The Building of Ningirsu's Temple - Cylinder A

Mesopotamia, 2125BCE

On the day when in heaven and earth the fates had been decided, Lagac raised its head high in full grandeur, and Enlil looked at lord Nin-jirsu with approval. In our city there was perfection.

The heart overflowed with joy, Enlil’s heart, a river in flood, overflowed with joy. The heart overflowed with joy, and just as the Tigris brings sweet water, so Enlil, whose will is an enormous flood, sparkling and awe-inspiring, came to a sweet decision:

The lord called for his house and I intend to make the grandeur of E-ninnu known everywhere. Using his wisdom, the ruler will achieve great things. He will direct faultless cattle and kids for offering. It is for him the fated brick is waiting. It is by him that the building of the house is to be done.

On that day, in a nocturnal vision Gudea saw his master, lord Nin-jirsu. Nin-jirsu spoke to him of his house, of its building. He showed him an E-ninnu with full grandeur. Outstanding though his mind was, the message remained to be understood for him.

Well, I have to tell her about this! Well, I have to tell her about this. I will ask her to stand by me in this matter. Profound things (?) came suddenly to me, the shepherd, but the meaning of what the nocturnal vision brought to me I do not understand. So I will take my dream to my mother and I will ask my dream-interpreter, an expert on her own, my divine sister from Sirara, to reveal its meaning to me.

He stepped aboard his boat, directed it on the canal Id-Nijin-dua towards her city Nijin, and merrily cut through the waves of the river. After he had reached Bagara, the house extending as far as the river, he offered bread, poured cold water and went to the master of Bagara to pray to him.

Warrior, rampant lion, who has no opponent! Nin-jirsu, important in Abzu, respected in Nibru! Warrior, I want to carry out faithfully what you have commanded me; Nin-jirsu, I want to build up your house for you, I want to make it perfect for you, so I will ask your sister, the child born of Eridu, an authority on her own, the lady, the dream-interpreter among the gods, my divine sister from Sirara, Nance, to show me the way.´ His call was heard; his master, Lord Nin-jirsu accepted from Gudea his prayer and supplication.

Gudea celebrated the ecec festival in the house of Bagara. The ruler set up his bed near to Jatumdug. He offered bread and poured cold water and went to holy Jatumdug to pray to her: ´My lady, child begotten by holy An, an authority on her own, proud goddess, living in the Land, ...... of her city. Lady, mother, you who founded Lagac if you but look upon your people, it brings abundance; the worthy young man on whom you look will enjoy a long life.

For me, who has no mother, you are my mother; for me, who has no father, you are my father. You implanted my semen in the womb, gave birth to me in the sanctuary, Jatumdug, sweet is your holy name!

Tonight I shall lie down here (?). You are my great dagger (?), being attached to my side; you are a ...... planted in great waters, providing me with life; you are a broad sunshade; let me cool off in your shade. May the favourable, right-hand palm of your lofty hands, my lady Jatumdug, lend me protection! I am going to the city, may my sign be favourable! May your friendly guardian go before me, and may your friendly protecting genius walk with me on the way towards Nijin, the mountain rising from the water.

Well, I have to tell her about this! Well, I have to tell her about this. I will ask her to stand by me in this matter. I will take my dream to my mother and I will ask my dream-interpreter, an expert on her own, my divine sister from Sirara, Nance, to reveal its meaning to me.´ His call was heard; his lady, holy Jatumdug, accepted from Gudea his prayer and supplication.

He stepped aboard his boat, directed it towards her city Nijin, mooring it at the quay of Nijin. The ruler raised his head high in the courtyard of the goddess from Sirara. He offered bread, poured cold water and went to Nance to pray to her: ´Nance, mighty lady, lady of most precious (?) powers, lady who like Enlil determine fates, my Nance, what you say is trustworthy and takes precedence. You are the interpreter of dreams among the gods, you are the lady of all the lands. Mother, my matter today is a dream:

In the dream there was someone who was as enormous as the heaven, who was as enormous as the earth. His head was like that of a god, his wings were like those of the Anzud bird, his lower body was like a flood storm. Lions were lying at his right and his left. He spoke to me about building his house, but I could not understand what he exactly meant, then daylight rose for me on the horizon.

Then there was a woman - whoever she was. She ...... sheaves. She held a stylus of refined silver in her hand, and placed it on a tablet with propitious stars, and was consulting it.

