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List of Mesopotamian deities

Engraving depicting four antropomorphic deities and two animals
Akkadian cylinder seal dating to c. 2300 BC, depicting the deities Inanna, Utu, Enki, and Isimud[1]
Map depicting ancient Mesopotamian region overlayed with modern landmarks in Iraq and Syria.
Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia and its major cities relative to modern landmarks

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia were almost exclusively anthropomorphic.[2] They were thought to possess extraordinary powers[2] and were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size.[2] The deities typically wore melam, an ambiguous substance which "covered them in terrifying splendor".[3] Melam could also be worn by heroes, kings, giants, and even demons.[4] The effect that seeing a deity's melam has on a human is described as ni, a word for the "physical tingling of the flesh".[5] Both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages contain many words to express the sensation of ni,[4] including the word puluhtu, meaning "fear".[5] Deities were almost always depicted wearing horned caps,[6][7] consisting of up to seven superimposed pairs of ox-horns.[8] They were also sometimes depicted wearing clothes with elaborate decorative gold and silver ornaments sewn into them.[7]

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that their deities lived in Heaven,[9] but that a god's statue was a physical embodiment of the god himself.[9][10] As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention[11][9] and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them.[12] These priests would clothe the statues[10] and place feasts before them so they could "eat".[11][9] A deity's temple was believed to be that deity's literal place of residence.[13] The gods had boats, full-sized barges which were normally stored inside their temples[14] and were used to transport their cult statues along waterways during various religious festivals.[14] The gods also had chariots, which were used for transporting their cult statues by land.[15] Sometimes a deity's cult statue would be transported to the location of a battle so that the deity could watch the battle unfold.[15] The major deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were believed to participate in the "assembly of the gods",[6] through which the gods made all of their decisions.[6] This assembly was seen as a divine counterpart to the semi-democratic legislative system that existed during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 BC — c. 2004 BC).[6]

The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history.[16] In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases.[16] During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domain mainly focused on basic needs for human survival.[17] During the second phase, which occurred in the third millennium BC, the divine hierarchy became more structured[17] and deified kings began to enter the pantheon.[17] During the third phase, in the second millennium BC, the gods worshipped by an individual person and gods associated with the commoners became more prevalent.[17] During the fourth and final phase, in the first millennium BC, the gods became closely associated with specific human empires and rulers.[18] The names of over 3,000 Mesopotamian deities have been recovered from cuneiform texts.[19][16] Many of these are from lengthy lists of deities compiled by ancient Mesopotamian scribes.[19][20] The longest of these lists is a text entitled An = Antum, a Babylonian scholarly work listing the names of over 2,000 Sumerian deities with their Semitic equivalents.[19][17]

The Anunnaki are a group of deities first attested during the reign of Gudea (c. 2144 — 2124 BC) and the Third Dynasty of Ur.[21][22] Originally, the Anunnaki appear to have been heavenly deities with immense powers,[23][21] who were believed to "decree the fates of mankind".[22] Later they became regarded as chthonic Underworld deities.[23] They are chiefly mentioned in literary texts[22] and very little evidence to support the existence of any cult of them has yet been unearthed.[24][22] This is likely due to the fact that each member of the Anunnaki had his or her own individual cult, separate from the others.[21] Similarly, no representations of the Anunnaki as a group have yet been discovered,[21] although a few depictions of its individual members have been identified.[21] Another group of deities are the Igigi, who are first attested from the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830 BC — c. 1531 BC).[25] The name Igigi seems to have originally been applied to the ten "great gods",[25] but it later came to refer to all the gods of Heaven collectively.[25] In some instances, the terms Anunnaki and Igigi are used synonymously.[21][22]

Contents

Triad of HeavenEdit

The three most important deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon during all periods were the gods An, Enlil, and Enki.[26] An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky.[27] The path of Enlil's celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole,[28] but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points.[29]

Name Image Major cult centers Celestial body Details Associated color
An
Anu[30]
Eanna temple in Uruk[31] Equatorial sky[27][32] An (in Sumerian), later known as Anu or Ilu (in Akkadian),[33] is the supreme God and "prime mover in creation", embodied by the sky.[30] He is the first and most distant ancestor,[30] theologically conceived as the God of Heaven in its "transcendental obscurity".[34] All the deities were believed to be the offspring of An and his consort Ki (cf. Anunnaki).[30][35][22] While An was the utmost God,[36][30] at least by the time of the earliest written records the cult was largely devoted to Enlil.[37][38] Luludanitu; ensemble of red, white and black[39]
Enlil
Nunamnir, Ellil[40][41]
Ekur temple in Nippur[42][43] Northern sky[27][32] Enlil, later known as Ellil, is the god of wind, air, earth, and storms[40] and the chief of all the gods.[44] He is theologically conceived as the "transcendent" facet of An.[45] The Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being.[46] One Sumerian hymn describes Enlil as so glorious that even the other gods could not look upon him.[41][47] His cult was closely tied to the holy city of Nippur[43] and, after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC, his cult fell into decline.[48] He was eventually paralleled in his role as chief deity by Marduk, the national god of the Babylonians.[48] Lapis lazuli-blue[39][49]
Enki
Nudimmud, Ninshiku, Ea[50]
E-Abzu temple in Eridu[50] Southern sky[27][32] Enki, later known as Ea, and also occasionally referred to as Nudimmud or Ninšiku, is the god of the subterranean freshwater ocean,[50] who is also closely associated with wisdom, magic, incantations, arts, and crafts.[50] He is either the son of An, or the goddess Nammu,[50] and is the twin brother of Ishkur.[50] He is theologically conceived as the "immanent" facet of An.[45] His wife is the goddess Damgalnuna (Ninhursag)[50] and his sons include the gods Marduk, Asarluhi, Enbilulu, the sage Adapa, and the goddess Nanshe.[50] His sukkal, or minister, is the two-faced messenger god Isimud.[50] Enki is the divine benefactor of humanity,[50] who helped humans survive the Great Flood.[50] In Enki and the World Order, he organizes "in detail every feature of the civilised world."[50] In Inanna and Enki, he is the holder of the sacred mes, the tablets concerning all aspects of human life.[50] Jasper-green[39][49]

Seven planetary deitiesEdit

The number seven was extremely important in ancient Mesopotamian cosmology.[51][52] In Sumerian religion, the most powerful and important deities in the pantheon were the "seven gods who decree":[53] An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.[54] Many major deities in Sumerian mythology were associated with specific celestial bodies:[55] Inanna was believed to be the planet Venus,[56][32] Utu was believed to be the Sun,[57][32] and Nanna was the Moon.[58][32] Later Mesopotamian peoples adopted these associations and also assigned their own deities to the classical planets until all seven celestial bodies visible with the naked eye had become identified with major deities.[59] The modern seven-day week originated with the ancient Babylonians,[60] for whom each day was associated with one of the seven planetary deities.[60]

Name Image Major cult centers Celestial body Details Associated metal and color[note 1]
Marduk
Babylon[62][48] Jupiter[63] Marduk is the national god of the Babylonians.[62] The expansion of his cult closely paralleled the historical rise of Babylon[62][48] and, after assimilating various local deities, including a god named Asarluhi, he eventually came to parallel Enlil as the chief of the gods.[62][48] His wife was the goddess Sarpānītu.[62] Tin, white[64]
Ninurta
Ningirsu[65]
E-šu-me-ša temple in Nippur[65] Saturn[66] Ninurta, also known as Ningirsu, was a Mesopotamian warrior deity who was worshipped in Sumer from the very earliest times.[65] He was the champion of the gods against the Anzû bird after it stole the Tablet of Destinies from his father Enlil[65] and, in a myth that is alluded to in many works but never fully preserved, he killed a group of warriors known as the "Slain Heroes".[65] Ninurta was also an agricultural deity and the patron god of farmers.[65] In the epic poem Lugal-e, he slays the demon Asag and uses stones to build the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to make them useful for irrigation.[67] His major symbols were a perched bird and a plow.[68] Lead, black[64]
Nergal
E-Meslam temple in Kutha and Mashkan-shapir[58] Mars[69] Nergal was associated with the Underworld[70] and is usually the husband of Ereshkigal.[70] He was also associated with forest fires (and identified with the fire-god, Gibil[71]), fevers, plagues, and war.[70] In myths, he causes destruction and devastation.[70] Iron, red[72][note 2]
Inanna
Ishtar[74]
Eanna temple in Uruk,[75][56][31] though she also had temples in Nippur, Lagash, Shuruppak, Zabalam, and Ur[75] Venus[56] Inanna, later known as Ishtar, is "the most important female deity of ancient Mesopotamia at all periods."[74] She was the Sumerian goddess of love, sexuality, prostitution, and war.[76] She was the divine personification of the planet Venus, the morning and evening star.[56] Accounts of her parentage vary;[74] in most myths, she is usually presented as the daughter of Nanna and Ningal,[77] but, in other stories, she is the daughter of Enki or An along with an unknown mother.[74] The Sumerians had more myths about her than any other deity.[78][79] Many of the myths involving her revolve around her attempts to usurp control of the other deities' domains.[80] Her most famous myth is the story of her descent into the Underworld,[81] in which she attempts to conquer the Underworld, the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal,[81] but is instead struck dead by the seven judges of the Underworld.[82][83][84] She is only revived due to Enki's intervention[82][83][84] and her husband Dumuzid is forced to take her place in the Underworld.[85][86] Alongside her twin brother Utu, Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.[87] Copper, blue[64]
Nabu
Borsippa[88] Mercury[88] Nabu was the Mesopotamian god of scribes and writing.[88] His wife was the goddess Tashmetu[88] and he may have been associated with the planet Mercury.[88] He later became associated with wisdom and agriculture.[88] Mercury, orange[72][note 3]
Nanna-Suen
Nanna, Enzu, Zuen, Suen, Sin[90]
E-kiš-nu-ğal temple in Ur and another temple in Harran[58] Moon[58] Nanna, Enzu or Zuen ("Lord of Wisdom") in Sumerian, later altered as Suen and Sin in Akkadian,[90] is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the Moon.[58] He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil and one of his most prominent myths was an account of how he was conceived and how he made his way from the Underworld to Nippur.[58] The Moon-god has an important role among the major gods; in Assyrian esoteric literature, he is regarded as symbolizing the pleroma, i.e. the sum of all the gods' powers, and thus An itself.[91] The crescent of the Moon-god was featured on the top of the cusps of Mesopotamian temples.[92] Silver, green[93][note 4]
Utu
Shamash[95]
E-Babbar temples at Sippar and Larsa[96] Sun[95] Utu, later known as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the Sun,[95] who was also revered as the god of truth, justice, and morality.[96] He was the son of Nanna and the twin brother of Inanna.[95] The Sun-god was believed to see all things that happen during the day[96] and to aid mortals in distress.[96] Alongside his sister Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice.[87] Gold, yellow[97]

Primordial beingsEdit

Various civilizations over the course of Mesopotamian history had many different creation stories.[98][99] The earliest accounts of creation are simple narratives written in Sumerian dating to the late third millennium BC.[100][101] These are mostly preserved as brief prologues to longer mythographic compositions dealing with other subjects, such as Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, The Creation of the Pickax, and Enki and Ninmah.[102][100] Later accounts are far more elaborate, adding multiple generations of gods and primordial beings.[103] The longest and most famous of these accounts is the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, or Epic of Creation, which is divided into seven tablets.[101] The surviving version of the Enûma Eliš could not have been written any earlier than the late second millennium BC,[101] but it draws heavily on earlier materials,[104] including various works written during the Akkadian, Old Babylonian, and Kassite periods in the early second millennium BC.[104]

Name Image Details
Abzu In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Eliš, Abzu is primordial undeterminacy,[105] the consort of the goddess Tiamat who was killed by the god Ea (Enki).[105] Abzu was the personification of the subterranean primeval waters.[105]
Anshar and Kishar In some East Semitic myths, Anshar and Kishar are a primordial couple, who are male and female respectively.[23] In the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, they are the second pair of offspring born from Abzu and Tiamat[23] and the parents of the supreme An.[23]
Ki Ki is the Sumerian goddess personifying the earth itself.[106] In some Sumerian accounts, she is a primordial being who copulates with An to produce a variety of plants.[107] Ki is the mother of Enlil[108] and the Sumerians believed that the world began when Enlil separated her from An.[108] She may be another name for Ninhursag, the earth goddess.[109][110]
Nammu Nammu is the primordial goddess who, in some Sumerian traditions, was said to have given birth to both An and Ki.[111] She eventually came to be regarded as the mother of Enki[111] and was revered as an important mother goddess.[111] Because the cuneiform sign used to write her name is the same as the sign for engur, a synonym for abzu, it is highly probably that she was originally conceived as the personification of the subterranean primeval waters.[111]
Tiamat
In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Eliš, after the separation of heaven and earth, the goddess Tiamat and her consort Abzu are the only deities in existence.[112] A male-female pair, they mate and Tiamat gives birth to the first generation of gods.[112] Ea (Enki) slays Abzu[112] and Tiamat gives birth to eleven monsters to seek venegeance for her lover's death.[112] Eventually, Marduk, the son of Enki and the national god of the Babylonians, slays Tiamat and uses her body to create the earth.[112] In the Assyrian version of the story, it is Ashur who slays Tiamat instead.[112] Tiamat was the personification of the primeval waters and it is hard to tell how the author of the Enûma Eliš imagined her appearance.[112]

