Posted by Fredsvenn on June 16, 2016
Uruk and Aratta
Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia) is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk) also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them.
It is remote and difficult to reach, but is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. It is home to the goddess Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.
Among Sumerian literary narratives including the four of Enmerkar-Aratta cycle and five known Gilgamesh stories, “Lugalbanda in the Wilderness” and its continuation “Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird” are considered to be the most elaborate and complex texts of their period with a combined length of 1000 lines, as well as their complicated symbolism, strong mythological elements, and unpredictable plot that moves back and forth between the mundane and divine worlds.
The stories, from the composer’s point of view, take place in the distant past. The accounts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), although almost all extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE). Tablets containing these stories were found in various locations of southern Iraq, primarily in the city of Nippur, and were part of the curriculum of Sumerian scribal schools during the Old Babylonian period (20th-17th centuries BCE).
Although earlier generations of scholars have sought behind these stories a historical reality dating back to Early Dynastic Period, such attempts are mostly based on an amalgamation of data from the epic traditions of the 2nd millennium with unclear archaeological observations.
It is argued that even if the earlier oral traditions may have had an influence in the origin of these stories, the texts that have reached to us are the highly stylized and literary products of the scribes of the Ur III Period and later, and for such scribes “these texts were about the present, albeit projected into the past; indeed it is this very act of projection that marks them as fiction, not as ethnography or history.”
Near the beginning of the account, the following background is provided: “In those days of yore, when the destinies were determined, the great princes allowed Unug Kulaba’s E-ana to lift its head high. Plenty, and carp floods and the rain which brings forth dappled barley were then increased in Unug Kulaba. Before the land of Dilmun yet existed, the E-ana of Unug Kulaba was well founded.”
In Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta the goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of king of Unug-Kulaba pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, and to bring stones, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli down from the mountain, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore, to Uruk to build a temple.
Inanna bids him send a messenger to Aratta, who ascends and descends the “Zubi” mountains, and crosses Susa, Anshan, and “five, six, seven” mountains before approaching Aratta, who in turn wants grain in exchange. However, Inanna transfers her allegiance to Uruk, and the grain gains the favor of Aratta’s people for Uruk, so the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to send a champion to fight his champion. Then the god Ishkur makes Aratta’s crops grow.
The remainder of the text has many lacunae (line text losses), and the following events are unclear, but the tablet seems to end with Enmerkar triumphant, possibly installed by Inanna on the throne of Aratta, and with the people of Aratta delivering the tribute to E-ana, and providing the materials to build the Apsû.
Because it gives a Sumerian account of the “confusion of tongues”, and also involves Enmerkar constructing temples at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.
In Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana, the lord of Aratta, who is here named En-suhgir-ana (or Ensuhkeshdanna), challenges Enmerkar of Uruk to submit to him over the affections of Inanna, but he is rebuffed by Enmerkar.
While describing Enmerkar’s continued diplomatic rivalries with Aratta, there is an allusion to Hamazi having been vanquished. A sorcerer from the recently defeated Hamazi then arrives in Aratta, and offers to make Uruk submit.
The sorcerer travels to Eresh where he bewitches Enmerkar’s livestock, but a wise woman outperforms his magic and casts him into the Euphrates; En-suhgir-ana then admits the loss of Inanna, and submits his kingdom to Uruk.
In Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, or sometimes Lugalbanda in the Wilderness, a tale of Lugalbanda, who will become Enmerkar’s successor, Enmerkar is seen leading a campaign against Aratta. Enmerkar’s army travels through mountainous territory to wage war against rebellious Aratta. Lugalbanda falls ill and is left in a cave, but he prays to the various gods, recovers, and must find his way out of the mountains.
In Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird, sometimes called The Return of Lugalbanda or Lugalbanda II being the second of two stories about the hero Lugalbanda, Lugalbanda befriends the Anzud bird, and asks it to help him find his army again. When Enmerkar’s army is faced with setback, Lugalbanda volunteers to return to Uruk to ask the goddess Inanna’s aid. He crosses through the mountains, into the flat land, from the edge to the top of Anshan and then to Uruk, where Inanna helps him.
Inanna advises Enmerkar to carry off Aratta’s “worked metal and metalsmiths and worked stone and stonemasons” and all the “moulds of Aratta will be his”. Then the city is described as having battlements made of green lapis lazuli and bricks made of “tinstone dug out in the mountains where the cypress grows”.
It also mentions that fifty years into Enmerkar’s reign, the Martu people had arisen in all of Sumer and Akkad, necessitating the building of a wall in the desert to protect Uruk.
