Major Sumerian Gods and Goddesses

Adad Adad had a twofold aspect, being both the giver and the destroyer of life. His rains caused the land to bear grain and other food for his friends; hence his title Lord of Abundance. His storms and hurricanes, evidences of his anger against his foes, brought darkness, want, and death. Adad's father was the heaven god Anu, but he is also designated as the son of Bel, Lord of All Lands and god of the atmosphere. His consort was Shalash, which may be a Hurrian name. The symbol of Adad was the cypress, and six was his sacred number. The bull and the lion were sacred to him. In Babylonia, Assyria, and Aleppo in Syria, he was also the god of oracles and divination. Unlike the greater gods, Adad quite possibly had no cult centre peculiar to himself, although he was worshiped in many of the important cities and towns of Mesopotamia, including Babylon and Ashur, the capital of Assyria. - Encyclopedia Brittanica


Anu – The ancient Sumero-Babylonian god of the firmament, the 'great above', and the son of the first pair of gods, Ansar and Kisar, descendant of Apsu and Tiamat. He is referred to as "the Father" and "King of the Gods", which signifies his importance in the Mesopotamian pantheon. Not only is he the father of the gods, but also of a great number of demons, whom he sends to humans. In the Sumerian cosmology there was, first of all, the primeval sea, from which was born the cosmic mountain consisting of heaven, 'An', and earth, 'Ki'. They were separated by Enlil, then Anu carried off the heavens, and Enlil the earth. Anu later retreated more and more into the background. He retires to the upper heavens and leaves the affairs of the universe to Marduk and a younger generation of gods.

His consort was Antu (Anatum), a goddess of creation, but she was later replaced by Ishtar. Temples dedicated to Anu could be found in Uruk and Assur. - Encyclopedia Mythica


Aruru – mother and earth goddess in Gilgamesh epic; identified with Sumerian Ki and Ninkhursag (Mama; Nintu). In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (or Ki) was the earth and mother-goddess. She may have been in some traditions the offspring of Nammu were originally An (the heavens or sky,) and Ki, (the Earth). But she usually appears as the sister of Enlil.

Ninhursag means 'Lady of the Foothills'. She had many other names: Nintur 'Lady Birth', Ninmah 'Lady August', Dingirmah, Aruru, and as wife of Enki was usually called Damgalnunna.

In Akkadian she was Belit-ili 'Lady of the gods' and Mama and as wife to Ea, Enki's Akkadian counterpart, she was called Damkina. Her prestige decreased as Ishtar's increased, but her aspect as Damkina mother of Marduk, the supreme god of Babylonia, still held a secure place in the pantheon.

In union with Enki she also bore Ninsar, goddess of the pasture. - Webster's Dictionary


Ea–The ancient Sumero-Babylonian god of the sweet waters. He is the son of Ansar and Kisar and his consort is the mother goddess Damkina, with whom he is the father of Marduk. Ea knows everything and is regarded as the source and patron of wisdom, magic, and medical science. He is one of the creators of mankind, towards whom he is usually well-disposed, and their instructor and taught them arts and crafts.

It was Ea who discovered Tiamat's designs to kill her offspring, and managed to kill her consort Apsu. Ea, who was friendly to man, also revealed Enlil's design of destroying mankind by a flood to Utnapishtim, the Babylonian version of Noah.

Ea was one of the foremost gods of the ancient Mesopotamian pantheon and formed with Anu and Ellil an important and powerful triad of gods. The center of his cult was the city of Eridu, where lived 'in the deep'. He is shown on the seals with streams of water and fish flowing from his shoulders, attended by a two-faced minister, the bird Anzu, and Ishtar as Venus rising. - Encyclopedia Mythica


Enlil – In ancient Sumero-Babylonian myth, Enlil ("lord wind") is the god of air, wind and storms. Enlil is the foremost god of the Mesopotamian pantheon, and is sometimes referred to as Kur-Gal ("great mountain"). In the Sumerian cosmology he was born of the union of An heaven and Ki earth. These he separated, and he carried off the earth as his portion. In later times he supplanted Anu as chief god. His consort is Ninlil with whom he has five children: Nanna, Nerigal, Ningirsu, Ninurta, and Nisaba.