Other major deitiesEdit

Name Image Major cult centers Details
Ashur
Assur[113] Ashur is the national god of the Assyrians,[113] who was syncretized with Enlil.[114] He may have originally been a local deity associated with the city of Assur,[113] but, with the growth of the Assyrian Empire,[113] his cult was introduced to southern Mesopotamia.[115]
Dagan
Dagon
Mari, Ebla, and Ugarit[116] Dagan is a West Semitic god of grain who came to be worshipped across the entire Near East, including in Mesopotamia.[116] According to one tradition, Dagan was the inventor of the plough.[116] Dagan was assimilated into the Sumerian pantheon at an early date as a minor attendant deity to Enlil.[116] His cult was extensively promoted by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, who claimed that Dagan had allowed him to conquer all of Mesopotamia.[116] In an Assyrian poem, Dagan is one of the judges of the Underworld.[116] Although Dagan was once mistakenly assumed to appear in artwork as a fish-garbed figure,[116] this is now known to be inaccurate.[116]
Dumuzid
Tammuz[117]
Bad-tibira and Kuara[117] Dumuzid, later known by the corrupted form Tammuz, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of shepherds[117] and the primary consort of the goddess Inanna.[117] His sister is the goddess Geshtinanna.[117][118] In addition to being the god of shepherds, Dumuzid was also an agricultural deity associated with the growth of plants.[119][120] Ancient Near Eastern peoples associated Dumuzid with the springtime, when the land was fertile and abundant,[119][121] but, during the summer months, when the land was dry and barren, it was thought that Dumuzid had "died".[119][122] During the month of Dumuzid, which fell in the middle of summer, people all across Sumer would mourn over his death.[123][124] An enormous number of popular stories circulated throughout the Near East surrounding his death.[123][124]
Ereshkigal
Kutha Ereshkigal is the queen of the Mesopotamian Underworld.[125][126] She lived in palace known as Ganzir.[125] In earlier stories, her husband is Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven,[125] but, in later myths, her husband is the god Nergal.[125][126] Her gatekeeper was the god Neti[126] and her sukkal is the god Namtar.[125] In the poem Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Ereshkigal is described as Inanna's "older sister".[127]
Geshtinanna Nippur, Isin, and Uruk[128] Geshtinanna is a rural agricultural goddess sometimes associated with dream interpretation.[129] She is the sister of Dumuzid, the god of shepherds.[129] In one story, she protects her brother when the galla demons come to drag him down to the Underworld by hiding him in successively in four different places.[129] In another version of the story, she refuses to tell the galla where he is hiding, even after they torture her.[129] The galla eventually take Dumuzid away after he is betrayed by an unnamed "friend",[129] but Inanna decrees that he and Geshtinanna will alternate places every six months, each spending half the year in the Underworld while the other stays in Heaven.[129] While she is in the Underworld, Geshtinanna serves as Ereshkigal's scribe.[129]
Gilgamesh
Uruk and a small village near Ur[130] Most historians generally agree that Gilgamesh was a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk,[130][131] who probably ruled sometime during the early part of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900–2350 BC).[130][131] It is certain that, during the later Early Dynastic Period, Gilgamesh was worshipped as a god at various locations across Sumer.[130] In the twenty-first century BC, Utu-hengal, the king of Uruk adopted Gilgamesh as his patron deity.[130] The kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur were especially fond of Gilgamesh, calling him their "divine brother" and "friend".[130] During this period, a large number of myths and legends developed surrounding him.[130] Probably during the Middle Babylonian Period (c. 1600 BC — c. 1155 BC), a scribe named Sîn-lēqi-unninni composed the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem written in Akkadian narrating Gilgamesh's heroic exploits.[130] The opening of the poem describes Gilgamesh as "one-third human, two-thirds divine".[130]
Gula
Nintinugga, Ninkarrak, Meme, Bau, Ninisina[132]
E-gal-mah temple in Isin and other temples in Nippur, Borsippa, and Assur[132] Gula, also known as Nintinugga, Ninkarrak, Meme, Bau, and Ninisina, is the Mesopotamian goddess of healing and the divine patroness of doctors and medicine-workers.[132] Dogs were considered sacred to her[132] and she is often shown in art with a dog sitting beside her.[132] She is sometimes the wife of Ninurta or Pabilsaĝ,[132] but is also sometimes described as being married to the minor vegetation god Anu.[132]
Ishkur
Adad[133]
Karkara and Assur[134] Ishkur, later known as Adad, is the Mesopotamian god of storms and rain.[133] He was sometimes syncretized with the Hurrian god Teshub and the Kassite god Buriash.[133] His wife is the goddess Shala.[133] He is usually the son of An, but, in older traditions, he is the son of Enlil.[133]
Ištaran Der[134] Ištaran is a local god of the Sumerian city-state of Der, which was located east of the Tigris river on the border between Mesopotamia and Elam.[134] His wife is the goddess Šarrat-Dēri, whose name means "Queen of Der",[134] and his sukkal was the snake-god Nirah.[134] A text from the late Early Dynastic Period invokes Ištaran to resolve a boundary dispute between the cities of Lagash and Umma.[134] In one of his inscriptions, King Gudea of Lagash mentions himself having installed a shrine for Ištaran in the temple of Ningirsu at Girsu[134] and describes Ištaran as a god of justice.[134] On kudurrus (boundary stones), Ištaran is often represented by a serpent, which may be Nirah.[134] His cult fell into decline during the Middle Babylonian Period, after which point he no longer appears in personal names.[134]
Nanshe
Lagash[88] Nanshe is a local goddess associated with the city of Lagash.[58] She is the daughter of Enki and the sister of Ningirsu.[58] She is associated with divination and the interpretation of dreams[58] She was also believed to assist the poor and the impoverished[58] and ensure the accuracy of weights and measurements.[58]
Ninazu Eshnunna (later replaced by the Hurrian storm god Tishpak)[135] Ninazu is the son of Ereshkigal and the father of Ningishzida.[135] He is closely associated with the Underworld.[135] He was mostly worshipped in Eshnunna during the third millennium BC, but he was later supplanted by the Hurrian storm god Tishpak.[135] A god named "Ninazu" was also worshipped at Enegi in southern Sumer,[135] but this may be a different local god by the same name.[135] His divine beast was the mušḫuššu, a kind of dragon, which was later given to Tishpak and then Marduk.[135]
Ningal
Nikkal[136]
Ur and Harran[136] Ningal, later known by the corrupted form Nikkal, was the wife of Nanna-Suen, the god of the moon, and the mother of Utu, the god of the sun.[136]
Ningishzida
Lagash[137] Ningishzida is a god who normally lives in the Underworld.[136] He is the son of Ninazu and his name may be etymologically derived from a phrase meaning "Lord of the Good Tree".[136] In the Sumerian poem, The Death of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh dies and meets Ningishzida, along with Dumuzid, in the Underworld.[137] Gudea, the Sumerian king of the city-state of Lagash, revered Ningishzida as his personal protector.[137] In the myth of Adapa, Dumuzid and Ningishzida are described as guarding the gates of the highest Heaven.[138] Ningishzida was associated with the constellation Hydra.[139]
Ninhursag
Damgalnuna, Ninmah[139]
E-Mah temple in Adab[139] Ninhursag, also known as Damgalnuna and Ninmah, is the Sumerian mother goddess, who was associated with agricultural fertility.[139] Many of the gods are her offspring,[139] and many mortal rulers claimed her as their mother as well.[139] She is also Enki's primary consort.[139] In the myth of Enki and Ninhursaga, Enki and Ninhursag have sex and Ninhursag gives birth to a daughter, whom Enki rapes, resulting in a string of daughters, each of whom is raped by Enki.[139] Her main temple was the E-Mah in Adab,[139] but she was also associated with the city of Kesh[139] and she is sometimes referred to as the "Bēlet-ilī of Kesh" or "she of Kesh".[139] One of her main symbols is a divine emblem resembling the later Greek letter omega.[140]
Ninlil Nippur and Assur[141] Ninlil was the wife of Enlil, the ruler of the gods.[139] She was probably an artificially created deity, invented as a female equivalent to Enlil.[139] She was regarded as having power on par with Enlil;[142] in one poem, Ninlil declares, "As Enlil is your master, so am I also your mistress!"[142]
Ninshubur
Worshipped with Inanna as her sukkal Ninshubur is the sukkal, or personal attendant, to the goddess Inanna.[65][143][144] She is portrayed as "unshakably loyal" in her devotion to her mistress.[143] In the Sumerian myth of Inanna and Enki, Ninshubur rescues Inanna from the monsters that Enki sends to capture her.[145][146][143] In the Sumerian myth of Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Ninshubur pleads with all the gods in effort to persuade them to rescue Inanna from the Underworld.[147][148] In addition to being a source of great wisdom and knowledge,[143] Ninshubur was also a warrior goddess.[143] She was the guardian and messenger of the god An.[143] She is said to have walked in front of An wherever he went, a position traditionally reserved for a bodyguard.[143] In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was syncretized with the male messenger deity Papsukkal.[144][149]
Nisaba Lagash, Umma, and later Eresh[67] Nisaba, also known as Nanibgal, was originally a goddess of grain and agriculture,[67] but, starting in the Early Dynastic Period, she developed into a goddess of writing, accounting, and scribal knowledge.[67] She was the daughter of Enlil and the sister of Ningirsu.[67] In earlier times, her husband was the god Haya,[67] but, in later times, she came to be regarded as the wife of Nabu, the god of scribes.[67]

