(ca. 2285-2250 B.C.E. City of Ur, Sumeria)
Category: Art workers
Occupation: Poets, Writers, Priestess
Unique distinction: The first writer and poet in the history, the first author in history who wrote in the first person narrative.
Quotes: My Lady, I will proclaim your greatness in all lands and your glory! Your way and great deeds I will always praise! (In-nin me-hus-a 1:254-5); I am yours! It will always be so! May your heart cool off for me (In-nin me-hus-a l:246-7 & 250)
Video: Priestess and author
Social and professional position: Enheduanna was an Akkadian princess, priestess of Inanna, poetess, hymn writer.
The main contribution to (what is known): Enheduanna is one of the earliest author and poets known by name in world history. She was remembered as an important figure, perhaps even attaining semi-divine status. Her influence is believed to have assisted in the merging of the Akkadian Ishtar with the Sumerian Inanna.
Contributions: Enheduanna was an Akkadian princess as well as high priestess of the temple of Nanna, the Akkadian moon god, in the largest city and center of her father’s empire, the city of Ur.
She was a mystical and heroic figure. En-hedu-аnа also known as meaning “High priestess ornament of Ana” (‘En’ -High Priestess, ‘hedu’-Ornament, ‘Ana’ “heaven” or “the God of the Heaven”).
She is the world’s oldest known author whose works were written in cuneiform approximately 4300 years ago.
Enheduana is known to us as the author of several Sumerian hymns. The literary texts are also the first to utilize a first person narrative mode.
As a priestess, Enheduanna venerated Inanna, the daughter of Nanna, above other gods of the Sumerian pantheon. Hymns to Inanna or En-hedu-ana’s Hymns to Inanna being some of the oldest examples of literature in recorded history.
Enheduanna wrote three hymns to Inanna which survive and which illustrate three quite different themes of ancient religious faith.
In one, Inanna is a ferocious warrior goddess who defeats a mountain even though other gods refuse to help her.
A second, thirty stanzas in length, celebrates Inanna’s role in governing civilization and overseeing the home and children.
In a third, Enheduanna calls on her personal relationship with the goddess for help in regaining her position as priestess of the temple against a male usurper.
In each of her works she steps forward to speak in the first person moving from the third.
She was the first non-anonymous author in world literature and wrote in the first person narrative, “I, Enheduanna…”. Her Hymns displays the concept of a personal relationship with the divine: I am yours! It will always be so!
The hymns she wrote to Inanna celebrate her individual relationship with Inanna, thereby setting down the earliest surviving verbal account of an individual’s consciousness of her inner life.
Major works: At least 53 other hymns survive that are attributed to Enheduanna, including three hymns to the moon god, Nanna, 1.In-nin-ša-gur-ra “A Hymn to the Goddess Inanna”( “Stout-hearted Lady”). 2.Nin-me-huš-a “Inanna and Ebih”. 3. Nin-me-šar-ra “The Exhaltation of Inanna”. as well as 42 hymns to the 42 gods from 42 temples who gave the victory to her father.
Origin: She was the daughter of great king Sargon of Akkad, the first ruler to unite northern and southern Mesopotamia. Sargon was purported to be the son of a priestess. Her mother Queen Tashlultum also was a Sumerian from southern Mesopotamia.
Education: She was educated as an Akkadian princess and priestess.
Her father Sargon founded in Mesopotamia the first royal dynasty (2371-2316 BC.) and created the first Empire in world history.
Enheduanna became a priestess of the god Nanny (shum.-Nanna (r) or Shin (akk.šin) during the life of Sargon.
In this position, she traveled to other cities in the empire. Enheduanna helped her father solidify his political power and unite the Sumerian city-states by merging the worship of many local city goddesses into worship of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna.
Near the end of her life, En-hedu-ana called on Inanna for help as she reveals in Nin-me-sar-ra, her most famous hymn, because she has been temporarily dislodged from her position by Lugal-Ane a rebelling Sumerian King.
She was able to inspire people to fight against the rebel king and win a 9 victories in the 9 battles.
This allowed her nephew, Naram Sin, who was then king, to successfully unite Sumer and Akkad for several years. After this historic coup, En-hedu-ana was restored to her post as En of Nanna in Ur.
She traveled widely, writing hymns extolling the virtues of many temples. She also survived being deposed and exiled, later returning to her position at Ur sacred temple. Enheduanna wears a ruffled dress and a brimmed turban, a sign of her office.
Zest: She has been dubbed the “Shakespeare of Sumerian literature.” Enheduanna’s work has been translated and compiled into a unified narrative by Sumerian scholar Samuel Noah Kramer and poet Diane Wolkstein. In 2015, the IAU named a crater on Mercury after Enheduanna.