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~~~The En-hedu-Ana Research Pages ~~~

En-hedu-Ana is a title and means "The High Priestess [named] Ornament of the Sky"

'en'=High Priestess 'hedu'=Ornament 'Ana'=of the Sky/Heaven or of the God of the Sky/Heaven

Hello! Welcome to the 'En-hedu-Ana Research Pages'! I am Michelle Hart, RSME, and I first discovered Enheduana in a book called "The Sacred Prostitute Archetype" by Nancy Qualls Corbett. I was interested in Mary Magdalene and was led serendipitously to Enheduana.

When I first read her words, "I , En-hedu-Ana, High Priestess of the Moon God," I felt an electrical bzzzt go through me and I felt most definitely that En-hedu-Ana was beckoning me to get to know her. I could not believe she was a real woman and she was writing in the first person, sharing herself directly with me! I was thrilled! And I was hooked and compelled to research her and share my findings.

I first created this website in 1997 for you who yearn to know more about a real, historic, powerful feminine figure! This is the only website solely devoted to unearthing En-hedu-Ana--the first known/named author of all literature. There were many anonymous scribes who wrote before her but she was the first to identify herself in her writings. And she is the first person to write in the first person!

En-hedu-Ana lived around 2300-2225 BCE and was revered as the most important religious figure of her day. Through her powerful incantations/songs to Inanna,the goddess of Love and War she changed the course of history and was remembered for centuries after her death. Her writing is so intricate, scholars call her the "Shakespeare of Sumerian literature." Her hymns function as multi-layered incantations, interweaving political, personal, ritual, theological, historical and legal dimensions.

I spent 5 years culling as much information as I could about En-hedu-Ana in the library stacks and Ancient Near Eastern Studies department at UCLA and created the only documentary that focuses completely on her. You can watch "En-hedu-Ana: Ornament of the Sky"--all 5 parts of on Youtube! Let me know what you think! This was truly a labor of love that I felt I was called to do for En-hedu-Ana. I hope you enjoy it!

Table of Contents:

Introduction (below):
En-hedu-Ana: Shakespeare of Sumerian Literature
A Summary of En-hedu-Ana's Writings
Princess background
Giparu temple where she lived
En-hedu-Ana Today

Annette Zgoll Translation of Nin-me-sara poem: "Queen of countless divine powers"

The Concept of Personal God/dess in Enheduana's Writings

Visual/Archeological Evidence of Enheduana

A Brief History of Writing
Bibliographic Resource

New Visual Evidence/ Documentary Film/Voices of the Feminine: Radio Interview

***Review of Betty De Shong Meador's two DEFINITIVE books on Enheduana

"Dancing with En-hedu-Ana" Workshop

"Enheduana's Use of Magic in Ninmesara"a work in progress (2005)

Roberta Binkley's First Impressions of Enheduanna's Disk in the Museum

Enheduana: Shakespeare of Sumerian Literature

William Hallo first dubbed Enheduana as the Shakespeare of Sumerian literature after careful analysis of her brilliant and complex writing style in her most famous poem, nin-me-sara. Like the controversy surrounding Shakespeare as to whether he actually wrote all of the plays attributed to him, not all scholars credit Enheduana as the first named author in literature.

(In similar fashion, the debate continues as to whether this enticing portrait of Shakespeare by John Sanders is authentic. For more info, please go to

The above Sumerian cuneiform writing (recreated here, by Dimitri Radoyce, denotes how Enheduana's name appears on the back of the alabaster disk, as seen below. 'En' denotes the title of En priestess or High Priestess. 'Ornament of Heaven' is also an epithet often associated with Nanna, the Moon God, whom she served as well as his daughter , the Goddess, Inanna, whom she was devoted to. With reference to Nanna, the Mood God, the title 'heduana' is a poetic epithet denoting the beauty of the Moon in the sky. With reference to Inanna, 'heduAna' relates to Inanna's romantic partner status with the god of Heaven, An- she is his ornament.

This title confused the Sumerologists when they identified it in Enheduana's poem nin-me-sara and they didn't realize it referred to her until 1958, when Adam Falkenstein analysed the context of the poem more deeply.
Not all scholars agreed with him, because none of the 100+ clay tablet copies of Enheduana's poems originate from her Old Akkadian time period (2300 BCE), but rather to the Old Babylonian time period- 500 years later!
This was a period when a lot of copying of older Sumerian literature took place. Based on this evidence, scholars like Miguel Civil believe there is a 40% probablity that Enheduana is the author of these poems. Other scholars, like Joan Westenholz, William Hallo, and Annette Zgoll feel they can prove that nin-me-sara and Enheduana's other poems date to her time period because of certain historical references she weaves into them.
Not surprisingly, as with Shakespeare there is controversy surrounding her authorship. En-hedu-Ana is a title she was given when she was ordained as en priestess. We do not know her birth name.

