AND LITERATURE OF SUMER
to Music of Sumer
on Music of Sumer
on Literature of Sumer
of Antiquities in Iraq Today
NOTES ON MUSIC
From Kramer’s notes – to read an indepth interpretation
of music see bibliography: Archeomusicology.
cover of CD "Music of Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians &
“Tigi” is mentioned a lot in the translations.
It is a lyre. Drum (ireshemma) is the next most mentioned instrument.
An “adeb” was a unident string instrument.
Lyres played antiphons = 1-4 lines like a choral refrain.
“Kirigu” = a genuflection followed
by a refrain-like passage called an “izig”.
Hymn (Sumerian: “sir” – Hebrew:
“shir”) writing was a literary art & poets sub-categorised
Sir-hamun = harmony
Sir-namnar = musical hymns
Sir-namgala = hymns of gala-ship (king-ship)
Sir–namursagga = hymns of hero-ship
Sir–namsipad-inanna-ka = hymns of shepherdship of the goddess
Inanna & Dumuzi
Types of Hymns:
1. Hymn to Enlil – summary of civilisation’s
debt to his benevolence
2. Ninurta – male also called Pagibilsag
3. Inanna by ill-fated Enheduanna, daughter of
Sargon the Great – (Read Tolkein lately?) Enheduanna was
a poet priestess & the first published woman poet. She was
daughter of King Sargon who conquered Sumer around 2200BC. He
named it Sumer-Akkad &
its goddesses were about to be supplanted by gods. To protest
her father’s act, Enheduanna, dedicated herself to the preservation
Inanna’ authority by becoming head priestess of the temple,
writing poems to and about Inanna. However, Sargon had his daughter
banished from Sumer-Akkad never to be heard from again.
4. Inanna as Venus Star – This is a description
of the holy marriage of King Iddin – Dagan of Isin on New
Year’s Day. You see, Inanna was acted out by the high priestess
of the Temple of Inanna on New Year’s Day with the King
to ensure the fertility of the city for the coming year.
5. As Goddess of War & Wrath
6. Utu as god of justice who regulates &
supervises world order
7. Nanshe who guards men’s ethics &
values – as he guards Enki’s shrine in the Abzu.
8. Hendursag, Nanshe’s lieutenant (vizier)
in charge of judging men’s ethics & values
as great physician of the “black-heads” who is also
patron of the arts, deity
of medicine & healing.
10. Ninkasi as goddess of accounting, writing
11. Nungal as daughter of Ereshkigal: judge and
protector of the “black-heads”.
Since “black-heads” is not a very complimentary term
in our society – I have changed the name to black-haired
people” where the appellate is called for. Also –
isn’t it interesting Ereshkigal had a daughter. She was
married to Nergal who was her ardent lover in the Underworld.
Where did he go? We may never know:
“The New Scientist” March 1-7, 2008
• usually bewailing the destruction of Sumerian
cities & city-states.
• death of the god, Dumuzi or one of his counterparts
• The Best are of: the destruction of Ur, the destruction
of Nippur (which ends with joy at its restoration)
• Dumuzi has a lot of laments
• from 1700BC at the Pushkin Museum – Russia
• (only 2 found) Funeral Dirges uttered by a single individual
• #1 Laments the death of his father, Nanna who (it seems)
died of wounds in a physical struggle
• #2 Ludingirra bewails the death of a good & beloved
wife, Nawirtum who seems to have died a natural death.
• Each dirge is preceded by a prologue that sets the scene
– highly poetic diction, various types of repetition, parallelism,
choral refrains, similes, metaphors
Deeds of the deceased were sung in inflated & grandeloquent
phrases. Family members’ prayers for the deceased are in
the dirge including curses on the murderer & his offspring.
They conclude with prayers for the deceased welfare in the Netherworld,
favorable treatment by the personal god of his/her city and for
the well being of spouse and children.
Learned from Dirges:
The Sun, after setting, continued its journey in the Netherworld
at night. (Maya of the Yucatan believed this also) and Nanna (moon
god) spent his day of sleep – last day of the month –
in the Netherworld.
Life in the Netherworld: The Sun god, Utu – judge par excellence
of mankind, made decisions in the Underworld. He judged souls.
Nanna – in some way decreed the fate of the dead on the
day he visited.
Enki, at some point had been a lover of Ereshkigal – and
emerged, apparently unscathed but discreet.
It seems many of the gods paid a visit to the Underworld as a
judge, be a lover of Ereshkigal, or to party. It was only Inanna
who chose to meet her sister face to face and ask the question.
Ereshkigal (note, Erek is real spelling of Inanna’s city
of Uruk and kigal, means Underworld. Altogether the words imply
“as above, so below”. The Queen of Heaven & Earth
needs her counterpart in the Below. This way Inanna is the feminine
principle. She embodies the polarities of energy and inertia.
People were pretty feisty in these days. They quarreled a lot
and had kids who misbehaved. Parents and teachers groaned and
admonished ceaslessly. Married couples wanted to get unmarried
ASAP, which shocked families & neighbors . There were inter-city
quarrels that eventually weakened Sumer militarily and paved the
way for King Sargon’s invasion. They robbed each other,
outwitted each other - couple of drive-bys. Transportation occurred
in chariots that had axles fixed to the wheel – so the unit
of axle & wheel rotated and the donkeys that drew the chariots
were not really donkeys – they were tougher & a little
bigger than a donkey, called an onager – a wild ass. The
desert was filled with lions, vultures, scorpions. Beer was drunk
thru a long straw and the vessel of beer sat on the ground. Many
taverns & prostitutes. Enki gave the tavern to the fly as
a gift. People had lovers of the same & opposite genders.
This was the Bronze Age. The Iron Age of punishing Semitic gods
was just around the corner.