She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400–2000 B.C.
The first author known by name was a woman: Enheduanna. She received this name, which means "high priestess, ornament of heaven" in Sumerian, upon her appointment to the temple of the moon god in Ur, a city in southern Mesopotamia, in present-day Iraq. As the daughter of the Akkadian king Sargon (ca. 2334-2279 BC), Enheduanna not only exercised considerable religious, political, and economic influence but also left an indelible mark on world literature by composing extraordinary works in Sumerian. Her poetry reflected her deep devotion to the goddess of sexual love and warfare-Inanna in Sumerian, Ishtar in Akkadian.
Making Enheduanna its focal point, this exhibition brings together a comprehensive selection of artworks that capture rich and shifting expressions of women's lives in Mesopotamia during the late fourth and third millennia BC. 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.
This publication accompanies the exhibition She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400–2000 B.C., on view October 14, 2022 through February 19, 2023.