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Sumerian mythology

The Sumerians practised a polytheistic religion, with gods or goddesses representing forces or presences in the world, much as in the later Greek mythology. The gods originally created humans as servants for themselves, but freed them when they became too much to handle.

Many stories in Sumerian religion appear homologous to stories in other middle-eastern religions. For example, the biblical account of the creation of man as well as Noah's flood narrative resemble Sumerian tales very closely. Gods and goddesses from Sumer have distinctly similar representations in the religions of the Akkadians, Caananites, and others. A number of related stories and deities have Greek parallels as well; for example Innana's descent into the underworld strikingly recalls the story of Persephone.


The universe first appeared when Nammu, a presumably formless abyss, curled in upon herself, and in an act of self-procreation gave birth to An, god of heaven and Ki, goddess of Earth (commonly referred to as Ninhursag).

The union of An and Ki produced Enlil, lord of wind, who eventually became leader of the pantheon. After the banishment of Enlil from Dilmun (the home of the gods) for raping Ninlil, Ninlil has a child, Sin (god of the moon), also known as Nanna. Sin and Ningal gave birth to Inanna (goddess of love and war) and to Utu/Shamash (god of the sun). During Enlil's banishment, he fathered three underworld deities with Ninlil, most notably Nergal.

Nammu also gave birth to Enki, god of the watery abyss, or the Abzu. Enki also controlled the Me, holy decrees that governed such basic things as physics and complex things such as social order and law.

This accounts for the origin of most of the world as we know it.


The earliest known writings on the Sumerian cosmology stem from Enheduanna.

see also mythology, Norse mythology