Mythos 13 – Nungalene Slaves

 

In the Sumerian mytho-history, the Anunna later called Anunnaki and Anunnaku in Akkadian, came to the Earth before there were humans.(1)Gwendolyn Leick (1998) A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology, Page 85 They employed another group known as the Nungalene, later called Igigi and Igigu in Akkadian, to work in their garden on Earth.(2)William P. Brown (1999) The ethos of the cosmos: the genesis of moral imagination in the Bible, Page 140 The Nungalene are not described in any detail in the surviving Mesopotamian texts, and like the Anunna, there are no known statues of them or temples dedicated to them.(3)B. Kienast (1977-1980) “Igigū, Anunnakkū und. B. Nach akk. Quellen” Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archāologie, Volume 5, Pages 40-44 Nungalene translates as approximately “the great sovereigns,” although the oldest known tablets that describe them date to the Old Babylonian Era, by which time they were already known as Igigi and Igigu in Akkadian.

In the Old Babylonian era Epic of Atra-Hasis, the situation was described before the rebellion:

When the gods, like men bore the work and suffered the toil, the toil of the gods was great, the work was heavy, the distress was much. The Seven great Anunnaki were making the Igigu suffer the work.- W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard (4)W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard (1969) Atra-ḫasīs. The Babylonian Story of the Flood

The Seven Great Anunna (Anunnaki) were making the Nungalene (Igigu) suffer a great deal of work. The Nungalene were a group of several “Great Sovereigns,” alternately counted as seven,(5)Wolfram Von Soden (1966) “Die Igigu-Götter in altbabylonischer Zeit” Iraq,Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 140-145 eight,(6)B. Kienast (1965) ‘Igigiū and Anunnakkū nach den akkadischen Quellen.’ Assyriological Studies, Volume 16, Pages 141-158 or ten,(7)J. Black and A. Green (1998) Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. An Illustrated Dictionary. but this is uncertain as well, due to the fact that the Nungalene and Igigi/Igigu evolved over the 3,000 years of Mesopotamian history that they were worshiped through. There is no existing evidence that the Sumerians themselves worshiped either the Anunna or the Nungalene, however by the Old Babylonian era, they had taken on the role of deities, and by the Neo-Babylonian era they were regarded as the supreme councils of god, somewhat like the Titans and Olympians of Greece. Some early mytho-historical texts, such as the Anzu myth, speak of an assembly of the Igigu, but whether this might be an institutionalized assembly or a figurative assembly remains in dispute among Assyriologists.

Anunna Creating Humanity

Sumerian Seal Depicting the Anunna Creating Humanity

The Anunna were also an odd group, as they were initially not worshipped(8)A. Falkenstein (1965) “Die Anunna in der sumerischen Überlieferung” Assyriological Studies, Volume 16, Pages 127-140, and there were originally different groups of Anunna in different cities, such as the Anunna of Eridu or the Anunna of Lagash.(9)D. Katz (2003) The Image of the Netherworld in the Sumerian Sources It is not clear how many Anunna were in each city; one ancient tablet mentioned the ‘fifty Anunna of Eridu’.(10)D. O. Edzard (1965) “Mesopotamien. Die Mythologie der Sumerer und Akkader” in H. W. Haussig editor Götter und Mythen im Vorderen Orient, Pages 17-140 Regardless of the number of Anunna, the Nungalene didn’t like to work for them, and eventually rebelled. The early Sumerian records on the rebellion are heavily damaged, and later Babylonian stories are inconsistent, so the exact nature of the rebellion of the “Great Sovereigns” isn’t known. It was likely already half-forgotten by the first Babylonian Empire. The fragments we have been able to reassemble from Sumerian and Akkadian times claim that the blood of Geshtu-E was used to make humanity.(11)Michael Jordan (2002) Encyclopedia of Gods Geshtu-E translates as approximately “intelligence”. The Babylonian Era epic Enûma Elish claims it was the blood of Qingu that was mixed with the Earth to make humanity.(12)Samuel Noah Kramer (1963) The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, Pages 149-151 Qingu translates as approximately “unskilled laborer.” If the two stories are descended from one, then the implication is that “intelligence” was added to “unskilled laborer” so the Anunna wouldn’t have to work themselves.

References   [ + ]

1. Gwendolyn Leick (1998) A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology, Page 85
2. William P. Brown (1999) The ethos of the cosmos: the genesis of moral imagination in the Bible, Page 140
3. B. Kienast (1977-1980) “Igigū, Anunnakkū und. B. Nach akk. Quellen” Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archāologie, Volume 5, Pages 40-44
4. W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard (1969) Atra-ḫasīs. The Babylonian Story of the Flood
5. Wolfram Von Soden (1966) “Die Igigu-Götter in altbabylonischer Zeit” Iraq,Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 140-145
6. B. Kienast (1965) ‘Igigiū and Anunnakkū nach den akkadischen Quellen.’ Assyriological Studies, Volume 16, Pages 141-158
7. J. Black and A. Green (1998) Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. An Illustrated Dictionary.
8. A. Falkenstein (1965) “Die Anunna in der sumerischen Überlieferung” Assyriological Studies, Volume 16, Pages 127-140
9. D. Katz (2003) The Image of the Netherworld in the Sumerian Sources
10. D. O. Edzard (1965) “Mesopotamien. Die Mythologie der Sumerer und Akkader” in H. W. Haussig editor Götter und Mythen im Vorderen Orient, Pages 17-140
11. Michael Jordan (2002) Encyclopedia of Gods
12. Samuel Noah Kramer (1963) The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, Pages 149-151