Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Anunaki, the Igigi and the humans

Posted by Fredsvenn on May 26, 2017

Anu

Tammuz – Balder / Enmessara – Tyr

Anu (Akkadian: đ’€­đ’€­ DAN, Anu‹m›; Sumerian: đ’€­ AN, from đ’€­ an “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested sky-father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His sacred number name was 50.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), a Sumerian god of food and vegetation.

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Enlil – Saturn – Njord

As Enlil was placed in command by An, the god of the heavens, he held sway over the other gods, who were assigned tasks by his sukkal, or attendant, and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

A nearly complete 108-line poem describes Enlil’s invention of the mattock, a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax, or digging tool of the Sumerians. In the poem, Enlil conjures the pickax into existence and decrees its fate.

The pickax is described as gloriously beautiful; it is made of pure gold and has a head carved from lapis lazuli. Enlil gives the tool over to the humans, who use it to built cities, subjugate their people, and pull up weeds. Enlil was believed to aid in the growth of plants.

Ekur (É.KUR) is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila (É.NAM.TI.LA, E-nam-ti-la), a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

Duranki (Dur meaning “bond” / “tie”, An meaning “Heaven” / “skies”, while Ki meaning “Earth” / “place”) – “Bond between Heaven and Earth” – is an ancient Sumerian term for the people who were created by their Gods.

According to creation myths of the Sumerian people, their Gods used genetic material from life existing on Earth and mixed it with divine genetic material from themselves to create Humans here on Earth.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which has been suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the Works and Days of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages, Gold being the first. Those living in the first Age were ruled by Kronos, after the finish of the first age was the Silver, then the Bronze, after this the Heroic age, with the fifth and current age being Iron.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, people did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance.

They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as “guardians”. Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages.

The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara yuga (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus. In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

European pastoral literary tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and peace, set in Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them.

The Song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BC. The poem is composed of the frequent use of the word “al”, which means hoe. The verb-forms and nouns also frequently start with, or contain the syllable “al” (or “ar”), suggesting the writer intended it for humour as a satirical school text or as a tongue-twister. The song starts with a creation myth where Enlil separates heaven and earth in Duranki, the cosmic Nippur or ‘Garden of the Gods’.

Enki – Mercury – Odin

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”. The Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to “lord” and was originally a title given to the High Priest. Ki means “earth”, but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.”

Isimud (also Isinu; UsmĂ»; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god, Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable due to the fact that he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god, Janus.

Janus – January – Capricorn

Anu (ranking #60)

Antu (ranking #55)

Enlil (ranking #50)

Ninlil / Sud (ranking #45)

Enki / EA (ranking #40)

Ninki / Damkina (ranking #35)

Moon: Nanna / Nannar / Sin / El (ranking #30)

Ningal (ranking #25)

Sun: Utu / Shamash / Allah (ranking #20)

Inanna / Ishtar (ranking #15)

Thunder: Adad / Ishkur (ranking #10)

Ninhursag / Ninmah / Ninti (ranking #5)

The Anunnaki are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (e.g. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian). The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”.

The Anunnaki appear in the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish. In the late version magnifying Marduk, after the creation of mankind, Marduk divides the Anunnaki and assigns them to their proper stations, 300 in heaven, 300 on the earth.

In gratitude, the Anunnaki, the “Great Gods”, built Esagila, the splendid: “They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu, they set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, (and) Ea.” When that was finished they built their own shrines.

According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. Anu carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Their relation to the group of gods known as the Igigi is unclear—at times the names are used synonymously but in the Atra-Hasis flood myth the Igigi are the sixth generation of the gods who have to work for the Anunnaki, rebelling after 40 days and replaced by the creation of humans.

Jeremy Black and Anthony Green offer a slightly different perspective on the Igigi and the Anunnaki, writing that “lgigu or Igigi is a term introduced in the Old Babylonian Period as a name for the (ten) ‘great gods’. In the Epic of Creation, it is said that there are 300 lgigu of heaven.”

While it sometimes kept that sense in later periods, from Middle Assyrian and Babylonian times on it is generally used to refer to the gods of heaven collectively, just as the term Anunnakku (Anuna) was later used to refer to the gods of the underworld.

Igigi was a term used to refer to the gods of heaven in Sumerian mythology. Though sometimes synonymous with the term “Annunaki”, in one myth the Igigi were the younger gods who were servants of the Annunaki, until they rebelled and were replaced by the creation of humans.

Igi means (eye) in both Sumerian and Akkadian languages, gi stands for (penetrate sexually). Therefore, Igigi could be translated to (Eyes in the sky, the watchers, who deflower).

Sumerian paradise is described as a garden in the myth of Atrahasis where lower rank deities (the Igigi) are put to work digging a watercourse by the more senior deities (the Anunnaki).

The Igigi then rebel against the dictatorship of Enlil, setting fire to their tools and surrounding Enlil’s great house by night. On hearing that toil on the irrigation channel is the reason for the disquiet, the Anunnaki council decide to create man to carry out agricultural labour.

After six generations of gods, in the Babylonian EnĂ»ma Eliš, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working.

Abzu (Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru – lit., ab=’water’ zu=’deep’), was the name for fresh water from underground aquifers which was given a religious fertilising quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In this respect, in Sumarian and Akkadian mythology it referred to the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E2-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsĂ»).

Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to Judaism’s mikvot, the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR), a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Nammu is 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.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. 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.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: Dti.amat) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with AbzĂ», the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. Depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

Ninti (sumerian Ti means rib and to live) is the Sumerian goddess of life. The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib. It is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself.

Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

Abzu (or ApsĂ») fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

The Enuma Elish begins: “When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh.”

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who later murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu.

This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way.

With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

Abzu God of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror. Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu.

But the universe is still threatened, as Tiamat, angry at the imprisonment of Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself.

The gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved. The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods.

In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur. After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and constructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

But there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working”. Enki, who might have otherwise come to their aid, is lying in a deep sleep and fails to hear their cries. His mother Nammu (creatrix also of Abzu and Tiamat) “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki.

Enki then advises that they create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood. Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa.

Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”. Adapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.

In the later Babylonian version of the flood story, Enlil actually causes the flood, seeking to annihilate every living thing on earth because the humans make too much noise. In this version of the story, the hero is Utnapishtim, who is warned ahead of time by Ea, the Babylonian equivalent of Enki, that the flood is coming.

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