Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Jun 15, 2008 7:46:30 GMT -5
Thread Orientation: Because there has been some general confusion over the distinctions between the deites and/or localities Nammu, Abzu and Apsu, it seems worth with to investigate these concepts further. I have started this thread by copying over a few notes Madness took elsewhere.
[Originally posted by Madness, June 2, on the DEEP thread
]Is that the same Namma that equates to Tiamat?
It might be convenient to equate these two watery primordial mother goddesses, but can this be proven?
Tiamat, the absolute state of tâmtu, means "sea."
Kramer in his Sumerian Mythology
happens to equate Namma with the sea (p. 39): In a tablet which gives a list of the Sumerian gods, the goddess Nammu, written with the ideogram for "sea," is described as "the mother, who gave birth to heaven and earth." Heaven and earth were therefore conceived by the Sumerians as the created products of the primeval sea.
Jacobsen in his 'Sumerian Mythology: A Review Article' in Toward the Image of Tammuz
[originally published in JNES 5] rejects this (p. 116): Returning to Dr. Kramer's treatment of the speculations centering in the goddess Nammu, it must be pointed out that the sign with which her name is written does not - as Dr. Kramer avers - mean "sea." "Sea" is a-abba(k) in Sumerian; the sign with which Nammu's name is written denotes - if read engur - primarily the body of sweet water which the Mesopotamians believed lay below the earth, feeding rivers and wells but best observable in the watery deep of the marshes. Nammu is therefore the "watery deep" of the Mesopotamian marshes extending below the surface of the earth as the water-bearing strata. She is not the sea.
Apart from both goddesses being the the primordial mothers, and both being closely associated with the Apsu, the fact that they represent different bodies of water might be a deal breaker.
[and on June 11th]It might be convenient to equate these two watery primordial mother goddesses, but can this be proven?
Perhaps instead of looking for strict lexical equivalences, an answer could be found in Mesopotamian mythological speculation. The Akkadian Apsû, most commonly written with the sign ENGUR, happens to be equated with the sea in a first millennium Babylonian explanatory work, as shown in Livingstone's Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works
p. 191:Anu [is present] as himself.
Enlil is present as Lugaldukuga, (that is) Enmešarra. Enmešarra is Anu.
Ea is present as the Apsû. The Apsû is the sea(Tâmtu). The sea is Ereškigal.
Livingstone explains: Apsû and tâmtu(Tiāmat) are similar in that both are watery regions; as mythological figures they were husband and wife. Finally, Ereškigal is equated with Tiāmat, perhaps because both are underworld deities.
Jacobsen dismisses this and remains adamant that engur is wholly distinct from "sea," n. 21 to 'Sumerian Mythology: A Review Article': However, as anyone conversant with theological texts of the type of TC, VI, 47 will know, such associations are important rather for what they tell about Mesopotamian speculative thought than as precise contributions to lexicography.
One could join the dots and present a hypothetical link between Namma and Tiamat, but, as far as I am aware, a direct equation of the two does not exist.
Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Jun 15, 2008 8:43:44 GMT -5
The Southern or Eridu Model
Referring to G. Leick in her book "Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature", the author begins the book by providing an overview of the sexuality of cosmological creation. In the process, she gives the following descriptions of theology of Eridu, and Nammu (p.12):
Without trying to submit Mesopotamian mythology to a geographical reductionism it is worth considering that the natural features of a landscape do at times inform the imagery of mythical language. This is very obviously the case in much of the Australian or Native American material, but the impact of mountain peaks, rivers, lakes and springs etc. is almost ubiquitous.
My division of the Mesopotamian system into a 'southern' and 'northern' model tries to correlate the terms 'Eridu' and 'Nippur' theology with their geographical situation. But it should not be taken as the basis of a binary orientation affecting Mesopotamian thought. Sumerian tradition held that 'after kingship had descended from Heaven, Eridu became the first seat of kingship.'
Eridu (the modern name of the site is Abu Shahrein) was situated at the edge of the great marshes. With their characteristic reed thickets and wide lagoons, they survive precariously in southern Iraq. The marshes have water in abundance but little stable land which can be used for large-scale growing of crops. Survival depends on a careful adaption of the peculiar ecological conditions, and is not conductive to significant increase of population. The classical Mesopotamian civilization, however, was bad on surplus production of cereals, made possible by putting normally arid zones under the plough and irrigating the land by an intricate system of canals, dikes and ditches.
