Abisimti mother of Shu-Sin, king of Ur Abzu


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Sumerian Concepts

Some of this comes from older books, so be careful, there may have been newer discoveries.

Other peoples ideas most welcome

Abisimti - mother of Shu-Sin, king of Ur

Abzu - Sea, abyss, home of the water god Enki. It was anciently believed that wells, springs, rivers and streams sprang from a freshwater ocean which lay under the earth in the Abzu or Engur. The Abzu was the particular realm of the wise god Enki, his wife Damgalnuna and his mother Nammu, and was also inhabited by a number of creatures subordinate to him. Enki was thought to have occupied the abzu since before the creation of mankind. According to the Babylonian Epic of Creation, Apsu was the name of a primal creature, the lover of Tiamat, and when Ea killed Apsu, he set up his home on the dead creatures body, whose name was henceforth transferred to Ea’s residence. Marduk, as Ea’s son, is sometimes referred to as ‘first born son of the apsu’. Enki’s temple at Eridu was known as E-abzu , Abzu temple. The nether world was located even further down, beneath the abzu. Since in some traditions it was necessary to cross a river to reach the nether world, the river was identified with the abzu. The term abzu/apsu was also used to designate a tank for holy water in a temple courtyard.

Adab - an important city of Sumer, and its capital during the reign of Lugalannemundu.

Adapa - According to Babylonian legend, Adpa was the wise man or sage (apkallu) of Eridu. His wisdom and position had been granted him by the god Enki. Having broken the wings of the south wind, Adapa was summoned by the supreme god An. Enki told Adapa he would be offered the bread and water of death. Meanwhile though, the two gatekeepers of heaven, Dumuzi and Gishzida had interceded with An on Adapa’s behalf, causing a change of heart. Anu instead offered the bread and water of eternal life. Adapa refused, thereby losing his opportunity for immortality. The story is often considered a myth on the mortality of man.

Agade - a city in northern Sumer, founded by Sargon the Great, who made it his capital. For a time it was the richest and most powerful city in the ancient world. In Sumerian tradition it was laid waste during the reign of Naram-Sin, Sargon’s grandson and remained a city forever cursed. Following the reign of Sargon Sumeria was sometimes called the land of Sumer and Akkad. Akkad is the variant pronunciation of Agade.

Agga - a ruler of the first dynasty of Kish, one of the main protagonists of the epic tale Gilgamesh and Agga

Allari - a type of love song

Altar - an altar is an upright object at or upon which sacrifice and offerings are made physically or symbolically. It thereby represents a centre piece of ritual worship. Prehistoric open air rituals in Mesopotamia probably employed a natural rock or heap of pebbles or earth, but with the development of temples and shrines, more obvious altars were made of clay and brick. A small shrine of the late fifth millennium at Eridu already contained an altar set into a niche opposite the doorway, together with an offering table. This axial placement of the altar remained a constant feature except when its displacement to one side was required by the portal arrangement of high temples. Usually the altar would be placed, for offering, before the image of the god. In Assyrian temples the altar was occasionally found positioned in front of the statue of the king. This should represent the king should be taken as giving offerings rather than receiving them. Altars could be plainly decorated or more elaborate. Often they were crafted in architectural style representing a miniature version of the temple itself. At other times scenes of worship or images of protective hybrid figures would be depicted on the sides. More rarely these religious designs would be accompanied by more secular scenes. In the middle Assyrian period, lead figures from the temple of Ishtar at Assur show scenes of sexual intercourse taking place on top of what appears to be an altar. From the way some of the symbols of gods appear on the kudurrus and stelae and from designs on cylinder seals showing a worshipper before an altar, it would seem that emblems might be placed on the altar to receive worship, or that the altar itself would be placed on or beside a statue of the deities animal. Sometimes the statue of the gods animal itself would serve as the altar, with a symbol placed on the animals back.

Amaushumgalanna - a by name of Dumuzi; literally it seems to mean “the Mother, Dragon of heaven”. I do not understand this connection yet.

An - Also called Anu. The Sumerian heaven god, the word means heaven.