Mesh-ki-ang-gasher and Kish
Mesh-ki-ang-gasher (Mèš-ki-áĝ-ga-še-er, Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer; also transliterated Mes-Kiag-Gasher, Mesh-Ki-Ang-Gasher, Meskiagkasher, Meckiagkacer and variants) was a Sumerian ruler and the founder of the First Dynasty of Uruk and the father of Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list. If a historical ruler, he would have flourished in ca. the 28th century BC (Early Bronze Age II).
“In E-ana, Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer, the son of Utu, became en and lugal; he ruled for 324 [variants: 325] years. Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer entered the sea and disappeared. Enmerkar, the son of Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer, the king of Unug, who built Unug [variants: under whom Unug was built], became king; he ruled for 420 years. ”
E-ana (“house of heaven”) was the name of the temple to Inanna at Uruk. The entry thus has Mesh-ki-ang-gasher ruling the fortress or castle around which his son would build the city of Uruk, and which was to become the main temple to its patron goddess.
Unlike his successors Enmerkar, Lugalbanda, Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, Mesh-ki-ang-gasher is not known from Sumerian epics or legends besides the King List. His nature as the son of the sun god, the founder of a major dynasty and his mysterious “disappearance” in the sea give him a mostly mythological flavour.
His son Enmerkar is also called “son of Utu” in the Sumerian legend Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta — where, aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is credited with building a temple at Eridu and with the invention of writing.
In David Rohl’s system of identifications of Bronze Age individuals with characters in the Hebrew Bible, Mesh-ki-ang-gasher corresponds to Cush, according to the Bible, the eldest son of Ham, who was a son of Noah.
Kish (Sumerian: Kiš; transliteration: Kiŝki; Akkadian: kiššatu) was an ancient city of Sumer in Mesopotamia, considered to have been located near the modern Tell al-Uhaymir in the Babil Governorate of Iraq, some 12 km east of Babylon and 80 km south of Baghdad. It was occupied from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100 BC), gaining prominence as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region during the early dynastic period.
The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge, beginning with Jushur (also transliterated Jucur, Gushur, Ngushur, Gishur, etc.; earlier read as Gaur). No archaeological evidence corroborating his existence or identity has been found. If a historical figure, he may thus mark the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Sumer, corresponding very roughly to the Early Bronze Age II.
Jushur’s successor is called Kullassina-bel, but this is actually a sentence in Akkadian meaning “All of them were lord”. Thus, some scholars have suggested that this may have been intended to signify the absence of a central authority in Kish for a time.
The names of the next nine kings of Kish preceding Etana are all Akkadian words for animals, e.g. Zuqaqip “scorpion”. The East Semitic nature of these and other early names associated with Kish reveals that its population had a strong Semitic (Akkadian speaking) component from the dawn of recorded history, Ignace Gelb identified Kish as the center of the earliest East Semitic culture which he calls the Kish civilization.
The twelfth king of Kish appearing on the Sumerian king list, Etana, is noted as “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries”. Although his reign has yet to be archaeologically attested, his name is found in later legendary tablets, and Etana is sometimes regarded as the first king and founder of Kish.
A Babylonian legend says that Etana was desperate to have a child, until one day he helped save an eagle from starving, who then took him up into the sky to find the plant of birth. This led to the birth of his son, Balih.
In the detailed form of the legend, there is a tree with the eagle’s nest at the top, and a serpent at the base. Both the serpent and eagle have promised Utu (the sun god) to behave well toward one another, and they share food with their children.
But one day, the eagle eats the serpent’s children. The serpent comes back and cries. Utu tells the serpent to hide inside of the stomach of a dead bull. The eagle goes down to eat the bull. The serpent captures the eagle, and throws him into a pit to die of hunger and thirst.
Utu sends a man, Etana, to help the eagle. Etana saves the eagle, but he also asks the bird to find the plant of birth, in order to become father of a son. The eagle takes Etana up to the heaven of the god Anu, but Etana becomes afraid in the air and he goes back to the ground. He makes another attempt, and finds the plant of birth, enabling him to have Balih.
The twenty-first king of Kish on the list, Enmebaragesi, who is said to have captured the weapons of Elam, is the first name confirmed by archaeological finds from his reign. He is also known through other literary references, in which he and his son Aga of Kish are portrayed as contemporary rivals of Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, early rulers of Uruk.
The list states that he subdued Elam, reigned 900 years, and was captured single-handedly by Dumuzid “the fisherman” of Kuara, predecessor of Gilgamesh. He is the earliest ruler on the king list whose name is attested directly from archaeology. Two alabaster vase fragments inscribed with his name were found at Nippur where, according to the Sumerian Tummal Chronicle, he is said to have built the first temple. There are in all at least four surviving fragments bearing little more than the name of ‘Mebaragesi, lugal of Kish’.
