Urkesh or Urkish (modern Tell Mozan) is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC possibly by the Hurrians on a site which appears to have been inhabited previously for a few centuries. Uniquely, the people of Urkesh use the term ‘endan’ to refer to the early kings.
Ani is a ruined and uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site situated in the Turkish province of Kars, near the border with Armenia. It was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey.
The city is located on a triangular site, visually dramatic and naturally defensive, protected on its eastern side by the ravine of the Akhurian River, a branch of the Araks River and forms part of the current border between Turkey and Armenia, and on its western side by the Bostanlar or Tzaghkotzadzor valley.
Called the “City of 1001 Churches,” Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.
At its height, Ani had a population of 100,000–200,000 people and was the rival of Constantinople, Baghdad and Cairo. Long ago renowned for its splendor and magnificence, Ani has been abandoned and largely forgotten for centuries.
The city took its name from the Armenian fortress-city and pagan center of Ani-Kamakh, now known as Kemah, the principal temple of aramazd was in ani, now a town and district of Erzincan Province in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. Ani was also the diminutive name of ancient Armenian goddess Anahit who was seen as the mother-protector of Armenia.
EN (ENSI) is the Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk.
ENSI (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).
For the Early Dynastic period (about 2800–2350 BC), the meaning of the Sumerian titles EN, ENSI and LUGAL cannot be differentiated clearly: see Lugal, ensi and en for details. Énsi may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to Lagash and Umma. The énsi was considered a representative of the city state’s patron deity. In later periods, an énsi was normally seen as subordinate to a lugal (king). Nevertheless, even the powerful rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash (circa 2100 BC) such as Gudea were satisfied with the title énsi.
Lugal (? Sumerian, Neo-Assyrian) is the Sumerian cuneiform sign for leader from the two signs, LÚ.GAL (“man, big”), and was one of several Sumerian titles that a ruler of a city-state could bear (alongside en and ensi, the exact difference being a subject of debate). The sign eventually became the predominant Sumerian term for a King in general. In the Sumerian language, lugal is used to mean an owner (e.g. of a boat or a field) or a head (of a unit such as a family).
In Ur III times (about 2100–2000 BC) énsi referred to the provincial governors of the Kingdom. These exercised great powers in terms of government, tax revenue and jurisdiction, but they were supervised, installed, and dismissed by the King (lugal) of Ur. Although the office could be inherited, all énsi had to be endorsed by the King. No independent foreign policy or warfare was allowed.
In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”).
They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).
Dingir (also transliterated diĝir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.
The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DINGIR, DIGIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”) or the ideogram for An, the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DINGIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.
The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.
The Sumerian sign DINGIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme mother of the gods.
According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.
The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (i.e. Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian). The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke4-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning something to the effect of “those of royal blood” or “princely offspring”. Their relation to the group of gods known as the Igigi is unclear – at times the names are used synonymously but in the Atra-Hasis flood myth the Igigi are the sixth generation of the Gods who have to work for the Anunnaki, rebelling after 40 days and replaced by the creation of humans.
The Anunnaki appear in the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish. In the late version magnifying Marduk, after the creation of mankind, Marduk divides the Anunnaki and assigns them to their proper stations, three hundred in heaven, three hundred on the earth. In gratitude, the Anunnaki, the “Great Gods”, built Esagila, the splendid: “They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu, they set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, Ea.” Then they built their own shrines.
The Ésagila, a Sumerian name signifying “É (temple) whose top is lofty”, (literally: “house of the raised head”) was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki, a memory of which has been perpetuated in Judeo-Christian culture as the Tower of Babel.
The Abzu (Cuneiform: ? ?, ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform:?, LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’to know’ or ‘deep’ was the name for fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu. Absu/Apsu god of groundwater.
The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.
The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that it is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the God at Eridu.
Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant. The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.
Seal impressions from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100–2900 BC) show a fixed sequence of city symbols including those of Ur, Larsa, Zabalam, Urum, Arina, and probably Kesh. It is likely that this list reflects the report of contributions to Inanna at Uruk from cities supporting her cult. A large number of similar sealings were found from the slightly later Early Dynastic I phase at Ur, in a slightly different order, combined with the rosette symbol of Inanna, that were definitely used for this purpose. They had been used to lock storerooms to preserve materials set aside for her cult. Inanna’s primary temple of worship was the Eanna, located in Uruk (c.f. Worship).
Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The Cuneiform sign of Inanna however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin) and sky (Sumerian: an; AN). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.
Hannahannah (from Hittite hannas “grandmother”), also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna.
The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.
Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e2-anna; E2.AN) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice. In addition, according to Leick (1994) persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples. The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.
Equative is a case with the meaning of comparison, or likening. The equative case has been used in very few languages in history. It was used in the Sumerian language. All Hurrian nouns end in a vowel. Hurrian has 13 cases in its system of declension. One of these, the Equative case, has a different form in both of the main dialects. In Hattusha and Mari, the usual ending is -oš, termed equative I, whereas in the Mitanni letter we find the form -nna, called equative II. The Mitanni warriors were called marya (Hurrian: maria-nnu), the term for (young) warrior in Sanskrit as well.