In these basically desert conditions, was was of fundamental importance to the economy. It became one of the most significant symbols for representing well-being, fertility and creation. The marshes of the South may well have actually been one of the oldest habitats of Mesopotamia (Green 1975: 47-50), as the native tradition always mentioned. Their proximity to the wide lagoons contributed to the formation of the so called Eridu theology. The basic symbol associated with Eridu is ENGUR (Labat No.484); its mail temple was called E.engura. The same sign preceded by the symbol for 'water' was used as a determinative for waterways, river, canal, lake, etc. The realm of the divine in this context is not the sky or the earth, but water. The sign ENGUR can also be read as nammu
. This is a synonym of abzu, which is usually translated 'watery deep' or 'sweet water ocean' and defined as the subterranean source of water that emerges from the ground, from wells and springs, not rain-water. The importance of the abzu is well recognized in the ritual. Temples thought Mesopotamia and throughout history had basins or pools to symbolize and represent the abzu. Sumerian texts describe the abzu as lying below the surface of the earth, where the water deity lives. In later mythological texts, most notably the Babylonian Enuma eliš
..Apsû (the Akkadian form of abzu) is personified as male.
The Sumerian personification of ENGUR was female and called Nammu. God-lists and other texts describe her as 'the mother who gave birth to Heaven and Earth', 'mother, first one, who gave birth to the gods of the universe' or as 'Mother of Everything'. She is a goddess without a spouse, the self-procreating womb, the primal matter, the inherently fertile and fertilizing waters of the abzu. Nammu stands for the female sex as th one apparently able to create spontaneously, as expressed in the hymn to the temple of Eridu; 'E.engura, womb of abundance.' Nammu does not play a significant role in the corpus of texts that has survived, nor was she much of a mythological personality. She may either belong to an older stratum of Sumerian or pre-Sumerian deities who do not become subjects of literary compositions, or owe her appearance in the hymns and god-lists to a tendency to anthropomorphize general concepts such as abzu or ENGUR and thereby integrate it into' the Sumerian pantheon but without really becoming a 'character'."
In the Babylonian
tradition, ENGUR, the self-contained prima materia
, is split into two components, Apsû and Tiāmat. Grammatically speaking, Apsū is masculine and Tiāmat (etymologically related to the Semitic word for 'sea') is feminine. The 'Single Mother' matrix is hereby replaced by a couple to represent the primary constituents of the universe. The important Babylonian text from the late second millennium, called Enuma Eliš
after its initial words, describes the beginning of the universe:
When on high heaven had not (yet) been created,"
Earth below had not (yet) been brought into being,
When Apsû primeval, their begetter,
and Tiāmat, their progenitress,
(Still) mingled their waters together,
When no grassland had been formed, no reed thicket laid out,
When no gods whatever brought into being,
Were not yet existent, their destinies undetermined,
(At that time) the gods created within them
Leick speculates at the reason why the Babylonians differentiated from the Sumerian tradition of Nammu as the self procreating womb, and split the concept into Tiāmat the salt waters and Apsû (the Akk. abzu):"
For the sake of symmetry and perhaps for the benefit of an audience not longer familiar with matrilinear references, the primal matter was artificially divided into complimentary, male-female elements. But the older model of a singular source of life is still easily recognizable."
Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Jun 22, 2008 12:22:10 GMT -5
Nammu's important in Ur III incantation literature (Cunningham 1997, pg. 77):
Cunningham: "While Nammu's importance in incantations is less than Asalluhi's, it should be noted that the name of the founder of the Ur III dynasty, Urnammu (Man of Nammu), suggests her wider significance. Her association with Enki is expressed in two ways: by the writing of her name with the sign ENGUR, a divine domain which she possibly personifies, and by her role in the pantheon as his mother. 8
8: Specified in, for example, the Myth of Enki and Ninmah. See further Leick 1994 pp13-14."
Post by madness on Jul 1, 2008 4:21:52 GMT -5
In the text Enki and Ninmah Namma plays a role in the creation of mankind. The ETCSL translation of line 30:
My mother, the creature you planned will really come into existence. Impose on him the work of carrying baskets.
Namma kneads clay from the Abzu into the human form, and then gives birth to the creation while Ninmah and birth-goddesses stand by. Jacobsen in his review article of Sumerian Mythology explains this as the watery deep (Namma) bringing up silt and depositing it on the shore (Ninmah), similar to the formation of alluvial Mesopotamia itself.
W. G. Lambert, in 'Myth and Mythmaking in Sumer and Akkad' in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, states that "three literary myths expound the idea of the human race being made from clay and divine blood: the Sumerian Enki and Ninmakh, the Babylonian Atrakhasis Epic, and the Babylonian Epic of Creation."
Where is the blood in the Sumerian story? Well Lambert provides a literal translation of line 30:
Mother, there is the blood you set aside; impose on it the hard labor of the gods.