Animals Of the Gods - As well as their distinctive attributes, weapons, and inanimate or astral symbols, many Mesopotamian gods had their familiar animals, sometimes natural animals but more usually elaborate hybrid combinations. Sometimes representations of such beasts in art served as symbols of the various gods, or else the gods are shown standing on top of the animal. Sometimes large scale statue s of the animals guarded the entrance to their shrines or temples, or served as altars. The lion was associated with Inanna..

Animal Sacrifices - Sacrifice as a religious rite by which an object, animal or person is offered to a divinity in an attempt to establish, maintain or restore a satisfactory relationship of the individual, group of individuals or the community in general to that god. In many cultures, including Mesopotamia, it has commonly taken the form of the ritual slaughter and offering of animal life. In Mesopotamia it was a man’s duty to and the reason for creation, to take care of the material needs of the gods, which included the provision of food. Animal sacrifice, therefore, was regarded as the literal means of satisfying the gods’ appetite. Foods were prepared in the temple kitchens and offered to the gods’ cult statue. In practice, the meat of animal offerings probably remained or became the property of the temple, and was used to feed the clergy and their retainers. The sheep seems to be the primary animal of such sacrifice, although goats and cattle were sometimes sacrificed. Excavations of rooms in prehistoric and early historic temples, however, have at times uncovered enormous quantities of fish bones, believed to be sacrificial deposits. A rather different form of animal sacrifice is attested by the animals commonly found buried with people. For the most part they generally represented food for the deceased. In Sumerian burials, however, horses/donkeys and oxes, sometimes harnessed to carts, must have been part of the great ceremony of the burial.

The sacrifice of a goat (called man-substitute) was used in some rituals to divert sickness or portended evil from individual persons. However, the sacrifice of a sheep during the New Years ceremony ay Babylon is not, as has been suggested, connected with the idea of a scapegoat, killed to take the sins of the community at large. This concept was alien to Mesopotamian thought. There is occasional evidence of animal sacrifice in connection with building rites. In excavations at Nimrud, for example, an animal, probably a gazelle, was discovered buried beneath the floor of a royal building. At Ur, the bones of small birds were occasionally found together with figurines in clay boxes set into the foundations of Neo Assyrian buildings. Sometimes ritual burning was an element in animal sacrifice, and oblations were usually carried to the gods by the fire gods Gibil or Nusku

Anointing - the symbolic custom of anointing has its origins in the habit of rubbing down the body with fine quality oil (usually sesame) for medical or cosmetic purposes. Oil might also be symbolically poured over the head, ie a bride, persons involved in a property transaction, or the manumission of a slave. Anointed priests (pashishu0 were on particular class of clergy [ I wonder if they were the priest allowed to anoint the gods statues?] n extension of this custom from the Old Babylonian period on, was the duty of anointing the stone inscription or monument of a past king if it was exposed during building work, clearly a substitute for anointing the ruler himself. In magic and sorcery and medicine ointments of all sorts were frequently used, prepared from both symbolic ingredients and genuinely curative herbs and simples.

Anu - refer An

Anunna - or Anunnakku. A general name for a group of gods who were probably originally ‘heaven gods’, some of whom, however, must have fallen from grace, and were carried off to the nether world. The Anunna, which probably means ‘princely offspring’, is used in earlier, especially Sumerian, texts as a general word for the gods, in particular the early gods who were first born and were not differentiated with individual names. They are put to work to help build the temple of Girsu in a Sumerian hymn, and are linked with the benign lama-deities. There are 50 Anunna of Eridu. The sky god An is described as king of the Anunnakku. In the epic of creation the multitude of gods are called the Anunnakku of heaven and earth. Possibly following the use from Middle Babylonian times of the name Igigu to referred especially to gods of heaven, the term Anunnakku comes to refer to the gods of the earth, Ki, and the nether world. Marduk and Damkina and Nergal and Maduna- associated with the nether world - are said to be powerful among them. There are 600 Anunnakku of the nether world while there are 300 of the heavens.

Anunitu - was a Babylonian goddess especially associated with child birth. She and ulmashitum were 2 aspects of the goddess Inanna worshipped at Agade. She was also worshipped at Sippar. Later, as the name of a constellation, she was associated with the north eastern part of the constellation of Pisces.

