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Representation of Nergal in the Hittite rock sanctuary Yazılıkaya .

Nergal ( Sumerian EN-ERI-GAL, Nerigal , Akkadian d IGI, Nergal ) is a deity of the Sumerian - Akkadian , Babylonian and Assyrian religions and a model and component of other deities of other ancient Oriental peoples. Nergal is the god of the underworld Kurnugia . Nergal embodies the devastating heat of the sun, so that fires and diseases and epidemics of humans and cattle have been attributed to him. He also stood for the fight against hostile foreign lands. Among the Hittites and Hurrites , he can also be venerated as Ugur, who is otherwise considered a servant of Nergal.


Nergal is the son of Enlil and Ninlil , brother of Ninurta and husband of Ereškigal , in Nippur sometimes also the Mamitu . His household in Irkalla includes d gir 16 -kalam-ma. His vizier ( sukkal ) is Namtaru .


Nergal's main place of worship was the city of Kutha northeast of Babylon , where he, like Erra , was worshiped and his temple, Emeslam , was located there . Nergal also had temples in Larsa , Isin and Aššur, as well as in Udannu .

Nergal was the patron of the north gate of Aššur.

The twin brothers Meslamta'ea and Lugalgirra are a special manifestation of Nergal. Here he is a Sumerian god of war and underworld worshiped in Kutha . The name Meslamta'ea arose from the connection to the sanctuary and means: the one emerging from the Meslam sanctuary.

Description and iconography

Nergal in his capacity as god of war is referred to as the "great dragon". Nergal fills the channels with blood like rain, he is covered with entrails and drinks the blood of living beings, his weapons open his mouth to blood. The planet Mars ( MUL a-nu 5 ) was connected to Nergal by the Babylonians. It was considered an unfavorable omen and is often associated with hostile countries ( Elam , Amurru , Subartu ).

The myth of Nergal and Ereškigal

The myth of Nergal and Ereškigal is known from the clay tablets of a Middle Babylonian version, which was probably written in Syria around the middle of the second millennium BC and was found in Amarna , where it was perhaps used as a school text for learning cuneiform . From Sultantepe there is a more detailed, but incomplete, late Assyrian version from around 700 BC. BC before.

Anu plans a feast in heaven and sends his messenger Kaka to invite Ereškigal, the goddess of the underworld, who cannot come herself, but sends her messenger Namtaru . Nergal insults Namtaru by not kneeling before him and is then sent from Anu to Ereškigal in Irkalla , with the warning not to accept the hospitality there. However, Nergal eventually forgets the warning and sleeps with Ereškigal for seven days and seven nights before returning to heaven. Ereškigal then demands that he marry her. The gods first transform Nergal so that Namtaru does not recognize him. In the end, however, he has to go to the underworld and hand over some of his clothing and equipment to each of the seven door guards. Normally the visitors seem to have lost their power in this way (see Inanna's walk into the underworld ), but Nergal has equipped himself accordingly on the advice of Namtarus. He appears before Ereškigal and tears her braids from her throne, whereupon he sleeps with her. Anu then allows Nergal to stay in the underworld.


In Persian times the veneration of Nergal is documented from Cilicia, among others . A coin of 420 from Tarsus bears the Aramaic inscription nrgl trz , Nergal of Tarsus. It shows the god with a scepter in one hand and a bow in the other on the back of a lion. A somewhat later coin shows Nergal in Persian costume with a double ax . In the Hellenistic context, Nergal was equated with both Heracles and Hades . The cult of Nergal-Heracles is documented from Hatra and Palmyra . In Hatra, Herakles-Nergal seems to be assigned to the dog as a symbolic animal. As in earlier times, he was also the protector of the city gates.


  • Egbert von Weiher: The Babylonian God Nergal - Old Orient and Old Testament Volume 11 , Neukirchener Verlag des Erziehungsverein et al., Neukirchen-Vluyn et al. 1971, ISBN 3-7887-0303-2 (also: Münster / Westf., Univ, dissertation).
  • Manfred Hutter: ancient oriental ideas of the underworld. Reflections on the history of literature and religion on »Nergal and Ereškigal« . Friborg 1985.
  • Helmut Freydank u. a .: Lexicon of the Old Orient. Egypt * India * China * Western Asia . VMA-Verlag, Wiesbaden 1997, ISBN 3-928127-40-3 .
  • Brigitte Groneberg : The gods of the Mesopotamia. Cults, myths, epics . Artemis & Winkler, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-7608-2306-8 .
  • Henri Seyrig : Heracles-Nergal . In: Syria 24, 1944, pp. 77-79.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ R. Marcel Sigrist, Offrandes aux dieux à Nippur. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 32/2, 1980, 106
  2. ^ MW Green, The Eridu Lament, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 30/3, 1978, 146
  3. ^ Wathiq Al-Salihi, Hercules-Nergal at Hatra. Iraq 33/2, 1971, note 2
  4. Ellen Robbins, Tabular Sacrifice Records and the Cultic Calendar of Neo-Babylonian Uruk. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 48, 1996, 81
  5. JPG Finch, The Winged Bulls at the Nergal Gate of Nineveh. Iraq 10/1, 1948, 9-18
  6. a b Su-ilitu hymn 16
  7. Su-ilitu hymn, ZA 63 5:52
  8. Sulgi X, 119f.
  9. ^ Morris Jastrow, Jr., Signs and Names of the Planet Mars. American Journal of Semitic Languages ​​and Literatures, 27/1, 1910, 64-83
  10. ^ Morris Jastrow, Jr., Signs and Names of the Planet Mars. American Journal of Semitic Languages ​​and Literatures, 27/1, 1910, 74
  11. ^ OR Gurney, The Sultantepe Tablets (Continued): VII. The Myth of Nergal and Ereshkigal. Anatolian Studies 10, 1960, 105
  12. In the Amarna version: do not stand up to greet him
  13. ^ JD Bing, Alexander's Sacrifice dis praesidibus loci before the Battle of Issus. Journal of Hellenic Studies 111, 1991, 162 f.
  14. ^ Wathiq Al-Salihi, Hercules-Nergal at Hatra. Iraq 33/2, 1971, 113-115
  15. ^ Wathiq Al-Salihi, Hercules-Nergal at Hatra. Iraq 33/2, 1971, 113-115
  16. ^ Wathiq Al-Salihi, Hercules-Nergal at Hatra (II). Iraq 35/1, 1973, 69

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