List of Mesopotamian deities

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia were almost exclusively anthropomorphic.[2] They were thought to possess extraordinary powers[2] and were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size.[2] The deities typically wore melam, an ambiguous substance which "covered them in terrifying splendor"[3] and which could also be worn by heroes, kings, giants, and even demons.[4] The effect that seeing a deity's melam has on a human is described as ni, a word for the "physical creeping of the flesh".[5] Both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages contain many words to express the sensation of ni,[4] including the word puluhtu, meaning "fear".[5] Deities were almost always depicted wearing horned caps,[6][7] consisting of up to seven superimposed pairs of ox-horns.[8] They were also sometimes depicted wearing clothes with elaborate decorative gold and silver ornaments sewn into them.[7]

Akkadian cylinder seal dating to c. 2300 BC, depicting the deities Inanna, Utu, Enki, and Isimud[1]
Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia and its major cities relative to modern landmarks

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that their deities lived in Heaven,[9] but that a god's statue was a physical embodiment of the god himself.[9][10] As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention[11][9] and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them.[12] These priests would clothe the statues[10] and place feasts before them so they could "eat".[11][9] A deity's temple was believed to be that deity's literal place of residence.[13] The gods had boats, full-sized barges which were normally stored inside their temples[14] and were used to transport their cult statues along waterways during various religious festivals.[14] The gods also had chariots, which were used for transporting their cult statues by land.[15] Sometimes a deity's cult statue would be transported to the location of a battle so that the deity could watch the battle unfold.[15] The major deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were believed to participate in the "assembly of the gods",[6] through which the gods made all of their decisions.[6] This assembly was seen as a divine counterpart to the semi-democratic legislative system that existed during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 BC – c. 2004 BC).[6]

The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history.[16] In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases.[16] During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domains mainly focused on basic needs for human survival.[17] During the second phase, which occurred in the third millennium BC, the divine hierarchy became more structured[17] and deified kings began to enter the pantheon.[17] During the third phase, in the second millennium BC, the gods worshipped by an individual person and gods associated with the commoners became more prevalent.[17] During the fourth and final phase, in the first millennium BC, the gods became closely associated with specific human empires and rulers.[18] The names of over 3,000 Mesopotamian deities have been recovered from cuneiform texts.[19][16] Many of these are from lengthy lists of deities compiled by ancient Mesopotamian scribes.[19][20] The longest of these lists is a text entitled An = Anum, a Babylonian scholarly work listing the names of over 2,000 deities.[19][17] While sometimes mistakenly regarded simply as a list of Sumerian gods with their Akkadian equivalents,[21] it was meant to provide information about the relations between individual gods, as well as short explanations of functions fulfilled by them.[21] In addition of spouses and children of gods, it also listed their servants.[22]

Various terms were employed to describe groups of deities. The term Anunnaki is first attested during the reign of Gudea (c. 2144 – 2124 BC) and the Third Dynasty of Ur.[23][24] Originally, the Anunnaki appear to refer to heavenly deities with immense powers,[25][23] who were believed to "decree the fates of mankind".[24] Gudea described them simply as "Lamma (tutelary deities) of all the countries."[26] Later they became regarded as chthonic Underworld deities.[25] They are chiefly mentioned in literary texts[24] and very little evidence to support the existence of any distinct cult of them has yet been unearthed.[27][24] This is likely due to the fact that each member of the Anunnaki had his or her own individual cult, separate from the others.[23] Similarly, no representations of the Anunnaki as a group have yet been discovered,[23] although a few depictions of its individual members have been identified.[23] Another group of deities are the Igigi, who are first attested from the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830 BC – c. 1531 BC).[28] The name Igigi seems to have originally been applied to the ten "great gods",[28] but it later came to refer to all the gods of Heaven collectively.[28] In some instances, the terms Anunnaki and Igigi are used synonymously.[23][24]

Major deities

Samuel Noah Kramer, writing in 1963, stated that the three most important deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon during all periods were the deities An, Enlil, and Enki.[29] However, newer research shows that the arrangement of the top of the pantheon could vary depending on time period and location. The Fara god list indicates that sometimes Enlil, Inanna and Enki were regarded as the three most significant deities.[30] Inanna was also the most important deity in Uruk and a number of other political centers in the Uruk period.[31] Gudea regarded Ninhursag, rather than Enki, as the third most prominent deity.[32] An Old Babylonian source preserves a tradition in which Nanna was the king of the gods, and Anu, Enlil and Enki merely his advisers,[33] likely a view espoused by Nanna's priests in Ur, and later on in Harran.[34] An Old Babylonian personal name refers to Shamash as "Enlil of the gods," possibly reflecting the existence of a similar belief connected to him among his clergy too, though unlike the doctrine of supremacy of the moon god, accepted by Nabonidus, it found no royal support at any point in time.[35] In Zabban, a city in the northeast of Babylonia, Hadad was the head of the pantheon.[36] In the first millennium BCE Marduk became the supreme god in Babylonia, and some late sources omit Anu and Enlil altogether and state that Ea received his position from Marduk.[37] In some neo-Babylonian inscriptions Nabu's status was equal to that of Marduk.[37] In Assyria, Assur was regarded as the supreme god.[38]

The number seven was extremely important in ancient Mesopotamian cosmology.[39][40] In Sumerian religion, the most powerful and important deities in the pantheon were sometimes called the "seven gods who decree":[41] An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.[42] Many major deities in Sumerian mythology were associated with specific celestial bodies:[43] Inanna was believed to be the planet Venus,[44][45] Utu was believed to be the Sun,[46][45] and Nanna was the Moon.[47][45] However, minor deities could be associated with planets too, for example Mars was sometimes called Simut,[48] and Ninsianna was a Venus deity distinct from Inanna in at least some contexts.[49]

