Enheduanna first author and documented astronomer in history

Enheduanna primera autora y astrónoma documentada de la historia

A woman who lived 4,300 years ago, who achieved the highest status for a woman, the first documented author and astronomer in history.

Enheduanna, Mesopotamia (2285-2250 BC)

Having reliable information about a woman who lived 4,300 years ago seems like a difficult task. But this woman must have been an important and popular character because her story has survived to this day. And it is curious to know that the first written “proof” of his existence dates back 500 years after his death. A meticulous work of copying (not like our copy-paste of today, that was an artisanal work on clay tablets) by the scribes has made it possible for his work to reach our days.

Signature of Enheduanna

But who was Enheduanna? Princess, daughter of King Sargon I of Akkad, was appointed by himself as High Priestess in the temple of the god Nannar (god of the moon), in the city of Ur. This position gave her the power to make any appointment of the leaders of the city, something that his enemies did not like. Among them was the leader of a great revolt, the usurper Lugal-Ane. He accused her of being a sorceress, discredited her and expelled her from the temple. Later Rimush, one of her brothers, quelled this revolt and was reinstated as a priestess.

I am Enheduanna,

She who once sat glorious and triumphant in your temple,

But he (Lugar-ane), expelled me from my sanctuary,

made me escape like a swallow

that flies out the window

and my life is consumed.

He tore off my high priestess tiara,

Giving me a dagger he told me: “This is now your ornament.”

The radiant high priestess of Nanna I am,

My queen, loved by An,Will your heart be favorable to your servant?

These verses belong to The Exaltation of Innana, a hymn dedicated to the goddess Innana. But this work never ceases to surprise us because in it Enheduanna establishes a religious calendar for the first time. A CALENDAR! To do this you need to know about days and nights, solstices and equinoxes, you had to know about ASTRONOMY. Since temples were the centers of learning and the places where knowledge was kept, she was surely an astrologer and astronomer. In her verses she says she knows the “celestial bodies” in which the god Nanna and his daughter Inanna lived (the moon and Venus respectively. Will she be the first documented astronomer in history?

He also gave great importance to olive oil, yes, as you read. It was part of the offerings in the rites that he established and, in addition, a small amount of “ordinary oil” (due to its quality) was intended for leather door hinges.

I leave one of his actions for last MORE IMPORTANT (as if what has been said so far were not enough). Was the FIRST PERSON who signed his works, something not common in those times. She had the habit of “signing,” including her name, in her poems, because yes, she was a poet. So we can say that she was THE FIRST AUTHOR in history.

In short, 4300 years ago there lived in Ur, a city that was in modern-day Iraq (note the ironic and surprised tone in my voice at the same time) a woman who was a political and spiritual leader, economist, high priestess, poetess, who is the first author of history, astrologer and astronomer. A woman who did her job so well that her position was institutionalized after her time there.

I bow to you Enheduanna, and give you all my respect.