Anzu - probably the true pronunciation of the name of the mythological bird known as the Imdigud bird

Apple Tree - this tree had some special significance I haven’t yet figured out. It seems to have been used as a metaphor for the penis.

Arali - one of the names of the Nether world

Ashnan - Grain goddess, a sister of Lahar

Balag - The word probably means harp, and it may be assumed that the balag chants were accompanied by that musical instrument. A detailed study of the balag genre was prepared in 1974 by Mark Cohen as a doctoral dissertation in the University Museum [Berkeley, California, USA]

Balbale - a designation for a type of Sumerian poem or song, also used as a descriptive term for apples

Baradurgarra - Inanna’s temple in Nippur

Belili - or Belit-ili a mother goddess to whom Dumuzi run to for help in the Descent Saga

Bau - an important goddess of Lagash, spouse of its tutelary deity Ningursa

Belili - a name of the goddess Geshtinanna, sister of Dumuzi, wife of Ningishzida. Epithet - she who always weeps

Bell - The earliest bells found in Mesopotamia are Assyrian, dating to the first millennium BC. Magical texts refer to the ringing of a bell as a means of driving away evil spirits. [I wonder if modern doorbells still do the trick!]

Bilulu - A goddess killed by Inanna and turned into a water skin for the benefit of travelers of the desert-steppe

Black Heads- an epithet of the Sumerians. Its origin is obscure

Boats Of The Gods - Just as the gods or cult statues which represented them, had houses, tables to eat from, beds to sleep in, and clothes and jewelry to adorn them, so they also have full sized barges, usually propelled by rowers, in which to travel by river or canal. These boats were actually used when the statues of the gods made ritual journeys to visit on e another at festival times. Individual boats had names. During that period of Mesopotamian history when years were named after important events of the preceding year, the refitting and caulking of a boat was a sufficiently grand and expensive undertaking to serve as a year name. The gods boat would be stored in the temple and and it seems the cult statue of the god and some of the gods’ or goddesses’ treasure might be exhibited in the boat. The boats of the gods are a favourite theme in Sumerian literature, especially in the various poems celebrating divine journeys.

Bucket and Cone - In Neo-Assyrian art, objects resembling a pine cone and bucket (or occasionally a bucket alone) are held as attributes by a number of protective genies, often in association with the stylised tree. The cone is held up in the right hand, the bucket held down in the left. Only very rarely are these held by figurines which might be considered purely human, almost always they were held by genies or animal/human hybrids. As well as in front of the stylised tree, the bucket and cone are seen held before floral decorative emblems, guardian supernatural creatures, the king or his attendants, or open doorways. The cone has been interpreted as a fir cone, as the male flower of a date palm, or a clay imitation of one of these. The bucket has been thought to have been of metal or wicker, and to have contained either water or pollen. Written sources on the subject are few, but it seems clear that the bucket and cone were associated with purification, for they are known respectively as bandaddu (bucket) and mullilu (purifier) and figurines of these genies holding these were found among the types placed within buildings for protection from malevolent demons and disease.

Building Rites - In ancient Mesopotamia, building activities seem generally to have been accompanied by certain appropriate rites. During the construction of new buildings, especially temples, there were usually some religious ceremonies and magical practices associated with the consecration of the edifice, its purification, dedication and protection from malevolent demonic forces. The residents of private houses might employ related rituals to safeguard themselves and their property from demons and diseases, at the completion of the building or at the end of a particular illness. Such rituals are generally treated together in modern literature as foundation or building rites. They often involved the use of deposits of various kinds placed in the foundation, or installed at the time of the foundation, of a building.

Bull Of Heaven - was a mythical beast demanded by Inanna from An so as to destroy the city of Uruk when her amorous advances toward Gilgamesh were rejected. The bull caused wide spread destruction before Gilgamesh and Enkidu killed it. As a taunt Gilgamesh dedicated the bulls horns to his personal god Lugalbanda. The story is told in both the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh and the Bull Of heaven, and int he Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh.. As a constellation, the Bull of Heaven is associated with Taurus, and it has been suggested that the story of Enkidu throwing the thigh of the bull at Inanna attempts to explain the lack of the bull’s hindquarters in the outline of the constellation.

