Sumerian Mythology & Goddesses
(Antum, Anatum) A Sumerian goddess of creation, the feminine counterpart
and consort of the sky-god Anu. She was later replaced by the goddess
(Aruru, Nintu) The goddess who created the seed of mankind with Marduk.
With the advent of patriarchal society, Marduk performed this wonder all
by himself. Aru is the mother of Gilgamesh, and she created the hero Enkidu
by forming clay into the image of the god Anu and casting it onto the
The Sumerian and Chaldean goddess of grain, daughter of Enlil. She was
assigned to the fertile land of Sumer by Enki. She is a powerful deity,
supporting the people.
The Sumerian tutelary goddess of the city of Lagash, some 70 kilometers
north of Ur, and patroness of the king. She is also a mother goddess and
a goddess of healing. Baba is the daughter of the sky god An and consort
of the fertility god Ningirsu. People often called her 'mother Baba',
and she was identified with the goddess Gula.
An early Sumerian underworld goddess, subordinate to Ereshkigal. She was
also known as the sister and wife of Tammuz, and a goddess of the Moon
and of love.
The Sumerian goddess of the womb of whom the gods asked to create mankind.
She created men, so they could till the soils and dig canals, and she
created women so that they could continue to bear men. Seven of each she
created, so that after 600 years the people were already too numerous.
The land became so noisy that Ellil could not sleep. The people were also
sinful, eating their own children, so Ellil decided to wash them away
with a great flood. He meant to keep the plan a secret from the people
but the god Ea (Enki) told his protégé Atrahasis what would
happen and how he could save himself by means of a boat. The flood lasted
An equivalent to the Akkadian demoness Lamastu, she causes puerperal fever
and childhood diseases. She is portrayed with bare breasts, on which a
dog and a pig feed themselves.
The sheep Goddess, and Patroness of the flocks. She is the mother of both
Dumuzi and Gestinanna.
(Irkalla) Queen of the Underworld, a chthonic goddess whose realm was
the depths below the Inner Sea of Abzu. She was recognized as Guardian
and Patroness of the Dark City. Together with her consort Nergal she rules
this underworld, also called 'the big land', from which no-one returns.
One day Nergal was sent to Ereskigal from the heavens, with an offering
of food. They proceeded to fall in love, and when Nergal had to leave,
she threatened Anu that unless Nergal was send back to her, for ever,
as a husband, she would revive the dead and send them back to earth, so
that they would outnumber the living. Her minister Namtar had to go to
heaven as her messenger, for Ereshkigal felt that she was already pregnant.
He successfully relayed the message, for at last Nergal came storming
down the stairs, broke down the seven gates and burst into the goddess'
palace straight into her passionate embrace.
Ereshkigal is dark and violent, as befits her role as goddess of the underworld.
As ruler over the shades, Ereshkigal receives the mortuary offerings made
to the dead. Often praised in hymns, in the Sumerian cosmogony she was
carried off to the underworld after the separation of heaven and earth.
An oracular goddess, she is associated with the interpretation of dreams,
and with the herding of sheep. She is the loyal sister of Dumuzi, and
hides him by various stratagems when he is sought by demons of the underworld.
When he is eventually captured, it is arranged that she take his place
for half the year, and he hers. While in the Underworld, she functions
as Ereskigal's scribe.
A healer and patroness of medicine; wife of Ninurta and often identified
with Nin'insina, the tutelary Goddess of the city-state of Isin. She is
also associated with the Underworld. Her symbolic animal, a dog, almost
always accompanies her.
The flowering of Sumeria, its temples, ordered cities, irrigated fields,
birthplace of cuneiform writing and codes of law, and mastery of terra-cotta
arts, all offer tribute to the first Great Goddess named by history. Bejeweled
and serene, her chalice-shaped form was worshipped as early as 7000 BCE.
Sumerian "Queen of Heaven," Inanna is the Great Goddess of Epic
Poems. Many fragments of Her sacred writings still survive. In one poem,
Inanna descended into the underworld, died and after three days She arose
and returned to the living.
