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Middle Eastern Mythologies

Sumerian Gods and Heroes

What did Sumerian mythology say about the creation of the world?

Some Sumerian tablet fragments suggest that when An (Heaven) and Ki (Earth) joined to form Anki (the universe), it was necessary, as expressed in many of the world’s creation myths, to separate them so that the creation of the world could take place in the space between them. It was Enlil who took his mother down away from An. Now the gods and goddesses married and began the work of farming, but the work was difficult and the gods began to complain, especially as the wise and crafty god Enki spent most of his time sleeping while they labored. It was Nammu, (the primordial waters), who woke up her son and suggested that he create humans to work for the gods. This he did by taking clay from the marshes, provided by his mother, and shaping the clay into humans. The humans were set to work, and the gods could relax. The work was supervised, appropriately, by the earth goddess Ninhursag. It is said by some that it was Enki who reordered the primordial waters into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, organized cities and the domestication of animals and planting, and stocked the marshland waters with fish. Enki’s phallus, we are told, filled the ditches with his semen (that is, water) and wanted to fill the maiden goddess Uttu (Vegetation) with the same fluid, but the goddess’s mother advised her daughter to resist unless Enki would bring her apples, cucumbers, and grapes. Enki agreed to the conditions and poured his “water” into Uttu’s womb only after he had presented her with these gifts. Eight new plants were created from the excess semen left on the young goddess’s body.



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