nippur

An extremely old stamp.

This ancient stamp dates to the 22nd century BC, and is from the holy city of Nippur, located southeastern Iraq. Nippur was the religious centre of Mesopotamia for thousands of years, and was believed to have been where Enlil created mankind.

Translated, the inscription on the stamp reads: Narâm-Sîn built the house/temple of the god Enlil. As the British Museum state: “Such stamps were used to impress or mark the bricks of important religious and public buildings. They are therefore an important source for the identification of architecture and a valuable criterion for the date of a building.” The impression in front of the stamp is modern.

Artefact courtesy of & currently located at The British Museum, London. Photo taken by Klaus Wagensonner.

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Neo-Babylonian Tablet Dated to the Reign of King Darius II, 423 BC, from Nippur

The tablet is dated to the 29th day of the 4th month of the first year of the Achaemenid King Darius II (August 5th, 423 BC). It was discovered and excavated with 729 tablets and fragments of the same class by the Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania at the end of May 1893. The collection of tablets was found in a room, about 20 feet below the surface on the northeastern ridge of the ruins of Nippur. This room had been used as a business archive by the apparently wealthy and influential firm of Murashu Sons of Nippur, bankers and brokers, who lived in the time of the Persian Kings Artaxerxes I and Darius II.

The rectangular clay tablet is inscribed in Neo-Babylonian cuneiform writing on all six sides and it documents a mortgage; an orchard and an uncultivated tract of land pledged by two men, Abda and Banunu, to Bel-nadin-shumu, senior member of  the firm Marashu Sons of Nippur, as security for the payment of a large quantity of dates, and including the names of eleven witnesses and the scribe Ninib-abu-user, the seal impressions of four of the witnesses on the upper, lower, and right edges of the tablet, the thumbnail impressions of the two debtors on one side.

Shell Inlay of a Woman from Sumer

This shell inlay from the Early Dynastic period depicts a woman playing the flute. Interestingly, she also wears a cylinder seal around her neck. Cylinder seals, which would have been rolled onto clay tablets to function like signatures, often have a narrow whole through the center where a string could have been laced through to tie the item around one’s neck. Throughout Mesopotamian history, both men and women used seals. (Source)

Early Dynastic, c. 2600-2500 BCE.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sumerian Cow Amulet from Nippur

Made of lapis lazuli, this amulet in the shape of a cow comes from the Early Dynastic period in Mesopotamia. Amulets served a protective function in Mesopotamian magic and medicine and could be worn around one’s neck or placed in a particular area. Given the association between cows and fertility, as well as it is possible that amulets of this shape protected or encouraged female fertility or pregnancy. One magical-medical text, A Cow of Sîn, which may have played a role in human child-birth, tells the story of how the birthing pains of a beautiful, pregnant cow were eased by the moon god, Sîn. (Source 1, 2)

Early Dynastic, 2900-2350 BCE.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hymn to the Queen of Nippur iv.1-53 (Lambert 1982)

a. A hymn to the city of Nippur

Nippur, conduit between heaven and earth, intersection of the corners of the earth,
      growing upon the unscalable mountain —
      the City Nippur, swathed in finery, rising up from it —
Enlil, on his own, made it a habitation;
      he approached her and granted it to her, so she could assume its queenship.
            (He appointed Ebardurgarra as its shrine.)*
[…] a sanctuary equal to his own home.
      […] his own authority invested within it.
Its head rises up to rival Olympus;**
      its light shines dazzlingly, covering all the settlements;
      its brilliance dwells within the mountain.
It nurtures*** her and dotes on her,
      constantly overflowing with finery.
            (Ebardurgarra nurtures the Lady.)*
The corners of the earth join together to bear abundance to it.


