, which were hailed for their splendor.
Demons, spirits, legendary creatures and miscellaneous entities
The king of the wind demons, brother of Humbaba and son of the god Hanbi. He also represented the southwestern wind, the bearer of storms and drought.
- Blow You Away: He's the demon of the southwest wind, known for bringing famine during dry seasons and locusts during rainy seasons.
- Evil vs. Evil: He was summoned to protect mothers and children from the much more evil Lamashtu. Despite being a demon himself, even Pazuzu was disgusted with Lamashtu's depravity.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Depicted as having the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, a scorpion's tail and a serpentine penis. Strangely, this makes him resemble a classical description of a manticore.
- Plague Master: He's capable of spreading plagues, storms, drought and famine.
Lamashtu's father was the Sky God Anu. Unlike many other usual demonic figures and depictions in Mesopotamian lore, Lamashtu was said to act in malevolence of her own accord, rather than at the gods' instructions. Along with this her name was written together with the cuneiform determinative indicating deity. This means she was a goddess or a demigoddess in her own right. Her evil deeds included (but were not limited to): slaying children, unborns, and neonates; causing harm to mothers and expectant mothers; eating men and drinking their blood; disturbing sleep; bringing nightmares; killing foliage; infesting rivers and lakes; and being a bringer of disease, sickness, and death. Pazuzu, a god or demon, was invoked to protect birthing mothers and infants against Lamashtu's malevolence, usually on amulets and statues. Although Pazuzu was said to be bringer of famine and drought, he was also invoked against evil for protection, and against plague, but he was primarily and popularly invoked against his fierce, malicious rival Lamashtu.
Was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as a son of Siris. Anzû was depicted as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately depicted as a lion-headed eagle. He is best known for trying to steal the Tablet of Destiny from the god Ninurta.
Dragon that lives in the Sumerian underworld, little is known about him.
Hybrid being which is a scaly animal with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, lion-like forelimbs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest. The sirrush most famously appears on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the sixth century BC. Worth mentioning is that the sirrush were renamed to mushussu
and were divine animals during the short reign of the Babylonians.
Used to be a lion-headed storm-demon and has the feet of a bird who is featured on protective amulets and apotropaic yellow clay or tamarisk figurines of the first millennium BC but had its origins in the early second millennium. The iconography changed over time, with the human feet morphing into an eagle's talons and dressing him in a short skirt. He was one of the class of ud-demons (day-demons), personifying moments of divine intervention in human life.
Girtablilu / Aqrabuamelu
Girtablilu / Aqrabuamelu
Centaur-esque beings appearing in several myths, including the Enûma Elish
and the Epic of Gilgamesh
. The scorpion men are described to have the head, torso, and arms of a man and the body of a scorpion. However some versions also gave them bird wings.
Shedu / Lamassu
Shedu / Lamassu
Protective deity, initially depicted as a female being in Sumerian times, when it was called Lammasu, it was later depicted from Assyrian times as a hybrid of a human, bird, and either a bull or lionspecifically having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. The name Shedu refers to the male counterpart.