Ninurta facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsNinurta
𒀭𒊩𒌆𒅁code: sux is deprecated
|God of agriculture, hunting, and war|
Assyrian stone relief from the temple of Ninurta at Kalhu, showing the god with his thunderbolts pursuing Anzû, who has stolen the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil's sanctuary (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853)
|Abode||Eshumesha temple in Nippur
Later Kalhu, during Assyrian times
|Symbol||Plow and perched bird|
|Mount||Sometimes shown riding a beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion|
|Consort||As Ninurta: Gula
As Ninĝirsu: Bau
|Parents||Usually Enlil and Ninhursag, but sometimes Enlil and Ninlil|
Ninurta, also known as Ninĝirsu (meaning “Lord of Girsu”), is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war who was first worshipped in early Sumer. In the earliest records, he is a god of agriculture and healing, who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons. In later times, as Mesopotamia grew more militarized, he became a warrior deity, though he retained many of his earlier agricultural attributes. He was regarded as the son of the chief god Enlil and his main cult center in Sumer was the Eshumesha temple in Nippur. Ninĝirsu was honored by King Gudea of Lagash (ruled 2144–2124 BC), who rebuilt Ninĝirsu's temple in Lagash.
Later, Ninurta became beloved by the Assyrians as a formidable warrior. The Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (ruled 883–859 BC) built a massive temple for him at Kalhu, which became his most important cult center from then on. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Ninurta's statues were torn down and his temples abandoned because he had become too closely associated with the Assyrian regime, which many conquered peoples saw as tyrannical and oppressive.
In the epic poem Lugal-e, Ninurta slays the demon Asag using his talking mace Sharur and uses stones to build the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to make them useful for irrigation. In a poem sometimes referred to as the "Sumerian Georgica", Ninurta provides agricultural advice to farmers. In an Akkadian myth, he was the champion of the gods against the Anzû bird after it stole the Tablet of Destinies from his father Enlil and, in a myth that is alluded to in many works but never fully preserved, he killed a group of warriors known as the "Slain Heroes". His major symbols were a perched bird and a plow.
Ninurta may have been the inspiration for the figure of Nimrod, a "mighty hunter" who is mentioned in association with Kalhu in the Book of Genesis. Conversely, and more conventionally, the mythological Ninurta may have been inspired by a historical person, such as the biblical Nimrod purports to be. He may also be mentioned in the Second Book of Kings under the name Nisroch. In the nineteenth century, Assyrian stone reliefs of winged, eagle-headed figures from the temple of Ninurta at Kalhu were commonly identified as "Nisrochs" and they appear in works of fantasy literature from the time period.
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