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The world’s first author, composer and poet..High Priestess ENHEDUANNA

Updated on July 7, 2014

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Close up of limestone disc unearthed by archeologists in 1927. Enheduanna oversees a sacred purification and libation ceremony. She is standing with one arm raised before the face in a Sumerian gesture of greeting aka "to let the hand be at the nose.
Close up of limestone disc unearthed by archeologists in 1927. Enheduanna oversees a sacred purification and libation ceremony. She is standing with one arm raised before the face in a Sumerian gesture of greeting aka "to let the hand be at the nose. | Source

Enheduanna's Father King Sargon

Enheduannas father the first Emperor on earth Sargon the Great of Mesopotamia aka Akkadian/Sumerian King Sargon of Akkad and Kish. The Akkadian king who conquered Sumer in 2350 B.C...
Enheduannas father the first Emperor on earth Sargon the Great of Mesopotamia aka Akkadian/Sumerian King Sargon of Akkad and Kish. The Akkadian king who conquered Sumer in 2350 B.C...

More About Enheduanna

The world’s first person known to sign her name to a literary work was Enheduanna. She was a great author, composer, poet, High Priestess of the ancient moon God "Nanna" and his consort "Ningal' at temples in the Mesopotamian city, states of Ur and Uruk (Iraq).

Enheduanna name means "Lady Ornament of the Sky” and she is said to have lived approximately 4300 years ago around 2300 B.C.E.

Her father was the first Emperor on earth Sargon, the Great of Mesopotamia aka Akkadian/Sumerian King Sargon of Akkad and Kish.

An obvious stand out King Sargon appointed Enheduanna to rule his vast Akkadian Empires most prestigious temple, the “Nanna temple of Ur” in Sumer.

Her headquarters and private residence often prohibited men and were located in Giparu at Ur, a walled temple complex with a private burial ground for the high priestesses. From this location would serve as Ambassador. She composed elaborate Sumerian temple liturgical hymns which were performed publicly, with the aid of the ever popular Sumerian clergy.

A fearless woman whom you would not want as an enemy, Enheduanna’s duties as- high priestess also included: performing marriages, interpreting dreams, predictions, and prayers for the prosperity of the land. She also performed administrative duties, as the economies of the temple and the city were co-dependent.

Her father Sargon amassed his impressive Akkadian Empire by employing innovative military strategies that have been duplicated for centuries by other great leaders, i.e. Alexander the Great

Sargon’s conquests included: Babylon, Uruk aka Iraq, Kish, Lebanon, Mesopotamia-Sumeria and The Taurus mountains of Turkey and more.

Enheduanna's Family Tree

Family tree of the Akkadian Dynasty, starting with La'ibum and Sargon of Akkad.
Family tree of the Akkadian Dynasty, starting with La'ibum and Sargon of Akkad.

Sargons Akkadian Empire

Enheduanna's liturgy tablets in cuneiform
Enheduanna's liturgy tablets in cuneiform
A hymn written by Enheduanna - reverse tablet in Cuneiform, which is a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia c. 3500-3000 BCE. All of the great Mesopotamian civilizations used cuneiform.
A hymn written by Enheduanna - reverse tablet in Cuneiform, which is a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia c. 3500-3000 BCE. All of the great Mesopotamian civilizations used cuneiform.

Enheduanna’s Body of Work

Enheduanna’s most popular writings are a trilogy dedicated to the Goddess Inanna:

Inninsagurra translations: “The Great-Hearted Mistress’ or “Lady of Largest Heart"

Ninmesarra translation: “The Exaltation of Inanna; the earliest narrative written in the first person aka ‘lady of all me’s’. Term Me’s is an ancient term used to express what is thought to be a cosmic or supernatural power that controls or influences everything being and thing in the universe; a power of which Enheduanna was the guardian and processor of. This term is said to be difficult to translate.

Inninmehusa, translations: "Inanna and Ebih" or 'Goddess of the Fearsome Powers”

All three powerful hymns are addressed to the goddess Inanna (later identified with Ishtar and, still later, Aphrodite/Venus). These hymns restructured the gods for the people of the Akkadian Empire under Sargon’s rule and helped provide the underlying religious homogeniety sought by the king.

