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Ancient Sumer and the Women's Movement: The Process of Reaching behind, Encompassing
and Going Beyond
Author(s): Mary K. Wakeman
Source: Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall, 1985), pp. 7-27
Published by: FSR, Inc.
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The Process of Reaching Behind,
Encompassing andGoing Beyond
Mary K. Wakeman
The strokes are broadwith which Iwill attempt to paint a picture placing
the present-day women's movement in the context of the evolution ofWest
ern culture since the beginnings of cities in ancient Sumer. At the same
time, the point of view is narrow, in that I speak as a white, middle-class,
Protestant, American woman who isnow reevaluating the elite, white, male,
Western tradition inwhich she was educated. For me, as formany others,
the women's movement has been a religiousmovement. It has served as a
conversion experience, a turning around, as "the pieces ofmy lifehave fallen
together in a new way."' In liberating us from old roles, the movement
caught us up in the profoundly disturbing experience of suddenly becoming
personally accountable in away we had not known before.We were abruptly
torn out of mythic being and tossed into historic being: from experiencing
ourselves secondhand, through internalized,man-made images of women,
we were called to realize ourselves as culture-making, history-making, per
sons-in-charge. We sought out other women to "hear one another into
speech,"2 and in the process, to found a world on values thatwould better
meet the challenges of our present human circumstances than the ones
traditionhad taught us.
Feminist scholars are taking a serious interest in ancient Sumer as the
birthplace of cities and ofWestern civilization. (Seemap on p. 27.) Some of
the impetus for exploring ancient history emerges from a religious need felt
by participants in thewomen's movement for a new myth of origins thatwill
reempower women. Several scholars have explored the evidence for the
relation between the worship of goddesses and the political and economic
power ofwomen in ancient times.3The record of ancient Sumer can be read
1 Judith Plaskow, "The Coming of Lilith: Toward a Feminist Theology," inWomanspirit
Rising, ed. Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow (New York:Harper & Row, 1979), p. 200.
2Nelle Morton, "Hearing to Speech" (Sermon delivered at the Claremont School of
Theology, April 27, 1977).
3 Elise Boulding, The Underside of History (Boulder:Westview Press, 1976); Elizabeth
Fisher, Womans Creation (New York: Doubleday-Anchor, 1979); Ruby Rohrlich, "State
Formation in Sumer and the Subjugation ofWomen," Feminist Studies 6 (1980):76-102;
Judith Ochshorn, The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1981).

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1983).7 The story has a very important function in justifying female anger and encouraging female ini tiative. and between divinities and humans. 1976). Chris 4Ochshorn. either through their own fault (e. The Underside of History. the world religions (Buddhist.. among men and women. or. the evidence can be seen stereo scopically. Historically. "State formation in Sumer. because it was wrested from them by men. Some of the cur rent interest in ancient Sumer is an expression of the explosion of interest in ancient and other goddesses that is informed by what I call "the myth of patriarchy. Eve in the Bible). There was once a time (so thisway of telling the story goes).4 On the other hand. political. The Female Experience." 6 Sylvia Perera. when the fruitful integration of the powers of heaven and earthwas celebrated. fertility and death were respected. Jewish. 1981). as Sumerian civilization developed.68. and managed estates. The various assessments of Inanna'ssignificancemay reflect differences in ideological orientation within the women's movement.g.Merlin Stone. again. In doing so I will take issue with those who find in the Sumerian goddess Inanna a feminist goddess or rolemodel. Hindu. Rohrlich. 1971). providing a picture of changing relations among gods and god desses. Canada: Inner City Books.144 on Sat. The First Sex (New York: Putnam.6 Iwill argue that the religious ideas associ atedwith this goddess were adapted at each new stage of Sumer'shistory to support the emergence of patriarchal structures of authority. as I read it. She also points backward insofar as she remained important in the ancient Sumerian world of in creasinglymale gods and human leadersbecause she conserved the values of a time when power was female and communal. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth (New York:Harper & Row. When God was aWoman (New York:Dial Press."The myth of patriarchy is a story of how contemporary social and political problems result frommismanagement by men. of human initiative as sacred. religious and military power. engaged in trade.As I investigate this question I find that Inannapoints forward to the acceptance of historical process as real."The myth ofmatriarchy is a story of howwomen once ruled but then lost their authority.5 Inmy discussion of Sumerian history I will focus on the changing definitions of political power and how thosewere sanctioned in religious terms. Other feminist scholarshave noted the increasing limitationon women's independent exercise of power. that makes ancient Sumer a splendid laboratoryfor studying the evolution of a patriarchal social order. Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women (Toronto.Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer. when women were regarded as fully the equals of men in their capacity to wield economic. It is useful for exorcizing the negative self-images that have been left by "themyth ofmatriarchy. They bought and sold land.8 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion flatly to show that in prebiblical times women enjoyed a good deal of independence. 7 Elizabeth Gould Davis. who deliberately and violently wrested control of human affairs from the women inwhose hands those affairswere more competently managed. Islamic. when the processes of life. well within recorded history. 5 Boulding.242. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 96.

Perhaps we are not so different from the ancient Sumerians in our need to understand the new in terms of the old. and sought to control. men and women have always been andwill continue to be interdependent. My impulse to give an account of Sumer as a model of a society in transitionmay be a response to the religious need for amyth of origins. Culture and Society.would have a similarlydeleterious effect on their self-esteem. As women hear the story. Inmy view. it serves to "inculcate in them a sense of moral failure. with forces thatmen feared.68. but the story need not be either themyth ofmatriarchy or themyth of patriarchy. It is possible to talk about how patriarchy began without blaming either women or men."9Presumably. Women were represented asmen experi enced them. These religions served as charters authorizing the patriarchal order. "TheMyth of Matriarchy: Why Men Rule in Primitive Society. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . we encompass the intervening achievement of male-dominated Western civilization (acknowledginghow we have been shaped and misshaped by it) and go beyond to new possibilities-taking charge of ourselves and of this small gardenwe inhabit and sharewith other species. the "person"was assumed to be male.8 The story helps the boy make sense of his experience when he passes out of a household dominated by women and takesup his role as an adultman amongmen. 9 Ibid.242. themyth of patriarchy. The ethic emerging in thewomen's movement today can be described as the result of our reaching behind the biblical. His new authority over women is thus legitimated. religious sanctionswere provided for each new stage in the development of political power by reaching behind. In traditional societies themyth of matriarchy is told to a young boy at puberty.They testify to a timewhen the power of fertility was associated with the female. As we look to Sumer for the origins of private property. monotheistic world view to affirmbodily and social processes. during the rite that initiateshim intomanhood.. encompassing. the role of the male in 8 Joan Bamberger. slavery. capitalism. associatedwith sex and death. as we will see.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 9 tian)developed at a timewhen male dominance inpolitical and social lifehad been firmly established. justifying it by one form or another of the myth of ma triarchy. natural and cultural diversity.At the same time they preserved visions of the value of persons. Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford: Stanford University Press. militarism.we are alsomade aware of alternative possibilities. pp.144 on Sat. In so doing. ed. p. 1974)." in Woman. Changing Definitions of Political Power: How These Were Sanctioned in Religious Terms Among the earliest evidence of religious activity in the ancient Near East are female figurines expressing fertility. ifmen took it seriously. In ancient Sumer. and going beyond the previous stage. and the pa triarchalfamily. This content downloaded from 96. 263-280. Part of the fascinationSumer holds is the possibility of an end inherent in a beginning. 280. nature andmortality.

