The name of the goddess Antu, more anciently Antum, is one of the clearest indications that Mesopotamian Polytheism is not just Sumerian and Akkadian, but truly Sumero-Akkadian. It consists of two signs, 𒀭𒌈.
𒀭 can stand:
- for the god Heaven, called An in Sumerian, and borrowed into Akkadian as Anum.
- for the syllable an;
- for the Sumerian word diŋir or dingir, ‘god’.
- Consequently, as an unpronounced determinative, it indicates a theonym (name of a god).
Correspondingly, the ancients called it:
- Anu (cf. modern transliteration AN),
- Anaku (~ modern an),
- or Di(n)giraku (~ modern DINGIR).
- (~ modern ᵈ).
In the name Antum, the symbol in effect has all of these meanings at once. It represents:
- the name An, from which Antum is derived (as I will explain in a moment);
- the syllable an, with which it is pronounced;
- and the determinative ᵈ. As with most other theonyms beginning with an-, the sign is not repeated but serves as an implicit determinative. (The exception is 𒀭𒀭 ᵈAnum.)
𒌈 (TUM) has a more straightforward meaning:
It represents the ending –tum, the Akkadian (not Sumerian!) feminine nominative. This feminine is formed not by contrast with the Sumerian name, but with the masculine ending –um attached to its Akkadian derivative Anum.
Antum (𒀭𒌈 an-tum) means ‘feminine (counterpart of) Heaven’, meaning the Earth, at least according to the An = Anum god list. It was predominantly as Antum, not under the common nouns for ‘earth’, Sumerian ki and Akkadian erṣetu (both spelled 𒆠 KI), that she was worshipped.
In the Anu = Anum god list, Antum is also equated with the Lady-of-Gods (akk. Bēlet-ilī) and Ištar; and in the Secrets of the Great Gods, with the Lady-of-Arbela (akk. Bēlet-Arbail), i.e., Ištar-of-Arbela, albeit hesitantly.
2 Interpretations outside Mesopotamia
[Hurrian/Hittite, Ugaritic, Greek, etc.]