Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Avra S.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Inanna (Sumerian deity); Gods; Sumerian; Creation--Mythology; Mythology; Sumerian


The goddess Inanna/Ishtar had her origins in the Primeval Creator Goddess, and thus she was, at first, associated with fertility. She evolved as time went by, absorbing features from other divinities and acquiring a multifaceted personality, until she became the most important female divinity in the Mesopotamian pantheon. In this research, an effort is made to comprehend this complex divinity. The surviving literature as well as the visual images portraying Inanna/Ishtar are consulted; mythology and religion are examined for a better understanding of the position of the goddess in the Mesopotamian pantheon. The development of Inanna/Ishtar and the various spheres in which she exercised influence is pursued. A variety of myths in the life of the goddess is explored in order to unravel conflicting situations. Her preeminence as a high goddess and the devotion of her followers are further examined by analyzing the rites and cult dramas performed in her honor. Finally, the impact of the cult of Inanna/Ishtar on cultures beyond Mesopotamia and the influence of the goddess in the broader frame of the Ancient World are surveyed. The author of this thesis presents the position that Inanna/Ishtar, as a descendant of the Primeval Cosmic Creative Force in the form of a woman, with a strong inclination towards war, had a very strong following in antiquity, but she has been maligned in contemporary scholarship because of certain negative traits attributed to her persona. These so-called negative traits, such as ambition, arrogance, and selfishness, could be interpreted today as desirable qualities for an assertive, self-motivated contemporary woman.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [116]-120)


[xi], 120 pages




Northern Illinois University

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