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Nippur (modern Nuffar) is a famed Sumerian site. As early as the Early Dynastic era there were several temples at Nippur, and perhaps even earlier. Nippur was a center of worship for Enlil, Ninurta and Inanna.

It seems that Nippur attracted the cult of several deities, a fact that may have something to do with its geographical position in the centre of the alluvial plains, between Jezirah and the deep south. It is possible that in this quite densely populated area, Nippur functioned as a neutral place for diverse groups of people who not only spoke different languages but represented different modes of living (farmers, herders, gatherers). By bringing their gods here, they may have been able to secure a representation of their interests. This might explain both the proliferation of deities at Nippur and the longevity of its reputation for political neutrality and a place where adjudications could be made. Enlil [whose worship was based at Nippur] was the most famous and the most institutionalized arbiter of divine decision. Leick 2001, p 152

North Temple

Inanna Temple

The Temple of Inanna at Nippur was excavated by a joint expedition of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and the American Schools of Oriental Research. Inanna -- whose name means Queen of Heaven -- was the goddess of fertility embodied in the planet Venus, which appears in the morning and again in the evening. Her temple at Nippur was named E-duranki, which means the bond of heaven and earth. Excavations showed that this temple was in existence by the Early Dynastic I period and that sacred structures were rebuilt in the same sanctified location until the Parthian period nearly three thousand years later.

Most of the finds of level VIIA, dating from the Early Dynastic IIIb period, BCE - BCE, came from four hoards, consisting of statues, fragments of shell inlay, and vessels. The deliberate burial of broken objects suggests that cult equipment remained sacred even when it was no longer functional.

Within the Ekur courtyard, which has an Ur III courtyard wall, within which is the earliest ED phase of the Inanna Temple, Level VIII. At the temple, like the Sin Temple and the Great Death Pit, were items of importance like the couples statue, individual statues and the steatite conical vase.


Leick 2001. p 57-60