Chapter 6: The Divine Architects

“…Some time between 2200 and 2100 B.C. – a time of great import at Stonehenge – Ninurta, Enlil’s Foremost Son, embarked on a major undertaking: the building of a new “House” for himself at Lagash.

“…The event throws light on many matters of gods and men thanks to the fact that the king entrusted with the task, Gudea of Lagash, wrote it all down in great detail on two large clay cylinders. In spite of the immensity of the task, he realized that it was a great honor and a unique opportunity to have his name and deeds remembered for all time, for no many kings were so entrusted; in fact royal records (since found by archaeologists) spoke of at least one instance when a famous king (Naram-Sin), otherwise beloved by the gods, was again and again refused permission to engage in the building of a new temple (such a situation arose millennia later in the case of King David in Jerusalem). Shrewdly expressing his gratitude to his god by inscribing laudatory statements on statues of himself which Gudea then emplaced in the new temple, Gudea managed to leave behind a rather substantial amount of written information which explains the How and What for of the sacred precincts and temples of the Anunnaki.

“…Throughout the millennia Ninurta was a faithful aid to his father (as the Foremost Son of Enlil by his half sister Ninharsag) carrying out dutifully each task assigned to him.

“…When a brutal war, which in The Wars of God and Men we have called the Second Pyramid War, broke out between the Enlilites and the Enki’ites, it was again Ninurta who led his father’s side to victory. That conflict ended with a peace conference forced on the warring clans by Ninharsag, in the aftermath of which the Earth was divided among the two brothers and their sons and civilization was granted to Mankind in the “Three Regions” – Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Indus Valley.

“…The peace that ensued lasted for a long time, but not forever. One who had been unhappy with the arrangements all along was Marduk, the Firstborn Son of Enki. Reviving the rivalry between his father and Enlil which stemmed from the complex succession rules of the Anunnaki, Marduk challenged the grant of Sumer and Akkad (what we call Mesopotamia) to the offspring of Enlil and claimed the right to a Mesopotamian city called Bab-Ili (Babylon) – literally, “Gateway of the Gods.” As a result of the ensuing conflicts, Marduk was sentenced to be buried alive inside the Great Pyramid of Giza; but, pardoned before it was too late, he was forced to exile; and once again Ninurta was called upon to help resolve the conflicts.

“…Ninurta however was not just a warrior. In the aftermath of the Deluge it was he who dammed the mountain passes to prevent more flooding… he oversaw the introduction of organized agriculture… he was assigned to organize Kingship to Mankind at the first city of Men, Kish

“…His reward was permission from Enlil to build a brand new temple in Lagash. It was not that he was “homeless”; he already had a temple in Kish, and a temple within the sacred precinct in Nippur, next to his father’s ziggurat. He also had his own temple in the Girsu, the sacred precinct of his “cult center” the city of Lagash. French teams of archaeologists who have been excavating at the site (now locally called Tello), conducting twenty “campaigns” between 1877 and 1933, uncovered many of the ancient remains of a square ziggurat and rectangular temples whose corners were precisely oriented to the cardinal points. They estimate that the foundations of the earliest temples were laid in Early Dynastic times, before 2700 B.C… Inscriptions by the earliest rulers of Lagash already spoke of rebuilding and improvements in the Girsu, as well as of the presentation of votive artifacts, such as the silver vase by Entemena, over a period of six or seven hundred years before Gudea’s time. Some inscriptions may mean that the foundation for the very first Eninnu were laid by Mesilim, a king of Kish who had reigned circa 2850 B.C. Kish, it will be recalled, was where Ninurta had established for the Sumerians the institution of Kingship.

Naram Sin's stele of Victory.

Naram Sin’s stele of Victory. Although he was the beloved of the gods, he was not granted permission to build a new temple.


The Second Pyramid.

The Second Pyramid. The site of a great war of the gods. The aftermath was the division of the Earth in three Regions.


The Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid, where Marduk was sentenced to be buried alive. Pardoned just in time, he was helped out. After another victory for Enlil from Ninurta, Ninurta entered the Pyramid for the first time…

“…When Ninurta defeated the Enki’ites he entered the Great Pyramid and for the first time realized its intricate and amazing inner architecture in addition to its outer grandeur. The information provided by the inscriptions of Gudea suggests that Ninurta had nourished a desire to have a ziggurat of similar greatness and intricacy ever since his Egyptian tour of duty. Now that he had pacified Sumer and attained for Lagash the status of a royal capital, he asked Enlil once again for permission to build a new E.NINNU, a new “House of Fifty,” in the Girsu precinct of Lagash. This time his wish was to be fulfilled.

“…That his wish was granted should not be downplayed as a matter of course. We read, for example, in the Canaanite “myths” regarding the god Ba’al (“Lord”), that for his role in defeating the enemies of El (“The Lofty One,” the supreme deity) he sought El’s permission to build a House on the crest of Mount Zaphon in Lebanon. Ba’al had sought his permission before, and was repeatedly turned down…

“…Now he asked Asherah, El’s spouse, to intercede for him; and Asherah finally convinced El to give his permission. Added to the previous arguments was a new one: Ba’al she said, could then, “observe the seasons” in his new House – make there celestial observations for a calendar.

“…The plans had to be drawn and construction supervised by the Kothar-Hasis, the “Skilled and Knowing” Craftsman of the Gods… The Canaanite texts indeed state that Ba’al sent emissaries to Egypt to fetch Kothar-Hasis, but found him eventually in Crete.

“…No sooner, however, did Kothar-Hasis arrive than Ba’al got into fierce arguments with him regarding the temple’s architecture. He wanted, it appears, a House of only two parts, not the customary three – an Hekhal and a Bamtim (a raised stage). The sharpest argument was over a funnel-like window or skylight which Kothar-Hasis claimed had to be positioned “in the House” but Ba’al vehemently argued should be located somewhere else…

“…The reasons for the argument regarding the skylight and its location remain obscure; our guess is that it might have been connected with the temple’s orientation. The statement by Asherah that the temple would enable observance of the seasons suggests an orientation requiring certain astronomical observations. Ba’al, on the other hand, as the Canaanite texts later reveals, was planning to install in the temple a secret communication device that would enable him to seize power over other gods. To that purpose Ba’al “stretched a cord, strong and supple,” from the peak of Zaphon (“North”) to Kadesh (“the Sacred Place”) in the south, in the Sinai desert.

“…The orientation in the end remained the way the divine architect, Kothar-Hasis, wanted it… If, as one must assume, the later temples atop the Baalbek platform were built according to that olden plan, then we find that the orientation Kothar-Hasis had insisted upon resulted in a temple with an east-west axis.

“…As the Sumerian tale of the new Eninnu temple unfolds, we shall see that it too involved celestial observations to determine its orientation, and required the services of divine architects.

“…The chain of events, Gudea’s record states, began on a certain day, a day of great significance. Referring in the inscriptions to Ninurta by his formal title NIN.GIRSU – “Lord of the Girsu.”

“…Recording Ninurta’s complaint about the delay in the building of the new temple “which is vital to the city in accordance with the ME’s,” it reports that on that propitious day Enlil finally granted the permission, and he also decreed what the temple’s name shall be: “Its king shall name the temple E.NINNU.”

“…Having received the permission of Enlil and having obtained the name for the new ziggurat, Ninurta was now free to proceed with the construction. Without losing time, Gudea rushed to supplicate his god to be the one chosen for the task.

“…Finally the miracle happened… He took his asphalt-lined boat and, sailing on a canal, went to a nearby town to seek an explanation (about his vision) from the oracle goddess Nanshe in her “House of Fate-Solving.” Offering prayers and sacrifices that she would solve the riddle of his vision, he proceeded to tell her about the appearance of the god whose command he was to heed…

“…Having heard the details of the dreamlike vision, the oracle goddess proceeded to tell Gudea what it meant. The first god to appear was Ningirsu (Ninurta); “for thee to build his temple, Eninnu, he commanded.” The heliacal rising, she explained, signaled the god Ningishzidda, indicating to him the point of the Sun in the horizon. The goddess (in his vision), was Nisaba; “to build the House in accordance with the Holy Planet she instructed thee.” And the third god, Nanshe explained, “Nindub, is his name, to thee the plan of the House he gave.”

“…Nanshe then added some instructions of her own, reminding Gudea that the new Eninnu had to provide appropriate places for Ninurta’s weapons, for his great aircraft, even for his favorite lyre.

“…Most baffling to him, to begin with, was the matter of the new temple’s orientation…

“…He asked for a second omen; and as he was sleeping Ningirsu/Ninurta appeared to him… The god then lists for Gudea all the inner requirements of the new temple, expanding at the same time on his great powers, the awesomeness of his weapons, his memorable deeds (such as the damming of the waters), and the status he was granted by Anu, “the fifty names of lordship, by those ordained.” The construction, he tells Gudea, should begin on “the day of the new Moon,” when the god will give him the proper omen – a signal: on the evening of the New Year the god’s hand shall appear holding a flame, giving off a light “that shall make the night as light as day.”

“…Ninurta/Ningirsu also assures Gudea that he will receive from the very beginning of the planning of the new Eninnu divine help: the god whose epithet was “The Bright Serpent” shall come to help build the Eninnu and its precinct – “build it to be like the House of the Serpent, as a strong place it shall be built.”

“…Losing no time Gudea proceeded to “purify the city” and organize the people of Lagash, old and young, to form work brigades and enlist themselves in the solemn task. In verses that throw light on the human side of the story, of life and manners and social problems more than four millennia ago, we read that as a way to consecrate themselves for the unique undertaking “the whip of the overseer was prohibited, the mother did not chide her child… a maid who had done a great wrong was not struck by her mistress in the face.” But the people were asked not only to become angelic; to finance the project, Gudea “levied taxes in the land; as a submission to the lord Ningirsu the taxes were increased.”

“…One can stop here for a moment to look ahead to another construction of a God’s Residence, the one built in the wilderness of Sinai for Yahweh. The subject is recorded in detail in the Book of Exodus, beginning in chapter 25. “Speak unto the Children of Israel,” Yahweh told Moses, “that they may bring for me a contribution, from every man whose heart shall prompt him thereto shall be taken an allotment for me… and they shall build for me a sacred sanctuary, and I shall dwell in their midst. In accordance with all that which I am showing thee, the plan of the Residence and the pattern of all the instruments thereof shall ye make it.” Then followed the most detailed architectural instructions – details which made possible the reconstructions of the Residence and its components by modern scholars.

“…To help Moses carry out these detailed plans, Yahweh decided to provide Moses with two assistants whom Yahweh was to endow with a “divine spirit” – “wisdom and understanding and knowledge of all manner of workmanship.” Two men were chosen by Yahweh to be so instructed, Bezalel and Aholiab, “to carry out all the sacred work in all of the manner that Yahweh had ordered.” These instructions began with the layout plan of the Residence and make clear that it was a rectangular enclosure with its long sides (one hundred cubits) facing precisely south and north and its short sides (fifty cubits in length) facing precisely east and west, creating an east-west axis of orientation.

“…By now “greatly wise” and “understanding great things,” Gudea – to go back to Sumer some seven centuries before the Exodus – launched the execution of the divine instructions in a grand way. By canal and river he sent out boats, “holy ships on which the emblem of Nanshe was raised,” to summon assistance from her followers; he sent caravans of cattle and asses to the lands of Inanna, with her emblem of the “star-disk” carried in front; he enlisted the men of Utu, “the god whom he loves.” As a result, Elamites came from Elam, Susians came from Susa, Magan (Egypt) and Melukhah (Nubia) sent a large tribute from Lebanon, bronze was collected, shiploads of stones arrived. Copper, gold, silver and marble were obtained.

Elamites, went from Elam to help build the temple for Ninurta.

Elamites, went from Elam to help build the temple for Ninurta.


Elamites, went from Elam to help build the temple for Ninurta.

Elamites, went from Elam to help build the temple for Ninurta.


The Castle of the French Archaeologists in Susa. Susians went to help build the temple for Ninurta...

The Castle of the French Archaeologists in Susa. Susians went to help build the temple for Ninurta…


Ancient Nubian temple. From Nubia, they sent tribute to help build the temple for Ninurta.

Ancient Nubian temple. From Nubia, they sent tribute to help build the temple for Ninurta.


And from Magan (Egypt) they also sent a great tribute...

And from Magan (Egypt) they also sent a great tribute…


Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected...

Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected…


Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected...

Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected…


Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected...

Cedars, Bronze, Gold was collected…


Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.

Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.


Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.

Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.


Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.

Copper, Silver and Marble was collected.