Name Image Major cult centers Celestial body Details
Eanna temple in Uruk[51] Equatorial sky[52][45] An (in Sumerian), later known as Anu (in Akkadian),[53] was the supreme God and "prime mover in creation", embodied by the sky.[50] He is the first and most distant ancestor,[50] theologically conceived as the God of Heaven in its "transcendental obscurity".[54] In some theological systems all of the deities were believed to be the offspring of An and his consort Ki.[50][55][24] However Anu was himself described as the descendant of various primordial beings in various texts (god lists, incantations, etc.), and Enlil was often equipped with his own elaborate family tree separate from Anu's.[56] While An was described as the utmost god,[57][50] at least by the time of the earliest written records the main god in terms of actual cult was Enlil.[58][59] Anu's supremacy was therefore "always somewhat nominal" according to Wilfred G. Lambert.[60] Luludanitu, a multicolored stone (red, white and black) was associated with him.[61]
Nunamnir, Ellil[62][63]
Ekur temple in Nippur[64][65] Northern sky[52][45] Enlil, later known as Ellil, is the god of wind, air, earth, and storms[62] and the chief of all the gods.[66] The Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being.[67] One Sumerian hymn describes Enlil as so glorious that even the other gods could not look upon him.[63][68] His cult was closely tied to the holy city of Nippur[65] and, after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC, his cult fell into decline.[69] He was eventually paralleled in his role as chief deity by Marduk, the national god of the Babylonians,[69] and Assur, who fulfilled an analogous role for the Assyrians.[70] He was associated with lapis lazuli.[61][71]
Nudimmud, Ninshiku, Ea[72]
E-Abzu temple in Eridu[72] Southern sky[52][45] Enki, later known as Ea, and also occasionally referred to as Nudimmud or Ninšiku, was the god of the subterranean freshwater ocean,[72] whowais also closely associated with wisdom, magic, incantations, arts, and crafts.[72] He was either the son of An, or the goddess Nammu,[72] and is the former case the twin brother of Ishkur.[72] His wife was the goddess Damgalnuna (Ninhursag)[72] and his childeren include the gods Marduk, Asarluhi, Enbilulu, the sage Adapa, and the goddess Nanshe.[72] His sukkal, or minister, was the two-faced messenger god Isimud.[72] Enki was the divine benefactor of humanity,[72] who helped humans survive the Great Flood.[72] In Enki and the World Order, he organizes "in detail every feature of the civilised world."[72] In Inanna and Enki, he is described as the holder of the sacred mes, the tablets concerning all aspects of human life.[72] He was associated with jasper.[61][71]
Babylon[73][69] Jupiter[74] Marduk is the national god of the Babylonians.[73] The expansion of his cult closely paralleled the historical rise of Babylon[73][69] and, after assimilating various local deities, including a god named Asarluhi, he eventually came to parallel Enlil as the chief of the gods.[73][69] Some late sources go as far as omitting Enlil and Anu altogether, and state that Ea received his position from Marduk.[37] His wife was the goddess Sarpānītu.[73]
Assur[75] Ashur is the national god of the Assyrians.[75] He initially lacked any connections to other deities, having no parents, spouse or children. Later he was syncretized with Enlil.[76][70] Sargon II additionally initiated the trend of writing his name with the same signs as that of Anshar, a primordial being regarded as Anu's father in the theology of Enuma Elish.[70] He may have originally been a local deity associated with the city of Assur,[75] but, with the growth of the Assyrian Empire,[75] his cult was introduced to southern Mesopotamia.[77] In Assyrian texts Bel was a title of Ashur, rather than Marduk.[78]
Borsippa[79] Mercury[79] Nabu was the Mesopotamian god of scribes and writing.[79] His wife was the goddess Tashmetu[79] and he may have been associated with the planet Mercury.[79] He later became associated with wisdom and agriculture.[79]
Nanna, Enzu, Zuen, Suen, Sin[80]
E-kiš-nu-ğal temple in Ur and another temple in Harran[47] Moon[47] Nanna, Enzu or Zuen ("Lord of Wisdom") in Sumerian, later altered as Suen and Sin in Akkadian,[80] is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the Moon.[47] He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil and one of his most prominent myths was an account of how he was conceived and how he made his way from the Underworld to Nippur.[47] A theological system where Nanna, rather than Enlil, was the king of gods, is known from a text from the Old Babylonian period;[81] in the preserved fragment Enlil, Anu, Enki and Ninhursag served as his advisers, alongside his children Utu and Inanna.[33] Other references to Nanna holding such a positions are known from personal names and various texts, with some going as far as stating he holds "Anuship and Enlilship," and Wilfred G. Lambert assumes that he was regarded as the supreme god by his clergy in Ur and Harran.[34]
E-Babbar temples at Sippar and Larsa[83] Sun[82] Utu, later known as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the Sun,[82] who was also revered as the god of truth, justice, and morality.[83] He was the son of Nanna and the twin brother of Inanna. Utu was believed to see all things that happen during the day[83] and to aid mortals in distress.[83] Alongside Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice.[84]
Eanna temple in Uruk,[86][44][51] though she also had temples in Nippur, Lagash, Shuruppak, Zabalam, and Ur[86] Venus[44] Inanna, later known as Ishtar, is "the most important female deity of ancient Mesopotamia at all periods."[85] She was the Sumerian goddess of love, sexuality, prostitution, and war.[87] She was the divine personification of the planet Venus, the morning and evening star.[44] Accounts of her parentage vary;[85] in most myths, she is usually presented as the daughter of Nanna and Ningal,[88] but, in other stories, she is the daughter of Enki or An along with an unknown mother.[85] The Sumerians had more myths about her than any other deity.[89][90] Many of the myths involving her revolve around her attempts to usurp control of the other deities' domains.[91] Her most famous myth is the story of her descent into the Underworld,[92] in which she attempts to conquer the Underworld, the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal,[92] but is instead struck dead by the seven judges of the Underworld.[93][94][95] She is only revived due to Enki's intervention[93][94][95] and her husband Dumuzid is forced to take her place in the Underworld.[96][97] Alongside her twin brother Utu, Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.[84]
Damgalnuna, Ninmah[98]
E-Mah temple in Adab, Kesh[98] Ninhursag ("Mistress of the mountain ranges"[99]), also known as Damgalnuna, Ninmah, Nintur[100] and Aruru,[101] was the Mesopotamian mother goddess. Her primary functions were related to birth (but generally not to nursing and raising children, with the exception of sources from early Lagash) and creation.[102] Descriptions of her as "mother" weren't always referring to motherhood in the literal sense or to parentage of other deities, but sometimes instead represented her esteem and authority as a senior deity, similar to references to major male deities such as Enlil or Anu as "fathers."[103] Certain mortal rulers claimed her as their mother,[98] a phenomenon recorded as early as during the reign of Mesilim of Kish (c. 2700 BCE).[104] She was the wife of Enki,[98] though in some locations (including Nippur) her husband was Šulpae instead.[105] Initially no city had Ninhursag as its tutelary goddess.[106] Later her main temple was the E-Mah in Adab,[98] originally dedicated to a minor male deity, Ašgi,[107] but she was also associated with the city of ,[98] where she replaced the local goddess Nintur,[101] and she was sometimes referred to as the "Bēlet-ilī of Kesh" or "she of Kesh".[98] It's possible her emblem was a symbol similar to later Greek letter omega.[108]
E-šu-me-ša temple in Nippur,[109] Girsu,[110] Lagash,[111][112] and later Kalhu in Assyria[113][114][115] Saturn[116] Ninurta, also known as Ningirsu, was a Mesopotamian warrior deity who was worshipped in Sumer from the very earliest times.[109] He was the champion of the gods against the Anzû bird after it stole the Tablet of Destinies from his father Enlil[109] and, in a myth that is alluded to in many works but never fully preserved, he killed a group of warriors known as the "Slain Heroes".[109] Ninurta was also an agricultural deity and the patron god of farmers.[109] In the epic poem Lugal-e, he slays the demon Asag and uses stones to build the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to make them useful for irrigation.[114] His major symbols were a perched bird and a plow.[117]
E-Meslam temple in Kutha and Mashkan-shapir[47] Mars[118] Nergal was associated with the Underworld[119] and is usually the husband of Ereshkigal.[119] He was also associated with forest fires (and identified with the fire-god, Gibil[120]), fevers, plagues, and war.[119] In myths, he causes destruction and devastation.[119]
Bad-tibira and Kuara[121] Dumuzid, later known by the corrupted form Tammuz, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of shepherds[121] and the primary consort of the goddess Inanna.[121] His sister is the goddess Geshtinanna.[121][122] In addition to being the god of shepherds, Dumuzid was also an agricultural deity associated with the growth of plants.[123][124] Ancient Near Eastern peoples associated Dumuzid with the springtime, when the land was fertile and abundant,[123][125] but, during the summer months, when the land was dry and barren, it was thought that Dumuzid had "died".[123][126] During the month of Dumuzid, which fell in the middle of summer, people all across Sumer would mourn over his death.[127][128] An enormous number of popular stories circulated throughout the Near East surrounding his death.[127][128]
Kutha Hydra[129] Ereshkigal was the queen of the Mesopotamian Underworld.[130][131] She lived in a palace known as Ganzir.[130] In early accounts, her husband is Gugalanna,[130] whose character is undefined, but later the northern god Nergal was placed in this role.[130][131] Her gatekeeper was the god Neti[131] and her sukkal was Namtar.[130] In the poem Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Ereshkigal is described as Inanna's "older sister".[132] In the god list An-Anum she opens the section dedicated to underworld deities.[133]
and Bau; also Ninisina, Nintinugga, Ninkarrak, Meme[134]
E-gal-mah temple in Isin and other temples in Nippur, Borsippa, Assur,[134] Sippar[135] A prominent place in the Mesopotamian pantheon was occupied by healing goddesses,[136] regarded as divine patronesses of doctors and medicine-workers.[134] Multiple such deities existed:
  • Nintinugga, "mistress who revives the dead," worshiped in Ninlil's temple in Nippur[137]
  • Ninisina, who in addition to her primary role was also the goddess of Isin[138]
  • Ninkarrak, an obscure healing goddess of Akkadian, rather than Sumerian, origin,[138] worshiped in Sippar[135]
  • Gula ("the great"), from Umma; possibly initially a title rather than a distinct goddess[139]

Eventually Gula became the preeminent healing goddess,[138] and other healing goddesses were sometimes syncretised with her,[140] though in the god list An-Anum Gula, Ninkarrak and Nintinugga all figure as separate deities with own courts.[140] Dogs were associated with many healing goddesses[135] and Gula in particular is often shown in art with a dog sitting beside her.[134]

A distinct goddess also associated with healing was Bau, spouse of Ningirsu, who rose to prominence in 3rd millennium BCE Lagash.[137]