There was, furthermore, a warrior. His arm was bent, holding a lapis lazuli tablet in his hand, and he was setting down the plan of the house. The holy basket stood in front of me, the holy brick mould was ready and the fated brick was placed in the mould for me. In a fine ildag tree standing before me tigidlu birds were spending the day twittering. My master´s good donkey was pawing the ground for me.´

His mother Nance answered the ruler: ´My shepherd, I will explain your dream for you in every detail. The person who, as you said, was as enormous as the skies, who was as enormous as the earth, whose head was like that of gods, whose wings, as you said, were like those of the Anzud bird, and whose lower body was, as you said, like a flood storm, at whose right and left lions were lying, was in fact my brother Nin-jirsu. He spoke to you about the building of his shrine, the E-ninnu.

The daylight that had risen for you on the horizon is your personal god Ningiczida, who will rise for you as the daylight on the horizon.

The young woman ...... sheaves, who held a stylus of refined silver in her hand, who had placed it on a tablet with propitious stars and was consulting it, she was in fact my sisterNisaba. She announced to you the holy stars auguring the building of the house.

The second one, who was a warrior and whose arm was bent, holding a lapis lazuli tablet in his hand, was Nin-dub, putting the plan of the house on the tablet.

As regards the holy basket standing in front of you, the holy brick mould which was ready and the fated brick placed in the mould, this part of the dream concerns the good brick of the E-ninnu.

As regards the fine ildag tree standing before you, in which, as you said, tigidlu birds were spending the day twittering, this means that the building of the house will not let sweet sleep come into your eyes.

As regards that part when the right donkey stallion of your master, as you said, pawed the ground for you; this refers to you, who will paw the ground for the E-ninnu like a steed.

Let me advise you and may my advice be taken. Direct your steps to Jirsu, the foremost house of the land of Lagac, open your storehouse up and take out wood from it; build (?) a chariot for your master and harness a donkey stallion to it; decorate this chariot with refined silver and lapis lazuli and equip it with arrows that will fly out from the quiver like sunbeams, and with the an-kara weapon, the strength of heroism; fashion for him his beloved standard and write your name on it, and then enter before the warrior who loves gifts, before your master lord Nin-jirsu in E-ninnu-the-white-Anzud-bird, together with his beloved balaj drum Ucumgal-kalama, his famous instrument to which he keeps listening. Your requests will then be taken as if they were commands; and the drum will make the inclination of the lord - which is as inconceivable as the heavens - will make the inclination of Nin-jirsu, the son of Enlil, favourable for you so that he will reveal the design of his house to you in every detail. With his powers, which are the greatest, the warrior will make the house thrive (?) for you.´

The true shepherd Gudea is wise, and able too to realize things. Accepting what Nance had told him, he opened his storehouse up and took out wood from it. Gudea checked (?) the wood piece by piece, taking great care of the wood. He smoothed mes wood, split halub wood with an axe and built (?) a blue chariot from them for him. He harnessed to it the stallionPirij-kase-pada. He fashioned for him his beloved standard, wrote his name on it and then entered before the warrior who loves gifts, before his master lord Nin-jirsu in E-ninnu-the-white-Anzud-bird together with his beloved drum, Ucumgal-kalama, his famous instument to which he keeps listening. He joyfully brought the drum to him in the temple. Gudea came out of the shrine E-ninnu with a radiant face.

Thereafter the house was the concern of all the days and all the nights that he made pass by. He levelled what was high, rejected chance utterances (?), he removed the sorcerers´ spittle (?) from the roads. Facing Cu-galam, the fearful place, the place of making judgments, from where Nin-jirsu keeps an eye on all lands, the ruler had a fattened sheep, a fat-tail sheep, and a grain-fed kid rest on hides of a virgin kid. He put juniper, the mountains´ pure plant, onto the fire, and raised smoke with cedar resin, the scent of gods.

He rose to his master in public and prayed to him; he went to him in the Ubcukkina and saluted him: ´My master Nin-jirsu, lord who has turned back the fierce waters, true lord, semen ejaculated by the Great Mountain, noble young hero who has no opponent, Nin-jirsu; I am going to build up your house for you, but I lack an ominous sign. Warrior, you asked for perfection, but, son of Enlil, lord Nin-jirsu, you did not let me know your will as to how to achieve it.

