Myths of Enki

Myths of Enki, The Crafty God, by Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier, presents Sumerian myths, prayers, chants, and incantations highlighting the importance of Enki (later known as Ea) in ancient Mesopotamia. This book was out of print for many years but has recently been republished. I have relied on library loans in the past, so I am excited to have my own personal copy for study and inspiration.

In Sumerian mythology, Enki was a major creator god and one of the highest-ranking deities of the pantheon. He ruled over the Abzu, the fresh subterranean waters that flowed into lakes, springs, and rivers, essential for sustaining life. Alongside his prominence as a water deity, and his associations with fertility, Enki was also the god of wisdom, cunning, crafts and magic—though he sometimes drank too much and acted foolishly. According to one myth, he was the original keeper of the mes of civilization until lost them to Inanna during a drinking party. His cult center was located in Eridu near the ancient coastline of southern Iraq.

Enki/Ea was represented visually as a male deity with streams of water flowing from his shoulders, sometimes holding a vase from which more water flowed. He was popular in mythological images during the Akkadian period, as seen in the Adda Seal (pictured on the book cover). While stories about the water god were undoubtedly in circulation at the time, at least through oral traditions, the oldest surviving texts about him were produced later, in the scribal schools of the Ur III period. Enki/Ea was also featured in Old Babylonian narratives, such as the Epic of Atrahasis, as well as Hittite and Assyrian texts, perpetuating his legacy in Mesopotamia, and eventually influencing the mythologies of later civilizations.

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