Enlil holds possession of the Tablets of Destiny which gives him power over the entire cosmos and the affairs of man. He is sometimes friendly towards mankind, but can also be a stern and even cruel god who punishes man and sends forth disasters, such as the great Flood which wiped out humanity with the exception of Atrahasis. Enlil is portrayed wearing a crown with horns, symbol of his power. His most prestigious temple was in the city Nippur, and he was the patron of that city. His equivalent is the Akkadian god Ellil. - Encyclopedia Mythica


Ereshkigal –The Sumerian and Akkadian goddess of the underworld, sister of the sky goddess Ishtar. Together with her consort Nergal she rules the underworld, also called 'the big land', from which no-one returns. One day Nergal was sent to her from heaven with an offering of food. They fell in love with each other, and when he had to leave, she was in tears and threathened Anu that she would revive all the dead, over whom she ruled, and send them back to earth, 'so that they will outnumber the living', unless Nergal was send back to her, for ever, as a husband. Her minister Namtar had to go to heaven as her messenger, for Ereshkigal felt that she was already pregnant. At last Nergal came stroming down the stairs, broke down the seven gates and burst into the goddess' palace straight into her passionate embrace, 'to wipe her tears.'

Ereshkigal is dark and violent, befitting her role as goddess of the underworld. As ruler over the shades, Ereshkigal receives the mortuary offerings made to the dead. In the Sumerian cosmogony she was carried off to the underworld after the separation of heaven and earth. She is often praised in hymns. Ereshkigal was probably once a sky-goddess. - Encyclopedia Mythica


Ishtar – The Goddess Inanna or Ishtar was the most important female deity of ancient Mesopotamia at all periods. Her Sumerian name Inanna is probably derived from a presumed Nin-ana, 'Lady of Heaven', it also occurs as Innin. The sign for Innana's name (the ring-post) is found in the earliest written texts. Ishtar (earlier Estar), her Akkadian name, is related to that of the South Arabian (male) deity 'Ashtar' and to that of the Syrian goddess Astarte (Biblical Ashtoreth), with whom she was undoubtedly connected.

The principal tradition concerning Inanna made her the daughter of An [the sky god and father of all gods], and closely connected with the Sumerian city of Uruk. According to another tradition she was the daughter of the mood god Nanna (Sin) and sister of the sun god Uta (Samas). She was also regarded as daughter of Enlil ['King of the Foreign Lands'] or even of Enki [the water god] in variant traditions....The fact that in no tradition does Inanna have a permanent male spouse is closely linked with her role as the goddess of sexual love. Even Dumuzi, who is often described as her 'lover', has a very ambiguous relationship with her and she is ultimately responsible for his death. Nor were any children ascribe to her (with one possible exception, Sara).

It seems likely that with the persona of the classical goddess Innana/Ishtar a number of originally independent, local goddesses were syncretized. The most important of these was certainly the Innana of Uruk, where her principal shrine E-ana ('House of heaven) was located. - Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia


Ninsun– A minor Sumerian goddess noted for her wisdom, and whose house was in Erech (Uruk). She is the wife of the deified king Lugulbanda and mother of the great hero Gilgamesh. In the Gilgamesh epic she appears as a counselor of her son and interprets dreams. Her name means "queen of the wild cow". - Encyclopedia Mythica


ShamashIn Mesopotamian religion, the god of the sun, who, with the moon god, Sin (Sumerian: Nanna), and Ishtar (Sumerian: Inanna), the goddess of Venus, was part of an astral triad of divinities. Shamash was the son of Sin.

Detail of the stela inscribed with Hammurabi's code, showing the king before the god Shamash; …Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.Shamash, as the solar deity, exercised the power of light over darkness and evil. In this capacity he became known as the god of justice and equity and was the judge of both gods and men. (According to legend, the Babylonian king Hammurabi received his code of laws from Shamash.) At night, Shamash became judge of the underworld.

Shamash was not only the god of justice but also governor of the whole universe; in this aspect he was pictured seated on a throne, holding in his hand the symbols of justice and righteousness, a staff and a ring. Also associated with Shamash is the notched dagger. The god is often pictured with a disk that symbolized the Sun.

As the god of the sun, Shamash was the heroic conqueror of night and death who swept across the heavens on horseback or, in some representations, in a boat or chariot. He bestowed light and life. Because he was of a heroic and wholly ethical character, he only rarely figured in mythology, where the gods behaved all too often like mortals. The chief centres of his cult were at Larsa in Sumer and at Sippar in Akkad. Shamash's consort was Aya, who was later absorbed by Ishtar. - Encyclopedia Brittanica


Siduri – The divine wine-maker and brewer. She lives on the shore of the sea (perhaps the Mediterranean), in the garden of the sun. Her name in the Hurrian language means 'young woman' and she may be a form of Ishtar. She is depicted seated in heaven in the shade of her vineyard. - Encyclopedia Mythica


TammuzMesopotamian god of fertility.

He was the son of Enki, god of water, and Duttur, a personification of the ewe. Worship of Tammuz was centered around two yearly festivals, one in the early spring in which his marriage to the goddess Inanna symbolized the fertilization of nature for the coming year, and one in summer when his death at the hands of demons was lamented. He is thought to be the precursor of several later deities associated with agriculture and fertility, including Ninsun, Damu, and Dumuzi-Abzu. - Encyclopedia Brittanica