Your will, ever-rising as the sea, crashing down as a destructive flood, roaring like gushing waters, destroying cities (?) like a flood-wave, battering against the rebel lands like a storm; my master, your will, gushing water that no one can stem; warrior, your will inconceivable as the heaven - can I learn anything about it from you, o son of Enlil, lord Nin-jirsu?

Afterwards, Nin-jirsu stepped up to the head of the sleeper, briefly touching him: ´You who are going to build it for me, you who are going to build it for me, ruler, you who are going to build my house for me, Gudea, let me tell you the ominous sign for building my house, let me tell you the pure stars of heaven indicating my regulations (?).

As if at the roaring of the Anzud bird, the heavens tremble at my house, the E-ninnu founded by An, the powers of which are the greatest, surpassing all other powers, at the house whose owner looks out over a great distance. Its fierce halo reaches up to heaven, the great fearsomeness of my house settles upon all the lands. In response to its fame all lands will gather from as far as heaven´s borders, even Magan and Meluha will come down from their mountains.

I am Nin-jirsu who has turned back the fierce waters, the great warrior of Enlil´s realm, a lord without opponent. My house the E-ninnu, a crown, is bigger than the mountains; my weapon the Car-ur subdues all the lands. No country can bear my fierce stare, nobody escapes my outstretched arms.

Because of his great love, my father who begot me called me ´´King, Enlil´s flood, whose fierce stare is never lifted from the mountains, Nin-jirsu, warrior of Enlil´´, and endowed me with fifty powers.

I lay the ritual table and perform correctly the hand-washing rites. My outstretched hands wake holy An from sleep. My father who begot me receives the very best food from my hands. An, king of the gods, called me therefore ´´Nin-jirsu, king, lustration priest of An´´.

I founded the Tirac shrine with as much majesty as the Abzu. Each month at the new moon the great rites (?), my ´Festival of An´, are performed for me perfectly in it.

Like a fierce snake, I built E-huc, my fierce place, in a dread location. When my heart gets angry at a land that rebels against me - unutterable idea (?) - it will produce venom for me like a snake that dribbles poison.

In the E-babbar, where I issue orders, where I shine like Utu, there I justly decide the lawsuits of my city like Ictaran. In the E-bagara, my dining place, the great gods of Lagacgather around me.

When you, true shepherd Gudea, really set to work for me on my house, the foremost house of all lands, the right arm of Lagac, the Anzud bird roaring on the horizon, the E-ninnu, my royal house, I will call up to heaven for humid winds so that plenty comes down to you from heaven and the land will thrive under your reign in abundance.

Laying the foundations of my temple will bring immediate abundance: the great fields will grow rich for you, the levees and ditches will be full to brim for you, the water will rise for you to heights never reached by the water before. Under you more oil than ever will be poured and more wool than ever will weighed in Sumer.

When you drive in my foundation pegs for me, when you really set to work for me on my house, I shall direct my steps to the mountains where the north wind dwells and make the man with enormous wings, the north wind, bring you wind from the mountains, the pure place, so that this will give vigour to the land, and thus one man will be able to do as much work as two. At night the moonlight, at noon the sun will send plentiful light for you so the day will build the house for you and the night will make it rise for you.

I will bring halub and nehan trees up from the south, and cedar, cypress and juniper together will be brought for you from the uplands. From the ebony mountains I will have ebony trees brought for you, in the mountains of stones I will have the great stones of the mountain ranges cut in slabs for you. On that day I will touch your arm with fire and you will know my sign.´

Gudea rose - it was sleep; he shuddered - it was a dream. Accepting Nin-jirsu´s words, he went to perform extispicy on a white kid. He performed it on the kid and his omen was favourable. Nin-jirsu´s intention became as clear as daylight to Gudea.

He is wise, and able too to realize things. The ruler gave instructions to his city as to one man. The land of Lagac became of one accord for him, like children of one mother. He opened manacles, removed fetters; established ......, rejected legal complaints, and locked up (?) those guilty of capital offences (instead of executing them).

