The Sumerian omega

sumerian omegaThe Sumerian omega refers to the symbol of the Mesopotamian goddess Ninhursag. Ninhursag (Lady of the Sacred Mountain), also known as Nintu or Ninmah, was one of the seven great deities of Sumer and was assigned the power over pregnancy and childbirth, making it possible to define her with descriptions like “mother goddess” or “fertility goddess”. Three famous kudurru stones, used as boundary stones and as records of land grants, feature the symbol of Ninhursag on their top tier, signifying her importance in the Mesopotamian pantheon.

Her symbol is a curly omega, said to depict an umbilical cord cutter, in connection to her function as mother goddess. The omega also represents the female genitalia, the vagina, cervix and uterus. In the Sumerian tale of Enki and Ninmah, the two deities compete by creating various creatures out of clay, resulting in the creation of humans. In the Akkadian myth of Atrahasis, Belet-ili (her Akkadian name) created humankind by mixing clay with blood of a slain god. Ninhursag is attested from the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–2350 BC) until well into the first millennium BC, though she loses importance throughout the second half of the second millennium.

Ninhursag has been compared to the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor, associated with motherhood, sexuality, love and beauty. Hathor is often depicted wearing an omega shaped wig, and is at times depicted on a mountain. She became one of ancient Egypt’s most important deities, and more temples were dedicated to her than to any other goddess, indicating that her worship was widespread at the time. It may very well be that the two goddesses are connected.

Some examples featuring the Sumerian omega:

For more examples, please visit this thread on my Twitter.

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