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Kings going up to heaven (1)

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01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

Sumerian Ur III Empire
Sumerian texts

The Neo-Sumerian kings were viewed as “going up/toward heaven” after they died. This belief already existed in the time of Šulgi since an economic text dated to his last regnal year makes the remark “when the divine Šulgi ascended to heaven” (d.Šul-gi an-na ba-a-e₁₁-da-a). This proves the belief that, at the termination of his earthly existence, Šulgi joined the ranks of the denizens of heaven. P. Steinkeller views Šulgi’s ascension to heaven as plausible due to his divinity, although this must have been contradictory to the belief that Šulgi was at the same time seen as mortal since he was “afforded all the honors and trappings of a dead ruler.” Still, as Steinkeller points out, the same tradition was applied to another ruler, namely Išbi-Erra of Isin. A tablet found at Isin (BIN 10 190) dated by Steinkeller to Išbi-Erra’s last regnal year, states: “(for) the great lamentation, when the king ascended to heaven,” [é]r ([A.] IGI) gu-la ud lugal an-šè ba-a-da.

Source (list of abbreviations)
BIN 10 190


Lapinkivi 2004, 151Lapinkivi, Pirjo. The Sumerian Sacred Marriage in the Light of Comparative Evidence. State Archives of Assyria Studies 15. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Coprus Project 2004.
Steinkeller 1992, 3Steinkeller, Piotr. “Išbi-Erra's Himmelfahrt.” NABU 1992/4.

Pirjo Lapinkivi

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