Buranun - the original name of the Euphrates.

Cult Statues - The gods manifested themselves on earth through the vehicle of their cult statues. Without exactly being the god, the statue was regarded as much more than his or her image, since it was imbued with (but did not restrict) the divine essence. Cult statues were made at least as early as the third dynasty of Ur, usually carved in an expensive imported wood, overlaid with gold. In the Babylonian periods, at least, the newly dedicated image was imbued with the presence of the deity by the performance of rituals, known as ‘washing of the mouth’ and ‘opening of the mouth’. Since the deity needed to eat and drink, the temple kitchens would prepare daily meals. Animals and plants were raised and grown in the temple’s fields or were contributed by local farmers or fishermen. The sacrificers and offerings of devotees supplemented the stocks of food, which, in practice, were eaten by the clergy and temple staff. The cult statue was not only fed, but also dressed in the finest garments, constantly bathed, taken to bed in the god’s richly adorned bedchamber, and treated to festivities and entertainment’s such as music. Diversions from the routine were provided by the great monthly festivals and other occasions, such as visits by land or river to other cities.

Damu - a god of healing identified with Dumuzi

Der - a city in northeastern sumer whose god Sataran suffered a fate similar to that of Dumuzi

Dilmun - a still unidentified land that was looked upon by the Sumerians as a blessed paradise

Dumuzi - the shepherd king of Uruk who came to be known as the first ruler to wed the goddess Inanna in the Sacred Marriage Rite. Literally translated as ‘Faithful Son’

Dumuzi-Abzu - literally Dumuzi of the deep

Duru - a variety of lapis lazuli

Ea - another name for Enki

Eanna - Inanna’s temple in uruk, its literal meaning is the ‘House of An’

Egalgina - ‘the everlasting palace’, name of a place in the underworld

Egime - sister of Lil

Ekishnugal - the great temple of the moon god at Ur

Ekur - Enlil’s temple in Nippur, the leading sanctuary in Sumer - its literal meaning is ‘Mountain House’

Emesh - Summer

Emush - a shrine in Uruk

Emushkalamma - a shrine in Badtibira

Enheduanna - daughter of Sargon and appointed high priestess of the temple of the moon god in Ur. She wrote many hymns and introduced the concept of Inanna as war goddess. One of the few acknowledged writes of poetry. Most were attributed to gods or heros.

Eninnu - Ningursu’s temple in Lagash, restored and rebuilt by Gudea, its full name was Eninnu-Imdugud-babbar, a compound phrase of uncertain significance

Enki - or Ea, the god of wisdom, and of the sea and rivers, whose main set of worship was Eridu. The literal meaning of his name is ‘Lord of the Earth’

Enkidu - The faithful servant and companion of Gilgamesh

Enkimdu - the rival for Inanna’s hand with Dumuzi in the courtship saga

Enlil - the leading deity of Sumeria, literally translated as the ‘Lord Air’. His main seat of worship was Nippur with the temple of Ekur

Ensi - the Sumerian title for the ruler of a city, who was at times as powerful as a king

Enten - Winter

Enun - a shrine in Eridu

Eridu - a city in the south of Sumer whose god was Enki. It was supposed to be the oldest city in Sumer by tradition.

Erishkigal - ‘Queen of the Great Below’ the goddess in charge of the nether world.

Ershemma – leterary composition

Eshdam - one of Inanna’s brothel-like shrines in uruk

Eshesh - a religious feast of which little is known

Gakkul - a special kind of lettuce plant

Galla - demons of the nether world

Gamgam - unidentified bird

Ganzir- a by name for the nether world- its meaning is unclear

Gatumdug - a goddess of Lagash whom Gudea claims as his divine mother

Geshtinanna - Dumuzi’s sister, literally means ‘Vine of Heaven’

Gian - an evil or unclean person unfit to live in a sanctified city

Gibil - the god of fire

Giguna - a grove like shrine found in Sumer’s important temples. It is also the home of Inanna’s temple in Zabalam

Gilgamesh - a ruler of the first dynasty of Uruk, who came to be regarded as Sumer’s leading heroic figure

