Transoxiana 8 - Junio 2004

Enheduanna, Daughter of King Sargon
Princess, Poet, Priestess (2300 B.C.)

Janet Roberts(*)


Enheduanna is a woman in ancient history, whose role shows the diverse demands of women of all time. Her role as poet, priestess, and princess, fulfills the contribution of a woman to the social, cultural and written literary record, and the second shows her leadership in the temple and with the community,as well as in "divine marriage" with the gods, whereas the last, princess, defines her as representative of her father and the mediator of conflict resolution within a culture split by tradition and language differences. What remains is the disc in the museum, with her performing a libration ceremony, fulfilling the rituals of her society. The disc also provides us a portrait of a Near Eastern woman, in 2300 B.C. Enheduanna represented a strong and creative personality, an educated woman, and one who fulfilled diverse roles in a complex society, not unlike women's aspirations today.


Enheduanna, born in ca. 2300 B.C., the daughter of King Sargon of Agade (2334-2290), had the distinction of setting a precedent as moon en-priestess for 500 years at Ur and Uruk in order to honor the Moon god to ensure fertility and prosperity in the land. Her father, King Sargon, of Akkad, reigned over the world's first empire extending to Persia. Most of the works of Sumerian literature are anonymous. In 2350 B.C., a gifted poet, Enheduanna wrote a cycle of hymns in the temples of Sumer, a tradition that ends with her death. She also wrote an impassioned appeal to the goddess Inanna to be reinstated in her office as high priestess of the moon god in Ur, and to have her enemies who deposed her, vanquished.

King Sargon's words are written in stone, preserved on cuneiform tablets, as are his daughter's words. However, all the compositions ascribed to Enheduanna are preserved only on later Neo-Sumerian copies. Enheduanna is the first author whose poems are highly politicized in their outrage at the downfall of her father's imperial command. The highly charged verses, which are sensual, intimate and highly personal, convey her cosmic vision and moral distress at an era which will end with their reign..

King Sargon made the first effort to expand his hegemony outside the state of Sumer. He extended his military operations from the Upper to the Lower Sea. When Sargon defeated Lugalzagesi, Ur and Uruk were his reward. To unite the empire, to legitimize his claims, and in order to mollify the traditionalists in the two cult sites in the temples at Ur and Uruk, he designated Enheduanna, his daughter, to make a dynastic marriage with the deity. His bridging of the gap in this royal sinecure between man and the gods, between the people and the ruler, takes place in the conciliatory and deliberate appointment of his daughter to the position of en-priestess. She is recognized as the virtual personification of Inanna, the primary goddess of the moon. In this manner the Semitic Ishtar would be reconciled and united in a fusion of syncretism, with Sumerian Innana.

The Sumerian city-states grew into prominence during the third millennium in southern Mesopotamia. Sacred mounds or tells were the sites of excavated temples, which were self sufficient and politically dominant entities. The official home of Enheduanna, as a priestess, was the giparu, an architectural complex at the ancient site of Ur. In an adjacent sanctuary, Enheduanna sang and prayed for the life of the king, her father and a divine agent of the gods and for her brothers in hopes that the gods would bestow prosperity upon the land. The Ningal Temple was the place in which the incarnation of the goddess, Ningal, was carried out in the sacred marriage rite. The adjacent area served as the cemetery where the ens or cult personnel and priestesses were buried. No actual tomb can be found for Enheduanna. The one grave to which a definite date can be assigned is for her servant, Adda. (Wooley, p. 27)

The British archaeologist, Sir Leonard Wooley, who directed the excavations at the Sumerian site of Ur on behalf of the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania, found the disc with Enheduanna's portrait, in 1927, in a stratified layer, near the upper level of the old Sargonid cemetery. The three inscriptions on the disc identify "Enheduanna" URI, an officer of the harem, her major domo and her scribe. (UR, p. 312), one in the undisturbed grave (PG/503) and the other, (U. 9178) in a plundered grave (UR, p. 209). The Royal Inscription (p. 272) on the former seal, reads: "ad-da Pa-e-en-he-du-an-an". "Enheduanna, zirru-priestess, wife of the god Nanna, daughter of Sargon, (king) of the world, in the temple of the goddess Innana ZA.ZA in Ur, made a (soc)le and named it: dias, table of the god An"

