Anunnaki

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The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku (singular), Ananaki, and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (e.g. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian).[1] Descriptions of how many Anunnaki there were and what role they fulfilled are inconsistent and often contradictory. In the earliest Sumerian writings about them, which come from the Post-Akkadian period, the Anunnaki are the most powerful deities in the pantheon, descendants of An, the god of the heavens. By the time of Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, they have become seven judges who sit before the throne of Ereshkigal in the Underworld. This portrayal is followed in later Akkadian texts such as The Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Old Babylonian period, the Anunnaki were the gods of the Underworld, set in contrast with the Igigi, who had, by that time, become heavenly deities, much like the Anunnaki were originally.

Etymology[edit]

The name is variously written "da-nuna", "da-nuna-ke4-ne", or "da-nun-na", meaning "princely offspring" or "offspring of Anu".[1] According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: "...are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu)."[2]

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. Anu carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.[3]

Some authorities[who?] question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag, and claims that they were originally the same figure.[4]

Worship and iconography[edit]

The Anunnaki are chiefly mentioned in literary texts and very little evidence to support the existence of any cult of them has yet been unearthed.[5] This is likely due to the fact that each member of the Anunnaki had his or her own individual cult, separate from the others.[6]

Similarly, no representations of the Anunnaki as a group have yet been discovered, although a few depictions of its individual members have been identified.[7]

Mythology[edit]

Sumerian[edit]

The god Enki, one of the Anunnaki, as shown on the Akkadian Adda Seal

The earliest known usages of the term Anunnaki come from inscriptions written during the reign of Gudea and the Third Dynasty of Ur.[8] In the earliest texts, the term is applied to the most powerful and important deities in the Sumerian pantheon: the descendants of the sky-god An.[9]

The Anunnaki are usually only referred to as a cohesive group in literary texts and very little evidence has been uncovered to support the existence of any cult dedicated to them as a group.[10] It is difficult to determine which specific deities were members of the Anunnaki since no complete list of all their names has survived. Furthermore, the precise number and function of the Anunnaki is often described inconsistently.[11] Originally, they appear to have been heavenly deities with immense powers.[12] One text mentions as many as fifty Anunnaki associated with the city of Eridu.[13] In Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, however, there are only seven Anunnaki, who reside in the Underworld and serve as judges.[14] Inanna stands trial before them; they deem her guilty of hubris and condemn her to death.[15]

Relationship to the Igigi[edit]

Their relation to the group of gods known as the Igigi is unclear. On some occasions, the names appear to be used synonymously, but in other writings, such as The Poem of Erra, there is a clear distinction between the two.[16] In the Atra-Hasis flood myth, the Igigi are the sixth generation of the gods who are forced to perform labor for the Anunnaki. After forty days, the Igigi rebel and the god Enki, one of the Anunnaki, creates humans to replace them.[17]

Jeremy Black and Anthony Green offer a slightly different perspective on the Igigi and the Anunnaki, writing that "lgigu or Igigi is a term introduced in the Old Babylonian Period as a name for the (ten) 'great gods'. While it sometimes kept that sense in later periods, from Middle Assyrian and Babylonian times on it is generally used to refer to the gods of heaven collectively, just as the term Anunnakku (Anuna) was later used to refer to the gods of the underworld. In the Epic of Creation, it is said that there are 300 lgigu of heaven."[18]

Akkadian[edit]

Later Akkadian texts follow the same portrayal of the Anunnaki from Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, depicting them as chthonic Underworld deities. They are mentioned in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh when Utnapishtim tells the story of the flood. Here they are described as seven judges of the Underworld, who set the land aflame as the storm is approaching.[19]

Babylonian[edit]

The Anunnaki appear in the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish.[20] In the late version magnifying Marduk, after the creation of mankind, Marduk divides the Anunnaki and assigns them to their proper stations, three hundred in heaven, three hundred on the earth. In gratitude, the Anunnaki, the "Great Gods", built Esagila, the splendid: "They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu, they set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, (and) Ea." When that was finished they built their own shrines.[21]

According to later Assyrian and Babylonian myth, the Anunnaki were the children of Anu and Ki, brother and sister gods, themselves the children of Anshar and Kishar (Skypivot and Earthpivot, the Celestial poles), who in turn were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu ("the muddy ones"), names given to the gatekeepers of the Abzu (House of Far Waters) temple at Eridu, the site at which the creation was thought to have occurred. Finally, Lahamu and Lahmu were the children of Tiamat (Goddess of the Ocean) and Abzu (God of Fresh Water).[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony: Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary University of Texas Press (Aug 1992) ISBN 978-0-292-70794-8 p.34
  2. ^ Leemings, David (2009). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0195387087. 
  3. ^ Kramer, Samuel Noah (1961). Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C.: Revised Edition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 72–75. ISBN 0-8122-1047-6. Retrieved 6 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Sumerian Mythology: Chapter II. Myths of Origins". Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Falkenstein, A. (1965). "Die Anunna in der sumerischen Überlieferung". Assyriological Studies (16): 127–140. 
  6. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  7. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  9. ^ Katz, D. (2003). The Image of the Underworld in Sumerian Sources. Bethesda, Maryland: CDL Press. p. 403. 
  10. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  12. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  13. ^ Edzard, D. O. (1965). "Mesopotamien. Die Mythologie der Sumerer und Akkader". Wörterbuch der Mythologie, erste Abteilung. I (Götter und Mythen im Vorderen Orient): 17–140. 
  14. ^ "Inana's descent to the nether world". The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford University. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Inana's descent to the nether world". The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford University. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  16. ^ Brisch, Nicole. "Anunna (Anunnaku, Anunnaki) (a group of gods)". Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses. University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  17. ^ Leick, Gwendolyn: A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology (NY: Routledge, 1998), p. 85
  18. ^ Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony: Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary University of Texas Press (Aug 1992) ISBN 978-0-292-70794-8 p.106 [1]
  19. ^ N. K. Sandars (translator): "The Epic of Gilgamesh", Penguin Books, London (2006) ISBN 978-0-141-02628-2 p.52
  20. ^ Enuma Elish, tablet 1, verse 156
  21. ^ Pritchard, James B. Pritchard, ed. (2010). The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton University Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780691147260. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  22. ^ For a comparison of all world pantheons and the monomythological connection of these god-patriarchs with other culture pantheons, see "Kingship At Its Source" by Dr. John D. Pilkey, and a preface monograph at www.weirdvideos.com/preface.html.

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