The civilizations of Mesopotamia were polytheistic, meaning that they worshipped many gods. Every Mesopotamian city had its own patron god or goddess, who was supposed to protect the city’s people from harm and ensure a good harvest. Aside from their patron gods, the Mesopotamians prayed to the other gods daily.
Usually, the Mesopotamian people would pray at their local temple/ziggurat (a step-based structure like a pyramid, built and dedicated to worshipping the gods) but would also have shrines to particular gods within their home. There are too many gods of Mesopotamia to ever really be counted, but they worshipped seven in particular.
Who were the main seven gods of Mesopotamia?
An: Sky god of Mesopotamia. God of kings and the king of the gods, An played a very small part in Mesopotamian mythology. Father of all demons and monsters.
Enlil: God of the wind, air, storms and the earth. Plays a key role in the “creation story” of Mesopotamia, as he separated heaven and earth to make the land habitable for humans.
Enki: God of water, knowledge, mischief, and crafts. Became known as Ea in later parts of the mythology. Patron god to the city of Eridu.
Ninhursag: Goddess of the mountains and earth. Goddess of fertility. “Mother goddess” of Sumeria, like Gaia from Greek Mythology.
Nanna: God of the moon, protector of shepherds, son of Enlil. Sometimes called “Sin.” In later mythology, Sin ascended to his role as head of the gods. Predicts the future at every full moon.
Utu: God of the sun, justice, morality, and truth. Twin brother of the goddess Inanna. Believed to ride through the heavens in his “sun chariot,” like the Egyptian god Ra, and could see all things in the world.
Inanna: Formerly known as Ishtar in mythology. Appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Goddess of love, beauty, desire, fertility, war, and justice. Twin brother of Utu. Appeared in the most myths of any other gods and was a very mischievous figure.
Who are some other gods of Mesopotamia?
Marduk: Patron god of the city of Babylon. Sometimes associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. The Ziggurat of Babylon was built in his honor.
Ninurta: God of farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war. Also known to be a god of agriculture and healing. Protected humanity from demons. An honorary god of war, though this was not his main role.
Nergal: God of death and the underworld. Portrayed as a god of sickness, and represents the setting of the sun/the winter sun. Nergal is “given” the Underworld in a myth by Enlil and Ninlil, two other gods.
Tiamat: Goddess of the sea. Usually depicted as a sea dragon, her most famous myth describes a battle which she lost to the Babylonian patron god, Marduk.
Ashur: The main god worshipped by the Assyrian people. God of war, married to the goddess Ishtar. His symbols are a winged disc and the bow and arrow. These images are like those of the god Ra in Egyptian mythology.
Were these the only gods of Mesopotamia?
No. The religion of the Mesopotamian Persian Empire was different from the religion of the empires which came before it. The Persian religion was called Zoroastrianism. In their religion, there was only one god; hence, it was a monotheistic religion.
The god of Zoroastrianism is called Ahura Mazda, and the Persians believed that he created the world. The Persians believed that their god was all good, and that by acting in a “good” manner (i.e, with kindness and respect) they would be able to help fight against the evil demons that surrounded them.
Facts about the Mesopotamian gods:
- The Mesopotamians worshipped seven main gods, their “planetary deities.”
- These planetary deities were: An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, Inanna.
- An was the leader of the seven planetary deities.
- However, there are well over a hundred Mesopotamian gods recorded.
- Every city of Mesopotamia had a patron god/goddess, who would look after the people and ensure a good harvest.
- Mesopotamian mythology may have served as the inspiration for the mythology of other empires, as it shares a lot of similarities with the myths of Greece/Egypt.
- The religions of Mesopotamia were generally “polytheistic,” meaning that they worshipped many gods instead of one.
- The religion of Persia was different from this, however. It was “monotheistic” and called Zoroastrianism. It has more in common with Christianity than any other religion of the Mesopotamian empires.
- How many planetary deities did the Mesopotamians have?
- Who was the king of the planetary deities?
- What was the purpose of the patron gods/goddesses of cities?
– They would protect the people and ensure a good harvest.
- What was the name of the religion of Persia?
- Who was the goddess of love in Mesopotamia?
- Back to – Ancient Mesopotamia