Enheduanna: High Priestess of the Moon and the First Known Author

June 25, 2019 - General
Representational image of high priestess and poet Enheduanna.

The ancient Sumerian poet Enheduanna has a unique claim to fame: she was the first author in the world known by name. While there were previous instances of poems and stories written down, Enheduanna was the first to sign a name to her work. And what a work it was! Her text was so significant that it influenced hymns for centuries.

The Life of a High Priestess

Living in the 23rd century BC (approximately 2285 – 2250 BC), Enheduanna was the high priestess of the Temple of Sumer. She was a daughter of Sargon of Akkad (Sargon the Great) and Queen Tashlultum, Today, it is known that Sargon was the son of a priestess and Queen Tashlultum may have also been a priestess. Religion played a very important role in those tumultuous times, serving as a check against any intention of the populace to rebel (either against an established overlord or a newcomer).

The Akkadians were Semitic–speaking people from Mesopotamia. Under Sargon the Great, the Akkadian Empire absorbed several Sumerian city-states, some say as many as 34. One of Sargon’s most significant conquests was the Sumerian city of Ur. As a coastal city at the mouth of the Euphrates River, Ur had easy access to trade and transportation, as well as great fertile plains.

A modern reconstruction of the Ziggurat of Ur behind the ruins of the Giparu - the temple complex where Enheduanna lived and was buried in Ur.

Source: origins

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