If their godswere male it did not necessarily follow thathuman authority in the early temple communities was assumed exclusively by males.Uruk's goddess Inanna. The Treasures of Darkness (New Haven: Yale University Press." iswritten with signs that connote authority.) its twomost ancient cities. This content downloaded from 96. the moon).C. "Queen.) These figurines are not necessarily goddesses. Anthropomorphic divinities lent themselves to the expression of changing power relations among human groups. While farmerswere concerned with fertility in fields and flocks. sister of Utu. 3500 B.10 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion procreationwas not understood. in the moon (Nanna). usually translated "Lady. (both children of Nanna. The development of city culture was supported by a religious cult that superimposed on the prehistoric mother goddesses associatedwith herding and farming at the village level an increasingly elaborate system of deities. p. provided two types of religious sanctions of political power. as family relationswere worked out among gods and goddesses. the power of fertility was expressed throughmale divinities aswell. in spring storms thatbrought thewater flooding down from themountains (Ningirsu). These served as paradigms for every subsequent stage in Sumer's development.144 on Sat. Uruk's doctrine of a marriage between heaven and earth."or better. the sun. Many of the earliest temple communities of ancient Sumer belonged tomale gods associatedwith the power of fertility in undergroundwater (Enki)." Acta Orientalia 28. and represent an attempt to relate to and appropriate those powers. (It stands to reason that until people began domesticating animals. reflecting the experience of a pastoral group. 1976). 81. 1964). J. Eridu and Uruk. in the sun (Utu). Two Paradigms of Change At the very beginning of Sumer's history (c.women aswell asmen were managers of temple estates. With the discovery of themale role in procreation. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is one of the 10Thorkild Jacobsen. Temples housed goddesses aswell as gods. "LeMotif Cosmique Dans la Pensee Sumerienne. or at least livingwith enough agriculturalabundance that women could menstruate regularly. A.10 The fact that the prefix "Nin" occurs in masculine as well as feminine god names is suggestive. Perhaps the connotation of authority that had more naturallybelonged to the female (as mother) came secondarily to be appropriate formale figures aswell. the bright star (Venus). 1 All of the gods were descended fromUruk's god An (whose name means "sky") and his wife Ki ("earth"). but they symbolize awe before female procreative powers. in addition.242. This prefix. the urban managers were concerned.E. supplied the formative element in the development of a systematicpantheon in ancient Sumer. part 1 (Copenhagen. the connection between sexual intercourse and birth was not obvious.68. with sanctioning innovations in management. u J. Van Dijk. in the sky thatbrought the roundof seasons (An).

the position of the [mother] goddess in the cosmic hierarchy proved untenable. giving formand giving birth. "Notes on Nintur. and his city. 59 62. to fructify it. William L. and slowly she had to yield before amale god who. 294.pp.144 on Sat. Uruk took over fromEridu the role of dominant city in southern Sumer.68. Before therewere storm gods cele brated for their associationwith the thundering chariots of war.Enki (ashe is portrayed inmyth. goddess of Uruk. The Treasures of Darkness." Orientalia 42 (1973). The Eridu paradigm. Enki. Enki/Ea. 14Kramer." in Toward the Image of Tammuz. p. Sumerian Mythology. where the views of a settled agricultural people were reflected in the "chthonic" (earthly) belief that the goddess Nammu was the great (watery)mother of all things." Thorkild Jacobsen.C.15 The Uruk paradigm. ed.E. was the product (son) of a syncretistic union between Uruk's sky god (An). There is a story about how Inanna. 13"Enki and theWorld Order: The Organization of the Earth and itsCultural Processes. 64-68. Ninhursaga etc. Moran (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. The earliest concept of power supporting the complex order of the city-state through its central temple was expressed in the masculine cult of Enki. represented numinous power in giving form and giving birth. "the creation of man")l4 came to incorporate the other powers of his mother. Sumerian Mythology. This content downloaded from 96. Sumerian myths of origins inwhich Enki played a prominent role preserve the historicalmemory of Eridu's preeminence. traveled to Eridu and tricked Enki into giving her the powers of office. 15"In the long run. 1961).and Eridu's (chthonic)Nammu.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 11 cosmic or astral deities characteristic of herding economies. In the course of Sumerian history and reflecting the development of patriarchy. therewere male deities who tookover the functions of themother goddesses. and eventually her name was completely replaced by that of Enki. expressing the power of fertility in thewaters that fell from the sky andwelled up from under the earth. Sumerian Mythology (New York:Harper Torchbooks. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p. the god of freshwaters. In the latter half of the Isin-Larsa period [the turn of the second millennium] his name begins to precede that of Ninhursaga or other names of the birth goddess in the ranking of the highest gods. 1970). An.16At the same time as it acknowledges the priority of Enki. this storymay be away of accounting for the fact that. p. pp." Samuel Noah Kramer. e.12 The only serious alternative to this "cosmic"motif came fromEridu.g. By about 2000 B. there was an alternative way of expressing male authority under the power of a female deity. as she herself. Enki. including earth (ki) and sky (an). 68-72. the name of the mother goddess in the god lists had been completely replaced by that of Enki. Enlil. In Eridu's rival city.242.13 They also provide an image of a nonmilitary mode of male power. 16"Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Uruk." Kramer. 1 ff.. Eridu. very early. The anthropomorphic con 12Thorkild Jacobsen. 25. Uruk. pp. Jacobsen. which celebrated the phallic force of fertility. god of fresh groundwaters and god of the city of Eridu. "Mesopotamian Gods and Pantheons.

with its own god or goddess symbolizing the power inherent in that community. differences inwealth and resources among the temple communities and between them and the unsettled countryside re sulted inmore andmore frequent raids. Dumuzi. From the beginning of Uruk's historywe see evidence of a harvest rite of celebration that took the formof amarriage between a god. he served to bring together diverse groups of people. the foodswere to be stored. the gathering of produce at the temple to store it for laterdistribution to the people. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the temple. and the king took on some priestly roles. as husband andwife. Sumer grew by the northward extension of intensive agriculturaluse of land. If the family accepted him. each ofwhich had started out as a temple community. That simple gesture concluded the marriage and the next morning. she would open the door. after the marriage was consummated. en) chosen by its goddess.The evidence of the SacredMarriage thatwe have from this time is a vase. Inanna. inwhose house. grain. there is a tradition of InannaandUruk's ruler living together in the gipar (aquarter of the temple). The produce was the god (represented by the en. It is important to notice here the distinction between the relatively small This content downloaded from 96.milk. As communities grew.144 on Sat. the power inherent in seasonal foods (grain. Over the course of a thousandyears. a great feastwould be provided to entertain the wedding guests. calling for a leader in defense. was apparently experienced as a kind of marriage. the ritual pictured on the vase. and leading livestock to the door of the templewhere the goddess sits to receive them. or wool. At a certain point. kingship developed as an institution. Eventually magic and ritualduties were added tomilitary and judicialones. the king being at first a commander in battle.Quar rels over water rights and access to other resources developed. dates) and the goddess Inanna. entering into or being received by the goddess. As Sumer developed.242. the manager of the goddess's estate). We may assume that this goddess symbolized the power of the community to provide for itself. the storehouse (represented by a priestess). or as the husband of the divinity whose estate he managed. then an adjudicator of boundary and other disputes. they impinged on one another. The king was sacred as a symbol of unity. the king himself came to be worshipped for the power of the center that he provided. So the twoways for aman to claim authority in the earliest temple communities were as the trusted servant. SacredMarriage: The Union of Heaven and Earth As far back as anything is known about Uruk. and by the political hegemony of one city over its surrounding territo ries.68. decorated with a design showing a procession of people bearing baskets of dates.12 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion ception of divine forces allowed the idea that the man who managed the temple estate was the husband (or lord. In the ordinarymarriage custom of the Sumerians the groom came bearing gifts of food to the home of the bride. and when the bride was ready. Here.

become the temple. and all this under the aegis of Inanna!How did this come about? Shifts in Power During the period of about 3500-2000 B. and the sacredpower that inhered in the very notion of a central figurewho could coordinate the activities of groups of people with interests thatmight other wise be pulling against each other. The origins of male dominated hierarchy. with the authority to take initiative inmanipulating the natural and human environments forgreater productivity and security. In the beginning itwas a harvest celebrationwhen produce was brought into the temple to be stored. are re flected in the changed significance of the SacredMarriage ceremony at the beginning and the end of Sumer's history.E. in effect. Lagash to the east and Ur in the south experimented with a variety of ways of sanctioningmale authority based on the two original paradigms. 2900-2350 B.The palace had. c.242. The goddess associated with creativity in nature as well as culture and the king responsible for the safety and material welfare of his people express mutual attraction and dependence on one another. Iwill refer to three stages of Sumer's historical development. but as a representative of the whole pantheon of gods. For the power of the spirit in the community was substitutedworship of authority at its center.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 13 and homogeneous temple community thatworked largelyby consensus. a human being rather than a god.144 on Sat. important centers at Nippur in the north. one can observe the development of power: of sheer numbers of people brought under one rule. became a sacred institution. The role of the religious functionaries shifted from serving the people (themanager of the temple estate) to serving the king/warriorelite. During the Early Dynastic (ED) period. 2000 B. as power-over rather thanmutual enpowerment was worshipped. There had been a shift three ways: the center of power in the community was the palace rather than the temple. Next. Religion validated the structures of power-over rather than empowering the community as awhole.68. who have conferred authority upon the king. At the end of Sumer's history. But the ceremony also expresses the elevated status of a king who is in effect a god. male rather than female.E. In what follows. c. as the effective political center of Sumer moved upriver from city to city (south to north) in consecutive waves of consolidation and disintegration.C. but now itwas the king of all Sumer who was the god Dumuzi incarnate. as such emergencies became a chronic condition.C. Their marriage still recreates and cele brates a harmonious relationship between the human and the divine or naturalworlds.E. What began as a temporaryconferringof authority on one man who then had the power to command an army to preserve the community against attack. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the Sacred Marriage was still performed. theAkkadian empire (2300-2150) founded This content downloaded from 96.C. or patriarchy.The goddess Inanna comes to him not as the spirit of the com munity..

Later. whose name ("Lord Wind") expresses his expansive character. Elena Cassin. 2100-1800)when the third dynasty of Ur and then the kingdoms of Isin and Larsa dominated all Sumer and brought Sumerian culture to its fullest expression.E. the executor of the will of the assembled gods of Sumer. 20Perhaps the relation of An."As noted above. from female tomale. as a redistribution of popula tion. p. Jacobsen.C. concentrating in urban centers. the southernmost city of Sumer. ed. Sumer. coordinating the activities of several such communities.144 on Sat.18 City culture was characterized by greater population density." Assyriological Studies 11 (Chicago. and differential access towealth. Eridu was superceded in importance by Uruk (upriver and to the west). Adams." first evident at Uruk at the end of the fourth millennium. referred to as "the flood. involved not somuch an increase. represented by its god or goddess. As power shifted from the temple community as awhole. and Enlil the power to carry out itswill. JeanVercoutter (New York:Delacorte Press." Sumer 14 (1958). fromgods to human beings. 19Adam Falkenstein. 1939). The appearance ofwriting testifies to the growing complexity of commerce and administration. 78 n. The "urban revolution. can be understood with reference to the political history of Sumer.was the first of five cities to hold kingship over the landbefore "the flood.). and Enlil as its chief executive. for whom he invented the hoe.'9 After "the flood. 1967). pp. The Treasures of Darkness. more intensive use of land. decimating the countryside. Jean Bottero. 18Robert M. during the Sumerian Renais sance (c.20 Enlil. An came to represent the consensus reached by the assembly of the gods. "The Prehistory and Protohistory ofWestern Asia. The Early Dynastic Period: Power Shifts fromTemple to Palace During Early Dynastic times (2900-2350 B." occurred. p.68." Sumer extended from Eridu in the south to the Semitic city of Kish in the north.17Eridu. to the king as the center of initiative. His temple inNippur was the chief shrine of the 17Thorkild Jacobsen. 101-3. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . developed.14 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion by Sargon of Agade brought Inanna to international prominence as the tutelary goddess of all Sumer andAkkad.242. This content downloaded from 96.An almost complete cultural break. The term "EarlyDynastic" refers to the plethora of dynasties in Sumer as reflected in the SumerianKing List. The process by which power shifted from the temple to the palace. kings became gods throughmarriage with the goddess. 70ff.Kin-based or ganization yielded to social stratification. as head of the assembly of the gods. In Sumerian tradition. "The Sumerian King List. can be seen in these developments. p. the concept of the nation. 51. as a result of the influx of Semitic speaking people from the north and northwest. 53.was beloved by farmers. "Survey of Ancient Watercourses and Settlement inCentral Iraq. The title "king of Kish" was assumed by various city chiefswho claimed that their authority to rule the whole area of Sumer was given them by the god Enlil." in The Near East.

