Saturday, December 19, 2015


hymn to Nisaba (Nisaba A): translation
Old Babylonian version

1-6Lady coloured like the stars of heaven, holding (3 mss. have instead: perfectly endowed with) a lapis-lazuli tablet! Nisaba, great wild cow born by Urac, wild sheep nourished on good milk among holy alkaline plants, opening the mouth for seven ...... reeds! Perfectly endowed with fifty great divine powers, my lady, most powerful in E-kur!

7-13Dragon emerging in glory at the festival, Aruru (mother goddess) of the Land, ...... from the clay, calming ...... (1 ms. has instead: the region with cool water), lavishing fine oil (3 mss. have instead: plenty) on the foreign lands, engendered in wisdom by the Great Mountain (Enlil)! Good woman, chief scribe of An, record-keeper of Enlil, wise sage of the gods!

14-20In order to make barley and flax grow in the furrows, so that excellent corn can be admired; to provide for the seven great throne-daises by making flax shoot forth and making barley shoot forth at the harvest, the great (1 ms. has instead: august) festival of Enlil -- in her great princely role she has cleansed her body and has put (1 ms. has instead: draped) the holy priestly garment on her torso.

21-26In order to establish bread offerings where none existed, and to pour forth great libations of alcohol, so as to appease the god of grandeur, Enlil, and to appease merciful Kusu and Ezina, she will appoint a great en priest, and will appoint a festival; she will appoint a great en priest of the Land.

27-35He (Enki (?)) approaches the maiden Nisaba in prayer. He has organised pure food-offerings; he has opened up Nisaba's house of learning, and has placed the lapis-lazuli tablet on her knees, for her to consult the holy tablet of the heavenly stars. In Aratta he has placed E-zagina at her disposal. You have built up Erec in abundance, founded from little ...... bricks, you who are granted the most complex wisdom!

36-50In the abzu, the great crown of Eridug, where sanctuaries are apportioned, where elevated ...... are apportioned -- when Enki, the great princely farmer of the awe-inspiring temple, the carpenter of Eridug, the master of purification rites, the lord of the great en priest's precinct, occupies E-engur, and when he builds up the abzu of Eridug; when he takes counsel in Hal-an-kug, when he splits with an axe the house of boxwood; when the sage's hair is allowed to hang loose, when he opens the house of learning, when he stands in the street of the door of learning; when he finishes (?) the great dining-hall of cedar, when he grasps the date-palm mace, when he strikes (?) the priestly garment with that mace, then he utters seven ...... to Nisaba, the supreme nursemaid:

51-55"O Nisaba, good woman, fair woman, woman born in the mountains (1 ms. has instead: by the mountains)! Nisaba, may you be the butter in the cattle-pen, may you be the cream in the sheepfold, may you be keeper of the seal in the treasury, may you be a good steward in the palace, may you be a heaper up of grain among the grain piles and in the grain stores!"

56-57Because the Prince Enki cherished Nisaba, O father Enki, it is sweet to praise you!
From: Here
With her husband Haya, God of storehouses, she is the mother of the Goddess Sud, whose name was changed to Ninlil when she married Enlil, God of the air. Nisaba keeps the records of the Gods, and as the divine scribe she was especially worshipped by Sumerian scribes. She is depicted with long flowing hair, and her tiara features a crescent moon and ears of corn, since she was also associated with the harvest. Nisaba’s name means “lady of the grain rations,” which explains her combined roles as Goddess of grain and of accounting, and is also seen as Nissaba, Nidaba, Nanibgal, and Nunbarshegunu (lady whose body is dappled barley).
From: Here
Nanibgal (DNANIBGAL ANANNAGA 𒀭𒀭𒉀, DNÁNIBGAL 𒀭𒀭𒊺𒉀), also Nisaba or Nidaba (DNÍDABA 𒀭𒉀, DNIDABA 𒀭𒊺𒉀) was the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. Her sanctuaries were E-zagin at Eresh and at Umma. On a depiction found in Lagash, she appears with flowing hair, crowned with horned tiara bearing supporting ears of corn and a crescent moon. Her dense hair is evoked in comparison in the description of similarly hairy Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic.

Place in the Pantheon
As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba's exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. She is the daughter of An and Urash. From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag. Therefore, the two goddess may be one and the same. Nisaba is the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Nanshe and (in some versions) Ninurta.

In some other tales, she is considered the mother of Ninlil, and by extension, the mother-in-law of Enlil.

