The Longest Journey: Inanna’s Descent

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 2 February

12.00-1.30pm in Room NTC.2.06

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Leon Burnett, founding Director of the Centre for Myth Studies, will open our discussion of mythical journeys with a session on Inanna’s descent to the underworld.


Terracotta vase showing the goddess Ishtar (Inanna) wearing the horned tiara (tiara of divinity), Louvre Museum. The vase, also known as ‘Ishtar Vase‘, depicts the goddess surrounded by birds, fish, a bull and a tortoise [image on the public domain]

The longest journey is one upon which we shall all embark at the end of our lives. It takes us beyond time and space to an unknown destination. In myth, however, certain intrepid individuals, mortal and immortal alike, undertake a similar journey in the course of their lives and succeed in returning to the land of the living. One of the earliest of these is the Sumerian goddess Inanna (and her Babylonian equivalent Ishtar). Her story is recorded in cuneiform script on clay tablets that date back to 1750 BCE. The text for the first meeting in the spring term of the Myth Reading Group is a translation of ‘Inanna’s Descent’, as reconstructed from material discovered at the end of the nineteenth century in Mesopotamia.

Please see additional information about the text used this week and other versions and translations of the story.



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