“…When all that was ready, it was time to make the bricks of clay. This was no small undertaking, not only because tens of thousands of bricks were needed. The bricks – one of the Sumerian “firsts” which, in a land short of stones, enabled them to build high-rise buildings – were not of the shape or size that we use nowadays; they were usually square, a foot or more on each side and two or three inches thick. They were not identical in all places at all times; they were sometimes just sun-dried, some times dried in kilns for durability; they were not always flat, but sometimes concave or convex, as their function required, to withstand structural stress. As is clear from Gudea’s as well as other kings’ inscriptions, when it came to temples, and even more so to ziggurats, it was the god in charge who determined the size and shape of the bricks; this was such an important step in the construction, and such an honor for the king to mold the first brick, that the kings embedded in the wet bricks a stamped inscription with a votive content. This custom, fortunately, made it possible for archaeologists to identify so many of the kings involved in the construction, reconstruction, or repair of the temples.

“…Ancient, even archaic, Sumerian depictions have been found dealing with the brick ceremony, one of them shows a seated deity holding up the Holy Mold, bricks from which are carried to construct a ziggurat.

“…The time has thus come to start building the temple, and the first step was to mark out its orientation and implant the foundation stone. Gudea wrote that a new place was chosen for the new Eninnu, and archaeologists have indeed found its remains on a hill about fifteen hundred feet away from the earlier one.

“…We know from these remains that the ziggurat was built so that its corners would be oriented to the cardinal points; the precise orientation was obtained by first determining true east, then running one or more walls at right angles to each other. This ceremony too was done on an auspicious day for which “the full year” had to come to pass. The day was announced by the goddess Nanshe

“…Apart from depictions of the ceremony, showing a god with the horned headdress implanting the conical “stone,” was actually a bronze one; the use of the term “stone” is not unusual, since all metals resulting from quarrying and mining were named with the prefix NA, meaning “stone” or “that which is mined.”

Mr. Sitchin mentions at this point in his book the use of such “stones” in biblical accounts as well.

“…In Lagash, once the cornerstone was embedded by the god Ningishzidda, Gudea was able to lay the temple’s foundations, by now “like Nisaba knowing the meaning of numbers.”

“…The ziggurat built by Gudea, scholars have concluded, was one of seven stages. Accordingly, seven blessings were pronounced as soon as the laying of the foundation stone was completed and the temple’s orientation set and Gudea began to place the bricks along the marking on the ground:

May the bricks rest peacefully!
May the House by its plan rise high!
May the divine Black Storm Bird be as a young eagle!
May it be like a young lion awesome!
May the House have the brilliance of Heaven!
May joy abound at the prescribed sacrifices!
May Eninnu be a light unto the world!

 

“…Then did Gudea begin to build the “House, a dwelling he established for his lord Ningirsu… a temple truly a Heaven-Earth mountain, its head reaching heavenward…”

“…The king, we read in the inscriptions, “the Righteous Shepherd,” “built the temple bright with metal” bringing copper, gold, and silver from distant lands. “He built the Eninnu with stone, he made it bright with jewels; with copper mixed with tin he held it fast.” This is undoubtedly a reference to bronze which, in addition to its use for various listed artifacts, apparently was also used to clamp together stone blocks and metals. The making of bronze, a complex process involving the mixing of copper and tin under great heat in specified proportions, was quite an art; and indeed Gudea’s inscription makes it clear that for the purpose a Sangu Simug, a “priestly smith,” working for the god Nintud, was brought over from the “Land of smelting.” This priestly smith, the inscription adds, “worked on the temple’s facade; with two handbreadths of bright stone he faced over the brickwork; with diorite and one handbreadth of bright stone he…” (the inscription is too damaged here to be legible).

“…Not just the mere quantity of stones used in the Eninnu but the outright statement that the brickwork was faced with bright stone of a certain thickness – a statement that until now has not drawn the attention of scholars – is nothing short of sensational. We know of no other instance of Sumerian records of temple construction that mention the facing or “casing” of brickwork with stones. Such inscriptions speak only of brickwork – its erection, its crumbling, its replacement – but never of a stone facing over the brick facade.

“…Incredibly – but as we shall show, not inexplicably – the facing of the new Eninnu with bright stones, unique in Sumer, emulated the Egyptian method of facing step-pyramids with bright stone casings to give them smooth sides!

“…The Egyptian pyramids that were built by pharaohs began with one built by King Zoser at Sakkara (south of Memphis) circa 2650 B.C.

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“…Rising in six steps within a rectangular sacred precinct, it was originally faced with bright limestone casing stones of which only traces now remain; its casing stones, as those of ensuing pyramids, were removed by later rulers to be used in their own monuments.

“…The Egyptian pyramids, as we have shown and proved in The Stairway to Heaven, began with those built by the Anunnaki themselves – the Great Pyramid and its two companions at Giza. It was they who devised the casing with bright stones of what were in their core step-pyramids, giving them their renowned smooth sides.

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“…That the new Eninnu in Lagash, commissioned by Ninurta at about the same time as Stonehenge became truly a stone-henge, emulated an Egyptian pyramid’s stone facing, is a major clue for the resolution of the Stonehenge enigma.

“…Such an unexpected link to Egypt, as we have been showing, was only one among many. Gudea himself was alluding to these connections when he stated that the shape of the Eninnu and its casing with bright stones were based on information provided by Nisaba “who was taught the plan of the temple by Enki” in the “House of Learning.” That academy was undoubtedly in one of Enki’s centers; and Egypt, it will be recalled, was the domain allotted to Enki and his descendants when Earth was divided.

“…The Eninnu project involved the participation of quite a number of gods; Nisaba, who had appeared to Gudea in the first vision with the star map, was not the only female among them.

“…Astronomy clearly played a key role in the Eninnu project; and two of the deities involved, Nanshe and Nisaba, were female astronomer-gods. They applied their specialized knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and metrology not only to temple construction (as in Gudea’s case), but also in general productive purposes as well as in ritual roles. One, however, was trained in the academy of Eridu; the other in that of Nippur.

“…Nanshe… is called in the Gudea inscriptions “a daughter of Eridu” (Enki’s city in Sumer). Indeed, in the major Gods Lists of Mesopotamia, she was called NIN.A – “Lady of Water – and shown as a daughter of Ea/Enki. The planning of waterways and the locating of fountainheads were her specialty; her celestial counterpart was the constellation Scorpiomul GIR.TAB in Sumerian. The knowledge she contributed to the building of the Eninnu in Lagash was thus that of Enki’ite academies.

“…A hymn to Nanshe in her role as determiner of the New Year Day was her sitting in judgment of Mankind on that day, accompanied by Nisaba in the role of Divine Accountant who tallies and measures the sins of those who are judged, such as the sin of he “who substituted a small weight for a large weight, a small measure for a large measure.” But while the two goddesses were frequently mentioned together, Nisaba (some scholars read her name Nidaba) was clearly listed among the Enlilites, and was sometimes identified as a half sister of Ninurta/Ningirsu. Although she was in later times deemed to be a goddess who blesses the crops – perhaps because of her association with the calendar and weather – she was described in Sumerian literature as one who “opens men’s ears,” i.e. teaches them wisdom… Samuel N. Kramer called her “the Sumerian Goddess of Wisdom.”

“…Nisaba was, in the words of D.O. Ezard, the Sumerian goddess of “the art of writing, mathematics, science, architecture and astronomy.” Gudea specifically described her as the “goddess who knows numbers” – a female “Einstein” of antiquity…

“…The emblem of Nisaba was the Holy Stylus… With her Holy Stylus Nisaba pointed to Gudea the “favorite star” on the “star tablet” that she held on her knees; the implication is that the star tablet had drawn on it more than one star, so that the correct one for the orientation had to be pointed out from among several stars. This conclusion is strengthened by the statement in The Blessing of Nisaba by Enki that Enki had given her as part of her schooling “the holy tablet of the heavenly stars” – again “stars” in the plural.

“…Her great wisdom and scientific knowledge were expressed in Sumerian hymns by the statement that she was “perfected with the fifty great ME’s” – those enigmatic “divine formulas” that, like computer disks, were small enough to be carried by hand though each contained a vast amount of information… Nisaba, did not have to steal the fifty ME’s (like Inanna/Ishtar had). A poetic text compiled from fragments and rendered into English by William H. Hallo (in a lecture titled “The Cultic Setting of Sumerian Poetry”) that he called The Blessing of Nisaba by Enki, makes clear that in addition to her Enlilite schooling Nisaba was also a graduate of the Eridu academy of Enki. Extolling Nisaba as “Chief scribe of heaven, record-keeper of Enlil, all-knowing sage of the gods” and exalting Enki “the craftsman of Eridu” and his “House of Learning…”

“…The “cult city” of Nisaba was called Eresh (“Foremost Abode”); its remains or location was never discovered in Mesopotamia.

Eresh he constructed for her,
in abundance created of pure little bricks.
She is granted wisdom of the highest degree
in the Abzu, great place of Eridu’s crown.

 

“…A cousin of Nisaba, the goddess ERESH.KI.GAL (“Foremost Abode in the Great Place”), was in charge of a scientific station in southern Africa and there shared control of a Tablet of Wisdom with Nergal, a son of Enki, as a marriage dowry. It is quite possible that it was there that Nisaba acquired her additional schooling.

“…One of the oddest statements made by Gudea when he described the deities who appeared to him concerned Nisaba: “The image of a temple structure, a ziggurat, she carried on her head.” The headdress of Mesopotamian deities was distinguished by its pairs of horns; that gods or goddesses would instead wear on their heads the image of a temple or an object was absolutely unheard of. Yet, in his inscription, that is how Gudea described Nisaba.

“…Illustration 80 (in Mr. Sitchin’s Book) shows that Nasaba is indeed carrying on her head the image of a temple-ziggurat… But it is not a stepped structure; rather, it is the image of a smooth-sided pyramid – an Egyptian pyramid!

“…Moreover, not only is the ziggurat Egyptianized – the very custom of wearing such an image on the head is Egyptian, especially as it applied to Egyptian goddesses. Foremost of them was Isis, the sister-wife of Osiris and Nephtys, their sister.

Goddess Isis wearing a headdress exactly as portrayed in Mr. Sitchin's Book.

Goddess Isis wearing a headdress exactly as portrayed in Mr. Sitchin’s Book.


Goddess Isis wearing a headdress exactly as portrayed in Mr. Sitchin's Book.

Goddess Isis wearing a headdress exactly as portrayed in Mr. Sitchin’s Book.

“…Was Nisaba, an Enlilite goddess schooled in Enki’s academy, Egyptianized enough to be wearing this kind of headdress? As we pursue this investigation, many similarities between Nisaba and Sesheta, the female assistant of Thoth in Egypt, come to light… They included her role as “the goddess of the arts of writing and of science…” Nisaba possessed the “stylus of seven numbers”; Sesheta too was associated with the number seven. One of her epithets was “Sesheta means seven“… Like Nisaba, who had appeared to Gudea with the image of a temple-structure on her head, so was Sesheta depicted with the image of a twin towered structure on her head, above her identifying star-and-bow symbol. She was a “daughter of the sky,” a chronologer and chronographer; and like Nisaba, she determined the required astronomical data for the royal-temple builders.

“…According to the Sumerian texts, the consort of Nisaba was a god called Haia… he was the balancer of the scales (in the judgment procedures on New Year’s Day). In Egyptian beliefs Judgment Day for the pharaoh was when he died, at which time his heart was weighed to determined his fate in the Afterlife. In Egyptian theology, the god who balanced the scales was Thoth, the god of science, astronomy, the calendar, and of writing and record keeping.

“…Such an overlapping of identities between the deities who provided the astronomical and calendrical knowledge for the Eninnu reveals an otherwise unknown state of cooperation between the Sumerian and Egyptian Divine Architects in Gudea’s time.

“…It was, in many respects, an unusual phenomenon; it found expression in the unique shape and appearance of the Eninnu and in the establishment within its sacred precinct of an extraordinary astronomical facility. It all involved and revolved around the calendar – the gift to mankind by the divine Keepers of the Secrets.

“…After the construction of the Eninnu was completed…

“…Now he (Gudea) turned his attention and efforts to the Girsu, the sacred precinct as such…

“…Cylinder A alone lists more than fifty separate shrines and temples built adjoining the ziggurat to honor the various gods involved in the project as well as Anu, Enlil, and Enki.

“…There were also special enclosures or facilities to house the Divine Black Bird, the aircraft of Ninurta, and of his awesome weapons; as well as places at which the calendrical-astronomical functions of the new Eninnu were to be performed. There was a special place for “the Master of Secrets,” and the new Shugalam the high place of the aperture, the place of determining whose awesomeness is great, where the Brilliance is announced.” And there were two buildings with the “solving of the cords” and the “binding with the cords” respectively – facilities whose purpose has eluded scholars but which had to be connected with celestial observations, for they were located next to, or were part of, the structures called “Uppermost Chamber” and “Chamber of the seven zones.”

“…There was also a need, as the text makes clear, to await a certain specific day – New Year’s Day, to be precise – before Ninurta and his spouse Bau could actually move into the new Eninnu and make it their dwelling abode.

“…Cylinder B deals with the rites connected with the consecration of the new ziggurat and its sacred precinct and the ceremonies involved in the actual arrival of Ninurta and Bau in the Girsu – reaffirming his title as NIN.GIRSU, “Lord of Girsu” – and their entry into their new dwelling place.

“…While the arrival of the inauguration day was awaited – for the better part of the year – Gudea engaged in daily prayers, the pouring of libations, and the filling up of the new temple’s granaries with food from the fields and its cattle pens with sheep from the pastures. Finally the designated day arrived:

The year went round,
the months were completed;
the New Year came in the heavens –
the “Month of the Temple” began.

 

“…On that day, as the “New Moon was born.” the dedication ceremonies began. The gods themselves performed the purification and consecration rites.

“…The third day, Gudea recorded, was a bright day. It was on that day that Ninurta stepped out – “with a bright radiance he shone.” As he entered the new sacred precinct, “the goddess Bau was advancing on his left side.” Gudea “sprinkled the ground with an abundance of oil… he brought forth honey, butter, milk, grain, olive oil… dates and grapes he piled up in a heap – food untouched by fire, food for the eating of the gods.”

“…The entertainment of the divine couple and the other gods with fruits and other uncooked foods went on until midday. “When the Sun rose high over the country” Gudea “slaughtered a fat ox and a fat sheep” and a feast of roasted meats with much wine began; “white bread and milk they brought by day and through the night”; and Ninurta, the warrior of Enlil, taking food and beer for drink, was satisfied.” All the while Gudea “made the whole city kneel, he made the whole country prostrate itself… By day there were petitions, by night prayers.”

“…At the morning aurora” – at dawn – “Ningirsu, the warrior, entered the Temple; into the Temple its lord came; giving a shout like the cry of battle, Ningirsu advanced into his temple.” “It was,” observed Gudea, “like the rising of the Sun over the land of Lagash… and the land of Lagash rejoiced.” It was also the day in which the harvest began:

On that day,
when the Righteous God entered,
Gudea, on that day,
began to harvest the fields.

 

“…Following a decree from Ninurta and the goddess Nanshe, there followed seven days of repentance and atonement in the land. “For seven days the maid and her mistress were equal, master and slave walked side by side . . the rich man did not wrong the orphan, no man oppressed the widow… the city restrained wickedness.” At the end of the seven days, on the tenth day of the month, Gudea entered the new temple and for the first time performed there the rites of the High Priest, “lighting the fire in the temple-terrace before the bright heavens.”

“…A depiction on a cylinder seal from the second millennium B.C., found at Ashur, may well have preserved for us the scene that had taken place a thousand years earlier in Lagash: it shows a High priest (who as often as not was also the king, as in the case of Gudea) lighting a fire on an altar as he faces the god’s ziggurat, while the “favorite planet” is seen in the heavens.

“…On the altar, “before the bright heavens, the fire on the temple-terrace increased.” Gudea “oxen and kids sacrificed in numbers.” From a lead bowl he poured a libation. “For the city below the temple he pleaded.” He swore everlasting allegiance to Ningirsu, “by the bricks of Eninnu he swore, a favorable oath he swore.”

“…And the god Ninurta, promising Lagash and its people abundance, that, “the land may bear whatever is good,” to Gudea himself said: “Life shall be prolongued for thee.”

“…Appropriately, the Cylinder B inscription concludes thus:

House, rising heavenward as a great mountain,
its luster powerfully falls on the land
As Anu and Enlil the fate of Lagash determine.

Eninnu, for Heaven-Earth constructed,
the lordship of Ningirsu
to all the lands it makes known.

O Ningirsu, thou art honored!
The House of Ningirsu is built;
Glory be unto it!

Continue to Chapter 7: A Stonehenge on the Euphrates

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