Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE) was an Akkadian princess as well as High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna. She was one of the earliest women in history whose name is known. She is regarded by literary and historical scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet of either gender. Her works were written in cuneiform about 4300 years ago.
Enheduana is a title she was given when she was ordained as “en” priestess; her birth name isn’t known.
Although her official title was “en” (high-priestess) to the god Nanna, she appears to have been passionate about the goddess Inanna as well. Of her five recovered works, two are long hymns to Inanna:
My Lady, Your greatness is manifest,
May your heart for my sake ‘return to its place’!
Your great deeds are unparalleled,
Your greatness is always praised,
Young woman, Inanna, your praise is sweet!
Enheduanna has left behind a corpus of literary works definitively ascribed to her that include many personal devotions to the goddess Inanna and a collection of hymns known as the “Sumerian Temple Hymns”.
The temple hymns were 42 hymns addressed to temples across Sumer and Akkad. This collection is known generally as ‘The Sumerian Temple Hymns’. The temple hymns were the first collection of their kind, and are regarded as one of the first attempts at a systematic theology. Widespread copying of the hymns indicates the temple hymns were in use long after Enheduanna’s death and were held in high esteem.
Keri is an autodidact and women’s history buff who founded Amazing Women in History in 2011.