Minor deitiesEdit

Name Image Major cult centers Details
Ama-arhus Uruk[150] Ama-arhus is a fertility goddess who was worshipped in Uruk during the Hellenistic Period.[150]
Amasagnul Amasagnul is a goddess who is thought to have been the consort of the messenger god Papsukkal.[151]
Amashilama
In the collection of laments entitled In the Desert by the Early Grass, Amashilama is a divine leech and the sister of the god Damu, who has died and gone to the Underworld.[152] At her son's request, Damu's mother digs up his blood and chops it into pieces.[152] She gives the congealed blood to Amashilama, who mixes it into a brew of beer, which Damu must drink in order to be restored to life.[152] Damu, however, realizes that he is dead and declares that he is not in the "grass which shall grow for his mother again", nor in the "waters which will rise".[152] Damu's mother blesses him[152] and Amashilama dies to join him in the Underworld.[152] She tells him that "the day that dawns for you will also dawn for me; the day you see, I shall also see",[152] referring to the fact that day in the world above is night in the Underworld.[152]
Antu
Antu is a goddess who was invented during the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 BC – 2154 BC) as a consort for Anu.[30][36] Her name is a female version of Anu's own.[30][36] The Akkadians believed that rain was milk from the clouds,[153] which they believed were Antu's breasts.[153] According to the German classical scholar Walter Burkert, the Greek goddess Dione, mentioned in Book V of the Iliad as the mother of Aphrodite, is probably a calque for Antu.[154]
Anunītu Agade and Sippar[155] Anunītu was a minor Babylonian goddess who was believed to aid women in childbirth.[23] She was later considered to be merely an aspect of Inanna.[23] Eventually, this aspect of Inanna became associated with the constellation Pisces.[156]
Asarluhi Kuara[157] Asarluhi was originally a local god of the village of Kuara, which was located near the city of Eridu.[157] He eventually became regarded as a god of magical knowledge[157] and was thought to be the son of Enki and Ninhursag.[157] He was later absorbed as an aspect of Marduk.[157] In the standard Babylonian magical tradition, the name "Asarluhi" is used as merely an alternative name for Marduk.[157]
Ashgi Adab and Kesh[158] Ashgi is the brother of the goddess Lisin.[158]
Ashnan Ashnan is the goddess of grain.[159] In the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain, she and her sister Lahar are created by the Anunnaki to provide them with food.[160] They produce large amounts of food,[161] but become drunk with wine and start to quarrel, so Enki and Enlil intervene, declaring Ashnan the victor.[162]
Aruru Aruru is a mother goddess, possibly the same as Ninhursag.[88]
Bel of Babylon
Babylon[163][164] During the first millennium BC, the Babylonians worshipped a deity under the title "Bel", meaning "lord", who was a syncretization of Marduk, Enlil, and the dying god Dumuzid.[163][164] Bel held all the cultic titles of Enlil[164] and his status in the Babylonian religion was largely the same.[164] Eventually, Bel came to be seen as the god of order and destiny.[164] The cult of Bel is a major component of the Jewish story of "Bel and the Dragon" from the apocryphal additions to Daniel.[165]
Belet-Seri Belet-Seri is a chthonic Underworld goddess who was thought to record the names of the deceased as they entered the Underworld.[166]
Birtum Birtum is an obscure minor god, the husband of the goddess Nungal.[167][168]
Bull of Heaven
The Bull of Heaven is a mythical beast that Ishtar demands from her father Anu in both the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven and in Tablet VI of the Standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances.[169] Anu gives it to her and she unleashes it on the world, causing mass destruction.[169] Gilgamesh and Enkidu eventually slay the bull.[169] The Bull of Heaven is identified with the constellation Taurus[169] and the reason why Enkidu hurls the bull's thigh at Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh after defeating it may be an effort to explain why the constellation seems to be missing its hind quarters.[169]
Bunene Sippar, Uruk, and Assur[96] Bunene is the sukkal and charioteer of the sun-god Utu.[96] He was worshipped at Sippar and Uruk during the Old Babylonian Period[96] and was later worshipped at Assur.[96] According to some accounts, he may have been Utu's son.[96]
Damu Isin, Larsa, Ur, and Girsu[170] Damu is a god who presides over healing and medicine.[170] He is usually the son of Ninisina and Ningishzida, or is identical to Ningishzida himself.[170] In some texts, "Damu" is used as another name for Dumuzid,[171] but this may be a different word meaning "son".[171] Another god named "Damu" was also worshipped in Ebla and Emar,[170] but this may be a local hero, not the same as the god of healing.[170] The official cult of Damu became extinct sometime after the Old Babylonian Period.[170]
Dingirma Dingirma is a mother goddess whose name means "exalted deity".[88] She may just be another name for Ninhursag.[88]
Dumu-zi-abzu Kinunir[123] Dumu-zi-abzu is a local goddess who was worshipped in the village of Kinunir, near the city-state of Lagash.[123] Her name, which probably means "good child of the Abzu",[123] was sometimes abbreviated to Dumu-zi,[123] but she has no obvious connection to the god Dumuzid.[123]
Enkimdu Enkimdu is described as the "lord of dike and canal".[41] He appears in the myth of Inanna Prefers the Farmer as a wealthy farmer who competes with Dumuzid for Inanna's affection.[172][173] He is the son of Enki and is closely associated with Enbilulu.[41] He is sometimes identified as a form of Ishkur or as an alternate name for Marduk.[41]
Enmesharra Enmesharra is a minor deity of the Underworld.[41] Seven or eight other minor deities were said to be his offspring.[41] His symbol was the suššuru (a kind of pigeon).[41] In one incantation, Enmesharra and Ninmesharra, his female counterpart, are invoked as ancestors of Enki and as primeval deities.[41]
Ennugi Ennugi is "the canal inspector of the gods".[125] He is the son of Enlil or Enmesarra[125] and his wife is the goddess Nanibgal.[125] He is associated with the Underworld[41] and he may be Gugalanna, the first husband of Ereshkigal, under a different name.[125]
Enzag Dilmun[125] Enzag is one of several deities created by the sexual union of Enki and Ninhursag.[125] He is described as the "lord of Dilmun".[125] In another text, he is referred to as the "Nabu of Dilmun".[125]
Erra
Erra is a warlike god who is associated with pestilence and violence.[174] He is the son of the sky-god An[174] and his wife is an obscure, minor goddess named Mami, who is different from the mother goddess with the same name.[174] As early as the Akkadian Period, Erra was already associated with Nergal[174] and he eventually came to be seen as merely an aspect of him.[174] The names came to be used interchangeably.[174]
