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Enlil, Sumerian God of Earth and Air - Windows to the Universe

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Artist's depiction of two winged deities that represented Enlil. They are kneeling in front of a sacred tree, often associated with the worship of the Earth god.
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Enlil

Enlil was the Sumerian god of Earth and air. Sumerians were living more than three thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia corresponds to the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that today are part of the territories of the states of Iraq and Kuwait. Enlil was especially worshipped in the city of Nippur.

Enlil was generated by the union of An, that personifies heaven, and Ki who represents the Earth. Even though Enlil was considered "the Father of the Gods", he was banished to the world of the dead by the assembly of the gods for having raped the grain goddess, Ninlil. With his misdeed, Enlil had impregnated the grain goddess. To let him witness the birth of his own child, Ninlil decided to follow him to the underworld.

This thoughtless decision could have forced the newborn Moon god Sin to stay imprisoned forever in the world of the dead. Thus, Enlil and Ninlil copulated again and offered their three future children to the infernal deities. Thus, their child could finally ascend the heavens in order to light the night sky.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF