From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ninurta portrayed with an eagle head, circa 860 BCE, Temple of Ninurta, Nimrud

In Mesopotamian religion, Ninurta (Sumerian: 𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅁 DNIN.URTA, lord of barley) was a god of law, scribes, farming, and hunting. In Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu (𒀭𒊩𒌆𒄈𒋢 DNIN.ĜIR2.SU). In the early days of Assyriology, the name was often transliterated Ninib or Ninip and he was sometimes analyzed as a solar deity.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace; the mace, named Sharur, is capable of speech and can take the form of a winged lion, possibly representing an archetype for the later Shedu.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud or Anzû; a Babylonian version relates how the monster steals the Tablet of Destinies—believed to contain the details of fate and the future—from Enlil. Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the "Slain Heroes" (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat.[1] Eventually, Ninurta kills Anzû and returns the Tablet of Destinies to his father Enlil.

There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk, who slew Tiamat and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father Enki.

A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I may have been the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.[2]


The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. He was the central figure in the epic Lugal-e. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, "the lord of Girsu", the religious center of the Lagash state where he was considered the patron deity.

Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil's brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta's mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta's character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Cronus, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

Family Tree[edit]

Ninkikurga Nidaba
Suen Enbilūlu Ninurta
Uttu Inanna
Dumuzī Utu

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Oxford Guide To The Bible p.557. Oxford University Press 1993. ISBN 978-0-19-534095-2

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ninib". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]