Karkar,[142] Assur,[143][144] Kurba'il[145] Ishkur, later known as Adad or Hadad (from the root *hdd, "to thunder"[146]), was the Mesopotamian god of storms and rain.[141] In northern Mesopotamia, where agriculture relied heavily on rainfall, he was among the most prominent deities, and even in the south he ranked among the "great gods."[147] In god lists his position is similar to that of Sin, Shamash and Ishtar.[148] Ishkur is already attested as the god of Karkar in the Uruk period,[142] however evidence such as theophoric names indicates that the weather god's popularity only grew in later periods under the Akkadian name.[149] Hadad is already attested as the name of the weather god in early sources from Ebla.[146] In Mesopotamia these two gods started to merge in the Sargonic period,[150] and it seems it was already impossible to find a clear distinction between them in the Ur III period.[151] While northern texts put an emphasis on the benevolent character of the weather god as a bringer of rain, in the south he was often associated with destructive weather phenomena, including dust storms,[152] though even there he was credited with making plant growth possible in areas which weren't irrigated.[153] He was regarded as the son of An,[149] though less commonly he was also referred to as a son of Enlil.[154] His wife was Shala,[141] while his sukkal was Nimgir, the deified lightning.[155] In addition to being a weather god, Hadad was also a god of law and guardian of oaths,[156] as well as a god of divination (extispicy).[144] In these roles he was associated with Shamash.[144] In Zabban, a city in the northeast of Babylonia, he was regarded as the head of the local pantheon.[36] In Assyrian sources he was closely connected to military campaigns of the kings.[145] Kurba'il on the northern frontier of the empire was regarded as his most notable cult center in neo-Assyrian times.[145] In god lists foreign weather gods such as Hurrian Teshub ("Adad of Subartu"), Kassite Buriyaš or Ugaritic Baal were regarded as his equivalents.[157]
Ištaran Der[143] Ištaran was a prominent[158] god, who served as the tutelary deity of the Sumerian city-state of Der, which was located east of the Tigris river on the border between Mesopotamia and Elam.[143] His wife wass the goddess Šarrat-Dēri, whose name means "Queen of Der",[143] or alternatively Manzat (goddess of the rainbow),[158] and his sukkal was the snake-god Nirah.[143] He was regarded as a divine judge, and kings were said to "render justice like Ištaran."[159] A text from the late Early Dynastic Period invokes Ištaran to resolve a boundary dispute between the cities of Lagash and Umma.[143] In one of his inscriptions, King Gudea of Lagash mentions himself having installed a shrine for Ištaran in the temple of Ningirsu at Girsu[143] and describes Ištaran as a god of justice.[143] On kudurrus (boundary stones), Ištaran is often represented by a serpent, which may be Nirah[143] or Ištaran himself.[160] It's also possible that he's the god with an ophidian lower body known from cylinder seals.[158] In a ritual associated with the Ekur temple in Nippur, Ištaran is a "dying god" and is equated with Dumuzid.[160] A reference to Ištaran as a dying god appears also in a late text from Assur.[159] His national cult fell into decline during the Middle Babylonian Period,[143] though he still appeared in documents such as neo-Assyrian land grants.[161] However, in Der he continued to be venerated in later periods as well.[162]
Uruk and Kish[163] Corona Borealis[164] Nanaya was a major[165] goddess of love[166] (including erotic love and lust).[167] She was commonly invoked in spells connected to this sphere.[168] She was also involved in intercession and was regarded as "lady of lamma," a class of minor protective goddesses capable of interceding on behalf of humans.[169] She shared these roles with Ninshubur.[169] She was closely associated with Inanna/Ishtar,[170] though not identical to her as the two often appear side by side in the same texts: for example in Larsa Inanna, Nanaya and Ninsianna all functioned as distinct deities,[49] while in god lists Nanaya appears among Inanna's courtiers, usually following Dumuzi and Ninshubur.[171] In late sources Nanaya and Ishtar sometimes appear as goddesses of equal status.[172] In neo-Babylonian Uruk she was one of the most important deities, and retained this status under Persian rule as well.[173] There is also evidence for her worship continuing in Seleucid and Parthian times, as late as 45 CE.[174]
Ninazu Eshnunna and Enegi[175] Ninazu was a god regarded as either the son of Ereshkigal or of Enlil and Ninil.[175] He was also the father of Ningishzida.[176] He was closely associated with the Underworld,[176] and some researchers go as far as proposing he was the oldest Mesopotamian god associated with it,[177] though it's most likely more accurate to say that there was initially no single universally agreed upon version of relevant mythical and cultic concepts, with various deities, both male and female, ruling over the Underworld in the belief systems of various areas and time periods.[178] Ninazu was also a Ninurta-like warrior god,[175] as well as the "king of snakes."[179] He was worshipped in Eshnunna during the third millennium BCE, but he was later supplanted there by Tishpak, who despite foreign origin had a similar character and attributes.[180] Ninazu was also worshipped at Enegi in southern Sumer.[175] His divine beast was the mušḫuššu, a serpentine dragon-like mythical creature, which was later also associated with Tishpak, Marduk (and by extension Nabu) and after Sennacherib's destruction of Babylon also with Ashur.[181]
Ninlil Nippur, Assur,[182] Kish, Ḫursaĝkalama[183] Ninlil was the wife of Enlil, the ruler of the gods.[98] She wasn't associated with any city of her own, serving primarily as Enlil's spouse,[184] and as such was probably an artificially created deity, invented as a female equivalent to Enlil.[98] She was nonetheless regarded as having power on par with Enlil;[185] in one poem, Ninlil declares, "As Enlil is your master, so am I also your mistress!"[185] In documents from the Ur III period, Ninlil was believed to be able to determine fates much like husband, and the pair was jointly regarded as the source of royal power by kings.[186] Sud, the tutelary goddess of Šuruppak, came to be regarded as one and the same as Ninlil, and some mythical texts explain that Sud was the goddess' name before she married Enlil, receiving the name Ninlil.[187] However, Sud was originally an independent deity who was close in character to Sudag, an alternate name of the wife of Shamash; the confusion between Sudag and Sud(/Ninlil) is reflected in a myth where Ishmum, normally regarded as the son of Shamash and his wife, is instead the son of Ninlil.[187]
Akkil;[188] worshipped with Inanna as her sukkal Orion[189] Assyriologists regard Ninshubur as the most prominent sukkal ("vizier"),[190] a type of deity serving as another's personal attendant. Her mistress was Inanna.[109][191] Many texts indicate they were regarded very close to each other, with one going as far as listing Ninshubur with the title "beloved vizier," before Inanna's relatives other than her husband Dumuzi.[192] She consistently appears as the first among Inanna's courtiers in god lists, usually followed by another prominent deity, Nanaya.[193] She was portrayed as capable of "appeasing" Inanna,[194] and as "unshakably loyal" in her devotion to her.[191] In the Sumerian myth of Inanna and Enki, Ninshubur rescues Inanna from the monsters that Enki sends to capture her,[195][196][191] while in Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, she pleads with the gods Enlil, Nanna and finally Enki in effort to persuade them to rescue Inanna from the Underworld.[197][198] In addition to being regarded as a wise adviser[191] of her divine masters and human rulers,{{sfn|Wiggermann|1998|page=497} Ninshubur was also a warrior goddess.[191] In addition to being the sukkal of Inanna, she also served An[191] and the divine assembly.[199] She was said to have walked in front of An wherever he went, a position traditionally reserved for a bodyguard.[191] In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was syncretized with the male messenger deities Ilabrat and Papsukkal,[189] though this process wasn't complete until Seleucid times.[200] Ninshubur was popular[190] in the sphere of personal religion, for example as tutelary deity of a specific family, due to the belief she could mediate between humans and higher ranking gods.[201]
Nisaba Eresh, later Nippur[202] Nisaba was originally a goddess of grain and agriculture,[114] but, starting in the Early Dynastic Period, she developed into a goddess of writing, accounting, and scribal knowledge.[114] Her main cult city, Eresh, was evidently prominent in early periods, but after the reign of Shulgi almost entirely disappeared from records.[202] Texts mentioning Nisaba are sporadically attested as far west as Ebla and Ugarit, though it's uncertain if she was actively venerated further west than Mari.[203] Nisaba was the mother of the goddess Sud, syncretised with Enlil's wife Ninlil, and as a result she appears in myths as his mother in law.[204] While a less common tradition identified her as the daughter of Enlil,[202] she was usualy regarded as the daughter of Uraš, and references to Anu or Ea as her father are known from first millennium BCE literature.[202] Her husband was the god Haya.[114] There is little direct evidence for temples (in Nippur she was worshiped in the temple of her daughter Ninlil[205]) and clergy of Nisaba, but literary texts were commonly ended with the doxology "praise to Nisaba!" or other invocations of her.[205] The term "house of wisdom of Nisaba" attested in many texts was likely a generic term for institutions connected to writing.[205] Her importance started to decline (especially outside the scribal circles) after the Old Babylonian period, though attestations as late as from the reign of Nabopolassar are known.[206]
Zababa Kish[207][208] Zababa was a war god who served as the tutelary deity of Kish.[208] His main temple was E-mete-ursag.[207] The earliest attestation of him comes from the Early Dynastic Period.[207] During the reign of Old Babylonian kings such as Hammurabi it was Zababa, rather than Ninurta, who was regarded as the primary war god.[209] He was initially regarded as a son of Enlil,[208] but Sennacherib called him a son of Ashur instead.[210] Initially his wife was Ishtar of Kish (regarded as separate from Ishtar of Uruk), but after the Old Babylonian period she was replaced by Bau in this role, and continued to be worshiped independently from him.[211] In some texts Zababa uses weapons usually associated with Ninurta and fights his mythical enemies, and on occasion he was called the "Nergal of Kish," but all 3 of these gods were regarded as separate.[212] In one list of deities he is called "Marduk of battle."[207] His primary symbol was a staff with the head of an eagle.[207] His sukkal was Papsukkal.[213]

Primordial beings

Various civilizations over the course of Mesopotamian history had many different creation stories.[214][215] The earliest accounts of creation are simple narratives written in Sumerian dating to the late third millennium BC.[216][217] These are mostly preserved as brief prologues to longer mythographic compositions dealing with other subjects, such as Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, The Creation of the Pickax, and Enki and Ninmah.[218][216] Later accounts are far more elaborate, adding multiple generations of gods and primordial beings.[219] The longest and most famous of these accounts is the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, or Epic of Creation, which is divided into seven tablets.[217] The surviving version of the Enûma Eliš could not have been written any earlier than the late second millennium BC,[217] but it draws heavily on earlier materials,[220] including various works written during the Akkadian, Old Babylonian, and Kassite periods in the early second millennium BC.[220] A category of primordial beings common in incantations were pairs of divine ancestors of Enlil and less commonly of Anu.[56] In at least some cases these elaborate genealogies were assigned to major gods to avoid the implications of divine incest.[221]

Figures appearing in theogonies were generally regarded as ancient and no longer active (unlike the regular gods) by the Mesopotamians.[222]

Name Image Details
Abzu In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Eliš, Abzu is primordial undeterminacy,[223] the consort of the goddess Tiamat who was killed by the god Ea (Enki).[223] Abzu was the personification of the subterranean primeval waters.[223]
Alala and Belili Alala and Belili were ancestors of Anu, usually appearing as the final pair in god lists accepting this tradition of his ancestry.[224] Alala was also adopted into Hurro-Hittite mythology[225] under the name Alalu.[226] It's possible Alala and Belili were paired together only because both names are iterative.[227]
Anshar and Kishar In some East Semitic myths, Anshar and Kishar are a primordial couple, who are male and female respectively.[25] In the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, they are the second pair of offspring born from Abzu and Tiamat[25] and the parents of the supreme An.[25] A partial rewrite of Enûma Eliš from the neo-Assyrian period attempted to merge the roles of Marduk and Anshar, which prominent assyriologist Wilfred G. Lambert described as "completely superficial in that it leaves the plot in chaos by attributing Marduk's part to his great-grandfather, without making any attempt to iron out the resulting confusion."[228]
Duru and Dari Duru and Dari (derived from an Akkadian phrase meaning "forever and ever"[225]) were ancestors of Anu according to so-called "Anu theogony."[229] They represented "eternal time as a prime force in creation,"[224] and it's likely they developed as a personified form of a preexisting cosmological belief.[225] A single text identifies them as ancestors of Enlil instead.[229] They appear for the first time in an incantation from the reign of Samsu-iluna (Old Babylonian period).[225]
Enki and Ninki Enki and Ninki were two primordial beings who were regarded as the first generation of Enlil's ancestors.[230] Enki and Niki followed by a varying number of pairs of deities whose names start with "En" and "Nin" appear as Enlil's ancestors in various sources: god lists, incantations, liturgical texts,[231] and the Sumerian composition "Death of Gilgamesh," where the eponymous hero encounters these divine ancestors in the underworld.[232] The oldest document preserving this tradition is the Fara god list (Early Dynastic period).[233] Sometimes all the ancestors were collectivelly called "the Enkis and the Ninkis."[234] Enki, the ancestor of Enlil, is not to be confused with the god Enki/Ea, who is a distinct and unrelated figure; the ancestral Enki's name means "lord earth" while the meaning of the name of the god of Eridu is uncertain but not the same, as indicated by some writings including an amissable g.[235]
Enmesharra Enmesharra was a minor deity of the Underworld.[63] Seven, eight or fifteen other minor deities were said to be his offspring.[236] His symbol was the suššuru (a kind of pigeon).[63] He was sometimes regarded as the father of Enlil,[237] or as his uncle.[238] Texts allude to combat between Enmesharra and Enlil (or perhaps Ninurta), and his subsequent imprisonment.[239] Presumably in some traditions it was believed that this is how Enlil gained control over destinies.[240] In a late myth he was described as an enemy of Marduk.[241]
Ki Ki is the Sumerian goddess personifying the earth itself.[242] In some Sumerian accounts, she is a primordial being who copulates with An to produce a variety of plants.[243] Ki is the mother of Enlil[244] and the Sumerians believed that the world began when Enlil separated her from An.[244] She may be another name for Ninhursag, the earth goddess.[245][246]
Lugaldukuga Lugaldukuga was the father of Enlil in some traditions,[238] though sometimes he was instead referred to as his grandfather.[247] Like Enmesharra he was regarded as a vanquished theogonic figure, and sometimes the two were equated.[248] He might be analogous to Endukuga, another ancestor of Enlil from god lists.[247]
Nammu Nammu is the primordial goddess who, in some Sumerian traditions, was said to have given birth to both An and Ki.[163] She eventually came to be regarded as the mother of Enki[163] and was revered as an important mother goddess.[163] Because the cuneiform sign used to write her name is the same as the sign for engur, a synonym for abzu, it is highly probable that she was originally conceived as the personification of the subterranean primeval waters.[163]
In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Eliš, after the separation of heaven and earth, the goddess Tiamat and her consort Abzu are the only deities in existence.[249] A male-female pair, they mate and Tiamat gives birth to the first generation of gods.[249] Ea (Enki) slays Abzu[249] and Tiamat gives birth to eleven monsters to seek vengeance for her lover's death.[249] Eventually, Marduk, the son of Enki and the national god of the Babylonians, slays Tiamat and uses her body to create the earth.[249] In the Assyrian version of the story, it is Ashur who slays Tiamat instead.[249] Tiamat was the personification of the primeval waters and it is hard to tell how the author of the Enûma Eliš imagined her appearance.[249]