He undid the tongue of the goad and the whip, replacing them with wool from lamb-bearing sheep. No mother shouted at her child. No child answered its mother back. No slave who ...... was hit on the head by his master, no misbehaving slave girl was slapped on the face by her mistress. Nobody could make the ruler building the E-ninnu, Gudea, let fall a chance utterance. The ruler cleansed the city, he let purifying fire loose over it. He expelled the persons ritually unclean, unpleasant to look at, and ...... from the city.

In respect of the ...... of the brick-mould he had a kid lie down, and he requested from the kid an omen about the brick. He looked at the excavated earth (?) approvingly, and the shepherd, called by his name by Nance, ...... it with majesty. After making a drawing on the ...... of the brick mould and ...... the excavated earth with majesty, he made the Anzud bird, the standard of his master, glisten there as a banner.

The citizens were purifying an area of 24 iku for him, they were cleansing that area for him. He put juniper, the mountains´ pure plant, onto the fire and raised smoke with cedar resin, the scent of gods. For him the day was for praying, and the night passed for him in supplications. In order to build the house of Nin-jirsu, the Anuna gods of the land of Lagac stood by Gudea in prayer and supplication, and all this made the true shepherd Gudea extremely happy.

Now the ruler imposed a levy on his land. He imposed a levy on his realm of abundant ......, on Nin-jirsu´s Gu-edina. He imposed levy on his built-up cities and settlements, onNance´s Gu-jicbara.

There was a levy for him on the clans of Nin-jirsu ´´Rampant fierce bull which has no opponent´´ and ´´White cedars surrounding their master´´, and he placed Lugalkurdub, their magnificent standard, in front of them.

There was a levy for him on the clan of Nance ´´Both river banks and shores rising out of the waters, the huger river, full of water, which spreads its abundance everywhere´´, and he placed the holy pelican (?), the standard of Nance, in front of them.

There was a levy for him on the clans of Inana ´´The net suspended for catching the beasts of the steppe´´ and ´´Choice steeds, famous team, the team beloved by Utu´´, and he placed the rosette, the standard of Inana, in front of them.

In order to build the house of Nin-jirsu,

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The Elamites came to him from Elam, the Susians came to him from Susa. Magan and Meluha loaded wood from their mountains upon their shoulders for him, and to build the house of Nin-jirsu, they gathered for Gudea at his city Jirsu.

Nin-zaga was commanded and he made his copper, as much as if it were a huge grain transport, reach Gudea, the man in charge of building the house. Nin-sikil was also instructed and she made large halub logs, ebony, and aba wood reach the ruler building the E-ninnu.

Nin-jirsu has directed Gudea into the impenetrable mountain of cedars and he cut down its cedars with great axes and carved the Car-ur, the right arm of Lagac, his master´s flood-storm weapon, out of it.

It was like a giant serpent floating on the water as, for lord Nin-jirsu, Gudea had the long rafts floating downstream moor at the main quay of Kasura: logs of cedar wood from the cedar hills, logs of cypress wood from the cypress hills, logs of zabalum wood from the zabalum hills, tall spruce trees, plane trees, and eranum trees.

Nin-jirsu directed Gudea into the impenetrable mountains of stones, and he brought back great stones in the form of slabs. For lord Nin-jirsu, Gudea had ships with hauna dock there, and ships with gravel, with dried bitumen, ......-bitumen, and gypsum from the hills of Madga, cargoes like boats bringing grain from the fields.

Great things came to the succour of the ruler building the E-ninnu: a copper mountain in Kimac revealed itself to him. He mined its copper into baskets (?). To the man in charge of building his master´s house, the ruler, gold was brought in dust form from its mountains. For Gudea refined silver was brought down from its mountains. Translucent cornelian fromMeluha was spread before him. From the alabaster mountains alabaster was brought down to him.

The shepherd was going to build the house with silver, so he sat together with silversmiths. He was going to build the E-ninnu with precious stone, so he sat with jewellers. He was going to build it with copper and tin, so Nintu-kalama directed before him the chief of the smiths.

The heavy hammer-stones roared for him like a storm. The dolerite, the light hammer-stone, ...... two ...... three. ...... like a huge mass of water gushing forth,

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He ...... the days (?). Gudea prolonged the nights (?) for Nin-jirsu. Because of building the house for his master, he neither slept at night, nor did he rest his head during the siesta.

For the one looked on with favour by Nance, for the favourite of Enlil, for the ruler ...... by Nin-jirsu, for Gudea, born in the august sanctuary by Jatumdug, Nisaba opened the house of understanding and Enki put right the design of the house.

