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The more ancient, the more interesting.  One of my favorite areas of ancient things to study is anything Sumerian. Sumer was a civilization that began approximately 7,000 years ago in Southern Mesopotamia, and lasted several thousand years.  Sumer was a collection of city-states around the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers, with each city-state having their individual rulers, and each city was centered around the temple dedicated to their patron god or goddess.

Ur of Sumer

Eridu (modern Tell Abu Shahrein) – founded ca 5400 BCE, is considered the oldest city in the world. According to the Sumerian King list, Eridu is the “city of the first kings.”  Eridu’s patron deity is Enki (Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology). Enki is the high god of water, intellect, creation, medicine and wisdom – and the inventor of civlization.

Eshnunna (Tell Asmar) – patron deity Ninazu, god of the underworld and of healing. Later superseded by the Akkadian god Tishpak.

Lagash (Tell Al- Hiba) – patron deity Ninurta (Ningirsu), Lord of the Earth, god of rain, irrigation and fertility.

Larsa (Tell As-Senkere/Sankarah) and Sippar (Tell Abu Habbah) – associated with Utu (Babylonian Shamash), god of the sun, justice, application of law, judgment.  Not to be confused with the Uttu, goddess of weaving.

Nippur (Afak)- “Enlil City”, one of the most ancient cities in Sumer, and the seat of the worship of Enlil, Lord of the Wind, god of air, wind and storms. Enlil possesses the Tablets of Destiny, giving him “power over the entire cosmos and the affairs of man.”

Ur (Tell al-Muqayyar) – the patron deity is the moon-god, Nanna (Akkadian Sin), Lord of Wisdom, Lord of Destiny.

Uruk (Warka) – the capital city that Gilgamesh ruled, associated with the goddess Inanna, or Inana.  Inanna is the Lady of the Sky, Queen of Heaven, goddess of of love, fertility, and war.

See the Ancient History Encyclopedia or the Encyclopedia Mythica for more about the gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon.

Nippur - ziggurat of Enlil

Resources:

Wikipedia : Sumer, Sumerian mythology, Mesopotamian religion

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia Mythica

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium: Ancient Sumer History

Kramer, Samuel Noah. The Sumerians: Their History, Culture and Character.  University of Chicago Press, 1971.

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