The Alabaster Disk
En-hedu-Ana in her rolled brim cap and wearing the flounced gown of divinity, is overseeing the pouring of a ritual libation onto a plant stand by a priest, while two priestesses stand behind her, to the right.
The restored translucent alabaster disk is kept at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

Summary List of En-hedu-Ana's Writings:

What has been found of her writings so far, include 6 literary compositions:

The first three form a cycle of hymns to Inanna

1) nin-me-sar-ra "Queen of countless divine powers" more commonly knows as "The Exaltation of Inanna"
This translation comes from Dr. Annette Zgoll (2000) from the University of Munchen.
The first published translation of nin-me-sar-ra comes from Dr. William Hallo, "The Exaltation of Inanna", 1968.
You can find a very accurate translation also at the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature at

2) in-nin sa-gur-ra "Stout-hearted Lady" was first translated by Ake Sjoberg, in 1974.
You can also find a very accurate translation at the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
Or you can find excerpts.

3) in-nin me-hus-a, "Inanna and Ebih"was first translated by Henri Limet, 1969.You can also find a very accurate translation at the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature

4) "e-u-nir": is a Collection of 42 Temple Hymns written for the temples of Sumer and Akkad
Enheduana wrote manyof them and gathered others to make this collection.
You can find a very accurate translation at
You can also read excerpts.

The last two have been published by Dr. Joan Westenholz in 1989. Dr. Westenholz suggests that these hymns were written by Enheduana about her High Priestess role.
5) e-u-gim e-a , "Hymn of Praise to Ekishnugal and Nanna on Assumption of en-ship"

6) title broken, "Hymn of Praise of Enheduana"

In addition, Dr. Zgoll and a few other Sumerologists have tied Enheduana's complex writing style to a few other Sumerian texts.


She was the daughter of Sargon the Great, who was the first king to rule an empire joining Sumer and Akkad. He began a tradition that was to last 500 years, whereby the king installed his daughter as en, or High Priestess, of Nanna , the Sumerian Moon God, in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur (Southern Iraq). [She is often mistakenly called a Sumerian princess because she lived in the sumerian city of Ur as a high priestess but her father, Sargon of Akkad, was Akkadian and so was she.] Her high rank and royal background may explain why she is the first to include her name in her most popular hymn,nin-me-sara. As princess of the most prolific king up to that time in history, and installed as en of Nanna, she was in a very powerful position and possessed the clout and the pride to include herself in her writings. As you will see especially in nin-me-sara in which, she wove her own personal story into a hymn to Inanna, leaving us with a record of some details of her life.

According to Dr. Joan Westenholz, Enheduana lived ca. 2300-2225 B.C. and the first artifact discovered informing us of her existence is a translucent alabaster disk (above photo is the restored version) which was discovered in pieces by Sir Leonard Woolley in 1925 in section C of the giparu, where she lived.


The giparu was a joint building, containing the temple of Ningal, which is the lower section C on the floorplan, and the private, residential quarters of the en priestess- upper right section A. Directly below this section is section B which contains the cemetary where they buried the dead en-priestesses. There are records that show offerings were made to these dead ens, which shows how important they were. To the right of this cemetary is the dining area and below it is the kitchen area. For an excellent, detailed analysis of the giparu please read Penelope Weadock's article, listed in the bibliography.

En-hedu-Ana today:

Now, some 70 years after that discovery, she is becoming more known in scholarly writings as well as the "mainstream". As one of her many modern day scribes, I invite you to email me any questions you may have about Enheduana and I will try to answer them. "What I have done here no one has done before" to quote Enheduana! She wrote that at the end of the Sumerian temple hymns as it was the first time a compilation of hymns to all of the temples of Sumer and Akkad existed. For additional material, read Roberta Binkley's essays on Enheduanna


Okeanos: Near Eastern Studies etc...
ABZU: Database for Near Eastern Studies
Diotima-The Study of Women & Gender in The Ancient World
Zipang: The Enheduanna Society popularising the literature of ancient Iraq through the art of oral storytelling
Oriental Institute at the Univ. of Chicago
Betty Meador's Website