Tello

Sumerian Dog Statuette With An Inscription To Ninisinna, C. 1894-1866 BC

Found in Tello (ancient Girsu, map). Made of soapstone, consecrated by a physician in Lagash to the goddess Ninisinna, for the life of Sumu-El, King of Larsa. Sumu-El or Sumuel was an Amorite who ruled the ancient Near East city-state of Larsa from c. 1830 BC to 1801 BC.

The goddess Ninisinna was the daughter of An and Uraš.  She was married to the god Pabilsag, with whom she had a son Damu and a daughter Gunura. Her primary role was as a healing goddess. She is called “great physician of the black-headed ones.”

The name Ninisinna means ‘Lady of Isin.’ The é-gal-mah or É (the Sumerian word or symbol for house or temple) in Isin was the heart of Ninisinna’s cult. Probably within the complex was a “dog house”, built by Enlil-bani (1860-1837 BC).  Ninisinna, like the goddess Gula, with whom she had become syncretized, was associated with dogs, and 33 dog skeletons were excavated in the é-gal-mah. Many of the animals were sick or injured, and it is possible that they were cared for by the temple. Ninisinna was also worshipped at temples in Larsa, Babylon, Ur, Uruk, and Larak.