It is well known that a large number of gods appear in cuneiform literature, so many as to dazzle and confuse any reader. This was evidently already felt by ancient Babylonian and Assyrian scholars, who compiled lists of these gods with explanatory glosses.
The present text goes considerably further than mere explanation, however. It rationalizes an overwhelming heap of divine names (157 in this case) by referring them all to about two dozen distinct deities, and giving each of the names a specific function or meaning. Notably, there is no division by language or “pantheon” (a term which has no equivalent in ancient languages).
For instance, in the incipit or opening line which gives this god list its name, we read that “An : Anu : ša amēli”. The first column gives the name to be explained (in this case, the Sumerian name/spelling An), the second the Akkadian name of the god it should be understood as (in this case Anu). The third specifies “who (is) of man”. In all, the first line means “An is the Anu (‘Heaven, Sky’) of men”. However precisely we are to understand this one gloss – Anu insofar as he watches over men? Anu insofar as men invoke him? –, when we take all the glosses together, we can get something like a theology of the god in question.
(For the sake of brevity, I treat the second and third column as one, so I write “An = Anu of men”, not “An : Anu : who is of man”.)
2 Note on the text
I translate from the edition of R. L. Litke (A Reconstruction of the Assyro-Babylonian God-Lists etc.). You can also find the transliterated cuneiform text here (off-site link; archived). I heartily invite any comment and criticism, as my knowledge of Akkadian and Sumerian is very limited.
The headings in bold and commentary in italics are my addition. I hope to add more commentary in the future.
1–12 Anu (‘Heaven, Sky’), m.
1. An = Anu of men
2. Dimeš = Anu of women
3. Anu = Anu of the king
4. Medara = Anu of worship
5. Kursa = Anu of nabnitu (‘creation, nature, physique’)
6. Kurra = Anu of the land
7. Ḫiliba = Anu of everything
8. Kilib = Anu of the entirety
9. Me = Anu of the whole
10. Bu = Anu of daylight
11. Šargal = Anu of the entirety of heaven
12 Uraš = Anu of counsel (or ‘council’, milku)
Anu is an originally Sumerian name, adopted into Akkadian to serve as the god’s name, alongside the Akkadian common noun šamê, ‘heaven, sky’.
13–21 Enlil, m.
13. Enlille = Enlil of the land
14. Duranki = Enlil of decisions
15. Dibar = Enlil of decisions
16. Maḫdigal = Enlil of decisions
17. Daragal = Enlil of kings
18. Sig = Enlil of the entirety
19. Gu = Enlil of the entirety
20. Nab = Enlil of heaven
21. Anzakar = Enlil of dreams
Enlil is an originally Sumerian name, adopted into Akkadian. Husband of Ninlil.
22–23 Ninlil, f.
22. Ninlille = Ninlil of the land
23. Egitummal = Ninlil of people
Ninlil is an originally Sumerian name, adopted into Akkadian. The -lil part of her name is obscure, but nin means ‘lady’, as the en in Enlil means ‘lord’.
24–38 Sîn (‘Moon’), m.
24. Nanna (ᵈŠEŠ.KI) = Sîn (ᵈEŠ) of heaven and earth
25. Enzuna = Sîn of decisions
26. En.me.DU = Sîn of the crown (i.e., ‘corona’ of light)
27. Ušbar = Sîn of income (or ‘production’)
28. Mumu = Sîn of gifts (or perh. ‘heliacal[?] risings’)
29. Dingirzalag (‘Shining God’) = Sîn of (lunar) sightings
30. Dingirdilmun (‘God of Dilmun’) = Sîn of the house of Dilmun
31. [lost].ru = Sîn of morning light
32. Mendaran = Sîn of blessings (or ‘prayers’)
33. Bunir = Sîn of the (lunar) disk
34. Abkar = Sîn of the cattle fold
35. Ablulu = Sîn of gifts
36. Magur = Sîn of property
37. Usarra = Sîn of the month
38. Ašimbabbarra = Sîn of the brilliant risings
Nanna is the Sumerian, Sîn the Akkadian name of the god.
39 Ningal, f.
39. Ningal = Ningal of the land
Ningal (also Nikkal in Akkadian) is the wife of Nanna/Sîn.
40–44 Šamaš (‘Sun’), m.
