She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400-2000 B.C.

October 15, 2022 through February 19, 2023
Impression of two figures standing with a sun in between them.

She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400-2000 B.C. brings together for the first time a comprehensive selection of artworks that capture rich and shifting expressions of women’s lives in ancient Mesopotamia during the 3rd millennium B.C. These works bear testament to women’s roles in religious contexts as goddesses, priestesses, and worshippers as well as in social, economic and political spheres as mothers, workers, and rulers. One particularly remarkable woman who wielded considerable religious and political power was the high priestess and poet Enheduanna (ca. 2300 B.C.), the earliest-named author in world literature. Bringing together a spectacular collection of her texts and images, this exhibition celebrates her timeless poetry and abiding legacy as an author, priestess, and woman.

Virtual field trips are available for school, camp, and community groups.

She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400-2000 B.C. is made possible through the generosity of Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen.

Additional support is provided by Becky and Tom Fruin, Laurie and David Ying, and by a gift in memory of Max Elghanayan, with assistance from Lauren Belfer and Michael Marissen, and from an anonymous donor.

Cylinder seal (modern impression) with goddesses Ninishkun and Ishtar, Mesopotamia, Akkadian, Akkadian period (ca. 2334–2154 BC), Cuneiform inscription: To the deity Niniškun, Ilaknuid, [seal]-cutter, presented (this), Limestone. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, acquired 1947; A27903.