23 Uruk's power was on the wane during the Early Dynastic period as military activity increased." Eannatum "whose name was called tomind by Enlil. p. 1979). 1963). 24 E. 26 JoanOates. Dynastic rule was in fact instituted when Gilgamesh's son. 1948). envisaged by Nanshe in her heart. gave [Eannatum] the kingship of Kish. envisaged in the heart of Nanshe. a territory north and east of Uruk.Not mentioned in the SumerianKing List are the ensis ("officialsin charge of ploughed lands"or governors)of Lagash. Samuel Noah Kramer. testifying to the increased incidence ofwar. 25Henri Frankfort. Mesalim "beloved of Ninhursag. and to Enki. His grandson Eannatum conquered Elam."2' City walls appeared. Gilgamesh rejects Ishtar.g. Lagash and its royalcity Girsu (belonging to the god Ninurta. succeeded him (King List). 2520 which lasted for five generations. 22Boulding.25 Uru-inim-gina (formerly known as Urukagina)26 reestablished Ningirsu and his consort Bau as the 21 Jacobsen. the power in spring storms originally represented by a lion-headed bird. truly and rightly suckled by Ninhursaga." Toward the Image of Tam muz." or Entemena "endowed with the scepter by Enlil. refusing to take her as his wife. The Underside of History." but this was a matter of authorizing the leadership of a particular city (within which the dynastic principle was normal. Umma. dominated Sumer. It is true that Enlil chose the "king of Kish. 297. In the Akkadian epic. Enmerkar. Inannaand Enlil as gods of Sumer. 23This conflict is illustrated in the epic tales (fromOld Babylonian times) which reflect the culture of the heroic age of Uruk (ED II). Urnungal. p.. Ur and Uruk. Inanna "looked at [Lugalbanda] as ifhe were Dumuzi" (her husband. p. For 150 years before and fifty years after Sargon's empire. inmyth). and lessened the possibility of power forwomen.68. 45. The evidence fromLagash shows that the ensis authorize their claims to rulewith reference to Ningirsu.Mesalim.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 15 land towhich pilgrimages were made from cities of the "KengirLeague. because she loved him. In the Sumerian story of Lugalbanda. I Lagash) over Sumer as a whole. During ED II the shift in power from temple to palace resulting from increasedmilitary activity gave Enlil prestige in Sumer as the god who authorized kings. This content downloaded from 96." settled a boundary dispute between the cities of Lagash andUmma in the territory of Lagash sometime during ED II. "king of Kish." "Inanna. endowed with strength by Ningirsu. endowed with intelligence by Enki.144 on Sat. "Early Political Development inMesopotamia. known locally as Ningirsu). 192. thus choosing him over the son of the contemporary ruler.24 It ispossible that Ningirsu. city goddess of Lagash. p. Ur-Nanshe established a dynasty c. named by Inanna. Kingship and theGods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 140ff. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The Sumerians (Chicago:The University of Chicago Press. great governor of Ningirsu" etc. to several goddesses who have temples in the area. was understood to be incarnate in the ensi as he celebrated the Sacred Marriage with Bau.242. for instance. 309ff. Royal inscriptions fromLagash and records from a temple inGirsu informus about its rulers.22 The Uruk system inwhich the rulerwas chosen by Inannaconflictedwith the dynastic principlewhich took hold in the north. Babylon (London: Thames & Hudson. p.

85. He brought his wife Shashag'sproperty under his control. 29Dietz Otto Edzard. 31 Jacobsen. The "joining of lordship and king 27Kramer. by Lugalzagesi (priest of Nisaba. Inanna and Dumuzi. "Thisappointment was a royal prerogative which was exercised through numerous dynastic changes and provided in Sumer a unifying link even in periods of apparent disunity..144 on Sat. The Sumerians.68. his wife Ningal ("great lady")was the daughter of Enki's wife Ningikuga ("ladyof the pure reed"). 38.29 The historical traditionof Ur embodied in the King List does not reach back as far as that of Kish and Uruk. as ruler of both Ur and Uruk. "Early Political Development."32Nanna was the first-born son of Enlil. from the lower sea (PersianGulf) to the upper sea (Mediterranean)." Toward the Image of Tammuz. and complemented Enlil's powers to provide religious sanction for the developing nation.242. 58. By the end of Sumer's history.28 Uru-inim-gina was ousted. was sufficiently concerned with the cult of Ur to dedicate his daughter Ninmetabarri as the human consort ofNanna. p. 28Rohrlich. 85." The Near East. thus instituting patrilineal inheri tance. Thus fromour vantage point we might say that the priestess who represented Ningal atUr competed with the goddess InannaatUruk as the female figure through whom male power was authorized. 69. "Consequently every major kingdom formed inBabylon tried to gain possession of Ur. in turn. Three ways of authorizing a king."30 Ilshu. Uru-inim-gina. founder of the first dynasty of Ur c. 32 Oates. which testify to the progress of social stratification. Ur had a harbor on the Persian Gulf and presided over the southern sea trade. 152. 2490. His motive may have been to justify usurping power from theUr-Nanshe dynasty. "renowned for his social and ethical reforms. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The title "kingof Kish" is claimed by Mesanepada. Ninurta and Inanna-Ishtarare nearly equivalent as symbols of king ship. p. it is an interesting question how Inanna managed to remain centrally significant to the representationof power. p. "State Formation in Sumer. This content downloaded from 96. claimed thatEnlil had given all lands to him. 30 Ibid.while Ninurta's importance in the Sumerian pantheon clearly outshone Bau's. p. who came fromMari far up the Euphrates river during or before Eannatum's time to lay claim to Sumer. reducing her status to that of consort. Given the similarity in the relationshipbetween Bau and Ninurta.31We have a record of the names of thewomen who served as high priestess ofNanna atUr forover 500 years. reed goddess of Umma) who.16 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion owners of the temple lands in Lagash that had been confiscated by the previous rulers. showwide differences in wealth. Babylon."27issued an edict imposingmonogamy on women. Excavations of the royal tombs at Ur. p. a southern city belonging to the moon god Nanna. "The Early Dynastic Period. Stories and graphic representations show close parallels between Inannaand Ninurta as divinities associatedwith storm and war." p.