Minor deities

Name Image Major cult centers Details
Ama-arhus Uruk[250] Ama-arhus is a fertility goddess who was worshipped in Uruk during the Hellenistic Period.[250]
Amasagnul Amasagnul is a goddess who is thought to have been the consort of the messenger god Papsukkal.[251]
In the collection of laments entitled In the Desert by the Early Grass, Amashilama is a divine leech and the sister of the god Damu, who has died and gone to the Underworld.[252] At her son's request, Damu's mother digs up his blood and chops it into pieces.[252] She gives the congealed blood to Amashilama, who mixes it into a brew of beer, which Damu must drink in order to be restored to life.[252] Damu, however, realizes that he is dead and declares that he is not in the "grass which shall grow for his mother again", nor in the "waters which will rise".[252] Damu's mother blesses him[252] and Amashilama dies to join him in the Underworld.[252] She tells him that "the day that dawns for you will also dawn for me; the day you see, I shall also see",[252] referring to the fact that day in the world above is night in the Underworld.[252]
Antu is a goddess who was invented during the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 BC – 2154 BC) as a consort for Anu.[50][57] Her name is a female version of Anu's own.[50][57] The Akkadians believed that rain was milk from the clouds,[253] which they believed were Antu's breasts.[253] According to the German classical scholar Walter Burkert, the Greek goddess Dione, mentioned in Book V of the Iliad as the mother of Aphrodite, is probably a calque for Antu.[254]
Anunītu Agade[255] and Sippar-Amnanum[256] Anunitu ("the martial one") was initially an epithet of Ishtar,[257] but later a separate goddess.[258] She is first attested in documents from the Ur III period.[259] She was a warrior goddess who shared a number of epithets with Ishtar.[260] It's possible she was depicted with a trident-like weapon on seals.[261] In documents from Sippar she sometimes appeared as a divine witness.[262] A similarly named and possibly related goddess, Annu, was popular in Mari.[263]
Asarluhi Kuara[264] Asarluhi was originally a local god of the village of Kuara, which was located near the city of Eridu.[264] He eventually became regarded as a god of magical knowledge[264] and was thought to be the son of Enki and Ninhursag.[264] He was later absorbed as an aspect of Marduk.[264] In the standard Babylonian magical tradition, the name "Asarluhi" is used as merely an alternative name for Marduk.[264]
Ashgi Adab and Kesh[265] Ashgi is the brother of the goddess Lisin.[265]
Ashnan Ashnan is the goddess of grain.[266] In the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain, she and her sister Lahar are created by the Anunnaki to provide them with food.[267] They produce large amounts of food,[268] but become drunk with wine and start to quarrel, so Enki and Enlil intervene, declaring Ashnan the victor.[269]
Aruru Aruru was initially a distinct minor goddess, regarded as violent and connected to vegetation;[101] however, despite lack of a connection to birth or creation she was later conflated with Ninhursag.[101] Sometimes she was syncretized with Nisaba instead, in which case the conflation was meant to highlight the latter's authority.[270]
Belet-Seri Belet-Seri is a chthonic Underworld goddess who was thought to record the names of the deceased as they entered the Underworld.[271]
Birtum Birtum is an obscure minor god, the husband of the goddess Nungal.[272][273]
Bunene Sippar, Uruk, and Assur[83] Bunene is the sukkal and charioteer of the sun-god Utu.[83] He was worshipped at Sippar and Uruk during the Old Babylonian Period[83] and was later worshipped at Assur.[83] According to some accounts, he may have been Utu's son.[83]
Damu Isin, Larsa, Ur, and Girsu[274] Damu is a god who presides over healing and medicine.[274] He is usually the son of Ninisina and Ningishzida, or is identical to Ningishzida himself.[274] In some texts, "Damu" is used as another name for Dumuzid,[275] but this may be a different word meaning "son".[275] Another god named "Damu" was also worshipped in Ebla and Emar,[274] but this may be a local hero, not the same as the god of healing.[274] The official cult of Damu became extinct sometime after the Old Babylonian Period.[274]
Dingirma Dingirma is a mother goddess whose name means "exalted deity".[79] She may just be another name for Ninhursag.[79]
Dumu-zi-abzu Kinunir[127] Dumu-zi-abzu is a local goddess who was worshipped in the village of Kinunir, near the city-state of Lagash.[127] Her name, which probably means "good child of the Abzu",[127] was sometimes abbreviated to Dumu-zi,[127] but she has no obvious connection to the god Dumuzid.[127]
Emesh Emesh is a farmer deity in the Sumerian poem Enlil Chooses the Farmer-God (ETCSL 5.3.3), which describes how Enlil, hoping "to establish abundance and prosperity", creates two gods: Emesh and Enten, a farmer and a shepherd respectively.[276] The two gods argue and Emesh lays claim to Enten's position.[277] They take the dispute before Enlil, who rules in favor of Enten.[278] The two gods rejoice and reconcile.[278]
Enkimdu Enkimdu is described as the "lord of dike and canal".[63] He appears in the myth of Inanna Prefers the Farmer as a wealthy farmer who competes with Dumuzid for Inanna's affection.[279][280] He is the son of Enki and is closely associated with Enbilulu.[63] He is sometimes identified as a form of Ishkur or as an alternate name for Marduk.[63]
Ennugi Ennugi is "the canal inspector of the gods".[130] He is the son of Enlil or Enmesarra[130] and his wife is the goddess Nanibgal.[130] He is associated with the Underworld[63] and he may be Gugalanna, the first husband of Ereshkigal, under a different name.[130]
Enten Enten is a shepherd deity in the Sumerian poem Enlil Chooses the Farmer-God (ETCSL 5.3.3), which describes how Enlil, hoping "to establish abundance and prosperity", creates two gods: Emesh and Enten, a farmer and a shepherd respectively.[276] The two gods argue and Emesh lays claim to Enten's position.[277] They take the dispute before Enlil, who rules in favor of Enten.[278] The two gods rejoice and reconcile.[278]
Erra is a warlike god who is associated with pestilence and violence.[281][282] He is the son of the sky-god An[281] and his wife is an obscure, minor goddess named Mami, who is different from the mother goddess with the same name.[281][283] As early as the Akkadian Period, Erra was already associated with Nergal[281][282] and he eventually came to be seen as merely an aspect of him.[281][282] The names came to be used interchangeably.[281]
Erragal, also known as Errakal, is a relatively rarely-attested deity who was usually regarded as a form of Erra,[282] but the two gods are probably of separate origin.[284] He is connected with storms and the destruction caused by them.[283] In An = Anum I 316, Erragal is listed as the husband of the goddess Ninisig and is equated with Nergal.[283] in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Atra-Hasis Epic, Errakal is said to "tear up the mooring poles", causing the Great Flood.[283]
Gareus Uruk Gareus was a god introduced to Uruk during late antiquity by the Parthians,[285] who built a small temple to him there in around 100 AD.[285] He was a syncretic deity, combining elements of Greco-Roman and Babylonian cults.[285]
Geshtinanna Nippur, Isin, and Uruk[286] Geshtinanna is a rural agricultural goddess sometimes associated with dream interpretation.[287] She is the sister of Dumuzid, the god of shepherds.[287] In one story, she protects her brother when the galla demons come to drag him down to the Underworld by hiding him in successively in four different places.[287] In another version of the story, she refuses to tell the galla where he is hiding, even after they torture her.[287] The galla eventually take Dumuzid away after he is betrayed by an unnamed "friend",[287] but Inanna decrees that he and Geshtinanna will alternate places every six months, each spending half the year in the Underworld while the other stays in Heaven.[287] While she is in the Underworld, Geshtinanna serves as Ereshkigal's scribe.[287]
Gibil is the deification of fire.[287] As such, he represents fire in all of its destructive and creative aspects.[287] According to Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, he "represented fire in all its aspects: as a destructive force and as the burning heat of the Mesopotamian summer; and as a creative force, the fire in the blacksmith's furnace and the fire in the kiln where bricks are baked, and so as a 'founder of cities'."[287] He is traditionally said to be the son of An and Shala,[287] but is sometimes the son of Nusku.[272]
Uruk and a small village near Ur[288] Most historians generally agree that Gilgamesh was a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk,[288][289] who probably ruled sometime during the early part of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900–2350 BC).[288][289] It is certain that, during the later Early Dynastic Period, Gilgamesh was worshipped as a god at various locations across Sumer.[288] In the twenty-first century BC, Utu-hengal, the king of Uruk adopted Gilgamesh as his patron deity.[288] The kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur were especially fond of Gilgamesh, calling him their "divine brother" and "friend".[288] During this period, a large number of myths and legends developed surrounding him.[288] Probably during the Middle Babylonian Period (c. 1600 BC – c. 1155 BC), a scribe named Sîn-lēqi-unninni composed the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem written in Akkadian narrating Gilgamesh's heroic exploits.[288] The opening of the poem describes Gilgamesh as "one-third human, two-thirds divine".[288]
Gugalanna Gugalanna is the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld.[130] His name probably originally meant "canal inspector of An"[130] and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi.[130] The son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna is Ninazu.[130] In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Inanna tells the gatekeeper Neti that she is descending to the Underworld to attend the funeral of "Gugalanna, the husband of my elder sister Ereshkigal".[130][290][132]