40. Šamaš = Šamaš of purification
41. Utu = Šamaš of regular offerings
42. Am = Šamaš of sunrise
43. Sag = Šamaš of the people
44. U(d)aššakam = Šamaš of the experts
Šamaš is the Akkadian, Utu the Sumerian name.
45–47 Aya (‘Dawn’), f.
45. Šerida = Aya of the living rooms
46. Aya = Aya of heaven
47. ᵈU (?) = Aya of ?? (ku-ni-e)
Šerida is Sumerian, Aya Akkadian. She is the wife of Šamaš.
48–58 Adad (‘Storm’), m.
48. Adad (ᵈIM) = Adad of lordships
49. Adad (ᵈIM) = Adad of the irrigated field
50. Pirig = Adad of the cloud
51. ᵈPIRIG₃.PIRIG₃ = Adad of clouds
52. ᵈENxEN = Adad of famines
53. Urša = Adad of wild bulls
54. Adad (ᵈ10) = Adad of lightning
55. Ugude = Adad of the flash flood
56. Šur = Adad of rain
57. Riḫamun = Adad of storms
58. Maruru = Adad of floods
Perhaps one of the first two entries should be read as Iškur (the Sumerian name) rather than Adad (the Akkadian). The number 10 is sacred to Adad, and as with certain other gods, his number can be written to stand for his name.
59–60 Šala, f.
59. NIM.KU₃.GI = Šala of the steppes
60. Šala = Šala of the rains
Šala governs rainfall and grain; she is Adad’s wife.
61–69 Papsukkal, m.
61. Ninšubur = Papsukkal of Anu
62. Sukkal (or Šubur) = Papsukkal of Antu
63. Papsukkal = Papsukkal of decisions
64. Papgal = Papsukkal of wastelands
65. Iggalla = Papsukkal of the doors
66. Igangub = Papsukkal of wastelands
67. Gangu = Papsukkal of wastelands
68. Lamma = Papsukkal of protection (lamassu)
69. Dukuga = Papsukkal of the bath
Papsukkal is a divine messenger (sukkal) of Anu. Both this name and Ninšubur are originally Sumerian, but Papsukkal is here functioning as an Akkadian name.
70–75 Ninurta, m.
70. Ninurta = Ninurta of secrets
71. Uraš = Ninurta of the hoe
72. Šaršara = Ninurta of utter destruction
73. Nunir = Ninurta of response
74. Tišpak = Ninurta of priests
75. ᵈŠUR.ŠEŠ₂ = Ninurta of silence
Ninurta is a Sumerian name, adopted into Akkadian rather than translated.
76–85 Nerigal, m.
76. Nerigal (written ᵈNE₃.ERI₁₁.GAL) = Nerigal of the grave
77. Nerigal (written ᵈU.GUR) = Nerigal of panic
78. [lost] = Nerigal of [lost]
79. Ḫuškia = Nerigal of incantation
80. Barmusenna = Nerigal of anger
81. [lost]-šulga = Nerigal of joy
82. [lost] = Nerigal of the throne-platform (? ṭiˀu)
83. Laqibu = Nerigal of the throne-platform
84. Laqubu = Nerigal of the throne-platform
85. ᵈPA = Nerigal of the street
Nerigal is a Sumerian name, but the god is usually called by the same name in Akkadian (and later Aramaic), not by the Akkadian Erra, which is sometimes positioned as its translation.
86–96 Ištar, f.
86. Zanaru = Ištar of the lands
87. Karšul = Ištar of warriors
88. Ulsiga = Ištar of heaven and earth
89. Tiruru = Ištar of [unintelligible]
90. Šennuimin = Ištar of beautiful features
91. Tibanimma = Ištar of fates
92. Menuannim = Ištar of distress
93. Menunim = Ištar of distress
94. Labatu = Ištar of wailing
95. ᵈA.la.KAL.ki = Ištar of lamentations
96. Gušaya = Ištar of battle-cries
Ištar is the Akkadian name of the goddess. Curiously, her usual Sumerian name, Inanna, is omitted here, while much more obscure names are included.
97–99 Nisaba, f.
97. Nisaba (written ᵈŠE.NAG₂) = Nisaba of wisdom
98. Ḫaya = Nisaba of riches
99. Ebaršeḫunu = Nisaba of the vitality of the land
Elsewhere, Ḫaya is the husband of the goddess Nisaba. Nisaba is the name of the goddess in Sumerian, and consequently also in Akkadian.