It is interesting that "among farmers in the north. A reversalof the roles of the divinity and the human being similar to the reversal of the roles of Nanna and his wife (as comparedwith those of Dumuzi and Inanna)appar ently took place inGirsu.144 on Sat. If aman could claim en-ship in relation to Inanna. Nanna. Like Inanna.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 17 ship. In the transition from local to national significance.. and in the east. p.242. "prince of the gods")34came to serve Enlil as his appointed king. Throughmarriage to the priestess at Ur. 33 Jacobsen. therefore the ensi attempted to protect the com munity from human as well as natural threats. is only a prince in relation to Enlil. as the young bridegroom of the priestess ofNanna. while the priesthood at Nippur vested political authority in the "king ofKish" (whateverhis native city)who maintained peace among. In ancient Uruk. likeNinurta. brought together the oldest religious traditionsof Sumer as exemplified in theworship of the goddess Inannaand the god Enki. At Ur.68. he is the godwho brings fertility to the earth. 34 Jacobsen. Ninurta tends to displace Nanna as the first born son of Enlil. as the character of the god which initially expressed fertility shifted to emphasize his warrior aspect. and in relation to the priestess at Ur. 152. though this god. inNippur. was associatedwith male powers of fertility. as an expression of interdependency between the (Ur) temple and the palace (designated by the priesthood at Nippur). he is priest. As thewarrior chosen by Enlil he is king." Toward the Image of Tammuz.His relation to their two cities is important to his claim to rule all Sumer. As I reconstruct how this came about."35 Clearly. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which derives fromUruk. the goddess served the king: the priestess served the palace on the assumption that the palace served the whole of Sumer. This content downloaded from 96. Authority continued to be exemplified in the priesthood of Ur as an intercity institution primarily concerned with economic cooperation. "Early Political Development. p. a3 Ibid. The justification for his authority came to depend more on his associationwith the god Ninurta/ Ningirsu than with the goddess Bau. SacredMarriage as the rite involving a sexualunion on which claims of dynastic succession to rulership could be based may well have had its origins inUr. The Treasures of Darkness. Nanna (son of Enlil. Lagash's claims to authority in Sumer rivaled those of Ur-Uruk: reason enough for the nonmention of its ensis in theKing List. he was Nanna incarnate. as spouse of Inanna. 7. and protected or extended the boundaries of a league of cities. 128. he was involved in a SacredMarriage. likeEnki. in Girsu."33the authority of the male ruler in relation to the goddess at Uruk. in relation to the entu (Nanna'spriestess). increasingwealth brought increasing need to defend the community from attack. the ruler served the goddess: the priest served the temple community. p. the roles of the divinity and themanager of the divinity's estatewere reversed. between Ningirsu and Bau.

By thus instituting a cultic union of their chief priestly offices he broke the traditionof express ing the condominium ofUr andUruk as the kingship ofUr and the en-ship of Uruk. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 37 Inanna is "exalted" as the goddess whose "divine attributes are hers by grace of An. 50. The inclusionof new and diverse popula tions introduced a qualitative change in the nature of the human community that would constitute a political unit. At the same time.18 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion To sum up. which had been established by Lugal-kigennesh-dudud. 9. (orNinurta).37 By identifyingher with thewarlike Semitic god dess Ishtar. he continued the dynastic union of Ur and Uruk in his own person. The Akkadian Empire: Power Shifts fromGod toHuman Lugalzagesi had laid the foundations for the empire that was to be established by his conqueror." Appointment by Enlil carriedwith it the notion ofwind andwater thatmoves past all boundaries. The Exaltation of Inanna. ImpersonatingNanna. with whom she is thus equated at the expense.36Moreover. with femaleness. Enheduanna provided Sargonwith a religious justification forhis rule that appealed to the northern.68. the king represented the community as it cooperated with seasonal change to produce bounty. Van Dijk. When Sargon conquered Lugalzagesi. it was Inanna (not Nanna or An) whose power was invoked to support Sargon'sSemitic empire. p. and thereforepower. To the title "kingof Kish" had been added "lord of Uruk" and "king of Ur. Ur andUruk was that they represented the three traditional ways of authorizing a king that had emerged by the end of the Early Dynastic period. The Akkadian empire lasted a century and a half (2300-2150) and represented an enormous leap in power. Enlil was essentially expansive: the warrior. Sargon of Akkad. With a new capital north of the city of Kish.242. making his daughter Enheduanna. A. Hallo and J. and exalting her as the female counterpart of An. The Exaltation of Inanna (New Haven: Yale University Press." Hallo and Van Dijk.with whom Inannawas identified).. he laid claim to fertility (and the principle of dynastic succession) as a male rather than a female capacity. but of Nanna. J. This content downloaded from 96. the empire stretched from the PersianGulf to theMediterranean. This change was reflected in new religious ideas. the special relationshipofNippur. priestess toNanna atUr and toAn (the sky god) atUruk. 38 Ibid. 97. p. this union revived the most ancient cosmology of southern Sumerian Uruk which derived all life from the mar riage of heaven (An)and earth (Ki. the supreme god. 1968). not of Enki. p. Semitic villagerswho still associated fertility. As the spouse of Inanna.38 What were the religious ideas thathad developed in associationwith this goddess thatmade her such a powerful and effective symbol of Sargon's imperial ambition? Thorkild Jacobsen calls Inanna the goddess of "infinite 36W W.144 on Sat.