Towards the house whose halo reaches to heaven, whose powers embrace heaven and earth, whose owner is a lord with a fierce stare, whose warrior Nin-jirsu is expert at battle, towards E-ninnu-the-white-Anzud-bird, Gudea went from the south and admired it northwards. From the north he went towards it and admired it southwards. He measured out with rope exactly one iku. He drove in pegs at its sides and personally verified them. This made him extremely happy.

When the night fell, he went to the old temple to pray, so that the inclination of the one from the dais of Jirnun i.e. Nin-jirsu would become favourable for Gudea. When day broke, he took a bath and arranged his outfit correctly. Utu let abundance come forth for him. Gudea left Iri-kug a second time; he sacrificed a perfect bull and a perfect kid. He went to the house and saluted it.

He ...... the holy basket and true fated brick mould ...... the E-ninnu. As he ...... and walked proudly, Lugal-kur-dub walked in front of him, Ig-alim directed him and Nin-jiczida, his personal god, held him by the hand throughout the time.

He poured clear water into the ...... of the brick mould - adab, sim and ala drums were playing for the ruler. He prepared the excavated earth for making (?) the brick, and hoed honey, ghee and precious oil into it. He worked ambergris and essences from all kinds of trees into the paste. He lifted up the holy carrying-basket and put it next to the brick mould.Gudea placed the clay into the brick mould and acted exactly as prescribed, bringing the first brick of the house into existence in it, while all the bystanders sprinkled oil or cedar perfume. His city and the land of Lagac spent the day with him in joy.

He shook the brick mould and left the brick to dry. He looked at the ...... with satisfaction. He anointed it with cypress essence and ambergris. Utu rejoiced over the brick put into the mould by Gudea, and king Enki ...... the ...... rising like great river. ...... and Gudea went into into the house.

He raised the brick out of the ...... of the mould, and it looked as a holy crown worn by An. He lifted up the brick and went around among his people: it was like Utu´s holy team tossing (?) their heads. The brick lifting its head toward the house was as if Nanna´s cows were eager to be tethered in their pen. He put down the brick, entered the house and as if he himself were Nisaba knowing the inmost secrets (?) of numbers, he started setting down (?) the ground plan of the house. As if he were a young man building a house for the first time, sweet sleep never came into his eyes. Like a cow keeping an eye on its calf, he went in constant worry to the house. Like a man who takes but little food into his mouth, he went around untiringly. The intention of his master had become clear for him, the words of Nin-jirsu had become as conspicuous as a banner. In (?) his heart beating loudly because of building the house, someone ...... a propitious ominous remark. This made him extremely happy.

He performed extispicy on a kid and his omen was favourable. He cast grain on to ...... and its appearance was right. Gudea lay down for a dream oracle, and while he was sleeping a message came to him: in the vision he saw his master´s house already built, the E-ninnu separating heaven and earth. This made him extremely happy.

He stretched out lines in the most perfect way; he set up (?) a sanctuary in the holy uzga. In the house, Enki drove in the the foundation pegs, while Nance, the daughter of Eridu, took care of the oracular messages. The mother of Lagac, holy Jatumdug, gave birth to its bricks amid cries (?), and Bau, the lady, first-born daughter of An, sprinkled them with oil and cedar essence. En and lagar priests were detailed to the house to provide maintenance for it. The Anuna gods stood there full of admiration.

Gudea, in charge of building the house, placed on his head the carrying-basket for the house, as if it were a holy crown. He laid the foundation, set the walls on the ground. He marked out a square, aligned the bricks with a string. He marked out a second square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is the line-mark for a topped-off jar of 1 ban capacity (?)´. He marked out a third square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is the Anzud bird enveloping its fledgling with its wings´. He marked out a fourth square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is a panther embracing a fierce lion´. He marked out a fifth square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is the blue sky in all its splendour´. He marked out a sixth square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is the day of supply, full of luxuriance´. He marked out a seventh square on the site of the temple, saying, ´It is the E-ninnu bathing the country with moonlight at dawn´.

