Middle Eastern Mythologies

Inanna’s Descent

Why was Inanna such an important mythological figure?

Inanna is important because she represents at least the remnants of a time when goddess figures—specifically those representing fertility such as the prehistoric goddess of Çatal Hüyük—were probably central to mythologies. The sense of the earth’s fertility would have been ubiquitous in the Fertile Crescent, especially in the marshlands of Sumer in what is now southern Iraq. Furthermore, Inanna’s “death” and resurrection are beautiful metaphorical representations of the essential pattern of agriculture, in which the descent of planting results in the emergence of new life. Finally, then, Inanna is a symbol of the power of civilization to negate the power of death.


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