Dumuzi (her husband/the king) substitutes forher in the underworld. Adam and Eve). Her name may be trans lated "Queen of Heaven. p.242. disappears for a week or two. 41 Jacobsen. In the later. p. The Treasures of Darkness. expresses the dawning of historical (patriarchal)consciousness. So Inanna's very changeableness. This theme of confronting death and change arises as amajor one in every heroic age. that is. The Venus starwith which Inanna is associated expresses the concept of inconstancy. which may be significant for the develop ment of Sumer in terms of the reliance of planters on the herders' knowledge of the movements of the heavenly bodies.. then disappears for almost threemonths before reappearing once more in the western sky. Akkadian version of this tale. It is visible for about eight months in thewestern evening sky.).The lady isnot by accident goddess of both love (life) andwar (death)." The Near East.d. and orchards vary. all sexual activity was suspended in Inanna'sabsence. "Mesopotamian Gods and Pantheons."39On the Uruk vase Inanna appears with the horned crown of divinity.A text from early Uruk refers to "a festival on the day the Inanna star sets." Toward the Image of Tammuz. The authority the herders have by virtue of their knowledge of the movements of the heavenly bodies in relation to the seasons may be reflected in the traditionalway of representing divinity as crowned with horns.144 on Sat.expressing the impor tance of human mortality to the proper functioning of the universe. n. As a symbol of change.42 In the Sumerian account of her journey. "ACatalog of Near Eastern Deities.. the power in rain clouds. at the dawn of history: of awareness of the significance of (public. as can be shown in innumerable examples from comparativemy thology (e. receiving a basket of dates. male) activity in time. Sex and death are confronted as realities to be dealt with together.The story of Inanna'sjourney to the under world is (among other things) about this phenomenon." The fact that she ishistorically capable ofmediat ing between agricultural and herding economies41may have made her an appropriate symbol for expressing the increasing power developing in the human community. She is associatedwith herding as the goddess of the evening star. 47. one might say. it is shewho is the dying-risingdivinity. p.one of the astral deities alongwith her brother Utu (sun). Perhaps her image expressed the fruitfulness of change in the face of egoistic fears. 135. she expresses an accept ance of historical process as realwhile her simultaneous appearance inmyth and epic as a femme fatale expresses the fears associated with sexuality. change and death."40 Linked with An. fishing.Marriage and battle are the two perennial means of enlarg ing community. and father Nanna (moon).68. reappears in the eastern sky again for about eight months. 40 Falkenstein. 39 Jacobsen. Both Inanna and Nanna are astral in character. she is also identifiedwith Antum. This content downloaded from 96. the overall economy of Sumer depends on grain agriculture." Syro-Mesopotamian Studies 4:3 (Malibu:Undena Publications. Though local emphases on herding.g. 42Wolfgang Heimpel. 27. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . "The Prehistory and Protohistory ofWestern Asia.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 19 variety.

It was during the Ur III and Isin-Larsaperiods at the end of Sumer's history (2100-1800) that the rite of SacredMarriage became the quintessen tial expression of Sumer's religious and political self-understanding. p. 63. (Note that it is the king ruling fromhis palace as servantof the goddesswho is in charge of the state. This content downloaded from 96. 43 Jacobsen. 97. especially during the second dynasty of Lagash under Gudea. people from the mountains to the northeast "who destroyed much and built nothing. p. but now over all Sumer and Akkad. who destroyed Ur.) Enheduanna's account of her expulsion fromher posts atUr andUruk and her claim to have been restored by (or even as) Inannamay be a way of expressing the change in role from priestess as servant of a male god. and Sumerian culture again flourished (as now Uruk. The Sumerian Renaissance: Power Shifts fromFemale toMale The "Dynasty of Ishtar"was brought to an end by the Gutians. then Lagash. overriding the claims of the dynasties which had ruled as the elect of Enlil. in relation to her consort.43 this reflects Sargon's policy of regularizing the position of Inanna to conform to the Ur pattern. to "goddess" as servant of the king.68. and itwas his general (andbrother)Ur-Nammu. 1972). thus demoting her. high-priestess of Nanna at Ur. for all Enheduanna's fame. 46 Samuel Noah Kramer."44They took hold permanently only in the north.20 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion Sargon ruled as Inanna-Ishtar'sservant. Shulgi claimed to rule Sumer as the son of Ur-Nammu and the Ur priestess. 120. Hallo and Van Dijk.When Enheduanna sings of Inanna as An's wife. From the Poetry of Sumer (Berkeley: University of California Press. including themarriage with Inanna atUruk andwith the priestess of Nanna atUr in the same day. The Treasures of Darkness. from divine to human. as the en had inUruk. then Uruk and Ur together took the lead)." The Near East. her elevation of Inanna as support for Sargon's rule represented a further curtailment of the independent power of women. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p. Utuhengal of Uruk expelled the Gutians. 44 Jean Bottero. In other words. 45 Jacobsen. Toward the Image of Tammuz. who founded Ur III and ushered in the period of richest cultural floweringbefore Sumer was brought to an end by theAmorite (or first)dynasty of Babylonia (Ham murabi. by her choice. Having expelled the Elamites.242. as power shifted from the divine to the human ruler. from the served to the servant. p.46Eventually the Ur III state fell victim to centrifugal force. 387 n.144 on Sat. p. The Exaltation of Inanna. not the priestess of the temples in Ur and Uruk. 1979). and to the Elamites.45We have an account of how Shulgi managed to celebrate the New Year festival. presumably by engaging in the rite of SacredMarriage with Ur-Bau'sdaugh ter Enanepada. 80. Gudea came to power in Lagash as the son-in-law of Ur-Bau. 'The First Semitic Empire. 137.

appealed to the deities of Sumer tomake him their city-god. Perhaps the reasonwhy Uruk's idea of SacredMarriage reemerged inUr III times was because it provided a statement of the order of nature and society that seemed uniquely right to the Sumerians at that time: divine had rankover human. In terms of power.) 48Thorkild Jacobsen. p. out of respect for his effectiveness as a warrior.144 on Sat. but among humans. "Religious Drama in Ancient Mesopotamia. in the Hymn to Inanna as the Evening Star. ed.M. the god as recipient.242.51 47The name of Sargon's grandson. (Oral communication from Thorkild Jacobsen."He concludes thatmore recent. dates. 66. 68. Hans Goedicke and J. 50 Jacobsen. 49 Jacobsen.49 In much of the literature about him. J. Naram-Sin. p."50Humanity is dependent on the gods. 1975).Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 21 the kings of Isin claimed the title "kingof Ur" and the authority of Enlil for their city's rule over thewhole of Sumer.47 Iddin-Dagan is applauded as the incarnation of Dumuzi Amaushumgalanna as he goes "with liftedhead" tobed down the goddess. Jacobsen notes "a shift in emphasis: from the god as source of all blessings. so female divine (Inanna) andmale human (the king) expressed in their union a perfect integration or balance. the goddess as receiving." Unity and Diversity. this resolution represented a demotion of the goddess. p. but in away thatmarks the triumph of patriarchy in elevating a man to divine status throughmar riage to a goddess while lowering the statusof female priestly authority atUr. "Toward the Image of Tammuz. Jacobsen." in Unity and Diver sity. p. note 24. is the first to appear on inscriptions with the determinative of divinity. above). 89. Note how many king's names include the name of a goddess: Ur-Nanshe. This content downloaded from 96.not of Nanna. Examining sourceswhich refer to the marriage relationship. 51A most ancient and persistent way for a ruler to claim authority in Sumer was to say that he was raised on the milk of Ninhursag. probably.68. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Ur-Bau. or was born of Ninsun or one of the other mother goddesses (cf. but of Dumuzi.48Dumuzi was originally the nurturing power in various foods: grain. pp. while providing the prerequisite of any claim to authority among Sumerians that it be rooted in female power." Toward the Image of Tammuz. throughwhom that divine statushad initiallybeen conferred. "is the view of the god as recipient. summer 1984. It is the relationshipbetween InannaandDumuzi that is celebrated in the hymns and songs from this time associatedwith the SacredMarriage rite performed at the new year. He is depicted wearing the horns of divinity (though only one pair) on his stele. Treasures of Darkness. Iddin-Dagan of Isinwas exalted as the incarnation. to the goddess as the source. 38. the king is a god. but male had rankover female. The Treasures of Darkness. "Religious Drama. Ur Nammu etc. his loss (when those foods were out of season) was mourned by his sister and his mother. A recently discovered inscription relates how the citizens of Agade. Roberts (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 71 (Italicsmine).We have come full circle back to the traditionof ancient Uruk. since thatwould appear to represent a gradualfading of the divine identity in favor of the human one of the king inwhom he was incarnate in the rite. 158-9. milk.

