Research Notes

Images of Sumer

Costume and Scene Concepts

Music and Literature of Sumer


Biographies of the Inanna Troupe




Coming Soon




Listen to Music of Sumer

Notes on Music of Sumer

Notes on Literature of Sumer

Conditions of Antiquities in Iraq Today


From Kramer’s notes – to read an indepth interpretation of music see bibliography: Archeomusicology.

From cover of CD "Music of Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians & Greeks"

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 them.

Sir-hamun = harmony hymns
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:

Hymn to Enlil – summary of civilisation’s debt to his benevolence

2. Ninurta – male also called Pagibilsag & Ningursu.

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 of
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

9. Ninnisinna 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 & wisdom.

11. Nungal as daughter of Ereshkigal: judge and protector of the “black-heads”.

Note: 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:

From “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 named Ludingirra
• #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.

Peggy's Thoughts:
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.



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