Who was the world’s first author?
4,300 years in the past in historic Sumer, essentially the most highly effective particular person within the metropolis of Ur was banished to wander the huge desert. Her title was Enheduanna. She was the excessive priestess of the moon god and historical past’s first identified writer.
By the point of her exile, she had written 42 hymns and three epic poems— and Sumer hadn’t heard the final of her. Enheduanna lived 1,700 years earlier than Sappho, 1,500 years earlier than Homer, and about 500 years earlier than the biblical patriarch Abraham. She was born in Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and the birthplace of the primary cities and excessive cultures.
Her father was King Sargon the Nice, historical past’s first empire builder, who conquered the impartial city-states of Mesopotamia below a unified banner. Sargon was a northern Semite who spoke Akkadian, and the older Sumerian cities within the south considered him as a overseas invader.
They ceaselessly revolted to regain their independence, fracturing his new dynasty. To bridge the hole between cultures, Sargon appointed his solely daughter, Enheduanna, as excessive priestess within the empire’s most vital temple. Feminine royalty historically served spiritual roles, and she or he was educated to learn and write in each Sumerian and Akkadian, and make mathematical calculations.
The world’s first writing began in Sumer as a system of accounting, permitting retailers to speak over lengthy distances with merchants overseas. Their pictogram system of file conserving developed right into a script about 300 years earlier than Enheduanna’s beginning. This early writing fashion, referred to as cuneiform, was written with a reed stylus pressed into delicate clay to make wedge-shaped marks.
However till Enheduanna, this writing largely took the type of file conserving and transcription, reasonably than unique works attributable to particular person writers. Enheduanna’s Ur was a metropolis of 34,000 folks with slim streets, multi-storied brick houses, granaries, and irrigation.
As excessive priestess, Enheduanna managed grain storage for town, oversaw a whole bunch of temple employees, interpreted sacred desires, and presided over the month-to-month new moon competition and rituals celebrating the equinoxes. Enheduanna set about unifying the older Sumerian tradition with the newer Akkadian civilization. To perform this, she wrote 42 spiritual hymns that mixed each mythologies. Every Mesopotamian metropolis was dominated by a patron deity, so her hymns had been devoted to the ruling god of every main metropolis.
She praised town’s temple, glorified the god’s attributes, and defined the god’s relationship to different deities throughout the pantheon. In her writing, she humanized the as soon as aloof gods— now they suffered, fought, beloved, and responded to human pleading. Enheduanna’s most precious literary contribution was the poetry she wrote to Inanna, goddess of struggle and want, the divinely chaotic vitality that offers spark to the universe. Inanna delighted in all types of sexual expression and was thought of so highly effective that she transcended gender boundaries, as did her earthly attendants, who may very well be prostitutes, eunuchs or cross-dressers. Enheduanna positioned Inanna on the high of the pantheon as essentially the most highly effective deity.
Her odes to Inanna mark the primary time an writer writes utilizing the pronoun “I,” and the primary time writing is used to discover deep, non-public feelings. After the demise of Enheduanna’s father, King Sargon, a basic took benefit of the facility vacuum and staged a coup. As a robust member of the ruling household, Enheduanna was a goal, and the overall exiled her from Ur. Her nephew, the legendary Sumerian king Naram-Sin, in the end crushed the rebellion and restored his aunt as excessive priestess.
In whole, Enheduanna served as excessive priestess for 40 years. After her demise, she grew to become a minor deity, and her poetry was copied, studied, and carried out all through the empire for over 500 years. Her poems influenced the Hebrew Previous Testomony, the epics of Homer, and Christian hymns. Right now, Enheduanna’s legacy nonetheless exists, on clay tablets which have stood the take a look at of time.