Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird

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Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird is a Sumerian mythological account. The story is sometimes called The Return of Lugalbanda or Lugalbanda II being the second of two stories about the hero Lugalbanda. The first story is known as Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, or sometimes Lugalbanda in the Wilderness. They are part of a four-story cycle that describes the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and the king of Aratta. The texts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), but almost all of the extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE).[1] Nevertheless, a few fragmentary bilingual copies (Sumerian and Akkadian) from Nineveh suggest that the texts were still known during the first millennium.[2]


This story starts with Lugalbanda alone in the highlands of Lullubi. He finds the chick of the giant Anzu (or Anzud) bird, which is described as a lion-headed eagle, and decides to feed the chick. When the Anzu bird returns, it is first startled by the chick not responding to its call, but once it finds out what happened, it is very pleased with Lugalbanda and in appreciation grants him the ability to travel at super speeds. With his newly gained super power Lugalbanda catches up with his comrades who are laying siege to the city of Aratta. But his king Enmerkar is facing problems with the siege and after a year of setbacks without success, decides to seek the advice of the goddess Inana who is back in Uruk (in the story referred to as Unug or Kulaba), pleading for her to assist him once more, as she had assisted in building a wall against the encroaching Martu in the 50th year of his reign. Finally Lugalbanda volunteers for the trip. Lugalbanda is able to travel the incredible distance over seven mountain ranges within a day's time. Inanna responds with a parable instructing Enmerkar how to wrest control of Aratta and its resources.


  1. ^ Vanstiphout, H. (2003). Epics of Sumerian Kings, Atlanta: SBL, p.1
  2. ^ ibid. p.135

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