Worshiped as early as 7000 BCE, Inanna was still widely revered after
patriarchal incursions into the Euphrates plain. She descended from heaven
to bring prosperity to Her people, then descended into the Realm of Death
in a quest for wisdom. Returning, she condemned her lover and son Dumuzi
to replace her there in punishment for his arrogance; their annual sexual
union was viewed as the source of fecundity and plenty. Here, bejeweled
and serene, she offers Her chalice-shaped body in a supreme gesture of
Inanna of Power, Goddess of Battle. Just as she images fertility, the
Great Goddess also serves as archetype of natural extremes: monsoon-like
storms, great heat, earthquakes. Ancient clay inscriptions depict her
raining down fire, mounted on a beast, and call her "devastatrix
of the lands." Her chthonic powers become explanatory of earth-scourging
catastrophes, and these aspects still live in the forms of Kali and Durga.
For Sumerians, battle was known as the dance of Inanna. She stands Amazon-like,
rooted and erect, garbed as Warrior Queen, gesturing confidently with
her lance of power.
Inanna-Sumerian Queen of the Land. Source of the Earth's life blood. She
filled the wells, rivers and springs with Her blood. 2,000 B.C.E. Juniper
is Her tree.
"Lady of the Thousand Offices", She is the primary female Deity
of Her people, and in some ways the focus of the entire pantheon. Her
epithet refers to the fact that She is Patroness and divine Guide to a
myriad different functions and powers. One tradition has Her the daughter
of An, but a more persistent one makes Her the child of Nanna-Suen. All
agree that She is the younger sister to Ereskigal. She has many lovers
and consorts, but her strongest attachment seems to be with Dumuzi. She
rules the natural world, and the vitalizing effect of the rain, but beyond
that Her functions seem to revolve around pairs of contending ideas. Thus,
She is both the morning and the evening star. She represents motherhood
and the family, but She is also the harlot and temple prostitute. She
governs lightning, but also the dousing of fire. Her spirit is one of
praise and gladness, and also dismay and sorrow. Her imagery usually portrays
Her as a winged female bearing weapons and some armour, wearing an open
robe, nude underneath.
Inanna is regarded as a daughter of the sky-god An, but also of the moon-god
Nanna. A variation of her name is Ninnanna, which means 'queen of the
sky'. She is also called Ninsianna as the personification of the planet
Venus. Inanna is portrayed as a fickle person who first attracts men and
then rejects them. She is depicted as richly dressed goddess or as a naked
woman. Her symbol is the eight-pointed star. Important sanctuaries of
Inanna were in Uruk, Zabalam, and Babylon. The Akkadians called her Ishtar.
An early Sumerian name of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of war and
In some traditions, Ki is a primordial being representing Earth. She
also known as the wife of An and the mother of Enlil, symbolizing the
marriage of Heaven and Earth to produce man.
A primordial being; daughter of Lahmu, and mother of An.
A Sumerian night-demon who has nested herself in the Haluppu tree of Inanna.
The Akkadians know her as Lilitu.
Lilitu, and Ardat-Lili
Not divinities as such, this trio of closely related demons inhabited
the desert wastes, and functioned largely in terms of sexual and fertility
aberration. Lilu and Lilitu were male and female equivalents of each other,
and were regarded as dangerous to pregnancies and newborns, while Ardat-Lili
("Maiden Lilitu") may have been their offspring, and was seen
as a spirit of sexual dysfunction and frustration, malevolent wives, and
degeneracy in general. The general idea was imported into Hebrew mythology
as Lilith, Demoness of desolation, obsession, and madness.
The Mesopotamian (especially Sumerian and Akkadian) mother goddess. She
was part of the creation of the first humans from blood and clay. She
was called Mami by the Babylonians, the goddess who created mortals.
The mother of the universe, a primordial being. In some traditions, she
is the the mother of An and Ki (Heaven and Earth), and a personification
or Aspect of Abzu. She is also known as the Sumerian goddess of the sea
who created heaven and earth.
The Sumerian and Akkadian goddess of sex. She was also worshipped as a
goddess of war. Her cult was widely spread, even to Syria and Iran.