If we are to know more about Enheduanna, the most important evidence other than her hymns is the archaeological find, of a "calcite white moon shaped votive disc" found in several fragments in the temple of Ningal in the fill of the Isin-Larsa levels of the giparu. It survived intact into the second millennium B.C. when a complete Old Babylonian tablet copy of the inscription on the disk was made. The relief (Wooley UR p. 49) is now in the collection of the University museum of the University of Pennsylvania. One side of the carved boulder is an inscription, and on the other, a band with a carved figural relief. Wooley feels the stone was deliberately smashed and defaced, as evidenced in the pick marks. (P 49, UR) Fortunately, one flake on which Enheduanna's head was found, was undamaged and restored to the relief. The Imperial Akkadian sculptor did not break up his block of stone like his ED predecessor, in order to capture impressions of the moment, but shaped a solid block, leaving a closed outline to represent a monument in "eternal calm" (Strommenger, p. 31). The disc's significance rests in it serving as a historical monument of the time period, and as a portrait of Enheduanna, who remained in her prestigious position as en-priestess during her father's reign and through the reign of Narim, Sin, her nephew. The relief appears within a single register and thus, resembles the impressions made by cylinder seals.

Enheduanna's face is represented in profile and unstylized. Her nose is aquiline and her physiognomy, individualistic and determined. She wears the en-cap. She is the overseer of the cult ceremony, as she stands taller, in a central position. Two figures are clearly visible on the discovered disc; a third figure, which was added in reconstruction, carries the ritual-offering basket. The two accompanying figures are described alternatively, as two bald priests or as two female servants, one of which may be Adda. Enheduanna's prominence is conveyed by height rather than by frontal confrontation. Enheduanna's head actually touches the upper margin, violating "iscocephaly". (Meyer Schapiro). One reading of Enheduanna's representation on this disc is to see her acting as embodiment of the "great lady" or Ningal, the Sumerian goddess and divine consort of Nanna to maintain the cult on Ningal's behalf.

With the onset of the Akkadian period, a gradual but definite change of style in all creative art occurs. In creating representational images of rulers, Akkadian art set a pattern for ancient western art. The survival of literary texts and of a sculptural portrait and the poetic hymns of Enheduanna support this development. The literary evidence accords with the archaeological and Art historical evidence to provide us with a portrait of this Mesopotamian princess, the daughter of Sargon, and high priestess of Ur and Uruk. I would like to examine each of her roles and the significance in contributing to the portrait which survives and reconstruct her as a precursor in 2300 BC in the ancient Near East, to the more familiar 8th century models in Greece.

In examining the reconstructed disc, I want to focus on the representation of Enheduanna as a visual sculptural portrait in relief and its relation to her role function and to the literary evidence left in her hymns. Archaeological, art historical and literary evidence provide us a portrait that distinguishes her from other en-priestesses which preceded or which follow her. In investigating the nin-me-sara, the only hymn which is certainly hers, I seek to contextualize the view we have of this princess- poet-priestess in her various roles. As my subject is a royal princess, her marriage with a deity causes her to participate in the numinous. Her role as a poet, subsequently, requires her to interpret the Divine. Her role as a priestess obligates her to pay homage to worship the god.

The Disc of Enheduanna

Originally recorded as "white calcite" and then catalogued as "translucent alabaster", the disc is now labeled, in a realistic manner as "limestone". The piece measures 25.6 cm/diameter and is 7.1 cm/thick. The inscription on the back is a column of eleven letters, and identifies Enheduanna as the wife of Nanna and as the daughter of King Sargon. Although the function of the disc is not noted, it probably served as an architectural and votive element in the temple. One of the particular significances of this relief is in its portrayal of ritual.

