The Anunnaki

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as Anunaki, Anunna, Ananaki, and other variations) are a group of deities that appear in the mythological traditions of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.[4] Descriptions of how many Anunnaki there were and what role they fulfilled are inconsistent and often contradictory. In the earliest Sumerian writings about them, which come from the Post-Akkadian period, the Anunnaki are the most powerful deities in the pantheon, descendants of An and Ki, the god of the heavens and the goddess of earth, and their primary function is to decree the fates of humanity.
In Inanna’s Descent into the Netherworld, the Anunnaki are portrayed as seven judges who sit before the throne of Ereshkigal in the Underworld. Later Akkadian texts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, follow this portrayal. During the Old Babylonian period, the Anunnaki were believed to be the chthonic deities of the Underworld…

– wikipedia

Yes, this. Although, “inconsistent and contradictory” is a bit of an understatement.

This led me to the Anunnaki and how they fit into this (possibly devils as they are seen as judges of the Underworld by the time of Marduk’s rise?). The 8th century BC epic Erra pits them as antagonists to humans and thus likely aligned with Tiamat while the Great Flood is caused by Marduk’s army of Anunnaki. So perhaps and angel/devil thing works and they would be outside the realm of Orcs and Men and Elves (or at least half-elves).

– something Vin said

Maybe the “who” and “how many” answers are so inconsistent because the answers change over (epic) time? Maybe there’s something to the whole “cities as centers of cult power”?

I was more thinking that the entire Holy Empire was devoted to the Anunakki, but there might have been nine under Kassite rule 300YE, seven under Babylonian rule in 1000YE, fourteen under the rule of Cyrus the Great in 1350YE (illustrative numbers only). Meanwhile, the borders, people, population, and even the language of the Empire itself are shifting (which is where you might get something like the linguistic shift from Enki to Ea or Marduk to Mithra).

Who exactly was on the list of Anunakki at any given might be reflective of which are the most prosperous cities, or vice-versa, in a chicken and egg fashion. That being said, there wouldn’t be any new gods on the list (let’s add the Egyptian pantheon, or the Greek!), just linguistic shifts of the original 1000 or whatever Mesopotamian gods.

But focusing on less than 20 specific judges of the underworld at any given point makes it easier for the peasants and craftsmen to more appropriately direct their sacrifices and prayers (and act appropriately virtuous), rather than worrying about propitiations to some obscure minor dirty associated with wells in the Euphrates River valley. The priest class would be expected to know all that level of detail (and depending on how virtuous the age, the nobility as well), but not the common man.

So, to operationalize it, you might have:

  • Churches to the Anunakki (for the landborn and freeborn).
  • Shrines to individual deities (for the nobility).
  • Temples for the entire pantheon (for the priests).

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