Gipar - the part of the temple where the high priest or priestess lived

Girgire - the robber son of Bilulu

Gishban - a type of garment

Gishbanda - a city in southern Sumer, as yet unidentified

Gudea - a the devout ensi of Kagash who rebuilt the Eninnu, a pious deed celebrated in a long hymn inscribed on 2, or perhaps 3, clay cylinders

Hahala - an unidentified plant

Hammurabi - the famous ruler and law giver of Babylon

Huluppu - an unidentified tree

Humbaba (Huwawa) the monster who guarded the cedars of the land of the living. He was slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Iddin-Dagan - the third ruler of the Dynasty of Isin, which followed the third dynasty of Ur. One of the documents from his reign is highly significant for the Sacred Marriage Rite.

Idiglat -t he original name of the Tigris

Ildag - unidentified tree

Imdigud - a mythological lion headed bird that played an important role in myths and epic tales. According to recent research, his name, thou written with the sign of IM and DUGUD should be read as Anzu

Inanna - the goddess of love, fertility and procreation who was the leading goddess of Uruk. Literally the name means ‘Queen of Heaven’. Later took on the qualities of war goddess, starting from the hymns of Enheduanna. Sons maybe Lulal and Shara. Brother Utu. Father Nanna, Mother Ningal. Visier - Ninshubur [I conclude the term son was used very loosely by the Sumerians, and in my opinion these two were high priests from the respective temples (refer Descent Saga)] as also known as Ninsianna – in her aspects of the morning and evening star.

Isme-Dagan - son of Iddin-Dagan

Ishkur - gods of wind and storms

Ishtar - the Semetic name for Inanna, the same as the biblical Esther.

Isin - an important city of Sumer which became its capital after the third dynasty of Ur

Itirda - a kind of milk

Kalatur - a sexless devotee of the goddess Inanna. A mythological being created by Enki to help revive Inanna in the nether world. Refer the Descent Saga. Companion of the Kurgarra.

Keppu - perhaps a whipping top (spinning top?)

Ki - Mother Earth

Kisim - a kind of milk

Kish - the capital city of the first dynasty after the flood, according to Sumerian tradition.

Kiur - part of a temple, and particularly part of the Ekur of Nippur

Kua - a place in the neighbourhood of Eridu where Dumuzi was at home before he became king of Uruk

Kubatum - a lukur priestess of Shu-Sin. A necklace presented to her by the king was found in Eanna

Kulianna - another name for Dumuzi

Kuli-Enlil - another name for Dumuzi - means ‘Friend of Enlil’

Kullab - the sacred district of Uruk

Kuninu - this was a particular kind of vessel often made from reeds of which the rim was coated with bitumen.

Kurgarra - a sexless devotee of Inanna, companion to the kalatur. Refer the Descent Saga

Kutha - cult centre of Nergal, city near Babylon. Temple Emeslam

Labi - an onomatopoetic word for darling (as is Lubi)

Lagash - an important city in southern Sumer. The first Sumerian city excavated to any great extent.

Lahar - a cattle goddess, sister of Ashnan

Lamashtu - Although she is usually described in modern texts as a demoness, the writing of the name in cuneiform suggests that in Babylonia and Assyria she was regarded as a kind of goddess. As a daughter of An, she was above the common run of evil demons. Unlike such demons, who acted only on the commands of the gods, she practiced evil apparently for its own sake, and on her own initiative. Her major victims were unborn and newly born babies. Both miscarriage and cot death were attributed to her. Slipping into the house of a pregnant woman, she tries to touch the woman’s stomach seven times to kill the baby, or she kidnaps the child from the wet nurse .In neo-Assyrian times a small stone or metal head of Pazazu worn as an amulet around the neck of a woman in labour was thought to ward of this creature. Offerings of creatures and objects )such as centipedes and brooches) were used to tempt her away. The so called Lamashtu plaques of metal or stone which often depict her doubtless also had a magically protective purpose. She is often shown being forced back to the underworld by Pazazu. On these plaques, however, the victim is a bed ridden man rather than a pregnant woman, so these plaques seem to refer to another of her functions as a bringer of disease. She is often described as having the head of a lion, the teeth of a donkey, naked breasts, hairy body, blood stained hands, long fingers and fingernails, and bird talons. Thus too, she is often depicted in the art of the ninth century BC as having upright ears similar to donkey ears. A piglet and a whelp suckle at her breasts, she holds snakes in her hands. Like other deities she has her sacred animal, the donkey, and a boat which she floats along the river of the underworld.