Groenewegen-Frankfurt makes a distinction in that the presentation scene fundamentally differs from a ritual action. In presentation, man meets a god through an intermediary in a context of gaining awareness rather than ritual action. The two main figures are united by the act of recognition rather than by performance. In the presentation cylinder, a seal, the approaching individual usually wears a fringed garment draped over one shoulder and one arm is bent at the elbow in a gesture of greeting. (Ur III presentation scene: Frankfort 1939; Moortgat 1940: 269-271; {prada 8" 274-288; Legrain 1951: 329. (Winter, King/Cup)

The narrative of the cultic ceremony creates the composition for Enheduanna and the characters in relief on the disc. Each figure is individualized with naturalized proportions and appears with greater focus in a less cluttered environment. Gesture bridges and unifies the figures in a quiet dynamism. Ritual art, thus, succeeds in hyphenating the human and superhuman spheres.

The scene represented on the disc belongs" to the old Sumerian ritual but contains some new Akkadian notes." (p. 334 Burrows)The priestess wears a long robe of fleecy kaunakes instead of the shawl formerly thrown over one shoulder. Three braids in the Kish style rest on her breast. She wears a simple scarf wound like a diadem about her head in the style of the day. In the relief, Enheduanna is standing with one arm raised before the face in a Sumerian gesture of greeting known as "to let the hand be at the nose". Enheduanna is facing the purification rite and watching the libation ceremony; she does not pour the libation herself but oversees a bald, naked priest (p. 282, Burrows), who pours from a traditional spouted vessel into the "plant stand" shaped like an hour glass before a stepped altar. (Wooley, p. 334)

Power and learning in the temple were unified, as Sargon's innovation served to ally the old and powerful centers of Sumer to his Akkadian administration. Although the office of en-priestess existed in earlier ED periods, it was not necessarily royal nor did it have this political significance. (Fara and archaeielli texts) (Hall) From old Babylonian tablets we know that priestesses are active in many levels of social and economic life. This role included being an economic manager who ensures productivity. She oversees the harvest, and the storehouse, alehouse, the estates and the giparu.

Frankfort sees a greater number of definite events in the lives of men and the gods being represented in the narrative on glyptic and cylinder seals. Stylistically, simplicity and elegance, schematically formalized and delimited by religious convention, are characteristic of this period. A new idea of a gemcutter, borrowed from the sculptor" is a factor in yielding figures in highly modeled relief in this central frieze. (Wooley, UR, p. 334) Being carved in stone was a royal prerogative. Stone was costly and its monumental nature preserved the sacred drama or ritual in time.

Irene Winter reminds us that the frieze in Enheduanna's disc is "not unlike a seal rolling." We need to consider the relationship between a seal's preservation of such scenes and the comparable role of monumental sculptures and reliefs such as Ur Nammu and this disc of the en-priestess. A change in the art's form represents an accommodation in the sensibility of the artist and the demands for expression by his royal patron, who sees the world in terms of a Divine ruler and the hero. Enheduanna consolidated these roles – royal princess, divine priestess, and poet. As the Sargonic dynasty extends its political boundaries, it also expands its political boundaries, and extends its borders in artistic expression. The survival of the disc with its portrait of Enheduanna and her hymns to the gods, are testimony.

The round shape of the disc is representative of the full moon, an attribute of the Moon god, Innana, whom Enheduanna, as High Priestess, honors. The moon is considered the most constant signifier of female deities as well as a moist star, which brings rain and nourishment. (Cornfield) In the pastoral tradition, Innanna provides rains for good harvests or withholds her favor to produce droughts and destruction. The allusions in the hymns to cattle, are shown in "Great Cow" and "heavenly bull", and include dairy products such as milk and cheese, associated with fertility.