b. The noble roles of Ishtar

With the sigil of Enlil, she determines destinies.
      ceaselessly guiding the designs of the Great Gods, even Anu.
Daily, gods assemble before her,
      the Annunaki for advising of advice.
The great Igigi run to and fro
      for her assignment of their roles, for receipt of her instructions.
All the goddesses of the peoples kneel before her:
      they join together in prayer to her, kneeling at her feet.
She supervises their tithes and oversees their shrines;
      she assigns roles to the gods of cultic centers.
She herself is the most supreme and most dignified of goddesses:
      mighty daughter of Nanni, delight of Enlil’s heart,
      adored goddess, equal princess to her honored brother.


c. Ishtar among the deities

Endowed with Dagan’s spirit, equal to Anu,
      loved by Ea, the Lord of Wisdom,
      adored by Mami, the masterful queen:
She is royalty, adored, goddess and Lady,
      wife, Lady, beloved of Amazilla,
Daughter-in-law of Pirigbanda, Lady of Eridu,
      Ishtar-goddess of Anu, She who dwells on the throne of Eanna.
She is elevated, excellent, exalted, and queen;
      her songs are enticing, and great are her adorers!
The Divine Queen of Nippur is exalted and queen;
      her songs are enticing, and great are her adorers!
Who is adored like the Divine Queen of Nippur, their god?
      The Igigi proclaim her seven names.


d. The heart of Ishtar

May this song please you, Ishtar;
      may none before you oppose it, may it take root at your command.
Where voices wail, let there be your lamentation;
      where thoughts are pleasant, let there be your adoration.
In the house of your rites, let them celebrate you;
      where they practice your cult, let them praise you.
In the house at the time of festivals, celebrations, and jubilees,
      listen, Lady, so your thoughts rejoice.
May your heart take pleasure; may it ask always for jubilees.
      May the day bring you joy, and the night repose.
May Inimmanizi bring you […]
      Sirash and Ninkasi […]
[…]


* Other than these two lines, this passage divides neatly into four stanzas of 13 lines. I consider them awkward later editorial additions.

** This line compares Nippur to Ekur, the mountaintop home of the gods (like Olympus). It’s also an unsubtle dig at Nippur’s rival city, Babylon, whose main temple was named Esagila — “the house of the raised head.”

*** Lambert translates this difficult verb as “fondled,” taking it from a root word with sexual connotations. While it’s not impossible, the themes of growth and abundance lead me to suspect an alternate possible meaning.

Note: This excerpt is one of the most intact parts of what was originally a 300-line hymn.  It’s most famous for a line elsewhere, in which Ishtar is described as “she who turns male into female and female into male” (iii.70).

“Nippur de Lagash y Ur-El de Elam, tras verse obligados a abandonar Lagash, conocida como La Ciudad de las Blancas Murallas, —ciudad en la que Nippur era general— debido a la traicionera invasión del rey Luggal-Zaggizi (Lugalzagesi) de Umma. Los amigos, tras jurar venganza, se largan a los caminos y viven emocionantes aventuras.”

Fuente Wikipedia

http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nippur_de_Lagash#Argumento

The Origins of Human Beings According to Ancient Sumerian Texts


Sumer, or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and writing, architecture and arts, astronomy and mathematics. Their religious system was a complex one comprised of hundreds of gods. According to the ancient texts, each Sumerian city was guarded by its own god; and while humans and gods used to live together, the humans were servants to the gods.

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Stone foundation tablet, limestone, 1849-1843 BC (Old Babylonian).

This tablet is plano-convex, with a cuneiform inscription of Sin-iddinam on two faces.

Inscription translation: 

Obverse: (For) Utu, / lord of justice of heaven and earth, / learned in decision, / the one who choses in favor of innocence, / the king of Ebabbar, / his king, / Sin-iddinam, / the shepherd who decorates everything / for Nippur, / the provider of Ur, / king of Larsa, / king of Sumer and Akkad, / the Ebabbar, / his beloved house,

Reverse: for the sake of his life, / he built (it) / For abundant distant days / he enlarged that dwelling place. / With the thing that he (Sin-iddinam) has done, / (may) Utu, / rejoice. / A life of sweet things / (and) bright days / as a reward, / may he (Utu) give to him (Sin-iddinam).

Courtesy & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA. Accession Number: 41.222.