It is important to cover Sumerian Goddesses as their stories come from what is believed to be one of the earliest civilizations on earth.
The word Sumerian was not coined by the people themselves but by the Akkadians who took over the region and created the Babylonian civilisation. The Greeks later referred to this area as Mesopotamia which means the land between the rivers ( the Tigris and Euphrates).
Sumerian mythology greatly influenced the myths of later civilisations including those of the Greeks, and Babylonians. You will therefore notice many similarities in their characteristics and themes.
This is also why these Goddesses are often referred to as Mesopotamian Goddesses as it is often difficult to attribute a Goddess to a particular group of people as her attributes and names often evolved over time.
The Sumerian Goddesses are usually depicted in human form, each representing different forces of nature. They have human personality traits and frailties and live together in family groups.
The Sumerian Goddesses and Gods were the foundation upon which their society was based. With the move from an agricultural society to an urban one the old nature deities became the patron Goddesses of the new city states.
The city was then ruled by a priest king assisted by a wise council of elders made up of both men and woman.
I would also like to share my favourite piecing together of the Sumerian creation myth as retold by Neal Robbins.
"The Sumerians believed that the first thing that existed was the primordial sea (associated with the goddess Nammu), from which emerged heaven (An) and earth (Ki), united as though they were a large mountain in the midst of the sea. An and Ki produced within or between them Enlil, air, and as the air began to stir in the darkness within the mountain, it separated sky and earth.
Then to see better, Enlil begot the moon-god Nanna, who in turn begot the sun-god Utu, presumably to make the light brighter. By this time the world had come into being, for the sky (An) by expansion of air (Enlil) had reached a great height, and the earth (Ki) had made a solid floor below, with sun and moon to bring light.
When air moved above earth (or when Enlil united with his mother Ki) and received the aid of water (Enki), plants and animals came into being. Finally, man was created by the joint efforts of Nammu, the primeval sea, Ninurta mother-earth, and Enki, the water-god."
Below is a list of the main Sumerian Goddesses with details on their main area of influence and alternative spellings.
Ama -Arhus Fertility Goddess also known as Amat- Ama Arhus.
Ashnan A Grain goddess created by the Gods to provide the Annunaki with food.
Damkina: An Earth mother Goddess also known as Damgalnuna.
Ereshkigal: Originally a sky Goddess kidnapped and taken to the underworld where she became Queen. Sister of Inanna.
Gula: Goddess of healing and patron of medicine. She helped breathe life into mankind after the Great Flood. Gula often appears as a woman with stars and her dog.
Inanna: Goddess of love, war, and fertility. A personification of the morning and evening star. Also known as Ishtar
Ki: The Earliest Sumerian earth Goddesses.
Nammu: Represents the primeval sea from which she gave birth to the heavens (An) and to the earth mother (Ki).
Nanshe: Associated with fishing, justice, prophecy and fertility. She protected the needy, providing food and shelter during hard times.
Nidaba: Goddess of learning writing and astrology.
Ningal: She is known as the "Great Lady" Goddess of reeds, the wife of the Moon God, Nanna and mother of Inanna.
Ninkasi: Goddess of alcohol. She was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki's ailing mouth, after he had eaten her grandchildren in the "Sumerian Paradise myth."
Ninhursag: Great Mother Goddess. Goddess of childbirth. Queen of the mountains an aspect of the Earth Goddess Ki.
Ninlil: Goddess of the air. Also known as Nillina.
Sarpanit: A mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk. Also known as Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, and Zirbanit.
Sirtir: Goddess of sheep.
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