Enheduanna’s writing where very detailed and often promoted the success of different temples in Sumer and Akkad under her father’s King Sargons rule.

A coup was launched against her authority by her adversary Sumerian High Priest Lugal-Ane of Uruk who drove her into to exile at one point. Enheduanna features this event in a prayer where she lists her adversary by name and pleas for help from the goddess Inanna to also summon the help of the God An to restore her position as High-Priestess.

‘has driven me out of the sanctuary…He made me walk in the bramble of the mountains. He stripped me of my crown appropriate for a High priestess priest hood” ---Enheduanna wrote of Lugal-Ane High Priest Lugal-Ane of Uruk

Edheduanna’s God’s apparently answered her prayers as she regained her High Priestess status on the thrown of the Nanna temple of Ur. She went on to serve over forty years, amid other rebellions during the reigns of her brothers Simrueh , Rimush and Manishtushu and under her nephew, Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin whose reign began 2254 BC.

New Year's Day at the Ziggurat Temple of Ur. This temple is believed to be the place that coined the phrases 'Stairway to Heaven" and "Jacobs ladder '.
New Year's Day at the Ziggurat Temple of Ur. This temple is believed to be the place that coined the phrases 'Stairway to Heaven" and "Jacobs ladder '. | Source
Ruins of the Giparu Temple of Ur in the foreground, Enheduanna's temple complex and personal residence with private royal cemetery. Excavated 1927 by Sir Wooley, Ziggurat Temple is in the distance,
Ruins of the Giparu Temple of Ur in the foreground, Enheduanna's temple complex and personal residence with private royal cemetery. Excavated 1927 by Sir Wooley, Ziggurat Temple is in the distance, | Source
This limestone disc features Enheduanna overseeing a priest and two other priestesses performing a sacred purification ceremony. Unearthed 1927 by archeologists at Giparu temple; the private residents the High Priestess Enheduanna in Ur (Iraq).
This limestone disc features Enheduanna overseeing a priest and two other priestesses performing a sacred purification ceremony. Unearthed 1927 by archeologists at Giparu temple; the private residents the High Priestess Enheduanna in Ur (Iraq). | Source

One of the most important discoveries in history


In 1927, during an excavation of the Sumerian temple in Giparu Enheduanna’s headquarters, private residence and cemetery in Ur, British archaeologist Sir Leonard Wooley made one of the most important discoveries in history when he unearthed limeshone discs which Enheduanna featured prominently among four figures at a Sumerian religious ceremony. The piece measures 25.6 cm/diameter and is 7.1 cm/thick.

Inscriptions on the back of the disc identified the participants as:

Enheduanna, her Estate Manager Adda, her hair stylist Ilum Palilis, and her scribe Sagadu.

The royal inscription on the back of the disc, reads:

"Enheduanna, zirru-priestess, wife of the god Nanna, daughter of Sargon, king of the world, in the temple of the goddess Innana”

Wooley also excavated the temple complex and discovered a royal cemetery for Priestesses.

There he would also find roughly fifty tablets of Enheduanna’s works and other artifacts, many in fragments.

Source

Enheduanna's Enduring Legacy

Enheduanna proved to be a very brilliant ambassador in the later phase of King Sargon's 55-year rule and for Sargon’s.

For centuries after Enheduanna’s death, the first author, composer poet and royal High Priestess was also revered in the ancient world as one who set the standards for culture, literature, liturgy hymns, poetry and religion. Her gift to the world was an extensive body of work which included forty two detailed and impassioned poems, psalms and prayers that served as a template for poets, priests and scribes throughout history.

Thru the Babylonians her writings are said to have inspired the prayers and psalms in the Hebrew Bible, the Homeric hymns of Greece and the early Christian church.

Archaeologist Sir Leonard Wooley also found evidence amongst many layers of strata that suggests the High Priestess Enheduanna was worshipped by many long after the fall of the rebellion plagued reign of King Sargon the Great’s male descendants.


Modern day destruction of priceless Mesopotamian artifacts and structures

Click here to view the effects of the 2003 U.S.- led invasion and bombing of Giparu and Ziggurat temple ruins of Ur in Iraq, Courtesy of National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/photogalleries/Iraq-heritage-photos/photo4.html


Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey The Immortals, Episode 13, with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson Click here to view the full video Cosmos episode: http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/256286787977



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