Gunura Gunura is a deity of uncertain status. The deity is described in some sources as the husband of the goddess Ninsun and the father of Damu, but in other sources as the sister of Damu.[291]
Ĝatumdug Lagash[292] Ĝatumdug was a goddess from the early pantheon of Lagash.[292] While the meaning of her name is unknown, she was described as the city's mother,[293] or its founder.[294] According to inscriptions of Gudea she assigned a lamma (tutelary deity) to him.[26] She was later equated with Bau.[295]
Hahanu Hahanu is an obscure god of uncertain function who is referenced in passing by several inscriptions.[296]
Hani Hani is a minor East Semitic deity.[297] He is the sukkal to the storm-god Adad.[297]
Haya Umma, Ur, and Kuara.[298] Haya is the husband of the goddess Nisaba.[114][298] Haya was primarily a god of scribes,[298] but he may have also been associated with grain and agriculture.[298] He also served as a doorkeeper.[298] In some texts, he is identified as the father of the goddess Ninlil.[298] He was worshipped mostly during the Third Dynasty of Ur, when he had temples in the cities of Umma, Ur, and Kuara.[298] In later times, he had a temple in the city of Assur and may have had one in Nineveh.[298] A god named Haya was worshipped at Mari, but this may have been a different deity.[298]
Hayasum Hayasum is a minor god who is referenced in some inscriptions, but whose function is unknown.[299]
Hegir-Nuna, also known as Gangir, is one of the seven daughters of Baba.[300]
Hendursag Hendursag was a Sumerian god of law.[301] King Gudea of Lagash refers to him as the "herald of the land of Sumer" in one inscription.[296]
Ig-alima Lagash[302] Ig-alima is the son of Bau and Ninĝirsu.[302]
Ilaba Agade[44] Ilaba was briefly a major deity during the Akkadian Period,[44] but seems to have been completely obscure during all other periods of Mesopotamian history.[44] He was closely associated with the kings of the Akkadian Empire.[87]
Ilabrat Worshipped with Anu as his sukkal Ilabrat is the sukkal, or personal attendant, of the god Anu.[57][303] He appears in the myth of Adapa in which he tells Anu that the reason why the south wind does not blow is because Adapa, the priest of Ea in Eridu, has broken its wing.[303]
Worshipped with Enki as his sukkal Isimud, later known as Usmû, is the sukkal, or personal attendant, to the god Enki.[141] His name is related to the word meaning "having two faces"[141] and he is shown in art with a face on either side of his head.[141] He acts as Enki's messenger in the myths of Enki and Ninhursag and Inanna and Enki.[141]
Ishum Ishum was a popular, but not very important god,[242] who was worshipped from the Early Dynastic Period onwards.[242] In one text, he is described as the son of Shamash and Ninlil.[242] He was a generally benevolent deity, who served as a night watchman and protector.[242] He may be the same god as the Sumerian Hendursag, because the both of them are said to have been the husband of the goddess Ninmug.[242] He was sometimes associated with the Underworld[242] and was believed to exert a calming influence on Erra, the god of rage and violence.[242]
Kakka Kakka is a sukkal to both Anu and Anshar who plays a role in the text of Nergal and Ereshkigal.[304]
Kittu Kittu is the daughter of Utu and Sherida.[305] Her name means "Truth".[305]
Kus Kus is a god of herdsmen referenced in the Theogony of Dunnu.[306]
Kusu Lagash,[307] Nippur[308] Kusu was a goddess of purification, commonly invoked in Akkadian šuillakku, a type of prayers asking for help with an individual's problems.[309] She was regarded as the personification of a type of ritual censer.[307]
Lahar Lahar is a goddess of cattle.[266] In the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain, she and her sister Ashnan are created by the Anunnaki to provide them with food.[267] They produce large amounts of food,[268] but become drunk with wine and start to quarrel, so Enki and Enlil intervene, declaring Ashnan the victor.[269]
Lisin Adab and Kesh[265] Lisin and her brother Ashgi were worshipped in Adab and Kesh.[265] Her husband was the god Ninsikila.[265] In Sumerian times, Lisin was viewed as a mother goddess.[265] She is identified with the star α Scorpionis.[265] Later, Ninsikila was accidentally mistranslated as the name of a goddess and Lisin accordingly became treated as a god.[265]
Lugalbanda Uruk, Nippur, and Kuara[310] Lugalbanda was an early legendary king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, who was later declared to be a god.[310] He is the husband of the goddess Ninsun and the father of the mortal hero Gilgamesh.[310] He is mentioned as a god alongside Ninsun in a list of deities as early as the Early Dynastic Period.[310] A brief fragment of a myth about him from this same time period is also preserved.[310] During the Third Dynasty of Ur, all the kings would offer sacrifices to Lugalbanda as a god in the holy city of Nippur.[310] Two epic poems about Lugalbanda describe him successfully crossing dangerous mountains alone, though hindered by severe illness.[310] The Sumerian King List makes him a shepherd, who reigned for 1,200 years.[310] He has a close relationship with the goddess Inanna.[310]
Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea
Kisiga[310] Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea are a set of twin gods who were worshipped in the village of Kisiga, located in northern Babylonia.[310] They were regarded as guardians of doorways[311] and they may have originally been envisioned as a set of twins guarding the gates of the Underworld, who chopped the dead into pieces as they passed through the gates.[312] During the Neo-Assyrian period, small depictions of them would be buried at entrances,[311] with Lugal-irra always on the left and Meslamta-ea always on the right.[311] They are identical and are shown wearing horned caps and each holding an axe and a mace.[311] They are identified with the constellation Gemini, which is named after them.[311]
Lulal Bad-tibira[313] Lulal is a god who is closely associated with Inanna,[313] but their relationship is unclear and ambiguous.[313] He appears in Inanna's Descent into the Underworld.[313] He seems to have primarily been a warrior-god,[313] but he was also associated with domesticated animals.[313]
Mami or Mama Mami or Mama is a mother goddess whose name means "mother".[79] She may be the same goddess as Ninhursag.[79]
Mandanu Mandanu is a god of divine judgement who was worshipped during the Neo-Babylonian Period.[314]
Manzat Der[315] Manzat ("Rainbow") was the Akkadian goddess of of the rainbow.[316] She was worshiped in Der,[315] and was sometimes viewed as the wife of the city's tutelary god, Ishtaran.[158] Her titles, such as "Lady of regulations of heaven" and "Companion of heaven" highlighted her astral character,[316] though she was also associated with prosperity of cities.[317] Outside Mesopotamia she was also worshiped in Elam, where she was possibly regarded as the wife of Simut.[317]
Martu Martu, later known as Amurru, is a god who destroys cities and "rages over the land like a storm".[318] He is the personification of the nomads who began to appear on the edges of the Mesopotamian world in the middle of the third millennium BC, initially from the west, but later from the east as well.[318] One myth describes how the daughter of the god Numušda insists on marrying Martu, despite his unattractive habits.[319] In Old Babylonian and Kassite art, Amurru is shown as a god dressed in long robes and carrying a scimitar or a shepherd's crook.[5]
Misharu Misharu is the son of Utu and Sherida.[305] His name means "Justice".[305]
Nanbigal Nanbigal was initially a title or alternate name of Nisaba, but eventualy developed into a distinct deit attested in the god list An-Anum and in a number of rituals.[202] She had her own spouse, Ennugi, and own distinct role as a courtier of Ninlil.[202]
Lagash[79] Nanshe was a goddess associated with the state of Lagash,[320][47] whose cult declined with the loss of political relevance of that city.[187] She was a daughter of Enki and sister of Ningirsu.[47] She was associated with divination and the interpretation of dreams,[47] but was also believed to assist the poor and the impoverished[47] and ensure the accuracy of weights and measurements.[47] She was also associated with fish and waterfowl.[321] The First Sealand dynasty revived (or continued) her cult, making her the royal tutelary goddess.[187]
Neti Neti is the gatekeeper of the Underworld.[322] In the story of Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, he leads Inanna through the seven gates of the Underworld,[322][323] removing one of her garments at each gate so that when she comes before Ereshkigal she is naked and symbolically powerless.[322][323]
Ninegal Dilbat Ninegal (Belet Ekallim; "lady of the palace"[324]) was the wife of Uraš.[309]
Ur and Harran[325] Ningal, later known by the corrupted form Nikkal, was the wife of Nanna-Suen, the god of the moon, and the mother of Utu, the god of the sun.[325]
Ningikuga Ningikuga is a goddess of reeds and marshes.[326] Her name means "Lady of the Pure Reed".[326] She is the daughter of Anu and Nammu[326] and one of the many consorts of Enki.[326]
Ninimma Nippur[308] Ninimma was a courtier of Enlil regarded as his scribe and sometimes as the nurse of his children.[327][328] Like other goddesses from Enlil's circle she had a temple in Nippur.[308] In the myth Enki and Ninmah she's one of the seven birth goddesses,[329] the other 6 being Šuzianna, Ninmada, Ninšar, Ninmug, Mumudu and Ninniginna.[330] Her husband was Guškinbanda,[331] called "Ea of the goldsmith" in an explanatory text.[327] Occasional references to Ninimma as a male deity are also known,[332] and in this context he was called "Ea of the scribe."[327]
Nindara Nindara is a minor god who was sometimes considered the consort of the goddess Nanshe.[333]