He is also mentioned in a section of the original Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Bilgamesh and Aga, as the father of the Aga who laid siege to Uruk. The Sumerian king list and the Tummal Chronicle concur with the Epic of Gilgamesh in making him the father of Aga, who was the final king of the 1st dynasty of Kish. Thus the fragments verifying Enmebaragesi’s historicity enhance the notion that Gilgamesh is also historical.
The later Sumerian Renaissance (Ur-III) king Shulgi addressed one of his praise poems to Gilgamesh, that credits Gilgamesh with capturing and defeating Enmebaragesi — thus contradicting the king list, where he was already captured by Gilgamesh’s predecessor.
In another part of the Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh offers his “sister” Enmebaragesi to be the wife of the monster Huwawa or Humbaba, causing some debate as to Enmebaragesi’s gender, with most scholars taking this reference as a jest.
Some early kings of Kish are known through archaeology, but are not named on the King list. These include Utug or Uhub, said to have defeated Hamazi in the earliest days, and Mesilim (ca. 2500-2330 BC), who built temples in Adab and Lagash, where he seems to have exercised some control.
The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubau (Sumerian: Kug-Bau), as “king”. She is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. Before becoming monarch, the king list says she was an alewife.
Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list, in some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty intervening.
Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon the Great of Akkad, who militarily brought much of the near east under his regime shortly afterward. Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, came from the area of Kish.
In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.
Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad) and Zababa-shuma-iddin (a 12th-century BC Kassite king of Babylon).
Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte]. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.
She was later deified as the goddess Kheba. Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”). Abdi-Heba was the palace mayor, ruling Jerusalem at the time of the Amarna letters (1350 BC).
Kubaba became the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient city of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates, in the late Hurrian – Early Hittite period. She plays a role in Luwian texts and a minor role in Hittite texts, mainly in Hurrian rituals.
Relief carvings, now at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Ankara, show her seated, wearing a cylindrical headdress like the polos and holding probably a tympanum (hand drum) or possibly a mirror in one hand and a poppy capsule (or perhaps pomegranate) in the other.
According to Emanuel Laroche (Laroche 1960), Maarten J. Vermaseren (Vermaseren 1977), and Mark Munn (Munn 2004), her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor-kingdoms in Anatolia, which later developed into the Phrygian matar (mother) or matar kubileya Cybele whose image with inscriptions appear in rock-cut sculptures.
Her Lydian name was Kuvav or Kufav which Ionian Greeks initially transcribed Kybêbê, not Kybele; Jan Bremmer notes in this context the seventh-century Semonides of Amorgos, who calls one of her Hellene followers a kybêbos, and he observes that in the following century she has been further Hellenized by Hipponax as “Kybêbê, daughter of Zeus”. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who was a sovereign deity at Sardis, known to Greeks as Kybebe.
Afterwards, although its military and economic power was diminished, Kish retained a strong political and symbolic significance. Just as with Nippur to the south, control of Kish was a prime element in legitimizing dominance over the north of Mesopotamia (Assyria, Subartu).
Because of the city’s symbolic value, strong rulers later claimed the traditional title “King of Kish”, even if they were from Akkad, Ur, Assyria, Isin, Larsa or Babylon. One of the earliest to adopt this title upon subjecting Kish to his empire was King Mesannepada of Ur. A few governors of Kish for other powers in later times are also known.
Kish continued to be occupied through the pre-Babylonian, old Babylonian, Kassite, and Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian periods, and into classical Seleucid times, before being abandoned.
Enmerkar and Uruk
Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for “420 years” (some copies read “900 years”). The king list adds that Enmerkar became king after his father Mesh-ki-ang-gasher, son of Utu, had “entered the sea and disappeared.”
Enmerkar is also known from a few other Sumerian legends. These tales are part of a series of stories that describe the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and Ensuhkeshdanna, lord of Aratta. The texts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), but almost all of the extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE).
The most notably Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, where a previous confusion of the languages of mankind is mentioned. In this account, it is Enmerkar himself who is called ‘the son of Utu’ (the Sumerian sun god).
Aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is said here to have had a temple built at Eridu, and is even credited with the invention of writing on clay tablets, for the purpose of threatening Aratta into submission. Enmerkar furthermore seeks to restore the disrupted linguistic unity of the inhabited regions around Uruk, listed as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad), and the Martu land.