plough them for you!" Inanna replies. I cannot enter her body to be born again. Smohalla. You askme to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her skin for her bones? Then when I die. as it is used to express the relationship between the community and the gods. (well)watered I. 45-6.As the king serves the gods by organizing his society forproduction.) 54Kramer. my parts. 138.144 on Sat. And the elegist responds: "Young lady. to tax his wealth and property to the limit. up to a point. being (but) amaiden. so the people serve the king by working the land to the advantage of themanagerial class. He said: 'Youaskme to plow the ground! Shall I take a knife and tearmy mother's bosom? Then when I die she will not takeme to her bosom to rest. asking "whowill plough my vulva?"53Marriage as ametaphor for the union of equals.68. . 80. p. 1959). The Sumerians. and to appropriate. But "in order to raise armies and supply them with arms and equipment. Inanna. "my hillock land. andmale dominance inparticular. Compare: "An American Indian prophet. 43ff. The Treasures of Darkness. As the goddess depends on the king coming "with lifted head" to plough her vulva. and be rich likewhite men! But how dare I cut offmy mother's hair'?" (Mircea Eliade. in the face of doubts about the whole agricultural and commercial enterprise as unnatural inter ference. that production increaseswith larger-scalemanagement.. You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it. p.may the king plough them for you! May the king. refused to till the ground. "Theman of my heart! The ploughman is the man of my heart!" (Jacobsen. chief of theWanapum tribe. The Inannaof the "HerderWedding Text"52has completely lost her distinctive character as a rival of Enki when she is identifiedwith the earth. so (well)watered. This content downloaded from 96. masked what was essentially a master/slave relationship. He held that itwas a sin tomutilate and tear up the earth. the gods 52 Jacobsen. so the people depend on the tax collectorswho come periodically to strip them of their surplus! It is true."54 The custom requiring thatwhoever claims to rule them should travel to the various cities of Sumer to celebrate there according to local tradition. p.authorizing the institutionof class domination first. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 53Wolkstein and Kramer. The Sacred and the Profane (New York:Harcourt.22 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion This celebration of a king as the choice of the goddess asserts a harmony between socialmanipulation andwhat the gods want. p. mother of all. Brace & World. Dumuzi. From then on. the rulers found it necessary to infringe on the personal rights of the individual citizen. who will be their ploughman? . the harmonious integration of cultural efforts and natural bounty to produce abundant crops and herds. The Treasures of Darkness. 37. apparently reached a breaking point with Shulgi. as well.) with this portion of the "HerderWedding Text": The young lady [Inanna]was praising her parts and the elegist was weaving it into a song .. piled up with levees. .242. p. property belonging to the temple.

At the local. incarnate in the king. Encompassing. providing continuity with the most ancient religious traditions. to its lessening as she was appointed by the ruler to be the human spouse of the god Nanna at Ur (by the end of ED III). In the Iddin-Dagan textmentioned above.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 23 (represented by the various temple personnel) came to the king." Looking at the role of Sumer'smost importantfemale religious functionaries.56 Under Sargon. Reaching Behind.Command ing the allegiance of all Sumer. 141. Inannabecame a fitting symbol of Sargon's imperial power. Inanna had the advantage over Enki in remaining female. If Enlil was an extender of boundaries. the "ladyof myriad offices. Inannabecame the principle divinity of the 55 Jacobsen. we may describe a progression from the autonomouspower of the priestess of Inannawho chose the en (pre-"flood"Uruk).With the addition of Ishtar's warlike aspect and elevation in cosmic status as An'swife.68. In Uruk'sway of understanding power. There had been a timewhen itwas as a human that the male wedded the goddess (the en of Uruk. Inanna. They exemplified two nonmilitary modes of male power. Sumer grew northward by the extension of agriculture. addingmilitary strength toEnki's technical skill. the lady Inanna is anything but a mother. p. and Inanna is referred to as the "lady of the palace. and by the political hegemony of Kish as authorized by the priesthood of Enlil atNippur. An of Uruk and Enki of Eridu were the primeval alternatives to the prehistoricmother goddesses (whose authority. The Uruk idea reached its full expression only in the Ur III period when the king became the divine husband of Inanna. the marriage is celebrated in a palace (presumably at Isin). 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and to adapt it by identifying Inannawith Ishtar the Semitic goddess of love and war. and by elevating Inanna'sstatus among the Sumerian gods. temple-com munity level. Through their ritualmarriage to her. and Going Beyond We are now in a position to review the changing definitions of political religious power to demonstrate the process of reaching behind. the kingswho oversaw the richest floweringof Sumerian culture claimed divine status for themselves. Ancient Sumerian political wisdom culminated in Ur III Sacred Mar riage as amore viable alternative tomother goddesses then Eridu's phallic worship. so as to support the notion of a larger Sumer Akkadian state. by military conquest and trade.What Sargon did in exalting Inanna-Ishtarwas to reach behind the Nippur-Kish-Ur definition of power to an earlier one exemplified in ancient Uruk. Sargon still claimed authority as the servant of the goddess. ED II and earlier). until eventually (Ur III and later)she became merely the consort of the human god Dumuzi. 56 Ibid.242."55was a mediator of differences. associatedwith village culture. This content downloaded from 96. lingered longer in the north). Enlil renewed the tradition of male power. The Treasures of Darkness.144 on Sat.