Ningilin is a deity who was associated with mongooses, which are common throughout southern Mesopotamia.[334] who was conflated at an early date with Ningirima, a god of magic invoked for protection against snakes.[334] She is probably a goddess, but might have sometimes been considered a god.[334] She was so closely associated with mongooses that the Akkadian word for "mongoose" was later written using the Sumerian symbol for her name.[334] According to a Babylonian popular saying, when a mouse fled from a mongoose into a serpent's hole, it announced, "I bring you greetings from the snake-charmer!"[334] A creature resembling a mongoose also appears in Old Babylonian glyptic art,[334] but its significance is not known.[334]
Ningirima Ningirama was a deity associated with magic who was invoked for protection against snakes.[334] He or she was conflated with Ningilin, the deity of mongooses, at an early date.[334]
Lagash[335] Ningishzida is a god who normally lives in the Underworld.[325] He is the son of Ninazu and his name may be etymologically derived from a phrase meaning "Lord of the Good Tree".[325] In the Sumerian poem, The Death of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh dies and meets Ningishzida, along with Dumuzid, in the Underworld.[335] Gudea, the Sumerian king of the city-state of Lagash, revered Ningishzida as his personal protector.[335] In the myth of Adapa, Dumuzid and Ningishzida are described as guarding the gates of the highest Heaven.[336] Ningishzida was associated with the constellation Hydra.[98]
Ninkasi Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer.
Ninkurra Ninkurra is the daughter of Enki and Ninsar.[337] After having sex with her father Enki, Ninkurra gave birth to Uttu, the goddess of weaving and vegetation.[337]
Ninmena Ninmena is a Sumerian mother goddess whose name means "Lady of the Crown".[79][337] She may just be another name for Ninhursag.[79][337]
Ninmug Ninmug is the wife of the god Ishum or the god Hendursag, who may be the same deity.[242]
Ninnisig Ninnisig is the wife of Erragal.[283]
Ninsar Ninsar is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag.[338] After having sex with her father Enki, Ninsar gave birth to Ninkurra.[337]
É-eš-bar-zi-da temple in Ur and other temples in Sippar, Larsa, and Uruk[339] Ninsianna is the Sumerian deity of the planet Venus.[339] She was originally a goddess, but was sometimes later viewed as a god.[339] She is described in one text as the "holy torch who fills the heavens"[339] and was frequently associated with haruspicy.[339] Her worship is first attested during the Third Dynasty of Ur and she continued to be venerated until the Seleucid Period (312 BC – 63 BC).[339] Especially in later texts, she is often subsumed as an aspect of Inanna-Ishtar.[339]
Ninsikila Ninsikila is the husband of the goddess Lisin.[265] Later, his name was mistranslated as the name of a goddess and he became regarded as female.[265]
Uruk[114] Ninsun is the divine consort of Lugalbanda, the deified king of Uruk, and the mother of the hero Gilgamesh.[189]
Nintu Nintu is a Sumerian mother goddess associated with childbirth.[340] Her name literally means "Lady of Birth".[79] She may just be an aspect of Ninhursag.[79]
Der[143] Nirah is the sukkal, or personal attendant, of the god Ištaran.[143] He was identified with snakes[143] and may appear in the form of a snake on kudurrus.[143]
Numushda Kazallu[272] Numushda is a god who was associated with the city of Kazallu.[272] His worship is attested from the Early Dynastic Period,[272] but his cult seems to have ceased at the end of the Old Babylonian Period.[272] He was believed to be the son of the moon-god Nanna and may have been regarded as a storm deity.[272] In the myth of The Marriage of Martu, Numushda's unnamed daughter insists on marrying the nomadic desert god Martu, despite his unattractive lifestyle.[272]
Nungal Ekur temple in Nippur[272] Nungal, also known as Manungal, was the daughter of Ereshkigal.[272] Her husband was the god Birtum.[272] She later became seen as an aspect of Nintinugga.[272]
Nusku Harran[272] Nusku is the god of fire and light.[272] He was the son and minister of Enlil.[272] The god Gibil is sometimes described as his son.[272] Nusku's main symbol was a lit oil lamp.[272] He was a member of a group of deities that were worshipped in Harran during the Neo-Assyrian Period by the predominately Old Aramaic-speaking population there.[272]
Isin, Nippur, and Larag[19] Pabilshag is a god whose worship is attested from the Early Dynastic Period onwards.[19] He was believed to be the son of Enlil and the husband of Ninisina, the patron goddess of Isin.[19] In some texts, he is identified with Ninurta or Ningirsu.[19] One Sumerian poem describes Pabilshag's journey to Nippur.[19] Pabilshag was believed to be the constellation Sagittarius.[19]
Šala Karkar[315] Šala, also known as Medimša[341] ("having beautiful limbs")[155] was the wife of the weather god Adad.[315] She was a goddess of rain, and was often depicted naked on cylinder seals.[155]
Sarpanit Esagil in Babylon[342] Sarpanit was the wife of Marduk.[49] Her name was most likely derived from Sarpan, a village near Babylon, which in a myth about her marriage to Marduk was given to her by her father Enlil.[222]
Šarrat-Dēri Der[143] Šarrat-Dēri is the wife of Ištaran, the local god of the Sumerian city-state of Der.[143] Her name means "Queen of Der".[143]
Shara E-mah temple in Umma and possibly also Tell Agrab[343] Shara was a local deity associated with the city of Umma, where his main temple was the E-mah.[343] A fragment of a stone bowl inscribed with his name discovered in the rubbish dump at Tell Agrab, northeast of Babylon, indicates that he may have also been worshipped there.[343] He was also a warrior god and is referred to as a "hero of An".[343] In the Babylonian myth of Anzû, Shara is one of the warrior gods who is asked to retrieve the Tablet of Destinies, but refuses.[343] In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Shara is one of the three deities who come to greet her upon her return.[343] In the myth of Lugalbanda and in a single building inscription from the Third Dynasty of Ur, Shara is described as Inanna's "son",[343] a tradition which runs directly contrary to the usual portrayal of Inanna as youthful and without offspring.[85]
Sherida Sippar and Larsa[343][344] Sherida, later known as Aya, was the goddess of light and the wife of the sun-god Utu.[343][305] She was closely associated with sexuality and fertility.[343][305] She was especially popular during the Old Babylonian Period and the Neo-Babylonian Period (626 BC – 539 BC).[343]
Shullat Shullat was an attendant of the sun god Shamash. His function as an attendant was in the capacity of personal security of the greater god Adad, as described and shown tablet 11 lines 98-100 of the Epic of Gilgamesh (together with Ḫanish fulfilling a dual function in that capacity).[345]
Shul-pa-e Shul-pa-e's name means "youthful brilliance",[343] but he was not envisioned as youthful god.[343] According to one tradition, he was the consort of Ninhursag, a tradition which contradicts the usual portrayal of Enki as Ninhursag's consort.[343][346] In one Sumerian poem, offerings are made to Shul-pa-e in the Underworld[343] and, in later mythology, he was one of the demons of the Underworld.[343]
Shul-utula Shul-utula was a tutelary deity known only as the personal deity to Entemena, king of the city of Eninnu.[347]
Sirtur Sirtur was a goddess of sheep known from inscriptions and passing comments in texts. She eventually became syncretised with the goddess, Ninsun.[348] In some texts, she is described as the mother of Dumuzid.[349]
Šul-šagana Lagash[302] Šul-šagana is the son of Bau and Ninĝirsu.[302]
Siduri Siduri is a wise goddess who was believed to keep an alehouse at the edge of the world.[346] In the earlier Old Babylonian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh, she attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh from his quest for immortality,[350] instead urging him to be content with the simple pleasures in life.[350] Her name means "She is my Rampart".[346]
Silili Silili is an obscure goddess who was apparently the mother of all horses.[346] She is only attested once in the Epic of Gilgamesh.[346]
Sumugan Sumugan is an obscure "god of the plain", who is briefly referenced in the Sumerian poem The Dispute between Cattle and Grain.[266]
Tashmetu Kalhu[351] In Assyrian mythology, Tashmetu is the divine consort of Nabu, the god of scribes and wisdom;[351] in Babylonian mythology, this role is instead assigned to the goddess Nanaya.[351] Tashmetu is associated with wisdom and sexual attractiveness, a quality which she shares with Inanna and Nanaya.[351] A poetic composition from the Library of Ashurbanipal describes how, in one ritual, Nabu and Tashmetu's statues would be brought together for a "marriage ceremony".[351] One extant letter describes how, after their wedding, Tashmetu and Nabu stayed in the bedchamber for six days and seven nights, during which time they were served an elaborate feast.[351] Tashmetu is attested relatively late[351] and is not mentioned in texts prior to the Old Babylonian Period.[351]
Uraš Nippur[309] Uraš is the earliest attested consort of Anu;[50][57] she is described in Sumerian texts dating to the third millennium BC.[50][57] Her role as Anu's consort was later ascribed to Ki, the personification of the earth.[50][57]
Uraš Dilbat[352] While in texts from Nippur Uraš was an earth goddess, in Dilbat it was the name of an unrelated male god, husband of Ninegal, who served as the city's tutelary deity.[309]
Uttu is the Sumerian goddess of weaving.[82] The same cuneiform symbol used to write her name was also used to write the Sumerian word for "spider",[82] indicating that Uttu was probably envisioned as a spider spinning a web.[82] She appears primarily in the myth of Enki and Ninsikila, in which she resists the sexual advances of her father Enki by ensconcing herself inside her web,[353] but he convinces her to let him in using a gift of fresh produce and the promise that he will marry her.[353] Enki then intoxicates her with beer and rapes her.[353] She is rescued by Enki's wife Ninhursag,[353] who removes Enki's semen from her vagina and plants it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants, which Enki later eats.[353]