David Rohl has claimed parallels between Enmerkar, builder of Uruk, and Nimrod, ruler of biblical Erech (Uruk) and architect of the Tower of Babel in extra-biblical legends. One parallel Rohl noted is the description “Nimrod the Hunter”, and the -kar in Enmerkar also meaning “hunter”. Rohl has also suggested that Eridu near Ur is the original site of Babel, and that the incomplete ziggurat found there – by far the oldest and largest of its kind – is none other than the remnants of the Biblical tower.
In a legend related by Aelian (ca. AD 200), the king of Babylon, Euechoros or Seuechoros (also appearing in many variants as Sevekhoros, earlier Sacchoras, etc.), is said to be the grandfather of Gilgamos, who later becomes king of Babylon (i.e., Gilgamesh of Uruk).
Several recent scholars have suggested that this “Seuechoros” or “Euechoros” is moreover to be identified with Enmerkar of Uruk, as well as the Euechous named by Berossus as being the first king of Chaldea and Assyria. This last name Euechous (also appearing as Evechius, and in many other variants) has long been identified with Nimrod.
A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.
Lugalbanda is listed in the postdiluvian period of the Sumerian king list as the second king of Uruk, saying he ruled for 1,200 years, and providing him with the epithet of the Shepherd. Whether a king Lugalbanda ever historically ruled over Uruk, and if so, at what time, is quite uncertain.
In separate Sumerian traditions, specifically in the text referred to as Sumerian King List, it was this Lugalbanda “the shepherd” who eventually succeeded Enmerkar to the throne of Uruk. Lugalbanda is also named as the father of Gilgamesh, a later king of Uruk, in both Sumerian and Akkadian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
But in these last two tablets there is no such indication, and Lugalbanda appears only as one of the soldiers of king Enmerkar. He is introduced as one of Enmerkar’s war chiefs. His name is composed of two Sumerian words meaning “young/fierce king” (lugal: king; banda: young, junior, small; but also fierce).
Lugalbanda and Ninsun
Lugalbanda appears in Sumerian literary sources as early as the mid-3rd millennium, as attested by a mythological text from Abu Salabikh that describes a romantic relationship between Lugalbanda and Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”), a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash.
A deified Lugalbanda often appears as the husband of the goddess Ninsun. In the earliest god-lists from Fara, his name appears separate and in a much lower ranking than Ninsun, but in later traditions, until the Seleucid period, his name is often listed in god-lists along with his consort Ninsun.
Ample evidence for the worship of Lugalbanda as a deity comes from the Ur III period, as attested in tablets from Nippur, Ur, Umma and Puzrish-Dagan. In Old Babylonian period, Sin-kashid of Uruk is known to have built a temple called É-KI.KAL dedicated to Lugalbanda and Ninsun, and to have assigned his daughter Niši-īnī-šu as the eresh-dingir priestess of Lugalbanda.
In royal hymns of the Ur III period, Ur-Nammu of Ur and his son Shulgi describe Lugalbanda and Ninsun as their holy parents, and in the same context call themselves the brother of Gilgamesh. Sin-Kashid of Uruk also refers to Lugalbanda and Ninsun as his divine parents, and names Lugalbanda as his god.
In the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh and in earlier Sumerian stories about the hero, the king of Uruk, Gilgamesh, calls himself the son of Lugalbanda and Ninsun. In the Gilgamesh and Huwawa tale, the hero consistently uses the assertive phrase: “By the life of my own mother Ninsun and of my father, holy Lugalbanda!”.
In Akkadian versions of the epic, Gilgamesh also refers to Lugalbanda as his personal god, and in one episode presents the oil filled horns of the defeated Bull of Heaven “for the anointing of his god Lugalbanda”.
Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.
Girsu was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC). At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash. During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.
In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.
On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.
Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.
In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.
Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.
There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.
He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.
In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.
The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth.
Also in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is summoned by Gilgamesh and Enkidu to help pray to the god Utu to help the two on their journey to the Country of the Living to battle Humbaba.
Ninsun is called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”. In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.
She was the daughter of An and Uras, and Ninurta’s wife. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir). She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.
Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent.
The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.
Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug, the latter signifying “the lady who restores to life”, or the Goddess of Healing. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula is prominent in Shirgulla (Lagash) and in Nippur.
After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.
Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.
Across the desert in ancient Sumer the origins of Aquarius lie with the Goddess Gula, the Great One. She is described as a Goddess of Healing, but on closer inspection it becomes obvious that the healing that Gula gifts upon the Earth is that of the nourishing rain and fresh water floods that turn the dry land green again.
Gula is also said to have a violent side which She exhibits in the form of rain and thunderstorms: “Queen Whose Temper, Like a Raging Storm, Makes Heaven Tremble and the Earth Quake”. Gula was linked to the Great Flood and is often depicted with dogs by Her side.
