Ninurta, lord plough, in Mesopotamian mythology (Babylonian-Akkadian) [Iraq], is god of thunderstorms and the plough.

He was worshipped from around 3500 BC to 200 BC and probably synonymous with Ningirsu having cult centers at Nippur and Girsu, where he was adored in later form. Ninurta was the Sumerian god of the farmers and identified with the plough.

Also being the god of thunder and a hero in the Sumerian pantheon he was closely linked with confrontation battles between good and evil which comprise much of Mesopotamian literature.

He is one of the several challengers of the malignant dragon or serpent Kur said to inhabit the empty space between the earth’s crust and the primeval sea beneath.

This deity is the son on Enlil and Ninhursaga, alternatively Ninlil, and the consort of Gula, the goddess of healing. Ninurta is attributed with the creation of the mountains which he is said to have forged against the demon Asag.

He wears a horned helmet and tiered skirt and carries a weapon, Sarur, which became personified in texts as having its own intelligence and becoming the chief adversary, in the hands of Ninurta, when battling Kur.

He carries the double-edged scimitar-maze embellished with lions’ heads and, according to some authors, is depicted as a nonhuman form as the thunderbird Imdugud (sling stone), which bears the head of a lion and may represent the hailstones of God. His sanctuary is the E-paduntila.

Ninurta is perceived as a youthful warrior and probably equates with the Babylonian hero god Marduk. His cult involved a journey to Eridu from both Nippur and Girsu.

He may be compared to Iskur, who was worshipped mainly by herdsmen as a storm god. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 186-187