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The goddess who is responsible for moving the gears of the universe in Sumerian mythology. Nammu was considered the primary cause, the creator of the world and human beings. Unlike most myths where the sea goddess is an antagonistic figure, Nammu was seen as the goddess of the freshwater ocean, the source of all life, a benevolent goddess who provided life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.
Carl Black.

Nammu is the Sumerian Primordial Goddess of the sea and responsible for the birth of the God Anu (Sky) and the Goddess Ki (Earth) and for creating humanity. Her Babylonian equivalent is the goddess Tiamat.

Overview

Nammu is possibly the first goddess of chaos and water represented by mankind, with records of her dating back to 2,380 BCE. Unlike her Babylonian equivalent, Nammu does not seem to have been seen as a goddess who posed a threat to the Regent God of order, including the creator of humanity.

Reay Tannahill in Sex in History singled out Nammu as the "only female prime mover" in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity. That is, Nammu was probably the first (and perhaps only) goddess who was the primary cause of all existence, being the creator of heaven and earth, rather than a chaotic deity who was against the creation of the universe and therefore , it was necessary for the ruling god of order to defeat it to give rise to the universe.

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Myths and Legends

Nammu was the Goddess of the sea (Engur), who was associated with the oldest generation of Mesopotamian deities and given the title "mother who gave birth to the heavens and the earth". Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (sky father) and Ki (earth mother) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu (the goddess who "has given birth to the great gods"). It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

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  • Although her Babylonian equivalent, Tiamat, is a deity created by Khaos, because Nammu is a benevolent and creative deity rather than a chaotic and anti-creation being, Nammu is possibly a created entity by God.
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