They inserted the wooden door frames, which were like a crown worn in the blue sky. As Gudea sat down at a wooden door frame, from there it was like a huge house embracing heaven. As he built the house and laid wooden scaffolding against it, it was like Nanna´s lagoon attended by Enki. They made the house grow as high as the hills, they mad it float in the midst of heaven as a cloud, they made it lift its horns as a bull and they made it raise its head above all the lands, like the jicgana tree over the Abzu. As the house had been made to lift its head so high as to fill the space between heaven and earth like the hills, it was like a luxuriant cedar growing among high grass (?); E-ninnu was decorated most alluringly among Sumer´s buildings.

As they placed wooden beams on the house, they looked like dragons of the Abzu coming out all together, they were like ...... of heaven ......, they were like huge serpents of the foothills ....... The reeds cut for the house were like mountain snakes sleeping together. Its upper parts were covered with luxuriant cedar and cypress, and they put white cedars in its inner room of cedar, marvellous to behold. They treated them with with good perfume and oil. The mud-wall of the house was covered with the abundance (?) of the Abzu and they tied its ...... to it. The shrine of E-ninnu was thus placed in the ...... hand of An.

The ruler built the house, he made it high, high as a great mountain. Its Abzu foundation pegs, big mooring stakes, he drove into the ground so deep they could take counsel withEnki in the E-engur. He had heavenly foundations pegs surround the house like warriors, so that each one was drinking water at the libation place of the gods. He fixed the E-ninnu, the big mooring stake, he drove in its pegs shaped like praying wizards. He planted the pleasant poplars of his city so that they cast their shadow. He embedded its Car-ur weapon besideLagac like a big standard, placed it in its dreadful place, the Cu-galam, and made it emanate fearsome radiance. On the dais of Jirnun, on the place of making judgments, the provider ofLagac lifted his horns like a mighty bull.

It took one year to bring the great stones in slabs and it took another year to fashion them, although not even two or three days did he let pass idly. Then it needed a day’s work to set up each one but by the seventh day he had set them all up around the house. He laid down the trimmings from the slabs as stairs, or fashioned basins from them, and had them stand in the house.

The stela which he set up in the great courtyard he named as ´The king who ...... the courtyard, lord Nin-jirsu, has recognized Gudea from the Jirnun´.

The stela which he set up at the Kasura gate he named as ´The king, Enlil´s flood storm, who has no opponent, lord Nin-jirsu, has looked with favour at Gudea´.

The stela which he set up facing the rising sun he named as ´The king, the roaring storm of Enlil, the lord without rival, lord Nin-jirsu, has chosen Gudea with his holy heart´.

The stela which he set up facing Cu-galam he named as ´The king, at whose name the foreign countries tremble, lord Nin-jirsu, has made Gudea´s throne firm´.

The stela which he set up facing E-uru-ga he named as ´The lord Nin-jirsu has decided a good fate for Gudea´.

The stela which he set up by the inner room (?) of Bau he named as ´The eyes of An know the E-ninnu, and Bau is the life source of Gudea´.

He built his master´s house exactly as he had been told to. The true shepherd Gudea made it grow so high as to fill the space between heaven and earth, had it wear a tiara shaped like the new moon, and had its fame spread as far as the heart of the highlands. Gudea made Nin-jirsu´s house come out like the sun from the clouds, had it grow to be like hills of lapis lazuli and had it stand to be marvelled at like hills of white alabaster.

He made its door-sockets stand like wild bulls and he flanked them with dragons crouching on their paws like lions. He had its terraced tower (?) grow on a place as pure as the Abzu. He made the metal tops of its standards twinkle as the horns of the holy stags of the Abzu. Gudea made the house of Nin-jirsu stand to be marvelled at like the new moon in the skies.

The built-in door-sockets of the house are lahama deities standing by the Abzu. Its timber store (?) looks like waves (?) of an enormous lagoon where snakes have dived (?) into the water. Its ...... is ...... full of fearsomeness. Its ...... is a light floating in the midst of heaven. On the ´´Gate where the king enters´´ an eagle is raising its eyes toward a wild bull. Its curved wooden posts joining above the gate are a rainbow stretching over the sky. Its upper lintel of the gate like (?) the E-ninnu stands among rumbling, roaring storms. Its awe-inspiring eyebrow-shaped arch (?) meets the admiring eyes of the gods. His white shrine ...... of the house is a firmly founded lapis lazuli mountain connecting heaven and earth.

