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Sumerian Gods and Goddesses: The Annunaki

By Yona Williams    8/6/10

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Not all gods and goddesses of the ancient Sumerian culture were created equally. In this article, you will encounter members of the Annunaki, which were ancient Sumerian gods and goddesses considered as coming from the "royal bloodlines" of the deities.

The Annunaki is a group of deities that are recognized by their bloodline and from their parentage. The term is used to refer to deities of this nature that belong to the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian cultures. The Sumerians worshipped the following gods and goddesses that belonged to this group:

Ashnan and Lahar

Ashnan was the goddess of grain and daughter of Enlil. In myths, Ashnan and her brother Lahar were created by the gods to provide the Annunaki with food. However, when the heavenly creatures learned that they were unable to make use of what the two provided – it is said that the humankind was the result so that someone would be able to benefit from their services. Lahar is the god of cattle and often depicted as having ears of corn coming out of his shoulders. Sometimes, he is seen carrying a bow and club. At his feet, rams are often seen.

Emesh and Enten

Created at the same time as Enten, Emesh was requested by Enlil to become responsible for the woods, fields, and stables on earth. In myths, he is often identified with the summer and the abundance of the earth. He is known as the god of agriculture and vegetation. Enten is known as the farmer god and served as a fertility deity. He was a guardian to farmers and was specifically in charge of the fertility of ewes, goats, cows, donkeys, birds, and other animals. His time of the year was winter.

Enkidu

As the god of landowners and farmers, he was not born a deity but created by the gods. Myths state that he was a "wild-man" who was raised by animals. Because of this, he was unaware of human society until he had relations with Shamhat. An increasing number of encounters with humans and the ways of the mortals brought him closer to civilization. He is involved with a wrestling match with the king of Uruk (Gligamesh), which leads to him becoming the constant companion of the king. He went everywhere with the king until he became fatally ill. With the loss of his closest friend, Gilgamesh starts on a quest to escape death and obtain godly immortality.

Ishkur

While Ishkur is considered a god of the winds and lightning, his importance was diminished since the gods Enlil and Nunurta possessed the features of a storm god as well. Because of this, it is not uncommon to find him appearing as an assistant or companion to one of the higher-level gods.

To learn about more gods and goddesses belonging to the Annunaki – check out the article titled, "The Annunaki: More Sumerian Gods and Goddesses."

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