The word mud in this line would be an obscure point, where it can mean "to create" but also "blood." This translation would reveal the text's similarity to the Babylonian creation stories, especially Atrahasis which relates the hard labour and rebellion of the working gods.
Post by madness on Oct 14, 2008 0:39:16 GMT -5
For Lambert's treatment of this problem see "The Relationship of Sumerian and Babylonian Myth as Seen in Accounts of Creation," in D. Charpin and F. Joannès (eds.), La circulation des biens, des personnes et des idées dans le Proche-Orient ancien.
Apparently there is a bilingual version of Enki and Ninmah which Lambert uses to show that blood is involved.
Post by madness on Apr 7, 2009 22:21:08 GMT -5
Secrecy and the Engur
The name of Namma is written with the sign ENGUR [=Akkadian apsû
], which is listed in the PSD
as LAGABxHAL, i.e. the sign LAGAB with the sign HAL written in the middle of it:
One of the meanings of the sign HAL is pirištu
"secret." Does this meaning apply here? We shall see.
Simo Parpola understands the word Abzu [ZU.AB] as composed of ab "sea" and zu "gnosis/wisdom," (and notes an epithet of the Apsû in Šurpu
tablet II line 149: bīt nēmeqi
"home of wisdom") and he explains thatThe chief synonym of abzu, engur, was from the earliest times written with an infixed hal, 'secret', and thus must likewise have been associated with esoteric "wisdom."
["Monotheism in Ancient Assyria," in One God or Many?
p. 176 n. 24]
Alan Lenzi supplies more examples in his comprehensive study of secrecy:An OB lexical list equates the Sumerian hal.an.kù, "secret of the pure heaven," with Akkadian ap-sú-ú-um, Ea's subterranean watery domain. Ea's sanctuary in Esagil was called é.hal.an.ki, "House of the Secrets of Heaven and Earth." Lastly and most interesting is an OB royal inscription from Malgium (RIMEP E4.11.1 Ipiq-Eštar) that attests a very revealing epithet for Ea.
8. wa-ši-ib ZU.<AB>-im be-el pi-ri-iš-tim
The one who dwells in the Apsu, the lord of the secret council
[Secrecy and the Gods
, pp. 104-105]
Lenzi also notes the hal.an.kù appearing in the Enki and Ninmah
text:At the word of his mother Namma, Enki rose up from his bed.
In Hal-an-kug, his room for pondering, he slapped his thigh in annoyance.
This room for pondering is within the Engur. The Engur itself is described as a secret place:At that time, the one of great wisdom, the creator of all the senior gods,
Enki lay on his bed, not waking up from his sleep,
In the deep Engur, in the subterranean water, the place the inside of which no other god knows.
It seems that only Namma has access to this secret place; she takes the tears of the gods there, for the gods cannot do so themselves. It is also only Namma who can bring things out from the secret place, for not only did Enki himself come from her womb, but so did mankind (made from clay brought up from the Abzu), and also Heaven and Earth (d
ama-tu-an-ki). Leick tells us (Sex and Eroticism
, p. 15) that Namma is the dynamic creative aspect of Engur, whereas the Apsu is the inert physical element - thus Namma can be seen as an active intermediary between the normal world (Earth) and the secret world (Engur), bringing things down to it and things back up out of it.
It is surely no coincidence that the same text which reflects the secret nature of Engur is also the one where Namma makes her most prominent appearance. I conclude that the HAL sign in her name is definitely read "secret."
Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Apr 18, 2009 17:26:57 GMT -5
Awesome reading man
Both the secrecy of the ENGUR and the role of Namma really are intriguing and the subject would be well worth an enenuru focus at some point! I particularly enjoyed your explanations of Hal.an.kug as I have wondered about it before - it definitely is an enticing part of the Eridu lore. We will have to look into it carefully soon, as Nisaba and her husband Haia (called "accountant" of hal.an.kug) may factor in to the discussion.
For now Ive just been flipping through Leick, and notice she has another interesting comment on p.24, she is refering to lines from Enki and the World Order:
"The enigmatic lines 195-6 refer to the mysterious inner source of Enki's potency, the place where the gods are born. It is significant that this sign written with the divine determinative stands for the mother-goddess Mammu; maybe in this context it is a reference to the maternal origin of Enki: ENGUR as personified by Nammu. In this text, which stresses the male aspects of power, this reference is only made obliquely."
I think ETCSL translate this line "Like heaven itself, your just matrix, in which gods too can be born, is beyond reach." The word translated matrix is written umun2, and is what Leick see's as mummu I think - we can see the entry as ePSD by searching umun2. In anycase her comment here is indicating that Nammu is actually meant, which reinforces her earlier statements that Nammu is Enki's secret creational force. Fascinating
On page 26, she states it is Enki's authority over the creative potential of the Apsu that ensures his fertility.
