Updated: Apr 19
The first thing to know about the Anunnaki is that there is no single understanding of who they were or their role in the mythology. Indeed, they are often spoken of as if they are a different group of deities in each region where references have been found. To determine who the Anunnaki were and how they came to be, it is necessary to look at their name and titles.
In Akkadian mythology, Anu means "heaven" or "sky." In Sumerian mythology, Anna means "water, heaven, or sky," and when used as an honorific for gods (and occasionally for other beings), it means "Ancestor." The word annu means "princely offspring," and the word nin can mean anything from lady to mistress. This suggests that one interpretation of their name might be "offspring of heaven" or "princely offspring of heaven," given the many meanings attributed to these words.
The kingdoms of Anu and Ki
The two kingdoms of Anu and Ki (the Sumerian names for Enlil and Enki) were at odds. It was understood that the Sumerian people existed for the benefit of their gods, and if they displeased them, this could have dire consequences.
As a result of the feud between Anu's kingdom and Ki's kingdom, there was very little collaboration between the cities within each realm. The fact that its temple with its priesthood dominated each city meant that each city had competing mythologies, which sometimes clashed with one another on theology and history. In some instances, there were even pitched battles fought between rival cities. This meant that significant innovations in arts, culture, astronomy, mathematics and other fields were isolated. As a result, many discoveries were made twice by different civilizations or had to be rediscovered after being lost during war or conquest.
The Igigi and the Anunnaki
It is interesting to note that this revolt also appears in other ancient texts. For example, in the Babylonian Epic of Creation known as Enuma Elish, during their war with Tiamat and her sea monster army, the Anunnaki god Marduk created humans from the blood of Kingu (the general of Tiamat's defeated forces) to provide slave labor for their gods. Although Marduk may be a deity or a demigod rather than an actual extraterrestrial entity, there is no question that he was perceived as being superhumanly powerful and possessed incredible technological prowess.
For little compensation, the Igigi became tired of this backbreaking labor and rebelled against their enslavers. Eventually, this rebellion continued until Enki decided to fashion a man out of clay mixed with his divine blood. The point here is that regardless of whether the Anunnaki are mythological beings that seem to be interpreted differently by various cultures or they are actual flesh-and-blood entities who came to Earth from another planet millions of years ago; they are considered superior by ordinary humans in every way imaginable: physically, intellectually and technologically.
The Kingship is lowed from heaven.
In Tablet 5, the Enuma Elish, the Akkadian creation myth widely considered to be of Sumerian origin, we read that the Kingship on Earth was taken back to heaven by An in ancient times. This would mean that a king was ruling on Earth at one time, who was eventually replaced by the pantheon of deities. This may not have been an accident or a coup, but instead, deliberate action by An points to some deep and fundamental ideas about Kingship and divinity.
Later in the text, Enlil lowers the Kingship from heaven to Uruk in order for Inanna to rule. This seems to imply that Uruk was where the new rule of divinely ordained kings was meant to start, making sense if we consider that this is also where Gilgamesh ruled.
The Kingship is lowered from heaven (tablet 5)
Scholars have noted that the theme of the Kingship being lowered to Earth is repeated in several other Sumerian myths. This may be seen as a symbol that the Sumerians considered themselves to have been so advanced and developed compared to those who had just come out of their caves. The following lines from ancient tablets are based on the legend:
"The great deluge swept over (the land),
And destroyed all animals and all human beings,
The ship came to rest on Mount Nisir,
(Which) held it fast with its cable,
After seven days and seven nights, the storm ended;
Looking down from heaven, Enlil saw...No man!" (3)
Creation of Man
In the Babylonian Creation Myth, Enki, a god, and his sister/consort Ninhursag create human beings from clay to serve the gods. The creation of man is described in the following way:
When Anu (the sky above) and Ki (the Earth below) had ordered to produce their progeny, had commanded the gods that they are born, Then where the gods created in Umma,
The Igigi [minor deities] was called into being at Eridu.
When there was yet no brickwork platform for cult worship, No house for he who decides fate in heaven or on Earth; When there was not as yet a reed hut to give shelter to him that had been smitten by sin; The gods were mingled with humankind then. In those days, when destinies were determined, They bore children -- seven were they and seven maidens. Their names are as follows:
The first-born son was Martu (mar-tu), their shepherd;
The second Adapa;
The third Enmenluanna;
The fourth Enmenalanna [...].
Enki, Ninhursag and the Birth of Mankind
Enki is considered the man's father in that he was the first to create an immortal being with a mortal body. He is also remembered as the one who instructed mortals on how to keep records using clay tablets. Ninhursag is considered the mother goddess and was given names such as Mother of all Living, Mother Nature, Mother of the Gods, and Holy Mountain. In some translations, she is referred to as 'the mother who gave birth to mankind.' she was said to have created humans by mixing clay with the flesh and blood of a slain god.
Adapa or Adam? The Lost Book of Enki vs. Genesis
The Lost Book of Enki tells the story of Adapa, a mortal whom Enki granted immortality, and how he brought civilization to ancient Earth. Genesis tells the story of Adam, a God-given mortal who was also granted immortality and civilization. So far, all that has been said is that Genesis may have been adapted from The Lost Book of Enki.
Nevertheless, it does not stop there; further similarities between Adapa and Adam can be seen in their actions: both were servants to higher powers (Enki and God), they both ate food that seemingly gave them immortality (the bread of life and the forbidden fruit), both were tricked into not eating food which would have given them eternal life (bread of death/forgiveness), and they became immortal after breaking the rules set out to them. However, as mentioned earlier in this piece, Adam is presented as a god-made man, whereas Adapa is presented as an artificial by gods; neither are clear on whether or not these gods were Anunnaki or Annuna (as suggested by some Sumerian texts).
The Anunnaki is an ancient Mesopotamian myth that, after years of exploring the evidence and theories, may not be a myth at all. Exploring the origins of humanity and how we came to be is an essential part of our past and our future. Without understanding where we come from, we cannot understand what the future holds for us and where we will go as a species.
Whether or not you believe in extraterrestrial life or that humanity was created by beings from another planet, it is always good to explore both possibilities. Hopefully, this article has helped open your mind to the possibility that there could have been other civilizations on Earth long before our own existed. These civilizations could even have had contact with extraterrestrial beings who helped them advance their knowledge and technology.