Monsters and apotropaic spirits

Name Image Associated god(s) Details
Anzû (Imdugud)
Ninurta[354] Imdugud, later known as Anzû, is an enormous bird-like monster with the head of a lion described as so huge that the flapping of its wings was thought to be the cause of sandstorms and whirlwinds.[354] Imdugud probably originated as the personification of atmospheric fog.[354] In some descriptions, he has a "beak like a saw", indicating that he sometimes had the head of a bird.[354] In Sumerian mythology, Imdugud steals the sacred mes (the clay tablets recording all the aspects of civilization) from Enki.[354] In Akkadian mythology, he steals the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil.[354] In both stories, the creature is challenged by Ninurta, who defeats him and returns the stolen property to its rightful owner.[354] In the Sumerian story of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, Imdugud is one of several creatures that come to inhabit the huluppu tree planted by Inanna[355][356][357] and is driven off by the hero Gilgamesh.[356][357]
Bašmu Ereshkigal, Ninazu, Ningishzida, Tishpak;[358] Ishara[359] Bašmu ("venomous snake") was a mythical horned snake who played an apotropaic role in Mesopotamian religion.[360] While in some contexts its name can be a generic word designating any mythical snake or dragon, as early as in Gudea's inscriptions it was also understood as a specific creature.[361] Some texts indicate that bašmu possessed forelegs.[362] A largely anlogous creature was the muššàtùr, depicted as a horned cobra.[363]
Bull of Heaven
The Bull of Heaven is a mythical beast that Ishtar demands from her father Anu in both the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven and in Tablet VI of the Standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances.[364] Anu gives it to her and she unleashes it on the world, causing mass destruction.[364] Gilgamesh and Enkidu eventually slay the bull.[364] The Bull of Heaven is identified with the constellation Taurus[364] and the reason why Enkidu hurls the bull's thigh at Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh after defeating it may be an effort to explain why the constellation seems to be missing its hind quarters.[364]
Utu/Shamash[365] Girtablullu were creatures with the upper body of a human (lu-ulu, "untamed man") and the lower body of a scorpion (gir-tab) believed to serve the sun god Utu in Sumerian mythology, and later his Akkadian counterpart Shamash.[365] In the Epic of Gilgamesh a scorpionman and a scorpionwoman guard the gate through which the sun rises and sets each day, but it's likely this motif existed earlier independently from this myth.[365] Unlike most other apotropaic creatures, a male girtablullu was also often accompanied by his feminine counterpart in apotropaic rituals.[365]
Hanbi Hanbi is the father of the demon-god Pazuzu.[366]
Humbaba was a monster residing in the Cedar Forest defeated by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh.[367] Sculptures of Humbaba's head are attested in an apotropaic role from Mesopotamian temples.[367]
Kulullu Enki/Ea[368] Kulullu ("fish man") was an apotropaic creature depicted a centaur-like fish-man.[369] In one text it hads the head of a kissugu, a creature whose identity is currently unknown, rather than a human.[368] Kulullu was described as a servant of Ea who carries a vessel from which it could pour a liquid symbolizing abundance and prosperity.[368] In Kalhu a pair of kulullu statues (one male and one female) guarded the temple of Nabu.[368]
Utu/Shamash[370] Kusarikku ("bison man") was a creature depicted as a human-faced bison standing on its hind legs,[371] associated with the sun god Utu.[370] Depictions of kusarikku alongside lahmu were sometimes incorrectly interpreted as Enkidu and Gilgamesh respectively in the past.[372]
Enki/Ea;[373] Marduk[374] Lahmu ("hairy one") was a type of apotropaic creature.[375] He was originally associated with Enki and later with Marduk.[374] On cylinder seals Lahmu was sometimes depicted as a fisherman.[376] In mythical texts, the god Enki/Ea is sometimes said to have 50 lahmu serving him.[376] During the Neo-Assyrian Period (911 BC – 609 BC), figurines of Lahmu, who is depicted with long hair and a long, curled beard, were placed under the foundations of houses and temples to protect against demons and pestilence.[374] Lahmu is closely associated with the kusarikku or "bull-man".[374] In the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, a singular Lahmu and his consort Lahamu (whose name is derived from the same root) are a primordial couple.[374]
Lamashtu was a goddess with the "head of a lion, the teeth of a donkey, naked breasts, a hairy body, hands stained (with blood?), long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of Anzû."[313] She was believed to feed on the blood of human infants[313] and was widely blamed as the cause of miscarriages and cot deaths.[313] Although Lamashtu has traditionally been identified as a demoness,[377] the fact that she could cause evil on her own without the permission of other deities strongly indicates that she was seen as a goddess in her own right.[313] Mesopotamian peoples protected against her using amulets and talismans.[313] She was believed to ride in her boat on the river of the Underworld[313] and she was associated with donkeys.[313] She was believed to be the daughter of An.[313]
Ninazu, Ningishzida; Tishpak; Marduk, Nabu; Ashur[181] Mušḫuššu ("furious snake" or "aweful snake") was a dragon-like creature (sometimes a lion-dragon hybrid), depicted as a servant of various gods in Mesopotamian art.[363] It was originally associated with Ninazu and, by extension, with his son Ningishzida (in Lagash); after Tishpak replaced Ninazu as the city god of Eshnunna he also started to be associated with his serpentine symbolic animals.[181] In the Middle Babylonian period Marduk started to be associated with the mušḫuššu, possibly in reflection of Hammurabi's conquest of Eshnunna; his son Nabu was later associated with it too.[378] Marduk's association with it was in turn transferred to Ashur after Sennacherib's destruction of Babylon.[378] The apotropaic use of of its depictions was likely connected to the belief that it served as a fearless protector of its divine masters, fighting evil on their behalf.[378]
Pazuzu is a demonic god who was well known to the Babylonians and Assyrians throughout the first millennium BC.[19] He is shown with "a rather canine face with abnormally bulging eyes, a scaly body, a snake-headed penis, the talons of a bird and usually wings."[19] He was believed to be the son of the god Hanbi.[366] He was a beneficent entity who protected against winds bearing pestilence[19] and he was thought to be able to force Lamashtu back to the Underworld.[379] Amulets bearing his image were positioned in dwellings to protect infants from Lamashtu[366] and pregnant women frequently wore amulets with his head on them as protection from her.[366] Ironically, Pazuzu appears in The Exorcist films as the demon that possesses the little girl.[366]
Sebitti Nergal,[380] Narundi[381] A group of 7 antropomorphic[382] figures variously described as servants of Nergal, as sons of Enmesharra, as gods of foreign nation (Elam, Gutium, etc.) or as astral or atmosphetic spirits serving the gods, or as a combination of some of the above.[381] The Elamite goddess Narundi was regarded as their sister in Mesopotamia.[381] While destructive, the Sebitti weren't necessarily regarded as evil.[383] They played an apotropaic role, appearing for example in rituals meant to protect houses from demons.[381] In apotropaic contexts they were described as armed with hatchets.[384] A possibly analogous group, additionally identified with the Pleiades, is described as Inanna's "seven-headed mace" in one text.[382]
Suhurmašu Enki/Ea[368] Suhurmašu was a creature likely imagined simply as a type of fish by the Sumerians, but as a fish-goat hybrid by the Akkadians.[385] A Sumerian text refers to it as as "the lofty purufication priest of the Apsu," and in apotropaic rituals it was associated with exorcisms.[385] It was also used to symbolically represent Ea on kudurru.[385] Unlike many other apotropaic creatures, it doesn't appear as a member of Tiamat's army defeated by Marduk in Enuma Elish, which might indicate it was viewed as more peaceful than other similar beings.[385]
Ishkur/Adad[386] Ugallu ("big day" or "big weather beast") was a class of beings in Mesopotamian mythology, attested after the Ur III period.[378] The term ugallu could refer to multiple types of creatures,[378] and both benevolent and malevolent character was assigned to them in various texts.[387] Ugallu was depicted as a "lion demon," with the body of a man, head of a lion and bird-like claws.[387] This class of beings was likely viewed as enforcers of divine will.[388] Due to their fearsome characters they were viewed as a source of protection as well, and as such appear on apotropaic amulets.[389] Similar leonine creatures were sometimes depicted or described as servings the gods (notably Ishkur, Ishtar, Marduk and Ninurta) as mounts or pulling their chariots.[388]
Uridimmu Marduk and Sarpanit[390] Uridimmu ("mad dog" or "mad lion") was an apotropaic creature in Mesopotamian mythology.[389] Next to nothing is known about its history prior the Middle Babylonian period, but in texts from this era it was associated with Marduk and his wife Sarpanit, and was believed to serve as their gatekeeper.[391] An apotropaic ritual involving a figurine of uridimmu made from cedar wood prescribes praying to Marduk and Sarpanit to bestow healing powers upon the representation of the creature, and describes it as their faithful servant capable of interceding with them on behalf of humans.[390] The ritual also states that Sarpanit makes the uridimmu well disposed towards the patient treated with apotropaic magic.[391]
Urmahlullu was a apotrapaic creature with the lower body of a lion and upper body of a man, attested mostly in Assyria.[392] Depictions are late (13th century BCE or later) and uncommon, and it's doubtful if any role was assigned to it in mythology.[392] Apotropaic rituals nonetheless occasionally refer to it.[369]
Ušumgallu Nabu;[362] Ninkilim[393] Ušumgallu ("prime venomous snake") was an apotropaic snake monster similar to bašmu.[362] In the god list An-Anum, it's the sukkal of Ninkilim,[393] while in some later texts it's stated to be Nabu's dragon instead of mušḫuššu.[362]

