That the Sumerians concieved of gates located at the Eastern and Western extremeties of horizon, that provided ascent to the Heavens or descent into
the Underworld is a fairly non-contentious issue regarding their mythology, for example In Wayne Horwitz 'Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography';
And again one finds these gates often referanced throughout the study as seen here;
Sumerian Heavenly Gates
The gates in question obviously relate to the intersection of the ecliptic plane with the local E/W horizons, the place were the Sun, moon, planets
are seen to rise and set, as well as the stars along the ecliptic plane/zodiac.
Two furthur aspects though i also want to consider here, the mountain located at these gates, and any concern with the galactic equator/Milky Way also
intersecting with the ecliptic plane and local horizon.
The basic cosmological model then was a straight forward one, the mountain located at E/W horizons providing either ascent into the high Heavens or
into the Underworld and/or watery abyss, the Abzu of Enki.
There is also good evidence for the identification of many of the constellations of the Sumerians, so we can get a basic fix on how they saw the
Heavens, and the constellations around the ecliptic plane/zodiac thus;
When the Milky Way intersects with the ecliptic plane at the local horizon it will always be at two relatively fixed points, in the region of
Gemini/Taurus/Orion and Scorpio/Sagittarius opposite. Here then is an example of the horizon/ecliptic plane/Milky Way intersecting at Sunrise, in
this case in the Scorpio region.
What should be noted also here is the location of Pisces located between the two gates, to the Sumerians this was the watery region of the Enki and
the Abzu, the abyss, this giving the fix then on their cosmology, the circumpolar region will also be opposite in the North.
The location of the Abzu shrine is noted here as being situated by the constellation 'The Field', this being in the region of Andromeda, thus
seemingly the Abzu shrine is the 'fish' constellation between Pisces and the sea goat, Capricorn, thus the region, perhaps not surprisingly, of
Aquarius, that overall quadrant having association with the sea.
The lord established a shrine, a holy shrine, whose interior is elaborately constructed. He established a shrine in the sea, a holy shrine, whose
interior is elaborately constructed. The shrine, whose interior is a tangled thread,is beyond understanding.
The shrine's emplacement is situated by the constellation the Field, the holy upper shrine's emplacement faces towards the Chariot constellation. Its
terrifying sea is a rising wave, its splendour is fearsome
The iconography that first suggested to me that the Sumerians had an interest in the intersection of the Milky Way with the ecliptic plane was from
these cyclinder seals;
Here is seen a winged gate or ladder above the Bull of Heaven, which i would take as Taurus, thus the concern here would be with the
Taurus/Orion/Gemini intersection point. Inana is seen emerging from the gate, or her serpent/rainbow necklace seen associated, or a figure of Death
is seen emerging in the case of the Gilgimish example.
Other points to note in those seals, top right, the plant of life, top left Gilgimish fishing out the double helix serpent which has swallowed the
plant of life, bottom left a Semitic version were the sky God Hadad stands upon the mountain of the two horizons, thus putting Ishtar/inana and the
Bull of Heaven in the context of the horizon event. The portal super-structure which often has flanking guardians i would take as the Sumerian 'Twin'
Top left, Inana asks for the Bull of Heaven from Anu, top right horned Ishtar enthroned with double helix serpent, bottom left winged Ishtar emerges
from portal with two twin guardians above Bull of Heaven, bottom right enthroned horned Ishtar, stars planets rising above mountain of the horizon,
Scorpion seen above this.
Generally Shamash the sun God emerging in association with the mountain of the horizon, Ishtar seen also bottom example and plant of life as well as
Inana/Ishtar as Venus the evening or morning star thus has very strong association with thse portals;
I shall greet her who ascends above, her who ascends above,
I shall greet the Mistress who ascends above,
I shall greet the great lady of heaven, Inana!
I shall greet the holy torch who fills the heavens,
the light, Inana, her who shines like daylight,
the great lady of heaven, Inana!
I shall greet the Mistress,
the most awesome lady among the Anuna gods;
the respected one who fills heaven and earth with her huge brilliance;
the eldest daughter of Suen, Inana!
For the young lady I shall sing a song about her grandeur, about her greatness,
about her exalted dignity;
about her radiantly ascending at evening;
about her filling the heaven like a holy torch;
about her stance in the heavens, as noticeable by all lands,
from the south to the highlands, as that of Nanna or of Utu;
about the greatness of the mistress of heaven
In fact she rather demanded it;
Ishtar on arriving at the gate of the land of no return,
To the gatekeeper thus addressed herself:
"Gatekeeper, ho, open thy gate!
Open thy gate that I may enter!
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living."
DESCENT OF THE GODDESS ISHTAR INTO THE LOWER WORLD
Her primary role then was based on her role as evening/morning star, in the myths one finds the tradition of seven gates into the Underworld or into
the Heavens, this numeric tradition perhaps deriving from the sun, moon and five planets passing through the gates along the ecliptic plane.
The name of the mountain at the horizons, Masu, means again 'Twin', there is always confusion as to whether this is two opposite peaks or a singular
mountain, in a sense it is both and neither, it is a mountain that appears above the horizon before sunrise and/or sunset, and thus seen in the
singular, and is the same mountain in both cases.
The confusion lies in the mountain moving in conjunction with the ecliptic plane, such that it is always above the point of sunrise or sunset,
whatever the time of year, and thus the mountain is an aspect of the ecliptic plane, ie the zodiacal light, to be explained furthur part II
edit on 23-4-2012 by Kantzveldt because: typo
edit on 23-4-2012 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)
on 23-4-2012 by Kantzveldt because: typo