Gatumdug Lagash and later Girsu[175] Gatumdug is a goddess associated with the city-state of Lagash.[175] She was later equated with Bau.[175]
Gibil
Gibil is the deification of fire.[129] As such, he represents fire in all of its destructive and creative aspects.[129] According to Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, 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 are baked, and so as a 'founder of cities'."[129] He is traditionally said to be the son of An and Shala,[129] but is sometimes the son of Nusku.[167]
Gugalanna Gugalanna is the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld.[125] His name probably originally meant "canal inspector of An"[125] and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi.[125] The son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna is Ninazu.[125] In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Inanna tells the gatekeeper Neti that she is descending to the Underworld to attend the funeral of "Gugalanna, the husband of my elder sister Ereshkigal".[125][176][127]
Hahanu Hahanu is an obscure god of uncertain function who is referenced in passing by several inscriptions.[177]
Hanbi Hanbi is the father of the demon-god Pazuzu.[178]
Hani Hani is a minor East Semitic deity.[179] He is the sukkal to the storm-god Adad.[179]
Haya Umma, Ur, and Kuara.[180] Haya is the husband of the goddess Nisaba.[67][180] Haya was primarily a god of scribes,[180] but he may have also been associated with grain and agriculture.[180] He also served as a doorkeeper.[180] In some texts, he is identified as the father of the goddess Ninlil.[180] He was worshipped mostly during the Third Dynasty of Ur, when he had temples in the cities of Umma, Ur, and Kuara.[180] In later times, he had a temple in the city of Assur and may have had one in Nineveh.[180] A god named Haya was worshipped at Mari, but this may have been a different deity.[180]
Hayasum Hayasum is a minor god who is referenced in some inscriptions, but whose function is unknown.[181]
Hegir-Nuna
Gangir
Hegir-Nuna, also known as Gangir, is one of the seven daughters of Baba.[182]
Hendursag Hendursag was a Sumerian god of law.[183] King Gudea of Lagash refers to him as the "herald of the land of Sumer" in one inscription.[177]
Ilaba Agade[56] Ilaba was briefly a major deity during the Akkadian Period,[56] but seems to have been completely obscure during all other periods of Mesopotamian history.[56] He was closely associated with the kings of the Akkadian Empire.[76]
Ilabrat Worshipped with Anu as his sukkal Ilabrat is the sukkal, or personal attendant, of the god Anu.[36][184] He appears in the myth of Adapa in which he tells Anu that the reason why the south wind does not blow is because Adapa, the priest of Ea in Eridu, has broken its wing.[184]
Imdugud
Imdugud, later known as Anzû, is an enormous bird-like monster with the head of a lion that was so huge that the flapping of its wings was thought to be the cause of sandstorms and whirlwinds.[185] Imdugud probably originated as the personification of atmospheric fog.[185] In some descriptions, he has a "beak like a saw", indicating that he sometimes had the head of a bird.[185] In Sumerian mythology, Imdugud steals the sacred mes (the clay tablets recording all the aspects of civilization) from Enki.[185] In Akkadian mythology, he steals the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil.[185] In both stories, Imdugud is challenged by Ninurta, who defeats him and returns the stolen property to its rightful owner.[185] In the Sumerian story of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, Imdugud is one of several creatures that come to inhabit the huluppu tree planted by Inanna[186][187][188] and is driven off by the hero Gilgamesh.[187][188]
Išḫara Middle Euphrates region[133] Išḫara is a mainly Semitic goddess who was primarily associated with love,[133] but who is also a goddess of war and extispacy, and sometimes a mother goddess.[133] She was equated with Ishtar from early on.[133] In early times, her sacred animal is the snake,[133] but, in later times, it is the scorpion.[133] She is identified with the constellation Scorpius.[133] An important goddess with the same name as her was also worshipped by the Hurrians in southeast Anatolia and northwest Syria as an Underworld goddess.[133]
Isimud
Worshipped with Enki as his sukkal Isimud, later known as Usmû, is the sukkal, or personal attendant, to the god Enki.[133] His name is related to the word meaning "having two faces"[133] and he is shown in art with a face on either side of his head.[133] He acts as Enki's messenger in the myths of Enki and Ninhursag and Inanna and Enki.[133]
Ishum Ishum was a popular, but not very important god,[106] who was worshipped from the Early Dynastic Period onwards.[106] In one text, he is described as the son of Shamash and Ninlil.[106] He was a generally benevolent deity, who served as a night watchman and protector.[106] He may be the same god as the Sumerian Hendursag, because the both of them are said to have been the husband of the goddess Ninmug.[106] He was sometimes associated with the Underworld[106] and was believed to exert a calming influence on Erra, the god of rage and violence.[106]
Kakka Kakka is a sukkal to both Anu and Anshar who plays a role in the text of Nergal and Ereshkigal.[189]
Kus Kus is a god of herdsmen referenced in the Theogony of Dunnu.[190]
Lahar Lahar is a goddess of cattle.[159] In the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain, she and her sister Ashnan are created by the Anunnaki to provide them with food.[160] They produce large amounts of food,[161] but become drunk with wine and start to quarrel, so Enki and Enlil intervene, declaring Ashnan the victor.[162]
Lahmu
Lahmu is a protective and beneficient god whose name means "Hairy".[191] He was originally associated with Enki and later with Marduk.[191] During the Neo-Assyrian Period (911 BC – 609 BC), figurines of Lahmu, who is depicted with long hair and a long, curled beard, were placed under the foundations of houses and temples to protect against demons and pestilence.[191] Lahmu is closely associated with the kusarikku or "bull-man".[191] In the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, Lahmu and his consort Lahamu are a primordial couple.[191] Their names are derived from the same root.[191]
Lamashtu
Lamashtu was a goddess with the "head of a lion, the teeth of a donkey, naked breasts, a hairy body, hands stained (with blood?), long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of Anzû."[192] She was believed to feed on the blood of human infants[192] and was widely blamed as the cause of miscarriages and cot deaths.[192] Although Lamashtu has traditionally been identified as a demoness,[193] the fact that she could cause evil on her own without the permission of other deities strongly indicates that she was seen as a goddess in her own right.[192] Mesopotamian peoples protected against her using amulets and talismans.[192] She was believed to ride in her boat on the river of the Underworld[192] and she was associated with donkeys.[192] She was believed to be the daughter of An.[192]
