Sumerian Deities
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Sumerian Deities

The Sumerians thought that a great domed roof contained the sky, the stars, the moon, and the sun which lighted the cities beneath it; they also believed that below the earth swirled the dim netherworld, a fearsome abode of demons and the kingdom of the dead. Enlil and Enki are credited with creating the cattle, sheep, plants, the yoke and the plow to provide sustenance for themselves and less important deities, but these minor gods lacked the resolution to make use of this bounty so man was fashioned from clay and given breath so he might tend the sheep and cultivate the fields for the gods. The gods of Sumer, much like mortal men, suffered the vicissitudes of fate and many legends tell of their often ineffective exploits.

Nammu, Goddess of the Primeval Sea, "the mother who gave birth to heaven and earth."

An, God of the Heavens, leading Sumerian deity from Fourth Millennium B.C. until the city of Erech began to lose its power (c. 2500 B.C.).

Ki, Goddess of the Earth

Enlil, God of Air and Storms, son of An and Ki: Enlil is credited with separating the heavens from earth and, therefore, described as the "father of the gods," "king of the universe," "king of all lands." For about a thousand years after 2500 B.C., Enlil is supreme ruler of Sumerian pantheon of gods and guardian of the city of Nippur; he is credited with raising up the "seed of the land" and with bringing "whatever is needful" into existence. Enlil is said to have been responsible for the me, a set of universal laws governing all existence.

Utu, sun god who lights the world with rays issuing from his shoulders: Utu was also the god of justice and carved out justice with the many-toothed saw he carried with him.

Ninhursag, Mother Earth, the source of all life: from Ninhursag came the birth of the planets; she is usually seen wearing a leafy crown and holding a branch to indicate fertility.

Enki, Lord of Water and Wisdom: Enki emits streams from his shoulders; he is the god who gave rulers their intelligence and who provided craftsmen with their skills.

Inanna, Goddess of Love and War: Inanna stands beside her insignia, gateposts hung with streamers, and is present whenever life is conceived through love or ended in battle.

Ereshkigal, Goddess of Darkness, Gloom, and Death, sister of Inanna