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The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil's divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths. The Ekur was noted for inspiring fear, dread, terror and panic in people, especially amongst the evil and ignorant, the Ekur complex included a primordial dungeon of the netherworld or "house of lament" where the damned were sent after judgement. Nungal is the Sumerian goddess who was given the title "Queen of the Ekur". This house is described as having a "River of ordeal" which leads to the "mouth of catastrophe"
The hymn also references a "house of life" where sinners are rehabilited and returned to their gods through the compassion of Nungal, who holds the "tablet of life"
House, furious storm of heaven and earth, battering its enemies; prison, jail of the gods, august neck-stock of heaven and earth! Its interior is evening light, dusk spreading wide; its awesomeness is frightening. Raging sea which mounts high, no one knows where its rising waves flow. House, a pitfall waiting for the evil one; it makes the wicked tremble! House, a net whose fine meshes are skillfully woven, which gathers up people as its booty! House, which keeps an eye on the just and on evildoers; no one wicked can escape from its grasp. House, river of the ordeal which leaves the just ones alive, and chooses the evil ones! House, with a great name, nether world, mountain where Utu rises; no one can learn its interior!
House whose foundations are laden with great awesomeness! Its gate is the yellow evening light, exuding radiance. Its stairs are a great open-mouthed dragon, lying in wait for men. Its vault is the rainbow, imbued with terrible awe
The gods of heaven and earth bow down before its place where judgments are made. Nin-egala takes her seat high on its lapis-lazuli dais. She keeps an eye on the judgments and decisions, distinguishing true and false. Her battle-net of fine mesh is indeed cast over the land for her; the evildoer who does not follow her path will not escape her arm.
When a man of whom his god disapproves arrives at the gate of the great house he is delivered into the august hands of Nungal, the warden of the prison; this man is held by a painful grip like a wild bull with spread forelegs. He is led to a house of sorrow, his face is covered with a cloth, and he goes around naked.
Even a powerful man cannot open up its door; incantations are ineffective . It opens to a city in ruins, whose layout is destroyed. Its inmates, like small birds escaped from the claws of an owl, look to its opening as to the rising of the sun. Brother counts for brother the days of misfortune, but their calculations get utterly confused. A man does not recognise his fellow men; they have become strangers.
The interior of the temple gives rise to weeping, laments and cries. Its brick walls crush evil men and give rebirth to just men. Its angry heart causes one to pass the days in weeping and lamentation. When the time arrives, the prison is made up as for a public festival; the gods are present at the place of interrogation, at the divine river ordeal, to separate the just from the evildoers; a just man is given rebirth. Nungal clamps down on her enemy, so he will not escape her clutches.
My own mother, Ereškigala, has allotted to me her divine powers. I have set up my august dais in the nether world, I am the goddess of the great house, the holy royal residence. I speak with grandeur to Inana, I am her heart's joy.
"Mercy and compassion are mine. I frighten no one. I keep an eye upon the black-headed people: they are under my surveillance. I hold the tablet of life in my hand and I register the just ones on it. The evildoers cannot escape my arm; I learn their deeds. All countries look to me as to their divine mother. I temper severe punishments; I am a compassionate mother. I cool down even the angriest heart, sprinkling it with cool water. I calm down the wounded heart; I snatch men from the jaws of destruction."
"When someone has been brought into the palace of the king and this man is accused of a capital offence, my chief prosecutor, Nindimgul, stretches out his arm in accusation He sentences that person to death, but he will not be killed; he snatches the man from the jaws of destruction and brings him into my house of life and keeps him under guard.
My house gives birth to a just person, but exterminates a false one. Since there are pity and tears within its brick walls, and it is built with compassion, it soothes the heart of that person, and refreshes his spirits."
"When it has appeased the heart of his god for him; when it has polished him clean like silver of good quality, when it has made him shine forth through the dust; when it has cleansed him of dirt, like silver of best quality , he will be entrusted again into the propitious hands of his god. Then may the god of this man praise me appropriately forever! May this man praise me highly; may he proclaim my greatness!
The destruction and fall of these various structures is remembered in various city laments, destroyed either in a great storm, flood or by variously Elamites, Subarians, Gutians and some other, as yet unidentified "Su-people". It was also recorded that the terrible acts of final destruction of the Ekur and it's divine laws was committed by Sargon the great against his own people in approximately 2300 BC. The Curse of Agade describes the same thing happening at the hands of Naram-Sin "Enlil, because his beloved Ekur had been attacked, what destruction he wrought".
Enlil then took the powerful auras from Gilgamesh and began distributing their power. The lord of the gods gave Huwawa's first aura to the fields as this would bring fruitfulness to the lands. He gave his second aura to the rivers to feed those fields. The third he gave reed beds and another to the lions to compliment the power they already had. He gave Huwawa's next aura to the forests and hills. He gave another aura to the debt slaves as he was a great lord of wealth and prosperity. This proved him to be great among masters.
Finally, in memory of Huwawa, gave his seventh aura to Nungal, the goddess of prisoners.
Nungal, its lady, the powerful goddess whose aura covers heaven and earth..
Because the lady has revealed her greatness; because she has provided the prison, the jail, her beloved dwelling, with awesome radiance, praise be to Nungal
Nippur, one of the most ancient of all the Babylonian cities of which we have any knowledge (some historians date it back to 5262 BC)
One of the largest sites in Mesopotamia, Nippur covers about 150 hectares, measures over 1-1/2 km across, and rises as much as 20 kilometers above the plain. The site is divided in two by the dried bed of a watercourse. In addition to the Ekur complex, consisting of a ziggurat and temple to Enlil, are other temples, the most important of which is the Inanna/ Ishtar temple. Careful excavations here uncovered more than 20 building levels from the Middle Uruk (4000 BC) – Parthian (220 AD), providing the longest continuous archaeological sequence for Mesopotamia.
Sites Assessment: Nippur has for more than a hundred years been under excavation by an American expedition. Upon last inspection, there was no longer a guard at the site, but the dig house is still there. Since excavations and maintenance of the excavated area were not possible for a long time, the exposed mud brick architecture suffered from erosion. During late spring and summer of 2003, looting of the site destroyed a major part of the Ziggurat and may have occurred in areas other than the Ziqqurrat, such as the "Tablet Mound" (Areas TA / TB)], the outmost Northern tells of the city. At the small mound on the Northern fringe of the tell, about 50 to 100 holes were observed. More illicit holes seen on recent inspection.