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11/2/2008

1 Sumerian Myth
Enki and Ninhursanga
2 Background
The archaeological and linguistic record strongly suggests that the Sumerians
originated somewhere in south-central Asia and began to settle in the land between
the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around 3500 BCE.
3 Sumerian Accomplishments
The Sumerians flourished in this environment and, over the course of the next few
centuries, created the world’s first major civilization.
4 Characteristics of their Civilization
In Sumer, the wheel, kiln-fired pottery, and written language were invented.
They soon refined and extended these inventions to produce the world’s first large
cities, irrigation systems, military strategy, monumental art, codes of law and ethics,
epic literature, formal education, and awe-inspiring works in silver, gold, and precious
and semi-precious stones.
5 Sumerian Worldview
Given the paramount importance of writing to the Sumerians, it is not surprising that
they believed that the power of the gods resided in the divine word.
6 Sumerian Pantheon
The Sumerians believed that the universe was administered by a pantheon of living
beings similar to humans in form but superior to them in nature and power.
There were deities of sun, moon, and the other celestial object, of earth, water,
mountains, and steppes, of Heaven and the Underworld, of cities, farms, and such
objects as pickaxes, brickmolds, and plows.
7 Ranking of the Deities
Of these many deities, those ranking highest were
• Earth (Ki, who later became known as Ninhursag)
• Sky (An, the god of the primordial deep and captain of the heavenly host)
• Air (Enlil, who eventually became ruler of the gods)
• Water (Enki, who eventually became known as the god of wisdom)
Of lesser rank, but nevertheless of great cultural importance were
• the Moon god, Nanna, the sun-god Utu, the Queen of the morning and evening
stars, Inanna, and the rest of the sky gods, the Anuna.
8 Summary of Myth
 Enki is depicted as a sexually promiscuous god who impregnates the mother goddess
as well as their subsequent offspring.
When one of the matriarchs sees Enki’s seed in one of the descendents, she takes the
seeds and plants them resulting in plants.
Enki eats the plants, gets sick and then is cured by Ninhursanga.
9 Enki and his Me
Enki was, even among the Anuna, believed to be the master of words and thus it is
through his me (pronounced may) that civilization arises.
The me, like other divine utterances, can be likened to computer “source code” for
they are the rules that direct the electrons inside your p.c. to perform its various tasks.
10 Enki and his Me
In cosmological terms, the divine word provides the instructions that separate form
from chaos and impart the intrinsic character and limitations of all divine, human, and
natural entities and activities.
The divine word was considered both the animating power and defining logic behind
all things in the universe.
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all things in the universe.


11 More on Enki
Enki is the god of the Sweet Waters from the Abzu, or the sacred moisture that comes
from within the earth, and that is the source of life to plants and all sorts of
vegetation, ponds, lakes and rivers.
12 More on Enki
He is also the god of Wisdom, the Magician and Master of all Crafts, the son of Anu,
the Skyfather, and Nammu, the Waters of the Sea that give birth to everything there is
and twin brother of Ereshkigal, the Great Goddess of the Underworld.
13 Ninhursanga
Sumerian name of one of the “mother goddesses.”
She is principally a fertility goddess.
Temple hymn sources identify her as the 'true and great lady of heaven' and kings of
Sumer were 'nourished by Ninhursag's milk'.
She is inseminated by Enki.
14 Parallels with Genesis
Several comparisons have been made between the mythology of Ninhursag and the
story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis.
Some scholars hold that the idea of an Edenic paradise is of Sumerian origin.
It was known as Dilmun, the land of Ninhursag, Enki, and the other immortals.
15 More Parallels
Significantly, in Genesis, both the Tigris and Euphrates are mentioned in reference to
the location of the Garden of Eden, where God walked the Earth.
Other creation stories involving Ninhursag speak of her as creating humans out of
clay, paralleling God's creation of Adam out of clay.
16 More Parallels
Enki, the god of fresh water, and Utu, the god of the sun, cooperate to bring life-
giving water to Dilmun, a process suggestive of the biblical creation account: "There
went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground" (Genesis
2:6).
Enki's lust for sex and his eating of the sacred plants in the Sumerian paradise, after
which he is cursed by Ninhursag, echoes Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit
in the Garden of Eden, after which they are cursed by God.
17 More Parallels
Finally, in the Sumerian myth one of Enki's diseased body parts that Ninhursag heals
and conceives through was his rib.
Ninhursag soon gives birth to Nin-ti, ("Lady Rib"), a motif that is echoed in the Biblical
story of Eve, who was taken from Adam's rib.
18 Sources
http://volker-doormann.org/enki05.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/indie/green_economics/MythsandReligion.pdf