Later accounts describe Gula in the form of Mul Gula as being a male Water Pourer who is immortalised in the constellation of Aquarius. However, essentially the male Mul Gula is the same image as Enki, the Sumerian Lord of Fresh Water, who is often depicted pouring water from two jugs.
Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice.
Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization.
His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud, a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki in Sumerian mythology, readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab). Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius.
Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.
In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”, showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.
In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods.
Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the heavens and the night sky. The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.
Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. In modern astrology, it is the primary native ruler of the tenth house. Traditionally however, Saturn ruled both the first and eighth houses.
Under the tropical zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius typically between January 20 and February 18, while under the Sidereal Zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius from approximately February 15 to March 14, depending on leap year.
The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. Its zodiac signs are Aquarius (until February 19) and Pisces (February 20 onwards).
January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 713 BC.
February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BC), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.
January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month. The zodiac signs for the month of January are Capricorn (until January 20) and Aquarius (January 21 onwards).
In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The day Saturday is, like the planet Saturn, named after the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn (linked to the Greek god Cronus).
The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the “crescent below the cross”, whereas Jupiter’s glyph is the “crescent above the cross”. The famous rings of the planet Saturn that enclose and surround it, reflect the idea of human limitations. Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac.
Saturn in astrology is the ruling planet of Capricorn, the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, and, traditionally, Aquarius.
Capricorn spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 21 to January 20 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16.
In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki, with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish.
In Chinese astrology, Saturn is ruled by the element earth, which is warm, generous, and co-operative. In Indian astrology, Saturn is called Shani or “Sani”, representing a noteworthy career and longevity. He is also the bringer of obstacles and hardship.
In Scandinavian countries, Saturday is called lördag, “lørdag,” or laurdag, the name being derived from the old word laugr/laug, meaning bath, thus Lördag equates to bath-day. This is due to the Viking practice of bathing on Saturdays. The roots lör, laugar and so forth are cognate to the English word lye, in the sense of detergent.
*Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. The “leek” hypothesis is based not on the rune poems, but rather on early inscriptions where the rune has been hypothesized to abbreviate *laukaz, a symbol of fertility.
In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse. The corresponding Gothic letter is l, named lagus. The rune is identical in shape to the letter lin the Raetic alphabet.
In India, Saturday is Shanivar, based on Shani, the Vedic god manifested in the planet Saturn. Shani dev is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. Shani dev is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday. Shani dev is also known as Śanaiścara. The word shani comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ, the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.
In Hindu astrology, the kumbha stands for the zodiac sign Aquarius and is also associated with the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river, which happens when the planet Brihaspati moves into Aquarius. The Kumbh Mela of Haridwar appears to be the original Kumbh Mela, since it is held according to the astrological sign “Kumbha” (Aquarius), and because there are several references to a 12-year cycle for it.
In Hindu epic Ramayana, Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna had a son named Kumbha. In Hindu mythology and scriptures, several references are found of human beings born from kumbha. A legend states that rishi Agastya was born out of a womb.
A kumbha is a type of pottery in India. Traditionally, it is made by Kumbhars, also known as Prajapatis. In the context of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology, the kumbha symbolises the womb. It represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance and is generally associated with devis, particularly Ganga.
According to Hindu mythology, the first kumbha was created by Prajapati (“lord of people”), a group of Hindu deities presiding over procreation and protection of life, and thereby a King of Kings (Rajanya or Rajan), on the occasion of the marriage of Shiva, so he was first kumbhara “potter”.
Prajapati is a Vedic deity presiding over procreation, and the protection of life. He was mentioned as Daksha in Hiranyagharbhasuktham as the creator deity emerging from supreme god vishvakarman above the other Vedic deities in RV 10 and in Brahmana literature. Vedic commentators also identify him with the creator referred to in the Nasadiya Sukta. In later times, he is identified with the personifications of Time, Fire, the Sun, etc.
A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (“First-born”) or Phanes, the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life, who was introduced into Greek mythology by the Orphic tradition, has been made by several scholars. Other names for this Classical Greek Orphic concept included Ericapaeus (“power”) and Metis (“thought”).
Another myth says that the first pot was created by Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”) is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda, on the occasion of the churning of the ocean for the first Amrit Sanchar.
Viśwákarma is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.
In several religious ceremonies and rituals, kumbhas or kalashas filled with water and leaves and decorated with intricate motifs, sometimes with ornaments, play an important role in ancient India. These rituals still survive in India.
Nergal and Ninurta
Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.
In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.
Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), Sibitti or Seven, the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like.
The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. They were spoken of as if they were one divinity.
In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.