Although the moon is often portrayed as a crescent on Naram Sim's stele and on other sources such as the cylinder seals, the moon is full, when representing Ningal. There was a lunar calendar, and agriculture was conducted by determining time in days, months and years. Nanna fixes the New Moon Day"(Harris, p. 479). Different offerings are given in the temple on different days of the cycle. When the moon disappears, or lies down on the last day of the month, the most important decisions about "me's or fates were accomplished. (M. Harris, p 479). The primary role of the moon god is to determine destinies. The full moon, furthermore, represents the goddess on earth, which is descriptive of Enheduanna's function in her cultic guise. "Heduanna" means "ornament of Heaven", an epithet for the moon in its celestial, most radiant or luminous aspect.

Full Moon: "The One who brightens the Land".

A literary correspondence in the hymns addresses the full moon, as found in Kramer's translation. (P 89)

The goddess is portrayed sitting on her lofty dias on the seventh day of each month when the moon lights up the sky:

On the seventh day when the crescent moon has reached its monthly fullness.
You bathed, poured fresh water ritually over your holy countenance,
Covered your body with the long woolen garments of queen ship
Fastened battle and combat to your side, tied them into a girdle,
Seated yourself high on the lofty dias, make known there your broad authority.

An equivalency between divine right and religious ritual as well as temporal power are illustrated in this hymn, again, consolidating Enheduanna's roles.

Water Purification Rites

The cultic rite is one of the means of purification and is supported in votive inscriptions, in literary texts and by archaeological records. Donald Hall cites: obv. 9. en-su-luh-ku3-ga and refers to the Moon god," Lord of the pure washing rite" and indirectly to the en-priestess and to her role as performer of rituals. Large silver vessels found at Ur. (UR. UEII, p. 282 and pl 171.) were kept in the shrine of the Moon god in the Northwest corner of the ziggurat's first tier. A copper water vessel was used in order "to open the mouth of the statue of the god" in the New Year's Festival.


The vocabulary of costume, along with posture and positioning in space, adds to our understanding of the depiction of Enheduanna. She wears a flounced garment which flows from the shoulder and which normally clothes deities. Wooley refers to the pleated gown as "linen" but there are other references to fleecy wool. "Covered your body with the long woolen garments of queen ship…"(p.89, Kramer). The pleats suggest draping and naturalism that will disappear in the stiff formalism of the Gudea period. Representations showing women enacting roles in cultic ritual ceremonies suggest priestesses rather than goddesses. In such depictions, a woman with a diadem faces a god or temple fa�de.

The Cap of En-ship

The horned goddess always represents a deity in Mesopotamia. A divine bronze crown headdress with a single pair of horns is found on seals, reliefs and wall paintings in the Akkadian period, but rarely, thereafter. There is no evidence that Enheduanna uses this headdress but there may be a parallel in the priestess's en-cap and the non-divine cap. Some sculptures of women in flounced garments provide for the attachment of headgear. The only examples are from the Old Babylonian era.

The most significant is of Enmenanna who has nails protruding above the rounded diadem indicating that the statue could serve more than one purpose: whether she was being represented as Princess, Priestess or consort to the god.

A particular "cap" is the essential token of entu-ship. Its removal means expulsion from office. When Lugalanne, leader of uprisings in Uruk and Ur throws Sargon's daughter out of office, during Narim Sin, Sargon's grandson's reign, Lugalanne "grievously" insults her.

107. He stripped me of the crown for high priesthood.
108. He gave me dagger and sword. "It becomes you", he said. "Turn them against your own body. They are made for you."
Turning to her poetry reveals there was a time when she was more fortunate.
104. "(Me) who once sat triumphant he has driven out of the sanctuary."
105. "Like a swallow he made me fly from the window, my life is consumed."

Enheduanna's expulsion is not fully explained, but her fate corresponds to the goddess she worships, being exiled from the temple. She expresses her plight in this line, l. 98 "Beaching your ship of rowing on a hostile shore." In usurping her father's rule, Lugalanne tries to usurp the king's role with his daughter; in her hymn, Enheduanna must reject his suitor, and pleads for An, to maintain her father's position in her most famous hymn, "nim me sar ra". A brief text of 153 lines, it has been reconstructed in fifty examples. An is the Uruk/Ur god who is the chief god of Heaven or the Sky and is the consort of Innana. An is the supreme authority in the pantheon, is in charge of the "me's", the divine ordinance and can alter fate. Enki is the bookkeeper. The me's are distributed "by grace", not by legal claim./P>

In Enheduanna's prayer:

"You, o maiden Innanna, are no (et)! You are going to the house of the oneiromancer; after having filled the ritual basket with barley, put it as food to his (Dumuzi's) dead spirit." L. 65-68. PRAYER.

