What are the Sumerian gods? – Discover how the Sumerian religion works
The Sumerian civilization developed in Mesopotamia, more than 5000 years ago, and is considered one of the oldest. It had a very fascinating religious system, and a variety of divine beings. Each of them had different characteristics, these gods played an important and decisive role in the life of the Sumerians.
Meaning and definition of the Sumerian gods
Through the texts found in the Sumerian tablets, more has been learned about the religion of this civilization, since in general the cultural customs of this people were transmitted through oral language.
Through the fragments found, it has been possible to learn about the deities of earth, sky and underworldas well as a large number of heroes who leave life lessons.
Sumerian deities are classified into 3 groups:
The gods of the skies: it is about those gods that existed even before the creation of the earth and are related to cosmological events.
The gods of the earth: They do not have great powers, they are minor gods and with limited ways of acting, which is why their cult remained local. An example of these in the goddess of beer, who was in charge of keeping her in good condition.
The gods of the underworld: rather than cataloging them as a deity, they were seen in the role of judges. They were trapped in the depths of the earth. Of them it is known that there are 7, and that they are children of Anu.
Each of the gods of the Sumerian religion had its own attributions, and played a major or not so leading role in the creation of the world. But this they weren’t the only supernatural beingsThey also believed in demons, which negatively influence people, and geniuses, who, although they were not gods, were associated with divinity and managed to enter places where men could not travel.
The power of the Sumerian gods was so great that if a king ruled badly, it was believed that these deities would send plagues, droughts, and other catastrophes to punish them. They also thought that these could be summoned so that they were going to protect human beings from dangers and help them in their daily lives.
What is the Sumerian religion?
Was one of the first religions more organized in history, they venerated a large number of gods, each one had its own personality, attributes and responsibilities.
They were a polytheistic system, that is, they will worship many different godsand his influence leaned towards the concept of duality, referring to the fact that there were two opposing forces that balanced each other.
In addition, they had a strong focus on death and life after death. They believed that they would be judged and then sent to their final destination, where the good will live in eternal happiness, while the wicked will be condemned to suffering.
These deities were represented through anthropomorphic figures, which acted as cosmic and also terrestrial forces. Their religion was linked to astrology and divination, which is why they related the movements of the stars and planets with the gods.
The priests were the only ones who could interpret these signs, to predict the future and make decisions. In each Sumerian city there were small extension temples, they consisted of a single room. Later, in their history, several terraces were added to the temples, with multiple rooms.
What are the most important Sumerian gods?
There was a great system of the religious elite, the great gods were grouped in a triad composed of: An, Enlil and Enki. Then the second triad was made up of Sin, Inanna and Utu, which were a representation of the sky, the atmosphere and the earth, as well as the moon, the sun and fertility.
Most of these deities belonged to a group called ‘Anunna’, which meant ‘the descendants of An’, there was also another group made up of 7 deities called: ‘Judges of the Underworld’. The latter used to be called ‘Anunnaki’ to refer to the sons of An and Ki.
She is a very representative goddess for the Sumerians, she had a feminine form, with eagle feet and wingssymbolizing fertility, sexuality, love and sometimes war and justice.
Also she was known as ‘Queen of Heaven’According to Sumerian mythology, Inanna was the daughter of the sky god Anu and the earth goddess Ki. She was often associated with the planet Venus, her symbols that characterized her were the eight-pointed star and the lion, also a bundle of reeds with one curved end.
Inanna was a goddess with great ambitions and very cunning, who did not hesitate to fight for what he wanted. In one of her myths concerning her, he had descended into hell to face off against her sister Ereshkigal, who was the goddess of the underworld, challenging her to the death.
He was the god of the heavens, and he is one one of the most important of the pantheon Sumerian, also distinguished himself as the most powerful. He considered himself the father of the gods and goddesses, among which are: Enki, Enlil, and Inanna, and his wife was the goddess Ki, which means ‘earth’.
This god was attributed the creation of the universealso possessed the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and molded soldiers from stars to punish those who do wrong.
The original seat of his cult is believed to have been at the temple of E-anna in the city of Uruk in southern Babylonia.
Considered the lord of meteorology, since represented storms, air and windFurthermore, it is said that at birth I separate heaven from earth.
For the Sumerians, Enlil had a wrathful character, which was feared, because only manifested itself in negative situationssuch as storms, floods and changes in the course of rivers. That is why the Mesopotamian Flood is attributed to him, since this god opened the gates of heaven to extinguish humans.
He was seen as the God of Justice and the Sun. In some Sumerian periods he was considered to be the twin brother of Inanna. He was represented to her in the form of a male figure, whose shoulders were on fire, with an eight-pointed solar disk. Subjects turned to this god to legislate, and he held a position of great privilege in the Sumerian pantheon.
He was the god of the moon, son of Enlil and Ninlil, symbolized wisdom and astrology, also protected the flocks and the shepherds. He was represented as an old man with a lapis lazuli beard and had horns, and he also rode a winged bull.
He was told that he was the father of Inanna and Utu, according to Sumerian mythology, this god It also governed the time that passed between the monthsmenstrual cycles and tides, that is, everything related to lunar cycles.
It is the best known name in the Sumerian mythology of the goddess Ki, instead, the name Ninhursag means ‘Lady of the Sacred Hills’this represented the earth and was the mother goddess.
On some occasions it was mentioned that she was the sister of the god Enlil, and on others his consort. Likewise, in certain legends she appears as the maker of hills and mountainsand in some as the goddess of fertility, she is also considered the progenitor of a large number of gods.
This deity was associated with Ninsun who was said to be her sister, and sometimes the latter was associated with Inanna, establishing that she was her daughter.
It is the goddess that represents the abyss of the sea trenches, in the so-called primordial ocean. She is considered the goddess of birth, the first and the origin of everything, since water means life, and the beginning of everything.