They installed the great dining hall for the evening meals: it was as if An himself were setting out golden bowls filled with honey and wine. They built the bedchamber: it is the Abzu´s fruit-bearing holy mes tree among innumerable mountains. He finished with the building, which made the hearts of the gods overflow with joy.

The true shepherd Gudea is wise, and able too to realize things. In the inner room (?) where the weapons hang, at the ´´Gate of Battle´´ he had the warriors Six-headed wild ram and ......-head take their stand. Facing the city, its place laden with awe, he had the Seven-headed serpent take its stand. In Cu-galam, its awesome gate, he had the Dragon and the Date palm take their stand. Facing the sunrise, where the fates are decided, he erected the standard of Utu, the Bison head, beside others already there. At the Kasura gate, at its lookout post, he had the Lion, the terror of the gods, take its stand. In the Tar-sirsir, where the orders are issued, he had the Fish-man and the Copper take their stand. In Bau´s inner room (?), where the heart can be soothed, he had the Magilum boat and the Bison take their stand. Because these were warriors slain by Nin-jirsu, he set their mouths towards libation places. Gudea, the ruler ofLagac, made their names appear among those of the gods.

The cedar doors installed in the house are Ickur roaring above. The locks of the E-ninnu are bisons, its door-pivots are lions, from its bolts horned vipers and fierce snakes are hissing at wild bulls. Its jambs, against which the door leaves close, are young lions and panthers lying on their paws.

The shining roof-beam nails hammered into the house are dragons gripping a victim. The shining ropes attached to the doors are holy Nirah parting the Abzu. Its ...... is pure likeKec and Aratta, its ...... is a fierce lion keeping an eye on the country; nobody going alone can pass in front of it.

The fearsomeness of the E-ninnu covers all the lands like a garment. The house! It is founded by An on refined silver, it is painted with kohl, and comes out as the moonlight with heavenly splendour. The house! Its front is a great mountain firmly grounded, its inside resounds with incantations and harmonious hymns, its exterior is the sky, a great house rising in abundance, its outer assembly hall is the Anuna gods´ place of rendering judgments, from its ...... words of prayer can be heard, its food supply is the abundance of the gods, its standards erected around the house are the Anzud bird spreading its wings over the bright mountain. E-ninnu´s clay plaster, harmoniously blended clay taken from the Edin canal, has been chosen by Lord Nin-jirsu with his holy heart, and was painted by Gudea with the splendours of heaven as if kohl were being poured all over it.

From its cow-pen cream and milk are brought in. From its huge oven, great cakes and croissants come. Its ...... feeds cattle and sheep. Its house of food rations ...... an uzga shrine. Its regular offerings are a mountain oozing wine, from its brewery as much beer comes as the Tigris at high water.

Its storehouse is full of gems, silver and tin. Its coach-house is a mountain set on the ground. Its drum hall is a roaring bull. Its courtyard resounds with holy prayers, sim and aladrums. Its stone stairs, laid before the house, are like a mountain range lying down in princely joy. Its upper stairs leading (?) to the roof are like a light clearly visible as far as the mountains. Its vineyard ´´Black garden in the steppe´´, planted near the house, is a mountain oozing wine and grows in a place with fearsome radiance.

The seven stones surrounding the house are there to take counsel with its owner. Its chapel for funerary offerings is as pure as the clean Abzu. The stone basins set up in the house are like the holy room of the lustration priest where water never ceases to flow. Its high battlements where pigeons live is ...... Eridu ....... E-ninnu offers rest to pigeons, it is a protective cover with large branches and a pleasant shade, with swallows and other birds chirping loudly there. It is Enlil´s E-kur when a festival takes place in it. The house´s great awesomeness settles upon the whole Land, its praise reaches to the highlands, the awesomeness of the E-ninnu covers all lands like a garment.

The house has been built most sumptuously by its lord. It was built on a pedestal by Ningiczida. Its foundation pegs were driven in by Gudea, the ruler of Lagac.

For the restoration of E-ninnu, the house that rises like the sun over the country, stands like a great bull in the ...... sand, illuminates the assembly like delightful moonlight, is as sumptuous as lush green foothills, and stands to be marvelled at, praise be to Nin-jirsu!

This is the middle of the hymn ´The building of Nin-jirsu´s house´.
More about
Mesopotamia, Ancient World


Poetry, war, and the invention of law

3500 – 1000BCE

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