The Lapis Gates of Sumer

Intro to Sumer

The Gods

The Texts

Sumerian Calendar

Ancient Rites



An: god of heaven, pantheon leader prior to 2500 BC. The word "an" means "heaven." Son of Nammu.

Ashnan: goddess of grain fields. Sister of Lahar.

Dumuzi: Demi-god in charge of the stables and sheepfolds, husband of Inanna. Son of Enki and Sirtur

Durtur: a goddess of grains and fields, mother of Dumuzi and his sister, Geshtinana.

Emesh: god of summer. His name means "summer."

Enbilulu: the 'knower of rivers'. Oversees the sacred Tigris and Euphrates for Enki

Enki: god of water and wisdom. En=lord, ki=earth. He's the god of water because water is not only stronger than earth, but it also fertilizes the earth. Son of Nammu, the primordial Mother Goddess. The composition of Enki and the World Order claims his father as An. (lines 61-80)

Enkimdu: god of ditches and canals, placed by Enki

Enlil: god of air, pantheon leader after 2500 BC. En=lord, lil=air. Mate of Ninlil. Son of the An-Ki union. According to the composition 'Enlil and Namzidtara, he is able to take on the form of a raven.

Enten: god of winter. His name means "winter."

Ereshkigal: goddess of the underworld. Eresh=queen, ki=earth, gal=great. The "great earth" refers to the underworld. A primordial deity.

Geshtinanna: Demi-goddess in charge of the autumn vines and wine, sister to Dumuzi. Her name means Vine of Heaven. Before the yearly planting cycle was turned over to Dumuzi, Geshtinanna took half the year, from Spring to Fall Equinox. Daughter of Enki and Sirtur.

Gilgamesh: demi-god, king of Erech. His stories demonstrate a major turning point in society's view of the gods and the world as they move from Sumerian to Babylonian rule.

Gugalanna: a god, called The Bull of Heaven. Dead husband of Ereshkigal.

Huwawa: god of the cedar forest, killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Imdugud: god of thunder and lightning. A thunderbird. The primordial aspect of Ninurta before the being was separated by the growing Sumerian culture into two separate beings, Ninurta in his human form, and Imdugud in his thunderbird form.

Inanna: goddess of passion, war, prostitution, and taverns. Originally the goddess of the date granary. Daughter of Nanna and Ningal.

Ishkur: god of the winds. Maybe a son of Enlil and Ninlil, since he is an air god.

Ki: goddess, the earth herself. As An-Ki, the unified cosmic mountain which makes up earth and the universe as a whole, separated by their son, Enlil, who carried her off and begat more gods. Daughter of Nammu.

Kur: Sumerian word meaning 'mountain'. Depending on the reference, could mean the underworld or just a typical mountain.

Lahar: goddess of cattle. Sister of Ashnan.

The me: Pronounced 'may'. The laws of divine authority, the laws of the universe. Usually held by Enki, sometimes Inanna or Enlil, depending on the myth. From the me are issued gifts to civilization such as the arts

Mushdamma: god of houses and foundations

Nammu: goddess of the Watery Abyss, the Primeval Sea, the Primordial Mother. She doesn't seem to have any stories, only brief mentions, usually as Enki's mother.

Namtar: demon of fate, responsible for death.

Nanna-Suen: god of the moon. 'Nanna' refers to the full moon, Suén as the crescent, and yet a third name, Ašim-babbar, as the new light. Father to Utu and Inanna. Son of Enlil and Ninlil. Spouse is Ningal.

Nanshe: goddess of widows and orphans, a goddess of justice. Wife of Haia, who does not seem to have a job of his own.

Nergal: an underworld god, also called Meslamtaea, eventually takes over the throne of the underworld from Ereshkigal . A son of Enlil and

Ninlil. The Babylonians up-graded his status to god of the underworld after taking it away from Ereshkigal. Prior to that, he was just another underworld god. Some Assyrilogists compare him to Erra, the underworld god of petulance, and Ereshkigal's consort.

Neti: chief gatekeeper of the underworld, the scribe of the underworld.

Ningal: a goddess. Wife of Nanna. She doesn't seem to have a position of her own. This is also a general honorific for the goddesses. It means 'great lady'.

Ninazu: an underworld god, a son of Enlil and Ninlil

Ningirsu: another name for Ninurta.

Ningishzida: god of the eastern gate, the gate of morning, lord of the Good Tree.

Ninhursaga: goddess of the earth. Her name means "lady of the mountain-side". A sometime partner of Enki.

Ninkasi: goddess of barley and brewing, daughter of Enki and Ninhursaga

Ninlil: goddess of air. Nin=Lady (in older form), lil=air. Mate of Enlil.

Ninmah: goddess, 'the exalted lady'. An honorific of Ninhursaga.

Nintu: goddess, 'the lady who gave birth'

Ninurta: god of the south wind, a warrior. God of war, champion of the land. A fertility god in earlier myths. Son of Enlil and Ninlil.

Nisaba: goddess of the reeds and writing. Older translations spell her name 'Nidaba', but that spelling has since been replaced with 'Nisaba'.

Sumugan: god of the plains animals and plants, placed by Enki.

The Seven: usually refers to the main gods of the pantheon, Nanna, Utu, Inanna, An, Ki, Enlil, Enki. This list alters slightly from city to city.

Uttu: goddess of weaving. Daughter of Enki and Ninhursaga

Utu: god of the sun. Son of Nanna and Ningal, brother to Inanna.
The Gods
Many gods have what sounds like the same role. Usually, these are all the same deity, just different epithets of the one deity. For instance, earth goddesses –Ki, Ninhursaga, Ninki and Ninmah are all the same goddesses just different aspects.

Most of the myths that are attached to some of the names were taken from the The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. This is a British site, at the University of Oxford. There are a few minor variations in pronunciations: “c” is “sh”, “j” is “g”. I encourage everyone to visit the ETCSL, there are lots of goodies on it. Excellent site to bookmark.

A reminder that during this time period, demons were not necessarily bad things; they were spirits with a job to do. Demon is taken from a Greek word, daemon, meaning “spirit” which is neither good nor bad, so don't get wound up when you see the word.

Many of these gods do not have their own page, and are linked to only one story, so I recommend going to the general texts page for the full list of stories.
These little guys are worshippers. People would have an idol of themselves made to be put near altars so that the gods would see the continual attention of their people.