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Divine Epithets in Sumerian Literary Texts and Royal Inscriptions

Project description

Cataloguing divine epithets of ancient Sumerians

Divine epithets reflect attributes of deities that may be invoked for specific occasions. As such, they reveal the socioreligious consciousness of a particular civilisation. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the DESULITROI project aims to examine recent translations of ancient Sumerian literature and royal inscriptions to compile an extensive database of Sumerian divine epithets during the period 2500-1600 BCE. It will further analyse and compare the structure of the epithets, as well as their purpose contextually and as a means of human-divine communication. Ultimately, the project will further our understanding of the first complex civilisation in Mesopotamia. The database will provide a valuable resource for comparative studies in humanities concerning religion, culture and literature.


Epithets express gods' powers. Focussing on qualities needed for a particular ritual, they create a more effective interaction with the gods. This project will provide a catalogue of Sumerian divine epithets from a corpus of ca. 650 previously translated literary texts and royal inscriptions (ca. 2500-1600 BC). The objectives of the project are: 1) to create an online database of divine epithets found in Sumerian literary texts and royal inscriptions from the Old Sumerian to the Old Babylonian period (circa 2500–1600 BCE) which will be made available via the Leipzig University website; 2) to investigate their structure; 3) to analyse the relationship between epithets and the intentions of the texts, considering their function in narrative passages, human-divine communications and intertextuality.
A relevant innovative aspect of the proposal is the interdisciplinary approach which combines the Sumerological approach, based on philology, with the methodology and theoretical frameworks developed in classical and religious studies as well as Jewish studies.
Despite their role in understanding Mesopotamian religion, Sumerian divine epithets have not been systematically collected. Hence, the online database is a major desideratum in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and will fill an academic void, providing for the first time an indispensable tool for further research on Mesopotamian religion and languages and comparative religious studies. New translations and editions of Sumerian texts from the last 30 years and a better knowledge of the language now allow us to achieve a comprehensive catalogue of divine epithets. Being innovative, the project will increase the level of research excellence in European humanities. Being ground-breaking in its field, the online database of Sumerian divine epithets will contribute meaningfully to the Digital Humanities in Europe and worldwide.


Net EU contribution
€ 189 687,36
04109 Leipzig

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Sachsen Leipzig Leipzig
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data