This display of ritual activity focusing on cult function was part of the past serving political ends of the early Akkad rule, claiming divine sanction for its legitimacy.

"(But now) I no longer dwell in the goodly place
you established.
Came the day, the sun scorched me
Came the shade (of night) the South Wind
Overwhelmed me,
My honey-sweet voice has become strident,
Whatever gave me pleasure has turned into dust. "

Enheduanna, like Innana, feels the injustice and cheated. However, Enki, the bookkeeper of Heaven, in guarding the "me-s, distributes them as acts of grace, not as legal claims. Common themes touch on the importance of water as life giving and as essential, as honey, for fertility. Their lack is "dust" or dryness, aridity and drought/famine. Recent archaeological/climatological evidence confirms that the decline of the Akkadian empire resulted from shifts in water possession.

Rites: Offerings. The Basket.

One of the early rites was daily offerings to the gods in the temples. Evidence found on administrative tablets supports that these rites took place. One of the elements of reconstruction on the Enheduanna disc is the basket carried by an attendant. The servant is also a reconstructed figure in the original field. Literary texts and references to other depictions of the libation ceremony on cylinder seals support the evidence for this reconstruction.

Literary texts show the basket was used symbolically to carry the first bricks for commencing the restoration of the temple, another responsibility that the en-priestess oversees:

I, Enheduanna (line 163), by bringing in the gimsab-basket (and) singing joyously,
By making the temple good(again), by setting the temple up,
(and) in the palace of the pure washing rites
by putting (everything) in order,
I, O Ningal, am restoring your (temple)."


The preceding passage describes the en-priestess' functions: restoration of the giparu, the purification or the water rites, the composition of hymns of praise, and the carrying in of the offerings in the gimasab-basket. The ritual basket was used to bring grain, honey and dates as a fertility offering. Enheduanna makes clear her role as representative of the goddess. Her music-making role, in her composition of hymns and songs and poetry, honors the moon god, displaying fertility, fecundity and good harvest.

Enheduanna also acts as a political mediator in that she mirrors her father's power and authority with the military. She, analogous to her father, represents the union of the divine and the civil, of "religion" and "state", of gods and kings. She consolidates her father's power with the temple and the people, by her marriage with the deities.

The priestess, in her hymns, unites Sumer and Akkad: North and South, the two languages, two temples, two cults, two goddesses, Ishtar and Innana (war and love, sky and earth) represented by the Divine Marriage to Nanna. Enheduanna serves as the counterpart to Innana: the Priestess' destiny follows that of her god. Enheduanna incurs Innana's wrath and jealousy, when Lugalannese proposes sex, companionship and adultery, because he has ambitions to usurp the power of her father, Sargon, Kind of Agade. However, "Enheduanna incurs Innana's wrath"

Rituals ensure fertility and prosperity, and those rituals associated with birth, death and good harvests retain their significance. Irene Winter illustrates that women achieve respect when they maintain the norms of society through ritualization. One of these hierarchical positions was a "high ranking priestess in the service of a cult of a male deity". Enheduanna fulfills this function in the service of An, through "divine marriage" to Nanna and through homage to her deity counterpart, Inanna. Women in the Middle East today are still private, not public persons. As Enheduanna's father created the position of priestess as a sinecure, she will oversee the ritual and cult functions of the priests and cult personnel.

