The Lapis Gates of Sumer

The Sumarian Calendar

Names and dates are taken from "The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East" by Mark Cohen. The monthly observances are compiled by me after putting together bits and pieces of acts that Cohan discusses in his book. Any mistakes are mine, not his.

(New Moon, the first sighting of the new crescent, is the beginning of the month. Invisible Moon, Dark Moon, is the end of the month.)
Sumerian Month
Gregorian Month
Monthly Observances

1 Bara za Gar
(The Spring Zag-mu Festival at equinox, Shekunku-festival at Full Moon)


Harvest may start for any winter crops, barley harvest, month of first offerings. Time of making pledges, taking inventory, and distributing of foodstuffs. Giving gifts and having a party at Zag-mu would be appropriate.

2 Ezem Gusiu
(Gusisu-festival at Full Moon)

Onset of the agricultural cycle at Full Moon. Cleaning tools and preparing for the opening of the land and sowing of seeds. The festival is named for Ninurta (Ningirsu) in his Farmer aspect (he’s also a storm god), so it would be appropriate to give him a place of honor for the festival, even if he isn’t one of the gods of your temple.

3 Sig Ga
Nothing special happening, just hard work, getting the old swept out and making way for the new. It would not be inappropriate to make a warm welcome for Nanna-Suen’s return at New Moon at the beginning of the month.

4 Su-numun
(akiti-Su-numun festival at Full Moon)

Plowing begins and continues for the next four months. A time of industry. New Moon celebrations at the beginning of the month, and the akiti-Su-numun festival at Full Moon to celebrate the beginning of plowing season.

5 Ne Izi Gar
(Ne-izi-gar festival at Full Moon –the Ghost Festival)

The month when lamps and braziers are lit. Fires are kindled to guide the spirits of the dead back to their families for a ceremonial meal. After the meal, the gods are thanked and the spirits released to return to the underworld which they would do throughout the rest of the month. Offerings of appeasement would be set out to lure away the angry/bad spirits.

6 Kin Inanna
(Ezem-Inanna-ka, middle of the month)

Washing and consecration of the goddesses (via their statues), preparation for the coming change of season. Autumn rains at the end of the month start the cooler season, moistening the ground and helping the vines to grow strong

7 Duku
(Du-ku Festival just before Invisible Moon, with the Autumnal Zag-mu Festival at the equinox.)

Brazier festivals, festivals of the storm gods. Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld, The Sacred Mound festival, though somber, is to celebrate the ancient, primordial ancestors, En-duku-ga and Nin-duku-ga, Lord and Lady of the Sacred Mound. A remembrance of those who are lost to us, and a remembrance of their achievements. A common offering to the Duku is milk.

8 Apin Du-a
No special observances. Plowing is complete, it is time to put tools away and relax from working. New Moon rites for Nanna-Suen’s return at the beginning of the month.

9 Gan Gan-e
(Ezem-gan-gan-e just before Invisible Moon at end of month)

A time of storms. Ninurta the storm god, Ishkur, Adad. It would not be without reason to have a drumming and brazier festival.

10 Ab-ba-e
The barley has been planted, Ashnan the grain goddess would be appropriate to honor, also, as well as Ninkasi, the goddess of barley beer. (Yes, there’s a goddess of beer)

11 Ud Duru
Standard celebration for New Moon.

12 Se Kin Ku
(akiti-Sekinku festival at Full Moon)
The barley harvest. A time of reaping. The first cutting of the grains is celebrated at Full Moon akiti-Sekinku with offerings to the gods, to Ashnan the grain goddess, and to the Sacred Mound.


Intro to Sumer

The Gods

The Texts

Sumerian Calendar

Ancient Rites