Lamma - a guardian spirit and good genie

Land of the Living - an as yet unidentified land noted for its holy cedar guarded by the monster Humbaba

Larsa - a capital city of Sumer I the early second millennium BC

Lil - a god of Adab who, like Dumuzi, was carried off to the nether world

Lilith - a controversial character and her ties with Sumer. My person belief is that when Lilith is mentioned it is the Lilitu demon, not Lilith as per the Jewish belief system. I suspect it is merely a christianisation of Lilitu

Lubi -an onomatopoetic name for darling (as is Labi)

Lugalannemundu - an important ruler of early Sumer, whose capital was Adab

Lugalbanda - one of the heroic first kings of Uruk

Lukur - a priestess/devotee of Inanna who MAY have played the part of the goddess during the Sacred Marriage Rite

Lulal - a god of Badtibara and son of Inanna. He appears in the Descent Saga

Magan- probably the ancient name for Egypt

Magur-boat - a type of boat used for the transport of goods

Magilum - a name of uncertain meaning

Martu - name of the Semitic tribes who infiltrated into Sumer early in the third millennium BC

Mashgur - an as yet unidentified tree

Me - pronounced (may) the divine rules and regulations that keep the universe operating as planned. See the Inanna and the God of Wisdom Saga

Mwluhha - probably the ancient name for Ethiopia and Somaliland

Mesannepadda - founder of the first dynasty of Ur and contemporary of Gilgamesh

Mesilim - one of the early rulers of Sumer, noted for his efforts to arbitrate a serious water dispute between two cities

Meskiagshur - founder of the first dynasty of Uruk

Nanna - the Sumerian name of the moon god Sin, the leading deity of Ur and father of Inanna and Utu, wife Ningal

Nanshe - a goddess of Lagash, the divine interpreter of dreams

Naramsin - grandson of Sargon the Great, defiler of the Ekur, according to Sumerian tradition, who brought and evil curse upon his capital Agade

Neti - the chief gate keeper of the Nether world - refer the Descent Saga

Nidiba - the Sumerian goddess in charge of writing and literature

Nina - on eof the main districts of Lagash, where Nanshe had her main temple

Ninagen - a canal leading to Nina

Nindub - a deity in charge of tablets

Ningal - the spouse of the moon god Nanna and mother of Inanna and Utu

Ningirsu - a son of Enlil and the leading deity of Lagash, whose temple was the Eninnu of Gudea fame

Ningishzida - the god of Gishbanba, who later came to be identified with Dumuzi. Husband of Geshtinanna, ‘Lord of the trust timber’. Son of Ninazu, doorkeeper of Anu. Cult centre Gishbanda, between Lagash and Ur, symbol - horned snake.

Ninhursag - the Sumerian mother goddess also known as Ninmah - ‘The Nobel Queen’

Ninisinna - the leading deity of Isin, the great physician of the Sumerian pantheon

Ninmah - see Ninhursag

Ninshubur - Inanna’s faithful female vizier. Was at times associated with other gods and even considered male at these times!

Ninurta - a son of Enlil in charge of the south wind, a storm and warrior god, also known as the farmer of the gods

Nippur - Sumeria’s holiest city, seat of its leading deity Enlil. Nippur was the seat of one of the great academies of Sumer, and most of the literary tablets excavated to date have come from its scribal quarter

Nudimmud - a by name of Enki that probably refers to his part in the creation of man.