and the goddess became the figuremore familiar to us from the Gilgamesh epic. 190. Thus far." Inanna (the priestess) was essentially the consort of the king. the petulant daughterwho had to throw tantrums to get her way with her father. an ineffectual troublemaker. She became the means by which the kings of Ur IIImade their claim to rule Sumer. In the course of the next thousand years. thathumanity is one. As Jacobsen interprets this Babylonian creation story. The institution of Sacred Marriage culminated the development of di vine authorization of the human community's power to instigate. inmyth. the goddess was repudiated altogether.24 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion Akkadian empire (leaving Uruk to the father-god. I am referringhere to complex processes atwork in the ancient Near East throughout the course of the second millennium.144 on Sat. The shift from polytheism tomonotheism accompanied the growing intuition. and all that its culture stands for. take ini tiative and dominate its environment.57As Enki's son and heir. again. andwhat layoutside itwith chaos.Marduk is a triumphant warrior against the original mother.As she appeared in the epic thatmade the exploits of Gilgamesh famous. but as the "lady of the palace. the state had been equatedwith the cosmos.242. The need arose to recognize the reality of other states and to define internationalrelations in some way. Fear of interferingwith nature (female) had been faced by transferringpower to a human (male) king. as new ways of legitimating political power were worked out in religious terms. and through retrieving a value from a previous phase. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of a qualitative change in the conception of human community.. from around the time of Israel'sexodus 57 Ibid. "Enuma Elish" is an account of how Marduk was granted "sole right of decree" by the assembly of the gods in order to conquer their enemy and create the cosmos from the goddess's parts. the one reflected in the biblical tradition. One result of these processes can be seen in the form of an international treaty. Inanna sanctified human efforts to take charge of and change the environment (both cultural and natural). An). known fromHittite and Egyptian records. who became the symbol of chaos. The goddess Inanna became. In the creation story. she failed in her attempt to persuade the hero tomarry her.An.68. p. came as a result. The king ruled now asMarduk's protege (andwith equally absolute authority). As the one throughwhom the king became a god. Two classics from that time indicate once again that the new termswere worked out in reaction to those immediately preceding. the rebellious Tiamat ("sea-land")refers to Sumer itself. but incorporated themilitary might symbolized by Enlil. Ninurta and Ishtar. provoked by internationalrelations as they developed in the ancient Near East. This content downloaded from 96. In the second half of the second millennium the king of Babylon was understood to be the chosen servant of the god Marduk. The next big shift in consciousness.Marduk represented a reach behind the Uruk tradition to the earlier one of Eridu.

Yahweh. 39. the choice was made by men. a context of values that is no longer sufficient to deal with its own consequences: the power to destroy ourselves. which in turn shaped the way Christ was presented in the gospels. "Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition. The Ethic Emerging in theWomens Movement In our fascinationwith prehistoric and ancient cultures the women's movement is reaching behind the intervening patriarchal development to recover our sense of connectedness with the earth. and capable of takingcharge of reproduction as an aspect of our own species life. Meanwhile we have also built on Sumer's foundation. Mendenhall. and over the federation of nations. with other species. and David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday-Anchor. ed. the development of hierarchical forms of order. E Campbell. as a collection of vassal states under one great king. The mortal aspect of the goddess's husband Dumuzi. There was no individual. The exercise of power by one person or group over another. Thus the king who became god provided amodel for the god who became king over the tribes of Israel.144 on Sat.we have achieved a degree of technologicalproficiency that requires us to become personally accountable in a new way.242. That treaty form helps to clarify the understanding that Israel had of itself at a later time. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . in Isaiah's later vision. with each other. meaningful when it had been associatedwith the periodic death and rebirth of vegetation. in covenant federation. E. feeling and acting in response to conditions that have arisen in.58God. and with our own bodies. and the achievement of ego-centered personality all may be seen as relatively suc cessful strategies for dealing with environmental stress. Patriarchal values have shaped us so thatwe regard ourselves as responsible agents. and as a result of. But as a result of these strategies. was taken up and reinterpreted through Isaiah's figure of the suffering servant. who you were was determined by what corporate group you were born into.Our present situation calls for new ways of thinking. In ancient Sumer. This content downloaded from 96. 1970). the emergence of unifying symbols.Wakeman: Ancient Sumer and theWomen's Movement 25 fromEgypt. was preferable to the city-state kings of Canaan. What itmeans to be a person is changing now to a sense of self (whethermale or female) that embodies a 58George E." in The Biblical Archeologist Reader 3.was the significantdiscovery (underhistorical pressure) of biblical faith. The idea of voluntary association. The process of reaching behind and encompassing to go beyond is characteristic in the continuing religiouswork of sanctioning new forms of political power. capable of takingcharge of our relationship to the rest of the natural and human world. whose fatherhood appears as a vestigial remnant from the days of polytheism. the possibility of a communitymade up of those who had chosen rather than been born into it (andwere morally culpable therefore). Jr.68.What itmeans to be a person has changed. Still. legally speaking. p.

Valuing diverse experience is not just a plank in the platform. Each person's own historical experi ence provides a way of coping creativelywith the present circumstances of our common life. As we reach behind patriarchy to recover the values of diversity in nature and culture. No one can now avoid the realization thatwe as a species are dependent on one another formaintaining this small global garden in good health. for cooperatingwith nature rather than trying to get the better of it. we are a natural resource for one another. we encompass the achievement of a responsible self. "the personal is political.26 Journalof Feminist Studies inReligion whole community of interests and that is capable of finding its own order. it is adjunct to the reevaluation of nature. as in prebiblical times. we recover the notion of cosmic interdependency expressed in the ancient idea of the Sacred Marriage of heaven and earth.144 on Sat.68. of coordinating itswill with others. Yet our experience of interdependency is different from the Sumerians in that it is self-centered.59 It includes everyone as we create among our diverse selves a new social realitywhich continues tobe personally transformative. Technological developments have brought us to a point where we can and thereforemust take responsibility formaintaining ecological balances. In doing so. religious. Self. 59 James Ogilvy. Having developed different strengths. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 115ff.242. If as some say." politics must be once again. and go beyond it to realize our interdependability. p. Many Dimensional Man: Decentralizing (New York:Oxford University Press. New forms of religiosity are emerging that express a sense that order depends on variety and remind us not to allow a collapse into sameness. or heterarchical struc ture. The idea of a political order based on the par ticularityof personal experience has amany-centered. the need for anyone to have power over another is obviated. Society and the Sacred This content downloaded from 96.Humanity has become one. 1977). and of being enlightened by other lives.As we discover ways to restructure the family and social life so as to empower one another.

242.144 on Sat.CITIES OF ANCIENTSUMER EUPHRATESIVER X 'AGADE KISH ^ NtPPUR \ IR RIVER SIN UMMA\ ' iIR GIRSU LAGASH UR ERtDU PERSIAN GULF This content downloaded from 96. 27 Jul 2013 08:49:02 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .68.