Lisin Adab and Kesh[158] Lisin and her brother Ashgi were worshipped in Adab and Kesh.[158] Her husband was the god Ninsikila.[158] In Sumerian times, Lisin was viewed as a mother goddess.[158] She is identified with the star α Scorpionis.[158] Later, Ninsikila was accidentally mistranslated as the name of a goddess and Lisin accordingly became treated as a god.[158]
Lugalbanda Uruk, Nippur, and Kuara[194] Lugalbanda was an early legendary king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, who was later declared to be a god.[194] He is the husband of the goddess Ninsun and the father of the mortal hero Gilgamesh.[194] He is mentioned as a god alongside Ninsun in a list of deities as early as the Early Dynastic Period.[194] A brief fragment of a myth about him from this same time period is also preserved.[194] During the Third Dynasty of Ur, all the kings would offer sacrifices to Lugalbanda as a god in the holy city of Nippur.[194] Two epic poems about Lugalbanda describe him successfully crossing dangerous mountains alone, though hindered by severe illness.[194] The Sumerian King List makes him a shepherd, who reigned for 1,200 years.[194] He has a close relationship with the goddess Inanna.[194]
Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea
Kisiga[194] Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea are a set of twin gods who were worshipped in the village of Kisiga, located in northern Babylonia.[194] They were regarded as guardians of doorways[195] and they may have originally been envisioned as a set of twins guarding the gates of the Underworld, who chopped the dead into pieces as they passed through the gates.[196] During the Neo-Assyrian period, small depictions of them would be buried at entrances,[195] with Lugal-irra always on the left and Meslamta-ea always on the right.[195] They are identical and are shown wearing horned caps and each holding an axe and a mace.[195] They are identified with the constellation Gemini, which is named after them.[195]
Lulal Bad-tibira[192] Lulal is a god who is closely associated with Inanna,[192] but their relationship is unclear and ambiguous.[192] He appears in Inanna's Descent into the Underworld.[192] He seems to have primarily been a warrior-god,[192] but he was also associated with domesticated animals.[192]
Mami or Mama Mami or Mama is a mother goddess whose name means "mother".[88] She may be the same goddess as Ninhursag.[88]
Mandanu Mandanu is a god of divine judgement who was worshipped during the Neo-Babylonian Period.[197]
Martu Martu, later known as Amurru, is a god who destroys cities and "rages over the land like a storm".[198] He is the personification of the nomads 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.[198] One myth describes how the daughter of the god Numušda insists on marrying Martu, despite his unattractive habits.[199] In Old Babylonian and Kassite art, Amurru is shown as a god dressed in long robes and carrying a scimitar or a shepherd's crook.[5]
Nanaya
Uruk and Kish[111] Nanaya was originally a goddess of lust and sexuality who shared many of her aspects with Inanna.[111] During the Old Babylonian Period, she and Inanna, as well as her daughter Kanisura, were worshipped as a trinity of goddesses in Uruk and later in Kish.[111] In later times, Nanaya was completely assimilated into Inanna[111] and her name became merely one of Inanna's many cultic epithets.[111]
Neti Neti is the gatekeeper of the Underworld.[200] In the story of Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, he leads Inanna through the seven gates of the Underworld,[200][201] removing one of her garments at each gate so that when she comes before Ereshkigal she is naked and symbolically powerless.[200][201]
Ningikuga Ningikuga is a goddess of reeds and marshes.[202] Her name means "Lady of the Pure Reed".[202] She is the daughter of Anu and Nammu[202] and one of the many consorts of Enki.[202]
Nin-imma Nin-imma is the divine personification of female genitalia.[203][204] Her name literally means "lady female genitals".[204] She appears in one version of the myth of Enki and Ninsikila in which she is the daughter of Enki and Ninkurra.[204][205] Enki rapes her and causes her to give birth to Uttu, the goddess of weaving and vegetation.[204][205]
Ningilin
Ningilin is a deity who was associated with mongooses, which are common throughout southern Mesopotamia.[206] who was conflated at an early date with Ningirima, a god of magic invoked for protection against snakes.[206] She is probably a goddess, but might have sometimes been considered a god.[206] She was so closely associated with mongooses that the Akkadian word for "mongoose" was later written using the Sumerian symbol for her name.[206] 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!"[206] A creature resembling a mongoose also appears in Old Babylonian glyptic art,[206] but its significance is not known.[206]
Ningirima Ningirama was a deity associated with magic who was invoked for protection against snakes.[206] He or she was conflated with Ningirima, the deity of mongooses, at an early date.[206]
Ninkurra Ninkurra is the daughter of Enki and Ninsar.[207] After having sex with her father Enki, Ninkurra gave birth to Uttu, the goddess of weaving and vegetation.[207]
Ninmena Ninmena is a Sumerian mother goddess whose name means "Lady of the Crown".[88][207] She may just be another name for Ninhursag.[88][207]
Ninmug Ninmug is the wife of the god Ishum or the god Hendursag, who may be the same deity.[106]
Ninsar Ninsar is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag.[208] After having sex with her father Enki, Ninsar gave birth to Ninkurra.[207]
Ninsianna
É-eš-bar-zi-da temple in Ur and other temples in Sippar, Larsa, and Uruk[209] Ninsianna is the Sumerian deity of the planet Venus.[209] She was originally a goddess, but was sometimes later viewed as a god.[209] She is described in one text as the "holy torch who fills the heavens"[209] and was frequently associated with haruspicy.[209] Her worship is first attested during the Third Dynasty of Ur and she continued to be venerated until the Seleucid Period (312 BC – 63 BC).[209] Especially in later texts, she is often subsumed as an aspect of Inanna-Ishtar.[209]
Ninsikila Ninsikila is the husband of the goddess Lisin.[158] Later, his name was mistranslated as the name of a goddess and he became regarded as female.[158]
Ninsun
Uruk[67] Ninsun is the divine consort of Lugalbanda, the deified king of Uruk, and the mother of the hero Gilgamesh.[149]
Nintu Nintu is a Sumerian mother goddess associated with childbirth.[210] Her name literally means "Lady of Birth".[88] She may just be an aspect of Ninhursag.[88]
