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Enheduanna
Birth: unknown, Iraq
Death: unknown
Dhi Qar, Iraq

Mesopotamian Princess, High Priestess, Author, Musician. Active over 4300 years ago, she is believed to be the earliest known poet and composer in recorded history. Her masterpiece, "Ninmesarra" ("The Exaltation of Inanna"), contains the earliest narrative written in the first person. Since the late 20th Century her surviving works have gained considerable literary and even mainstream attention. Enheduanna, whose name means "Lady Ornament of the Sky", lived from approximately 2315 to 2250 BC. Her father, Sargon I of Akkad, created the Akkadian Empire when he conquered the kingdom of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. To solidify his dominance in the region, Sargon dispatched his young daughter to the Sumerian city of Ur (now near Nasiriyah in Iraq) to serve as the first High Priestess of their moon god Nanna. She lived and worked in the Giparu at Ur, a walled temple complex that was mostly off-limits to men and had a private burial ground for the priestesses. Under her mysterious leadership worship of Nanna developed into a cult of great religious and political importance. She composed elaborate ritual hymns for the public (the Sumerian clergy was known for putting on a good show), performed marriages, interpreted dreams, made predictions, and prayed for the prosperity of the land. She also had administrative duties, since the economies of the temple and the city were co-dependent. Enheduanna proved to be a brilliant ambassador in the later phase of Sargon's 55-year rule, though this hegemony was not always assured. At some point she was driven into exile during a rebellion led by the deposed Sumerian king Lugalanne; the revolt was eventually crushed and she was restored to her post. She went on to serve through the reigns of her brothers Rimush and Manishtushu and under Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin (whose reign began around 2254 BC). At her death she was revered as a semi-divine figure. Enheduanna had a profound effect on Mesopotamian culture. Her success initiated a long tradition in which the position of High Priestess of Nanna was for royal blood only, occupied by a daughter or sister of the king. The Cult of Nanna continued to grow in importance, culminating with the construction of a new temple, the Great Ziggurat of Ur (2100 BC). Enheduanna's hymns were faithfully copied and in use for the next 500 years, long after the Akkadian Empire had ceased to exist, giving credence to clues she had been elevated to the status of a multi-ethnic deity. And then she sank into the dust of history for three millenia...From the early 1900s, scores of cuneiform tablets bearing hymns attributed to Enheduanna were discovered at different locations in the Near East. Her name puzzled archaeologists - they had never heard of her before. Proof of her historical existence was found by Sir Leonard Wooley during his excavations at Ur (1922 to 1934). He unearthed the remnants of the Giparu and the sacred cemetery where Enheduanna was buried, but the tombs had been plundered long before. Then in 1927 Wooley brought to light a votive disc from the same site, depicting a Sumerian religious ceremony. Inscriptions on the back of the disc identified the participants, including "Enheduanna, high-priestess, wife of the god Nanna, daughter of Sargon, king of the world, in the temple of the goddess Innana". Further digs at the nearby ancient necropolis revealed the tombs of Enheduanna's steward, scribe, and hairdresser (!), all containing royal seals with her name. Even so it was not until 1958 that she was linked as the author of the hymns because they existed only in copies made several centuries after her era, and acceptance from the academic community was slow in coming. Publication of English and German translations of the texts and lobbying from feminist scholars helped turn the tide. Today her authorship is definitively acknowledged. Enheduanna's surviving works are a trilogy of long hymns to Innana, "The Exaltation of Inanna", "Inninsagurra" ("Lady of Largest Heart"), and "Inninmehusa" ("Inanna and Ebih"), and a collection of 42 shorter ones now known as the "Sumerian Temple Hymns". Together they comprise the first documented attempts at religious dogma, in which she promoted Sargon's policy of unifiying the different Akkadian and Sumerian gods into single deities. They have also been viewed as pioneering examples of political literature, as their implicit purpose was to help keep her father - and herself - in power. But what raises the hymns beyond historic interest is their fascinating literary quality. At the dawn of the written word Enheduanna was already a master of rhetoric and a variety of poetic devices. Her style is forceful, imaginative, and deeply personal. While she was the titular "wife" and servant of Nanna, her greatest devotion was to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of war, sex, and fertility whose Akkadian equivalent was Ishtar; it was to her that she dedicated her most ambitious writings. The reason is set forth in "The Exaltation of Inanna". After singing the goddess's praises for half the poem the author dramatically steps forward: "I, Enheduanna". With bitter anger she recounts her exile by Lugalanne, who assaults her and makes her "fly from the temple like a sparrow swept from a hole in a wall". Her prayers to Nanna fall on deaf ears so she turns to Innana for help. Here and in the other hymns Innana is both good and evil. Enheduanna describes her power with epithets of great violence interspersed with feminine and even gender-bending actions. She can lay waste to grain fields and fill rivers with blood, but she can also punish a sinful city by making wives deny intimacy to their husbands. She can turn man into woman and woman into man, and assume male characteristics herself. In a passage of the "Exaltation" describing her writing process - another literary first - Enheduanna heaps coals in the night lamp and prepares her bed chamber for Innana's arrival; she then proclaims, "My Lady, I have given birth" to the hymn in her honor, the progeny of their sacred union. Innana vanquishes the rebels and the High Priestess triumphantly returns to her temple. Modern translator Betty DeShong Meador marveled, "Enheduanna's conception of this goddess opens the door into a whole different way of viewing women. Nothing in our western religion even touches this". The "Sumerian Temple Hymns" are more overt in their empire-building diplomacy. Each celebrates a different temple in Sumer and Akkad, describing the cities where they were located and how they flourished under the king. It is unknown whether Enheduanna visited all these places or got her information secondhand, but she was aware of the significance of her achievement. She signed the collection thus: "The compiler of these tablets is Enheduanna. My king, that which has been created here no one has created before". The incantatory nature of all Enheduanna's verse, with some phrases repeated a dozen or more times, hints at a musical structure. As ritual texts they would have been sung at the temple with instrumental accompaniment. None of her music survives, but based on known practices of the time she would have composed for multiple voices (in unison), lyres, reed pipes, clapper sticks for rhythm, and perhaps a long-necked ancestor of the lute. In one hymn she specifically refers to the drum as a sacred object. Enheduanna's verse has invited wide interpretation and present-day critics are steadily mining its personal, religious and socio-political implications. She has already been popularly dubbed "The Shakespeare of Sumerian Literature". (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Giparu of Ur (Ruins)
Nasiriyah
Dhi Qar, Iraq
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Apr 20, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 88872243
Enheduanna
Added by: Anonymous
 
Enheduanna
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Enheduanna
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- L Hamilton
 Added: Oct. 27, 2014

- Mellissa Lake Co. Illinois
 Added: May. 3, 2014
Rest in Peace, Enheduanna. See you and your family in Heaven.
- Mary
 Added: Feb. 21, 2014
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