Inanna’s Father?

Neo-Sumerian Seal

Who was Inanna’s father? One of the Sumerian creator gods: An, Enki, or Enlil? Or the moon god Nanna? By the late third millennium BCE, different genealogical traditions had developed concerning Inanna’s parentage. The location of her cult center next to the ancient White Temple in Uruk reinforced her early associations with the sky god An. But over time, she also became linked with other important male deities in stories and hymns glorifying her power. During the Akkadian period, Inanna was gradually syncretized with the Akkadian war goddess Ishtar, daughter of the Akkadian moon god Suen; and the genealogies of the two goddesses (and their families) began to intertwine. Inanna was praised as the “great daughter of Suen” by Enheduanna, who served as high priestess of the Sumerian moon god Nanna at his cult center in Ur by appointment of her own father, Sargon the Great. During the Neo-Sumerian period, Inanna became more closely linked with the moon god, then known as Nanna-Suen. With the ruling dynasty based in Ur, the moon god rose to greater prominence and was promoted as the son of Enlil, whose ancient cult center in Nippur dominated regional politics. Thus, by some accounts, Inanna became the daughter of Nanna-Suen and the granddaughter of Enlil, inheriting her authority by patrilineal descent from the most powerful male deities of the time. These family relationships reinforced the political, economic and cultural ties between the cult centers, supporting the interests of the Ur III dynasty. 

For further reading: Hall (1985); Asher-Greve and Westenholz, (2013).

Image: Presentation scene with a worshipper pouring a libation before a seated deity who gestures towards the crescent moon, c. 2,112-2,004 BCE. Modern Impression from a Neo-Sumerian Cylinder Seal found in the 1957-1958 excavations of the Inanna Temple in Nippur. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 51.41.37, Rogers Fund, 1959. Public Domain.

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