Nirah
Der[134] Nirah is the sukkal, or personal attendant, of the god Ištaran.[134] He was identified with snakes[134] and may appear in the form of a snake on kudurrus.[134]
Numushda Kazallu[167] Numushda is a god who was associated with the city of Kazallu.[167] His worship is attested from the Early Dynastic Period,[167] but his cult seems to have ceased at the end of the Old Babylonian Period.[167] He was believed to be the son of the moon-god Nanna and may have been regarded as a storm deity.[167] In the myth of The Marriage of Martu, Numushda's unnamed daughter insists on marrying the nomadic desert god Martu, despite his unattractive lifestyle.[167]
Nungal Ekur temple in Nippur[167] Nungal, also known as Manungal, was the daughter of Ereshkigal.[167] Her husband was the god Birtum.[167] She later became seen as an aspect of Nintinugga.[167]
Nusku Harran[167] Nusku is the god of fire and light.[167] He was the son and minister of Enlil.[167] The god Gibil is sometimes described as his son.[167] Nusku's main symbol was a lit oil lamp.[167] He was a member of a group of deities that were worshipped in Harran during the Neo-Assyrian Period by the predominately Old Aramaic-speaking population there.[167]
Pabilshag
Isin, Nippur, and Larag[19] Pabilshag is a god whose worship is attested from the Early Dynastic Period onwards.[19] He was believed to be the son of Enlil and the husband of Ninisina, the patron goddess of Isin.[19] In some texts, he is identified with Ninurta or Ningirsu.[19] One Sumerian poem describes Pabilshag's journey to Nippur.[19] Pabilshag was believed to be the constellation Sagittarius.[19]
Pazuzu
Pazuzu is a demonic god who was well-known to the Babylonians and Assyrians throughout the first millennium BC.[19] He is shown with "a rather canine face with abnormally bulging eyes, a scaly body, a snake-headed penis, the talons of a bird and usually wings."[19] He was believed to be the son of the god Hanbi.[178] He was a beneficent entity who protected against winds bearing pestilence[19] and he was thought to be able to force Lamashtu back to the Underworld.[211] Amulets bearing his image were positioned in dwellings to protect infants from Lamashtu[178] and pregnant women frequently wore amulets with his head on them as protection from her.[178] Ironically, Pazuzu appears in The Exorcist films as the demon that possesses the little girl.[178]
Šarrat-Dēri Der[134] Šarrat-Dēri is the wife of Ištaran, the local god of the Sumerian city-state of Der.[134] Her name means "Queen of Der".[134]
Shara E-mah temple in Umma and possibly also Tell Agrab[212] Shara was a local deity associated with the city of Umma, where his main temple was the E-mah.[212] 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.[212] He was also a warrior god and is referred to as a "hero of An".[212] In the Babylonian myth of Anzû, Shara is one of the warrior gods who is asked to retrieve the Tablet of Destinies, but refuses.[212] In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Shara is one of the three deities who come to greet her upon her return.[212] In the myth of Lugalbanda and in a single building inscription from the Third Dynasty of Ur, Shara is described as Inanna's "son",[212] a tradition which runs directly contrary to the usual portrayal of Inanna as youthful and without offspring.[74]
Sherida Sippar and Larsa[212][213] Sherida, later known as Aya, was the goddess of light and the wife of the sun-god Utu.[212] She was closely associated with sexuality and fertility.[212] She was especially popular during the Old Babylonian Period and the Neo-Babylonian Period (626 BC – 539 BC).[212]
Shul-pa-e Shul-pa-e's name means "youthful brilliance",[212] but he was not envisioned as youthful god.[212] According to one tradition, he was the consort of Ninhursag, a tradition which contradicts the usual portrayal of Enki as Ninhursag's consort.[212][214] In one Sumerian poem, offerings to made to Shul-pa-e in the Underworld[212] and, in later mythology, he was one of the demons of the Underworld.[212]
Siduri Siduri is a wise goddess who was believed to keep an alehouse at the edge of the world.[214] In the earlier Old Babylonian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh, she attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh from his quest for immortality,[215] instead urging him to be content with the simple pleasures in life.[215] Her name means "She is my Rampart".[214]
Silili Silili is an obscure goddess who was apparently the mother of all horses.[214] She is only attested once in the Epic of Gilgamesh.[214]
Sumugan Sumugan is an obscure "god of the plain", who is briefly referenced in the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain.[159]
Tashmetu Kalhu[216] In Assyrian mythology, Tashmetu is the divine consort of Nabu, the god of scribes and wisdom;[216] in Babylonian mythology, this role is instead assigned to the goddess Nanaya.[216] Tashmetu is associated with wisdom and sexual attractiveness, a quality which she shares with Inanna and Nanaya.[216] A poetic composition from the Library of Ashurbanipal describes how, in one ritual, Nabu and Tashmetu's statues would be brought together for a "marriage ceremony".[216] One extant letter describes how, 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.[216] Tashmetu is attested relatively late[216] and is not mentioned in texts prior to the Old Babylonian Period.[216]
Uraš Uraš is the earliest attested consort of Anu;[30][36] she is described in Sumerian texts dating to the third millennium BC.[30][36] Her role as Anu's consort was later ascribed to Ki, the personification of the earth.[30][36]
Uttu
Uttu is the Sumerian goddess of weaving.[95] The same cuneiform symbol used to write her name was also used to write the Sumerian word for "spider",[95] indicating that Uttu was probably envisioned as a spider spinning a web.[95] She appears primarily in the myth of Enki and Ninsikila, in which she resists the sexual advances of her father Enki by ensconcing herself inside her web,[217] but he convinces her to let him in using a gift of fresh produce and the promise that he will marry her.[217] Enki then intoxicates her with beer and rapes her.[217] She is rescued by Enki's wife Ninhursag,[217] who removes Enki's semen from her vagina and plants it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants, which Enki later eats.[217]
Zababa E-mete-ursag temple in Kish[218] Zababa is a local god associated with the city of Kish, near Babylon.[218] According to the local tradition, he was the husband of the warrior-goddess Inanna, who was a very important deity in that city.[218] The earliest attestation of Zababa comes from the Early Dynastic Period.[218] Zababa was a god of war and he was syncretized with the god Ninurta, who was also known as Ningirsu.[218] In one list of deities he is called "Marduk of battle".[218] His primary symbol was a staff with the head of an eagle.[218]