The god of wisdom, Enki, organized the world after creation and gave each deity a role in the world order. Nisaba was named the scribe of the gods, and Enki then built her a school of learning so that she could better serve those in need. She keeps records, chronicles events, and performs various other bookwork related duties for the gods. She is also in charge of marking regional borders.

She is the chief scribe of Nanshe. On the first day of the new year, she and Nanshe work together to settle disputes between mortals and give aid to those in need. Nisaba keeps record of the visitors seeking aid and then arranges them into a line to stand before Nanshe, who will then judge them. Nisaba is also seen as a caretaker for Ninhursag's temple at Kesh, where she gives commands and keeps temple records.

The goddess of writing and teaching, she was often praised by Sumerian scribes. Many clay-tablets end with the phrase 𒀭𒉀𒍠𒊩, (DINGIR.NAGA.ZAG.SAL; Dnisaba za3-mi2), “Nisaba be praised” to honor the goddess. She is considered the teacher of both mortal scribes and other divine deities. In the Babylonian period, she was replaced by the god Nabu, who took over her functions. In some instances, Nisaba was his instructor or wife before he replaced her.

As the goddess of knowledge, she is related to many other facets of intellectual study and other gods may turn to her for advice or aid. Some of these traits are shared with her sister Ninsina. She is also associate with grain, reflecting her association with an earth goddess mother.
From: Wiki
Nidaba (goddess)

Sumerian goddess of grain and writing, patron deity of the city Ereš. Nidaba's glory attracted her fall: her scribal functions were usurped by the god Nabu as he rose to power in the Old Babylonian period.

Nidaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain. The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.
Divine Genealogy and Syncretisms

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Ea, and of Anu. Nidaba's spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil. Two myths (ETCSL 1.2.1 and ETCSL 1.2.2) describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgamesh. Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess (McEwan 1998-2001:151).

In a debate between Nidaba and Grain (Lambert 1996:168-75), Nidaba is syncretised with Ereškigal as "Mistress of the Underworld". Nidaba is also identified with the goddess of grain Ašnan, and with Nanibgal/Nidaba-ursag/Geme-Dukuga, the throne bearer of Ninlil and wife of Ennugi, throne bearer of Enlil (Michalowski 1998-2001: 577).

The Sumerian tale of the Curse of Agade lists Nidaba as belonging to the elite of the great gods (ETCSL 2.1.5, 222).

Cult Place
Nidaba was the patron deity of the city Ereš, which has not yet been identified geographically although it is known to have been in southern Mesopotamia. Two locations have been proposed as possible contenders, namely the mound of Jarin (Jacobsen 1960: 176) and Tell Abu-Salabikh (Postgate and Moorey 1976:161). Not a single temple dedicated to the exclusive worship of Nidaba has yet been recovered archaeologically. Texts provide evidence, however, that sanctuaries dedicated to Nidaba existed across Mesopotamia (George 1993). Nidaba's cult appears to have been carried out most actively at the temple of her daughter Ninlil in Nippur (Michalowski 1998-2001: 57.

Time Periods Attested
Nidaba's importance as goddess of writing and patron of scribes is well documented from the Early Dynastic to the early Old Babylonian periods. Sumerian literary compositions often end with the doxology "Praise be to Nidaba!" (dNidaba zà-mí). After she is replaced by Nabu in the Old Babylonian period, her appearances become more sporadic. She is occasionally mentioned as patron of scribes together with Nabu, but her most common role is as minor agricultural deity. Yet worship of Nidaba did not die out for many more centuries. A prayer to Nidaba from the Neo-Assyrian temple of Nabu in Nimrud (see description of tablet 168 in (Wiseman and Black 1996: 25) suggests faith in the deity was still strong. Nidaba still enjoyed a cult in the Seleucid period as evidenced notably by mention of her blessing ( TCL 06, 38: o.46-47) and a list attaching her to a temple (SpTU 2, 029: r ii 22).

The goddess' name is first attested in the Ur archaic texts as dNAGA (in later times dŠE.NAGA). The Akkadian reading of this name is uncertain. The readings Nis(s)aba (traditional) and Nidaba (proposed by Civil 1983:43) are primarily based on Akkadian pronunciation columns in lexical texts where writings such as ni-is-sà-ba/ni-da-ba are encountered. The reading Nidaba is preferred here.

Nanibgal and Nun-baršegunu ("Lady whose body is the flecked barley") are alternative names of the same goddess. The former appears mainly as a praising epithet (McEwan 1998-2001:151), whilst the latter is used essentially in agricultural contexts (Cavigneaux and Krebernik 1998-2001: 615).
For the rest: see HERE

Also see:
Gateways to Babylon, summary

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