The Hymns: Enheduanna as Priestess and Poet

Scholars have proven that the Old Babylonian texts primarily found in the archives at Nippur are Neo-Sumerian copies of the original hymns. These hymns had a profound impact on religious heritage. The priestess played an important social role, comparable to and more significant than that of the Delphic oracles in Greece or to the dancing priestesses in Egypt or even to the warrior priestesses or Amazons. After the death of Enheduanna and the start of Ur III, there is no other attested literature focusing on the moon god.

Enheduanna sings songs of praise or paens and incantations to the goddess and plays a musical instrument, probably a lyre, as several are found buried at Ur, and one rests in the University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. (see Maude de Schaunsee). Enheduanna makes reference to her "harp of lamentation". The hymns to Enheduanna's father's patron deity, Innana, record how the goddess is able to overcome all foreign and domestic enemies. She is thus, able to serve as a paradigm for her own family's tribulations and triumphs. The hymns, on one level, serve to promote her father, King Sargon, in his imperialistic ambitions to extend a united empire into the Asiatic Near East. On the other hand, the hymns also create a syncretism for the Akkadian Ishtar and Sumerian Innana which unites the country.

Sargon, himself, was considered to, perhaps, be the illicit son of a priestess, through whom he won the love of Ishtar, while in the guise of a gardner, which becomes an epithet associated with kings in the Divine Marriage Rite. Sargon did not arrogate the cultic power to himself as did later kings. Instead, his daughter, Enheduanna, made the perfect ambassador and conciliator, as well as marriage partner, in the role of a goddess to the supreme deity.

The Sumerian script in which Enheduanna writes is associated with her having a Sumerian mother (Hallo), as her father was more adept in his native Akkadian tongue. However, it also needs to be considered that it is often written in Sumerian script. (Frankfort) The poetic potentials of both languages are compared for us, by Westenholtz. Neither Sumerian or Akkadian use rhyme, alliteration nor assonance within the line and rarely in long strophes. He notes a feeling for phonetics to be stronger in Akkadian. There appears to be no meter but there are analogies and metaphors in the poetry. The consummate literary style with which Enheduanna is credited manifests itself in the employment of forty different epithets, along with similes and descriptions, in order to address the goddess, other than usage of her name in uninterrupted praise as "the Queen of Heaven" in the paens and eulogies. Enheduanna left two cycles of hymns in honor of the goddess, Inanana, commemorating her as "queen of Heaven and consort of the King of gods. The exaltations are a theological text that exalts a deity above all others. (A Falkenstein RA (1958), ZA 52, 1957.) The likely index of the popularity of these hymns lists them in several literary catalogues of the period. The brief text of 153 lines is reconstructed from fifty examples. (Hall, "Exaltation".)

The burning "politico-religious reality", subject of the hymns, (Barrelet) wins Enheduanna acclaim as a poet and as a prophet. Considered the first non-anonymous author in world literature, the authority of her colophon declares the hymns to be hers, as does her employment of her first name, in the first person narrative, "I, Enheduanna…"

It is worth noting that the warrior epic of Gilgamesh which has achieved considerable stature in the past decade, to nearly rival the western classic of Beowulf, was also written on stone tablets and originated in Uruk. The earliest tablets were composed in 1800 BC and were found in King Ashurbanipal's library.

The education of a woman, and of the scribes, took place in the temple. Writing and art were elite privileges, as literacy was restricted to a powerful elite. The visual images came from the imagination of those scribes under royal patronage.

A growing bureaucracy required documentation and accountability, and consequently, the proliferation of administrative texts, king lists, contracts, and the fostering of the development of education and literacy.

Poetry by its nature transcends the normal. The supralogic of a poet's role is conflated with the intercessionary role of a priestess and the mediating political role of a princess as representative of her father's power and serving as an efficacious ambassador and emissary for his imperialism. This social construct in Enheduanna's case has very significant implications in its time. Thee poetic compositions – a collection of temple hymns and two hymnal prayers to the goddess, Innana are the literary creation of Enheduanna. If a woman in ancient Sumer was a princess, it was possible for her to hold top rank among the literati. Enheduanna was to be the first woman poet on record. She also ranks among the spiritual leaders of some importance because of her role in uniting the two areas of Sumer and Akkad in their cultic worship, in their language usage and in their different traditions. (Kramer, p. 13, "Poets and Psalmists") Enheduanna was conducting an early form of conflict resolution.

