Aratta in Sumerian Mythology

Aratta in Sumerian Mythology

The ancient state of Aratta is identified with the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. According to another point of view, “Aratta” is distorted “Ararat” or “Urartu.” Researchers have also proposed identifying a Sanskrit toponym mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts with Aratta.

In Sumerian literature, Aratta is described as follows: “Wisdom and art ‘descended’ from the country of Aratta. This is a fabulously wealthy place rich in gold, silver, lapis, and other valuable materials, as well as many artisans who can process them.

Aratta is far away [from Uruk] – reaching it is difficult. Aratta is the home of goddess Inanna. However, one day, Inanna decided to favor Uruk instead of Aratta. Aratta was conquered by Enmerkar from Uruk.”

The legend of Lugalbanda is also notable in the context of Aratta. This legend is called “Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave.”

Enmerkar’s army passed through the mountainous territories to fight the rebellious Aratta. Lugalbanda fell sick on the way and was left in a cave. He prayed to various gods, recovered, and sought his way back from the mountains. Lugalbanda befriended the Anzu bird (“Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird”) and asked it to help him find his army.

After Enmerkar’s army met severe resistance, Lugalbanda volunteered to return to Uruk to ask goddess Inanna for assistance. He crossed the mountains, passed through the plains, covered Anshan, and reached Uruk where he received help from Inanna. She advised Enmerkar to take away Aratta’s “metal products and blacksmiths, stone products and masons” so that all “Aratta’s smelters become his.”

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