Post by madness on Jan 8, 2010 20:37:36 GMT -5
> bilingual version of Enki and Ninmah <
I was fortunate enough to take a look at Lambert's article, "The Relationship of Sumerian and Babylonian Myth as Seen in Accounts of Creation"
Line 30 of the text:
ama.mu (! tablet: .ni) mud.mu.gar.ra.zu ì.gál.la.àm zub.sìg dingir.re.e.ne kéš.da.ì
My mother, there is my/the blood which you set aside, impose on it the corvée of the gods.
C. A. Benito (1969) translation:
My mother, the creature on whom you have set (your mind) will really exist. Impose on him the work to carry baskets.
S. N. Kramer/J. Maier (1989) translation:
My mother, the creature whose name you fixed - it exists. The corvée of the gods has been forced on it.
J. J. A. van Dijk (1964) translation:
Ma! mère, au résultat de ce que tu auras créé, lie les travaux forcés des dieux.
T. Jacobsen (1987) translation:
O mother mine, since the sire (who was once) provided with heir by you is still here, have the god's birth-chair (?) put together!
Lambert discusses the problems of the text and the bilingual version (p. 129f.):
It is agreed everywhere that the text is extremely difficult . . . the easily understandable Babylonian version it offers has been in effect ignored. It has not been taken seriously, as though modern scholars know the meaning of the Sumerian much better, which is certainly untrue. The present writer contends that generally speaking it is reliable, and that its renderings can be confirmed from the Babylonian lexical tradition generally in certain cases. As so understood the text uses many of the traditions about man's creation that are known from Atra-hasīs. It might be replied of course that the Akkadian renderings, whether also supported by the Babylonian lexical tradition or not, are false, being influenced by the Babylonian ideas found in Atra-hasīs. In principle this is possible, but the issue will not be settled on a theoretical basis, but by consideration of each item in turn, which will be undertaken for appropriate lines here.
Lambert does not provide this Babylonian version in his article, only the Sumerian, though I assume his translation is faithful to the bilingual (I'm guessing that the Sumerian mud is rendered as damu in the bilingual).
Some fragments of the bilingual were transliterated by R. Borger in Or. 54, but there are still more pieces that have not been published.
[ I briefly looked at Borger's article on my way out, but I could not make heads or tails of it ]
Post by madness on Nov 30, 2010 18:06:19 GMT -5
My above post on secrecy would have been a lot easier if I had been aware that Namma was already explained to mean secret.
The name of Namma is written with the sign ENGUR as we have seen, which is composed of the signs LAGABxHAL. These two signs in turn mean:
LAGAB = napharu "totality"
HAL = pirištu "secret"
Lambert cites a text which decodes her name into these very parts, thus giving a definition. 'A Late Babylonian Copy of an Expository Text', JNES 48 p. 219:
K 232+ obv. 26
dnamma nap-har pi-riš-ti ilānimeš
"Namma, totality of the secret of the gods"
Lenzi refers to and comments on this text (Secrecy and the Gods, p. 145 n. 51):
This "sign-play" combined with Namma's connection to water probably explains her association with secrecy, Enki, wisdom, and the Apsu in various learned texts. .. This scribal, theological invention pertaining to Namma underlines the growing importance of secrecy among ancient scholars in Mesopotamia.
dubsartur (junior scribe)
Post by rakovsky on Sept 3, 2016 18:00:25 GMT -5
A major question I would ask would be whether any god in Sumerian mythology created Nammu, and whether all Sumerian records say that the motherly Nammu (waters) birthed the major father god An (sky)? Or do some records call An "uncreated"?
One website mentions a Sumerian tablet saying Nammu birthed An:
Another website repeats this and mentions something interesting about Sumerian metaphysics:
What do you think?
dubsartur (junior scribe)
Post by rakovsky on Sept 3, 2016 18:37:45 GMT -5
You cited Leick's work:
Do you think there can be any linguistic relationship between Nammu being shown by the Engur sign and An being shown by the Dingur sign?
Engur and Dingir after all have some phonetic resemblance in their consonants. Here Leick is saying that Nammu personifies the waters of Engur. Can An or Dingir be a personification of the heavens, or vice verse?
I thought this comment by MADNESS (above at Apr 7, 2009 at 11:21pm) was fascinating, when it described the cosmic watery "Abzu".(meaning deep waters)
Did Nammu create the Abzu, or vice verse?
I thought this was pretty interesting what he said too: