A STUDY OF THE SUMERIAN MOON-GOD, NANNA/SUEN (MESOPOTAMIA, RELIGION, ANCIENT)

MARK GLENN HALL, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation is an in-depth study of the Sumerian moon-god, Nanna/Suen based on an analysis of Sumerian cuneiform sources. The study seeks to understand what constituted the Sumerian conceptualization of the moon-god and the inner workings of his cult. The following major problems were dealt with in the course of the study.^ Organizing and treating the huge written corpus was the first problem. It had to be examined in its entirety so that well-founded and thoroughly researched conclusions about the moon-god could be made. The massive size of the textual corpus also caused problems of methodology. An approach had to be found which would coherently organize the amount of textual information available and take into consideration important factors which condition the evaluation of the evidence such as time period, provenience, text type, and lexical obscurities. Problems of interpretation were ultimately the most challenging. The problem of obtaining objective data undistorted by cultural bias and preconceived notions and the limitations of evidence consisting solely of remnants of a dead civilization were recognized.^ To deal with these probelms the following methodology was used. Whole chapters were devoted to particular types of evidence. Each chapter was organized according to time period and provenience was carefully noted. Lexical problems and the way in which text type affects the evaluation of the evidence were given full consideration. Interpretations were separated from the presentation of the evidence. In this way the most objective and unbiased evaluation of the evidence was insured.^ Through this methodology the historical development of conceptualizations of the moon-god and the range of his cult could be traced. The examination of all the evidence led to the conclusion that the moon-god derived his essential characteristics from the cyclical phases of the moon. The moon's ever-renewing cycle was interpreted by the Sumerians as a sign of the moon-god's inherent power to regenerate himself each month. It was believed that he could bestow this power upon all living creatures. Hence, the moon-god was a fertility god. His cult was designed to transfer the moon's generative power to the sphere of man, thus insuring the continued procreation of crops, animals, and the generations of mankind. ^

Subject Area

Language, Ancient|Anthropology, Archaeology

Recommended Citation

MARK GLENN HALL, "A STUDY OF THE SUMERIAN MOON-GOD, NANNA/SUEN (MESOPOTAMIA, RELIGION, ANCIENT)" (January 1, 1985). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8603645.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8603645

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