The tutelary goddess of the city-state of Lagash, she was an oracular
divinity with the power to interpret dreams and omens. She also held a
position as protectress of the common-folk, who often invoked her as an
overseer of fair and accurate weights and measures.
The Sumerian goddess of learning.
The Sumerian title for 'mistress' or 'goddess', which forms a component
of many names of goddess, such as Ningal, Ninsun or Ninhursaga.
A goddess of music, serving Ishtar. She and Kulitta accompanied Ishtar's
hymns when she sang passionately of her love for Tammuz.
The wife of moon-god Nanna-Suen, and the mother of the sun-god Utu. She
was the 'great queen' of ancient Sumer. In Ur, she and Sin were regarded
as the parents of Shamash and Ishtar. The Phoenicians referred to her
(Ninhursag, Ninhursanga, Ninchursag) The Sumerian Lady of the Mountains,
mistress of serpents, she who gives life to the dead. She created the
first human beings out of clay. Associated with the Sacred Cow, she is
regarded as the mother of many divinities by Enlil, who further extends
his line by incestuous unions with their daughters, the plants and vegetation.
Ninhursaga is one of the oldest members of the Sumerian pantheon and has
prestigious titles such as 'mother of the gods' and 'mother of all children'.
She is also called Nintu, and Ki, the earth. She was the tutelary deity
of the Sumerian rulers, who styled themselves "children of Ninhursag".
Ninhursag ensures fertile fields, but when she cursed her husband for
his incestuous affairs, the earth became barren. Only when the hastily
assembled gods managed to mollify her, the earth became fertile again
and the cycle of the seasons was instituted.
A temple of Ninhursag was excavated near Tell Harriri (the ancient Mari)
in Syria, near the Iraqi border.
A Sumerian goddess of intoxicating drink. Every day she prepares beer
for the other gods.
The Babylonian and Sumerian goddess of healing who nursed sick humans.
Wife of Enlil, and mother to many of His children. An ancient Sumero-Babylonian
goddess of heaven, earth, and air, and as Ninhursaga, a goddess of the
underworld. She is also a goddess of grain and is called 'queen wind'.
She is the consort of Enlil, the 'lord wind'. She shows compassion to
the unfortunate. She and Enlil were worshipped in Nippur.
A mother-goddess of the Sumerians and Akkadians. Her name means 'greatest
queen' and she is also called Dingirmach ('greatest deity'), or simply
Mach. She helped Nammu with the creation of humankind and was held responsible
for the birth of seven deformed humans. She may have been conflated with
The Sumerian goddess of birth, and of stony ground.
A minor Sumerian goddess noted for her wisdom whose house was in Erech
(Uruk). She is the wife of the deified king Lugalbanda and mother of the
great hero Gilgamesh. In the Gilgamesh epic she counsels her son, and
interprets dreams. Her name means "queen of the wild cow".
Known as the Lady of Life, and the Lady of the Rib. She is the Sumerian
birth goddess who enabled pregnant women to create the bones of their
babies from their own ribs.
The goddess of grain, writing and wisdom. She is the daughter of the sky-god
The Serpent Goddess of the Watery Abyss, the Creatress, the goddess mother,
from whose formless body the Universe was born. She is a primordial entity,
the personification of the deep.
At the beginning of creation there were but two entities, Abzu and Tiamat,
respectively representing the freshwater underworld sea and the saltwater
surface ocean. Between them, many of the earliest entities were created,
including An and Ki (Heaven and Earth). When Abzu was slain, Tiamat released
monstrous creatures in vengeance, and was in turn slain by, as later version
have it, her Marduk. He cleaved her body in half, and from the upper half
he created the sky and from the lower half he made the earth. From her
water came forth the clouds and her tears became the source of the Tigris
and the Euphrates.
The Sumerian spider goddess of weaving and of clothing. She is a daughter
of Enki and Nindurra.
Zarpanit, also known as Beltia, is an ancient Sumero-Babylonian goddess,
the consort of Marduk.