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For other uses, see Kur (disambiguation).

In Sumerian mythology, Kur is considered the first dragon[citation needed], and usually referred to the Zagros mountains to the east of Sumer. The cuneiform for "kur" was written ideographically with the cuneiform sign 𒆳, a pictograph of a mountain.[1] It can also mean "foreign land".


Although the word for earth was Ki, Kur came to also mean land, and Sumer itself, was called "Kur-gal" or "Great Land". "Kur-gal" also means "Great Mountain" and is a metonym for both Nippur and Enlil who rules from that city.[2] Ekur, "mountain house" was the temple of Enlil at Nippur. A second, popular meaning of Kur was "underworld", or the world under the earth.[3]

Kur was sometimes the home of the dead,[4] it is possible that the flames on escaping gas plumes in parts of the Zagros mountains would have given those mountains a meaning not entirely consistent with the primary meaning of mountains and an abode of a god. The eastern mountains as an abode of the god with the farther East as the origin of all gods was popular in Ancient Near Eastern mythology.

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma).

Kur is almost identical with "Ki-gal", "Great Land" which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal "Goddess of The Great Land". In later Babylonian myth Kur is possibly an Anunnaki, brother of Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enki, and Enlil. In the Enuma Elish in Akkadian tablets from the first millennium BC, Kur is part of the retinue of Tiamat, and seems to be a snakelike dragon. In one story the slaying of the great serpent Kur results in the flooding of the earth.[5] A first millennium BC cylinder seal shows a fire-spitting winged dragon—a nude woman between its wings—pulling the chariot of the god who subdued it, another depicts a god riding a dragon, a third a goddess.[6]


  1. ^ "Sumerian Mythology" by Samuel Noah Kramer, p.110
  2. ^ "Scenes from the Shadow Side", Frans Wiggermann, Mesopotamian Poetic Language, Brill, 1996, pp. 208-209
  3. ^ Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary:Jeremy A. Black, Anthony Green, Tessa Rickards, University of Texas Press, 1992 ISBN 0-292-70794-0, p 114
  4. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/sum/sum08.htm "Sumerian Mythology"] by Samuel Noah Kramer p.110 passim
  5. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/sum/sum08.htm "Sumerian Mythology"] by Samuel Noah Kramer, p. 112
  6. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/sum/sum08.htm "Sumerian Mythology"] by Samuel Noah Kramer, p. 114