Sumerian Religion

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Sumerian Religion

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Sep 28, 2002 3:48 pm

Salvete
This part of my essay will be about the religion of the Sumerians. I didn't found much about the religious practices but i hope it will give some insight about the religion.Writings and religion:
Writings meant a direct end to the prehistory and the actual history based upon written records began. In prehistoric times you don't have written records so you have to rely on archeology to find out what happened in those times.
Through writing one could imagine what the people thought of their world than. By this we know of names of their citizens, kings, priests, warriors and gods. At first it was still primitive but soon evolved into a syllable writing of about 600 signs that principally depicted each syllable. To achieve this special form of markings, you have to push reed into soft clay, than they will talk of spike writings. The clay tablets could be baked when they wanted to preserve the text. If they didn't want to do that, after a while the clay tablets could be reused. Many of these tablets were preserved unintentionally by fire in temples and palaces where they were kept. This writing was a form of short notation for the purpose of the temple and its administration. Of course it didn't take long before it was used for other purposes. A real historian record was long away of being achieved but the names of the kings and people from high places were kept and around 200 BC the first primitive annals would become reality. The succession of empires and dynasties improved a certain historical consciousness. With that senses of powerless and transitory compared with the power of the Gods, these beings was and always demand worship and obedience but still could punish the people with plagues and catastrophes. Similar ideas would live long and would influence also other cultures.
The temples power may still be waved with politics, it still created a big influence on the daily lives. Upon the Ziggurat, artificial hills of three storage's high elevated the sanctuary high above the homes of the people. Great offer festivals and other rituals marked important points in the year like the New Year festival. The calendar was off course a religious event. Numbers who were involved with it, were given a symbolic meaning like 12, 60(they calculated in a ten- sixty system that survived up to this day when dividing the hour and the 360° degrees) and 7 (after the known planets which included the sun and the moon). The symbolic of similar numbers and a rudimentary knowledge of math and astronomy belonged to the cultural heritage of Mesopotamia from which many cultures would borrow.
The state religion was polytheistic, multiple gods. You would have astral gods, gods of the earth, water- and sea gods and gods of the underworlds. They brought prosperity and fertility. All nations of this region were polytheistic. Some of the Sumerian gods even appeared in other Mesopotamian pantheon. The best known myth of Sumeria and Mesopotamia is the equivalent of the Ark of Noah. All cultures have a myth surrounding a big flood. The other well-known myth is the epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elis that is more Babylonian in origin than Sumerian.
The important gods of Sumeria were:
- Anoe/An/Anu: God of the Heaven, and Supreme deity before 2500 BC.
- Enlil: God of the Sky, Son of An and Ki. From 2500 BC. is he the Supreme deity of the pantheon of Gods when Nippur with its temple became the spiritual center of Sumeria. He took a lot of Ans power over and is described as 'Father of all Gods', 'King of all lands', King of Heaven and Earth', which are normal titles for a deity that rules over all the other gods. With Ninhursag as his sister, Ninlil is considered to be his wife and the Moon god Sin (Also known as Nanna) as his son.
- Nammu: Goddess of the Watery Abyss, the Primeval Sea. She may be the earliest of deities within Sumerian cosmology as she gave birth to heaven and earth. (Kramer 1961 p. 39) She is elsewhere described both as the mother of all the gods and as the wife of An. (Kramer 1961 p. 114) She is Enki's mother. She prompts him to create servants for the gods and is then directed by him on how, with the help of Nimmah/ Ninhursag to create man. (Kramer 1963 p. 150; Kramer 1961 p. 70)
- Ninhursag(Ki, Ninmah, Nintu): Ki may than well be the original Goddess of the Earth, the name Ninhursag appears in other forms as well. It is been told that Enlil is her brother and her husband. She is also linked with the birth of all the gods while at one place Nammu is considered to be the mother of all the gods.
- Enki: Enki is the son of Nammu and isn't the Lord of the Earth as his name would suspect. He is the god of Water, Creation and Fertility. He would once been the God of lord of the Underworld as En- Kur. Kur was the lord of the underworld and his trip to Kur to rescue Erishkigal where he was attacked by creatures with rocks.
- Utu: The God of the Sun and Justice. He is the Son of Nanna and Ningal.
- Inanna: Goddess of Love and War, daughter of Nanna and Ningal and sister to Utu.
For more information go to this site: Summerian Mythology FAQ : http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze33g ... aq.html#An
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