Pala - garment [royal white robe?], worn by Inanna after she has bathed and prepares to meet Dumuzi

Rimsin - a ruler of Larsa who put an end to the dynasty of Isin

Sagkal - a kind of snake. Dumuzi was turned into a sagkal-snake to escape the galla. Refer the Descent Saga

Sargon - one of the great rulers of the ancient world, founder of the city of Agade and the dynasty of Akkad. Daughter Enheduanna

Sataran - a god of Der, who later came to be identified with Dumuzi

Shabra - a high official

Shagan - a type of vessel

Shara - the leading god of Umma and valet of Inanna, or her son. Refer Descent Saga

Shesh - a kind of grain

Shuba - a type of semi-precious stone

Shugurra - name of the crown worn by Inanna, meaning uncertain

Shukur - a type of reed used by shepherds

Shulgi - one of the rulers of the third dynasty of Ur, noted as a patron of literature and music

Shusin - son of Shulgi. A number of Sacred Amrriage Rite lov songs involving him have been uncovered

Sigkurshagga - the temple of the god Shara in Umma

Sikim - a kind of garment

Sin - the Semitic name for Nanna the moon god

Sirara-shumta - probably a deity of Lagash

Sirara-Edin-Lillu - the friendless son of Girgire

Sirtur - the mother of Dumuzi

Subarians - s people to the north and east of Sumer, who were often in conflict with it

Sumugan - the god of the beasts of the steppe

Surugal - a canal in the neighbourhood of Erech

Tammuz - the biblical writing for the name Dumuzi

Third Dynasty of Ur - the dynasty roughly covering 2050-1950 BC commonly referred to as the renaissance of Sumer

Tibu - an as yet unidentified bird

Ubaidians - the earliest inhabitants of Sumer. The name is derived from Al-Ubaid, the place where their first remains were discovered

Udug - a guardian spirit and good genie

Umma - a city in southern Sumeria in constant conflict with Lagash

Ummia - sage, savant. Head of a Sumerian school or academy

Ur - the biblical Ur of the Chaldees. This important city was 3 times the capital of Sumer and was partly excavated by Leonard Woolley

Ur-Nammu - founder of the third dynasty and the promulgator of the first law code recovered to date

Urukagina - a ruler of Lagash, noted as the first known social reformer in the history of man

Ushumgalanna - another name for Dumuzi, shorter version of Amaushumgalanna

Ushumgalkalamma - the name of Ningursu’s soothing lyre in his temple Eninnu. The literal meaning of the word is ‘Great Dragon of the Land’

Utu - the sun god and brother of Inanna

Zabalam - a city in Sumer, not yet identified

Zabalum - an unidentified tree

Ziggurat - the step tower of temples, a hallmark of Sumerian architecture. The best known of the Sumerian religious monuments was the ziggurat which dominated the main cities. It seems that the ziggurat developed as an extension of the long established tradition of raising temples on platforms or terraces above the surrounding buildings. The platforms, and later ziggurats, both seem to have served the same purpose, to raise the home of the god even closer to the heavens. Scholars have debated for many years the purpose of these constructions. Their proposals cover a wide range of ideas from the suggestion it reflects memories of the Sumerians mountainous home (if that’s where they came from) to the theory it was a giant sacrificial altar. The names of many ziggurats indeed include the word mountain, but that may be a reference to their size and shape rather than an actual reference.

It is generally assumed that the ziggurats supported a shrine, though the only evidence comes from Herodotus, and not physical evidence. It has also been suggested by a number of scholars that this shrine was the scene of the Sacred Marriage Rite, the central rite of the New Year’s Festival. Herodotus desribes the furnishing of the shrine on top of the ziggurat at Babylon and says that it contained a gold couch on which a woman spent the night alone. The god Marduk is also said to come and sleep in his shrine.. The likelyhood of such a shrine actually being found is sadly remote. Erosion has usually reduced the surviving ziggurats to a fraction of their original height, but textual evidence may yet provide more facts about the purpose of these shrines. In the present state of knowledge it is reasonable to assume that they developed from the temples on platforms with a shrine on top, which may well have housed the Sacred Marriage Rite as well as other ceremonies. It may also have taken place in the special room of the temple of the Gigparku at Ur, the home of the priestess Nanna. Ethnographic evidence would suggest that the marriage was more likely to take place in the husbands home than the woman’s, that is to say in the home of the moon god, rather than the Gigparku. Where a goddess was involved [as in Inanna] it may well have been different.

Ziptum - a chord to bind captives and prisoners


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