Foreign deities in MesopotamiaEdit

Name Image Place of origin Details
Astarte
Levant[219] Astarte is a West Semitic goddess of warfare,[219] whose name is cognate to the one belonging to the East Semitic goddess Ishtar.[219] She and Ishtar had many qualities in common,[219] but Astarte was more closely associated with warfare, while Ishtar was more closely associated with love and sexuality.[219] The two goddesses were eventually syncretized.[219]
Atargatis
Syria[220] Atargatis is a Syrian goddess who was worshipped in the early centuries AD.[220] Her main cult center was her temple in the city of Hierapolis,[220] which a Jewish rabbi later listed as one of the five most important pagan temples in the Near East.[221] Her cult was apparently highly influential during the Roman Period,[222] but the only source describing the rituals associated with her in detail is the satirical essay On the Syrian Goddess, written in the second century AD by the Hellenized Syrian Lucian.[222] Lucian's treatise is primarily a work of satire making fun of the arbitrary cultural distinctions between "Greeks" and "Assyrians" by emphasizing the manner in which Syrians have adopted Greek customs and thereby effectively become "Greeks" themselves.[223] Scholars therefore dispute whether the treatise is an accurate description of Syrian cultural practices[220] and very little is known about Hierapolis other than what is recorded in On the Syrian Goddess itself.[220]
Aglibol
Palmyra, Syria[224] Aglibol is the Palmyrene god of the moon.[224] He was worshipped alongside Malakbel, the god of the sun.[224]
Baalshamin
Syria[225] Baalshamin is an originally Canaanite deity whose cult spread throughout much of Syria.[225] He is the god of fertile soil and clear skies.[225] His name means "Lord of Heaven" and the heavens were thought to belong to him.[225] He was a supreme god of weather and rain.[225]
Bel of Palmyra
Palmyra, Syria[226] A god under the title "Bel", distinct from the Babylonian god with the same title, was worshipped as the chief god of the Palmyrene pantheon in Syria during the late first millennium BC.[227] He is first attested under the name Bol,[228] but, after the Babylonian cult of Marduk-Bel was introduced to Palmyra in around 213 BC, he was renamed as "Bel".[228]
Bes
Egypt[229] Bes is an Egyptian god of play and recreation.[230] He was envisioned as a "full-faced, bow-legged dwarf with an oversized head, goggle eyes, protruding tongue, bushy tail and usually a large feathered crown as a head-dress."[230] Representations of an almost identical dwarf-god became widespread across the Near East during the first millennium BC and are common in Syria, Palestine, and Arabia.[231] This god's name in Assyrian and Babylonian may have been Pessû.[231] Bes seems to have been the only Egyptian god who became widely worshipped throughout Mesopotamia.[232]
Humban Elam[232] Hamban, later known as Napirisha, is the Elamite god of the sky.[232] His name means "Great God".[232]
Hutran Elam[232] Hutran is an Elamite god who was believed to be the son of Kiririsha and Napirisha.[232]
Inshushinak
Elam[232] Inshushinak is an Elamite god was originally the patron god of the city of Susa,[232] but later became a major underworld deity.[232]
Inzak Dilmun[233] The Sumerians regarded Inzak as the chief god of the Dilmunite pantheon,[233] but the Dilmunites themselves regarded him as a god of Agaru, a land in eastern Arabia.[233] His main cult center was on Failaka Island,[233] where a temple was dedicated to him.[233] During the Neo-Babylonian Period, Inzak was identified with Nabu.[233]
Lagamal and Ishmekerab Elam[232] Lagamal and Ishmekerab are twin Elamite goddesses who were believed to serve as judges of the dead in the Underworld.[232]
Malakbel
Palmyra, Syria[224] Malakbel is the Palmyrene god of the sun.[224] He was worshipped alongside Aglibol, the god of the moon.[224]
Meskilak Dilmun[233] Meskilak is the patron goddess of the city of Dilmun.[233] She may have been seen as the wife or mother of Inzak.[233] The Sumerians seem to have identified her with Ninhursag.[233] She is sometimes referred to as Nin-Dilmun, meaning "Lady of Dilmun".[233]
Muati Dilmun[234] Muati is an obscure Dilmunite god who is referenced in some Sumerian texts.[234] He was later syncretized with Nabu.[234]
Nahhunte Elam[232] Nahhunte is the Elamite god of the sun and justice.[232]
Napir Elam[50] Napir is the Elamite god of the moon.[50]
Pienenkir Elam[232] Pienenkir, later known as Kiririsha, is a mother goddess, who was worshipped by the Elamites.[232] Her name means "Great Goddess".[232]
Lahamun Dilmun[233] Lahamun is a Dilmunite goddess who is described in Mesopotamian texts as the "Ṣarpānītu of Dilmun".[233]
Manzât Elam[50] Manzât is the wife of the Elamite god Simut.[50]
Ruhurater, Kilahšupir, and Tirutir Elam[50] Ruhurater, Kilahšupir, and Tirutir are a group of local, Elamite deities.[50]
Siyâšum, Narunte, and Niarzina Elam[50] Siyâšum, Narunte, and Niarzina are the three sisters of the Elamite goddess Kiririsha.[50]
Simut Elam[50] Simut is a Elamite god who serves as a herald.[50]
Yahweh
Kingdoms of Israel and Judah[235][236][237] Yahweh was the national god of the Israelites, who originally lived in the Levantine kingdoms of Israel and Judah.[235][236][237] In 586 BC, the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and deported the elite members of Judahite society to Babylon in an event known as the "Babylonian exile".[238] Modern scholars generally agree that much of the Deuteronomistic History was probably edited and redacted by Judahite priests living in Babylon during the exile.[239] The works of Second Isaiah, also written in Babylon, represent the first unambiguous Judahite declaration of the non-existence of foreign deities and proclamation of Yahweh as the sole, supreme God.[240] Much of the Torah was probably written and compiled after the exile, when the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland by the Persians.[241][242]
Yarhibol Palmyra, Syria[243] Yarhibol was originally the Palmyrene god of justice and morality,[243] but he eventually became regarded as the god of the sun as well, due to syncretism with the Babylonian sun-god Shamash.[244]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The metals are listed as done by the Arab geographer al-Dimašqī (†1327), who described the temples of the Sabians of Harran (a group who preserved Mesopotamian religion), and by the 10th-century scholar al-Nihāwandī.[61] The colors are listed according to the general reconstruction provided by Peter James and Marius Anthony Van der Sluijs, based on Herodotus's description of the walls of Ecbatana, the descriptions of other Mesopotamian temples, and the earlier studies of Henry Rawlinson. Mesopotamian temples' levels were each of a different color, corresponding to the hierarchy of the planetary gods.[59]
  2. ^ Herodotus, in his description of the walls of Ecbatana, uses the Greek term phoiníkeos, which may mean "purple-red", "crimson", "dark red" or simply "red". Modern translators appropriately use "scarlet".[73]
  3. ^ Herodotus uses the Greek term sandarákinos, which defined "an orange pigment" made from realgar, thus rendered as "orange" (or "vermilion", an orange-red) by modern translators.[89]
  4. ^ The authors cite Henry Rawlinson (1841) in Memoir on the Site of the Atropatenian Ecbatana, where he says that the color associated with the moon was green, "a hue which is applied by the orientals to silver".[94]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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BibliographyEdit