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Religion at Nippur in the Ur III period Schneider, Bernhard


Nippur was the unrivaled religious capital during the period dominated by the kings of the IIIrd dynasty centered at Ur in nowadays southern Iraq. As the city of the supreme god Enlil it can be considered as the "Mesopotamian Vatican" latest since the Akkad period (c. 2350 BC). The centrality of Nippur at the border between Akkad (North) and Sumer (South) might have triggered the factor of importance of the site. During Ur III times large scale construction programs at the East-mound of the site with the temple of Enlil as well as that of Inanna underlines the importance of Nippur during this period. As Ur III period is considered as a kind of "Sumerian renaissance" it was important for the state ideology to venerate the Old Sumerian gods. Probably building on an ancient custom, the kings of Ur were crowned to be kings of Sumer and Akkad at Nippur. Reconstructed with the help of the Puzrish-Dagan (modern Drehem) texts which were excavated illegally at a site nearby Nippur, the ritual calendar can be reconstructed. Each month a festival was celebrated which was often related to a specific god as, for example, the gu4-si-su (sum.) festival of the second month (c. April/May) which was dedicated to Enlils son Ninurta who was also known as, lugal gu4-si-su (sum.), "king of the Gusisu". One of the most important local religious celebrations was the festival at the nearby site of Tummal (modern Dlehim) with a boat procession to the ancient cultic center of Enlils wife Ninlil. Additionally, festivals related to agriculture like the seeding (fourth month, sum. shu-numun) were also common. Other important gods at Nippur were the healing goddess Gula/Ninisina in the local form of Nintinuga (sum. "Lady who revives the dead"). Her temple was probably localized by excavations at the northern West-mound.

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