WHO OR WHAT WERE THE IGIGI?
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, the Igigi were a group of deities, who included the Anunnaki.
The Igigi have been mentioned throughout ancient texts, including the Sumerian creation epic Enuma Elish and Hymn to Enlil. These stories describe the great gods as both groups of deities and the offspring of Anu (the sky god) and Ki (the earth goddess). In fact, as a part of their function, many of the gods in the Igigi group serve to maintain balance for other gods on Earth.
Though there are many interpretations to what these deities represent, one common theme throughout these deities refers to them as beings who are associated with the underworld. For example, while some scholars believe that they are thought of as divine beings who inherit the Earth after their parents died, others think that they were divine beings who maintained order among humans in their world.
In Babylonian mythology, they were seven or eight judges of the underworld.
The Igigi were the younger gods of Babylon, who lived in the heavens, and only became known as seven or eight judges of the underworld after they were replaced by their children, the Anunnaki. The Igigi were also gatekeepers, guardians of heaven and Earth. Their original purpose was probably to serve as attendants to the older gods, after which they became priests themselves. In their role as judges (or judges of judgment), they sat cross-legged on benches in a circle around their king. These judges wore distinctive clothes and carried staffs with them to mark their status as officials.
The name “igigi” was also believed to mean “great earth”.
The name “igigi” was also believed to mean “great earth”—or, in other terms, “the great gods.” That is because the word igigi is a Sumerian and Akkadian word that refers to the group of gods known as the Anunnaki. The name may also refer to the seven or eight underworld judges in Babylonian mythology (or any other number, really: it seems like nobody really knows how many there were supposed to be). In addition, these deities may be referred to as zaqarqu (in Akkadian) or mashmashu (in Sumerian), both of which translate loosely into English as “those who can see far/wide.”
In some texts, igigi has been translated into U.S. American English as “gods of fortune and fate.” This translation has led many people to believe that igigi is synonymous with namtar, another mythological figure from ancient Mesopotamia who was said to control destiny and good fortune for each individual person on earth and beyond. However, this is not true; igigi are their own distinct group of deities and should not be confused with namtar.
The Igigi were said to be descended from Lahamu and Lahmu, two primordial beings that sprung from Tiamat when she was split in two.
The Igigi were said to be descended from Lahamu and Lahmu, two primordial beings that sprung from Tiamat when she was split in two. When people say "the body of water," they're referring to the ocean; when they say "the body of knowledge," they're referring to education. Similarly, the term tiamatu refers to both a body of water and a body of knowledge. In Sumerian mythology, Tiamat was the personification of the chaos that existed before creation. She was considered to be the mother of all things, including Apsu, who became her husband and fathered many gods with her. Of these gods born from Tiamat's womb were Lahamu and Lahmu, personifications of the silt found at the bottom of bodies of saltwater—from which all life is thought to have originated. The name 'Lahamu' itself means "muddy" or "silt."
They were identified with the group of gods known as Anunnaki (Great Assembly).
>The Anunnaki, also known as the Igigi are the gods of old that were worshipped in ancient Mesopotamia. These deities belonged to the pantheon of Sumerian gods and goddesses, but there is a lot more to them than just this. The Anunnaki were thought to have descended from Lahamu and Lahmu, two primordial beings that gave rise to the elder gods known as the Annunaku. Their name means “those of royal blood” or “princely offspring”, which suggests a direct descent from heaven since it is said that their father was Anu (the god of the sky). They were identified with the group of gods known as Anunnaki (Great Assembly).
The Igigi were described as having long beards and long hair that reached their feet.
Some scholars have postulated that the Igigi were like the biblical angels; messengers of the gods who had wings. These theories are strengthened by art that often depicts them with long beards and hair as well as large wings and bird-like feet. While these depictions in art are not definitive proof, they do strengthen the argument for this theory.
They formed the first divine dynasty along with the Anunnaki (who had been with them until they rebelled).
The Igigi and Anunnaki first joined forces to form the divine dynasty. Later, the Igigi left the task of ruling to the Anunnaki, who became known as the Great Gods or The Great Ones. However, there came a time in which they rebelled against their superiors, which caused tension between them and they were no longer on good terms.
The Igigi had many offices and functions in Mesopotamian (Sumerian/Babylonian) life.
The Igigi had many offices and functions in Mesopotamian (Sumerian/Babylonian) life. They were not only deities but also cosmic forces, judges of the underworld, the first divine dynasty, the first gods and kings and first cosmic powers. They were also seen as great builders who resided in a heavenly palace complex called "E-sagila" and with their families were under the control of Anu, Enlil or Marduk.
Mesopotamian mythology is abundant in gods and deities
The Igigi are known to us through the ancient Mesopotamian literature and were the original gods of the Earth in Sumerian mythology. They were thought to be the guardians of heaven and earth and their name literally translates as “the great gods”. The most notable feature of these deities is that they were replaced by a new set of gods called Anunnaki during a rebellion.
The Mesopotamian mythology is abundant in gods and deities, which makes it difficult to differentiate between them. One way to identify each god or deity is based on their function or role within the hierarchy, but even this approach can lead to confusion as some have overlapping duties. However, if we take all texts into consideration we should be able to distinguish various groups of gods by their individual features.
When we investigate further into these groups, one key event stands out: a rebellion against Enlil who was their king at the time. The Igigi revolted against him because he forced them to work for him for too long without rest and made them do menial tasks such as digging canals and grinding grain for food (Van de Mieroop 2004).