Foreign deities in Mesopotamia

Name Image Place of origin Details
Ahura Mazda
Persia Under Sasanian rule, a number of fire temples of Ahura Mazda were erected in modern Iraq, for example in Irbil and Mada'in.[394]
Allatum (Allani)[395]
Hurrian areas, possibly Haššum in particular[395] Allani, in Mesopotamia known as Allatum, was the Hurrian goddess of the underworld. She was introduced in Mesopotamia in the Ur III period as an independent deity.[396] She had at least one temple, likely located in Ur.[395] She continued to be worshiped in the Old Babylonian period.[397] In later periods she was equated with,[398] and eventually fully assimilated into Ereshkigal.[399] Some documents associate her with Ishara;[395] in Hurrian sources they are well attested as a pair due to some shared functions.[400][401] She is not to be confused with Alla or Alla-Gula, sukkal of Ningishzida.[395]
Anahita Persia According to Berossos, the cult of Anahita was introduced by Artaxerxes I to many cities in the Mesopotamian part of his empire, including Babylon.[402]
Ashratu Amorite areas[403] Ashratu (or Ashiratu in documents from Larsa[404]) was an Amorite goddess who in Mesopotamia came to be associated with Amurru.[403] In addition to being envisioned as a couple, they shared an association with mountains[405] and steppes.[406] According to Steve A. Wiggins, while the names of the Mesopotamian Ashratu and Ugaritic Athirat are cognate, they weren't entirely the same deity, but merely developed in parallel from one source.[407] She was described as "daughter in law of the god An."[408] A temple dedicated to her, Ehilikalamma ("House of the luxury of the land") existed in Babylon.[409] In past scholarship Ashratu was incorrectly assumed to be connected to Ishtar due to a shared epithet - however, it was applied to a wide variety of gods including Marduk and Nergal, and as such cannot serve as grounds for claims about identification of these two deities with each other, as many epithets were shared between deities not necessarily regarded as analogous to each other.[410]
Belet Nagar Nagar, Shehkha[411] Belet Nagar was the tutelary goddess of the Syrian city of Nagar.[397] She was introduced in Mesopotamia in the Ur III period, likely due to her connection to kingship and due to her role as a divine witness to commercial treaties.[412] It's possible that "Haburitum" known from similar Mesopotamian sources and the Hurrian Nabarbi are the same goddess.[413]
Belet Šuhnir and Belet Terraban Šuhnir and Terraban[414] A pair of tutelary goddesses venerated in the Ur III period, most likely originating in the area north of Eshnunna, beyond the borders of sphere of direct Mesopotamian influence, where the corresponding cities were located.[415] A seal associates both of them with Tishpak.[415] Known festivals dedicated to them have been described as "lugubrious" by researchers, and included a "wailing ceremony," "the festival of chains" and a celebration known only as "place of disappearance." It's been proposed that these rituals might reflect an unknown myth about descent to the underworld or perhaps capture of these two deities.[415] They almost always appear as a pair, though sporadic references to Belet Šuhnir alone are known from Mesopotamian documents,[416] while Belet Terraban is attested on her own in Susa during the reign of Puzur-Inshushinak.[417]
Egypt[418] Bes was the Egyptian god of play and recreation.[419] He was envisioned as a "full-faced, bow-legged dwarf with an oversized head, goggle eyes, protruding tongue, bushy tail and usually a large feathered crown as a head-dress."[419] Representations of an almost identical dwarf-god became widespread across the Near East during the first millennium BC and are common in Syria, Palestine, and Arabia.[420] This god's name in Assyrian and Babylonian may have been Pessû.[420] Bes seems to have been the only Egyptian god who became widely worshipped throughout Mesopotamia.[359] His role in Mesopotamian religion was however closer to that of a type of apotropaic creature (native examples of which include lahmu, kusarikku, mushussu etc.) than a deity proper.[421]
Dagan Tuttul[422] and Terqa[423] Dagan was the main god of the middle Euphrates area, regarded as a god of prosperity[424] and "father of gods."[425] While his cult centers were never major political powers in their own right, he was nonetheless a popular deity[426] and his cult had international importance in the Ebla period already.[427] Due to their analogous position in corresponding pantheons, he and Enlil were partially conflated.[425] However, Dagan had a distinct purpose in the Mesopotamian pantheon as well, as the god granting rulers control over western lands.[428] In Nippur he shared a temple with Ishara,[429] though contrary to conclusions in older scholarship these two deities were not regarded as a couple, and merely shared a similar area of origin.[430]
Humban Elam[359] Humban was an Elamite god associated with the concept of kingship and divine protection (kiten).[431] In Mesopotamian sources he appeared only sporadically in the Neo-Assyrian period, and in god lists was regarded as analogous to Enlil based on their shared role as gods who grant authority to human rulers.[432] Past researchers sometimes incorrectly assumed he was one and the same as a distinct Elamite god, Napirisha.[433] Evidence from the Persepolis Administrative Archives shows that his worship was adopted by Persians as well from the Elamites.[434]
Elam, especially Susa[435] Inshushinak (from Sumerian: "Lord of Susa"[162])was one of the main Elamite gods. He was associated with kingship and the underworld,[436] and served as the tutelary god of Susa.[158] In some Mesopotamian texts he appears as an underworld god, for example in the god list An-Anum he can be found among the gods forming the entourage of Ereshkigal.[129] His assistants were Akkadian deities Lagamar and Ishmekarab.[436][437] Frans Wiggermann proposes that Inshushinak and the Mesopotamian gods Ishtaran, Ninazu, Ningishzida and Tishpak can be collectively described as "transtigridian snake gods" existing on the boundary between Elamite and Mesopotamian culture based on their shared connection to judgment, the afterlife and snakes, as well as similar locations of their major cult centers.[438]
Inzak (Enzag) Dilmun[439] The Sumerians regarded Inzak as the chief god of the Dilmunite pantheon,[439] but the Dilmunites themselves regarded him as a god of Agaru, a land in eastern Arabia.[439] His main cult center was on Failaka Island,[439] where a temple was dedicated to him.[439] He appears, alongside his wife Meskilak, in documents from Nippur and in Šurpu.[440] During the Neo-Babylonian Period, Inzak was identified with Nabu[439] under the latter's name Mu'ati.[440]
Ebla,[441] Hurrian areas[442] An Eblaite goddess of pre-Semitic and pre-Hurrian origin.[443] She was among the western deities introduced in Mesopotamia in the Ur III period, and shared temples with Belet Nagar in Ur[257] and with Dagan in Nippur.[429] Due to association with Ishtar she developed into a love goddess,[444] associated with marriage.[138] Her symbols were bashmu, otherwise mostly a symbol of underworld gods,[358] and scorpions,[359] also associated with marriage.[445] According to a Hurrian source she was viewed as a daughter of Enlil.[446]
Jabru Elam? A god similar to Anu or Enlil purported to be of Elamite origin, known exclusively from Mesopotamian sources.[447]
Hurrian areas, especially Urkesh[448] One of the main gods of the Hurrians,[449] regarded as partially analogous to Enlil (and Dagan[450]) due to his role as "father of the gods."[451] He had a cthtonic character and was associated with grain and prosperity.[424] In Mesopotamia he appears in the Assyrian takultu text as the god of the town Taite.[448]
Meskilak Dilmun[439] Meskilak was a Dilmunite goddess and the wife of Inzak.[452] The Sumerians viewed her as a daughter of Enki and Ninhursag under the name Ninsikila, but later on she was identified with Nabu's wife Tashmetum.[440] She was sometimes referred to as Nin-Dilmun, meaning "Lady of Dilmun".[439]
Hurrian areas A Hurrian goddess possibly analogous to Belet Nagar.[449] In Mesopotamian sources attested in an Assyrian takultu text alongside Kumarbi.[448]
Susa An Elamite goddess known from Susa who in Mesopotamia was regarded as analogous to Ishtar or Nanaya and developed a distinct apotropaic role as early as in the Old Babylonian period.[381] Mesopotamians viewed her as sister of the Sebitti, equated with "Divine Seven of Elam" - a Mesopotamian grouping of Elamite gods - in god lists.[381]
Ninatta and Kulitta
Hurrian areas Musician goddesses always mentioned as a pair who were handmaidens of Shaushka.[453] In Assyria they were incorporated into Ishtar's entourage in her temple in Ashur.[448]
Pinikir Elam[359] An Elamite goddess regarded as analogous to Ishtar by modern researchers,[454] but incorrectly assumed to be an alternate name of Kiririsha in the past.[455] She was also worshiped by Hurrians in Syria and Anatolia, and Gary Beckman proposes that her worship was transmitted there from a Mesopotamian source.[456] An Akkadian god list known from a copy from Emar indicates she was equated with Ninsianna.[456]
Nineveh, Nuzi and other Hurrian centers Shaushka was a Hurrian goddess regarded as analogous to Ishtar ("Ishtar of Subartu"[457] or "Ishtar of Nineveh"[458]). Despite her origin, the oldest known attestations of both Shaushka and her main cult center, Nineveh, come from Mesopotamian, rather than Hurrian, documents.[459] She is attested in religious documents from the Ur III period, but her worship evidently persisted in later times too, as she appears in a list of offerings from Old Babylonian Isin.[460] A temple dedicated to her was located in Babylon as well.[461] She influenced the later Assyrian Ishtar of Nineveh,[462] though the latter also shows influence from Ninlil.[463]
Shuqamuna and Shumaliya
Kassite homeland in the Zagros A pair of Kassite gods regarded as the tutelary deities of the Kassite dynasty of Babylon.[464] They were depicted on a number of kudurru in the symbolic form of birds sitting on a perch.[465]
Simut Elam[72] Simut was an Elamite god associated with Mars,[48] regarded as herald of the gods. His name was used as a theophoric element in Old Babylonian personal names, while god lists associate him with Nergal.[466] It's possible the Akkadian goddess Manzat, who became a popular deity in Elam, was regarded as his wife.[317]
Tishpak Eshnunna Tishpak was a god who replaced Ninazu as the tutelary deity of Eshnunna.[175] He shared most of his functions and attributes (ex. plough, two maces and various snakes and serpentine monsters such as mushussu).[467] It's agreed that he had foreign roots.[468] While in early scholarly works Hurrian origin (and a connection to Teshub) was proposed for him,[469] newer sources favor an Elamite etymology for his name,[470] as well as for the name of his son Nanshak known from god lists.[471]
El, Elohim, El Shaddai, Yah
Kingdoms of Israel and Judah[472][473][474] Yahweh was the national god of the Israelites, who originally lived in the Levantine kingdoms of Israel and Judah.[472][473][474] In 586 BC, the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and deported the elite members of Judahite society to Babylon in an event known as the "Babylonian exile".[475] Modern scholars generally agree that much of the Deuteronomistic History was probably edited and redacted by Judahite priests living in Babylon during the exile.[476] The works of Second Isaiah, also written in Babylon, represent the first unambiguous Judahite declaration of the non-existence of foreign deities and proclamation of Yahweh as the sole, supreme God.[477] Much of the Torah was probably written and compiled after the exile, when the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland by the Persians.[478][479]

See also

  • List of Elamite deities
  • List of Hittite deities
  • List of Hurrian deities
  • List of sukkals


  1. Kramer 1961, pp. 32–33.
  2. Black & Green 1992, p. 93.
  3. Black & Green 1992, pp. 93–94.
  4. Black & Green 1992, pp. 130–131.
  5. Black & Green 1992, p. 130.
  6. Black & Green 1992, p. 98.
  7. Nemet-Nejat 1998, p. 185.
  8. Black & Green 1992, p. 102.
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