The Temple of Inanna

I had earlier visited the National Museum of Iraq last year. But that day the Sumerian and Babylonian sections were closed for maintenance. I again visited the museum yesterday. This time, the entire museum was open to visitors. The entry fee for foreigners is IQD 25,000 ($21.00), which is a bit high!

There was a section of the facade of the temple of Inanna at Uruk (modern-day Warka, southern Iraq). A wall of baked bricks with buttresses and recesses. This wall was a section of the front facade the temple of the goddess Inanna in Warka, which was built by Karaindash, the Kassite king (1445-1427 BCE) and replaced the wall of mosaic which decorated the facade of the temple Warka since the Jemdat Nasr period (3000-2900 BCE).

The Inanna Temple was a sacred site dedicated to the goddess Inanna, the patron deity of the ancient city of Uruk in Mesopotamia. The temple was built around the fourth millennium BCE and was one of the earliest and most influential religious centers in the region. The temple complex consisted of several buildings, including a ziggurat, a courtyard, and a shrine. The temple was decorated with elaborate sculptures and reliefs depicting Inanna and her myths. The temple also served as a political and economic hub, as it controlled the trade and agriculture of Uruk and its surrounding areas. The Inanna Temple was a symbol of the power and prestige of Uruk and its rulers, who claimed to be the representatives of Inanna on earth.

During excavations in the precinct of the temple of Inanna at Uruk, archaeologists discovered the remains of an isolated temple dedicated to the Sumerian goddess Inanna. The Kassite ruler Karaindash (according to the cuneiform inscription) commissioned the construction of this temple with the courtyard of the precinct Inanna (House of Heaven), at Uruk. It is on display at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, Republic of Iraq.

There are standing male and female deities in alternating niches. Both hold a vase, pouring water in double streams, which flow symmetrically to outline the niches; the streams may represent the Tigris and Euphrates. The male is thought to be god Ea (of water) while the female is thought to be goddess Inanna (of love and war). 

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.

Goddess Inanna (Source: wikiwand)

The goddess Durga is one of the most important deities in the pantheon of ancient India. The characteristics and persona of the Hindu goddess Durga can also be found in goddess Inanna.

In ancient times, Uruk was situated on the eastern banks of a channel of the Euphrates River. Over the millennia, however, the channel dried up, and its course shifted away from the city by about 19 km.

The ancient city of Uruk is also known in Arabic as Tell al-Warka. The site of Uruk is believed to have been settled as early as the Ubaid period (circa the 7th to the 4th millennium BCE). However, the city’s rise to prominence occurred only around 3800 BCE. As Uruk became the main force of urbanization and state formation, the period that lasted roughly from 3800 to 3200 BCE became known as the Uruk period.

This piece of wall decoration (mosaic) was part of one of the walls of the temple at Warka (Uruk) city. Stone cones are inlaid on a gypsum background. Uruk period, 3500-2800 BCE.

The outer façade of the rectangular building, measuring 22.5 by 17.5 m, which stood until the Seleucid period (4th-3rd centuries BCE), was articulated with niches.

Alternating male and female deities hold in their hands, small vessels from which water pours out in snaking lines — two streams of water representing the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. While the bearded male gods wear garments with a scale motif (symbolizing mountains), the clothes of the female deities are decorated with vertical wavy lines (symbolizing water). This image of the water-giving (and thus life-giving) gods can be explained in some detail: the mountain gods and water goddesses personify as the source of life the water supplies secured in Southern Mesopotamia. In this symbolic representation water constantly pours out and comes together to form streams that descend from the mountains (represented by the great scale-like symbols between the niches) which flow to the plains and so secure human existence.

A section of this temple facade is also on display at The Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

4 thoughts on “The Temple of Inanna

  1. Pingback: The Temple of Ninmakh – Indrosphere

  2. Pingback: Temple of Goddess Ninmakh in Babylon – Indrosphere

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