100–106 Šumugan, m.
100. Sumuqan (ᵈGIR₃) = Šumugan of lightning
101. Kurgal = Šumugan of purification
102. Martu (ᵈMAR.TU) = Šumugan of the Suteans
103. Amurru (An.MAR.TU)= Šumugan of the Suteans
104. Šaršar = Šumugan of the Suteans
105. Sumuqan (ᵈGIR₃) = Šumugan of the steppes
106. ᵈKU.BU.NUN.KU.TU = Šumugan of the tether
Šumugan is a Sumerian name, adopted into Akkadian. Martu (Akk. Amurru) was the god of the Amorites, here called the Suteans.
107–112 Marduk, m.
107. Marduk = Marduk of amnesty
108. Asalluḫi = Marduk of judgement
109. Asaralim = Marduk of health
110. Enbilulu = Marduk of the watercourse
111. Tutu = Marduk of relentless disease
112. Šazu = Marduk of mercy
Marduk was originally a god of only local importance in Babylon, but became a central deity due to the political ascendance of the city. He then became associated with a number of Sumerian theonyms, including Asalluḫi (Asar-luḫi) and Asaralim.
113–118 Nabû, m.
113. Nabium = Nabû (ᵈAG) of the whole
114. Nabû (ᵈAG) = Nabû of the scribal arts
115. ᵈUR = Nabû of the scribal arts
116. ᵈŠIDxA (Umbisag?) = Nabû of secrets
117. ᵈPA.ti (Muati?) = Nabû of Dilmun
118. Enzag = Nabû of Dilmun
Nabû (more anciently pronounced Nabium) is an Akkadian name; the god gained prominence as the son of Marduk.
119–148 Ea, m.
119. Enki = Ea who is [the lord] of the land
120. [Amananki = Ea of heaven and] earth
121. [Enengur = Ea of the Ap]sû (‘underground water’)
122. [Nudimmud = Ea of nabnitu (‘creation, nature, physique’)
123. [Nadimmud = Ea of creation]
124. [Nin]igiku = Ea of wisdom
125. [Nun]nuru = Ea of potters
126. [Nin]agal = Ea of smiths
127. ᵈNin.DIM₂ = Ea of [unintelligible]
128. [lost].girimma = Ea of gardeners
129. Kugibanda (?) = Ea of goldsmiths
130. Šunamri = Ea of metalworkers
131. Lumḫa = Ea of the whole
132. Tumga = Ea of boundary stones
133. Enenuru = Ea of incantation priests (wāšipu)
134. Maššugidgid = Ea of diviners (bārû)
135. [lost].ki = Ea of scholars (ṭupšarru)
136. [lost].me = Ea of doctors
137. [lost].zu = Ea of fullers
138. [lost] = Ea of male weavers
139. [lost].kinku = Ea of women weavers
140. [lost].la = Ea of hairdressers
141. Ninsirsir = Ea of sailors
142. Dudru = Ea of basketweavers
143. Ši[ka]gu = Ea of shoemakers
144. Za[di]in = Ea of arrowmakers
145. Entur = Ea of goatherds
146. ᵈUL.za.[lost] = Ea of peasants
147. ᵈPAD.AN.[lost] = Ea of locusts
148. Ninmaḫ = Ea of watering (? me-qi₂-ri)
Ea is the Akkadian name of the god, Enki (‘lord of the land’) the Sumerian. Much of this section has been lost, and is here translated according to the editor’s restorations from parallel texts.
Ninmaḫ is otherwise a goddess (see Bēlet-ilī).
149–152 Manungal, f.
149. Nungal = Manu(n)gal of injustices
150. [lost] = Manu(n)gal of imprisoning
151. [lost] = Manu(n)gal of wrongs
152. [lost] = Manu(n)gal of the oath of [unintelligible] (LU-su)
Nungal or Manungal is a goddess associated with imprisonment and sometimes the underworld. Her name is Sumerian.
153–157 So-called demons
153. [lost] = Dimme = Lamaštu
154. [lost] = Dimmea = Labāṣu
155. [lost] = Dimmekur (? DIM₃.ME.LAGAB) = Aḫḫazu
156. DU₃.TAB = Dutab = Bibitu
157. GI = Dimmegi = Lilitu