In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically 𒀭𒇉 dNAMMA = dENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Nammu was the Goddess of the primordial sea, who was associated with the oldest generation of Mesopotamian deities and given the title "mother who gave birth to the heavens and the earth". Nammu's mate was Engur, representing the freshwater reservoir that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall. In Sumerian mythology, Nammu, with Engur, gave birth to Anshar (all-father) and Kishar (all-mother), who, in turn, had An (sky father) and Ki (earth mother).

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her husband Engur's functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu (the goddess who "has given birth to the great gods"). It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.[1]

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the "only female prime mover" in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity. [2]

A votive inscription to Namma, by Lugal-kisalsi, King of Uruk circa 2380 BCE:

Lugal-kisalsi inscription

𒀭𒇉 / 𒁮𒀭𒊏 / 𒈗𒆦𒋛 / 𒈗𒀕𒆠𒂵 / 𒈗𒋀𒀊𒆠𒈠 / 𒂍𒀭𒇉 / 𒈬𒆕
{d}namma / dam an-ra / lugal-kisal-si / lugal unu{ki}-ga / lugal urim5{ki}-ma / e2 {d}namma / mu-du3

"For Namma, the wife of An, Lugalkisalsi, king of Uruk and king of Ur, the temple of Namma he built."

— Inscription of Lugal-kisalsi on his foundation peg.[3][4]


  1. ^ Gwendolyn Leick, A dictionary of ancient Near Eastern mythology, Routledge, 1991, ISBN 978-0-415-00762-7, p. 124.
  2. ^ Tannahill, Reay (1980). Sex in history. Stein and Day/Publishers/New York. p. 51. ISBN 0-8128-2580-2.
  3. ^ Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2003. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-58839-043-1.
  4. ^ "Inscription of Lugal-kisalsi".

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