Irene Winter sees women in this period, not so differently from women in the Middle East, today, as predominantly private persons "Public-ness" is associated with men. The high ranking priestess in a cult of a major male deity is an exception, as are elite women in socially sanctioned public roles such as the wife of the ensi or local administrative officer of a given city state. Women, then as today, are regarded most favorably when they advise, nurture and encourage men in their struggles. Performances of rituals and socially integrative action are implicit in this area.

The Hymns of Enheduanna, in translation:

A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now. Edited by Aliki Barnstone & Willis Barnstone. Schocken Books, New York.1992 The fifteen poems were adapted by Aliki and Willis Barnstone from the translation by William W. Hallo and J.J.A van Dijk from the original Sumerian script. There are a total of 43 poems by Enheduanna, the first known woman poet in the world.

Samples of Hymns to the gods:

Banishment from Ur

You asked me to enter the holy cloister,
The giparu,
and I went inside, I the high priestess
I carried the ritual basket and sang
Your praise.
Now I am banished among the lepers.
Even I cannot live with you.
Shadows approach the light of day, the light
Is darkened around me,
Shadows approach the daylight,
Covering the day with sandstorm.
My soft mouth of honey is suddenly confused.
My beautiful face is dust.

A Curse on Uruk

What am I in the place of nourishment
And sleep?
What am I now?
That city of Uruk has become an evil rebel
Against your god.
An, make it surrender. Cut it in two!
Let Enlil curse it!
Let its whining child go without a pampering
O lady, the harp of mourning is on a hostile shore,
Dragged over the rocks.
When the people of the city hear my sacred song,
They are ready to die.

Condemning the Moongod Nanna

As for me, my Nanna ignores me.
He has taken me to destruction,
To the alleys of murder.
Ashimbabbar has not judged me wrong.
If he had, what do I care?
If he had, what do I care?
I am Enheduanna.
I was triumphant, glorious,
But he drove me from my sanctuary.
He made me escape like a swallow
From the window.
My life is in flames.
He made me walk through the brambles
On the mountain.
He stripped me of the crown correct
For a high priestess.
He gave me a dagger and a sword,
And said :
"Turn them against your own body.
They are made for you."

The Restoration of Enheduanna to Her Former Station

The first lady of the throne room
Has accepted Enheduanna's song.
Inanna loves her again.
The day was good for Enheduanna, for she was dressed
In jewels.
She was dressed in womanly beauty.
Like the moon's first rays over the horizon,
How luxuriously she was dressed!
When Nanna, Inanna's father,
Made his entrance
The palace blessed Inanna's mother Ningal.
From the doorsill of heaven came the word:

Final Prayer

In the censer the coals are high
with flames for the rites.
The bridal chamber waits for you. Go in
and fill your heart!
I have done all I can do. I sang to you,
exalted lady.
What I sang at midnight
let the singer echo at noon!
Because your husband is captive,
your rage increases, your heart is never calm.


Images copyrighted by the University of Pennsylvania Museum

[Enheduanna Chart]
Enheduanna Genealogical Chart

[Enheduanna Disc]
Enheduanna Disc

[Enheduanna Detail]
Enheduanna Detail

[Enheduanna Reverse]
Enheduanna Reverse

[Enheduanna Right Edge]
Enheduanna Right Edge

[Enheduanna Slab]
Enheduanna Slab


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Barnstone, Aliki and Barnstone, Willis. WOMEN POETS From Antiquity to Now. Shocken Book, NY, 1992. Sumerian Enheduanna (ca. 2300 BC.) pp. 1-8.

Barrelet, Marie-Therese. "Etude de glyptique akkadienne; L'imagination figurative et le cycle d'Ea" OR 39 (1970) pp. 246-250.

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(*) Former Asian Lecturer for the Commonwealth Series, administered by the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

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